The year was 1988, the first presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, and the trauma is still nearly too much to recount. The duo, brothers, arrived at my dormitory room at the University of Texas, hauled me from the intensity of my studies and dragged me to a polling place, where one wrenched my left arm behind my back and the other bodily placed the right on the voting machine and, depressing the lever, made my choice. As they released me into the chill and black of a November night, I demanded their names. “Koch,” they replied, their snarls announcing they made no apologies and felt no remorse.
My first ballot was actually less of an anecdote. I formed an opinion, surely influenced but certainly not dictated by advertising, and cast a ballot. Alone. David and Charles Koch have yet to bribe or compel me.
I cannot, of course, speak for others. But here is Jane Mayer, scarcely three pages into Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, her exposé of the Kochs, exposing instead the fundamental fallacies of the campaign-finance racket. Having recounted David Koch’s turn as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 1980, she declares: “The Kochs failed at the ballot box in 1980, but instead of accepting America’s verdict, they set out to change how it voted. They used their fortune to impose their minority views on the majority by other means.”
It is actually in the nature of republicanism that losers do not have to acquiesce permanently to the sorrow of defeat. They are allowed to keep arguing. But the legitimacy of doing so depends, in some circles, on the content of one’s views. Replace “Kochs” with “Democrats,” and the first sentence—“they set out to change how [America] voted”—might ring less sinister in some ears.
Yet where the Kochs are concerned, we learn they used their fortune to “impose” their “minority” views on the “majority.” This is, precisely speaking, gibberish.
There is not a documented case anywhere, anytime—unless these brothers are badder than they give off—of the Kochs imposing (Oxford English Dictionary: “To lay on, as something to be borne, endured, or submitted to; to inflict (something) on or upon; to levy or enforce authoritatively or arbitrarily”) their views on anyone. To impose is to leave no choice.
Yet what, on Mayer’s account, did the Kochs do? Cover the children’s ears. They “waged a long and remarkable battle of ideas.” They subsidized “think tanks and academic programs” and advocacy groups to—hey, get a load of this—“make their arguments in the national political debate.” They “hired lobbyists” to persuade Congress as well as operatives who seeded “synthetic grassroots groups” to create “political momentum.” They “press[ed] their cases in the courts” with “legal groups and judicial junkets,” the latter of which might be questionable, but on the whole, the courts are not an arena from which the left can be understood to have exempted itself.
Lost in all of this is the target of their alleged imposition, the voter, who appears in Mayer’s account—and in the campaign-finance cosmos generally—as the dupe of ad men, academics and operatives, so unthinkingly prey to manipulation that to attempt to persuade him or her is automatically to “impose.” This is the same condescension that gave us What’s the Matter with Kansas?, which assumed the incapacity of working-class voters who cast ballots for Republicans to discern their true economic interests or, if they could, to balance them with competing moral concerns.
One takes it that regulating advertising or limiting advocacy for other causes on the grounds that the target audience is too easily manipulated would offend the sensibilities of campaign regulators. Yet this is the distillation of the “money buys elections” argument.
To be sure, if it is understood in any strict way, it is actually illegal to buy elections with money. All the Kochs buy—all Mayer accuses them above of buying—is the means of persuading voters. This “imposes” on voters only if voters cannot think, a charge regulators do not explicitly make but that lurks just below the surface of their arguments.
Yet voters, being contrary, do think independently of the money spent to persuade them. If they did not, Jeb Bush ($24.8 million in campaign contributions, $103 million in outside money) would be preparing to be anointed, which he is not, and Hillary Clinton, ($77.5 and $20.3 million respectively), would be polishing her nomination address, which she probably is anyway. Similarly, Bernie Sanders, ($41.5 million campaign, $25,000 outside) and Donald Trump ($5.8 million campaign, $131,600 outside) would have been forced to find other outlets for their anger.
In turn, campaign spending on the part of some political actors victimizes others only if argumentation is a scarce commodity, such that the Kochs making an argument deprives someone else of the opportunity to do so. Yet argumentation and information, including information with which political ads can be verified or disconfirmed, have never been more plentiful or cheaper.
This is political speech, however, that the regulators wish to restrict. It is perhaps unsurprising that those who take the view that individuals are incapable of evaluating arguments are also only loosely committed to the First Amendment’s freedom to make them. What is curious, though, is that the reformers typically adhere to other political commitments supposedly rooted in the “dignity” of the individual—a minimal condition of one’s dignity, apparently, being agreeing with them.
In the name of campaign finance reform, the United States government argued it could ban books.
This Friday, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” will be released in theaters nationwide. The movie, based on the book “13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff, is directed by Michael Bay and gives the public a chance to see one man’s take on what happened in Libya on September 11, 2012, when terrorists stormed our diplomatic compound and killed four Americans: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and Tyrone Woods.
The decision to make this movie and release it so widely was likely unpopular with the Democratic political establishment. While the film focuses on the events on the ground in Benghazi, it is bound to generate interest about what was happening back in Washington and what President Obama and his secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, might have done to prevent the loss of American lives. ...
At the oral argument on appeal, the Supreme Court justices probed the limits of the power the government claimed for itself, and questioned how it squared with the First Amendment. In one incredible back-and-forth, Chief Justice John Roberts asked Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart if there was “a 500-page book, and at the end it says, and so vote for X, the government could ban that?” Stewart’s response: yes.
“Well,” he explains, “if it says vote for X, it would be express advocacy and it would be covered by the pre-existing Federal Election Campaign Act provision.” In the name of campaign finance reform, the United States government argued it could ban books.
Now... For The Rest Of The Story: Following the escalation of tensions brought about by the BLM and other Federal Agencies in the Harney County Area of Oregon specifically but not limited to the legal actions taken against Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond by said Federal Agencies... A question as to what is really going on within this region poses itself. Looking solely at the Hammond situation it has been learned that by the end of 1970’s nearly all the ranches adjacent to the Blitzen Valley in Harney County, Oregon were purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and added to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge now covers over 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew and surrounds the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached numerous times by the FWS, the Hammonds refused to sell their property. Other ranchers also choose not to sell. During the 1970’s the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), took a different approach in an attempt to force the ranchers to sell. Ranchers were told that, “grazing within the area was detrimental to wildlife and must be reduced." Thirty-Two of Fifty-Three existing permits were consequently revoked and many ranchers were forced to leave. Grazing fees were raised significantly for those who were allowed to remain. BLM Refuge personnel took over the irrigation system as well as water rights claiming them as their own. By 1980 a conflict was well on its way over water allocations on the adjacent privately owned Silvies Plain. The FWS wanted to acquire the ranch lands on the Silvies Plain to add to their already vast holdings. Refuge personnel intentionally diverted the water to bypass the vast meadowlands, directing the water into the rising Malheur Lakes. Within a few short years the surface area of the lakes doubled. Thirty-one ranches on the Silvies plains were flooded. Homes, corrals, barns and grazing land were washed a way and destroyed. The ranchers that once fought to keep the FWS from taking their land, now broke and destroyed, begged the FWS to acquire their now useless ranches. In 1989 the waters began to recede and now the once thriving privately owned Silvies plains are a proud part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge claimed by the FWS. By the 1990’s the Hammonds were one of the very few ranchers that still owned private property adjacent to the refuge. The Hammond's in an effort to make sense of what was happening began compiling facts about the refuge. In a hidden public record they found a study that was done by the FWS in 1975. The study showed that the “no use” policies of the FWS on the refuge were causing the wildlife to leave the refuge and move to private property. The study showed that the private property adjacent to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge produced 4 times more ducks and geese than the refuge did. It also showed that the migrating birds were 13 times more likely to land on private property than on the refuge. When The Hammonds brought this to the attention of the FWS and refuge personnel, the family became the immediate subjects of a long train of abuses and corruptions. In 1987 a U.S. Geological Survey of the area was ordered and prepared under Survey number 1740-B. Since the time of the release of this report the geographical region has suffered a continual, unrelenting assault by numerous Federal Agencies... Harney County, Oregon was once a solid center of rural employment. A Louisiana Pacific sawmill once churned out pine lumber and paychecks, but the sawmill has been shuttered for decades, the victim of changing international markets and more stringent federal forest policies imposed by both the BLM and the EPA. Shortly following the closure of the lumber industry the BLM and EPA began assaulting other private industries and businesses within the region as well as private landowners utilizing a variety of Federal regulations in what became a very apparent attempt to gain control of the entire region. A long standing feud began between local residents, ranchers and a joint effort of private industry and government to introduce numerous massive wind farms into the region began to take shape and are still ongoing. Sounding familiar to everyone? Harney County is remembered as a place of opportunity and entrepreneurship. Why would the Federal Government seemingly be going out of its way to financially devastate an area and its residents? The fact that each of these projects are propped up by federal tax incentives is the salt in the wound of the citizens within the region. There has to be more to this story and it is contained within the pages of the U.S. Geological Survey number 1740-B. It seems that, according to the Survey that the area in which Harney County is located is potentially rich in many natural resources including Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc, Arsenic, Mercury, Molybdenum, Coal, Diatomite, Bentonite Natural Gas and Uranium. It appears that our elected officials are once again involved in the utilization of overreaching Federally mandated regulations in an attempt to gain control of the wealth of our nation with the belief that if they control the wealth of our nation they will control its people. The once again obvious greed of Federal government for both power and wealth are readily apparent in their actions within this region and clearly demonstrate their total commitment to their quest at any cost. Standup and be heard at the ballot box. You can make a difference.
Here is a remarkably biased, slanted, sarcastic, and snarky chapter from England. Evidently, Colombus was not an evangelist for Isabella and Fernando's Catholic mission but was obsessed with gold. Well, to be fair, so was the Church.
Some might find it deeply ironic that I advance this theory on a website dedicated to political discussion. But I submit that the Ricochetti are the exception to the rule; the rule being that the vast majority of Americans despise politics, and when forced to pay attention to them, will punish those they hold responsible. I offer for my theory these arguments and evidence:
Our political system was built that way. Our political system is, of course, a representative democracy. The founders designed it to be one. They understood that for a direct democracy to work (i.e., government by plebiscite), a polity that was both virtuous and engaged would be required. Seeing a dearth of evidence for these qualities, they established a representative system to put a buffer between the passions of the mob and the day-to-day business of governing. Keep in mind that most of the founding generations came to these shores to be left alone by the ruling power.
The electorate punishes those who get them involved. Before his unfortunate fall from Grace, Bill Cosby made an insightful observation: When parents have to intervene in an argument between their children, they tend to impose hasty, irrational solutions because they’re not interested in justice — just quiet. This is exactly how most of the American electorate behaves. Let’s face it, present company excepted, most people in this country are far too wrapped up in the exploits of the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Real Housewives, or more gainful pursuits to pay attention to politics. In their minds, they hired a set of contractors to run the government; they expect them to get the job done, submit the bill, and then go away until they need something else. When the contractors we hire act like the guy in Seinfeld — the one who kept asking trivial questions about Jerry’s kitchen remodelling preferences — we punish them at the ballot box.
The party in power usually gets blamed (but not always): This pattern has been part of our political history from the beginning. When things get bad enough that political stories dominate the news and intrude into our daily lives, we usually take it out on the party we think has been running the place. Case in point: You should have seen my wife’s reaction when her favorite show was pre-empted by Obama’s national address. That’s why it’s so rare to have the same party retain the presidency after a two terms. If you force people to pay attention, you willbe punished. Because Republicans were blamed (rightly or wrongly) for government shutdowns in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, they’re terrified that it will happen again. Hence the pre-emptive surrender by Boehner, McConnell, and now Ryan.
Trump is a manifestation of this phenomenon: A disclaimer for any Trump supporters in Ricochet: Because you care enough about politics to subscribe to this website, by definition my theory does not apply to you. I assume that you have other reasons to support him. However, I believe that the great majority of Trumpkins are virtually apolitical and have little or no interest in civics or the Constitution. That’s why they’re willing to accept proposals that are, on the face of it, unconstitutional or at least inconsistent with American political traditions. They want to hire a competent “contractor” who will make America great again and leave them alone in the process.
Other facts that might support my argument are record-low levels of voter participation, and the domination of voters who seem to be the low-information variety.
There are certainly disengaged citizenries around the world (for a variety of reasons too numerous to discuss). But I submit that the American people are unique among Western democracies in their hatred of politics.
[Quote] Pot’s not green. The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation. Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste. Some operations have blown out transformers, resulting in fires. Others rely on pollution-belching diesel generators to avoid hooking into the grid. And demand could intensify in 2017 if advocates succeed in legalizing the drug for recreational use in several states, including California and Nevada. State regulators are grappling with how to address the growth, said Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Pam Witmer. “We are at the edge of this,” Witmer said. “We are looking all across the country for examples and best practices.” The corporatization of what was once off-the-grid narco- agriculture is taxing electrical systems even as the nation prepares to comply with the Paris climate accord and the Environmental Protection Agency tries to reduce greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, which is considered the single largest domestic source of emissions that create global warming. “Consumers seeking a green lifestyle are likely unaware that their cannabis use could cancel out their otherwise low- carbon footprint,” Evan Mills, a senior scientist for California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, wrote in an e-mail. Indoor growing operations in 2012 racked up at least $6 billion a year in energy costs, compared with $1 billion for pharmaceutical companies, Mills found in a seminal study he did independent of the research institution. Some larger facilities today suck down as much as $1 million in power a month. ArcView, an Oakland, California, research firm, estimates the retail and wholesale marijuana market will reach $4.4 billion in 2016. Cultivation operations from California beach cities to Denver’s warehouse district to District of Columbia closets are waiting months for new infrastructure to bring them power. Planners predict the escalating consumption could in some regions undo Americans’ attempts to save energy by buying more efficient refrigerators, washers and hair dryers. With the industry just coming out of the shadows, utilities are without data to forecast its electrical needs. “We don’t have aggregated energy audits from hundreds of grow operations that show us an energy footprint,” said John Morris, director of policy and regulatory affairs at CLEAResult, an Austin, Texas-based consultancy that works with growers and utilities. “We have utilities in the North ... [blah, blah, blah unquote]
Kvetch, kvetch, kvetch. What is going on here? They are kvetching that pot growers are using too much power. This is agriculture. These are farmers. Are there serious people complaining that farmers are using too much energy? Farmers produce oxygen from their crops and greenhouse gases from their livestock. Looks to me like the government, federal, state, and local and the power companies, which are mostly owned by the local taxing authority are reaping an incredible windfall in new tax and energy production revenue. Poor babies. "Without design standards or efficient equipment.... While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste...." Did Microsoft have "design standards" and "reams of regulations... when they went into business? Did Apple? Did Blackberry; did Johnnie Walker Red; did the Long Island RR or Ralph Cramden's employer the Fifth Avenue Coach Lines; did Alex Bell, Tommy Edison, George Westinghouse, Larry Edelson, Mikey Bloomberg, Alexie Kalishnikoff, John Browning, Paramount movie theaters, Dumont Television, Fred Friendly of CBS, Random House publishing company, Correction Corporation of America, the Lingerie Football League... What a crock of hack reporting this piece is. Incredible. Who MAKES design standards? The first entrepreneurs who invent or develop an industry create the design standards, NOT the government. Sam Colt, John Browning and others developed the standards for ammunition and sold those standards to the government.
Who wrote those so-called "reams of regulations" that "lack requirements" on energy waste? Reams means paper, which comes from tree wood, which is destroyed forms of life by the ton to generate the medium for the wasteful, inefficient, and energy consuming government to act out its perverse need to control the citizens. Come on. What a nutty point of view. Some growers "rely on pollution-belching diesel generators to avoid hooking into the grid." This way slanted observation seems to ignore the fact that we have over 26.4 million pollution-belching diesel" engines on trucks excluding publicly owned busses, garbage trucks, 18-wheelers, ships, tanks, passenger cars, construction sites, farm implements, and hospital and emergency agency backup power supplies.
$33.1 billion paid by commercial trucks in federal and state highway-user taxes in 2009"
Frederick Forsyth: Court martial that shames the courts
SOME of you may have seen in yesterday’s Daily Express the reports of the extraordinary turnout in Birmingham as the new defence for imprisoned Marine sergeant Alex Blackman was handed in to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Ever since she emerged from the cast of Neighbours those many moons ago, tiny Kylie Minogue has been singing and dancing for our entertainment and hardly a day not on the pages of one newspaper or another. (What a publicity agent!) Now at the age of 47 she tells us she wants to have a baby – by her 27-year-old boyfriend.
Any gynaecologist would be able to offer a shrewd word of advice. Better not wait too long.
Every winter the CO insists I have a kind of MOT, a medical check-up from follicles to toenails.
Nowadays that involves a check of the prostate. So while it was going on last week I remarked that I had spent four years at a public school successfully trying to avoid that sort of thing and now I had to pay for it. It took that doctor several minutes to recover.
I do so like a quack with a sense of humour.
Much outrage has been expressed at the suggestion by the weird Donald Trump that all Muslims should be banned from entering the USA. His explanation is that some might be dangerous and kill Americans by bomb or gun.
He should check his facts. Apart from the single date we all now know as 9/11, all the Americans killed by Muslim fanatics inside territorial USA in half a century, if put together, are hugely outnumbered by those slaughtered on a single day in 1995.
There were 168 killed that day, with 650 injured, including almost 50 crippled for life. I refer to the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The bomb planter was a white racist supremacist called Timothy McVeigh. Perhaps The Donald should ban himself.
Poor old Justin Welby, our present Archbishop of Canterbury. He tells us that when he heard of the Paris massacres three weeks ago he came close to questioning his belief in God.
Just as well he wasn’t present at Auschwitz. He could have repudiated 10 deities before breakfast.
I posted this comment to an article with several items by the famous author Frederick Forsyth in the British Daily Express newspaper.
OldFoxLess than a minute ago
1.) The prostate item reminds me of a cartoon from a few months ago. One guy asks his buddy, "What does 'Get ready for Hillary' mean?'
The friend says, "That means get ready for a prostate exam that will last eight years!"
2.) Most people do not realize the obvious about Donald Trump. The guy is from Queens NY, like "Goodfellas", and over the same era. He got richer and richer by building skyscrapers and luxury buildings. You cannot build buildings in NYC without buying concrete and cement (mob); without contracting with construction trades unions (mobsters); without bribing building inspectors; without hiring Teamsters; without hiring garbage haulers which are 100% mob, without letting the mob throw bodies into the concrete forms used to make the foundations of your buildings; without bribing zoning officials, the local police precinct "pad;" without paying "protection" money to the appropriate consigliere in the neighborhood; without giving no-work jobs and no-show jobs to the cosa nostra negotiators. Tony Soprano is an accurate rendition of how it works, as is "On the Waterfront."
Trump casts aspersions on Ted Cruz from Texas (a genius appellate advocate) for being supportive of the oil industry, but what industry is Trump in? He's a gambling casino operator, for crying out loud! That's Vice. Alcohol, strippers, hooker hospitality and crooked odds on gambling games, vigorish, loan-sharkism, thuggery. His business is vice! Exploiting addiction. How do you staff, manage, operate, and expand the gambling casino business in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and elsewhere? You bring in experts and experienced consultants from the industry, which are all run by mobsters, gangsters, and organized crime families. You get referrals to candidate employees from Vito, Antony, Paulie, Dominick, Alfonse, Bugsy, and Meyer Lansky. Come on.
I'm not saying that Donald Trump has personally "whacked" anyone, or even arranged for it, but, after all, he is more connected than Frank Sinatra!
Dane Oplinger: there has NEVER been a country of Palestine. At best, it was a province of the Roman Empire with no indigenous rulers. When the Jews failed to recognize the Savior that G-d had sent to them, who was the once-and-for-all sacrifice that did away with animal sacrifice in the Temple, they LOST the Temple under Roman destruction in 70 AD. Thus, Saul of Tarsus was anointed and empowered as Paul to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles.
The Jews who rejected Christ were required after 70 AD to accept rabbinic teaching that prayer was an acceptable substitute for animal sacrifice. The Jews who accepted Christ, the disciples, the First Century Christians, and what are today called Messianic Jews, truly ARE justified in returning to Israel because they have seen by sight or by faith their Messiah come.
So, no Palestinian state. The area and ethnicity of Palestinians were totally subservient and captive to the governance and harsh rule of the Ottoman Empire, an Islamic state that gave no self-governance to Palestinians or anyone else in their totalitarian empire. That nation's suicidal alliance with Germany in WWI eliminated the Ottoman Empire, with some help from Sir Lawrence and the unification of Saudi royalty, opened the door to British occupation and the dread Balfour Declaration. There was no Palestinian government, police, courts, or civic entity under British rule and then in 1947, when the Brits were ousted by Jewish armed forces, the governance became Israeli. The Palestinians "right" to that real estate is even less than the American Indians' "right" to Manhattan, Massachusetts, South Dakota, or the Algonquin Hotel on 44th Street.