Tagged: hoaxbusters

Lessons in Law 10: Libertarian Law

Bipartyism vs Multipartyism For Dummies

(Completes “Multipartyism is a corrupt form of people’s government” in Lesson 9)

From plurality voting to majority rule there must be, as for as the constitution of assemblies is concerned, a step of behind-doors negociations between parties that escape voters’ choice entirely.

Bipartyism, the two-party system, means majority voting: The result is an absolute majority (above 50%). The electoral platform can be applied at once.

Multipartyism means plurality voting. Let’s take three parties A, B and C with respective results 40%, 35% and 25%. Because the government needs majorities above 50% to have bills passed, party A must negociate a coalition pact with B or C to get a majority in Parliament, usually in exchange of governement positions. So there will be a coalition governement A+B or A+C formed upon a coalition pact that is different from all platforms presented to the electorate.

Let’s now look at France, a multipartisan and parliamentary regime, that is, the government’s head is from the majority party in the legislative body. The head of government thus governs based on a coalition pact bargained behind doors and not an electoral platform.

(There is in France another head of the executive, namely the president, elected in a two-stage election that eliminates all candidates but two in the first stage, which could be seen as a kind of primaries, by which most voters are asked to express their best choice and then, at the general election, their second best (runoff principle). The president in France has no power if the legislative assembly is of a different party, so I leave the dealing with him in parentheses even though he is the real ruler in case he is of the same majority as the assembly, so the real guy remains in parentheses, which shows you how absurd that system is.)

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In fact the French president is in no way the “real guy” in the system, even when of the same party of the majority in Parliament: this is an illusion of commentators. Although he is elected on a platform which he does not have to discard the very next day, and he probably derives his greater aura as an institution from this, he cannot apply but the coalition pact of the coalition government. He is the coalition’s puppet.

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“Because the government needs majorities above 50% to have bills passed”: Allow me to expatiate.

A vote on a bill is basically a yes-no question, votes are yes or no, so yes or no (pass or not) will at least get 50 percent of the votes. Those not present to vote (or with no proxy) or abstaining may make the result less than 50 (51) percent of members but that is not taken into account (a majority of members is not asked).

One could also imagine an actual abstention vote (yes, no, or abstention, as in polls) that could then make the result less than 50 percent of voters, and then a bill could pass by a plurality vote.

All in all what a government needs in the legislative body is enough people to vote the bills. This is why most multipartisan regimes make it compulsory for the first past the post (plurality winner) to start forming a coalition after election day, that is, to enter in a secret, clandestine coalition deal.

Some regimes do not, however (like Denmark, if I’m not mistaken): A government is formed from the party that has got a plurality of, say, 40 percent of the electorate’s vote and 40 percent of the seats in the legislative body. This minority government withholds the electoral platform for which it was elected but it will present bills to a legislative body where he has only 40 percent of yeses secured (we’re talking of an ‘ideal’ situation where party members are 100 percent aligned on the government’s platform but figures for US Congress, for instance, give a 90 percent congruence). At some point or other, even there the government will have to form a coalition, as it has no bargaining power with the opposition but in this way (because a government’s only power on representatives is to offer government positions, as parliamentary regimes are those where representatives have no other ambition than to make it to the governement, so a political coalition can only mean a coalition government in the final analysis).

Now such a system as I am describing is so disrepectful of the citizenry that even when parties make electoral deals where some withdraw candidates from some districts in exchange of the other parties withdrawing their candidates from other districts, that is, even though they are already agreed to form a coalition in case of victory, both parties still has no common platform and pretend to defend a platform of their own they know they won’t withhold unamended in case of victory.

This is the vicious nature of multipartyism.

In contrast I call the attention on the ‘top two’ system in the State of Washington, where after the primaries two candidates from the same party may be competitors in the general election. This is the true essence of a two-party system: The idea is not to get as many political parties as there are political ideologies, or currents, or opinions, or nuances (and in fact as there are politicians’ ego trips) but to get two parties where all ideas can find expression and in the frame of which they compete with one another. Two parties for all ideas.

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Electoral College

One critic of the American Electoral College writes: “Certainly, if one believes that the person who receives the most votes should win, the implications for democracy are evident.” (L.S. Maisel) He means the suppression of the electoral college.

But certainly such implication is not at all evident. In both federal and unitary (nonfederal) systems the winner gets the most votes (so a “minority winner” is a bogus notion anyway): In US he gets the most votes of the electoral college, elsewhere he gets the most votes according to the respective systems.

Look at the following map. (Found on Twitter a while ago with no source mentioned.)

In all these countries one observes a marked demographic imbalance between geographic parts (Canada and Australia are particularly salient cases). In all these countries, without a single electoral district system there can be no “one man one vote” principle unless one divides the blue area in a multitude of districts and the grey area in few districts, which would be absurd as the districts would then be mere geographic fictions, which states in a federal union are not (they have historical meaning).

Indeed as countries with single election districts are a small minority, the principle one man one vote is a rarity among democracies for national level elections of assemblies.

In any case, whether one in demographically imbalanced nations, which are the rule rather than the exception, adopts a single district system or a multiple districts system with mathematic precision as to district equality re population numbers, departure from one man one vote in a federal system is constitutionally mandatory at the federal level. If this is not democratic, then a federal constitution is not either in the first place and the subject is not the electoral college but the federal structure.

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The Criminal’s Debt To Whom?

We all have heard of cases of alleged rape ending because the accused man pays money to his accuser and there is no trial. Something I don’t understand. Rape is a crime coming under criminal law. If one can have a rape trial cancelled by a financial deal, which satisfies prosecuting authorities, why is it not the same with, say, murder? The victim’s relatives could be given money (blood money) and the prosecutor would drop the case as a result of this financial compensation. Yet it does not happen: With murder there is a trial, only with rape there is not.

The implication is disturbing, as it amounts to saying that well-off rapists have no debt to the society but only to their victims.

If we’ve got criminal law rather than an all-encompassing tort law, it is because the government says criminals must pay their debt TO THE SOCIETY. Where there is no trial because of a financial agreement, like, as I said, in some rape cases, we are not talking of crime.

Assuming with great certainty that some other crimes (on paper), like assault, are subject to the same treatment (although the legislator never said a word on where to draw the line), the idea that justice treats differently the rich and the poor takes a more precise shape: No matter what they do, short of homicide, the rich must pay their debts not to the society but to their victims only, they cannot be criminals according to the system.

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Prone Restraint: The Ballad of Chauvin and Floyd

Derek Chauvin must have had an extremely incompetent lawyer as he’s been found guilty even though his innocence is self-evident according to so many right-wingers. I’m urging the latter to be lawyers if they aren’t already.

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Let me tell you what the defense of Derek Chavin should be, of which I haven’t heard a word among the vocal right-wing “lawyers” taking Chauvin’s fate at heart.

Derek Chauvin used, according to his training, a technique called prone restraint which is banned in several cities in the states and several countries in the world for being haphazardly deadly.

Therefore, as he conformed to his training, Chauvin is not to be held responsible for the death of George Floyd, but the authorities that allow the use by police of a haphazardly deadly technique are.

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Derek Chauvin obviously could not be convicted for intentional murder. He has been convicted for, in a nutshell, unintentional murder and depraved-heart murder, that is, the jury found he applied the prone restraint technique that he is trained to apply, in an unsuitable manner.

Yet the ban on the technique in several cities of the states and several countries in the world is proof enough that the technique is hazardous in itself or at least difficult to handle without lethal risk for the persons subjected to it. Therefore Chauvin must be cleared and the administration that keeps training police officers to apply prone restraint must compensate George Floyd’s relatives for their loss, which was predictable and thus avoidable through the banning of the technique.

That Floyd said he couldn’t breathe is no proof of Chauvin’s neglect, as the latter might have perceived that Floyd was simulating in order to escape (even if Floyd was already handcuffed, as being handcuffed never was an obstacle to running except for those who run on their hands).

A few months before Floyd’s death a similar affair had occurred in France, with the death of Rémi Chouviat on the occasion of a routine trafic control which degenerated in an altercation between Chouviat and the police and to Chouviat’s death after a prone restraint. It is known that trivial altercations are a significant source of homicide and it is an even sorrier state of affairs when it is trivial altercations with the police that cause the termination of innocent citizens.

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How To Curtail Crime

To reduce crime, numbers of police officers must be cut.

70 percent of homicides result from trivial altercations (Kenrick & Griskevicius, 2013). Merely pushing someone away, if he stumbles and falls on his head he may die from skull injuries. That will be counted as crime in statistics, and this is what crime statistics are: 70 percent of trivial altercations turning bad. You don’t need cops to fight “crime” like this.

You need cops to fight criminal organizations, but you never hear of criminal organizations being terminated. Here there is a philosophy of fatalism: Suppress one organization another will take its place, besides they aren’t bad for the economy when you think about it, and Epstein committed suicide in his cell when the camera wasn’t working. Corruption is rampant. The less cops the less state protection criminals will receive.

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Government protectionism of the black market goes far beyond police. And less cops on inner city streets equates to more dead blacks. L.A. riots were due, in part, to LACK of policing. And look at what’s happening now with that same return to lack of policing: violence in black communities. But it’s ok, it’s not the cops hurting them, now it’s their ‘own kind’… right? Faux libertarian circular logic. (D.B.S.)

My interlocutor obviously is for a police state. He made a mistake that no true libertarian could make by conflating on the one hand “policing” and on the other hand “police” meant as police forces paid on taxpayer money. Saying more policing is needed, he wants us to hear more police bureaucracy, which is precisely the stance a libertarian is trained to dismiss from the outset.

That policing and police bureaucracy are not conflatable is what the history of the states tells us:

“One defining element in American criminal law had not yet emerged by the opening of the nineteenth century: the idea that localities, states, and eventually the federal government should supply professional police forces to enforce criminal laws and protect the public from criminal behavior. Eventually, members of police forces would emerge as the primary enforcers of the criminal law, but for much of the nineteenth century those forces were nonexistent. Instead, private citizens would be summoned to respond to antisocial behavior, as when a ‘hue and cry’ would go up when someone had been accused of theft or an assault against a citizen.” (G. Edward White, American Legal History, 2014)

Now the change on this point is no more “defining” than any other characteristic of American criminal law, even though non-libertarians believe there can be no turning back from bureaucracy’s cancerous growth.

For sure I am for defunding the police as much as I am for the suppression of standing armies and am for the citizens’ right to bear arms, of which right it is my deep-seated belief the police bureaucracy is the foremost opponent, although it says nothing about it for a bureaucracy isn’t supposed to have an agenda of its own and yet it is what all bureaucracies have.

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The Political Cartel

I believe in Free Speech. Whatever I say, you can mull over, agree, disagree, argue with, and I’ll do the same, respectfully. (P. Little)

“Respectfully” is Little’s own version of free speech but if we set a “respectful” criterion on speech before allowing it to be free, then there’s no free speech. A lot of speech is actually scornful and this is the kind of speech that needs protection. If the government tells me to be respectful with them but their policies infuriate me, actually this is speech suppression by the government.

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There is a distinction to make. It is less acceptable that you use scornful speech with your neighbor, because, although he may be a strong supporter of the policy that infuriates you, he isn’t directly responsible for it and has not asked for your vote in an election, unless he’s a public official, in which case your scornful speech will be more acceptable and protected.

Thus the scale of offensive speech acceptability is such in American law, from more to less: public officials, public figures (known personalities without public office but somewhat influential in the debate) and then the ordinary citizen (“your neighbor”). This is quite in agreement with the nature of the democratic debate.

In state terror states such as many European countries, the scale is the reverse: Public officials get more protection from speech than the ordinary citizen. This is how a political cartel shields itself from criticism.

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The Latest on Wikipedia’s Moon Landing Hoax Debunking

NASA Picture

On the English page one reads: “The flag was rippled because it had been folded during storage – the ripples could be mistaken for movement in a still photo.”

On the French page one reads: “The flag is not fluttering, it only seems to flutter because of its apparent ripples. The flag was made of rigid cloth reinforced with iron wire in order to imitate the rippled aspect of a flag fluttering in the wind.” (My translation of: « le drapeau ne flotte pas, il donne l’air de flotter en raison de son aspect plissé. Il est en fait fabriqué dans une toile renforcée de fil de fer rigide imitant l’aspect fripé d’un drapé battant dans le vent » Wikipedia page « Théories conspirationnistes sur le programme Apollo », at the date of April 29, 2021)

Assuming the details of the French debunking page are right, although the English page says nothing about a special make of the flag, that means they FAKED THE FLAG. They used a contrived flag to give the illusion that it was fluttering in the wind (where there is no wind).

Now let us examine the English story. The flag looked rippled because it had been folded during storage and remained still on the Moon, they say. So the astronauts did not even take the pain to smooth the cloth for the picture, like by stretching it a little bit? My! they took the pain to make a photo with the flag, because it would be nice and patriotic, but it did not occur to them that the flag would look awkwardly rippled because of having been folded during storage!

No, my friends, the French-speaking page has to be the more honest of the two: They wanted the flag to look as if it were fluttering in the wind and they FAKED IT to that end.

People who do not shy away from tricks, what credit should they be given?

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What’s wrong with making it look like it’s rippling? Isn’t an artistic touch possible?

My interlocutor’s question is: What’s wrong with making a flag look as if it were fluttering in the wind where there’s absolutely no air? This flag is and will remain forever a fiasco.

“Neil, it’s cool you went on the Moon but… a good artistic picture is what matters.”

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A few years ago, the ripples on the flag, as one debunking went, were not due to air but to the shock caused on the flag by sticking the pole in the lunar ground.

Apparently, as none of the two pages I quoted mention it, said debunker was nuts and I’m the only one who remembers his debunking. I hope he wasn’t relying on official sources because that would mean they are changing their debunking versions over time. That two contemporary pages differ in their debunking, such that for one the ripples on the flag are accidental and for the other intentional, is enough trouble like that and one already wonders: Who the heck are these nutty debunkers?

Subliminal Advertising VI: Cosmopolitan Spiegel

The advertising community is not particularly interested in confessing to the use of subliminal messages, and there appears to be no good source to document their prevalence. Back in the 1980s, I asked an advertising executive at Wyse Advertising if he had any insights into the use of subliminal messages in advertising. … He estimated that about 10% of all ads use some form of subliminal technique. (Glenn G. Sparks, Media Effects Research. A Basic Overview, Fifth Edition, 2015, p.216)

The quote is from a course manual for undergraduate students in the communications field authored by a professor at Purdue University. The fact that the manual has gone through five editions so far is testimony to its success and perhaps to its quality as teaching material. Such a quote should be proof enough that the subject of subliminal advertising is not, as some believe, an ‘urban legend’ or a hoax for self-proclaimed ‘hoaxbusters’ — shooting anything that moves — to bust. The advertising executive’s confession is gold, although the correct figure, as far as current printed advertising is concerned (newspapers, magazines, billboards), is closer to 100% than to 10%.

When advertisers themselves confess to the practice, the denying attitude of some scholars (among them a few self-proclaimed hoaxbusters) strikes one as very odd. When I read, for instance, the following (quoted by Sparks, p.217):

Perhaps now is the time to lay the myth of subliminal sorcery to rest and direct our attention to other, more scientifically documented ways of understanding the causes of human behavior and improving our condition. (Pratkanis, The cargo-cult science [sic] of subliminal persuasion, 1992)

I have only this to say: Go tell the advertisers.

As Sparks explains, Pratkanis found out that products such as tapes based on alleged subliminal techniques and marketed to increase self-esteem or improve one’s moods (a $50 million business in 1990, according to Acland, 2011) are placebos. This is certainly worth knowing but does not allow one to talk about a ‘myth of subliminal sorcery.’ Wilson Bryan Key contends that subliminal persuasion in media advertising relies on the priming offered by media content – in newspapers the bad news (content) prime for the good news (ads), on mcluhanesque lines, and in magazines it is the lifestyle-oriented content that primes for the ads. As the priming effect is missing in the material tested by Pratkanis, his experiments have nothing to say on such a persuasion system.

But, I repeat, if subliminal advertising has no effect according to laboratory experiments, this information should be forwarded primarily to the advertisers themselves, who — as I am documenting on this Website with the present series — are using subliminal techniques extensively, at least in the sex embed variety, on which I am currently concentrating. Otherwise, I don’t know if it’s the same for you but I really feel that disparaging terms such as ‘cargo-cult science’, ‘myth’, ‘sorcery’ sound like a design to defuse the potential consequences of consumers’ concern upon vested interests. This feeling, I know, is not rational, for what is rational is to maintain that scholars are independent from vested interests; the bombast in these disparagements is only the camouflage of the naive. For naive it is, indeed, to presume advertising agencies don’t know their job, considering their own research gets financing which a university scholar (independent) would never dream of. In fact, an advertiser is likely to know his job, in spite of his claims to the contrary.

In this context, the confession of the advertising executive quoted above is, once again, striking, since the proprietary knowledge of advertising agencies is guaranteed by law from public scrutiny.

The following advertisements are taken from the German weekly Der Spiegel dated April 11, 2015 (Cases 40-43), and the magazine Cosmopolitan (UK Edition) dated May 2015 (Cases 44-46).

…………….Case 40 Freistaat Thüringen SEX

When the Free State of Thuringia, one of Germany’s Länder, or any public collectivity advertises, with the taxpayer’s money, its existence on the market, to allure tourists or investors, or for whatever reason, it contracts with an expensive advertising agency. The presence of sex embeds comes as no surprise.

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…………….Case 41 Deutsche Bahn SEX

This one is for the German railways company. In the world of advertisement, men have not learned to comb their hair nor to shave their beards, because uncombed hair and incipient beard are convenient settings where to embed SEXes. As a result of men so often seeing uncombed hair and incipient beards on advertisements, the scruffy looks have become trendy in the real world.

There could be another reason for incipient beards being fashionable. The world of advertisements is a world of total freedom and enjoyment of one’s time and pleasure with no restraint; in that world there is simply no place for the organization man, with his suit and tie and long working weeks and subservience to the organization’s goals. The numerous organization men from the real world are torn between their real-life condition and the social desirability of appearing fashionable in accordance with advertisement’s canons. Incipient beard is the answer. Sporting an incipient beard, the suit-and-tie organization man is saying to the world at large : “See? I have not shaved this morning, I do what I want, I am no relic from the oppressive past,” and that makes him socially acceptable, given that social acceptability is mostly based on appearance (fashion) and determined by advertisement conditioning. Ironically, the grooming of an incipient beard is much ado anyway; you have to shave or trim it regularly lest it become an unfashionable full beard.

As to the Deutsche Bahn advertisement, please observe how the embed is exposed in the light rather than camouflaged by the darker areas of the background.

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…………….Case 42 BASF SEX

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…………….Case 43 Book Cover SEX

I can’t say for sure whether the embed lies on the book cover or on the advertisement alone, because I haven’t had the book in my hands. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the embeds lied on the real cover. The present book is supposed to be a serious one; this is why, certainly, it needs a bit of subliminal up-sexing.

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…………….Case 44 Dior SEX

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…………….Case 45 Garnier SEX

To find the sex embeds, follow her look.

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…………….Case 46 Hyundai SEX

To create the sensation of speed, the graphic designer has fuzzed parts of the picture, a banal technique whose advantage is to make embedding very convenient. I have outlined one sex embed. Use your own skills and try to find the others: Enjoy!

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