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November 20, 2006

There's a Word for This

And that word is "insurrection," and it is cause enough for the Mexican military to go in and arrest every person involved in this phony government. Of course, given the situations in Oaxaca (about which see Mark in Mexico) and Chiapas and along the US border, it's doubtful the government will take the action necessary to prevent Mexico from sliding into a more serious revolution; the federales are slowly losing control of the country, bit by bit.

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I Have Questions

There are a lot of ideas going around in broad circulation in the US that just don't make much sense to me. I am a reasonable person; I can be convinced by facts and logic. And on these issues, which tend to be (at least putatively) very important to the people at large, I see a lot of heat and no light, a lot of argument (mostly ad hominem at that) and very little evidence and reason. So if anyone wants to help me out, I'd appreciate it.

1. Where is the evidence for global warming? As far as I can tell, the global warming thesis in its most extreme manifestation is as follows:

  1. The Earth's global average temperature is increasing.
  2. This increase is largely or entirely caused by man-made effects, particularly pollution from burning fossil fuels.
  3. The Earth will eventually become warmer than it ever has been, or at least warmer than it ever was while humans were on Earth.
  4. This will cause a variety of catastrophes to life on Earth.
  5. Only immediate and drastic action to lessen or eliminate the man-made effects causing global warming can mitigate or avoid these various catastrophes.

My initial thought was to provisionally grant point 1, because it is clearly based on temperature measurements and thus is fairly indisputable. But is it really? Take a look at NOAA's graph of temperatures since 1880. What is the deal with the plateau between 1945 and 1980, in the period when industrial pollution was at its second highest point, or for that matter the late 1800s, when industrial pollution was at its highest point? Does pollution prevent global warming? Moreover, this data covers less than 150 years, an insignificant amount of time in climate terms. (Imagine measuring your heartbeat for three beats and then making a calculation that, since the interval between the second and third beat is shorter than between the first and second beat, your heartbeat must clearly be slowing dangerously.) Finally, the data from different sources is somewhat ambiguous even within the same time scales and temperature scales.

Assuming good faith in presentation of data, which I suspect we can do with NOAA at least (as opposed to activists on either side of the debate), the reliable evidence for temperature change is over such a short time period that its validity over longer periods is questionable. The first point gets much more questionable looking at reconstructed average temperatures for the last thousand years, and worse still looking at 25000 year data for a localized area.

So if there is so much question about the degree to which we are warming, and how much it fits within normal cycles, how are so many people so sure of their opinions on what is happening, and what must be done about it? If the first, core point of the thesis is in some doubt, what about the rest of it?

2. If we withdraw from Iraq, then what? I constantly hear noise about how we have to withdraw, or how we cannot. I tend to fall very strongly on the "cannot" side, because the lessons of history tell me that it would be a rout, a disaster of possibly unrecoverable proportions. But my opinion is not very relevant to my point: I have not heard anyone who is urging withdrawal candidly admit what that means, and discuss what we should do about that. There was an essay recently, which I don't have a link for, in one of the major papers, that was very candid about the immediate results: that those who supported us in Iraq would be killed or driven into exile, and that we could not then count on any support in the future for any other attempts to intervene in the Middle East. But even that only talked about the immediate results, and shied away from the most important result: to leave Iraq without first destroying the enemy would lead the enemy to attack here, and even sooner in Europe. And then what?

3. Are we prepared to live with a nuclear Iran? Here, again, I see those urging us to do so avoiding any discussion of the consequences of allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Since those consequences are potentially grave, it would take some convincing to get me to believe that letting Iran go nuclear is the best option. But I'm willing to be convinced; it just seems that no one is willing to do the convincing, and instead there is a lot of emotionalism and ad hominem flying, as on both the global warming and Iraq issues, but precious little reasoning or discussion of the real pros and cons of the various options.

4. The ever-increasing power of government, and the true threat of tyranny in the US, is virtually never addressed by anyone except the Libertarians. My life is less free than that of my father, and his was less free than that of his father. In part, this is because of well-intentioned efforts to keep us safe from any possible harm. In part, it is because bureaucracies need ever-increasing spheres of influence to justify ever-increasing budgets, and thus ever-increasing power for the bureaucrats. But this continued invasion of our private lives, under both Republicans (who want to control our morality) and Democrats (who want to control our money) leaves ever-smaller areas for us to live our lives freely. Can we reclaim our freedom, or even halt the loss of our freedoms? What is the stopping point? How do we know when we are there?

Posted by jeff at 10:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 17, 2006

This is Huge

Sun has released the Java environments as open source under the GPL. This has two large and contradictory implications: evolution of the platform, including to smaller and larger devices as well as for stability and features, will speed up; meanwhile compatibility will decline amongst implementations, unless Sun has either a rigid compliance certification or a well-developed process for ensuring that users have the ability to specify strict compliance when running (ie, do not allow non-standard Java to run). The compatibility issue is key for enterprise installations, and I hope Sun has solved this.

Posted by jeff at 2:37 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 12, 2006

Two Justices in Need of Leaving

One of the important characteristics of a legal system like ours is consistency: we allow a great deal of latitude to judges, rather than specifying everything as the French system (for example) does, but in return we expect that the judges will change things only very slowly, and in particular will rely greatly on precedent and well-established legal maxims. Our Supreme Court has, over the past 70 years, repeatedly, frequently and almost maliciously violated this bedrock principle of justice, primarily due to agenda-based judicial decision making.

When what matters is getting the right outcome, you get Justices like Ginsberg and Stevens, who voted in Raich that an activity that entirely occurred in one state and involved no exchange of value was interstate commerce, and thus could be regulated by the Federal government, while other activities taking place in a state and not involving an exchange of values (in this case, partial birth abortions) are not interstate commerce and not subject to Federal regulation. This is, to be blunt, simply making up judicial reasoning to back up the outcome you prefer in the first place.

At this point, I would seriously consider staffing the Supreme Court by just randomly drafting people, like for a jury pool, to 2-to-5 year terms. I suspect we'd get better judicial reasoning, and more consistency, than we have now.

Posted by jeff at 6:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 9, 2006

Texas Post-Election Note

Just thought Jeff and others would find this interesting; I know I did.

According to the Star-Telegram, the Libertarian party fielded more candidates in Texas than the Democrat party did.

Also, straight party voting for Libertarians more than doubled from 2004, though it was still quite a small number.

Posted by Brian at 10:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 7, 2006

My Prediction Nationally

I think that the Democrats will pick up 13 seats in the House, not quite taking control, and two net in the Senate, with Lieberman winning as an independent. That leaves the House at 220 Republican to 215 Democrat (the currently independent-held seat goes to Democrat control), and the Senate at 52 Republican, 46 Democrat and 2 Independent. But that's a swag at best, because the polling has been even worse than usual this year, and it's usually not great.

UPDATE: Well, bad as the polls were, they were accurate for once. Who knew?

Posted by jeff at 6:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Down the Ballot II

In which I follow up on this post by researching local races out loud.

STATE SENATOR:

Brian Seiferlein, R: He's against the SBT, which taxes companies on revenue rather than profit. That's good. He wants to support small businesses with a "help line" — I assume he means something more comprehensive than that — which is good, but proposes to fund it by cutting waste, which is bad (because it's a cop out). He proposes an insurance reform I like: if you have to sue an insurance company, and you win, the insurance company must pay triple the claim plus court costs and attorney's fees. He supports tort reform where the loser pays the attorney's fees. I can see positives and negatives in this, so call it a wash. He's for restricting the use of eminent domain even more than it would be restricted under prop 4, which is good. He's socially conservative, which is bad.

Deborah Cherry, D: The incumbent District 26 state Senator. Outsourcing — particularly offshoring — is a canard, and Democrats tend to play it to the hilt. I guess that Michigan gets it worst because of Michael Moore's Roger and Me and the changes to the auto industry that he (and so many others) got wrong, but this one really annoys me. Cherry plays to the offshoring is evil crowd. That's bad. OK, ick, I can't finish reading through her issues page; it's all squishy and code words and feel-good nostrums without any hint of substance. Cherry's website is emotional claptrap projected into policy, with nary a hint of thought of alternatives or economics or what it would cost. ("Taxes are important, but even more important is what I could pay for with your money" — yes, it's a paraphrase — is noxious in the extreme.) Bleah!

My vote: Seiferlein, by default.

REPRESENTATIVE IN STATE LEGISLATURE

Fran Amos,R: So far, of the people running for office, this has to be the most pathetic and useless web site on offer. No issues, no positions, no idea of anything, and her online office (the only useful link on the page) is no help either. In 10 minutes of research, I know that Fran Amos is the incumbent, a Republican, and nothing else.

Kellie Riddell, D: Her first issue is election reform, and I'm going to quote the whole issue position because, well, look at my notes on Fran Amos: "I propose a paragraph description of each candidate and each issue available in every polling booth. Too many people vote without knowing anything about the candidate. Currently, the candidate supported by big money usually wins. Let’s even the field for a stronger democracy." Yes, and hell yes. But damn it all, she supports the Single Business Tax and unions and minimum wage increases.

My vote: Wow, I disagree with Kellie Riddell on a lot of things, but I have no idea what Fran Amos is for or against. I have to call this a none of the above vote. I'm going to write in Maurice Cox, because he is a local person I know who is very sensible and dedicated to community service. I don't know what his politics are, and I barely care, because I trust his character.

MEMBER OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: This is a "vote for two" from a list of 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 2 Greens, 2 US Taxpayers, 2 Libertarians, and a Natural Law candidate. Here's where I get into the "I don't know anything about these guys, so let's think about things other than the person" category. Actually, that's not quite true. I know that Tom McMillin, one of the Republican candidates, is very pro home schooling, so he gets one of the two votes. I'm not going to bother looking at the commiesGreens or the fundiesUS Taxpayers and Natural Law candidates, because their parties are anathema to me on this issue. The Democrats tend to be stooges to the teachers' unions, and very anti-homeschooling. Since there are only so many hours in a day, I'm eliminating them, too. That leaves Eileen Weiser (R), Erwin Haas (L) and Ernest Whiteside (L) as contenders. A brief review indicates that Weiser is reasonable, but not exciting, with pluses (opposes prop 5) and minuses (opposes prop 2); Haas is pro-homeschooling, pro-voucher and anti-public school; and Whiteside — OK, let's just start with this: if you're running for the board of education, I had better not notice obvious grammar errors on your issues page.

My votes: McMillin and Haas.

MEMBER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN BOARD OF REGENTS: This is another vote for two election, with 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 2 Libertarians, a Green, a US Taxpayers, and a Natural Law candidate. This is a really odd one, because frankly, the University of Michigan is pretty explicitly liberal. It's in Ann Arbor (a very liberal town) and employs such instructors as Juan Cole, whom I despise to the core of my being. So I'm all for voting to blow this one up, and am looking for the candidates who would cause the most chaos in the system, on the grounds that the current system needs a reset. The League of Women Voters provides a handy guide. The Natural Law candidate having eliminated herself through the stupidity of her answers, the Democrats and Republicans having eliminated themselves through blandness and codewords, and the Greens having eliminated themselves due to being idiots, my votes go to Hudler and Larson, the Libertarians.

MEMBER OF THE MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES: This is another "vote for two" election, and we get to use the same voters' guide (different section) that we used for the last race. OK, so let's see, Perles (D) seems to have actually thought about what MSU's purpose and challenges are; Spencer (Green) gives me the creeps — this is a theme for Green Party candidates, in fact; Denoyer (L) also seems, well, just not quite right in the policy centers of his head; Raaflaub (L) seems quite the nutcase, you know, the old guy muttering to himself on street corners; Dern (Natural Law) seems barely aware of what office she's running for. My votes: Perles and Gale (US Taxpayers).

MEMBER OF THE WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY BOARD OF GOVERNORS: Again, a two votes in one election; and again we use the same voters' guide. Have I mentioned yet that all these Board of Governors jobs are 8 year terms? 10 out of 10 for continuity, but minus several thousand for responsiveness to the constituency, whatever that is. Also, let me state that "I have ... been involved in movements since 1968" isn't the way to get my vote (and again the Greens go down to ignominious background noise). Johnson (US Taxpayers) creeps me out on the fundie level, while actually contradicting himself in the course of one sentence and one fragment. I like Van Bemmelen's (US Taxpayers) answers to the LWV questions. Jones (L), on the other hand, is as much a nut as either of the Green Party guys. I'm going to have to put my votes to Van Bemmelen and a write-in candidate. Hmmm... I don't know anyone locally who'd really be interested in this, and there aren't any other candidates I like, so my second vote goes uncast on this one.

COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Eileen Kowall, the Republican incumbent, faces off against Jennifer Suidan (D). Oakland County (where I live at present) is a large and wealthy county, and has a broad geographic and economic spread. Currently, there are a lot of budget issues facing the county, which apparently are a result of a combination of job losses and de-urbanization (Pontiac is a mess, for example). It impresses me that every local paper notes Kowall as having done an excellent job in this office. Knowing nothing, really, about either candidate, my vote has to go to Kowall on the strength of those endorsements and the sense of humor that comes through in the few Q&A pages I've been able to find on this race.

TOWNSHIP TREASURER

Margaret Birch (R) and Aaron Stepp (D) are the candidates. Birch has been involved in a variety of local offices, including some where she had fiduciary responsibilities. I cannot find anything useful on Stepp. That by default throws my vote to Birch.

JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: This is a vote for 2 candidates from a list of 2 serving justices and three non-serving candidates. (This is a non-partisan election, which is appropriate for such an office.) The candidates are Michael Cavanagh, Maura Corrigan, Kerry Morgan, Marc Shulman, and Jane Beckering. Based on the information I can find, Corrigan and Morgan seem to have the best take on the court's job (to interpret, not make, law) and policies important to me (liberty vs. dependence on the nanny state — a real battle in Michigan right now). So my votes go to Corrigan and Morgan.

JUSTICE OF COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE OF CIRCUIT COURT, JUDGE OF THE PROBATE COURT, JUDGE OF DISTRICT COURT: This is frustrating, because judgeships at all levels are vitally important, yet none of these races has more candidates than positions open. Therefore my votes here are irrelevant: the only candidates who will be in consideration are those on the ballot, and I don't know enough to write in a candidate.

OAKLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES: This is a "vote two" race among six candidates. The League of Women Voters comes through again. My votes, on ten minutes of research, go to Chambers and Wiser, both of whom actually seem to want to use the college to provide useful community services by providing useful educations.

And that's a wrap, people.

Posted by jeff at 1:30 AM | TrackBack

November 3, 2006

Long, Bad Day

Too long to write about, since Steph did already.

Posted by jeff at 6:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2006

Don't Get This One at All

OK, so I'm being bombarded, for days now, by spam comments I only used to get occasionally. (OK, I have always been getting lots of spam comments; I'm referring only to this particular type of spam comment.) Normally, it makes sense when you get spam comments: they are either pointers to web sites or they are direct offers or they are spam markers, which the spammers then search for to see where they've been effective, so they can concentrate on those hosts.

These I cannot figure out. None of the text is actual words, nor is the name. They are apparently random sequences of characters. I tried searching them in Google, and got zero results on any of the words in either the name or the body text. So it can't be a spam marker, because I refuse to believe that there is anything, no matter how dumb, that will be universally blocked. These come from hundreds of different zombies. (I've taken to just adding them to my firewall so that the entire IP is blocked from my network, so I only get one or two from any given address before that address is blocked.)

The web site left with the comment is non-existent. They are all at mail.com email addresses, none of which seem to be real.

I just do not get what this particular vandal is going for, but I am getting tempted to go from defensive to offensive warfare, breaking into each zombie and killing it dead dead dead. If enough people did that, it would shut down the botnets eventually. Of course, there is the small matter of it being illegal... so it must just remain temptation. But if anyone knows sites that shut down bots, and take recommendations, I have more than a thousand blocked addresses so far.

Posted by jeff at 9:47 PM | TrackBack

November 1, 2006

Down the Ballot

So the election is in 6 days, and I am totally unprepared. I have only been in Michigan, where I will vote this year, for a short time, and the local issues and candidates are only slightly known to me. Time to get educated. In the process, I'll probably rant a bit, and lecture a bit, because I'm like that. I'll also do it online, because I know Steph wants to see my thoughts on the election because she's in the same spot I am. Courtesy of the Secretary of State, I can find my ballot online.

STRAIGHT PARTY VOTING: I like the fact that this includes more than just the Republican and Democratic parties, I dislike the fact that they make it so easy to violate my obligation as a citizen to cast an informed vote. Frankly, I think that people who vote a straight party ticket — for any party — should not bother to vote at all.

GOVERNOR & LT GOVERNOR: In Michigan, it's a joint ticket, just like President/Vice-President. I don't know anything about the Lt Governor candidates, and they frankly don't factor in to my decision making here. The choices are:

Dick DeVos, R: Like many challengers, DeVos focuses far too much on what's wrong and far too little on what to do about it. He's pretty obviously a social conservative, which is a definite negative for me. He's pro-gun rights, which is a definite plus. It's kind of hard to dig through the platitudes on his site, the obfuscation in media articles, and the various hit sites on him to get a good feel of his actual positions, but I get the feeling he's a nanny-state conservative, pretty willing to abrogate my rights if it serves his interests. I prefer nanny-state conservatives to nanny-state liberals, because of the different mix of issues where they want to step on me, but I frankly don't want either one. For example, his turnaround plan begins with the statement that the governor's job is jobs. I disagree: the governor's job is to protect (or reestablish where necessary) the free economy necessary for jobs to come about, not to create regulations to push job creation where it is not economically sustainable without subsidy, as well as protecting our freedom of choice in other ways, such as not interfering in who our marriage partners are. The Daily Kos is against him (a plus) in part because he supports homeschooling (a plus).

Jennifer Granholm, D: The current governor, Granholm has hardly impressed me with her handling of the state's economy, particularly her stand on keeping the small business tax, which is charged on revenue instead of profits, as well as her insistence on maintaining the tax on heavy equipment, which is slowly driving heavy manufacturing out of the state. Moreover, she's a nanny-state type, with proposal after proposal for spending more money on one initiative or another, with the constant theme being increasing the size and reach of government at the expense of private choice; essentially she wants us to pay to reduce our own freedom. On the other hand, she's a competent governor, and takes care of the actual functions of state government well; I just dislike her from a policy perspective.

Douglas Campbell, Green: His "Imagine" bit on the front page of his site really turned me off from a fingertip-feel perspective, and I see why just looking at the top link on his page, about why he is running. I admire the fact that he's not content to let the issues he cares about get ignored by the major parties, and wants to do something to fix that. I disagree with pretty much every position he takes, though, starting with his first position statement: "We must challenge our corrupt and dysfunctional federal government, which is a cause of so many global problems". Um, no, not even close.

Bhagwan Dashairya, US Taxpayers: He seems to be associated with the Constitution Party as well. Unfortunately, his campaign web page doesn't list his positions, just pointing to the party's positions. I generally like the party positions, except that they seem to be heavily social conservative. I like his idea of budgeting by percentage of tax revenue ("indexed budget") rather than by dollar amounts; it's hard to game that system behind the scenes, because budget and revenue are inextricably tied. I could not find much information about Dashairya on the web, so I emailed him. I'll update this if I hear back from him.

Gregory Creswell, Libertarian: Creswell supports ending affirmative action, which I also support. He supports cutting the size of government (for example, ending the single business tax and replacing it not with another tax, but with shrinking the state's budget). He is an unabashed free-market supporter. In fact, judging from his web site alone, I support every position he noted, at least in principle. I wouldn't vote for a Libertarian for national office while we are at war and they oppose fighting the war, but that doesn't matter at the state level.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get information about minor-party candidates, because the media does not let their message be easily heard. For example, the governor candidates' debate only included the Republican and Democratic nominees, despite there being five candidates on the ballot. For shame!

My vote for governor: Gregory Creswell.

SECRETARY OF STATE:

Terri Lynn Land, R: The Democrats have vociferously complained about everything about the current Secretary of State for Michigan except that her name is on the ballot. (Today I heard them complaining on the local NPR affiliate that her name is on certain information posted at polling places. Unfortunately for their position, Federal law requires that she do so, as current Secretary of State.) My dealings with the SOS office (two drivers' license changes and two registrations to vote) have been efficient and straightforward, so I've got no complaints on that score. She seems to have made a lot of improvements in efficiency and effectiveness of the office, which is a good thing. While the Democrats complain about election fraud (talk to me about elections in Oklahoma when the Democrats were in charge!), Michigan is one of only three states that use electronic voting machines and have required that the source code be escrowed (a vital and basic precaution against fraud). Michigan is not, it must be noted, known for voter fraud (in the recent past, at least).

Carmella Sabaugh, D: Currently Macomb County Clerk, and apparently efficient and effective at it, from all reports I could find. Unfortunately, she seems to support a lot of measures (like unrestricted absentee and by-mail voting, same-day registration) that would in practice increase voter fraud. It's hard to find objective information about Sabaugh, but she doesn't seem to be excessively good or bad, leaning slightly negative because of the measures she supports which would lend themselves to increased voter fraud.

Lynn Meadows, Green: I could be argued into supporting instant runoff voting, as Meadows does, but not universal registration or public funding of campaigns. And citing truthout is a reason to vote against her right there.

My vote: Terri Lynn Land.

ATTORNEY GENERAL:

Mike Cox, R: Currently Attorney General, Cox has gone after spammers, a topic near to my heart. He seems to be big on collecting child support, strong legal enforcement in general, and in particular upholding consumer protection laws. Now, in general, I disagree with some of those laws, but that's not the AG's job; his job is to enforce the law. As such, I cannot complain about Cox on that score. In fact, I really can't find any good reason to fault Cox's performance in office, generally.

Amos Williams, D: OK, to be blunt, he lost me here. That's the kind of language (and issue choice) designed to inflame the passions of the ignorant. I disagree with all attempts at mob rule tactics, period.

Charles F Conces, US Taxpayers: I can't really disagree with his issues, which largely involve finding places where the government has gone beyond the law and reigning them in. Good so far. On the other hand, I do require that AG candidates be willing to follow the law, even laws they disagree with. This looks like a typical activist who cannot govern in any pragmatic way, because he's too stuck on his ideology to realize that not everyone shares it.

Bill Hall, Libertarian: I like his position on using the AG's office as a watchdog against big government, but that's not really what the office is for. Most importantly, the office has nothing to do with marijuana legalization (a constant stalking horse for many Libertarians), as that is the legislature's job.

My vote: Mike Cox, more or less by default

UNITED STATES SENATOR

Michael Bouchard, R: OK, I think that lawsuit's like California's that try to hold automakers responsible for global warming, and similar stunts, are stupid. But Bouchard's take on the issue is to use the Federal government to remove this from the hands of the states, with extreme prejudice. A federalist he is not. Picking on sexual offenders further by collecting their IP addresses is just dumb: IP addresses change frequently and are hardly a reliable indicator of anything. Trying to blame the Democrats for out-of-control Federal spending is disingenuous: while the Democrats would undoubtedly not improve on the Republicans' dismal record, is is the Republicans' record at this point. He's for earmark reform and a line item veto, both good items. He's against the move to abolish racial preferences in Michigan, which I support. He's virulently anti-abortion. His stand on the war is that we cannot leave Iraq if it would create a vacuum, and he doesn't seem to have a problem with preemptive war.

Debbie Stabenow, D: I cannot vote for a Democrat for national office so long as we are at war and the Democrats generally support measures that would lead to weakening our position in that war. The exception would be for people like Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman, who support fighting the war aggressively. Stabenow is not such a one. (In fact, she voted against the invasion in the first place. At least I can disagree with her consistently: she can be trusted to always do the wrong thing, apparently, on the issues I care about.) Her strong point: she's not Carl Levin. Some endorsement.

David Sole, Green: I didn't even get past his URL. No, no, no, no, no!

W. Dennis FitzSimons, US Taxpayers: I didn't get past his single-page home page, which is basically all quotes about how we're a Christian nation and Bible quotes and such. Uh, no thanks. Just on the ambience I'm getting the ooks.

Leonard Schwartz, Libertarian: I cannot vote for a Libertarian for national office so long as we are at war and the Libertarians generally support measures that would lead to weakening our position in that war. The exception would be for people who support fighting the war aggressively. Schwartz is not such a one. (In fact, he's of the "Bush lied" school, which is a kind of combined intelligence/partisanship test for me.)

My vote: Bouchard, holding my nose the whole way and seriously thinking about not voting at all, if winning the war weren't so damned important.

REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS:

Joe Knollenberg, R: For aggressively waging the war. Otherwise a grab-bag of middle-of-the-road Republican positions focused on his district, which is a generally unoffensive thing for a Representative. Frankly, my distaste for the obvious views of those opposed to him gives me more hope for him than anything else. He seems the typical district-focused type, and hasn't made a big impact outside of voting on issues, so far as I can see.

Nancy Skinner, D: I cannot vote for a Democrat for national office so long as we are at war and the Democrats generally support measures that would lead to weakening our position in that war. The exception would be for people like Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman, who support fighting the war aggressively. Skinner is not such a one. (In fact, she "strongly support[s] Rep. John P. Murtha’s four-point plan", which is a transparent way to lose the war, and I don't just mean in Iraq.)

Matthew R. Abel, Green: I'll just quote his site: "Violence is morally wrong and logistically ineffective, because it treats the symptoms of problems, not the root causes. The Bush regime has led our nation on a path to permanent war – and the Democrats have been complicit every step of the way. 9-11 is no reason to support Israel’s crimes against Palestinian humanity; no reason to fight a war for oil in the name of a war on terror; no reason to abandon our own civil rights and the protections of due process in the name of national security." And so, another strong, revolted no for the Green Party candidate.

Adam Goodman, Libertarian: I cannot vote for a Libertarian for national office so long as we are at war and the Libertarians generally support measures that would lead to weakening our position in that war. The exception would be for people who support fighting the war aggressively. Is Adam Goodman such a one? Who knows? Getting on the ballot needs to be followed by something, and I couldn't find any useful information on Goodman at all.

My vote: Knollenberg, by default.

I'm going to end this with the proposals, and come back to the more local races later, because there are a lot of races and candidates, and the people and offices are obscure enough I'll have to do some digging.

PROPOSAL 06-1: Establishes conservation and recreation funds as state constitutional mandates.

My vote: No - I have no objections to such funds, but they should be funded by the legislature, rather than being placed beyond debate by constitutional mandate.

PROPOSAL 06-2: Constitutionally bans, at the state level, affirmative action based on the same criteria in the US Constitution.

My vote: Yes - I am against racial, gender or ethnic discrimination of any kind. The government should be blind to these things. How the US Constitution's ban on this gets interpreted to allow it, just not the way we did it in the past, is beyond me. Then again, much of the interpretation of the Constitution is beyond me, since it makes no sense given the plain meanings of the word. I only figure there's a fifty-fifty chance that this amendment to the state constitution would survive modern court interpretation, but it's better than the chances we have now.

PROPOSAL 06-3: Establishes a hunting season for mourning doves.

My vote: No - I won't vote in favor of something I don't understand. Apparently this was passed into law, so why is there a proposal to pass this into law? Doesn't make sense to me.

PROPOSAL 06-4: Restricts the state's power of eminent domain.

My vote: Yes, yes, yes. Not only is the limitation on takings to give to private entities (individuals or businesses) inherently the right thing to do, it establishes higher standards of proof for takings of property that is "blighted" (which term has often been abused in the past to justify very questionable takings) and compels the government to pay above market value, in fact 125% of market value, for property seized.

PROPOSAL 06-5: Mandate funding (in fact, funding at higher than present levels) for education, including mandatory increases indexed to inflation and shifting massive amounts of local spending to the state.

My vote: NO!!!! This is a classic way of taking someone's policy preferences on education funding and mandating them into a law in such a way that they will always increase, and can never (politically) be fixed, no matter how outrageous they are. If you don't like what the legislature is doing on state budgeting (this goes for Federal budgeting, too), vote them out. But in no way should budgets be compelled by this kind of claptrap.

LOCAL PROPOSAL: Increase the millage above the Waterford Township's Charter limitations to fund parks and recreation.

My vote: Yes. This is actually a hard one. On the one hand, I generally like the way that the parks and recreation systems work here; they provide amazing parks and facilities. On the other hand, I think that there is a reason for this kind of limitation in the first place: to prevent the local government from growing to large. On the third hand, I haven't exactly noticed the creeping tyranny of the Waterford Town Council. On balance, I'd pay the extra tax to get better parks, though I wish I had a better idea of what else the ad valorem taxes are being used for.

That's it for now. I'll have to come back to the other races on the ballot.

Posted by jeff at 11:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kerry is a Bastard

But the troops have a sense of humor.

Posted by jeff at 6:49 PM | TrackBack