Politics as Normal

Presumably because of the investigations into various scandals, Tom DeLay has announced he will not seek re-election to Congress. If DeLay ends up in Texas, that will provide yet another reason not to visit the state. It’s more likely that he will end up in a position of greater polical power, though: Lobbying on the Hill.

This could have been avoided had DeLay lived in California, though. His re-election efforts wouldn’t have been hampered so much by the taint of scandal, as he could simply pay petitioners in his efforts to win:

More than 100 Orange County residents who thought they were simply signing petitions to cure breast cancer, punish child molesters or build schools were duped into registering as Republicans, an Orange County Register investigation found.

The ruse took place over several days in December and January at shopping centers throughout Anaheim, Santa Ana, Buena Park, Westminster and Garden Grove, where paid petitioners begged, cajoled, lied and committed forgery, to get so-called Republican converts. Petition circulators were paid as much as $7 for each GOP registration.

Orange County election officials have received complaints from 167 people who were flipped to the Republican Party without their permission. The Register found the problem was far wider, interviewing 112 others who were not only switched, they were tricked and deceived. Among the victims is a lifelong Democrat who was pressured to fill out forms even though she didn’t have her glasses and couldn’t see what she was signing.

The Register traced the bogus registrations to Christopher Scott Dinoff, who took out 13,000 blank affidavit cards from the Orange County Registrar of Voters office, records show. Each affidavit is numbered, linking Dinoff to the doctored cards.

Dinoff, who was fired from the Orange County Republican registration drive, declined to comment. It is unlikely that he acted alone since professional petition-circulators such as Dinoff usually hire other people to help harvest signatures.

“I think they need to be punished,”said Ericka Lopez, of Anaheim, who said she was unwillingly switched from Libertarian to Republican in January. “We were deceived.”

All in all, it’s politics as normal across the country today. Now I’ve got to check out of my hotel and head towards the electronic cattle chutes.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Tyler,

    You are correct in that the one nearsighted person mentioned needs to pay attention to what she’s signing. However, the point of Stephen’s post is that paid voter registration drives often produce completely bogus results.

    Someone takes your name and puts it on a card, complete with “your signature”. Presto, you’re a Republican, Democrat or whatever. And, in California, as elsewhere, paid registration drives often involve another unseen motivating factor.

    They are a tool to evade campaign finance restrictions. Large and no-limit contributions go to one of the major parties, which then overtly spends this soft money on a registration effort targeted to specific partisan needs in districts, candidacies which face contribution limits.

    Sometimes, the consultant deals are cut so the soft money subsidizes free or low cost work in other, limited contribution campaigns. It’s done with a wink and a nod, almost impossible to prove so charges are not brought.

  2. DeLay leaving is some majorly good news for us down there – the Dem was planning on running on a “Tom DeLay sucks” platform, and the Republicans are flabbergasted, so we’ve got a good chance to pick up some votes.

  3. “Among the victims is a lifelong Democrat who was pressured to fill out forms even though she didn’t have her glasses and couldn’t see what she was signing.”

    I can’t call her a victim – she signed something she couldn’t possibly read and she is a victim? She succumbed to high pressure sales tactics and she is the victim? Doesn’t she bear any of the responsibility for her moronic and asinine decisions? Victim indeed.

  4. This whole story sounds suspect. What difference does it make to change someone’s registration at all? It doesn’t change their vote. At most it would prevent them from voting in the Democractic primary. If someone wasted their time doing something like this, it says a lot more about those people’s stupidity than about Tom DeLay. (Who, as I recall, represents Texas not California.)

    As far the sneering at paying petitioners, the Libertarian Party paid petitioners for ballot access in the past. And yet…they didn’t win.

  5. Richard – that sort of reminds me of when Democrats recently moved out of Texas for a bit. :)

  6. This is a random off topic question, but what does a Libertarian say about things like regulations for handicapped access/parking/bathrooms etc.

    The handicapped population isn’t large enough for any company to want to comply because of the business they might lose. This is especially true for smaller business. It might be a break even proposal for a wal-mart being built from scratch to be handicapable, but retrofitting an old building is ridiculously expensive for a small business (such as a new bar).

    So what’s the Libertarian position on handicapped people? Government intervention or survival of the fittest? I know the answer, but how do you say it without looking/feeling like an asshole? Should handicapped people only be able to go to wal-mart?

  7. Richard — thanks for the link. That corresponds the bar rumours I heard while inside the beltway.

  8. DaveT — no solution is perfect. The “Libertarian solution” as I understand it is based on public opinion.

    Any small mom & pop shop could survive without being friendly to ethnicities or the physically disabled, etc.

    A large organization like Wal*Mart however, would run into the problem that such things get *press*. And who wants to support economically speaking an organization that is known to be less-than-friendly to say, a wheel-chair bound black SpEd woman?

    Essentially speaking, without any laws on the matter, the following remains true. Much as I love freedom myself, and am able to enjoy a fully free society, that’s still a sticking point… after all:

    “Freedom means the freedom to starve.”

    I have my own beliefs on the matter (some of which I’ve hinted at) and even a few — personal — answers.


  9. (cont’d)

    *IF* government were reduced to a bare-bones absolute minimum environment essentially created to police violent crime, arbitrate disbutes/enforce contracts, and maintain sufficient military presence to dissuade any attempts at the invasion of the nation, (things which I personally believe if that’s all government did, it would be far more effective at doing,) then all the monies spent by lobbiests to get those “handi-capable” laws and such passed could be better spent on charity funds to encourage smaller companies to make things more accessible. The conversions themselves would be more affordable! (By personal income tax alone, people like myself would have ~25% more disposable income.)


  10. (cont’d)
    I’m almost done ranting. Promise.

    I think, DaveT, that I have a good answer for you in total here:

    What is the libertarian solution to your question?

    In a “free-er” society, with a vastly more vital economy, it would be so much moreso the easier for *encouragement* of moral ideals and such to occur, rather than *enforcement* of said behaviors.
    Freedom is the freedom to starve. In retrospect, I agree with this thought. *IF* a man wants to starve himself, in a free society, he should have the right to do so. In today’s America, I’m not certain that right exists, not when taken to extremes.

    Certainly we don’t have the right to end our own lives, despite it being interprable in the constitution (not even in the amendments. “Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” means simply that my life is mine to do with as I choose. My freedoms are mine to do with as I choose. And it is my choice to try to be happy or to not try to be happy.

    But them’s just my two cents.