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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Your Governor in 2022 is Already Decided For You Unless .....

A lot of us haven't even given much thought to the 2018 election yet, especially the down-ballot races and ballot issues. But there are a few who never stop thinking about it because it's their profession. Politicians can maneuver and scheme to position themselves years in advance to get to higher office. And some of them are very good at it and connected to the right people to make it happen.

The idea that the Governor's race in 2022 could already be virtually decided unless you do something right now seems strange to most Arkansans, but it's a very reasonable claim. The Republican party now dominates state politics. With the condition the Democrat party is in, its not likely to be credible opposition. So unless some new political force emerges, whoever wins the GOP nomination is on track to be the next Governor.

Therefore if the GOP nomination becomes a "shoe-in" then the race for Governor is all but decided. Right now Lt. Governor Tim Griffin is close to maneuvering himself into position to be a shoe-in for the Republican nomination for Governor. He operates like the Karl Rove trained politician that he is, staying out of most controversies but telling activists what they want to hear at more private venues. At the same time, when something good happens, he displays an uncanny ability to hop in front of the parade and garner credit regardless of how little his efforts contributed to whatever good thing is going on. The media frequently seeks him with out for quotes to softball questions even if his office has little or no impact on what is discussed and there were dozens of other political figures they could have asked.

In other words, the media seems to be covering for him. It's like he has something on them. Come to think of it, his former Chief of Staff when he was in Congress, Carl Vogelpohl is known for keeping files on people. I don't know what's in them or if any dots connect, but I've noticed over the years that my hunches are at least as accurate as the establishment media's narratives.

Vogelpohl is now running the campaign in support of Issue One, the so-called "tort-reform" measure that 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 as I have said 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. I think this indicates the hold and influence that his former Chief of Staff, Vogelpohl, has with him.

Look, we saw how hard it was for an outsider to challenge a sitting governor in a Republican primary. Griffin won't be an incumbent Governor in 2022, but he will be close and he won't have a trial of tough decisions that could open him up to criticism like Asa Hutchinson had. Griffin has maneuvered his way to the doorstep of the Governor's mansion without ever really being tested in a difficult race. David Meeks was steered away from competing against him when he ran for Congress in the primary. He faced Joyce Elliot in the general election. She is a formidable state legislator, but lacked the crossover appeal with moderate voters needed to make that a real contest. His Democratic opponent last time was not someone that the Democrats wanted to run, they guy decided to file on his own. If his job as a Chippendale dancer in his youth didn't torpedo his chances (something from the files?) his more recent behavior did. Griffin has managed to get as far as he has never having faced a serious and difficult opponent.

The truth is these issues are often decided years in advance and if you don't think ahead years in advance you are going to be frustrated because by the time you get to make your "choice" your choice has been made for you. And its about to happen again and the only way you can stop it is to think as far ahead as they do and vote accordingly. Look, if you are OK with the election for Governor in 2020 being virtually decided for Tim Griffin right now, then go ahead and vote for him for Lt. Governor this Fall. A landslide in that race will just about put him in position to lock up the nomination without a serious challenge. But if you'd like to see someone else get a shot at it, then I suggest you vote for the nominal Libertarian Candidate and former Mayor of Tull Frank Gilbert. If Griffin gets a much lower amount of the vote than expected, it could trip up his coronation parade and open up the field for Governor in 2020, giving you the real choice you may have wished in times past.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Karma and Term Limits

"Karma" is an eastern mystical term which means, in our vernacular "what goes around comes around". I am more into Western mysticism myself, where the same thought is expressed in passages from scripture such as "He who digs a pit may fall into it" and "As a man sows, so also shall he reap." It seems that both eastern and western religions, as well as popular culture, all point to the same universal truth. And this universal truth applies very well to our current debate, perhaps hysteria would be a better way to put as describing the attitude of some public officials, over the proposed term limits amendment.

In 2014 the legislature referred a deceptively titled "ethics" amendment to the voters. It claimed to "establish" term limits but in fact greatly weakened existing term limits law. Not that that was the only thing wrong with the so-called "ethics" amendment. It contained hidden language that could be used to have a chilling effect on anyone who wanted to run for a large office as an independent.

It even included rules which, if legislators were caught mis-appropriating campaign contributions, gave them thirty days to pay back what they stole before the ethics commission could censure them! Yep, that's right (or wrong). If they get caught stealing, they have 30 days to pay it back before they can be penalized for stealing! These things don't enumerate all of my objections to that so-called "ethics" bill, but let's just say it was the most unethical "ethics" bill in my lifetime and leave it at that. The guy who helped write and co-sponsored the "ethics" amendment that weakened our previous term-limits laws, Jon Woods, is out of the Senate and now faces up to twenty years in prison for taking bribes.

In addition to all of that, the two Senators most determined to do something about the huge corruption involving Arkansas Works, Bryan King and Linda Collins-Smith, were recently narrowly defeated in Republican Senate primaries by opponents who were heavily backed by the Governor, other legislators, and enormous sums of money from some of the same special interests which are doing the looting. Conduit for Action had a good, though not complete, roundup of the corruption. Basically many of these people who are crying about how terrible it will be if we term-limit them out are the same ones who either helped, were blithely unaware, or did nothing while the establishment drove out the most fiscally honest remaining members from their ranks.

I spoke with Tim Jacob, who has long been prominently associated with the Term Limits movement. He said "they see themselves as indispensable people". And its true. Despite the fact that the legislature is dripping in corruption and the FBI has to clean house for us because it seems we can't or won't clean our own, they really think it would be a tremendous disaster if we showed them the door early. They don't just see themselves as "the good guys". They see them selves as indispensable people. There will always be a small coterie of "political groupies" who flatter office holders, but this is so far out of touch with the way most people see them as to be ridiculous.

Normal people sense something is wrong, but they don't see an outlet. They don't see a way to fix it, so they are frustrated. Indeed the legislators don't want there to be a way to fix it. They can't even understand why someone would want an alternative to their continued essentially one-party rule. They continue to see themselves as the indispensable good guys. This despite the fact that history shows us that one-party political rule ends in corruption every time, without exception. It was true when the Democrats were that party and they have become hopelessly corrupt and out of touch and now that the Republicans are that party they are going the same route while doing everything in their power to eliminate any way that people have to check that natural progression.

They made ballot initiatives much harder to pull off. They passed laws which make it harder for people to run as independents, including one I have been fighting them on in court for the last five years. It's already been ruled unconstitutional four times but they are still fighting and delaying as much as possible to keep it on the books. And have doubled down by adding more barriers to independents. They have consistently acted in their own interests to tamp down on competition, extend their time in power via deception, and block all efforts to get around them. All while maintaining a posture of self-righteous indignation toward those dissatisfied with their rule. Now people see a way to express their frustration and it looks like they are going to do it. Conduit for Action calls it "payback" from the voters.

Senator Alan Clark has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Term Limits proposal. They have him front and center because he is seen as one of the more respectable members, especially with his important work pushing back against DHS on family separation. His Facebook feed, until recently, was a blizzard of red herring arguments and flawed analogies against the Term Limits proposal. He imagines several scenarios where a good employee is being forced out. This is the "indispensable person" argument I referenced above. A better analogy would be one where you have employees who have found a way to legally insulate themselves from being replaced even though you have a large stock of good potential replacements available who have not yet been corrupted by the system.

In that situation the rational thing to do is to go for term limits to move out the bad apples. Even though its a shame the good ones have to go as well, your odds of getting a good replacement are decent, and it gets rid of the bad ones and gives those good replacements a chance to get in there. Its the best worst option given that all of them have worked and schemed to make it hard to reform the party from the inside and almost impossible to go around it from the outside.

Clark's second main complaint is that the legislative branch could not push back against the executive as well with shorter term limits. The problem with that is that under one-party rule they don't anyway. The legislature has been supine whenever the Governor snaps his fingers. He's already run off the main ones who weren't subservient to him. If the legislature is going to march in lock-step with the Governor who is of their party then they have forfeited the argument that they need more time in office to more effectively push back against the executive branch. Again, Karma. They are responsible for the fervor behind the term limits proposal.

Look, I don't see term limits as a Panacea. In a perfect world they would even be a bad option because we would have very open access to the ballot. In a perfect world the executive would not interfere with elections for the legislative branch- Governor and special interest money from outside the state would not jump into Republican primaries and engineer the defeat of any legislator who bucked him on the money. In a perfect world we would have run-offs in November so that third parties and independents could be considered by the voters without fear of "splitting the vote" and electing their least-preferred candidate. In a perfect world we would have four or five viable candidates for every legislative seat whenever a legislator was doing a less-than-stellar job. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in this one, where the people who make the rules have twisted them and are highly resistant to real reform. In this world, I'll be voting for the Term Limits Proposal.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Democrats Take Clinton Name off of Fundraising Dinner

And now the virtue-signalling mob turns on former President Bill Clinton. Now that he can't help them anymore, they care that he was a sexual predator. The New Hampshire Democrats yielded to pressure to take his name off of their annual fundraising dinner.

This event is the equivalent of the Republican "Lincoln Day Dinners." The Democrats used to call them "Jefferson-Jackson" dinners but started moving away from that a few years ago when the virtue-signalers pointed out that Jefferson owned slaved and Jackson was, by the new standards of PC, borderline genocidal against Native Americans.

Honestly Lincoln had his problems too. He arrested the Maryland legislature! All of these human-gods have feet of clay. Maybe we should just honor them for what they did right while understanding that they are all just human beings and are going to have areas of sin in their life just like us. That doesn't apply to Bill Clinton. Unlike those other men, his primary accomplishment was self-enrichment while in government "service" and personally surviving in office.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

A Voter Base that Desperately Wants to be Lied To

I noticed that Conduit for Action has a piece up about how the Republican Party of Arkansas has put "limited government" and some religious talk back in their party platform. They were the ones who broke the original story about how it was taken out, possibly on the sly. They laud this move as a step back in the right direction.

I don't think its a step in the right direction. That isn't because I don't believe in limited government or that citizens and public official should in humility consider that one day their hearts and deeds will be rewarded by justly by God. It's because I'm pretty sure that the people who run the Republican Party of Arkansas don't really believe those things. At the national level, the party believes it even less. Therefore when the insiders took those things out of the platform they were actually making a move to be more honest. They wanted the platform to reflect more what they were actually doing rather than the delusions that some of their base have about what they really are.

It seems that the base would have none of it. The uproar caused by the insiders attempting to make their platform a more honest reflection of what they have actually done, are doing, and will continue to do forced them to go back to putting those untrue statements back into the platform. The base won't tolerate the establishment of the party telling the truth about what the Republican Party actually is. That might obligate them to do something about it, like leave and start something new.

It is very clear to anyone who cares to see it that the Republican party has no intention of limiting government. It's a giant looting machine for the special interests which fund it and it is dedicated to stealing as much of the next generation's wealth as it can possible lay its hands on. And it will continue to steal the next generation's wealth via promiscuous debt until there is nothing left to steal or We the People stop them.

Thus it is obvious that whatever God-talk is in the platform they don't really take to heart the idea that God will reward them justly for their deeds on earth either. Rather, a mutant strain of theology seems to have infected Republican officials which has the exact opposite of the humbling effect that an infusion of the One True Faith should have on a person's heart. This strain will continue to run wild so long as We the People let them get away with it.

So far I see very little appetite among the conservative base for facing reality on any of this and a very strong preference for finding politicians willing to keep lying to them. I remember one of the sessions where the issue of repealing the "Private Option/Arkansas Works" came up and some activists were mad at legislators who were rude to them. I thought at the time some of it was that they were pressing the legislators to keep lying to them, as they had done to get the so-called "Private Option" in the first place, but the legislators were getting weary of the charade and that was why they were lashing out. They just didn't want to have to lie to these people but the people were insisting!

It is long past time decent people who don't want the establishment to continue looting their children and grandchildren choose their own family over either of the two DC parties who have ruined America both fiscally and morally. But that's real self-government and it takes both courage and work.