Friday, March 29, 2019

Ledges' Brazen Attempt to Pull Ladder Up Draws Libertarian Lawsuit

For Immediate Release:  3-29-2019

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas filed a complaint in federal court yesterday seeking to overturn the provisions of a new law that makes it more difficult for third-parties to get on the ballot in Arkansas.  Act 164, which was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor last month, increased the number of petition signatures required for the formation of “New Political Parties” from 10,000 to 26,746 (3% of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election). 

The Libertarians’ lawsuit calls the new requirement “an unconstitutional, unnecessary, and excessive petition signature requirement” that “serve[s] no compelling state interest.”  It calls upon the court to declare the requirement as an unconstitutional infringement on the plaintiff’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights “to actively engage in the exercise of their free speech, right to political association, right to petition, right to form a political party, seek redress of grievances, cast an effective vote and equal protection and due process of the laws of the United States of America.”

The chair of the Libertarian Party, Michael Pakko, expressed confidence about the party’s prospects in court. “We told our legislators that they were re-establishing a standard that had been overturned in federal court back in 2006, but they passed it anyway.  We have clear precedent on our side.”  Pakko was referring to the case of Green Party of Arkansas v. Daniels, where the court overturned a 3% requirement that was subsequently replaced by the 10,000-signature standard.

When asked for comment, Richard Winger, a noted expert on ballot-access laws across the nation, pointed out that there have been not just one, but two cases where Arkansas’ petition requirements have been invalidated by federal courts.  In 1996, Citizens to Establish a Reform Party In Arkansas v. Priest also struck down a requirement for signatures totally 3% of the vote.  “It is truly outrageous that TWICE a federal court has struck down the 3%, and yet the state has done it a third time.  That makes this case unique in the whole country's history of ballot access litigation.”

Libertarians are also challenging aspects of the more recently enacted law that shifts primary elections from May to March in presidential election years.  In the process of moving primary election deadlines forward, Act 545, signed by the governor earlier this week, also affects third-parties and independent candidates.  “As if to add insult to injury, they made it even more difficult by moving the deadlines,” said Pakko.  “Prospective challengers to the established incumbents shouldn’t have to form parties and select candidates over a year before the general election.”

The complaint filed yesterday, Libertarian Party of Arkansas et al. v. Thurston, asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to declare several provisions of recently-enacted laws as unconstitutional and to issue an injunction to permit the Libertarian Party of Arkansas to submit 10,000 valid signatures to demonstrate sufficient support for the formation of a new political party.  The action would enjoin the Arkansas Secretary of State, John Thurston, from enforcing the contested provisions of the new laws. 

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Childhood Vaccine Rates Around the World

The Dutch found no correlation between MMR and Autism. But they, along with the rest of the world, have a much lower total vaccination load for children under five. If the MMR is the "final straw" for the immune system it would not show as a trigger in nations with only 1/3 the vaccine load of the US

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hutchinson Tax-Shuffle Targets Middle-Class, Big Media Gives Cover

No matter what they say when campaigning, big government types, whether left-collectivist (socialism) or right-collectivist (that breed of socialism known as "fascism") invariably target the middle class to pay for their grandiose visions. Think about it, the poor have nothing to take. The very rich have the means to defend themselves from state-sponsored looting. They can even leave the country and set up shop elsewhere if their taxes get too high.
The only group which in aggregate has significant assets to loot while individually lacking the power to defend those assets is the middle-class, the upper-middle class, and what I call "the barely rich". Thus no matter what the lying politicians tell you, or the lying establishment media tells you, these are the people who will be paying for excessive government spending. That includes debt when it comes time to decide who will be stuck with the tab for it, but let me get off that rabbit trail for now.

Governor Asa Hutchinson has shown himself to be a right-collectivist. Heck, he started a "Department of Homeland Security" for Arkansas. He has increased state government spending greatly. And he has turned state health care from something that used to be reserved for the most unfortunate among us into a subsidy for giant corporations. State health care is now more about "the workforce" than it is about helping people with disabilities for example. The term "workforce" sounds slightly militant, but I suppose that saying state taxpayers should provide health care for "the workforce" is still better PR than saying the state's taxpayers should provide healthcare "for Wal-Mart employees."
The Governor's tax plan is a perfect example of what I am talking about. A few weeks ago, to the acclaim of the media, he trotted out his plan for an "income tax cut." The establishment media dutifully and uncritically reported that Asa Hutchinson was a mighty tax-cutter! Only the lefty Arkansas-times pointed out that the structure of the cut was heavily towards the top 1% of taxpayers. They would receive $73 million worth of tax cuts of the total $97 million reduced after the first two years.

That seems disproportionate. Of course a person in the top 1% of taxpayers pays more than someone who had a household income of around $73K like me, but do the top 1% of taxpayers really pay 75% of the income taxes in this state? Not even close, but they are getting about that share of the tax cut.
Now in the past the line has been "but the middle class shares in the tax cut too, just not as much." And if you are only looking at the tax cut being rolled out with a flourish over here, that makes sense. But to make a full accounting of Gov. Hutchinson's tax policy (which the establishment media seems loathe to do) you must combine it with the effect of his proposals for highways. He plans to increase various taxes for highways to the tune of $300 million dollars. So he plans to cut income taxes $150 million a year (when fully implemented) and raise fuel and associated taxes $300 million per year. He's a big spender. Period. Just one that can cover it up and come off as a tax-cutter because the establishment media seems determined to provide him cover.

Worse, look at who benefits from his tax cut- the top 1%. Look who pays for his tax increases- everyone with a car equally. In other words the benefits of the tax cuts are for his corporate buddies, the costs of building the roads is spread out for everyone with a car, which is mostly the middle class. No matter what the tool-media in the state try to tell you, Hutchinson's tax plan is to greatly increase the tax burden for the middle class but let the top 1% off the hook. It is both a re-shuffling of tax burden so that the middle class pays more and a net large increase in taxes. That's his plan. Since the big media in this state refuse to tell you the truth about it, you have to hear it from bloggers like me.

And I even think the road money will be spent where the big money tells them to spend it. Do you think I'm wrong about that?

Our household income is pretty decent but I figure his tax cut is worth about $30 a year for us. But his highway plan to raise $300 million means the average person like me pays $100 more in taxes a year. Give a little with one hand, take a lot with the other, collect credit from the media for step one. That's the hustle.

America is sick. Arkansas is sick, and the disease is tribalism. That's when the virtue of "loyalty" mutates into a vice because it is taken beyond the bounds of honesty and truth. That is, people support their political "team", whether Republicans or Democrats, long after it is clear to the honest observer that both have gone off the rails and decent people should seek to create other political solutions.
I don't say that you should complain to "your" representative about this, because I know that you don't have a "representative". The Republican or Democratic party has a representative who represents the interests of the global corporations who fund both of their DC parties. These have recruited some suits to pretend that they represent you while in truth they go along with schemes like this to loot the middle class for the benefits of global corporations. Until either you repent or they do, its going to keep getting worse for you and your children, not better. Hey middle class, that's a high price to pay for loyalty to a political label who is in reality targeting your wealth.
PS: You don't have to be a "liberal" to share this post liberally, and I ask that you do so.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Libertarians Assert SB 163 is a Direct Attack

A statement from the Libertarian Party of Arkansas suggests that Libertarians are taking the introduction and Senate passage of SB 163 personally.   The statement, published on the party’s website this past weekend, asserted that SB 163 ”appears to be targeted directly against the Libertarian Party.”

Referring to the fact that the Libertarian Party is the only third-party to have its candidates on the ballot in the last two elections, and that it is the only party to be attempting to do so again in 2020, Libertarians said it is “evident that this bill is intended to stifle potential competition, specifically Libertarians, in the 2020 election. “

SB 163 was introduced by Senator Trent Garner (R) of El Dorado on January 24th, passed by the Senate Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs on January 29th and passed by the full Senate the next day.  It would raise the petition-signature requirement for “new political parties” from 10,000 to 3% of votes in the most recent gubernatorial election—presently about 26,750.

The Libertarian Party statement described the bill as “unwarranted, unnecessary, and destructive to healthy democracy in Arkansas.” 

The Libertarians also assert that SB 163 directly violates the U.S. Constitution.  A federal court decision in 2006, Green Party of Arkansas v. Daniels, found that a similar 3% standard for new political parties that existed at the time was unconstitutional and invalid.  The following year, the legislature adopted the current 10,000 signature requirement.

“This bill is clearly anti-democratic and blatantly unconstitutional,” said Michael Pakko, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas.  “The real travesty here is that more than 250,000 Arkansans voted for at least one Libertarian candidate in 2018, but somehow that’s not good enough for the Libertarian Party to be considered a true political party under Arkansas law.  Now they want to make it even harder, if not impossible, for us to continue to offer the voters a Libertarian alternative.”

The bill is on the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs agenda for tomorrow, February 6, 2019.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Mysteries Remain from Griffin's 2004 Voter Caging Emails

Voter caging, when it disproportionately affects minority voters, is a federal crime. In 2004 Tim Griffin was an opposition researcher for Karl Rove. Emails from his account with the subject line "caging" and with attached lists consisting disproportionately of minority voters in Florida was mistakenly emailed to the wrong address and fell into the hands of journalist Greg Palast.

Palast published some articles on the incident, but among the many indisputable facts in his article were a couple of inaccurate statements. Rove and company were able to seize on the inaccuracies to poo-poo the whole report. And it seems like the establishment media in America, as much as it likes to stir up controversy and divide us on unprovable questions, is very very very reluctant to report on stories when major establishment players get caught red-handed committing crimes. KARK did some real digging. The American legacy media was mostly silent on the story.

Because defenders of team Rove/Griffin were able to use the inaccuracies in secondary details of Palast's original report to discredit the whole thing, I refer you to this report from KOS on the incident which points out what he got right and what he got wrong on the story- and it still looks terrible for Griffin. I mean, an email was sent with the title "caging" and it had lists of disproportionately minority Florida voters attached to it. Griffin resigned as Federal Prosecutor rather than face committee questions over the incident, after telling Senator Mark Pryor that he looked forward to answering those questions. Pryor felt he was lied to.

Voter caging is the practice of sending mail to registered voters with a "do not forward" tag in order to test if voters still live at the address on their voter registration card. Some of them that don't may be homeless. Some of them may be students off for the Summer who let their leases lapse but plan to return to the same district in the Fall. Some are U.S. military on 15 month deployments in some foreign mud hole and so they let their lease lapse for that reason. All of these examples could have their right to vote challenged by this tactic. And when the groups targeted for such ploys are disproportionately minorities, as as the case here, it's a federal crime, in addition to being a really rotten thing to do.

Now Tim Griffin indignantly claims that he didn't engage in voter caging. And of course he didn't follow through and do it because once Palast blew the cover of their operation they ix-nayed what they were up to. The right question should be "were they preparing to engage in voter caging?" and the obvious answer is "yes, just like it says in the subject line of the e-mail from Griffin's account."

Now Palast floated a "conspiracy theory" on Griffin's denial which explains a lot that has happened since he put it out there. He said that insiders know that Rove didn't have a White House computer because that way there would be nothing to subpoena in case of trouble. He wonders if Griffin was just a bag-holder or front man and that Karl Rove himself was using Griffin or Griffin's account to send emails and perhaps Griffin didn't have a solid grasp of what the emails were about. If so, Griffin is being a good soldier and saying he sent the emails and claming up on specifics. And the evidence suggests that he is being rewarded to do so.

Think about how much trouble the Republican machine has gone to in order to prop up Tim Griffin. If he sent those emails, with the subject line of "caging" and the lists full of minority voters to an investigative reporter then it was an incredibly bone-headed mistake. Why push so hard for a guy like that to get a Federal Prosecutor's job? Why continue to push him for Congress, urging others like David Meeks who wound up being a pretty good state legislator instead, to step aside? Why does he get such favorable coverage from our state's establishment media? I mean they rush to ask his opinion about stuff he has no more to do with than 100 other folks but rarely do they stick a microphone in his face and hector him with tough questions. I don't know that I've ever seen it. Why the kid-gloves and golden boy treatment when there is nothing in his visible record to justify such favoritism? It all makes perfect sense if it was Rove who made the bone-headed move exposing their efforts to commit a federal crime and Griffin is covering for his old boss. He is "taking one for the team" and the big boys on the team are rewarding him for his participation.

Do I know anything in that above paragraph is a fact? Nope. I just know it explains a whole lot that is otherwise really hard to explain. Now I predict the GOP apologists will try to waive this off as "old news" in a very Clintonesque fashion. That is, deny, dissemble, and discredit all you can without ever really facing up to the issue and questions in detail and then come back and say "that's old news, we've already talked about it." Nope. Mostly friendly media threw you a few slow pitches with no followup and no indignation with nostrils flaring as they would if they were interviewing someone that they wanted to pin down. That was Fake News coverage just so they could say it had been covered. It shouldn't count. Only when it has really been addressed is it not news anymore.

Rapert Refuses Debate

Senator Snowflake, or justifiable safety concerns? You decide....

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lt. Governor's Debate Has Some Great Moments and a Clear Surprise Winner

Click on link to video here.

First of all, I have to acknowledge that Tim Griffin did the right thing by showing up for a debate he might have been tempted to duck. He didn't. Secondly, the Democrat Dr. Anthony Bland comes off as a very nice man who doesn't know a lot about the intricacies of public and fiscal policy. On likeability it was mostly a contest between Bland and Gilbert. On policy it was a contest between Griffin and Gilbert, even though they agreed on some issues for different reasons. I support Gilbert BTW.
My general take on the debate is that LTG Griffin won the opening statement and the first question which was basically tailor-made for someone with a career in politics and government. After that it was ALL. FRANK. GILBERT. Heck by the end (46:17) Dr. Bland is nodding again in agreement with Frank and Tim Griffin starts off around 47:08 agreeing that Frank Gilbert made a good point.
Some highlights:
10:00- Griffin starts off on what qualifies him for Governor is that he has worked closely with Asa Hutchinson.
13:30- Gilbert gives an example from his time as Mayor of Tull to show he is ready.
14:50- Griffin on ethics reform. Defines the problem without mentioning its his party and his area that went bad. Complains existing rules are too persnickity.
18:55- Strong answer. Points out that the Rep. establishment actually banded together to run off the two Senators who tried the hardest to fight the corruption. (Bryan King and Linda Collins-Smith). Voting again for the ones who did that is not a vote to fix it no matter what is said.
24:15- Frank Gilbert with frank talk about the Work Requirement for Obamacare. Griffin answers at 25:55
29:00 Gilbert with a great story on why we need voter ID. Griffin follows.
34:20- Gilbert talks about Griffin's past involvement with voter caging when he was an operative for Karl Rove.
35:30- Casino Gambling Amendment. Griffin leans against it but hedges and changes the subject. Gilbert plainly comes out against it and explains why.
45:10 General Revenues to Highways? Gilbert says no more money to this highway system and calls for an end to the Highway Commission and a return of the authority back to the people's representatives in the legislature. Griffin (47:08) agrees Gilbert makes a good point but favors doing so anyway.
50:45 - Strong close by Gilbert. Griffin follows at 52:51 again citing his ties to Asa Hutchinson as a plus.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Global Trade's Hidden Costs

I noticed an article today which had a bombshell about the Chinese government sneaking a stealth microchip into the servers and other hardware it was selling around the world. Organizations infiltrated include Amazon, Apple, and even the CIA. The chip would give them the power to remotely hack the operating system of a myriad of devices.

I do not call trade with China "Free" trade because it is not possible to have free trade with unfree people. China is the world's largest labor camp and most of its inmates are not free to leave and seek opportunity elsewhere (only those connected to the elite are). Thus it has a captive labor force. It also lacks a free media by which workers could learn about dangerous working conditions and make informed choices about where to work. So its global trade, not free trade. And global trade has hidden costs. The above link is an example of a huge one, but there are many others. The importation of dangerous pests for example.

Globalism is pushed by our media, which is itself owned by global corporate entities, and except for the anomaly of Donald Trump, both establishment political parties which are also owned by global corporate entities. But global trade has hidden costs, in particular when dealing with unfree societies. Barriers to trade with such nations are like a "firewall" in ones computer system. They may slow things down a bit but it is a form of insurance. We can't have enough redundancy in a global supply chain where each critical part is made by a single entity. Such a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. China will suffer great turmoil someday, because its system is corrupt and unjust. If we are inextricably linked to them, we will suffer with them.

Global trade has hidden costs and those costs must be born by someone. The global corporations who have pushed to lower all protections and redundancies in favor of a global trade model have harvested the profits from their scheme. But when its time to pay the costs, you can be sure they will try to socialize those onto the general public.

The precepts of Localism provide the most sensible protections for our country, or any country, against the abuse of corporate power, including the abuse described here.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Which Legislators Visited Cranford and Noble's Luxury Accommodations?

By now it is well known that multiple state legislators received bribes and gifts for voting to give certain people access to Medicaid Expansion Money. Some of them have been indicted. Some convicted. But how could a handful of legislators pull of the theft of funds meant for poor sick people on the scale that went on in Arkansas? It seems like a lot more would have to be involved, at least on the fringes. Maybe a few sponsored the bills, and altered the appropriations, but many more had to be induced to vote right and not ask any pesky questions.

It turns out that the plea bargain of Kieth Noble states that the scam "charity" gave things of value to
"numerous" public officials in exchange for their official actions benefiting the "charity". And one of those things was "use of Charity's luxury/recreational real estate." Below is a pic from Noble's plea agreement....

I think the media covered the near-million dollar house Rusty Cranford had in Florida but did you know that the management firm which controlled this "non-profit" also had luxury real estate right here in Arkansas? Carroll County to be exact. Here is one of their places, now for sale...

Pretty fancy diggs. The price has been reduced to $950,000 so it won't last long! But the question I'd like answered, and I do hope that some real media in this state steps up and asks each legislator, is "what legislators have had use of this real estate for them or members of their family?" Might as well ask about the Florida place too, but my guess is that a lot of state legislators and/or their relatives have visited this Carroll County Address. I think we have a right to know who, and a real media would be anxious to go ask.

I can cross one name off the list for them right now. I asked State Senator Bryan King of Green Forest if he had ever been there. He said absolutely not and no one even told him about the place even though it was in the same county he lived in. He added this dynamite quote: "Medicaid entities have been backing up the brinks truck to DHS and have hauled off hundreds of millions of dollars . Legislators were on the take and others help protect their payoffs and bribes."

King was one of the honest ones so his fellow legislators must have not bothered to tell him about all the parties their were having there. Of course King won't be in the State Senate much longer because the Governor and the Republican establishment rallied round Bob Ballinger and ran King off- I think for asking too many probing questions about where state money was going. Which of you professional reporters want to ask Bob Ballinger if he has ever been there? What about the rest of them?

I think people have a right to know, before the election in less than two months, just how deep the rot runs. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Other Side of Fake News - Propping Up Asa Hutchinson

Not all "Fake News" is made up of baseless attacks against anyone who really wants to reform a deeply corrupt system. The other side of the "Fake News" coin is how the establishment media gives unrelenting positive coverage to establishment politicians and seldom or never sticks a microphone in their face and asks the hard questions.

It didn't used to be like this. There was a time the media hired cynics as reporters. The kind of people that would hound anyone. Some of them were just cantankerous people by nature, but that made for a good reporter if one expects the press to really be a "watch dog" of our Republic.

Well the "watch dogs" have been replaced by affable and uncritical "lap dogs" now, at least when it comes to coverage of safe establishment politicians. Andrew DeMillo is an excellent example of the new breed and the "coverage" they give. He's no "watch dog". He just wants to be friendly to his master and get fed- stories. He was almost a sycophant when he was covering Mike Beebe. Now he is doing the same for Gov. Asa Hutchinson. And this is the kind of "reporting'" his bosses, the people who run the paper, want or else he would not have been in this job for so long.

This is how Asa Hutchinson, and Tim Griffin and some others too for that matter, keeps a high approval rating. It's easy when the major media send to the masses a highly sanitized version of your performance that is only tenuously connected to reality. We are, according to DeMillo and the Demozette, ruled by paragons of virtue and wisdom, yet somehow the government which they administer has been infested with rot and corruption under their watch! They media's response to this truth is to double-down on cover-up mode and make great pains to separate them from the parts that have gone bad. There is no demand for accountability at the top, as an actual watch dog media would do.

As a specific example I would like to deconstruct this recent article from DeMillo on our beloved (by him) Governor.
"Arkansas may be the middle of Trump country, but the state’s GOP belongs to Asa Hutchinson"
Rah! Rah! Goooooo Team!

"It also shows how little intraparty fights on issues like health care, tax cuts and social issues have affected his popularity" 

Due to the huge volume of positive press coverage which guys like him give to guys like Hutchinson and Griffin et al. That is, they are making the news and then reporting what they themselves created as a spontaneous reaction of the population. This re-enforces the "reality" that they synthesized rather than reports something which would have been so absent their constant propaganda.

"But there are still obstacles that could complicate Hutchinson’s re-election bid.A number of ex-legislators have been implicated in corruption cases, and an ex-senator was convicted in a kickback scheme involving state funds. While Hutchinson hasn’t been a figure in any those cases, there’s always a risk of his suffering from broad attacks against state government in the upcoming campaign."

Aw gee Andrew, how do you write a paragraph like that without mentioning that the Governor's nephew was one of the legislators "implicated" in corruption, prompting his resignation from the State Senate? Or for that matter, there was an earlier paragraph which pointed out that Hutchinson won an "indirect" victory when Bob Ballinger defeated Hutchinson-critic Bryan King in a Republican Senate Primary. That paragraph understated the matter. Hutchinson and the establishment was "all in" on unseating King, who was asking too many hard questions about where the money went. Ballinger won the primary, but Hutchinson-backed Ballinger is one of those who have been tied to corruption cases, here and here, though so far without indictment. Hutchinson's former Chief of Staff was also implicated.

His paragraph was obviously written to distance Hutchinson from the corruption which blossomed all around him. That takes some very compliant acrobatics especially in the same article whose them is how the GOP in Arkansas is Hutchinson's party now! It's his party, but somehow he has no responsibility for the corruption that is oozing from it!

"He could also face questions about whether his top campaign promise — an $180 million tax cut for the state’s top earners — would come at the expense of other needs in the state. Hutchinson said he opposed one idea floated by lawmakers to raise the grocery tax after it faced backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike."

What really happened is that he ran for governor in 2006 on the promise of repealing the state's tax on groceries, but after getting elected in 2014 he did nothing, counting on the fact that the state's lap-dog media would provide him plenty of cover and never mention it again- DeMillo's article being a case in point. For another view of Hutchinson's position on the proposed increase in the grocery tax see this article from Conduit for Action. Their version is that Hutchinson was forced to finally come out against it when his primary opponent Jan Morgan kept calling him out on it. If you read that article it is amazing how much different it sounds that what was written above.

In conclusion, Fake News has two dimensions. One is the constant attempt to discredit any candidate or movement which could threaten the establishment and prevent the people who are feeding off the system to lose access to your money. The other dimension is the astounding effort to prop up men and women who will keep that system rolling smoothly until the last drop of life has been drained from the host. Hutchinson, and Griffin, are two examples.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Yes Issue One, Tort "Reform" is Still That Bad, Even if its not Interpreted that way.

Very early on when I was on the radio with Paul Harrell talking about Senate Joint Resolution Eight, (which has now become Issue One) I made some provocative claims. I said the so-called "tort-reform" measure would limit punitive damages so that giant out of state corporations could write off killing your mother as a cost of doing business. It is straight out of that scene on the airplane in "Fight Club" where the Edward Norton character confesses to his fellow passenger that he works for a big car company whose products often kill people if they don't do recalls. His job was to calculate the cost of a recall, then calculate the cost of the damages they would have to pay for killing people if they didn't do the recall. If the cost of the recall was higher, they didn't do the recall. Issue one would help companies like that keep the cost of killing people low and known.

Tim Griffin has come out hard in favor of Issue One even though his SOP is to remain motionless and quiet while controversial issues are raging, emerging only once things have settled down and there is credit to be harvested for some good news that he had almost nothing to do with. His two opponents in the race, Independent-minded Libertarian Frank Gilbert and Democrat Gary Bland, have come out against Issue One.

Now some people have suggested to me that I don't know what I am talking about because the measure has been amended to lift the cap on punitive damages based on "intent". The people who are telling me that I don't know what I am talking about don't know what they are talking about. They continue to trust Republican politicians long long long after huge amounts of evidence have piled up right in front of them that these people should not be trusted. They continue to put confidence, and votes, in people who have repeatedly demonstrated that they don't deserve it. I wish they'd stop and face the truth because their refusal to do so is badly jeopardizing our children's future. Yes the language was amended to include a provision to lift the caps based on intent. No it doesn't say what people think it says or wish it says. It says what it says.
In this case it is easy for you to personally determine which of us you should believe, me or these politicians and their apologists. Read the resolution. In particular read section two paragraph (c)(2) where it describes the conditions under which the limits on punitive damages do not apply:
(2) Subdivision (c)(1) of this section does not apply if the
 finder of fact determines by clear and convincing evidence that: (A) The defendant intentionally pursued a course of conduct for the purpose of causing injury or damage to the claimant; and (B) The defendant's intentional conduct harmed the
31 claimant.
Read what it says, not what is reasonable, but what the plain language of the law says. It does not say that the caps on punitive damages can be lifted if it is proven they were intentionally reckless or negligent. It does not say the caps are lifted if they knew a product was dangerous and they intentionally covered it up. It doesn't say the caps are lifted if they covered up a known defect for the purpose of maximizing their profits. It says they must pursue a course of conduct for the purpose of causing injury or damage. That is, it is not enough that they built a car that they later discovered blew up at random times and intentionally elected to cover it up and not do a recall in order to save themselves money. They must set out to intentionally build a car that will randomly blow up and injure their customers!

You say "but no one would do that, its crazy." Exactly. But there is a lot of crazy in the world these days including people's continued faith in Republicans and Democrats. But that is what the law says them must do before the caps on punitive damages were lifted. And not only must they do that, intentionally pursue a course of conduct to hurt people, but the claimant must be able to provide clear and convincing evidence that this is what they were doing!

Now some of you may be thinking, and I am aware that some attorneys are thinking, that judges won't rule on what's written in black and white. They will "interpret" the law to mean something more reasonable than what it actually says. Maybe. Maybe not. But its the judge who rules on what it actually says that's following the law. What's written in the law is awful. So why vote for something that's terribly written in the hopes that some judge will ignore what it says and rule based on some more reasonable idea about what it should say? Why not just vote against it until they give you something that makes sense as written?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Are Legislators Misleading You on Term Limits?

Have you seen the graphic above floating around on social media? Have you heard your legislator citing this "fact" as they try to talk you out of voting "Yes" this November to toughening up our term limits laws after they tricked us in 2014 into loosening them? I have. It's come from legislators like Mary Bentley, Alan Clark, Charlie Collins, and Bruce Cozart.

These are people I want to consider the "good guys". I already don't trust the Democrats, because they have become deranged and out of touch, but its getting to the point where I have to check out virtually everything I hear from Republican office holders too. And if its an issue like this, which threatens the interests of their club, when I check it out I often find that what they are telling us is misleading and incorrect. I consider this claim to be misleading and incorrect as well. Let me explain why....

First to put the claim in context. Only fifteen states have term limits. This isn't like a score on education or something where every state has a number. Only fifteen have numbers. Six more would have numbers, but according to Wikipedia in six states that had term limits they were either thrown out via court challenges or the legislature had the power to reverse its own and did so. Maybe people in other states want term limits, but the politicians who run things have been able to keep it off the ballot. The only reason our original term limits measure got on the ballot IMHO is because the Republicans felt they could move the Democrats out faster if there were term limits.

Of those fifteen states, here is a chart showing how long a legislator can remain can remain in office under the most important variables .....

As you can see, there are several variables involved. 1) Total consecutive years you can serve in the legislature 2) Total consecutive years you can serve in the same office ("total years in ONE office" column above) and 3) Total years you can serve in a lifetime - with the length of the break they have to stay out of office a factor in how tough this requirement is for those states which allow people to run again after a break from "service". Because there are three factors involved- with an important twist on the third so you might as well say four factors, giving a single answer as to "shortest" term limits laws in somewhat misleading in itself. Some of these laws are apples to oranges.

In the chart above I ranked how short the term limits laws were based on the total number of consecutive years a legislator could stay in the legislature. In most cases (but not Arkansas) this would require a hop from one chamber to the other. My fall-back criteria in case of a tie was this: "how many years could a legislator remain in the same office?" with one caveat. If a state let a legislator serve an unlimited number of terms after only missing one two year period I counted that as a weaker law than one which gave politicians more time in the legislature but did not let them come back after taking a two-year break.

Nebraska in my view has the toughest term limits laws in America even though it lets them come back after a four (not a two) year break. Nebraska only has one chamber in its legislature. They can't hop back and forth from one to the other to get more time. They can "serve" eight years, and then they have to sit out four. I suppose in theory they have an "unlimited" number of terms, but it would take them 24 years of life before they could begin to get more than the 16 years in the legislature available in Arkansas. That would require two four year bans from office during that time. I consider that way tougher than getting 16 years straight government gravy without a break. If you can come back after taking four years off and beat whoever replaced you, you are probably pretty good. I was probably unfair to Florida. If I made the top criteria how long you could stay in a single office, they'd be right up there with Nebraska. Like I said, its hard to get a single number when you are evaluating three or four criteria.

Now I want you to look at the yellow zone on that chart. Basically that is the "middle zone" of term limits laws.  All eight of those states have 16 years of total consecutive service in the legislature as a parameter. That's the same as Arkansas. But four of those states let a person get a chance to start over once they take a two year break from service. So I count that as the weakest possible 16 year term limits law. That describes four of those eight states. But three of the eight not only have a lifetime limit of 16 years in the legislature, just like Arkansas, but they have a limit of 8 years in any one office while in Arkansas lets someone stay 16 years in the same chamber. IOW even though the total years in office is tied those three states put more limitations on how those years are spent so they must be counted as tough in term limits laws than Arkansas.

That puts Arkansas at 7 out of 15 on the list. In other words, right about the middle of the pack. Now you may argue that Nebraska does not belong ahead of Arkansas on that list because it does allow people "unlimited" terms after a four year ban after every eight years, but even if you counted it that way Arkansas would be 6th out of 15. I just don't see where they are getting their number that Arkansas has the "5th shortest" term limits in the nation. Unless they mean it is tied for 5th with seven other states in terms of lifetime limits on length of service. If that's what they are arguing, I think its misleading. Don't you agree that they are misleading you by using that number?

Look, I don't think term limits are a panacea. In a perfect world, they wouldn't be good policy. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in one where two very corrupt parties are deeply entrenched and people go in with virtue and come out troubled. In the world we live we not only need term limits but we need to do exactly what the opponents of term limits have been telling us we should do instead- vote for someone else. Vote for an independent. Vote for a libertarian. And vote for term limits.