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August 31, 2004

No bottom. “This is what the leadership of the Republican Party has become.”

This is your future, if you don’t get your ass in gear, so-called “libertarians.” This is the toilet your life will go down. [12:11 AM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on No bottom.:

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 01:00 AM:

Well, duh, of course Soros is a drug kingpin!

Obviously, a rich man who doesn't pay fealty to the GOP must be shady or crooked or something.

Now quit distracting the libertarians and concentrate on a real issue, like how ugly Kerry's hair is.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 01:07 AM:

But he isn't making any accusations, he's just raising the question.

On the other hand

From Kos

Rep. Ed Schrock is a two-term Republican congressman from Virginia's Second District. The National Journal ties him as the second most conservative person in all of Congress in 2003, behind only Dennis Hastert. This isn't necessarily a turn-off in his district, which includes Virginia Beach, home of Pat Robertson, as well as Hampton Roads, home of 300,000 active-duty military and veterans. A strong family man with a wife and kids, Schrock was a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and opposes any possible rights for gay people, including non-discrimination in employment.
The problem is, his constituents may soon discriminate against his employment, as Schrock also seeks out gay sex on telephone dating services, and gay activists are about to release the tapes.

The tapes were circulating, thanks to the blog Blogactive.
Suddenly, as the import of the tapes became increasingly obvious, the links to the tapes disappeared from Blogactive. The strategy was clear -- if Schrock thought the tapes were a hoax, he would continue his reelection battle. And if he remained on the ballot at Friday, 5 p.m., it would be impossible to replace him on the ballot.

Alas, Shrock knew the jig was up.

U.S. Rep. Ed Schrock withdrew from his re-election race this afternoon, citing unspecified allegations.
"In recent weeks, allegations have surfaced that have called into question my ability to represent the citizens of Virginia's Second Congressional Distict," Shrock said in a press release.

Schrock, who would have been seeking his third term, did not elaborate on the nature of the allegations.

"After much thought and prayer, I have come to the realization that these allegations will not allow my campaign to focus on the real issues facing our nation and region," the statement said. "Therefore, as of today, I am stepping aside and will no longer be the Republican nominee for Congress in Virginia's Second Congressional District.

This guy co-sponsored the Hate Amendment. He had a 92 percent score from the Christian Coalition. He was Pat Robertson's congressman.

Kos on Schrock

David B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 02:13 AM:

Could it be that Rick Santorum is also a closeted self-loathing gay man? I don't know, I'm just asking the question...

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 03:05 AM:

From the days of the La Guardia report onward, it has been the policy of the drug-prohibition lobby to link any criticism of the laws with promoting drug use. This nonsense has continued on for decades, as blowhards like A. M. Rosenthal picked it up. The Lyndon LaRouche people even would like to arrest proponents of legalization.

One group, of course, who would very much not like to see legalization is the drug cartels. they would like it about as much as Al Capone liked the repeal of Prohibition.

So we just don't know if Hastert is the one linked to the successors of Pablo Escobar, do we?

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 03:57 AM:

Your admonition applies equally to so-called moderate Republicans. I know far too many people who have bought the GOP as a brand, and have blinded themselves to their party’s real agenda.

It was very funny listening to KCBS (SF radio, not LA TV) trying to describe the disconnect between the RNC speakers and the party platform. It was almost as if the reporter wanted to be more forceful, but was somehow restrained from pointing out the obvious.

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:34 AM:

Does anyone else have trouble accessing washingtonmonthly.com? About half the time, I get a "this page can not be displayed" error.

Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 08:10 AM:

Calling Soros a drug kingpin? That's trivial compared to this:

"Delegates to the Republican National Convention found a new way to take a jab at Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service record: by sporting adhesive bandages with small purple hearts on them."

Delegates mock Kerry with "purple heart" bandages

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 09:03 AM:

Could it be that Soros profited by selling narcotics to Rush Limbaugh? I'm just asking.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 09:48 AM:

Rivka: yes, the hamsters running washingtonmonthly's DNS server appear to go on strike quite regularly.

tavella ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 10:56 AM:

They've got a corrupt entry in one of the nameservers; I'm not sure where, but you only hit it sometimes.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 11:51 AM:

There was a reference to how the leaders of the Sydney Razor Gangs of the early 20th Century also fought against any loosening in the tight legal restrictions on drink, gambling & prostitution in a book about them I read while I was in hospital (took your mind off things, it did). Ever since have been hoping someone would make a movie using some of the stories in it.
Razor (A true story of slashers, gangsters, prostitutes and sly grog) by Larry Writer, published by Pan Macmillan in Australia somewhere between mid-2001 and February 2002 ( Joint winner of the Ned Kelly Awards for Australian Crime Writing: Best True Crime Category (2002))

Hope a few copies got distributed overseas - the Brits, of course, would seize it as further ammunition in their continuing story of Australia's Criminal St(r)ain.

Also found this comment in an interview of Mr Writer (he'll have heard all the jokes) which called to mind this community & some of its discussions: "LW: No more writing books for me for a long time, if ever again. This one took nearly three years of getting up at 3AM and working till 7AM when I'd get ready for my day job as executive editor of Who Weekly. Also, I have no pretensions to being a great writer; it was enough to tell a good story in, hopefully, an accurate and entertaining way. I'm not one for being a member of the writer's community, writer's festivals, government grants or posterity. From now on, I'm concentrating on my work and my family"

RhiannonStone ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 01:13 PM:

I know I've had a rough day, but I've read your comment on this article 10 times and I still don't understand. What toilet will my life go down if I don't get my libertarian ass in gear? People assuming that the drug legalization movement is funded by the drug cartels? I don't mean to be antagonistic or anything, I genuinely don't understand what you're trying to say here. Pardon if I'm just too sleepy and jet-lagged and am missing something completely obvious.

RhiannonStone ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Oh, nevermind, I posted to soon. I got it on the 11th read-through. :) Nothing to see here, move along...

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 01:59 PM:

Oh, it's getting worse. We're hearing again that Soros is...Jewish. And a banker.

Let's think the unthinkable for a moment. Suppose, like Dave Neiwert has been telling us is possible, we finally have an organized burst of open violence led by the hard right. What will it look like? And, more importantly, how do we defend ourselves. There would be some racial violence. But despite thats, I don't think it's going to be primarily directed against a particular racial group. But then who will be the targets and what is the best response? What do we prepare for?

Tappan Ki.ng ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 02:10 PM:

dis·in·gen·u·ous , adj.

1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating. 2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.

"Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our political opponents. And certainly not, certainly not, a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace ..."

Sen. John McCain, Republican National Convention, August 30, 2004

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 02:19 PM:

While I certainly think Moore could be called disingenuous without too much injustice, the same can be said of every speaker at GopCon 2004, especially John McCain himself. I've pretty much lost all respect for him at this point.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 02:39 PM:

Xopher, McCain has to provide pro forma support for the national Republican party, or lose the ability to do much of anything for his constituents, even if he keeps his office. He pretty plainly dislikes this administration--probably actually hates its senior people.

I am convinced that we need some serious reforms, though I'm only beginning to form ideas about what these might be.

Neil missing Worldcon ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 02:52 PM:

. . . Soros is accused of becoming a billionaire by conspiring to drive DOWN the proce of his goods by a factor of a hundred or a thousand?? I thought it was the stoners who weren't supposed to understand God's Free Enterprise System(tm)!!

(& by the way, Tappan, I've already written McCain that he totally jumped the shark with that "speech".)

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 03:45 PM:

I'd suggest the appropriate reform is making the Speaker of the House irrelevant to daily life - worth a bucket of warm spit - rather than trying to make a perfect system or a perfect government under an imperfect system.

I'll grant you the Speaker is a leadership position and so matters much more than Cynthia McKinney or other representatives who have made equally stupid/malicious remarks - but that just implies to me a range in the speed of the passage down the tubes.

Looking at the fuss in the the UK
Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co., the world's second biggest carmaker, has had a television commercial for its Land Rover brand banned by the U.K. communications regulator after it was judged to ``normalize'' the use of guns.... which says something to me about a puritanical fear that somebody someplace is having fun

(how can Barbour label some of its garments? Like L.L. Beane who once sold the Maine Hunting Shoe and now sell the Beane Boot?)

and considering the water and fuel shortages that will drive people,like the JanJaWeed, to move in the next few years - Toyotas are not so gentle on the land as camels and the water tables are being drawn down all over the Indian subcontinent and around the world - I do see ample problems to come in the very near future and with simple wrong solutions to come with them. I don't see government solutions on the horizon.

I wish Hastert or Bush or anyone were wiser and kinder and gentler but I'm hard to persuade the gun grabbers will deliver any better.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 04:35 PM:

And let's not forget Tony Blankley's (editor at the Moonie Times) nasty anti-Soros rant on Hannity & Colmes a few months back, in which he stealthily implied that there was something dishonorable about Soros's escaping the Holocaust.

Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 05:13 PM:

Bloom County explained it years ago. Drug laws are price supports.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 05:59 PM:

I expected nothing good from Rudy Guiliani, but I got sick and disgusted listening to John McCain, the "moderate" with integrity, last night.

"We are Americans first, Americans
last, Americans always."

(Womb-to-tomb, with little flags stamped on our foreheads to distinguish us from the inferior species born outside our continental borders)

I was thinking of posting a rant about McCain's speech on my 1-watt Livejournal. But Digby said it better than I would have, today -- with a few well-placed backup citations.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." Albert Einstein

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them". George Orwell

My AOL: I don't know whether McCain was foolishly straight-facing his way through a bad poker hand, or whether he actually doesn't see the connection between the Bush administration and debt, poor military management, corporate corruption, escalated terrorism, and international contempt for the United States.

McCain may very well have some integrity in respect to taking conscientious stands on issues that he understands. But his flag waving last night does not speak well for the breadth of his understanding.

Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 06:38 PM:

They just want power, and will say or do absolutely anything to get it. George would shit on the Constitution on national television if he was told it would guarantee a win.

Kent Roller ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:11 PM:

That was a low blow by the Speaker, who knows full well where Soros got his money, at least some of it.

[Soros amassed a fortune as one of the inventors of "hedge-funds" and as an international currency speculator. In 1992, Soros became known as the man who "broke the bank of England" when he wagered against the Pound Sterling and, in a single day, made himself a $1.1billion profit. As a result of his wrecking the British currency, the savings of countless British working people were devalued.]
-America's First Freedm, April 2004, an NRA publication.

I just can't figure out why Patrick would defend Soros and the Democratic party, but at the same time post a pic of himself shooting a pistol at the range.

Soro's "Open Society" requires disarming citizens, and John Kerry's senate voting record is 100% anti 2nd Ammendment.


Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:21 PM:

Soros has demanded that Hastert retract the slander or face the consequences. Details from Josh Marshall.

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:31 PM:

McCain is not and never has been a moderate. A lot of liberals have been delusional about him. I hope they stop.

Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:37 PM:

The comment thread at that link had somebody using the word "repuglican". Not sure whether this is a typo or a coinage, but it seems to make sense.

To be fair to all sides, other typocoinages should be available:


Any others?

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:44 PM:

I just can't figure out why Patrick would defend Soros and the Democratic party, but at the same time post a pic of himself shooting a pistol at the range.

It's surprisingly easy not to be a single-issue voter.

Soro's "Open Society" requires disarming citizens, and John Kerry's senate voting record is 100% anti 2nd Ammendment.

What has Kerry voted for (genuine question!) that would prevent Patrick from shooting a pistol?

Kent Roller ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 07:58 PM:

True, David, but if an issue is important enough to show the world you support it, it shouldn't be so easy to support a candidate who so readily discards it.

And there's nothing to prevent Patrick from SHOOTING a gun. But Kerry's voting history, if it became the majority trend, would make doing so illegal faster than he could reload. Just ask the Brits and the Aussies.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 08:13 PM:

I think that the thing that gives McCain credibility is not that he's anything other than a conservative. Rather, it's that he seems to have more integrity than most current Republicans. (Not a very high bar these days.)

As far as the gun issue goes, as David Moles pointed out, there's no need to be a single-issue voter. I, for one, have really never found a candidate I didn't disagree with on some issue or other. My goal is to support the better candidate, and to avoid litmus-test issues.

BUT, I don't think I'll vote for another Republican until they dislogde the Texas contingent from control of the party. And that's not based on just one issue, but a whole spectrum.

Kent Roller ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 08:38 PM:

Back to the point of the Speaker's comment...

It was really very ingenious, if not somewhat risky to his personal credibility. He's baiting the network news, daring them to nail him the way they did Trent Lott.

They won't, because the Liberal cause can't afford to have the spotlight shined on George Soros, less the funding dry up.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 10:00 PM:

"But Kerry's voting history, if it became the majority trend, would make doing so illegal faster than he could reload. Just ask the Brits and the Aussies."

So, we're to take something that I doubt very much the Senate would allow as a mark against Kerry, and ignore the actual war we are in? Earth to Roller...

McCain...it occurs to me that it is takes courage to make a difficult public compromise, one with someone who there is little doubt McCain loathes and which costs McCain credit with his allies, and still stick to his convictions.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 11:51 PM:

Some emphasis added:
This Article explores ammunition control as an avenue toward [Page 3] reducing gun violence in a culture that already is saturated with guns [10]--and nearly as saturated with gun control laws. [11] The centerpiece of this Article is a proposal to bring ammunition, not just handgun ammunition but all ammunition, under the aegis of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act ("Brady"). [12] This proposal is designed not only to remedy some of the shortcomings in Brady but also to provide better control of firearms in general. Variations on this idea have been proposed by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, then Senator Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, and Congressperson Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts. [13] These proposals, lost in the "sexier" aspects of gun control, however, have garnered little attention. [14] This Article highlights, in a uniquely comprehensive manner, the advantages, and disadvantages, of adding ammunition to Brady.......As Senator Kerry has noted: "[R]egulating only weapons is naive." .........Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Representative Joseph Kennedy of Massachusetts proposed the Ammunition Safety Act of 1995 in their respective houses.......Ultimately, neither bill made it out of committee, but the Kerry/Kennedy bills had the potential, like Brady II, to become the most sweeping bullet-control legislation in history.
Brendan J. Healey *
Copyright © 1998 John Marshall Law School & Brendan J. Healey

In general look at the history of Bartley-Fox. To what degree these would prevent a well connected well traveled person from ever shooting a pistol with equally well connected friends is of course debatable.

How's this. If within 90 days Patrick or Teresa will buy a 1911 - whether 1911, 1911A1, Colt Series 70, new Series 70 or any brand of standard 1911 style .45 ACP or Kimber or any gun that will accept it then and in that event I will give him, her or them a Colt Service Ace Conversion to shoot .22 rimfire - not series 80 because I don't have a series 80 Ace. Betcha they can't do it - not won't, can't.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: August 31, 2004, 11:52 PM:

"They won't, because the Liberal cause can't afford to have the spotlight shined on George Soros, less the funding dry up."

I'm stymied by what this could possibly mean. I can see two possibilities:

1. George Soros would stop funding the Democrats if the media spotlight were cast upon him? Dude, Soros is a genius financier who went from nothing to billions on the strength of his intellect, then spent billions on promoting democracy throughout the world. If the media finally looks at a true American like that, so be it -- and Soros will still support democracy at home as well as abroad, regardless.

That doesn't make sense, so maybe it's

2. If the rank and file found out about shady financiers backing their fave candidate, they would stop donating?

This makes even less sense.

So ... I'm stymied, as so often when talking with people who argue from a priori assumptions instead of rational conclusions. But hey, don't mind me -- avoid voting for that flip-flopper Kerry and support steadfast Bush instead. Dork.

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 12:31 AM:

I, for one, am willing to risk the possibility of gun control legislation in exchange for no more unnecessary and ill-fought wars waged on duplicitous grounds, no more presidential sanction for torture and confinement in perpetuity, no more grotesquely flip-flopping policy on trade, no more systematic vandalization of the support net, and like that. I would much rather argue the application of the Second Amendment with someone who shows any sign of grasping the meaning of the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 12:58 AM:

'We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers,' Clinton said, softly at first. 'When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers.' Then, with his face reddening, his voice rising, and his fist pounding his thigh, he leaned into Tony [Lake, then his national security adviser], as if it was his fault. 'I believe in killing people who try to hurt you.. And I can't believe we're being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.'"

--Clinton ordering the bombing of civilian targets in Somalia, as quoted in All Too Human, George Stephanopoulos

"I don't see this as a long-term operation. I think that this is . . . achievable within a relatively short period of time."
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, March 24
"We never expected this to be over quickly. The President himself has said, 'This is not a 30-second commercial.' We are in there for a long time."
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on "Meet the Press" a few days later - Former Yugoslavia


and like that.

The certainty of things I don't like traded for the hope of things I might prefer?

Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:51 AM:

John Kerry is coming to Steubenville, Ohio, this

This is about 4 miles as the proverbial crow flies from my house, maybe six by car. I am thinking about going.

I'm noting this because there is indication in the local newspapers that Kerry is definitely NOT in favor of restricting all access to guns.

One of these articles notes that

"Kerry's campaign members have indicated the presidential hopeful would like to be able to trap shoot in the area if his schedule allows.

"I know he's an avid sportsman. I'd heard last time he was looking for shooting opportunities," said Trevas.

Bob Hickle, owner of the Island Creek Sporting Clay trap shooting business on Jefferson County Road 56, said he was contacted two weeks ago by local Democratic representatives to see if Kerry would be able to trap shoot there.

"I told them 'Oh no,'" said Hickle.

Hickle said the representatives indicated Kerry wanted to shoot and use the event as a photo and campaign opportunity.

Hickle said the Democratic representatives thought he would be supportive of Kerry's campaign since he is a pipefitter, union laborer and a Vietnam veteran.

But Hickle said he does not support Kerry.

"I told them he (Kerry) could come and shoot, but he couldn't use it as a campaign vehicle," said Hickle.

rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 08:28 AM:

"The comment thread at that link had somebody using the word "repuglican". * * * To be fair to all sides, other typocoinages should be available"

Well, to be fair, this is another one of those things that the other side started first. Remember how GWB was caught using a subliminal ad in the 2000 campaign, which flashed the word "DemocRATS" on the screen?

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:12 AM:

From the Kerry campaign website:

Protect Gun Rights And Stop Gun Violence
John Kerry is a gun owner and hunter, and both he and John Edwards support the Second Amendment right of law-abiding Americans to own guns. Like all of our rights, gun rights come with responsibilities, and John Kerry and John Edwards support mainstream measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists: enforcing the gun laws on the books, closing the gun show loophole, and standing with law enforcement officers to extend the assault weapons ban.

I don't know how any of that matches up with his voting record. "Keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists" is obviously pretty vague and potentially sweeping, and "gun show loophole" is clearly one of those phrases that I'd understand if I regularly followed this issue, but I don't, so I don't.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:59 AM:

The "Gun Show Loophole" is (roughly) this: If you own a gun shop, you are required to perform certain background checks and other actions before you can sell someone a gun; however, exhibitors at gun shows are not required to perform those same actions before selling someone a gun. I don't know if this is because it's hard to implement a three-day waiting period for a two-day weekend gun show; or because exhibitors at gun shows may come from a variety of different places with different gun laws from those of the show's location; or because exhibitors at gun shows are supposed to somehow lack access to the infrastructure required for background checks. But there it is: It is, in some sense, easier to buy and sell guns at a gun show than it is at a gun shop.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 12:05 PM:

It's not like the 2nd Ammendment absolutists actually mean the oft-touted defense against tyranny parts; American citizens have been slung into prison without charge and subjected to indefinite detention without trial, the president has claimed powers Henry VII couldn't have got away with -- arbitrary detention has been considered unacceptable for quite awhile, but so has "the king feels like starting a war", ever since Long Edward fucked up his first war back in 1340 or so -- and they haven't shot anybody over it.

Which means it's really a "no one gets to tell me what to do about anything", not on this planet, la-la-la I can't hear you issue, not a princpled question of balancing rights and obligations in a civil society.

It's not lack of arms that makes you helpless; it's lack of organization that makes you helpless, lack of the ability to co-operate with your neighbours.

Especially when you don't agree about everything.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 12:23 PM:

What some people call the gun show loophole is the fact that private sales of personally owned guns between private parties are in some places and at some times not recorded and are made without background checks of the buyer.

Notice that dealers in fire arms are heavily regulated by the Federal government and invariably by state and local governments. There are all sorts of regulations including sales tax, business place, dealer under Article II of the Uniform Commercial Code and so forth and so on for businesses dealing in guns.

For private parties there is tradition of a marketplace - where people who might be interested in buying or selling personal guns can meet up. This has become more important in recent years because most newspaper classifieds refuse gun ads - certainly for handguns, less for rifles - EBay and PayPal and other such refuse gun business and so on.

Private parties have few choices but a meetup. Guns change hands between private parties at these meetups and that's called a loophole because the Government has no registration - Form 4473 - of the transaction and there is no background check. Consider the inconvenience of a 3 day, or 7 day or... waiting period for folks who may have traveled hundreds of miles to meet - bearing in mind that private parties cannot mail guns and all the other obstacles imposed by delay.

Just as states with Fire Arms Owners Identification Cards have discovered that taxing gun owners more and more is a popular sin tax - so too rising transaction costs will discourage gun ownership and so is opposed by the most gun owners.

Requiring all private party transfers to meet the regulations as between dealers - which in practice means the private party transfer passes through a dealer's books and Government records for a dealer's fee - is called closing the gun show loophole.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Notice that anyone at a gunshow who is a dealer under the law must meet the dealer requirements. Exhibitor is not a category that overrides dealer for any purpose - and tends toward evidence of doing business - the definition of dealer.

As for the second amendment absolutists, though I have little sympathy for the target consider the message and especially the timing of the Murrah Federal Center explosion -

Am I to take it that FDR should have been shot for tyrannical internments of German-Americans in Texas and LendLease war mongering.

Think about the oft seen tag - it's an awkward stage, too late to work within the system too early to start shooting.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:10 PM:

Requiring all private party transfers to meet the regulations as between dealers - which in practice means the private party transfer passes through a dealer's books and Government records for a dealer's fee - is called closing the gun show loophole.

I'd certainly favor that. But there might be some ways of dealing with the problems with gun shows that would impose less misery on gun owners.

For example, you could keep the current system, but limit the number of guns that can be bought or sold that way by any one person to say, three in any 90-day period. Above that, the person is a de facto dealer with the obligations pertaining thereto.

I also see no reason why background checks should have to be done over and over. Once your background has been checked, you should get a card, good for a year, that counts as a completed background check.

Waiting periods are more of a problem. They're designed to prevent "hot blood" gun purchases. Perhaps people could register in advance their intention to attend a gun show, and to make x dollars worth of gun purchases...perhaps even make a deposit in that amount; you'd get a refund of any unspent dollars, but couldn't spend any MORE than that. And you'd still have the 3-gun restriction. The waiting period could be the time between when you send the deposit, and when you arrive at the gun show.

I have no doubt that either side can poke holes in all of this. My point is not to write law, but to propose that a creative solution is possible.

Unfortunately creativity is sadly lacking in Washington on all issues, and the gun control debate in particular seems to be ruled by people on one side who want an absolutely gun-free America where virtually any vaguely L-shaped object is prohibited, and people on the other side who think M-16s should be sold from vending machines in every high school cafeteria.

These people have forced the perfect to be the enemy of the good. It's the center who have to come up with good solutions, and then manage somehow to sell their ideas to the abovementioned absolutist nutbars.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:12 PM:

Oh, and I certainly think registration of ownership and transfer of title should be required for all gun sales, even between private individuals. We require that for cars; why not guns?

Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:13 PM:

Oft Seen Tag:

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

-- Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Would a free speech absolutist be properly categorized as an absolutist nutbar?

Automobile registration is required only for purposes of driving on the public highways - why not public shooting grounds?

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Clarke --

Any absolutist is wandering off into nutbar territory; the universe we've actually got has error bars.

I am certainly not in favour of an absolute right of free speech (especially when money is defined as speech) -- I do consider it inappropriate to shout fire! in a crowded theatre, or to play loud music at 3 AM in a residential area, or to claim that your right of free speech means that the NDA doesn't apply.

I do not agree with the 2nd Ammendment at all (I'm a Canadian, it's not my Constitution); what I was trying to point out is that by the rhetoric used to defend an absolutist stance on the 2nd Ammendment, the folks taking that position should have started shooting by now.

So their rhetoric and their actual position are pretty wildly inconsistent.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 02:32 PM:

Clarke, I would certainly characterize someone who felt s/he had the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, or out CIA agents, as an absolutist nutbar, yes. Are you saying that you think people who advocate selling guns out of vending machines in high school cafeterias should not be considered nutbars? I had thought that position was sufficiently extreme that we could all agree they were crazy.

OK, how about people who think every baby should have a loaded gun with the safety off in his or her crib? If you don't think THAT'S a nutbar position I'm going to stop listening to you on ANY topic.

As for the automobile registration thing, I'm not sure you're right, but if you are, I'd like to point out that a gun is lots easier to conceal than an automobile, though either can be used in a crime. I view as a social imperative that we as a society know who has what guns all the time. I know you don't agree.

ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 02:48 PM:

If it was me, every gun purchase would require a background check, registration, waiting period, and proof of the ability to shoot it, unload it safely, etc. I'm sure that will piss some people off. I just don't see it as all that different from cars. I didn't get angry at having to pass my learner's test, then my learner's period, then my driver's test, proof of insurance, and so on. Most everybody manages those steps.

I dunno, but sometimes it seems like the history of an issue stops clearer solutions from emerging.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:22 PM:

I agree with the idea of competency-based licensing. Again, this is done for cars; why not require a written and "road" exam for guns as well?

But once you get that driver's license, you don't have to relicense for every car you buy. I'm not sure that's necessary, and it's something I'd be willing to give up in negotiation if negotiation were the environment. (The waiting period for cars is to practice for the final test; there's no "hot-blood" problem there. That still is an issue to be addressed.)

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:34 PM:

Xopher, I'd say it depends on where you live, but here in Tennessee, if you have a vehicle used on your farm, and only on your farm, you needn't go through the formalities of registration, safety & emissions testing, etc. to use it. I have friends who use a selection of crapulous old vehicles for things like carrying fencing mateials, bee hives, hay bales, feed, and such around their places. For driving through fields at 5 to 10 miles and hour, they're acceptable. You wouldn't want to take them out on a real road, where other people might be inconvenienced by the POS you're driving, and where the Law can get picky about issues like working brake lights, windshield wipers, the presence of bumpers, and so on. The theory is, as I understand it, that these things are on your property, and if anything goes wrong, it's your problem and yours alone. Once they are off your property, it becomes other people's business. Of course, in a rural area, driving such an unregistered vehicle for a hundred feet on so along a public road to get from one field to another is generally taken as a matter of course--because this includes tractors and so on, as well as old played-out trucks. However, driving the tractor into town, without properly registering it, is generally considered Not Good.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:40 PM:

I wish I could claim half the good sense a self proclaimed nutbar(?) "I’m a free-speech absolutist....." has shown around here. FWIW I'll lean toward free speech absolutist and wear the nutbar with clusters proudly.

On the other hand I do in fact have no problem with Jr. ROTC - charitable folks may attribute my behavior to lead exposure from shooting with ROTC prone on an indoor range.

Anything beyond that is details; in principle I have little or no problem with selling guns out of vending machines in high school cafeterias. In fact I'd make it local option but then I'd make lots of things local option.

See The Weapon by Fredric Brown (obsSF) for a nice discussion of giving a weapon to a child and what constitutes a child - In a sense like the party joke of: we've established that you have a price; we're just haggling about the price - we can agree on the need to draw a line someplace (as Mason said to Dixon) but just as I would not be lumped with the idiot child, blind though I be to my own faults, so I would not - where there is any doubt at all - lump others with the idiot child.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 03:49 PM:

I can't speak for how things are done in other states, but Tennessee does have a concealed carry permit law, which requires people who wish to legally carry a concealed handgun to pass a background check, and then undergo a gun safety training class, which includes range work to ensure that when they aim at the barn door, the henhouse, smokehouse, and privy are safe.

This state has a burgeoning deer population, and hunters in the urban areas have easy access to hunting. It also has a lot of people raising horses, cattle, and other critters, which can easily become the victims of careless hunters. This makes "gun safety" an easy sell, even when restrictions on ownership aren't very popular.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:33 PM:

FWIW I'll...wear the nutbar with clusters proudly...in principle I have little or no problem with selling guns out of vending machines in high school cafeterias.

I'd say you only get the clusters for advocating the "crib-gun" position, but other than that I have to say I find these statements remarkably consistent. Goes to show you.

But I must say that anyone who has little or no problem with vending-machine gun sales, much less in high-school cafeterias, is clearly not someone with whom I can have any fruitful discourse. Not that you're a vegetable (hey, we had nutbars and fruitful discourse), but one of us is on Pluto. I don't think it's me, but then you probably don't think it's you.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 04:57 PM:

A friend feels that he got the best training in Guns: What They Can Do as a twelve-year old, when his father, uncles, and grandfather took him out shooting. He saw what a large-caliber bullet could do, what a shotgun does, and received intensive lectures on what you should and shouldn't do with a gun, and Why Having a Gun Doesn't Give You Special, Supernatural Powers. In order to go along with the grown men, a boy had to prove he was reliable, sensible, obedient, and would listen to what he was told. The idea that you had to be grown-up to handle guns was impressed on him pretty thoroughly. I'm not sure that he was ever allowed to use a gun without an adult around until he was drafted--it was one of the ground rules.
I suspect that this is the case for a lot of people who grew up with guns, and tend not to understand why others are worried by them. It's part of a passage into maturity: This person can be trusted with a gun.
He once told me that, besides possession of guns by criminals, he was worried about possession of guns by idiots, and that the idiots could be scarier than the criminals.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 05:42 PM:

And I must say, I'm not nearly as frightened by an experienced person handling a gun as I am by a total newbie incompetent. Idiots and crazy people. BTW "crazy people" includes the temporarily, biologically insane, such as high school students. Even they aren't as frightening when well-trained.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 06:22 PM:

I think the GSF (gun stupidity field) is affecting people's minds here. For myself, I've lived five of the past seven years in neighborhoods where the drug war has been fought out with firearms, and the knowlege that firearms were widely and easily available did not make me safer, nor make me feel safer.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 06:49 PM:

Not to mention that firearms were widely and easily available in pre-quagmire Iraq, and obviously didn't do much to prevent tyranny. Or foreign invasion, come to that. So, as a Heinleinist, I believe in the right to bear arms, and as an Erisian, the right to arm bears -- but the rationale in the Second Amendment doesn't appear to be all that solid.

And then there's my 100% agreement with Graydon -- the 2ndA abolutists should already be invading Washington (and if a Democratic administration were doing half what the Bushies are, they would be doing so).

On that topic, though, I think Graydon's misconstrued the tribal boundaries (or his rhetorical position has done so) -- it's always Us vs. Them, of course, but in this case, the Republicans have convinced the nutbars that they're Us. So to speak.

Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 06:51 PM:

Fidelio: I'd say it depends on where you live, but here in Tennessee, if you have a vehicle used on your farm, and only on your farm, you needn't go through the formalities of registration, safety & emissions testing, etc. to use it.

That does indeed depend on where you live; at least in CA, any motor vehicle must be registered, although if you do not intend to operate it on public roads you can get a (relatively cheap) "certificate of non-operation" instead of a regular registration.

Of course, many of those ancient vehicles operating on TN farms are probably producing orders of magnitude more air pollution per mile driven than would be allowed in CA, so their potential for harm is not entirely confined to their owners, or perhaps even to the state of TN. I doubt that the magnitude of the public harm is such that it's worth regulating such vehicles, but someone with asthma might disagree with me. On the other hand, there is quite a lot of harm done by guns that are intended to be kept entirely on private property (or, equivalently, in their owners' control) but are discharged by accident, or stolen and later used in crimes. Comparing private sale of guns to private sale of vehicles not used on public roads thus seems inappropriate.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 07:03 PM:

Returning to the question of reforms: first, count votes accurately. Make it the law of the land, and write it in the Constitution. It still astonishes me that we have neglected something so basic.

Second, adopt instant-runoff voting, or Guinier's cumulative ballot, or some other system that allows minorities to have their turn at the ballot box. This will allow the expression of political preference at the polls without casting our votes into irrelevance.

Third, separate the chief executive from the presidency.

For extra credit, try reducing the power of small-population states in the Congress.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 09:04 PM:

Randolph said, "For extra credit, try reducing the power of small-population states in the Congress."

As a Californian, whose vote has been pretty much nullified in national elections, I am very much in favor of doing something to equalize the vote. Not only is my vote worth a fraction of a Montanan's vote by law, but since my polls close later than everybody else's except Alaskans and Hawaiians, the media decide what to report before I even get to the polling place. And then -- Democrats think they have a lock on me because I have no alternative -- Republicans have no use for me except to vilify me and hold me as the bogeyman to those Montanans who have more of a vote than me.

Why yes, it reduces me to incoherent rage. I damn well count, and so do all my neighbors -- we are not fractions of citizens.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 09:50 PM:

I'll never understand folks who refer to harm done by guns rather than with guns

- or conflate accidental and negligent discharge -

but on the car issue my brother did have a shaker scoop 455 Firebird collector car stolen and used in a crime - the thieves used while holding up a stop and rob - at gunpoint - and to flee at high speed; in the process of flight they shoved an innocent family, in their own car, over the edge of an expressway ramp for a 20 foot fall and millions in injuries.

I'd say intervening illegal acts removed this from a foreseeable liability for my brother. Indeed by my lights intervening illegal acts generally break a causal chain and should - YMMV

Still I suppose one can never be too safe - e.g.

Fans of science fiction, anime, comics and medieval weaponry were wondering yesterday why one of the longest-running and most popular booths at the Canadian Comic Book Expo had disappeared...........Expo organizer Aman Gupta said yesterday the weapons were inspected and cleared by Canadian customs agents when they were brought in from the United States last week.
........."I never expected this," Petkovski said after his [Court] appearance yesterday. "They weren't even sharp. It was fans buying swords from their favourite movies and then someone complained ..."

Everybody feel safer with hilts but no blades or metal scabbards? Of course once it's realized the hilt can function as a Kubotan then where do we stop?

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 10:07 PM:

Xopher: I'm in the middle. I don't favor registering guns; I'm not against a basic skills test (by type) for ownership.

Part of the reason for the registration of vehicles is the high cost of maintaining the infrastructure which they require. It it wasn't meant to destroy (as the proposed $.05 per cartridge was) I might even say some form of tax for hospitals was acceptable, mind you I'd wan't to see something similar from vehicle registration.

As for for Graydon and Michael's comments that lack of violent uprising (or simple assasination) shows a lack of consistency/moral courage on the part of 2nd Amendment types, this is what I said the last time that came up.

Making Light Archive

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 10:09 PM:

How about reforming this: If both Bush and Cheney were to suddenly drop dead, the law would transfer the presidential powers to a man who proved himself an absolute nut job on the Aug. 29 edition of Fox News Sunday: Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.....Whatever the reason behind his eruption, Hastert has answered the question of who is screwy enough to run on this year's LaRouche ticket. "LaRouche-Hastert in 2004," anyone?
Slate - see especially the linked documentation including Hastert's public letter to Soros - available many places.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Notice that, as you know Bob, firearms and ammunition are taxed by the Federal government at the manufacturing level in an excise tax (that's why the regulation has been by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) Pistols and Revolvers at 10% of sale price; Other Firearms and Ammunition at 11% of sale price.

I'd prefer to consider money fungible than to earmark (see e.g. California education spending) but I wouldn't fight if somebody wanted to earmark for hospitals - generally it has been sporting goods for sporting purposes etc..

It's mostly a feel good issue, money indeed being fungible but in Washington state hunting licenses fund search and rescue for all including mountain climbers. Again for accounting purposes my bicycle vehicle registration in SWitzerland included medical insurance coverage for bicycle accidents.

Xopher, as I say every time on these discussions, I taught hunter safety to 14 year olds with a graduation criterion of would you trust this kid with a gun? - sadly I was mostly able to say I'd trust this kid much more than his parents. May I ask what a policy of maximizing experienced gun handlers while simultaneously minimizing total newbies needs to earn your support?

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2004, 11:18 PM:

"And then -- Democrats think they have a lock on me because I have no alternative -- Republicans have no use for me except to vilify me and hold me as the bogeyman to those Montanans who have more of a vote than me."

I think the instant runoff might be of as much value to you as equalizing the power of the states; if a Democratic candidate in California was the second (or, worse, third) choice of even 5% of voters I think the Democratic leadership would sit up and take notice. Such a system would, I think, do much to ease the sense that one's vote doesn't count.

Of course, first we have to count the votes!

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 12:04 AM:

Lucy - I agree with you in principal about the inherent unfairness of the Electoral College. But, it's the lopsidedness of the system that even gets the candidates to places like New Hampshire. Plus, if you lived in ND, SD, NH, AK, MT, WY, UT, DE, VT or any state with fewer than, say, 10 EV's, why on earth would you support a constitutional amendment that reduced your influence on national politics. I sure wouldn't.

And California does have a large impact in the national elections. 55 Electoral Votes ain't hay. It's just that this cycle, the GOP would really have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to carry the Golden State.

Randolph - San Francisco is trying out instant-runoff voting. I've never looked into it, but, on the surface, I think that the typical voter would find it confusing. Let's see how it works out. I think that there's a Supervisor district with about 20 candidates - surely the test of fire for such a system.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:28 AM:

"I think that the typical voter would find it confusing."

I suspect so. Problem is, the "typical" voter seems to find voting confusing already--take a look at this Menard article. Government needs a better UI, which is my meta-consideration, here. Ultimately, I think--and political science studies seem to back my position--most voters make their choices based on social, rather than political, concerns. Hence a candidate's telvision image becomes terribly important, and their policies much less so, until shock or disaster strikes.

The parts of the US political system that most needs healing, in my view, are the parts of the system outside of government, so that people can make voting decisions based on something connected with the realities of governance. This is not an easy task--indeed, I do not think so large a society has ever tried to resolve it at all. Which makes it all the more worth working on.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 09:38 AM:

"As a Californian, whose vote has been pretty much nullified in national elections, I am very much in favor of doing something to equalize the vote. Not only is my vote worth a fraction of a Montanan's vote by law..."

A large part of the problem here is that the size of the House of Representatives has not been increased to reflect the increase in population over the course of the 20th century. Low-population states still get one representative, now matter how few people live there, and the more populous states lose out. The re-assignments that take place after the decennial Census never increase the total number of representives/electoral votes--they just move them around.

Jordin--in Tennessee, outside of the urban areas, the principal sources of air pollution are from the TVA's mighty smokestacks, pouring forth the end-products of combusted high-sulfur coal. Davidson County, where Nashville is, has vehicle emissions testing, while Sullivan County, at the extreme northeastern end of the state, worries far more about the effects of emissions from power plants a few hundred miles away. In comparison to all that sulfur dioxide, farm vehicles probably look like small potatoes.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 10:58 AM:

Rather than engage in experimental social engineering on the broadest possible scale - so large a society why not think globally but act locally?

I do not see that building a truly huge - I'd say monstrous myself - Utopia is at all worth working on - certainly not this side of the Second Foundation powers and abilities and that took a deus ex machina.

Seems to me the possibility of block voting alone gives the California Block a great deal more power in Congress than 15 distinct Idaho blocks would have?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 11:26 AM:

To rephrase myself in less emotional terms - I suggest the correct response to we can't make it work in the lab is not let's commit everything we have to making it work in the field.

The correct response to Washington D.C. has the worst schools in the country is not let's have Congress run all the other schools in the country.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:31 PM:

Clark, I was so proud of myself the time I could figure out what your reply had to do with anything. Now I'm in dispair because I don't have the slightest idea what you're on about.

Fidelio and Larry: 1. There is no California Bloc. Californians don't agree on things -- we are a tangle of highly disparate groups reflecting rather the same range (and I believe but do not know they are in similar proportions) as the rest of the country. Our conservative ranchers are just as disenfranchised as our service union members.
2. We may have 55 electoral votes but nobody cares. Nobody's campaigning here. Nobody thinks "we'd better take care of California's needs or we'll lose them in the election." Except for the existence of the mysteriously attractive (but utterly evil, slimy, repellent and dishonest) Schwarzenegger, California's only purpose in this election is to give money. Even MoveOn sends me email only asking for money, nothing else.
Oh, and one other thing: speakers like to make a villain of California -- Hollywood, some imagined strangeness, some other imagined decadence -- they like to pretend we are things we are not. Including a that we are a homogenous mass.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Fidelio - the size of the House has nothing at all to do with misproportional representation. I believe that we're at a point where a House member represents about 600,000 people. (Possibly a few more.) Perhaps we should have smaller districts, and a bigger House, but all that would do for proportionality is reduce the size of rounding errors. (And I don't particularly want to be paying for a Chamber of People's Deputies-sized House.)

The real source of misproportionality is the Senate. And fixing the Senate cannot be done by an Amendment; it would probably require a constitutional convention (See Article V). And that's a Pandora's Box I wouldn't want to open.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:46 PM:

Lucy - I agree with you on the result (no campaigning in CA, although I cannot go as far as saying that we are effectively disenfrancised), but I disagree as to the cause.

If California were a toss-up state, both campaigns would be here, deluging us with manipulative ads and clogging our highways with motorcades.

55 EV's are a very big deal. It's just that, absent something big, they belong to John Kerry this year. And I'm glad for that.

As far as being the villain, I've almost always lived in places that, at least by reputation, the rest of the country detests. I just chalk that up to jealousy.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 01:52 PM:

Sorry for the triple-post, but, if you want to empower more groups in CA, how about chopping up CA into three states - Northern CA (Coastal counties from say, San Luis Obispo to Mendocino, plus Solano, and Contra Costa), Southern California (Coastal counties from San Diego to Santa Barbara) and Eastern California (Everything Else).

I don't favor this, but it would certainly empower the farmers. Just imagine how much more effectively they could pollute, waste water and exploit immigrant workers without those Bay Area liberals spoiling the fun.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 02:49 PM:

Foo. I'm starting over again -- there's a hidden command on this page somewhere that says "erase everything when the responder's hand hovers anywhere near any of thirteen different keys or combinations of keys."

I certainly do not want to split California. I'd be more into joining states into regional blocks than splitting states. Economy of scale.

As for how to make things fairer -- eliminate the electoral college altogether. Recast the legislature so that its representation is regional instead of by state. If we're set on a bicameral legislature, design them so they use two different systems of proportionate representation -- maybe one is by county population and the other is raw population. I don't know. But I am mightily tired of the fact that my interests are not represented in the legislature at all and are actively derided by both sides in the presidential election. And that this is even worse for my neighbors.

Cynthia Gonsalves ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 03:12 PM:

Larry: One of my many foolish flights of fancy is to envision a free and independent California Republic (make the Bear Flag mean something again!). If by some wild chance or fate's whimsey it ever came to pass, your three-way division is a possibility for states within the Bear Flag Republic, but I'd also note that the folks in the far north of the state (Eureka/Redding) would probably demand their own portion and wouldn't want to be lumped in with the folks from the Central Valley or the Mohave.

Lucy: I agree that as long as we've got the Electoral College, California's clout in national elections pretty much comes down to our big stick of 55 EVs. If we were split up, we'd be even more irrelevant than we are right now. However, Goddess knows, when watching the shenanigans in Sacramento, I wonder if we've gotten to the point where a unified Alta California has gotten ungovernable.

Watching current population shifts within CA and their voting trends, I figure that California will become a battleground state within two election cycles.

PS: One of my other flights of fancy restores the Hawai'ian monarchy ;)

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Fun at Zell Miller's expense.


Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 06:13 PM:

Cynthia - An independent California would be an immediate global economic powerhouse, until it was invaded and occupied by the US. We're just too important to be let loose.

Lucy - I agree about abolishing the Electoral College. Unfortunately, I just can't see it happening.

As far as any non-proportional legislature below the Federal level goes, it's been held to violate the principle of one man, one vote. NYC used to have an institution called the Board of Estimate, which was, IIRC composed of the Mayor, and at-large members elected by each borough. There may also have been some other members - memory fails and it's beside the point. This gave Staten Island as much representation as Brooklyn, despite Brooklyn having something like seven times SI's population.

The courts held that the Board of Estimate was unconstituional, leading to the need for a new City Charter establishing a more powerful City Council.

One thing that California has going for it is that rural areas can often find an ally in one of the big conurbations against the other. For example, Owens Valley getting support from the Bay Area to wrest a few drops of water away from LA.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2004, 08:01 PM:

Cynthia: the Bear Republic Flag is cool to look at, but a California Republic is a bad idea. It's true we can certainly stand on our own, economically, in a way few existing nations can, but why? I'm not mad enough to want to harm my fellow citizens by removing the California copntribution to the country's economy and tax budget. And personally, I want fewer borders, not more.

As for reinstating the Hawaiian monarchy -- if there's anybody worse that the marauding, murderous, ravaging, rampaging drunken bastards who founded the California Bear Republic, it's the Hawaiian aristocracy. Ick ick. Commoners had to prostrate themselves. Human sacrifice. If you pissed off an aristocrat, your skull could become a spittoon.

I'm all for the selective preservation of Hawaiian culture, as we observe these days, but no monarchy of any description, please.

Cynthia Gonsalves ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 11:13 AM:

Lucy: I remember a Texan telling me about 20 years ago that TX was the only state that had been an independent nation, and I called him on it. Selective grasp of history, there. My father's family had gone to Hawai'i to work on the sugar plantations before the monarchy was deposed, and I'm a 4th generation native Californian, so I figured he managed to diss both of the states I have personal ties to.

I find it cheering when I visit my family in Hawai'i to notice how the culture is experiencing a renewal. Even though I don't have any native Hawai'ian blood, it still makes the place where half my family is a special place to be.

As for the dreams of CA/HI independence, I'm just suffering from some election season induced snarkiness when I see California becoming an ATM for the politicians and a net exporter of tax dollars to the other 49 states. I fall back on those foolish flights of fancy for momentary consolation.

I'd still like to hear folks' ideas about the relative ungovernability of a unitary Alta California. Have we gotten just too big?

Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2004, 07:21 PM:

I think some of the Republican leaders have been attending Putin's "Dealing with Uppity Billionaires" seminars (3 p.m. Sundays, Moscow Airport Marriott, the Birobidzhan Function Room, $3million cash, or Mafiya or arms-dealer ties.)

Now, I don't know that G.W.B. thinks Soros stole his name....

meta4 ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2004, 09:37 AM:

the gun issue, like the abortion issue just doesn't yield to easy answers, no matter how much i massage my poor brain to come up with them.
thay both therefore slide into the file titled 'problems only resolvable at a higher level of understanding than we have access to now'
no surprise...i just wanted to meta-comment on how the quality of discussion and responsible dialogue here gives me great hope that the interplay of concerned individuals, coupled with the immediacy and world-spanning capability of the internet, (and above all the blog format) will hammer out these problems more delicately than has been hitherto imaginable.
this kind of trouble-shooting and brainstorming is transforming the power of ideas to propagate and blend; hitherto disconnected intelligence is coalescing in a riveting way...i'm glad i spent so many years reading books before the web, as novels lose me these days; since 9/11 the macro-global reality plot has oustripped the imagination of all but the very best writers, and the kicker is thatl i'ts not a metaphor....
er, or is it?
no offence to the editors and writers serving those who still read books...i know it might seem trollish to say this on this site,; i am simply responding to the thread, and marvelling how actual the world is becoming, while blogs like this and kos are raising the awareness of hundreds of thousands of curious, relatively ignorant, previously dissatisfied bystander/participants.
thanks for all the hard work, Patrick, so anyone can have a voice, and learn from such a rich lode of wisdom in the discussions here.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 04:01 AM:

So what does everyone think of Digby's recent
negative campaign items, which offer possible evidence of George W. Bush using cocaine on into the 1990s, and drinking alcohol during his occupation of the White House?

Is winning the election worth campaigning by encouraging widespread dissemination of this type of stuff? (I have the feeling that what Digby's going after could damage Bush as much as the Swift Boat liars damaged Kerry, if it got wide newspaper or TV circulation. But I don't think I'd want to work at actively distributing it, myself.)

I can't make myself accept that that's what it takes to get enough votes for Kerry.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 02:27 PM:

We could also try blaming the Florida storms on them. Tell the moderates it's global warming and the radicals it's the judgement of god.


Lenny, between the genuine breakdown in the order of social relations that drives our politics and the utter panic that the country has been driven to, it is going to be very difficult for US voters to make a decision based on anything but panic. Democrats have the choice of trying to quell that panic or direct it, and I suspect there is not enough time for the quelling.

This election has, for me, underscored the value of the ability to instill courage is in a political leader.

Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2004, 03:45 PM:

As someone living in a country where representation in the government is by population, I have to point out that those of you who feel powerless now have nothing on those of us who watched the Liberals achieve a majority government because of ONE province (this was about 3 elections ago for those keeping count). Never mind that two to three provinces often drive most policy even between elections, and one of those powers also fronts a secessionist party. And I'll stop before I go on a rant about the Bloc Quebecois.

Representation by population is also theorised by some to be part of why the Maritime provinces still struggle on as some of our poorest, in sharp contrast to most of their neighbours in the States with similar resources and geography. not only are they under-represented, but they're neglected in a way that guarantees they won't ever get the population levels to compete.

Rep. by pop. is a good idea in general, but past a certain point, I think the larger populations need a handicap not to leave everyone else outright ignored.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 01:53 AM:

Lenora, it sounds like Canada is still chunking up the country into provinces for national purposes, and that, I think is the core of the problem. There's no identity, really, to a US state (or to a Canadian province?). At the time of the Federalists, there was some tiny truth to the idea that the states were, well, states. But now they're administrative conveniences, that's all.

I'm not demanding that every election go my way (though I have to admit it would be less frustrating). All I want is a whole vote. I want national elections to be one person, one vote -- not one state, however many votes the system chooses to give it. We go to the polls -- preferably over a weekend, and not all on a Tuesday (Tuesday! What a stupid day!) -- and the votes are counted, one at a time, for the whole country. Not state by state. Is that too impossible a dream?

We can have regional representation for the things that matter regionally -- we do, actually, in all sorts of regional authorities which must seem redundant to the "small government" crowd but which seem like the working end of government to me. But the president? THat's a national issue.

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 07:46 AM:

Don't have time for much at the moment, but balancing out the high-population & low-population Australian States was a vital part of achieving Federation. Until January 1, 1901 they were almost separate countries ('colonies' of Great Britain's Empire), with customs duties 'n' all between them.

It's still a very active issue on & off, with money shared out from high-income states to the lower ones. Federal Senators have been called "unrepresentative swill" by the then Prime Minister because, although each State's senators quite accurately reflect the voting wishes of the electors within each state, each State has the same number of them in the Senate.

New South Wales 6,716,277
Victoria 4,947,985
Queensland 3,840,111
South Australia 1,531,375
Western Australia 1,969,046
Tasmania 479,958
(Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 10:38 AM:

I don't want California taxes to stop underwriting the rest of the country. I don't mind that. All I want is a whole vote in the presidential elections and a representational one in the legislature.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 12:14 PM:

Well, of course, Australia is a whole continent, and huge. But Epacris is right--in a one-person, one-vote situation, the USA would be dominated by its largest cities. There would be a temptation to cut back funds to poorer areas, definitely.

Guinier's cumulative ballot might perhaps alleviate this.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 03:44 PM:

Epacris - the Australian Senate gives a Tasmanian almost exactly 14 times the representation of a person from New South Wales. (Somehow, I don't think such people are known as New South Welsh.)

The US Senate gives a person from Wyoming (2000 pop. 493,782) 68.6 times the representation of a Californian, (2000 pop. 33,871,653). Based on 2003 estimates, the gap rises to 70.8 times. Source - US Census Bureau

Perhaps we do need some structural system to keep rural areas from being left behind, but all that we've gotten in the US is a long legacy of boondoggle water projects designed to allow farmers to use higly subsidized water to grow price-supported crops on marginal land. If you think corporate welfare is bad, take a closer look at agricultural welfare.

Not to say that all rural programs are bad. Of course, rural electrification and universal telecommunications were essential to building a modern nation. And we did need water projects to bring California's central valley online for farming.

But the next time you're in or over Utah, look around for the irrigation pivots growing grain crops in the middle of the desert, creating increased salinity downstream through runoff.

Unfortunately, like so many other things, it'll take more of a sense of social justice to fix than we're likely to have anytime soon.

I don't know how it is in Australia. Is there an equivalent history of impractical development schemes, driven by the structural misproportional representation?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2004, 06:52 PM:

all that we've gotten in the US is a long legacy of boondoggle water projects

Was Jeanette Rankin a product of machine politics in the cities? Representation by Tammany Hall? Let's hear it for Pendergast or Dailey or the rest of the machines....

I'd say don't sweat the center pivot irrigation - energy costs to run the pumps will dry that up soon enough. On the other hand I'd say TVA and Tennessee Tombigbe and other such water projects were logrolling outside the desert.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 12:54 AM:

Clark - You lost me on this one. Sure, Jeanette Rankin was from Montana, and was a progressive of sorts. But she was hardly typical of small-state representatives. And she was wrong about quite a few things, including staying out of World War 2.

As far as Tammany Hall and other machines go, they rise and fall everywhere in the country, including rural areas. It's just that there's more money in the cities, and that money is generated mostly locally before being passed through the public coffers, so the power of patronage is greater.

As far as the pivot irrigation in marginal areas in the West goes, the water comes mostly from diversionary dams, not from aquifers. And when farming becomes uneconomical in the Utah desert, the farms may fail. More likely, they'll be bought up by agribusiness concerns like ADM and be even more deeply subsidized by the government.

My point is that by having disproportionate representation, places like Utah can get big-ticket federal projects that cost too much to build, cost money to operate, and actively damage otherwise productive economic activity downstream.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 04:45 AM:
Perhaps we do need some structural system to keep rural areas from being left behind, but all that we've gotten in the US is a long legacy of boondoggle water projects designed to allow farmers to use higly subsidized water to grow price-supported crops on marginal land. If you think corporate welfare is bad, take a closer look at agricultural welfare.

This is a peculiar argument to make in support of the notion that California is being ill-served by the Big Empty states.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 10:31 AM:

Ray, the thing is -- California is, in fact, an agricultural state as much as it is anything else. And it gets Bad Agricultural Pork Barrel just like Utah does. And this illustrates as well as anything else the thing I've been trying to figure out how to say.

"Montana," "Utah" and "california" are not represented things anywhere in the system. Under the current system, who benefits? -- not Montanans, who are being stripmined out of a home: not Nevadans, who are being set up as a toxic waste dump now that legalized crime is lesss profitable than it used to be: nobody who actually lives in a rural situation. The less-populated states are not represented: they are rotten boroughs for Archer Daniels Midland, 3M, Hormel, etc.

California's a micrcosm of the same effect. When we talk about "logging interests" or "ag interests" or "milk interests" we're not talking about the people who live and work in the logging regions, or farmworkers and food processor plant workers, or people who live in rural counties, or people who shovel manure and tend milking machines: we're talking about landowners -- usually corporations who own vast tracts of land -- we're talking about shareholders in usually multinational corporations, we're talking about people who don't have to live in the middle of the mess we make by toadying to their "interests."

Logging is a case in point. You don't get much more rural than that, right? Wilderness, even. You got your sparse population dependent on an age-old, traditional industry complete with folkways and family traditions (mainly the family tradition of having less than ten fingers). But how is it in the interests of people who live in forest counties and who expect to live long enough to retire and see their grandchildren carry on their work, to have the land clear-cut, denuded, stripped of forest and allowed to wash away in the winter? It's not. And yet, when we enact laws that repeal the rights of local authorities to regulate logging, we say we are serving the logging interests. Never mind that we just disallowed actual loggers and their neighbors from protecting their livelihood and their standard of living. The logging interests we have served not only don't include those loggers or their neighbors, they are largely situated elsewhere altogether -- Japan, to be precise -- pretty far from the forest in question.

George Bush doesn't care about the interests of a rural Montanan who's facing the destruction of his home and the poisoning of his water, he doesn't care about his ability to make a living. The reason that Montana is overrepresented is because it has a smaller population and can be more tightly focussed on in the empty, emotional rhetoric that politicians use. Because there are fewer people, you can more accurately define and refine the hot buttons and buzzwords and manipulate the vote. That's all that they care about.

And this isn't my cynical assessment alone. During the Republican convention, the BBC was interviewing Republican functionaries, trying to get them to explain the platform, the issues, what the party had to offer the voters . . . the Republicans said, in so many words, that politics isn't about those things, it's about feeling good and bonding with the candidate.

Politicians like the current situation because they can ignore loud, rowdy, diverse, populous areas where the voters might organize around issues that affect them, and they can chunk off smaller groups of more homogeneous people and play them more precisely without ever havign to actually give them anything substantial.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 11:43 AM:

(1) My point is not so much to extol Jeanette Rankin as to praise the diversity brought by variety - where you see her as wrong (what does that have to do with diversity?) I see her as diverse as I see Borah and Church from Idaho and more.
(2) The power of patronage is greater in the cities but that doesn't matter because there is patronage in small towns too?
(3) The point of center pivot is to pivot around the well/pumphouse - otherwise you'd likely use rollers and hoses - which does take more labor shifting hoses. I don't see any green belted canals carrying water from the dams to the center pivot. If the water comes from diversionary dams wonder how come the aquifer has fallen hundreds of feet in Idaho and Kansas where I can speak from family farms.

Finally I suggest the power of the seniority system explains the observations better than the power of disproportionate representation.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Clark - I remain puzzled as to what Jeanette Rankin has to do with anything. But, since she apparently has to do with diversity, that's a characteristic I don't really see coming from the low EV states. Especially the high plain and intermountain ones. Maybe in the early 20th, but not now. (Even Stephanie Herseth takes enough right-friendly positions that I find her somewhat distasteful. Better than another Janklow, but still distasteful.)

As far as patronage goes, just because there's more of it where there's more money doesn't make it inherently worse. In fact, I'd argue that poorer communites suffer more when there's a strong patronage system, because there's less money flowing to those not plugged into the machine, both relatively and absolutely.

Point taken on pivot systems. What do I know about the specifics of irrigation? The biggest area I've ever "farmed" was about 20 x 30 feet, which can produce an alarmingly large amount of tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant - usually all at the same time. Especially if there's a drought on and you're using grey-water from dish washing instead of tap water.

And yes, the dropping aquifer levels on the plains is a major issue, and one that needs to be addressed before it becomes a crisis. But, I'd say that keeping Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas online is more critical than Idaho or Utah.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 01:17 PM:

[resolutely ignoring the gun discussion]

"As someone living in a country where representation in the government is by population, I have to point out that those of you who feel powerless now have nothing on those of us who watched the Liberals achieve a majority government because of ONE province (this was about 3 elections ago for those keeping count)."

Right. The Liberal Party wins elections because they have immense numbers of voters in Ontario and Quebec, which between themselves amount to nearly two-thirds of Canada's population.

Now explain to me why the preferences of Ontario and Quebec voters should matter less than the preferences of voters in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan or St. John's, Newfoundland. Are they less human? Do they have fewer needs? Are the "rights" of arbitrarily created administrative entities like Alberta or the Yukon Territory more important than the actual rights of breathing human beings?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:04 PM:

I'm responding with diversity - Frank Church and Richard Stallings from Idaho, from elsewhere Max Baucus and those names just where I have some connection - to the "all that we've gotten in the US is a long legacy of boondoggle" assertion where I suggest that a community in which Pauline Kael can say in effect "nobody I know voted for Nixon" is not a diverse world - there may be a subtext on my part, presuming a shared assumption that diversity is good - perhaps not shared. I suggest we've gotten some good people in Congress and further there is enough diversity that some of them are good by anybody's criteria.

On the issue of which communities suffer more - I haven't resolved the issue of scaling cardinal utility to my satisfaction (ordinal yes, cardinal no) perhaps you could share your scale?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Don't just ignore the gun discussion please - perhaps its own thread with everything promptly moved there though?

Any plans to buy your own 1911?

Maybe shoot a .50 Browning rifle while you still can?

Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 05:54 PM:


A valid point and part of the reason rep. by pop. came into being in the first place.

However, it still leaves a problem: the **impression** is that if something goes wrong in Ontario or another rich/populous centre that is relevant on a Federal level, it tends to get attention over a problem from another area, even if what they view as trouble leaves them in a better position than the ones that were passed over in their favour.

And, again, those provinces currently poor are often poor due to the system. If they had a higher population, they'd get the things they need to improve. If they improved, they'd get the things they need to lure people to move there. I believe that is called Catch-22.

It may be literally true that on a raw count of heads, the current system is fair, but the results lead to giving the support to areas already in good shape. And individuals, breathing human beings with their single votes, outside populous areas, do perceive this as their vote counting for less.

There's no perfect system. And overall, I prefer Canada's system to the States', even when it's "Politics as usual". Given the choice between flat rep. by pop. and flat numbers by state, I'll take by pop. It doesn't mean I can't grumble when the numbers come in. After all, I DID vote.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:04 PM:

Larry Brennan said, " the dropping aquifer levels on the plains is a major issue, and one that needs to be addressed before it becomes a crisis. But, I'd say that keeping Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas online is more critical than Idaho or Utah."

I hope I missed the point of this. Did you really mean to say it's okay to destroy some regions in order to provide the amounts of power that other regions think they ought to have? I hope you said something else entirely and I missed it. It's happened before. I could be oversensitive to this type of issue here lately.

But just in case you found yourself saying that -- ick. Yes, I like the lights and the computer and the various strange music the denizens of my household like to grace the air with, and I surely desire that the hospitals and dispatch offices and cooling sheds should stay powered, but my optimistic little rodent brain insists that with conservation and the liberal application of appropriate technology we can do this without wrecking the land. And that we'd better, so we'll have some land to live in later on. And air to breathe. And water to drink. Stuff like that.

(I just figured out why I might be oversensitive at the moment. I just read Swanwick's Jack Faust: heard a bit on the BBC about how EU cotton subsidies have poisoned the water and destroyed the landscape in large valleys in Greece (never mind that to a California mind, the idea of a large valley fitting into Greece seems like an exercise in 6-dimensional topology): and drove most of the way around the edge of Monterey Bay, looking at stuff on my way to a funeral. So the first thing makes me grimly determined to prove Michael Swanwick a liar: the second makes me doubtful that I can: and the third reminds me why I care.

(I'll try to do a better job proofreading this time)

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:26 PM:

Lucy - whoa! Not what I meant to say at all, sorry if it came off that way.

What I mean is that the grain crops produced in high yield areas of the midwest are more worthy of the potential expense of new irrigation solutions than the more marginal areas, simply on the basis of cost/benefit.

Of course, given the high likelihood of climate change, the Dakotas may be the new high yield area...

I'm thinking about agriculture, not hydroelectricity. Hydro is more of a Northwest and Canadian water issue than a Great Plains issue.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 06:32 PM:

By the way, I just got back from the Lava Beds National Monument, outside of Tulelake, CA. If ever there was an area where tons of money were wasted to bring marginal land under the plow, that's one. The main crops seem to be barley and alfafa. And water is a BIG political issue up there.

I feel sorry for the farmers up there, but I'd rather pay them for their land than pay them to continue to grow unprofitable crops on what should be a shallow lake surrounded by a large marsh.

Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:16 PM:

The lava tubes are great, though!

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2004, 07:43 PM:

Lorax for president!

But more seriously, as rural land goes, so go rural people. It seems to me important to govern in a way which preserves the land, which we depend upon. And the land, after all, does not vote and therefore has little political representation. It seems unwise, at least, to put the land entirely in the service of the cities. So perhaps we need to think about a different sort of representation; something that speaks for the places that cannot speak for themselves.

Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 01:02 AM:

Is the centre pivot system discussed a few posts up responsible for the big green circles in the middle of the desert that I saw from the plane on the way home to Silicon Valley yesterday?

I looked at this and was baffled by the enthusiasm for growing water-heavy crops (which was what it appeared to be) in the middle of the desert. Makes the EU's agricultural policy look almost sane by comparison. Or even the local enthusiasm for growing lush green front lawns in a semi-desert region by way of conspicuous consumption...

James Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 08:56 AM:

Lenora --

The perception that high-population areas, per se, get more attention than low-population areas isn't right in any simple manner, either.

One of the major issues at present in the greater Toronto area is that it subsidizes less prosperous areas to such a degree that money for local services is affected. In particular, there's a net outflow of money and resources from Toronto proper to the rest of Ontario and Canada via both provincial and federal taxes, but there are sets of urban problems (higher stress on resources caused by higher levels of immigration, for example) which require more money than is available from local taxes (constraints on local taxes being the levels of local taxes in other adjoining areas with lower expenses or other sources of revenue, such as new home fees). Certainly, again, there's a strong perception that the feds have ignored urban issues in the GTA for a long time, or at least have offered little more than rhetoric and broken promises.

Most Canadian politics comes down, in the end, to subsidization issues between the provinces. Much of what drives the health care debate is that the have provinces (higher per capita incomes) could handle higher levels of service simply by redirecting income if the feds reduced their taxes (this is particularly an issue in Alberta, which generates money from oil and gas revenues without the high population that offsets it in costs in the GTA). The have no provinces want money, even if it comes with strings attached; thye have provinces are far more touchy and inclined to demand freedom to set their own policies. And of course there is a net transfer of money via EI, as well.

The causes of relative provincial poverty aren't simple. In the case of the Maritimes, there was a systematic despoilation of the area by central Canada, but that's now over a century ago. In the case of areas which are largely agricultural, more general changes in markets and technology have more to do with it. And bootstrapping a region into a self-sustaining cycle of competitive economic activity is a non-trivial matter.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 10:11 AM:

Likewise, most American cities pay out a lot more federal taxes than they get back from the central government, which is of course the exact opposite of what most people believe.

In other words, the same New Yorkers whose votes don't count as much as a Montanan's are paying more money and getting fewer services than Montanans are.

In other other words, the American system is in a very real sense a gigantic racket designed to rip off city dwellers in favor of rural people, while carefully nurturing a never-ending sense of grievance among the rural.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 10:49 AM:

In other other words, the American system is in a very real sense a gigantic racket designed to rip off city dwellers in favor of rural people, while carefully nurturing a never-ending sense of grievance among the rural.

I'd just like to chime in, repeating something that Lucy mentioned above: I doubt that "rural people", in the sense of "ordinary people", are really who benefits. Isn't it the large corporations?

This whole discussion reminds me of the old quote, "When the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned, only then will we realize that we cannot eat [drink, or breathe] money."

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Patrick: Are you familiar with the work of Daniel Lazare? Specifically _America's Undeclared War_? Although _Frozen Republic_ is worth a look too. But, if you're not familar with it, _America's Undeclared War_ is dedicated to the premise that the US, from its inception is designed to be deeply hostile toward cities. Lazare is more than a bit of a bomb thrower, but I've found him very persuasive.

Just off on the side, I've been nursing for the last couple of weeks a new, half baked pet theory that the next big (and arguably the current big) cultural/polical split is going to be urban/urban values versus rural/suburban values. (I grew up in a town smaller than most ostensably rural people's highschool, but have determinedly chosen to live in several of the biggest cities in the country, so you can figure where I come down on that).

Basically, I'm tempted to start arguing that the central observation of what I'm going to call, in pathetic bid to get flamed to a crisp "urban polical thought" is driven by the knowledge that "We are all in this together" isn't in anyway an uplifting slogan; its just a observation about the nature of the universe, where as much of what I'm tempted to call rural/suburban thinking is driven by (what I judge to be) the delusion that you can choose who gets to be in your society. (again. Strong disclaimer: Half baked. Haven't fully thought it through. May be utterly indefensible.)

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:26 PM:

In other words, the same New Yorkers whose votes don't count as much as a Montanan's are paying more money and getting fewer services than Montanans are.

In a real world I'd suggest that Montanans are receiving fewer services at higher unit costs but

arguendo I'll suggest that asking the Feds to furnish only public goods would resolve this issue. It would still cost more per capita to vaccinate in Montana than in Manhattan but city dwellers would benefit from universal vaccination. Same with B-52's and Border Patrols.

Of course this would imply much more local control on other issues which might annoy those city dwellers who want to write local dare I say it local gun laws or speed limits for Montana.

James Burbidge ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 12:53 PM:

Unfortunately, the "public goods only" model has the same overall effect in terms of transfers. In both Canada and the United States, urban areas contribute more to the federal government in taxes than rural ones do on a per capita basis, since average incomes are higher. (In addition, corporate taxes tend to be paid in urban areas as well). But public goods -- vaccinations, roads and other infrastructure, education, health and hospital services, etc. -- tend to be either flat on a per capita cost basis or more expensive in rural areas.

The effect is exacerbated by various subsidization schemes -- agricultural ones, for example, or the Canadian "equalization payment" model -- which benefit rural areas; and indirectly by trade policies which may benefit producers over consumers (Canada's marketing boards are one good example), although these may also, of course, benefit urban/industrial areas, so the matter is rather more complicated.

I have heard, although I cannot now put my hands on a reference, that the map of U.S. states which are net contributors to the federal treasury as opposed to those which are net beneficiaries is a relatively close map to the blue/red division in 2000 -- Democratic states tend to be both net contributors and urbanized.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 01:04 PM:

The urban/rural income distribution model also functions within states. For instance, in New York State, the only upstate county that receives less from the state than it pays in taxes is Monroe, home to the surprisingly earnest city of Rochester. Every other upstate county is on the dole, so to speak. But, if you stop a random upstater and ask about taxes, they'll more than likely be convinced that New York City is vacuuming money out of their pockets to put welfare queens in Cadillacs.

The power of a good story is far greater than objective fact. The GOP knows this - that's why they focus on storytelling and ridicule facts.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 01:22 PM:

James, I think you've independently discovered John Sperling's "Retro vs Metro" model. (Not that he invented the idea, but he coined the handy tag.)

And no, I don't know what I "retrosexual" would be.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Precisely, hence the Feds shouldn't be into roads, education, health and hospital services.

However the quality of in particular health and hospital services clearly enjoys an economy of scale. As a matter of law Idaho has held that the standard of care in rural Idaho cannot be the same as the standard of care in Manhatten. There is little chance of a Mass. General or a Sloan-Kettering (big corporations there, General Motors and the electric starter) in Grangeville Idaho. Fortunately there is little need for the ER expertise of Grady or Denver General in dealing with the results of social interactions among urban youth - though of course farming is dangerous for young and old (don't take the belt guards off that combine young man).

There might be a possible exception where there is a consensus among all the voters (which need not be quite unanimity). There are issues of tax free bonds for instance, who buys them, who pays and who benefits.

Notice that some make an argument for marginal benefit and marginal detriment - see e.g. Senator Kerry's suggestion for increasing marginal tax rates to more heavily impact the rich for the benefit of those less well endowed in worldly goods. I haven't noticed any assertion that those less well endowed must be co-located (live in the servants quarters? or a Palm Beach/West Palm Beach model) so that the relatively wealthy get full value for their greater pecuniary contribution?

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Whew! I was on the verge of responding to Clark. Then I realized I was writing a rant. And rants are bad. And are usually answered by more rants. Which is bad. So I checked the calibration of my irony meter, which has been out of whack lately. Readings were inconclusive.

So I decided to write this meta-comment instead, and get back to enjoying my semi-urban, multi-cultural lifestyle. I think I'll stop by my local library, where I'll borrow a book purchased with funds stolen from local families. Then I may stroll over to Peet's for a coffee, which I'll enjoy while sitting on a bench, surrounded by plantings all put there by the dark forces of socialism.

Life is good.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 04:50 PM:

I might listen to Billy Holliday do God Bless the Child as the last word on this myself -

(Mr. Meeropol wrote one of the great arguments against gun control for her though for l'esprit de l'escalier)

Anton Sherwood ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Lois Fundis: there is indication in the local newspapers that Kerry is definitely NOT in favor of restricting all access to guns.

Why, nobody is, except a few fanatics; all the mainstream wants is reasonable controls such as requiring all privately-owned guns to be stored at licensed target ranges.

Xopher: Oh, and I certainly think registration of ownership and transfer of title should be required for all gun sales, even between private individuals. We require that for cars; why not guns?

A revenue device is not much of a moral argument imho. But anyway, David Kopel (among others that I'm too lazy to track down) wrote an amusing take on the "guns like cars" meme.

Lucy Kemnitzer: There's no identity, really, to a US state (or to a Canadian province?). . . . now they're administrative conveniences, that's all.

The arbitrariness of the divisions reduces the cost of voting with one's feet.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 11:45 AM:

And I think arguing over who gives more, who gets more, and how this should affect apportionment of power is every bit as pernicious for a civilized society as it is for a marriage.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 12:27 PM:

Wait a minute. If we're not supposed to argue over who gives more and who gets more, what's left to the political sphere?

Politics is all about deciding these issues; and democracy is the idea that everyone's entitled to take part in the argument. If the very argument is "pernicious," what's left is that all the decisions get made by big guys on horseback.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 01:36 PM:

Patrick, I think the thing Mary Kay is responding to is not the thing you're defending. THere's a point at which we could start to become selfish and mean-spiritied: the flat-tax point, where we start thinking fairness and equality is about strictly equal dollar amounts no matter what the situation is.

I do think we need to argue about who gives what and who gets what, and that there is never a point at which it is appropriate to say the issue is resolved. I think that arguing about it is the only way to achieve anything like fairnes or workableness, and that those are moving targets, so arguing has to keep on.

But equal dollar amounts is never what makes things fair. And I certainly don't ask for anything like it.

I don't even ask for an absolutely equal vote in all things. I want a whole vote in the presidential election, and I want the legislature to be redesigned so it isn't ridiculous, but I don't mind sparser regions and groups with less current resources being given a little edge. I just don't think that the current system does that: I think it gives certtain politicians a free hand to ignore the actual interests of large groups and small groups alike.

Mary Kay: it's important, when lies are used as a basis to vilify and dienfranchise people, to address and refute the lies. Urban vilification hurts everybody. It hurts rural workers too, because the resources for their political power -- and I don't just mean the money to be drawn from the collective pockets of many many urban workers (why am I talking about workers here? Because they interest me, I mean also law libraries, and students and retired people to walk precincts and write lobby letters, and all sorts of stuff like that -- these resources are less available to rural people when there is an artificial barrier added to the natural ones. Not that there is much of one now. Rural workers become urban workers and vice versa rather easily now, depening on the sale of agricultural land to Wal-Mart developers and plant closures.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 01:54 PM:

That all makes a big old pile of sense.

Nobody in their right mind would argue that we shouldn't have, say, the federal highway system, or the post office, just because having them means some per-capita spending in rural areas that exceeds per-capita spending in cities.

On the other hand, it's remarkable how many of the truly insane policy choices our society keeps making suddenly turn out to make sense if you assume the Prime Directive is to take money away from city folks and use it for boondoggles in the countryside. A century of insanely stupid Western water projects, for instance. Later: the War on Drugs and its attendant boom in prison construction.

This doesn't mean the money is going to Joe Rural Voter, of course, as someone above pointed out. After all, it's important that Joe keep feeling angry and resentful about those cities with their tax-gobbling welfare queens.

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 03:49 PM:

Notice that, in addition to the hypothetical welfare queens, schools in Atlanta Georgia

(which had the worst district student test scores in the state with the worst over all student test scores of all the states - last year's reports; this year Georgia is 49th - {can't superscript th quite right on this computer I need a typewriter?})

wasted in graft corruption and inefficiency a documented $100,000,000 of Federal assistance for school technology - there is even an SF community connection for some of it. The scale of inefficiency and corruption in Atlanta politics - as reported in Federal courts - does exceed any I have seen reported in a rural state (at least since Dashiell Hammett who not only reported corruption in the mountain west but participated in it).

Some say in education:Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arkansas get the most performance for the buck. 2001 figures from
Manhattan Institute
a perhaps biased source but presenting their model and their data in some detail. There is an efficiency argument - and efficiency is often a moral argument, at least up to a point - for putting the marginal dollar where there is the most bang for the buck. And there is some evidence for more bang for the buck outside the cities.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2004, 08:08 PM:

Yes Lucy, thank you.


mythago ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2004, 01:01 AM:

I know far too many people who have bought the GOP as a brand, and have blinded themselves to their party’s real agenda.

*cough* Log Cabin Republicans *cough*

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 10:38 AM:

This is all quite interesting. I grew up (poor) in the country and now live in the city, and the whole idea of tax money moving from urban to rural areas never occurred to me before. The red/blue split is fascinating too.

Possibly there are no big boondoggles in my home state of Maine. It does seem to be a western kind of thing - maybe because land and other natural resources are still there for the taking?

But one thing I can say about living in an economically depressed rural area: there ain't nothing there. If we were "benefitting unfairly" from federal spending, there was no particular evidence of that.

I know nobody here is saying that rural people are somehow to blame for the fact that they don't make as much money, but it's a slippery slope. The words "rural welfare queen" seem to be hovering in the air.

Just some observations from ground level.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2004, 02:56 PM:

Well, and what I'm specifically saying is that the current situation allows politicians to play the rural card without actually delivering to the people who live and work in rural areas. In the areas of California where the most state and federal largesse goes, you can't see a cent of it on the ground. The Interstate looks pretty good, and the canals look great (until you think about drinking from one), but the back roads, the towns, the ground water, the schools, the medical facilities -- they look terrible. When I've got to places like Montana and South Dakota, I see the same thing. (one issue is that a large number of the rural poor are disallowed from voting, either because the US doesn't allow dual citizenship, or because of the disproportionate ex-felon status of poor people. Another large group of the rural poor don't vote because they are never spoken to and never included in political discussion and therefore see no percentage in voting. This leaves the squeezed middle, hurt and looking for remediation, to play to -- and they have a tradition of wanting to ally themselves with what they think is the "middle class" and isn't. They are much more easily convinced that a man who dresses like they think they do [but with a huge dollar difference in the clothes] and puts on a fake rural accent actually represents them).

No -- I don't believe in rural welfare queens, unles you're talking about welfare for the rich. (Like most urban Californians, I'm within ten minutes of a rural area. That's where I work. So I don't have illusions about rural life)

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 05:38 AM:

"ex-felon status" - It's still a mystery how a government can get away with apparently continuing a sentence for an indefinite period or life.

Why doesn't the bar from voting stop once the full period of the sentence has expired? Very unChristian, that.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 10:55 AM:

It sounds a little unConstitutional, not to mention unChristian (always good to bear in mind they are not the same thing : )

Is this a federal law that applies to all felons?

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 11:50 AM:

No, it isn't a federal law. Voting and elections are run by the states and various states have various laws. If I recall correctly, only a few states have laws barring felons from voting and even most of them have ways voting rights can be restored.

Personally I think it's hideously short-sighted to give people who have served their time no stake in the society to which they are returning.


James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 12:18 PM:

In general, I'd go even further, and give felons serving time the vote. In general, my feeling is that if you've got so many felons that they are screwing up the vote, your democracy has probably gone of the rails a bit any how.

The only problem I see with it is that you don't want the inmate population in Joliet IL, say, to have a huge impact on the local school board of Joliet, IL. But you could probably handle that with absentee ballots from their last city of residence.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 01:22 PM:

On the other hand, if felons voted as residents of the counties where their prisons were located, that could be an incentive towards smaller prisons, which might make them more humane. Or it might not.

Smaller prisons, located closer to the places where the prisoners lived, would surely be easier on the friends and relatives who come to visit.

fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 02:16 PM:

Different states handle the loss-of-civil-rights-for-convicted-felons business differently. In some states, conviction of any felony means a loss of these rights; in other states, such as Tennessee, you must be not a mere, average, everyday felon, but a 'notorious felon'. This is how our tried-convicted-and-paroled former governor Ray Blanton could try and run for office one more time before he died, and how one of our legislators could continue to hold his seat, vote, and even run for re-election while a 'guest' of Uncle Sam at a federal institution down in Alabama. In most cases, you can petition for restoration of rights, including the right to vote; it's not automatic once you've served the full sentence.

I think the legislators of Tennessee were attempting to give people who'd done wrong and [in the old-fashioned phrase] "paid their debt to society" a chance to join back in, rather than merely looking out for their own interests in the event they themselves got caught. That's mostly because I don't believe they ever expect to get caught, though.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:09 PM:

Enfranchising prisoners, while just and a good idea, presents certain logistical problems. Do you have a polling place at the actual prison? And since it would presumably be an identifiable ward or district, voter intimidation would be rampant. Just two off the top of my head.

Absentee ballots from the prisoner's home district would be a good solution to both of those. But there are others.

One reason it's a good idea is that it would help get rid of certain abuses, if only because politicians would have to consider the incarcerated vote: it's an appallingly high percentage of our population, the highest in the world. I primarily blame mandatory sentences and the for-profit prison industry, which is motivated by economics to continue "growing their stock" -- that is, making sure people stay in prison longer and come back often.

Just one reason the for-profit prison industry is a bad thing that IMO should be abolished.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:28 PM:

There's also the disquieting fact that prisoners are counted as part of a region's population when it comes to apportioning representatives, but are not able to actually vote, which skews influence in the favor of those areas that have big prisons (and also smacks of the 'slaves count as two-thirds of a person for representation but of course don't vote' days).

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2004, 03:31 PM:

Wow, I didn't realize that. That is disquieting.

Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:29 AM:

The last (and still so far only) time that the Massachusetts Constitution was amended to remove rights, it removed the right to vote from serving felons. (Released felons can still vote.) This worked fine until 2000.

Stefanie's point is well taken.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 11:13 AM:

Christopher (Davis): How do you get "This worked fine until 2000"? The Florida mess had nothing to do with serving felons -- the problem was purging alleged (released) felons -- and Massachusetts didn't have such a problem.

Stephanie: IIRC it was 3/5 rather than 2/3, but the point is still disturbing.
In California's case, giving the less-inhabited north more leverage against LA sounds appealing -- but much of the rural north is conservative (a fact Callenbach brushed aside in Ecotopia), and the parts likely to accept large prison projects are even more so.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 01:35 PM:

Conservative is not a useful label in Northern California. It doesn't reliably predict local behavior on a number of issues -- conservation, for one. Even "pro-sonservation" doesn't reliably predict local behavior. Witness the struggles in the Sierras, where locals who are dependent on tourism and logging are fighting with the Feds for more limits on those in the National Forests, because they want to protect their future livelihood, a point of view which I am glad to see, but which doesn't come neatly under any political category (they still vote more right-wing that I would like, though I don't understand how they can reconcile it).

As for "likely to accept large prison projects," where, in Northern California, aside from those places already saddled with them, are you thinking of?

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2004, 06:14 PM:

Yesterday's WashPost had an article on how many people with dementia are voting. Many are clearly being told how to vote.

Bill ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 12:37 PM:

Now, I'm not brave enough to deny that Libertarians are nuts. Afterall, I'm one myself. But I don't think you have to fear my vote swaying things toward Bush. Since the popular vote is irrelevant, I'm following the "safe state" strategy. If I lived in a swing state I would vote for Kerry, but since there's not a chance in Gahenna of my state or even my county going for Kerry (Texas). I will be voting for my candidate. I wish I had a reasonable candidate, a candidate that I thought could gain office and would do things I might approve of once there, but this race is just a contest between two Republican frat mates. This is just a cheap magic trick. (Watch the Republican, isn't he scary? Oh, look children! I've pulled another Republican out of the voting box!)

That said, if there is a good reason for me personally to vote for Kerry, I'm open to changing my mind.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Polls can be wrong. Even ludicrously wrong. Even deliberately falsified.

I'd say unless there's a 15-20% lead (either way), it's still prudent to vote for Kerry.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2004, 09:45 PM:

I'd put it this way, Xopher: If Kerry is close enough to Bush in Texas for Bill's vote to matter there, then Kerry's already looking at a 30-something state and 150+ EV drubbing of Bush nationally. If Kerry's close to winning Texas, Kerry won't need to win Texas.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Stephanie: IIRC it was 3/5 rather than 2/3

Sorry about that.

And I'm even hitched to a U. S. historian.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2004, 10:40 AM:

True, Ray, but he was talking about his county. Still, I take your point.

Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2004, 04:17 PM:

CHip: I get "this worked fine until 2000" because the Commonwealth did not fail even though imprisoned felons were allowed to vote until then. Nothing to do with Florida.