Ross Perot Returns Indirectly to the Political Scene with Perot Charts Charting Government Fiscal Irresponsibility

Did you know that in the United Statesin the last four years total tax collections have risen at the fastest pace in the past 40 years….” That is one of the surprising statistics presented at the newly created (starting June 15, 2008) website Perot Charts.

Yes, indeed, Ross Perot has returned as a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming Presidential election.

Although Perot does not intend to return personally to the political race for President, there is no question that his new website, Perot Charts, “Charting Government Fiscal Irresponsibility“, will have a significant impact on the Presidential race, if not in terms of who gets elected, then most surely in terms of shaping the issues that will be important during the remaining Presidential election campaign period.

Perot Charts writes:

The American people must wake up and face the reality that promises made in the past will soon bankrupt this nation. These problems are explained in an easy-to-understand chart presentation ….”

Hat tip to David S. Broder at the Washington Post and his June 15, 2008 article, Perot, Back On the Charts.

COST and not CHANGE should be the Key Word for the 2008 US Presidential Election

A March 6, 2008 SurveyUSA survey of an Obama-McCain Presidential election match-up shows McCain winning 26 States and 258 electoral votes, with Obama winning a fewer 24 States but 280 electoral votes, enough for election. Since a number of States are very close calls, the race at the moment is surely a toss-up. Things have changed and may change even more between then, now and November.

What factors will determine the ultimate outcome of the election?

Economic and demographic statistics about the US States (see further below) pose several interesting questions as to prognostications of voter behaviour in the upcoming US Presidential Election 2008:

QUESTION 1. Will changes that have occurred in any US State’s real GDP (here using statistics from 2003 to 2006) have any significant impact on the voting?

CALCULATIONS: The 26 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by McCain have an average rank of 25 in terms of the change in real GDP from 2003-2006.

The 24 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by Obama have an average rank of 26 in terms of the change in real GDP from 2003-2006.

ANSWER: To our great surprise, the real changes in a State’s GDP in recent years appear not to have any visible correlation with the way that people will vote in this upcoming election. This may contradict what we wrote here. Can voter behaviour truly be this bizarre, that they are not even capable of voting their own pocketbooks, or do they simply not understand economics?

QUESTION 2. Will the percentage (%) of African-American population in a State have any significant impact on whether a State votes for Obama or McCain?

CALCULATIONS: The 26 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by McCain have an average rank of 23 in terms of the % of their African-American population.

The 24 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by Obama have an average rank of 29 in terms of the % of their African-American population.

ANSWER: To our great surprise, States with a higher percentage of black population are somewhat more likely to vote for McCain than for Obama. Race, in any case, will not decide this election one way or the other.

So what factors and issues WILL decide this election. If “actual” economics are not determinative and if “race” is not a predominant factor, then what is? What motives are behind current voting behavior?

If we take a look at the candidates on the issues, the differences between them are not significant as regards most issues thus far polled as allegedly being significant for voter behavior.

The election will thus be decided by something else. But what?
What about other, more subtle human factors?

Fear of Change and Fear of the Unknown

Your average man is not someone who is gung-ho for change, and when push comes to shove, many voters will stick to a known commodity or “brand”, good or bad. A major problem that Obama is facing is that he is the “new kid on the block”, which makes him suspect to the majority of the more poorly educated classes in the population, whose voting behavior abides by the German saying that the common man does not eat what he does not know (was der Bauer nicht kennt, frisst er nicht). This is one reason that Hillary Clinton, a more or less known commodity in the primaries, could count on many of the uneducated blue-collar workers to vote for her, whereas the more highly-educated voters, who are more open to the world and who call upon a broader base of experience and independence, tended to favor the more unknown Obama. In the upcoming Presidential election, fear will remain a strong motivator, and fear favors McCain.

A Vision of Change

Let us take a look at Barack Obama’s message of “change”. How many voters want change, and if they want change, what kind of change do they want?

We posted previously about a poll which indicated that a staggering 81% of Americans were of the opinion that the country was on the wrong track. Accordingly, a need for change would appear to be a nearly universal desire in the country as whole, but the voting in the primary elections did not support that otherwise obvious conclusion at all, as millions of voters supported the “old guard”, both in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

John McCain, continuing to use the fear of terrorism effectively, has pledged to continue what the current administration has been doing and that gives a feeling of security to a lot of people – and secures McCain a lot of votes.

Change is a Double-Edged Sword

“Change” is thus a double-edged sword. Fear of change counters the desire for change, often in the very same voter.

Perhaps not a single “suit of change” fits everyone, and perhaps the proclamations of change that Obama is trying to spread must be adapted to fit the various messages of change that the different voters want to hear.

Youth and Change

One potentially critical voting group is composed of the young voters, who in past elections have avoided the voting booths as not relevant to their lives. In this election, the importance of young voters is dramatically increasing, but what change do they want? Youth, as adults can verify by experience, has no fear of change, but youth is often equally inexperienced to know what change is needed.

Change for Unmarried Women

Another very significant segment of the voting population is composed of unmarried women, an increasingly growing group which now accounts for about 26% of the electorate. What change, if any, do they want? and who is talking about what is important to THEM?

Women Voters and the Key Word COST vs. Change

Liz Halloran writes at the U.S. News & World Report about a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

The poll showed that married and unmarried women were united on a number of issues. Seventy-seven percent believe the country is on the wrong track; and more than three quarters of both groups said they want to “make sure every American has healthcare insurance.” A majority of all women surveyed also said that candidates of both parties have failed to address their top concern of economic security. They are feeling the financial squeeze, Greenberg says, and are “overwhelmingly focused on cost—cost, cost, cost.”” [emphasis added]

Economic security is the domestic side of national security.

Perhaps the key word for the upcoming election should not be CHANGE but rather COST.

__________

Below are the results of the SurveyUSA surveys and New York Times primary election results which we have put into a new unique table. We discuss these in our discussion above.

State
of the United States
State Rank by per capita change in the
Real GDP 2003-2006
BEA
Rank by % of African-
American
population
Projected
Presidential Vote Winner according to SurveyUSA
March 6, 2008
% of Projected Vote won according to SurveyUSA, March 6, 2008 Democratic and Republican Primary
Election
Winners
New York Times
Alabama 23 7 McCain 54% Obama McCain
Alaska 48 35 McCain 48% Obama Romney
Arizona 3 38 McCain 51% Clinton
McCain
Arkansas 34 13 McCain 53% Clinton Huckabee
California 13 27 Obama 51% Clinton McCain
Colorado 8 33 Obama 50% Obama
Romney
Connecticut 33 22 Obama 55% Obama McCain
Delaware 21 10 Obama 50% Obama
McCain
Florida 12 15 McCain 47% Illegal Democratic primary vote
Georgia 20 5 McCain 54% Obama Huckabee
Hawaii 11 41 Obama 61% Obama
Idaho 1 50 McCain 52% Obama
Illinois 26 14 Obama 60% Obama McCain
Indiana 40 23 McCain 50% Clinton
McCain
Iowa 32 39 Obama 50% Obama Huckabee
Kansas 19 28 McCain 50% Obama Huckabee
Kentucky 36 25 McCain 54% Clinton McCain
Louisiana 45 3 McCain 54% Obama Huckabee
Maine 41 48 Obama 53% Obama Romney
Maryland 29 6 Obama 53% Obama
McCain
Massachusetts 27 30 Obama 49% Clinton
Romney
Michigan 50 16 Obama 46% Illegal Democratic primary vote
Minnesota 30 34 Obama 49% Obama Romney
Mississippi 35 2 McCain 54% Obama McCain
Missouri 39 20 McCain 48% Obama
McCain
Montana 9 51 McCain 47% Romney
Nebraska 37 32 McCain 45% Obama
Nevada 15 26 Obama 46% Clinton Romney
New Hampshire 46 45 Obama 46& Clinton McCain
New Jersey 28 17 McCain 43% Clinton McCain
New Mexico 5 40 Obama 50% Clinton
New York 18 12 Obama 52% McCain
North Carolina 14 8 McCain 47% Obama
McCain
North Dakota 24 46 Obama 46% Obama Romney
Ohio 47 18 Obama 50% Clinton
McCain
Oklahoma 4 24 McCain 57% Clinton McCain
Oregon 7 42 Obama 49% Oregon McCain
Pennsylvania 44 21 McCain 47% Clinton McCain
Rhode Island 43 31 Obama 53% Clinton McCain
South Carolina 17 4 McCain 48% Obama McCain
South Dakota 16 47 McCain 47%
Tennessee 25 11 McCain 54% Clinton Huckabee
Texas 10 19 McCain 47% Clinton won vote, Obama the caucus
McCain
Utah 2 43 McCain 50% Obama
Romney
Vermont 31 49 Obama 63% Obama McCain
Virginia 22 9 Obama 47% Obama
McCain
Washington 6 36 Obama 52% Obama McCain
West Virginia 49 37 McCain 53% Clinton Huckabee
Wisconsin 42 29 Obama 51% Obama McCain
Wyoming 38 44 McCain 54% Obama Romney
District of Columbia 56 1 Obama McCain

Law, Physics, Legal Theory, Cosmology, Fine-Tuning and the "Useful Parameterization of Ignorance"

What is Law?” and to what degree does “Law” by nature approximate the intricate system of fine-tuning required for the Einstein-based Lambda-CDM (ΛCDM) model of cosmology to work as predicted?

Most people think that they know what “Law” is – nearly – but perhaps we know less than we think about this intricate virtually self-adjusting societal mechanism, which seems to have a dark energy soul of its own. Let us take a look at ΛCDM for means of instructive comparison.

As described at the Wikipedia, ΛCDM is “the simplest known [cosmological] model that is in general agreement with observed phenomena” of the workings of the universe, a model which nevertheless “says nothing about the fundamental physical origin of dark matter, dark energy and the nearly scale-invariant spectrum of primordial curvature perturbations“, the essential parameters of the model, and “in that sense … [ΛCDM] is merely a useful parameterization of ignorance.”

This parameterization is kept alive by fine-tuning:

In theoretical physics, fine-tuning refers to circumstances when the parameters of a model must be adjusted very precisely in order to agree with observations.

In the case of ΛCDM, these fine-tuning adjustments are in fact enormous.

In a universe consisting of 100% of whatever it is that it is, ΛCDM assigns only 4% of the energy density of our present universe to the basic matter and the energy with which we are all familiar, i.e. the world of “atoms (and photons) that are the building blocks of planets, stars and gas clouds in the universe“.

By contrast, 22% of the universe’s energy density is said by ΛCDM to be made up of cold dark matter whose particles interact only via gravity (but never otherwise touch or collide).

The remaining and considerable majority of 74% of the universe is allegedly made up of a hypothetical dark energy that permeates all of space but which no one has ever seen:

Two proposed forms for dark energy are the cosmological constant, a constant energy density filling space homogeneously, and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary in time and space.

The name quintessence, fittingly, “comes from the Classical elements of the ancient Greeks, where a pure “fifth element,” the aether, was thought to fill the Universe beyond Earth.

The names may have changed over the millennia, but the cosmological theories of the moderns are still remarkably similar to those of antiquity. Whether we call it aether or quintessence, or cold matter or dark energy, 96% of the universe is still explained by physics in terms of unseen cosmic parameters, which, like ancient but later provenly faulty planetary epicycles, apparently fit the observations – after fine-tuning, of course.

Modern cosmology has thus rightly been labeled “the useful parameterization of ignorance”. What we do not know about the universe – and that is at least 96% – we have nevertheless been able to compartmentalize into useful physical “laws”. A lack of knowledge has never been a great barrier to the creation of theories. Quite the contrary.

Let us now turn to legal theory. Does any great difference exist between the parameterizations of cosmology and those of Law? What do we really know? For example, are jails and prisons, crowded to the brim as the dungeons in the days of antiquity, the right answer to the questions of the criminal law? Do our civil sanctions fit the crimes they punish? Do issues such as abortion at their core reflect something other than law? Is the right to freedom of religion the same as the right to defy secular law for allegedly religious reasons? What part of Law is accounted for by “known” legal energy and what part by the unknown? Are we really following the true path? Or is 96% or more based on a kind of fine-tuning of parameteriziations of our legal and jurisprudential ignorance? Do we merely do the best we can, under the observed circumstances? Or is there a “higher” unseen law – and, if so – whose law?

Compare What Is Law? by Bo LI (an attorney with the New York law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell) in Perspectives, Vol. 2, No. 4 where Bo Li writes, inter alia (as excerpted and commented below by LawPundit):

… Recently, there has been a good deal of discussion on establishing the rule of law in China. In this short essay, I want to argue that to establish the rule of law in China, we should not only look at our courts; we should also reform our legislative practices. To understand my argument, it is important to understand the nature of law.

… Law existed in the state of nature, while legislation exists only in a (man-made) positive legal order. Law does not have to be written. In its original meaning, law “is the story of how things work… Man can know, through the use of his reason, what is in accord with his nature and therefore good” (Rice, 1999, p. 30). The Latin words ‘ius’ (law) and ‘iustum’ (justice) are intimately connected. Law, therefore, necessarily embodies justice, which is rooted in nature and knowable through reason. As Aristotle puts it, “there is in nature a common principle of the just and unjust that all people in some way divine [discern], even if they have no association or commerce with each other” (Aristotle, 1991, p. 102). [LawPundit: compare that to cold dark matter above] Marcus Tullius Cicero defines “Law” as “the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite…. What is right and true is also eternal, and does not begin or end with written statutes…. [LawPundit: compare that to dark energy above] It may thus be clear that in the very definition of the term ‘Law’ there inheres the idea and principle of choosing what is just and true” (Cicero, 1959, pp. 44-51). Ultimately, the rules that we want for governing human society are rules based on our nature and our basic sense of justice. These rules are natural or moral laws. In other words, in its original meaning, “law” means the natural or moral law, which are in accord with our basic sense of justice. In contrast, legislation (positive law) is man-made law, which can either be just or unjust….

What we need to do is to agree that law is not the same as legislation, and that there are dynamic higher laws that can only be discovered through a gradual, incremental and interactive process. Nobody can have knowledge about, or proper incentive to abide by, all higher laws. As such, the division of lawmaking power under a system of checks and balances, with properly trained judges as important law finders, assures us that we are at least as close to the higher laws as we ever can.

Is there a great difference between modern Cosmology and modern Legal Theory?
Not much.

The Bloody Old Britain of O.G.S. Crawford as seen by Kitty Hauser : Book Reviews

Current Archaeology, in reviewing a new book on O.G.S. (Osbert Guy Stanhope) Crawford, known as “Ogs”, titled Bloody Old Britain by Kitty Hauser, calls Crawford “one of the greatest figures of 20th century Archaeology” and writes next to a photo of Crawford as follows:

Crawford on his bike. Note the roll of 6 inch Ordnance Survey maps across the handlebars. In the background is the garage at his lodgings where during the war he stored most of the archaeological records, thus preserving them from the bombing which destroyed the OS offices. These records now form the basis of Sites and Monuments Records throughout the country.” (emphasis added)

Crawford was a controversial figure, who, among other things, served as the first field archaeologist at the Ordnance Survey, who was one of the inventors of aerial archaeology, and who in 1927 founded the well-known and still influential periodical Antiquity .

The book has also been reviewed by Tom Fort at the Telegraph in Mapping Britain’s Archaeology, Simon Heffer at the Literary Review in No Ordinary Surveyor, and by Simon Garfield at the Guardian in A real backwards man.

A mention is found at the blog Carolyn Trant & Parvenu Press.

Tom Fort writes about Crawford in Hauser’s book in this text, excerpted from his review :

Crawford’s supreme attribute was his eye; in Hauser’s words, ‘he saw things where others saw nothing.’ With it, he was able, as he himself put it, to decipher the palimpsest: to make out the burial mounds, abandoned settlements, Celtic fields, Roman causeways, Iron Age tracks and other vestiges of the remote past.

Having served as a mapper and aerial reconnaissance officer during the First World War, Crawford was aware of the extraordinary way in which photographs taken from the air could reveal whatHauser calls ‘the ancient text’ of the landscape.

Most famously, he used negatives stored by the RAF to identify the avenue leading from Stonehenge to the river Avon.

Until Crawford came along, field archaeology was pretty much left to gentleman amateurs interested in ley lines, morris dancing, obscure fertility rites and other aspects of imaginary Old England. As Hauser demonstrates, Crawford turned it into a professional discipline, both through his work for the OS, and his editorship of Antiquity, the journal he founded to promote his version of the search for the past.

He was a visionary, in a limited way, and prodigiously hard-working.

A Vision of Change and the Need for Argument in America : Gerry Spence Says that Without It Our Land is a Wasteland

Gerry Spence, a legend of our time, has just won his last jury trial and is retiring at age 79 as undefeated in his criminal trials.

Gerry Spence, known as “America’s Finest Trial Lawyer“, writes in his book How to Argue and Win Every Time as follows about the American nation:

The art of arguing is the art of living. We argue because we must, because life demands it, because, in the end, life itself is but an argument….

Without argument the nation becomes a wasteland where nothing grows, nothing blooms, nothing is created, nothing lives. Thousands of rusting factories across the land, millions of unemployed, the wholesale abdication of our nation’s industry to foreign lands, the mindless destruction of our natural resources, the decline of our education system, the slums, the crowded concrete cages we call penitentiaries, the disintegration of our justice system, the moral decay we so fervently protest—all affirm the critical need of our leaders, our employers, our educators, and our people to make and to hear our arguments, and to receive from each other the gifts we have withheld.

A vision of change is a necessary argument for the improvement of America.

ABA Journal Latest Legal News Widget Added to LawPundit

Pursuant to our previous posting we have now added the ABA Journal Latest Legal News Widget to LawPundit in the left column.