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October 17, 2005

Comments

alls i know is that i'm going start keeping a notarized copy of my latest bank statement with me at all times. no way i wanna end up being unable to prove that i'm worth more than the people around me, if there's ever a line for lifeboats.

death to the poor, life for the rich: it's the Fairest Tax of all!

abhorrent sentiments expressed by boortz, but it's just an example of the libertarian "utopia" of social darwinism taken to an extreme.

I've had libertarians tell me the poor are also less deserving of such things as EMT services because they pay less taxes (or contribute less to society or some other b.s.). Just another example of the morally bankrupt Randian philosophy.

What worries me most is that this seems shocking and surprising to some Democrats. Where have you all been for the last five years? This strikes me as a fairly typical Red claim. Usually it's buttressed by adolescent murmurings about Ayn Rand, but it's fairly typical.

It seems one thing to hear such nonsense in theory, SCMTim, but another altogether in response to an actualy situation. It drives it home somehow.

JFTR, Rand wasn't a libertarian. She was an Objectivist. She hated libertarians.

I can also say quite confidently that the people Bobzilla is encountering aren't libertarians either, althought they may call themselves such. They're Republicans.

Shorter Boortz: "Hey lookit me! I'm edgy!"

He's probably right now writing a screenplay for a Titanic remake, where the wealthy socialite gets screwed out of his lifeboat seat by a good-for-nothing immigrant kid.

I live in Georgia and stopped listening to Boortz a long time ago. He says things like this just to get people incensed enough to call into his show. Ratings, ratings, ratings. The guys is a first class idiot. Of course, my mom quotes him endlessly, but she's kind of an idiot too. Can't pick your family and all that....

It appears that Boortz is just ripping off some old speeches from the first half of the 20th century, substituting rich for Aryan and poor for Jewish.

I wonder if we can get Scotty to endorse Boortz's comments.

I'm going to treat this as an isolated case of nuttiness and hence uninteresting, given that I don't know who the hell he is, unless there's some outpouring of support for his position.

I'm going to treat this as an isolated case of nuttiness and hence uninteresting, given that I don't know who the hell he is, unless there's some outpouring of support for his position.

I can see that, but if, as SCMTim suggests, this is a widely held belief, then I'd rather not find that out the day an evacuation is needed.

Not to play devil's advocate or anything but since when haven't the rich been given preferential treatment? Particularly w/in the legal system. Disgusting as it is to hear the 'idea" articulated and advocated out loud, it doesn't really change, as they say, 'the facts on the ground.' In short, the only real surprise is that someone would be dumb enough to actually broadcast it.

Well, he has the #79 book in the Amazon sales rankings AOTW. And the subject of the book is how to make taxes fairer. Knowing that his view of fairness is that the rich should live and the poor should die is a good data point in judging that book by its cover.

Also, one of the more idiotic part about Boortz's argument is that he's suggesting that for some reason the number of people who got e-mail warnings had to be limited, when in fact the cost per e-mail sent is, in many cases, actually zero.

Also note the truly bizarre assumption that rich people are rich because of their effort. This is false for people with inherited wealth, and for people who cash in on their connections rather than earning their money the old-fashioned way. Since I don't imagine that those who received advance warning were actually chosen based on their net worth, but heard because they knew someone, those who got rich despite not being connected would be underrepresented, while those (like GWB before he entered politics) who were rich, well-conected, and incapable of actually earning money on his own steam would have found out.

Not to play devil's advocate or anything but since when haven't the rich been given preferential treatment?

Diligence.

What's seen as right or wrong is a matter of diligence. The more someone shouts "the rich are more deserving" and no one counters it, the more that will come to be accepted as true.

As far as the actual event in question, based on the news article, it seems that some people who were related to or otherwise knew officials at DHS received early warning, not that there was some concerted effort to notify the wealthy in general. More of a case of "who you know" rather than "how much you make." Reprehensible, yes, but not class-ism.

As for Boortz, I've heard the name but never listened to him (talk radio in general bores me). He sounds like an ass.

What's seen as right or wrong is a matter of diligence. The more someone shouts "the rich are more deserving" and no one counters it, the more that will come to be accepted as true.

Agreed, Edward. I stand upbraided.

Phil, I know you're right about the objectivist/libertarian distinction because I've heard objectivists say this, and I think libertarians as well, but in as short or as long a description as you care to give, what's the difference?

Boortz sounds like perfect B-Ark material.

My favourite response to Boortz's brand of bilge may be found here.

Ayn Rand took Objectivism into a bunch of places which Libertarianism doesn't even bother thinking about, because of her belief that you could objectively determine things like 'what tastes good', 'what kind of music is good to listen to', etc. So that's one substantial difference is that by the end of her life, Rand turned Objectivism into a more totalizing world view, whereas most Libertarians would laugh and point if someone tried to dictate such things. (Indeed, dictating such issues is about as ANTI Libertarian as one can get.)

Libertarianism, on the other hand, is based on the idea that each person is best suited to make their own decisions; it is much more strongly subjective. The maximum freedom of the individual within the minimal limits necessary to maintain order is best. It makes no claims about the nature of science, what people's aesthetic tastes should be, etc.

Now, both systems do tend to end up basically endorsing laissez-faire capitalism. Objectivists do it because they see it as the objectively best system for rational actors to maximize their wealth. Libertarians like it because it fits their ideal of small government. (and often they like maximizing wealth too, of course...)

Libertarianism can end up seeming pretty lousy to an objectivist because it puts no particular emphasis on reason. A Libertarian is free to be as rational or irrational as he likes and that's the whole point. To an objectivist, such a view is going to tend to be anathema.

"provide for the common defense"

Nicely and succinctly put, Jonathan!

John -- and then there's always the minor matter of objectivism having turned into, well, almost a cult...

Boortz makes so many inane assumptions it's hard to know where to begin, but in the spirit of Edward's point about opposing idiocy, here go a few points:
(1) the assumption that wealth is strongly correlated with hard work or other form of merit is pretty dubious. Counterexamples abound, from Paris Hilton to Andrew Fastow before the fall of Enron.
(2) the assumption that material wealth is in itself the most important thing that must be preserved is just plain dumb. Financial reward as a measure of the merit of a work product is pretty dodgy, too. Would you rather live in a world with no chia pets, or one with no Muddy Waters?
(3) the assumption that the poor are poor because of some character flaw is stupid. If that were true how do we have stories of people overcoming poverty and attaining great wealth? Before they made their first buck they were scum and after they made it big they became good? If anything, the wealth creating characteristics (presumed good in Boortz' view) must predate the acquisition of wealth - causality demands it. For those of the poor who remain poor throughout their lives, even if it is entirely due to laziness (while many liberals dislike admitting it, there are such people) - so what? They've made a choice to value money less than leisure. Why is that choice bad? Only if material wealth is the measure of a person's value is it bad to be lazy.
(4) The poor and lower middle class provide most of our soldiers, firefighters, police officers and paramedics. Even if their lives have zero value the aristocrats need them.

More of a case of "who you know" rather than "how much you make." Reprehensible, yes, but not class-ism.

As anyone who's ever lived in the colonies (or spent time amongst Ivy Leaguers) can attest, that is classism. Genteel, unintentional classism, but classism nonetheless.

And BTW, for those who consider Boortz an isolated nutjob, I'd recommend reading Neiwert et al. to get a sense of how he's plugged into the "conservative" -- irony quotes now more essential than ever! -- movement. There are a whole crapload of "isolated nutjobs" out there who are isolated more as a function of people not talking about their connections, which tend to be meaningful-but-ephemeral and therefore hard to describe, than of the absence of connectivity.

Kinda let's you know where the whole FAIR tax proposal is really coming from.

Donald, John Biles pretty well covered it, I think. If I had to distill it down to an elevator speech, I'd say the while both libertarians and objectivists derive similar principles of individual responsibility, free markets and noninitiation of force from common assumptions, objectivism is more metaphysical (wonkily so) and sees capitalism as an end rather than a means. Also, objectivists see altruistic behavior as per se immoral; libertarians like to be as free to be as altruistic as they want to. There's a good Wikipedia entry on it.

I find that, among people I know who self-identify as libertarian, as many came to it via a vaguely liberal mindset of social justice as did from a conservative viewpoint of laissez-faire capitalism. Not that you" rel="nofollow">

hilzoy: Almost a cult?

I don't know what happened there. Last sentence, penultimate graf should read: "Not that you'd know it from the nimrods who the media chooses to represent 'libertarianism'."

Per the discussion of dirty libertarians, I think you'd have to step back a bit from the question of who should get saved in an emergency. Most libertarians would point out that no one should have the power to make that decision and that maximum dissemination of life-saving information is generally best, in order to allow each individual to act on it as they choose.

The idea that public information has to be state controlled and then doled out according to procedures and a schedule is inherently unlibertarian.

I'm sort of with Rilkefan here, but I would like to make my acquaintance with Boortz, perhaps on a bridge leaving new Orleans during a flood and hurricane.

The logistics of Boortz's neediness are complicated. For example, the folks in first class on those 4 planes on 9/11. Presumably they received the heads up moments before those in coach, but they died first, being at the front of the plane. We could fly jetliners backwards into buildings, thus giving the wealthier folks a split second or two more time. That seems just, but (hey, flying is little more than magic to me) wouldn't there be some sort of thrust and lift problem getting off the ground?

Now, what about the folks in the World Trade Center. You could have the richest people congregated on the bottom floors and let them file out first, that is if they didn't mind giving up their stellar views of Manhatten. But what about the janitors and other poor service folks serving those lower floors?. You'd need to keep the news from them, but that would seem problematical, what with all the whispering and hand signals.

I don't know what to do about the bird flu. But when it arrives, you know, just as the public health system for the poor is cracking under the Boortzian/Republican ideological weight, I think I'll seek out Boortz, maybe on an elevator.

I'll turn and ask him, "hey Neil, can I borrow a few bucks", and then I'll sneeze a big sloppy one with lots of aerosol birdy mucilage right into his kisser. Maybe I'll kiss him right on the lips too, like Daffy Duck, and then bounce around hooting like a loon.

"Neil, does the word "pandemic" mean anything to you?" I'll hoot. "By the way, is this your wife and all the other heirs to the Boortz fortune? Pleased to meet you. Kaachew!"

That'll be his heads up.

I'd just like to say, apropos of nothing, that I can't understand why any reasonably smart conservative would waste his time at Obsidian Wings.

OT, but that interview I did for public radio last month re: the GBBA is going to air tomorrow night. Details are on my bloglet.

Thanks for the heads up, CC :)

I'd just like to say, apropos of nothing, that I can't understand why any reasonably smart conservative would waste his time at Obsidian Wings.

Some smart conservatives like debating with smart liberals. Not being smart myself, I couldn't say why I come here. :P

Shop smart. Shop S-Mart!

This, ThirdGorchBro, is my BOOMSTICK!

Thanks, John and Phil. I used to know much of that, but it's been so long since I'd thought much about it I'd forgotten. Of course, there's always google, but it was easier to ask.

I'd just like to say, apropos of nothing, that I can't understand why any reasonably smart conservative would waste his time at Obsidian Wings

Ahem, I think there was a little poll a few months ago about whether you are politically. I think I was the most centrist, with the possible exception of crionna. who shortly thereafter fled the site. I sometimes comment here because if I try to discuss politics with my family, who are liberal, they win the debate by yelling, and/or crying. So Obwi is my substitute outlet.

On yet another persoanl note, how I became "conservative" was that my son's school social worker wanted us to put him on Ritalin. We had him tested by a REAL psychologist and presented the evidence that although he was very smart, he was within the norm in attention span. But the school argues that because his IQ differed from his attention by 2 standard deviations, we should medicate him. After we put him in a private school, I called up athe Mike Malloy show to support school vouchers. The next caller called me a Nazi, and Mike agreed. So that's the initial seed for how I changed from a liberal to a Nazi, Zionist, chickenhawk racist.

Now my folks back in Tennessee are very believing Baptists and Methodists, who think I'm going to hell, with my Dad a deacon who by the way did awesome work at a federal facility during the Reagan administration. And here in Illinois, my family is atheist/Unitarian do-gooders - and get this, had copies of "Soviet Life" in the bzasement that I had to clean out when they had to move out because of old age / Alzheimer's, etc.

Me, I was somewhate accurately described in high school as a "depraved degenerate", yet I would have voted for Nixon because the whole Eagleton VP affair proved to me that McGovern didn't have the right stuff to be president. (My friends were shocked and outraged when they found this out.)

So, if y'all thought that I am a typical conservative, sorry, I am actually a pretty wierd guy. (But not as wierd as bob macmanus)

DaveC: so does the fact that we don't call you names here mean you might switch back? ;)

Bill at 3:02 has my ear. Reminding me of Puddin Head Wilson's grandstand that he would shoot his half (of the co-owned dog). It wasn't the impression he was hoping for.
Ever so earnest Edward, can you see it Bill's way?
Boorzt (did he invent this name or come by it honestly?) may be pointing out facts, laying bare the reality that our constitution is designed to challenge. This may be a service. Regard the fervor of Edward as one instance of resurrecting our faith and need for this constitution.

DaveC: so does the fact that we don't call you names here mean you might switch back? ;)

I doubt it, especially if Rudy Giuliani or Condi Rice are nominated for Pres. In Illinois, I think Barack Obama is a good guy, and in 2004 I voted for almost as many Dems as Republicans. By the way, I think that Jes has a profound misunderstanding of the US political system. It is in some way undemocratic, in that each state has 2 senators, regardless of the population. So the popular vote has never been the be-all end-all according to the constitution.

Also I vote in national elections fully aware of the fact that my vote may count for nothing, sort of, because of the winner takes all aspect of the electoral college.

To be honest, the reason I voted for Bush in 2000 was for Social Security reform, and Pres Bush has been pretty inept in advancing this. Now I think that Pres Clinton did a pretty good job domesticlly, after the train-wreck of health-care reform. (I work generally in the health care field, and the health care reform stuff actually stopped advances in research and development). And I can forgive Clinton somewhat on national security issues, because at the time, who knew?

Now I think that we need somebody that can be characterized as a "bad man" or a "war criminal" in order to spread what I think of as "freedom" around the world. I have to admit that I think thaat the governments in N Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, Zimbabwe are very very bad, and that we, the USA,should do what we can do to stop these guys. There are so few countries that care about the freedom of individuals that the resonsibility ultimately lands upon the US.

DaveC, if that's true, then why on earth are you voting for Bush? Irrespective of whether he's a "bad man" or a "criminal", he's done a pretty awful job of promoting meaningful democratization, liberalization or in any way stopping "bad guys" beyond Saddam Hussein and his family (and pretty much ruining Iraq in the process, so it's at best a mixed result there). I mean, it's one thing to vote for someone who's able to get the job done, it's quite another to vote for someone who's just an incompetent wannabe-asskicker...

Just to give DaveC a little cover here, there was no way I think anyone could have truely envisioned how bad things (and this admin) could get. (yes, I know that some people will say that they knew, but honestly, did you really think that it would reach this point?)

DaveC: By the way, I think that Jes has a profound misunderstanding of the US political system.

I think you're wrong about that. Let me outline my understanding of the US political system and see if you still think I'm wrong.

The basic system is as it was set up in the 18th century, and was then considered deeply radical, as all white men had the vote, poor or rich. (In the UK at that time, there still existed "rotten boroughs" where perhaps a couple of dozen men were entitled to vote for a Member of Parliament, and whole cities where no one, no matter what their age or their financial status, had the vote.) If you read contemporary political writings, you see that what the founders feared was that permitting one man, one vote, would lead to mob rule (what we would these days call "representative democracy") - and they built in any number of checks to make sure that didn't happen. Fear of a government elected by the will of the majority of voters was standard thinking in the 18th century, nothing out of the ordinary. (Indeed, there are still right-wingers who think like that now: see the fear and contempt expressed for the government of Venezuela, or past fear/contempt for the governments of Nicaruaga and Chile.)

The system is intended to be anti-democratic, because it is very much still an 18th-century system. That the President is elected not by the will of the majority of voters, but by voters appointing an electoral college, so that if 51% of those who vote (and who have their votes counted) vote Republican, all of the electors in the college must cast their votes for a Republican president, is not a democratic system: it's not meant to be.

Liberal Japonicus: Some folks in 2000 did say that if Bush and his crew got power, they'd use it to widen the class gulf, shift load onto and opportunity away from everyone below the top stratum, lose all fiscal restraint, engage in unnecessary and probably incompetent military adventures, and a bunch else. Molly Ivins' writings from the time are in print. Avedon Carol has archives of her stuff from then, I believe, along with comments at Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden's weblog. There are others, as well.

My policy is very simple at this point. I'm listening to those who were most nearly right, apologizing for not heeding what turned out to be good evidence, and seeing where the same sort of reasoning gets me now.

On elections, my policy is equally simple: conduct them in a way that makes it possible for winners, losers, and bystanders alike to say with confidence "this is what voters voted for". As it is, we have a high-risk security alert for Diebold from CERT that hasn't been addressed a year later, just for starters, and a whole lot else. I believe I know (in broad terms) what happened in 2004, but I couldn't exactly prove it, and the very fact that it's so hard to prove or disprove a claim is itself a sign of a poorly run election. Certainly the Bush administration and Republican Party cannot demonstrate that they won without the balance being tipped by various forms of fraud and abuse. I'd like to think that all Americans of good will would prefer a much simpler, more open, and more reliable approach.

"indeed, there are still right-wingers who think like that now: see the fear and contempt expressed for the government of Venezuela, or past fear/contempt for the governments of Nicaruaga and Chile."

Or just go back before the turn of the century, in this country. Remember the anti-Clinton howlers?

Liberal Japonicus: Some folks in 2000 did say that if Bush and his crew got power, they'd use it to widen the class gulf, shift load onto and opportunity away from everyone below the top stratum, lose all fiscal restraint, engage in unnecessary and probably incompetent military adventures, and a bunch else.

Sure, but if one thinks about the position that DaveC is in, it's a bit, well, unrealistic to have him take note of accounts such as those. And if we think to the situation before the election, it seems a bit righteous to claim that it was obvious that Bush was a total f-up.

My policy is very simple at this point. I'm listening to those who were most nearly right, apologizing for not heeding what turned out to be good evidence, and seeing where the same sort of reasoning gets me now.

An excellent policy. But I don't think that we can afford to not try and get people like DaveC and others like him that maybe, just maybe, this admin is really screwing the pooch.

It seems Boortz is laboring under an enormous misconception. Perhaps we might want to save the "more productive" members of society first, but at no point in reality are we ever faced with such a choice.

First, the marginal cost of informing one additional person (of any degree of productivity whatsoever) is essentially zero. The news media will run these kinds of stories, everywhere, for free, and if the information is properly disseminated (rather than given secretly to cronies), everyone will be able to act on it as they see fit.

Second, from the standpoint of Austrian economics (also a libertarian theory, though often at odds with Objectivism), there is no one objective standard of who is "worth more" to society: Each person values other people and/or their contributions to varying degrees. To Austrian economists, the reason we have an economy in the first place is because of these great differences in value.

For example, my hair stylist is quite valuable to me, but I wouldn't trust yours at all. Or maybe you don't even have one, since you don't think hair is worth the trouble. How are we to decide between us whether hair stylists are objectively "worth it?" We don't decide. We buy and sell goods and services in a free market WITHOUT deciding. (And without making the creepy genocidal defenses of favoritism that Boortz has made here.)

That the President is elected not by the will of the majority of voters, but by voters appointing an electoral college, so that if 51% of those who vote (and who have their votes counted) vote Republican, all of the electors in the college must cast their votes for a Republican president, is not a democratic system: it's not meant to be.

It is incorrect to state that there is any Constitutional requirement whatsoever that the electors from any given state must all vote for the candidate who received 50%+1 of the popular vote in that state. Each state has different rules for how their electors must behave. The fact that party politics decides who gets designated as electors generally results in what you describe, but that's an argument against either/both of party politics or the method of elector designation, not against the electoral system per se.

It also makes no difference except from a philosophical standpoint. If you eliminated the electoral college tomorrow, a 51% vote, or a 50%+1 vote, in a particular state for a particular candidate would still go down as a win in that state for that candidate. No electors necessary.

Finally, it's not as if the Prime Minister of the UK is directly elected by the voters of the UK either. Nor, I daresay, is the Monarch.

The basic system is as it was set up in the 18th century, and was then considered deeply radical, as all white men had the vote, poor or rich.

This is also incorrect. There were plenty of both practical and legal blocks preventing non-landowning whites from voting.

Ever so earnest Edward, can you see it Bill's way?

Of course I can. I see it that way too, but the problem lies in this last note of Bill's:

Of course, my mom quotes him endlessly,

Assuming Bill's mom votes as well, I still see this as problematic and worthy of discussion.

PS. Despite the mocking, I love the alliteration!

The US system isn't a direct democracy, and we don't have proportional representation for political parties, but in a country as large and diverse as the US it's necessary to have some mechanisms that encourage stability and unity. The electoral college, the existence of a Senate with equal representation for all states regardless of population, and the "winner-takes-all" two-party system are just some of those mechanisms. Without them, we'd go through governments faster than Italy does. Just because we're more republican (small "r") than Europe doesn't mean we're not a democracy.

ThirdGorchBro: Just because we're more republican (small "r") than Europe doesn't mean we're not a democracy.

And yet, in Florida, the electoral college ended up being directed to vote the opposite way from the way the Florida voters had actually appointed them to vote. So even with the 18th-century democracy that the US uses, the system is now officially broken, and worse, there is apparently no rush to get it repaired.

LJ: In 2000 I was a pretty hard-core libertarian who really didn't see much difference at all between the major party candidates in terms of the issues that mattered to me. I'm not asking for any more of a stretch than I'm making.

And yet, in Florida, the electoral college ended up being directed to vote the opposite way from the way the Florida voters had actually appointed them to vote.

You're going to need to provide something a little more concrete than your say-so, J. Who directed the electors to vote inconsistently with the popular vote, and on what authority?

Slarti: Who directed the electors to vote inconsistently with the popular vote, and on what authority?

The popular vote in Florida was for Al Gore. The electors nevertheless selected George W. Bush. You, as a native of Florida, would know better than me who was empowered to direct that the electors should select George W. Bush without completing the counting of the votes to find out who the voters actually wanted... which turned out to be Al Gore, once all the ballots had finally been counted.

The popular vote in Florida was for Al Gore.

It doesn't matter what you think the popular vote was, what matters is the certified popular vote. I know you're having a hard time with this, but a little traipse through Florida statute could probably set you straight. Personally, I think Bush "really" won by a bazillion votes.

You, as a native of Florida, would know better than me who was empowered to direct that the electors should select George W. Bush

Short answer: no one.

which turned out to be Al Gore, once all the ballots had finally been counted

Still untrue, J. Maybe if you repeat it a few thousand more times...but again, it doesn't matter what your favorite newspaper thinks the certified vote ought to have been, what matters is what the certified vote actually was.

DaveC.:

It's amazing how similar real-life experiences can send people off into completely different orbits.

Although I was already a liberal at the time (this incident confirmed my leanings), a teacher once recommended I be placed on a heavy regimen of Ritalin for disruptive behavior. She ran a very conservative, up-tight, by-the-book classroom and couldn't abide my fidgeting, gum-chewing, girls' braid-fondling (I have this thing about braids), and stuff like starting the Wave among the little kids while she was trying to get us to spell "necessary" correctly.

Did I mention that this was my son's second grade class a few years ago, and I was there on parents day to sit in with a bunch of Moms to watch the kids' present some sort of project? Well, there you go.

I agree that we liberals tend to shout and cry during political arguments. We're emotional and the justice we seek is so obvious to all of us that we just can't get through a sentence like "how would lower capital gains taxes prevent the Biafran debacle?", without breaking down into our hankies and running from the room.

But I see this as only a difference in timing between liberals and conservatives. For example, tough guy Richard Nixon saved his crying jag for the Watergate goodbye press conference, having learned that ruthlessly subverting the institutions of government had suddenly become acutely personal.

I expect George W. Bush, who seems on the verge of tears most of the time, to someday give a crying fit on camera that will be unwatchable by everyone except, perhaps, for hardened people like his mother.

The Eagleton affair was sloppy and naive on McGovern's part. But at least we found out Eagleton was a crazy alcoholic going in, whereas with Nixon we didn't find out until the damage had been done.

a teacher once recommended I be placed on a heavy regimen of Ritalin for disruptive behavior

I was going to do a blogpost on this, but I can't seem to stay focused.

Seriously. As in, I'm starting to suspect that I may have been suffering from something like this for quite some time.

what matters is the certified popular vote

Ah. So, in your view, it doesn't matter how many people actually voted for Gore, and how large a margin he actually won by: what matters is the official result.

Well, declaring that who the voters actually vote for is unimportant compared to the official result is another way of saying "democracy is broken where I live and I don't care", I suppose. Which is pretty much what I was saying: democracy is broken, and no one seems to care enough to call for repair.

Still untrue, J.

What, you think you can change how many people voted for Gore by closing your eyes and saying it's not true?

More Florida voters tried to vote for Al Gore than for George W. Bush. Count the votes using rules aimed at recording the intentions of the voters, and Gore wins. (Eliminate all the chicanry Florida Republicans used to stop Democratic voters getting to vote, or having their votes counted once they voted, and Gore wins by a larger margin - how large depends how much chicanry you're prepared to acknowledge.) cite

You may be happy that the official result declared Bush the winner. This does not change the fact that the democratic result - how many people in Florida voted for Gore versus how many voted for Bush - was the opposite of the official result. When the official result is the opposite of the will of the electorate expressed by how they voted, we generally call that a broken democracy.


Ah. So, in your view, it doesn't matter how many people actually voted for Gore, and how large a margin he actually won by: what matters is the official result.

No, J. Here, I'll type slowly: what matters as far as the electors is concerned is the certified vote. You can argue all you want about this and that recount of the vote, but that's quite beside the point as far as the electors are concerned.

Did you get it that time?

Interesting piece, that Guardian cite. First sentence: George Bush would probably still have won the disputed presidential election vote in Florida if the US supreme court had allowed a recount, a comprehensive study of disputed ballot papers has found. This doesn't exactly bolster your point, but again, it's not relevant to the question of electors.

calmo asks: Ever so earnest Edward, can you see it Bill's way?

to which Edward replys, only somewhat less earnestly: Of course I can.

And I wonder if you do. (Not a frivolous check, but not as earnest as your post I'm afraid.) [The voting on whether this mocking or not, is close.]
Could be Bill's mom, a real sweetheart notwithstanding, is not worth the trouble.
[Park your crusading heart in some other quarter. Bill, wise beyond his years, lives with this. So should you --the moms are not worth straightening out.]
Could be Boortz has read Puddin Head, thinks he is a better hitter than Wilson and can get on base. Your pitch is such a soft lob, I'd say this is a homer for Boorzt. I know --your best pitch that ordinarily stuns and permanently disables, but not here in this instance.
Could be Twain's delicious look at Puddin Head is worth a 2nd look, but maybe not for Boorzt.
I bloviate.

Slarti: what matters as far as the electors is concerned is the certified vote. You can argue all you want about this and that recount of the vote, but that's quite beside the point as far as the electors are concerned.

And at no point have I disagreed with that.

Let me type slowly so you understand.

-The Florida electors were handed a certified vote count that told them to vote for George W. Bush.

-This certified vote count is supposed to be based on who voted for which candidate: that is, when more people vote for Al Gore than vote for George W. Bush, the electors should be told to vote for Al Gore.

-Yet although more people voted for Al Gore than for George W. Bush in Florida in 2000, the electors were directed to vote for George W. Bush.

That's what I originally said: you have merely pinned down how they were "directed" to vote the opposite of the democratic result to the "certified vote count".

In short, democracy is broken: the voters of Florida did not get to direct the electoral college to cast their votes for the candidate that a majority of them voted for.

the electors were directed to vote for George W. Bush

Again, I ask for a cite. Is a cite too much to ask?

Let's look at this a different way. Say you're an elector from the state of Florida. Do you base your vote on:

A) A newspaper article written one year in the future, or

B) The opinions of a pseudonymous blog-commenter from the U.K., or

C) The certified vote.

I pick C.

As for your assertion that democracy is broken because the vote tally isn't perfect, well, we'll take that under advisement. It's not as if we didn't do anything about it.

calmo,

Didn't you get the recycling memo? Surrealistic comments belong in the Fafblog bin. Clear, concise arguments go in the ObWi bin.

(and yes, I know that's a big-*ss bullseye painted on my forehead, but...)

Your pitch is such a soft lob, I'd say this is a homer for Boorzt.

Really? How so? He may have razzle-dazzled his base (who rich or not still expect one day to be), but when they really were putting folks on the lifeboat don't you think Bill's mom would have an epiphany?

Alas, what we did included eliminating auditability (I refer to paperless electronic voting machines). This always seemed like a step backwards to me.

Alas, what we did included eliminating auditability

Who's "we" in this statement? I've still got optical-scan ballot.

Presumably relevant:

After the election, USA Today, the Miami Herald, and Knight Ridder commissioned accounting firm BDO Seidman to count undervotes, that is, ballots which did not register any vote when counted by machine. BDO Seidman's results, reported in USA Today , show that under the strictest standard, where only a cleanly punched ballot with a fully removed chad was counted, Gore won by three votes. Under all other standards, Bush won, with Bush's margin increasing as looser standards were used . . . he standards considered by BDO Seidman were:
-- Lenient standard. Any alteration in a chad, ranging from a dimple to a full punch, counts as a vote. By this standard, Bush won by 1,665 votes.
-- Palm Beach standard. A dimple is counted as a vote if other races on the same ballot show dimples as well. By this standard, Bush won by 884 votes.
-- Two-corner standard. A chad with two or more corners removed is counted as a vote. This is the most common standard in use. By this standard, Bush won by 363 votes.
-- Strict standard. Only a fully removed chad counts as a vote. By this standard, Gore won by 3 votes . . .

A larger consortium of news organizations, including the USA Today, the Miami Herald, Knight Ridder, the Tampa Tribune, and five other newspapers next conducted a full recount of all ballots, including both undervotes and overvotes. According to their results, under stricter standards for vote counting, Bush won, and under looser standards, Gore won. However, a Gore win was impossible without a recount of overvotes, which he did not request.

According to the study, only 3% of the 111,261 overvotes had markings that could be interpreted as a legal vote . . .

Including overvotes in the above totals for undervotes gives different margins of victory:
-- Lenient standard. Gore by 332 votes.
-- Palm Beach standard. Gore by 242 votes.
-- Two-corner standard. Bush by 407 votes.
-- Strict standard. Bush by 152 votes.

All emphases mine. Now we can all commence arguing about whether the strict standard is too strict, whether the lenient standard is too lenient, and how, in a set of eight recount scenarios, Gore winning 3/8 of them is reduced by Jesurgislac to a factual statement, "Gore got more votes."

Slarti, you wrote "[i]t's not as if we didn't do anything about it." I was just using your pronoun.

I'm talking about the effects that flowed from the Help America Vote Act, including the (now rescinded) support by the League of Women Voters for paperless machines.

I live in the SF Bay Area, we still have optical scan too. That has always seemed a good system to me, though there's the objection that visually impaired people might need a different mechanism. But if so, why not a few touch screens printing out -- optical scan forms?

Sensible, ral.

I've read a little on balloting, and IIRC optical-scan ballots are just about the most accurate. Why we're all not using the most accurate, foolproof and verifiable voting scheme we can get our mitts on has always been a source of head-scratching for me.

Why anyone would invest a pile of money in a new, untried, highly criticised voting technology is an even bigger head-scratcher. Why people sat still for it is a bigger one yet.

Not to question the link or anything, and I really shouldn't be arguing about this because my take on the Florida 2000 was that the number of Gore/Buchanan votes in Palm Springs, even under the assumption that the confusing ballot was pure accident, meant that absolutely any ambiguity smaller than that several thousand vote margin should have been resolved in Gore's favor (not trying to convince anyone, just stating my position here) but the recount link above is surprising me.

I remember an interactive Washington Post thingie based on the NORC recount (is that the same as the media recount?), and I remember it showing Gore winning under the vast majority of possible recount standards, possibly winning all possible recounts so long as a uniform standard was applied accross the state. It is perfectly possible my memory is screwed up and I'm indulging in wish fulfillment here, but wasn't there some recount that tilted Gore more unambiguously?

(Not trying to start a fight about the rights and wrongs of this all. I'm just trying to check my memory.)

Troublemaker.

Anything resembling a recount of the 2000 Florida ballots needs to be defined precisely. Not only what are the standards, but what is the scope? Gore only challenged a couple of counties, so I'd imagine that anything discussing a statewide recount would be dealing in a scenario that wasn't even on the table.

I've read through the statute quite a bit, and it didn't give clear direction on recounts in presidential elections. I think that part has been revised since then, but that didn't help 2000 any. I believe Gore could have asked for a statewide recount, but chose not to (Or possibly it didn't occur to his legal staff, or even possibly that it did, but they thought their margin might be diluted in a statewide recount. I think the number of people who actually know is probably rather small.), which in hindsight may have been a mistake.

Gore only challenged a couple of counties, so I'd imagine that anything discussing a statewide recount would be dealing in a scenario that wasn't even on the table.

Well, is the question: what would have happend if various things had gone differently in the legal battle or is it: who, based on a review of the ballots, got more votes in Florida? While I can see that the first is a reasonable question to ask, the second is also a reasonable question.

I got unlazy, and googled up the following, which is what I was remembering. If you read past the headline, which addresses a partial recount, this Washington Post article reports the results I remember -- that under any standard for a statewide recount, NORC's study showed Gore in the lead.

I don't mean to argue about the legal wrangling, or about this at all -- I just thought it was odd that the NORC study wasn't on the wikipedia page.

LB, I think Jesurgislac was simply arguing that more people in Florida voted for Gore, irrespective of context. That, and something about electors being instructed on how to vote.

LB, I think Jesurgislac was simply arguing that more people in Florida voted for Gore, irrespective of context.

Well, yeah. That's what the NORC study supports. And of course it is on the wikipedia page, just not on the bit that was quoted; I knew it would have been too strange for it not to have been mentioned at all.

Gore only challenged a couple of counties

True. But it was Bush who went to the US Supreme Court to prevent a statewide recount.

My point is, naturally, that the NORC study is a bit of hindsight that's immaterial to the official election results. NORC didn't even begin their work until Jan 10, 2001.

Sure. The official election results are what they are, you can figure out what they were by looking at who got inaugurated January 2001. No argument there.

I was just puzzled by the NORCless link -- I'd seen some other recount controversy lately, although I can't remember what, that omitted the NORC study, and I was starting to think I'd imagined it.

But it was Bush who went to the US Supreme Court to prevent a statewide recount.

I think you're oversimplifying a bit.

And, IIRC, there was no provision in Florida statute to recount ONLY the ballots that were under dispute. I'd have to go back and check on that, though.

Wait a minute, Slart: that's not an oversimplification in the least. Who went to the Supreme Court? Candidate Bush. What relief did he seek? Cessation of the statewide recount.

I said nothing about his theories, nor was anything at all implied.

One could same the same about your true statement that Candidate Gore only challenged some counties. As Florida law at the time provided. That he did so is factual, and your statement didn't say anything more about his motives or theories than mine did.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, one candidate called for an agreed-upon statewide recount, and the other refused to agree (sure he'd won). The guy who couldn't get the statewide count by agreement then had to petition in counties where his petitions would be granted by the local election board. You had to do it on a county-by-county basis, and filing a petition in a county that was going to deny it, either on a partisan basis or because you couldn't make any kind of showing in that county that you'd lost votes, would be a waste of time.

Unless the other candidate had agreed to a voluntary statewide recount.

Wait a minute, Slart: that's not an oversimplification in the least. Who went to the Supreme Court? Candidate Bush. What relief did he seek? Cessation of the statewide recount.

Ok, I'm with you.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, one candidate called for an agreed-upon statewide recount, and the other refused to agree (sure he'd won).

Ok, now I'm confused. You're going to have to put names by each of these positions, and the (sure he'd won) bit is, unless substantiated by public statement, mind-reading.

In any case, I don't see anything in Florida statute that permits the sort of recount you're describing here. Recourse is obtained by filing with the canvassing boards; I see no recourse that leads to statewide recount, even if both parties agree.

Although this seems to indicate that a recount ought to have been automatic:

(4) If the returns for any office reflect that a candidate was defeated or eliminated by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office, that a candidate for retention to a judicial office was retained or not retained by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on the question of retention, or that a measure appearing on the ballot was approved or rejected by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast on such measure, the board responsible for certifying the results of the vote on such race or measure shall order a recount of the votes cast with respect to such office or measure. A recount need not be ordered with respect to the returns for any office, however, if the candidate or candidates defeated or eliminated from contention for such office by one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast for such office request in writing that a recount not be made. Each canvassing board responsible for conducting a recount shall examine the counters on the machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast in each precinct in which the office or issue appeared on the ballot and determine whether the returns correctly reflect the votes cast. If there is a discrepancy between the returns and the counters of the machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast, the counters of such machines or the tabulation of the ballots cast shall be presumed correct and such votes shall be canvassed accordingly.

Insert boilerplate IANAL disclaimer here. It could be that this really means that if a given canvassing board shows a tie to within half a percentage point, that board must recount, but that would tend to lead us away from any statewide recounts.

I love the little "meme" going around which says the poor don't employ anyone, the rich do.

Yes in a feudal society. In the society I live in the poor buy food and all kinds of things, they "employ" very complex capitalist enterprises. This is what rather rightwing Henry Ford knew when he started to pay his workers five bucks a day, enough to buy a car.

So we save the rich and then their spa workers and gardeners? The rightwing machine doesn't realize how deeply it's alienating many of the capitalist entrepeneurs with it's feudal conception of wealth. Bush is a "success" because he got a city to condemn land (according to court rulings at one third the value) give some to him and his partners, and build a baseball park on the rest. Rumsfeld and Cheney are the equivalent of a Steve Jobs or bill gates because after they left government they traded their connections for nice jobs.

The "American Conservative" has this vision in pure form and it's what they tried and are still trying to pull with Katrina:

http://amconmag.com/2005/2005_10_24/cover.html

Slart, as I said, it's a county-by-county process. The only way you could get a statewide recount is (a) the candidates agree and county boards implement the agreement (which would have happened, if the candidates wanted it) or (b) it's ordered by a court.

Gore sought (a) a day or two after the election, but Bush (through employees) said no. And Bush had and continued to claim that he had won. Is it mindreading to find a relationship? Hardly. More like taking the Plainspoken One at his word. Option (b) ended up happening, but too late in the day, apparently.

The decision of the Supreme Court in the case is a huge embarrassment, and in ages to come it will live in infamy. What was the evidence that the single judge who was ordered to supervise the statewide recount either could not or would not impose a consistent standard? What was the evidence that the supposed equal protection violation was intentional, and designed to harm Bush, a requirement in every other EP case? I think the SC thought they would be greeted as liberators, stepping in to resolve the constitutional crisis. History will judge.

I'm not one of those people who rehashes this thing over and over. I've moved on. And the record will show that I've sat quietly during months of Jes/Slart exchanges on the subject, and mostly will do so hereinafter. But really now, knocking Gore for not asking county boards for what he could not get, that's uncalled for.

I live in the SF Bay Area, we still have optical scan too.

Depends on where in the Bay Area you are. Alameda County's gone fully electronic, while Contra Costa (at least as of last year) was still using optical scan.

CC, since YAAL, do you happen to know if Bush v. Gore is indeed unique amongst Supreme Court decisions in that it explicitly denies its own utility as precedent? If so, is it unique (to your knowledge) among federal decisions in this way? I've heard this cited many times -- and repeated it many times myself, though always with disclaimers -- but I thought I'd check with someone who might have a chance at knowing the truth of it.

[And any other lawyers should feel free to play here too.]

IAAL, although IANCC, and while stating a negative with confidence is always difficult, I've argued this point with other L's, and have never been faced with a convincing counterexample. So, while I would say 'highly unusual' rather than 'unique' just because I'm paranoid, I wouldn't fear embarrassment if you call it unique.

I'm not aware of any examples. It's sort of contrary to the whole enterprise: the EP clause is supposed to mean the same thing in the same factual circumstances every time.

On the other hand, it's uncommon but not unheard of for a court to say 'we think the law here is X, but because this is something new, we're going to let the decision stand as not-X just for this once. It'll be X hereafter.'

I don't think this decribes BvG, because it's more like the law was X before, it'll be X after, but this time it's not-X.

You be right Ed. Boorzt (the writer not the soup) is worth every ounce of attention you can devote to making sure this offering is celebrated as unfit for human consumption.

I pray to God that you find nothing surreal or unconcise in that statment. I can assure you I have no fondness for archery, no matter the size or nature of bullseyes painted anywhere.

And thankyou for your administrative tips in sorting out my correspondence.
Excuse me while I bloviate again.
I am still wondering what was surreal. Was the leap to Puddin Head Wilson an unfamiliar landing? (The allusion to baseball I think went ok, thanks be to Jesus.) [calmo is stunned, like Puddin Head, that his performance did not fly as intended. No, he has touched some bloody nerve and brought out a raging personal counter attack.]
Crap.
I'm going to plead for Bill's mom's condolences. She'll understand me. She will.

[calmo is stunned, like Puddin Head, that his performance did not fly as intended. No, he has touched some bloody nerve and brought out a raging personal counter attack.]

No rage, just perhaps misunderstanding.

Provide a few more keys in the legend...links help.

I like Calmo.

I got off to a bad start with Calmo...I'll get over it.

Slart, as I said, it's a county-by-county process.

Not only do I agree, I've never thought otherwise. Sorry that wasn't clear.

The only way you could get a statewide recount is (a) the candidates agree and county boards implement the agreement (which would have happened, if the candidates wanted it)

This is the part I'm having trouble with. I don't see anywhere in the statute that this is required, or even suggested as a possibility.

Gore sought (a) a day or two after the election

Not saying this isn't so, but could you toss me a link? I don't recall this ever happening.

And given that this isn't my point of disagreement with Jesurgislac, I'm going to bow out. The statement that set me off was: And yet, in Florida, the electoral college ended up being directed to vote the opposite way from the way the Florida voters had actually appointed them to vote, which to me is inaccurate in a number of different ways.

Slart, I'm lost as to what you are lost about. Looking back at the 2000 Florida code, I see that the recount provision is as I remembered:

102.166(4)(a) Any candidate whose name appeared on the ballot, any political committee that supports or opposes an issue which appeared on the ballot, or any political party whose candidates' names appeared on the ballot may file a written request with the county canvassing board for a manual recount. The written request shall contain a statement of the reason the manual recount is being requested.

(b) Such request must be filed with the canvassing board prior to the time the canvassing board certifies the results for the office being protested or within 72 hours after midnight of the date the election was held, whichever occurs later.

(c) The county canvassing board may authorize a manual recount. If a manual recount is authorized, the county canvassing board shall make a reasonable effort to notify each candidate whose race is being recounted of the time and place of such recount.

(d) The manual recount must include at least three precincts and at least 1 percent of the total votes cast for such candidate or issue. In the event there are less than three precincts involved in the election, all precincts shall be counted. The person who requested the recount shall choose three precincts to be recounted, and, if other precincts are recounted, the county canvassing board shall select the additional precincts.

You want a recount, you ask a county. We're clearly in agreement about that.

The county doesn't have to give it to you. If you want a recount of a county where the board is controlled by the other party, and in which you lost, I suppose you can ask. They'll say no. Unless you get the opposing candidate to join you in asking. Then the chances that the county board will say yes go from 5% to 95%. If you wanted a statewide recount, this is what you'd have had to do.

As for what happened, this is the first http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2000/11/15/politics2241EST0875.DTL&type=election>item I found in a Yahoo search that turned up 87,000 results. Not all on point, I'd bet, but good enough for now.


I don't agree with Jes about electors being instructed one way or the other, as it is the identity of the electors, not their instructions, that is at issue in a US presidential election.

OK, one last thing, and then maybe I'll go another 5 years without saying anything about this. Saw a nice little table about the NORC study:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A - Florida Supreme Court recount: Bush ahead
What if the U.S. Supreme Court had not stopped the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. This tally examines only the sets of ballots that each county's election officials said they would have recounted, using the standards they would have applied. Counties that said they would not have conducted a recount are not included. .

Bush: 2,916,559

Gore: 2,916,066

Margin: +493 for Bush .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
B - Gore's request: Bush ahead
What if Gore's request to recount four heavily-Democratic counties, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Volusia, had all been completed and counted in the certified results. .

Bush: 2,913,351

Gore: 2,913,126

Margin: +225 for Bush .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
C - Dimple with other dimples: Gore ahead
What if a statewide recount were conducted of all the disqualifed ballots counting dimpled punch-card votes if there were dimples on the rest of the ballot. This standard was used in Palm Beach County at some points during their hand recounts. .

Bush: 2,919,752

Gore: 2,919,794

Margin: +42 for Gore .

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
D - Statewide recount: Gore ahead
What if a statewide recount of all disqualified ballots was undertaken using the standards each county's election officials have said they would use in a recount. .

Bush: 2,917,676

Gore: 2,917,847

Margin: +171 for Gore

This doesn't take ballot confusion, and time zone problems into account.

What I'm lost about, CC, is the statewide recount. As far as I can tell, there IS no statewide recount provision. As you've noted, and as I've agreed, one can request a county-by-county recount. However, the statewide recount as the result of a request by both parties...not seeing it.

Not wanting to belabor this already highly belabored point, but...not seeing it. If Gore wanted a statewide recount, he was free to ask for it at any time. On a county-by-county basis, that is.

If Gore wanted a statewide recount, he was free to ask for it at any time. On a county-by-county basis, that is.

As the headline CC linked showed, Gore did ask for Bush to agree to a statewide recount. Bush didn't agree. Had Bush agreed, they would have together approached each county board, and presumably each county would have agreed to the recount, because both candidates wanted it. A recount of each county = a statewide recount.

Had Bush agreed, they would have together approached each county board, and presumably each county would have agreed to the recount, because both candidates wanted it.

Ok, I'm still confused. Why does a request by both candidates result in a recount where a request from just one wouldn't? Hell, anyone from either campaign could have requested a county-by-county statewide recall. The DNC could have requested it. Am I dense, or am I simply reading the wrong section of the statute? Or, possibly, both?

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