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December 2012


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unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Monday, October 29th, 2012 08:38 pm

We are a week from election day.

Remember, when you prepare to go to the polls, that each election cycle in which you convince yourself — or let others convince you — that you have to hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils because third parties and independent candidates have no chance of being elected, is one more election cycle in which third parties and independent candidates have no chance of being elected.  Because you, and everyone else who held their nose and voted for the lesser evil, wouldn't vote for them, even though you wished you could.

You want it to EVER change?


If not you, then who?

If not now, then when?

unixronin: GENERIC ICON (black and white) (ICON)
Sunday, February 12th, 2012 03:38 pm

I've been noticing a trend in polls over the last few months. President Obama's approval rating hasn't been climbing, and in any poll of Obama vs. "generic Republican" for the uncoming Presidential election, Obama loses solidly.  But plug in the names of any of the current Republican candidates in place of "generic Republican", and the result flips; now Obama leads by a solid 8-10%.

I predict that Obama will get a second term in this election, and that he will take it as a mandate to continue and ramp up his agenda.  But I posit that this does not in fact represent a real success of Obama, of his policies, of his administration, or of the Democrat party.

What it represents is a complete failure of the Republican party to show the slightest sign of any awareness of the mood of the electorate or the state of the nation, and in particular how tired the voters are of a Congress owned lock, stock and barrel by megacorporations and megabanks.  Obama may not be doing anything tangible to change this, but he at least made a few of the right noises in his State of the Union campaign speech; and that's good enough for a large number of voters — even when he then turns around and brokers a mortgage settlement with the banks that amounts to slapping them lightly on the wrists and handing them a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

unixronin: A very fine Pembridge pattern great-helm (This means war)
Sunday, September 4th, 2011 01:29 pm

Pork barrel politics is, simply, the art of buying your constituents' votes using their own money, and hoping that they never catch on.

The depressing part about this is how often it works.

unixronin: Pissed-off avatar (Pissed off)
Friday, August 5th, 2011 12:07 pm

Truth doesn’t matter.  It is all about the narrative.  And the new narrative is that people that think the government spends too damn much money are evil terrorists.

This is another part of my conviction that both major parties in US politics have completely lost their way.  It's not so much a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as that the bathtub is overflowing and the baby is drowning while the Republican and Democrat parties are pulling each other's hair, trying their best to break each other's toys in revenge, and calling each other doody-heads in their screaming argument about what's the proper way to turn off the effing tap.  They've both completely forgotten that the baby is even in the tub.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 07:59 pm

Yeah, mark this in your calendars if you think I'm only ever on one side of the fence:  I'm giving props to a Democrat Congressman.  Specifically, Sen. Ron Widen (D-OR).


Because he believes that police should have to get an order signed by a judge before they can use your cell phone or a GPS bug to track your whereabouts.  He believes it 'violates the Fourth Amendment right to be free from "unreasonable" searches'.

Now, I'm not entirely sure the Fourth Amendment is the proper authority to invoke here.  But I'm entirely in agreement that the police should not have the power to just randomly start tracking anyone they feel like, without any oversight.  We do not need to live in a surveillance society.

It's not about left vs. right.  It's about freedom vs. an overarching government that controls, and pries into, everything.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Thursday, January 20th, 2011 06:30 am

Oh look, here's Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY who got into office largely by pretending to be a "Blue Dog"¹) totally not using Tucson as an excuse for more gun control laws.  After all, it didn't work in California, it didn't work in Massachusetts, it didn't work under the Clintons, why not try it again?  Astronomers just corrected all the astrological signs for the precession of the Earth's axis since astrology was invented in Babylonian times; maybe the bill will "work" now.

...Oh come on, it's as reasonable as any other rationale.

[1]  Uh, never mind the false-colors part, I somehow managed to confuse her with Kirstin Gillibrand.  ...No, I can't begin to guess how I conflated two such dissimilar names.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 01:54 pm

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  Cliché, sure, but it's more true than at any time since the Gilded Age.

So says Business Insider, and they show 15 graphs to support it. Granted, this is not entirely a balanced view; the two distribution-of-wealth pie charts show that almost the entirety of wealth in the US is held by the upper 50% of the population, and a third of it by the top 1%, with a similar (and unsurprising) imbalance in stocks-and-bonds ownership, but neglects to mention that the same 50% of the population also shoulders essentially the entire Federal tax burden, with the top 1% paying 25% of it.

Also follow the links to this article about how the American middle class is being systematically wiped out, a process which is only being accelerated by US Government policies that are making it an act of foolhardy stupidity for US corporations not to relocate as much as possible of their operations offshore, and this article which asserts that it really makes very little difference whether the Bush-II tax cuts are extended or not because it's already m according to the author — mathematically impossible for even the existing Federal debt to ever be paid off.

If you took every dollar out of every single wallet, out of every single mattress and out of every single U.S. bank and sent it to the government you wouldn't even make that big of a dent in the national debt.

So can't the U.S. government just go out and create more money and solve the problem?


You see, under our system the creation of more money is also the creation of more debt.

You should probably follow on from there to this article about how the US monetary system really works, too.

I see only one way out of this for the United States, and that is for the people of the United States to first fire the entire present government of the United States, and then repudiate the debts of that government.  Of course, this would almost certainly precipitate a global financial crisis (yes, another one).  But, honestly, so would the other option, which is to continue on this path until the US goes bankrupt.  That course would put the crash off for a while, at the cost of it being even worse when it eventually comes.

Frankly, the entire world needs to open its eyes and see that the investment banking industry has spent at least the last thirty years building a house of cards out of imaginary cards, having agreed among themselves to pretend that the cards are real, and laughing all the way to their offshore banks with the profits.  They have turned the banking industry into a way to siphon wealth out of the global economy without putting any corresponding value back.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Monday, November 29th, 2010 10:35 am

I went to look at Rocky Mountain Meadery this morning, which it turns out has renamed itself Meadery of the Rockies since I last bought mead from them.  It turns out that, thanks to your tax dollars at work, Rocky Mountain Meadery — or Meadery of the Rockies — no longer ships mead interstate.


In 2005, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed its long standing position that state laws violate the Commerce Clause if they mandate "differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests that benefit the former and burden the latter."  This rule prohibits states from permitting in-state wineries to ship wine in-state while that state prohibits out-of-state wineries from shipping wine into the state.  Consequently, states are now requiring wineries to obtain licenses to ship within and into their states.  For us to purchase 20 or more licenses, plus incur the additional cost of paper work, tax compliance, and monthly reports would be prohibitive.  Therefore, we have decided not to ship wine interstate at the present time.

So, yet another active producer of goods that has had to cut back its business, and its contribution to the overall economy, because it can no longer afford the cost of compliance with government edicts.

Personally, I think we've had about all the government we can stand.

(As for our mead supply, it turns out Redstone Meadery does ship interstate, and has way cool bottles to boot.)

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 10:59 am

Walter Russell Mead, writing for The American Interest, has a column about Obama's fall from grace, and the embarrassing failure of such realities as the economic crash to obediently succumb to his rhetoric and demagoguery.  It's not a bad column, if you ignore the bit where, after he lambasts the Left up at the start of his article for "mistaking hopes and fantasies for reality" and going all starry-eyed over promises of hope and change, he then falls into the exact same trap himself in the last few paragraphs of the column.  (As pointed out several times in the comments.  Don't miss the comments.)

To be fair, no, I don't want the President of the United States to fail, either.  But that's because I want the President to be competent and effective, a statesman and a representative of this nation.  But Barack Obama is an arrogant, narcissistic, incompetent bumbler with no executive skills (and apparently few if any diplomatic ones, either), and if he fails while in the office of the Presidency, well, that's very sad for the Presidency, but if he fails, he fails; and honestly, the blame for failure lies squarely at his own feet and the feet of those who elected a man to the Presidency essentially on the basis of idol-worship and empty campaign promises.

Mead says Obama has "had some painful and public lessons", and is "beyond a doubt [...] smarter, tougher, and more experienced now than he was two years ago."  No, I don't believe he is.  On the contrary, I think he's still firmly convinced of his own infallibility, and baffled at reality's failure to meekly conform to his master plan.

"We must all hope he succeeds", says Mead.

No.  We must all hope that this time, the vast, complacent American public wakes up and stops blindly believing campaign promises of milk and honey in the Promised Land.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Monday, November 15th, 2010 09:39 pm

"In a stunning admission of just how job-killing and business-crushing the new health care law really is, the Obama administration has issued a staggering total of 111 Obamacare waivers (and counting) so far."

So who's on the [deeply buried] Obamacare waiver list?  Well, this one's almost guaranteed to make you either laugh or cry:  Aetna.  What does it say when one of the largest medical insurers in the United States has to have a waiver from a law that sets a mandatory minimum standard for the medical coverage it's allowed to provide to employees?

The list also includes MacDonalds, Dish Network, and the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund in New York, among more than a hundred others and counting.

What does it say about an administration when they grant dozens upon dozens of exemptions from a law that they spent months upon months selling to the American people as the ultimate solution to our health care problems?

A very good question, indeed.

The truth is that the U.S. health care system was deeply broken before Obamacare, and after the new health care law the U.S. health care system is still deeply broken.

Before Obamacare, the U.S. health care system was all about making as much money as possible for health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.  After Obamacare, the U.S. health care system is still about making as much money as possible for health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry, only now we all have to deal with more suffocating layers of government bureaucracy and much higher health insurance premiums.

I really can't add much to that.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Thursday, November 4th, 2010 02:00 pm

Yesterday, after the midterm election results, some Republican spokesman or another whose name escapes me at the moment made an observation very like unto the paraphrased-from-memory following:

"We must remember that this is a condemnation of the policies of Obama and the Democrat Party.  It is not a mandate for us."

Somewhat later,

And I thought, "Great, finally the Reublicans are starting to get it."

Somewhat later yesterday, I saw this quote, from a comedian whose name also presently escapes me:

"President Obama listed his accomplishments in office on Urban Radio Tuesday.  No one gives him enough credit.  Barack Obama took something that was in terrible shape and brought it back from the brink of disaster ... and that something was the Republican Party."

This morning, I read this STRATFOR report on how the world looks at Barack Obama after the US midterm election, and reflected that the rest of the world has about as poor a view of Obama as many of us here in the US do.  And then came the link to the Obama inflatable love doll on sale in China, and I figured it for a pretty clear sign of the failure of the Obama presidency.  (Did you know the Chinese call him Maobama?)

And then, just a few minutes ago, I saw this Rasmussen poll, which found that when "likely GOP Primary voters" were asked who they would vote for if the Republican primary were held today, the three leading contenders were Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin.

Yeah, you read that right.  Romney, Huckabee, and Palin.

This is when I realized that there is one power left on Earth that has both the apparent will and the clear ability to save Barack Obama's failed Presidency and give him a second term in the White House.  And that power is the Republican Party.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 12:07 pm

On our way back from this morning's medical maintenance, we stopped off to vote. No "lesser evil" or "anyone but the incumbent" votes here.

John Lynch for Governor, even though there was a Libertarian candidate available ... because, Democrat or not, Lynch continues to do an excellent job.  Why change what's working?  Andrew Hosmer for State Senate ... because, officially-Democrat or not, I've talked to the man, and he is a fiscal conservative with a proper grasp of realities and priorities. His head is on straight, his heart is in the right place, and he votes his conscience over the party line.

US Senate and US Congress?  We had Libertarian candidates available for both.  Guess which way we cast our votes.  And if you guessed either flavor of Demopublicratican, guess again.

I'll freely admit I for one did not vote in the local races, several of which were unopposed anyway (Sheriff, for example), not least because we've been so swamped the past few months that I really haven't had any opportunity to research the candidates.  So why raise the noise floor...?

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 09:39 pm
unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 07:10 am

Alexander Hamilton once said, in a speech to the New York Ratifying Convention in 1788,

"I will venture to assert that no combination of designing men under heaven will be capable of making a government unpopular which is in its principles a wise and good one, and vigorous in its operations."

Sadly, in this statement he was rather naive; because when the mob have decided that come hell or high water, they deserve bread and circuses, they will tear down any government, however wise and good, if by doing so they can put in place one that will provide them with bread and circuses out of the public treasury — which is to say, at other people's expense.  Any sufficiently glib-tongued and charismatic demagogue has always been able to make any government unpopular, if he can just convince the mob that it is not giving them as much for free (which is to say, again, at other people's expense) as they deserve.

unixronin: Rodin's Thinker (Thinker)
Monday, September 27th, 2010 07:35 am

The instrument by which [government] must act are either the AUTHORITY of the laws or FORCE.  If the first be destroyed, the last must be substituted; and where this becomes the ordinary instrument of government there is an end to liberty!

Alexander Hamilton, Tully letters, No. 3, 1794; emphasis apparently his.

Allow me to expand a little upon what Hamilton is saying here:  The government of the United States was envisaged to be one of law, binding both upon the citizenry and upon the government.  In order for this to work, the law must be respected, by all parties involved, which in turn means that the law must be respectable.  When the government makes law which it then turns around and openly flouts, it shows that it has no respect for the law; or when it makes law which is either clearly abusive, ridiculous, or impracticable to follow, then the law is no longer worthy of respect.  Either destroys the respectability of the body of the law, and when the law loses its respectability, it loses its authority.

When the law loses its respectability, then the citizenry will cease to respect both it, and the government.  When the law loses its authority, then the citizenry will cease to obey it, and the government.  And when that happens, the only way the government can continue to govern is by force.

Of coyrse, when the government has so debased the body of law that it cannot govern by it, and does not respect the law itself in any case, the right and proper thing for the citizenry to do at that point is to remove their government and install a new one.

(And in case you were wondering, no, this does not mean going down to the voting booth full of righteous anger at all those other crooks, and then voting your incumbent back in because he's a good guy who brings home the pork.  That's another phrase for "is part of the problem".)

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 09:51 pm

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives;  and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.

Sounds pretty good to me.  Spread it around.

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 11:40 am

Susan Estrich, writing on, compares Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones' declared plan to burn copies of the Koran "to send a message to Islam", to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

And you know what?  She's right.  There is First Amendment freedom of speech, and there is incitement to riot.  You want to burn your own holy book, flag, or other revered symbols as an expression of protest?  Sure, knock yourself out.  On your own head be it.  But if you want to burn some other faith's holy book, don't be surprised if you're woken up by a howling mob of that faith's followers tearing your house down around your ears.

"We will not be responsible," Jones has said in reaction to the concern that his acts could cause Americans to die.  "We are only reacting to the violence that is already there in that religion."

Or, to perhaps put words into Jones' mouth, "Hey, it's not our problem; we're safe here in the US."

I don't know if it was Jones' intention to bracket his "Dove World Outreach Center" in with Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, but whether or not that was his goal, I think this stunt is likely to accomplish that.  I wish Jones and Phelps much happiness together, because no-one else is going to have a good word for Jones if his grandstanding causes Muslims worldwide to lash out at American citizens and interests.  And if that does happen, I'd love to be a fly on the wall to see the look on Jones' face when those harmed by the repercussions of this deliberately inflammatory stunt show up with lawyers and hand him the bill, along with process papers for a civil suit to recover it.

unixronin: Rodin's Thinker (Thinker)
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 08:39 am

STRATFOR's George Friedman has posted an article on the years since 9/11 and their impact on US global strategy.  His focus is specifically on the US's global strategy, but his observations have lessons for domestic policy as well.

It has now been nine years since al Qaeda attacked the United States.  It has been nine years in which the primary focus of the United States has been on the Islamic world.  In addition to a massive investment in homeland security, the United States has engaged in two multi-year, multi-divisional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, inserted forces in other countries in smaller operations and conducted a global covert campaign against al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups.


In looking back at the past nine years, two conclusions can be drawn:  There were no more large-scale attacks on the United States by militant Islamists, and the United States was left with the legacy of responses that took place in the first two years after 9/11.  This legacy is no longer useful, if it ever was, to the primary mission of defeating al Qaeda, and it represents an effort that is retrospectively out of proportion to the threat.


But let me state a more radical thesis:  The threat of terrorism cannot become the singular focus of the United States.  Let me push it further:  The United States cannot subordinate its grand strategy to simply fighting terrorism even if there will be occasional terrorist attacks on the United States.  Three thousand people died in the 9/11 attack.  That is a tragedy, but in a nation of over 300 million, 3,000 deaths cannot be permitted to define the totality of national strategy.  Certainly, resources must be devoted to combating the threat and, to the extent possible, disrupting it.  But it must also be recognized that terrorism cannot always be blocked, that terrorist attacks will occur and that the world’s only global power cannot be captive to this single threat.

And he's absolutely right.  For the past nine years, we have allowed Islamic terrorists to not only be the focus of US global policy, but dictate far too much of US domestic policy.  There have been no more large attacks (not counting designed-to-fail fiascos incited by the FBI), and no proportionately greater number of lone-wacko incodents.  But the damage done to American society and American freedoms by the pervasive fear that has driven Congress — and that Congress has in turn incited in the American people — has been incalculable.

In the morning of September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda launched a single massive attack against the United States that would never work again.

By lunchtime on September 11, 2001, Congress was wetting itself in fear.

But the American people weren't wetting themselves in fear.  America was mad as hell.  America began to fight back while the planes were still in the air, as Americans in the sky over Pennsylvania took the terrorists' fourth weapon away from them.

And then Congress continued the terrorists' work for them.  And that needs to stop.  It's gone on for far too long already.  Congress's fear — amplified by the hysterical, sensationalist mouthpiece of the mainstream media — is weakening, dividing and harming America, and changing the nature of American society in ways that are good for Congress, but bad for America.

So am I saying here that the best interests of Congress are not aligned with — nay, are opposed to — those of America as a whole?

You betcher ever-lovin' ass I am.

In a timely footnote, Bruce Schneier just posted an excerpt from an NPR article citing Barnes study results, which found that while the actual top five causes of injury or death of children are car accidents, homicide (usually by someone who the child already knows), abuse, suicide, and drowning, the five threats that parents are most concerned about are kidnapping, deranged school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers, and drugs.  Thank you, Congress and the media, for so COMPLETELY screwing up America's priorities.

unixronin: Rodin's Thinker (Thinker)
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 07:00 pm

[ profile] perspicuity mentioned the Australian multi-party system and suggested some kind of vote-for-and-against system for the US, in which candidates had to receive more yes than no votes in order to be able to win.  This got me thinking, and I ended up wondering whether something like the following would work:

  1. Your ballot lists all declared candidates for each position, plus two write-in candidate boxes per position, plus a line for NONE OF THE ABOVE.
  2. For each of the above, you award a number of points from 1 to 5, where 5 points is STRONGLY LIKE, 3 is DON'T CARE, and 1 is STRONGLY DISLIKE.  Any line left blank, including NONE OF THE ABOVE, scores an automatic 3 (neutral/don't care).
  3. When tabulating votes, 3 is subtracted from the points awarded, to yield an actual adjusted vote score in a range of 2 (STRONGLY LIKE) through -2 (STRONGLY DISLIKE).  All votes cast for that candidate, for and against, are then summed to arrive at a total.
  4. Every candidate (except write-in candidates not otherwise appearing on the ballot) who does not receive more net adjusted votes than NONE OF THE ABOVE is eliminated, and is disqualified for life from running again for that office.  If no candidate running for a given office in a given district receives a higher net adjusted vote total than NONE OF THE ABOVE, then all candidates for that district are disqualified, and the district must be resolved separately in a by-election with all new candidates.  A candidate disqualified by a NONE OF THE ABOVE result is not a valid write-in candidate for future elections.
  5. If candidates remain who scored a higher net adjusted vote total than NONE OF THE ABOVE, the candidate having the highest adjusted vote total in any given district wins that district.  If two candidates have the same total score within a margin of error of 1%, the tie is resolved by determining which of them received the lowest total of NEGATIVE adjusted votes, i.e. which of the tied candidates is least disliked.  If no candidate has an adjusted vote total greater than zero (neutral), then since NONE OF THE ABOVE receives a default neutral vote, it is likely that NONE OF THE ABOVE will win.

(The 1% margin of error is intended to reduce the number of squabbles and re-re-re-recounts over handfuls of votes.  The exclusion of write-ins from NONE OF THE ABOVE elimination removes the possibility of a well-intentioned write-in vote for a candidate who receives few votes from having the unexpected side-effect of disqualify that candidate from any future election well, is completely moot actually, since as [ profile] cipherpunk points out in the comments, it won't pass Constitutional muster.)

There is one obvious weakness here.  If any single party has overwhelming (>50%) support in a given district, its voters can permanently eliminate all other candidates in the election by voting a 5 for their candidate, a 4 for NONE OF THE ABOVE, and a 1 for every other candidate.  However, assuming that this gambit is uniformly applied by voters of all parties, in any district in which no party has greater than a plurality the result will be to eliminate all candidates from all parties running in that district; thus it is self-defeating except in districts completely dominated by a single party, in which case that party was going to win the seat anyway.  And that entire paragraph is now moot as well.  In any case, I've since realized that it's not a "safe" tactic anyway unless the majority party has considerably more than 50% of the vote ... I haven't done the math, but can safely say that if you have a sufficient majority of voter support to make it a safe tactic, you're almost certainly in no danger of ever losing the seat anyway.

This still doesn't yet address the issue of proportional representation, i.e, if party X receives a significant statewide vote, but does not have sufficient votes clustered in any single district to actually win a district, its voters go unrepresented.  But here I propose a means to fix that, by taking a different path at step 5:

  1. [Alternate]  After candidates and districts eliminated by NONE OF THE ABOVE are removed from consideration, all remaining votes are added up and the net adjusted vote totals for each party are used to determine the number of districts won by each party.
  2. Once the number of seats won by each party is determined, winners of individual districts are selected, starting with the party that won the LEAST number of seats, and awarding each party its allotted number of seats in order of those seats in which it received the greatest proportion of the vote, EXCLUDING seats in which all candidates were eliminated by NONE OF THE ABOVE (which must be resolved separately in a subsequent by-election).  After all seats due to the party winning the least number of seats have been awarded, seat selection passes on to the party winning the next greater number of seats.

Step 6 here is designed to ensure that minority parties receive their fair share of seats in the legislature, and at the same time ensure that their representatives in the legislature come from the districts in which they have the strongest support, even if they do not have sufficient support in any single district to win it in a first-past-the-post winner-takes-all election.

This will of course still result in some seats electing representatives who are not the favorites of the majority of voters in their district.  That is almost inevitable in any multi-party system, though.  What this system should ensure is that, even if your vote does not elect a candidate of your party in your district, at the state-wide level no vote for a minority party is wasted unless that party has so little support it cannot earn enough votes to win even a single seat, and also that minority parties earning enough state-wide votes to (proportionately) win at least one seat will represent the electoral districts in which they have the strongest support.  It does this without requiring multiple recounts, as transferable-vote systems almost invariably do.

So.  Thoughts?  Did I miss anything obvious, besides the one obvious weakness discussed above?

unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 12:31 pm

"SEC Says New FinReg Law Exempts It From Public Disclosure"

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities."  Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say.  Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets.  Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."

Well, yes.  Obama also declared that his administration would practise "historic levels of openness".  Instead, it has practiced historic levels of furtiveness.  So, the declaration appears to be entirely in keeping with the Obama administration's record thus far.

As far as I can see, no-one outside the SEC and Congress benefits from this provision.  As noted in the article, it allows the SEC to deny public access to virtually all SEC records, make its own rules about records disclosure without needing OMB approval, refuse to cooperate with ongoing investigations, and cover up its failures.

This is yet another reason why Congress should not be allowed to pass these monster two-thousand-page bills such as H.R. 4173.  It makes it WAY too easy to bury landmines like this a thousand or fifteen hundred pages in.

At what point do We, The People as a whole wake up and realize that our own government is at war against us?