Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Finger Pointing on Lack of True Paper Ballots

We got reports from several counties around the state which said that paper ballots were not available.  In some cases, the county election workers were telling voters that the state were making them vote by machine alone.  In others they said if you wanted a paper ballot that it had to be a provisional ballot.  Several contacts with the Sec. of State's office, and purviews of Arkansas law later, here is what we think is happening....

Years ago a law was passed which gave counties the option of doing away with paper ballots, except for the provisional ballots.   This was not something that the state mandated.  It just gave the counties the option of choosing to go all machine.  The JPs could do it by resolution.    Over time some counties opted to do that, and the number this time is high enough to where it is finally being noticed.

If there is an easier way to do things, human beings will try to take it.   It is likely many County Clerks asked their JPs to take this step to save themselves some work on election nights.   It is a legal option, and I believe in giving localities different options, so that part is cool.  What is not cool is not owning up and taking responsibility for the decisions that one makes.  In this case, it was county officials who decided to do away with paper ballots, but if these reports are accurate they are trying to blame the "state" for mandating doing away with paper ballots.   That's wrong.   If they are not using paper ballots it is because the JPs voted to do away with them, and if people are upset about it the remedy is to vote for JPs who will change it back.

Also not cool is handing people a "provisional" ballot and telling people if they want paper ballots they will have to use "provisional" ballots.   State law is very clear about what a "provisional" ballot is supposed to be used for, and passing them off as a replacement for paper ballots in not among them.  In addition, the law has some requirements a to the layout of a regular paper ballot, and I don't think the provisional ballots meet them all.

And now you know....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is Wal-Mart Falling Apart Before our Eyes?

The Financial Site "Motley Fool" thinks so.  Same store sales sagging compared to consumer spending, foreign store margins going down.   It looks like the thrill is gone for Wal-Mart, until they pull the next rabbit out of their hats.... http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/05/17/walmart-is-falling-apart-before-our-eyes.aspx

Friday, May 16, 2014

Piazza Marriage Ruling: Yeah He Actually Wrote That!

A state circuit judge, Chris Piazza, recently took it upon himself to throw out amendment 83 of the Arkansas State Constitution.  The amendment defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.   And he petulantly did it in a way and with such timing as to create a giant mess even if his ruling is eventually overturned.

There needs to be some word that is more extreme than "hubris" to define Piazza's attitude.  He is the same judge who ruled that the state must assist homosexuals in their efforts to gain access to other people's children.  I deconstruct that ruling here in an article aptly titled "Judicial Tyranny at its Most Incoherent".   But I have to say, his writing in that one was a model of propriety compared to the parody of a legal ruling he cobbled together on this one.   After a point, I quit being angry and started being amused.   The ruling read like a SNL skit of a smug, self-righteous lower court judge with a god-complex.

Rather than do a detailed de-construction of his "logic" as I did with the prior ruling, I just want to show you the five dumbest things this character wrote in his ruling.   If it were not such a serious subject, it would be hilarious.   Ready?

1) "The exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage for no rational basis
violates the fundamental right to privacy........The difference between opposite-sex and same-sex
families is within the privacy of their homes."

No, no, he actually wrote this. Not just in a Facebook post either, where asinine assertions are commonplace, but in his legal opinion on the case.  Can anyone out there tell me how a failure to publically recognize anyone's relationship as a marriage violates their right to privacy?   And does this man, who so self-assuredly bench-legislates his personal preferences on the populace really think that "the" difference between two men and a man and a woman is merely within the privacy of their own homes?  Does he think we can't tell the difference outside of their homes, especially say, in the ability to procreate?

2) But the hilarity does not end there. In his desperation to waive off any hint that the people he wanted to step on (75% of the voters) had any rational basis at all for defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman he also wrote...

"Even if it were rational for the state to speculate that children raised by opposite-sex couples are better off than children raised by same-sex couples, there is no rational relationship between the Arkansas same-sex marriage bans and the this goal because Arkansas's marriage laws do not prevent same-sex couples from having children."
Right. Nature itself does.   And when people are wise, nature informs the law.   He is extremely determined to refuse to admit the other side can have any "rational basis" for their views.  He repeatedly claims that there is no "rational basis" for defining marriage traditionally, but he does so by waiving off objections with absurdities like this, not by actually addressing them.  For more on the rational case why the state should not recognize homosexual marriage see here and here.  

3) In his efforts to show that he should use a higher level of scrutiny to look out for the "rights" of homosexuals to your approval of their relationships, His Eminence wrote..

"this Court finds the rationale of De Leon v.
Perry, Obergefell v. Wyrnyslo, and the extensive authority cited in both cases to be
highly persuasive, leading to the undeniable conclusion that same-sex couples
fulfill all four factors to be considered a suspect or quasi-suspect classification.”

OK, now listen to what those four factors are which Piazza (I find myself spinning my index finger around the side of my forehead in the universal sign for crazy every time I say his name) finds are fulfilled....

"1) the characteristics that distinguish the class indicate a typical class member's ability to contribute to society
2) whether the distinguishing characteristic is 'immutable" or beyond
the group member's control, and
whether the group is 3) a minority or 4) politically powerless,"

I added the numbering, but the rest was listed right before his absurd claim that homosexuals fulfill all four categories.  Regarding 1) It is obvious that homosexuals can't contribute to marriage in all the way that natural couples can.  Regarding 2) He is still crazy.  The trait is not truly immutable.   People can and have left the homosexual deathstyle.   Compare that to the percentages of blacks who have quit being black!  Regarding 3) OK I will grant they are a minority. This is the only one he is right about.  Regarding 4) Are you kidding me?   Total denial of post-modern political reality.

You can hardly turn on the TV without homosexual characters portrayed favorable in shows that are obstensibly supposed to be "entertainment."   Even in the macho NFL, a player tweets a rather brief and mild protest at attention-whore Micheal Sam kissing his boyfriend on national television and the player gets fined and suspended from the team until he goes to re-education camp!  They are not a politically oppressed minority, they are the oppressors.  Like Voltaire said, if you want to find out who your true rulers are, find out who you are not allowed to criticize.  Apparently we are ruled by sexual deviants, because that's who we are not allowed to criticize anymore.

4) Amendment 83 was legally added to the Arkansas Constitution by 75% of the voters. He actually found the constitution unconstitutional, not just according to the federal constitution, but to the state constitution to which it had been legally added! He based his “reasoning” on the idea that the amendment did not repeal Article 2 Section 2 of the Arkansas Constitution which reads....

All men are created equally free and independent, and
have certain inherent and inalienable rights, amongst
which are those of enjoying and defending life and
liberty; of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property,
and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness, To
secure these rights governments are instituted among
men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the

I guess that last part just kind of flew right past him, eh?  He said it was dangerous to "narrow the definition of equality" granted in this section "for no rational reason" of course. That is just silly because the amendment simply ratified what existed when it was passed, it did not change anything.   But where does the section even use the word "equality"?   Sure it says men (sorry ladies!) are created equal, but that does not mean that their choices must be honored by other men or women equally.  It does not say they must have equal recognition from the state, even if their deeds are not strictly speaking, equal.   It does not guarantee equality of outcome.   It is just saying whatever rights men will have under the constitution will be had equally, but leaves it up to the rest of the document to define what that means.  The guy is just hallucinating into the text that which he wishes to see, while missing the important point that ultimately, the people have to decide what they will recognize as rights and what they do not consider rights.

5) Let's see how well the judge knows what is actually in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights concerning "rights".....   See if you can find 1) Those that are actually listed in our constitution as stated, 2) The one that is a slight extrapolation of one that is stated 3) One that was conjured into existence in the “penumbra” of a stated right, but conveniently ignored in all cases involving the growing surveillance state and 4) One that is not even remotely listed in the constitution, and is being made up of whole cloth by the present generation of judges to force acceptance of homosexuality on the nation under any pretext....

“The strength of our nation is in our freedom which includes, among
others, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to marry, the
right to bear arms, the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures,
the right of privacy, the right of due process and equal protection, and the
right to vote regardless of race or sex.”

“Freedom of Expression” is #2, and is a reasonable extrapolation of “freedom of speech and freedom of the press”. The “right to privacy” is #3, conjured into existence by penumbras of the 5th amendment (why doesn't the 2nd amendment ever have any penumbras greatly expanding the scope of its meaning with these judges?). This non-textual "Right to Privacy" is aggressively defended in cases relating to abortion but consistently ignored when the NSA wants to save our life's communications to their hard drives just in case.

Oh and how about #4? It fits the bill of “which of these is not like the other ones” in the sense that Piazza made it up before our eyes and inserted into the hallucinatory constitution that only liberal judges can see while no mention of it exists in the real one. That is “the right to have your marriage recognized by the government”.

That so-called "right" is not in there.   Piazza and company are just making it up and inserting it into their Mickey-mouse super-secret constitution right before our eyes. Those of us who don't have the magic decoding ring can't seem to find it in the actual text of the document.  And what they really mean by it is not “the right to marry” at all, but rather the “right to public approval for their relationships” to any group the judges happen to favor at the moment.


OK, some of his claims about the differences in homosexual relationships are funny, others, like his inability to accurately list the actual rights from the constitution and Bill of Rights without inserting his pet issue unto the list is merely amusing.  I am going to end with two more example that are neither.  They are just examples of what a pompous, self-important jackass this man is:

He wrote “The issues presented in the case at bar are of epic constitutional
dimensions-the charge is to reconcile the ancient view of marriage as between
one man and one woman, held by most citizens of this and many other states,
against a small, politically unpopular group of same-sex couples who seek to be
afforded that same right to marry.

Piazza does not even address the right question, so it is no wonder he never gets near the right answer. This is not about the “right to marry” since there is no law threatening to jail homosexuals if they claim to be married. Rather the question is whether society as a whole is to be compelled to recognize such arrangements as equal to traditional marriage. He acknowledges that the decision is epic, but has no problem at all coming down hard totally on one side of the issue. The way he “reconciles” the two positions is to dismiss with hardly more than a waive of the hand the concerns of the vast majority of his fellow citizens because he is just oh-so-sure that he is just that much smarter and better than the rest of us. And he structured his ruling in a way that makes it impossible to avoid a mess even if he is overturned. Piazza is a god in his own mind.

He writes “The court is not unmindful of the criticism that judges should not be
super legislators. However, the issue at hand is the fundamental right to
marry being denied to an unpopular minority.”

You see, he claims he is “not unmindful” that judges should not be super legislators, but then immediately and strongly does it anyway by virtue of the recently manufactured claim unsupported by the text of any constitution that marriage is a "fundamental right."  And even that understates the degree of his cluelessness and arrogance because even if marriage should be considered a right, the question here is not that but whether the public must recognize and grant honor to claims of marriage. Marriages existed before the state recognized them and will exist afterward. The issue is public recognition and approval of the relationship, not the relationship.

People of Arkansas, we failed somewhere when we did not find an opponent for this man, who undermines the public respect the judicial branch ought to have with his zealotry and over-reach.