What Incumbent Advantage?

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

It’s almost a truism that the incumbent has an advantage in U.S. elections. In many cases that’s true. Congressional incumbents very rarely lose, for instance. But in modern presidential elections? I don’t see it.

Ron Paul 2012

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

I have come to the sad realization that Barack Obama is a massive failure. Ron Paul would’ve been a much better choice in 2008 and likely in 2012, even for a left-leaning libertarian like myself. I’m not saying that I would vote for any Republican over Barack Obama. Obama is at least marginally less repugnant than most of the Fox news endorsed yahoos like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney. Nor am I saying that I agree with Ron Paul on everything. I don’t. But there seems to be no reasonable Democratic candidate who will deliver on any of the issues on which I do disagree with Ron Paul. Given that fact, the rational choice, the lesser of two evils, is the Republican. It’s not hard to see why. Just consider what Obama has delivered and compare that to what Ron Paul would’ve delivered.

How Much Government is Too Much?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Kenneth M. Duberstein, a chief of staff in the Reagan White House says in the New York Times today, What’s going on here is not simply health care and the public option. In light of the auto bailout, the bank bailout, the stimulus package, the public option fight is a surrogate for how much government is too much.

Actually looking at that list, it’s pretty clear where the Republicans stand on this important question. As long as the government’s helping out big business, Wall Street, insurance companies, and auto dealers, it’s not too much. But as soon as it starts trying to help individual folks trying to get by, then it’s too much and they’ll fight tooth and nail to stop it.

One More Time: Piracy is not Theft

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

I first wrote about this almost 20 years ago on the NYMUG BBS, but some otherwise intelligent folks still haven’t gotten the message, and persist in making fools of themselves in public while the pirates laugh their asses off. Software/music/book piracy is not theft. Legally, theft involves specific actions under the law. Distributing unauthorized copies of purchased books/music/software is illegal in most jurisdictions, but it is not now and never has been theft. Anyone who says otherwise (and they are legion) is blowing hot air; and everyone who isn’t in the content business (as well as some of us who are) at least implicitly recognizes this. Trying to convince folks that piracy is theft is as hopeless as trying to convince people the world is flat. The reality is just too obvious for such wrong ideas to take hold. The copyright industry is attempting to preserve a doomed business model by name calling. <sarcasm>Yeah, that’s going to work.</sarcasm>.

Did We Actually Elect a Good President?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

It’s still early days, but Wow:

A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.

–President Barack Obama

Read the rest in Freedom of Information Act

It’s starting to seem like Barack Obama actually gets it. I still want to see him prosecute the criminals in the Bush administration, but otherwise it’s starting to look like we’ve elected a good one for the first time in my lifetime. Fingers crossed.

A Constitutional Thought Experiment for California

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Suppose the voters of this state passed a ballot resolution banning marriage between doctors and lawyers, and further invalidating existing marriages between doctors and lawyers. Would such a resolution be binding, or would it rightly be rejected by the courts? Are there any limits on the power of a ballot resolution beyond those set by the Federal Constitution?