All posts by James O'Keefe

Why Fusion is still a dead end.

jflashmontana stated that my first two objections to the MA fusion ballot initiative were incorrect and looking at the revised ballot initiative, he is correct.  My mistake, glad to see that they listened to my comments when this ballot initiative was first put forth.  However, political designations do not have state committees as legal entities, so how party oversight works for them is unclear. 

Additionally, the description on the Sec. of the Commonwealth’s web site is not clear whether the state party can choose another candidate or can only object to the winner.

Still, these changes alter point 3 only partially.  If a "Working Families" party got the "progressive Dem" and the Democrats got the "conservative Dem", they would still be left with the issue of do they endorse the "progressive Dem", run no one, or, if this is allowed, put the "conservative Dem" on because the Republican is so bad, thus subverting the will of their own voters.

Fusion also does not change the more fundamental issue which is:

How does a party advance its ideas if they endorse the candidates of other parties and not their own parties?

Debates can be pretty important, as well as candidate advertising and events.  Having your own candidate helps to get your ideas across to a wide group of people.  I am sure that grassroots door-knocking can be effective, and have seen Greens and others use it effectively.  However, having someone articulate your parties ideals along with grassroots door-knocking seems more effective than just grassroots door-knocking for another party’s candidate.

I checked as jflashmontana suggested.  A lot of good comments on the problems with Fusion and how IRV is a better approach.  Thanks for the link.

Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie

I went looking for action figures (aka dolls) for Liam that were not your standard knight/star wars character/monster/transformer.  I searched for Gandhi action figures and didn’t find anything.  They I searched for anarchist action figures and I am still looking.  Along the way I came across Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie.  Very funny and highly useful.  Enjoy.

The deadend of fusion

A bunch of unions are trying to get a ballot initiative on the 2006 Massachsetts ballot that will implement fusion (aka cross-endorsement voting) in Massachusetts.  The Working Families Party has used it in New York and is trying to export it to Massachusetts and other New England states.

The fusion ballot initiative is poorly thought out.  A couple of problems:

  1. It is entirely possible for a candidate to win all ballot-status party primaries, and be placed on the ballot under a party designation. 
    If you think this is far fetched, just look at the 2004 Nantucket County Sheriff race where Richard M. Bretschneider ran as a write-in candidate in all four party primaries.  While the Green-Rainbow and Libertarian Party primaries were uncontested, the Democratic and Republican primaries were very contested with five and four candidates respectively.  Mr. Bretschneider won all four party primaries. 
    If Fusion had been in place, and there were no independents, then he could have run unopposed.  If you don’t think this is a problem, then consider that in this situation a minority of voters would have chosen the only candidate to appear on the ballot in the general election.  While other candidates could run as write-ins, write-in campaigns are very difficult, especially in the general election.
  2. Since there is no party oversight of who is on its primary ballot (except for the constitutional offices were it is pretty difficult just to get on the ballot), it is entirely possible for a monied, conservative Democrat to get on the Green-Rainbow party primary and if we don’t run a candidate, be our nominee
    whether we like it or not.  After all there isn’t a None of the Above option on the ballot. Party identify and self-determination go out the window.
  3. Fusion will not perform as expected for a "Working Families" type party.  In a highly contested Democratic primary, mutiple Democratic candidates may decide to contest the "Working Families" primary.  What happens if the two primaries pick different Democratic candidates?  Does the "Working Families" candidate not run if there is a Republican in the general election.  What if the conservative
    Dem. wins the "Working Families" primary, the "progressive" Dem. wins the Democratic primary and the conservative Dem. decides to contest the general election?

Prior to the Working Families Party, fusion resulted in insider deals with "minor parties" that could bring votes to one of the major parties.  Thanks, but we don’t need more corrupt politics.

The Dems control the Massachusetts legislature with over 80+% of the seats and the best we get on the Health Care front is a mandatory "low cost" health care.  I doubt that fusion will change much in politics when most races are uncontested or practically uncontested.

NY is different from MA.  The election laws aren’t the same and the politics aren’t the same. 

True electoral reform would be Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation, not some 19th century electoral system that is not used anywhere else in the world and makes minor parties dependent on the "major parties".

Antarctic glaciers calving faster into the ocean and more

The New Scientist reports that:

The edges of the Antarctic ice sheets are slipping into the ocean at an
unprecedented rate, raising fears of a global surge in sea levels,
glaciologists warned on Monday.

The findings confound predictions made just four years ago, by the
UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that Antarctica
would not contribute significantly to sea level rise in the 21st century. 


one area, around the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, glaciers are
dumping more than 110 cubic kilometres of ice into the ocean each year,
Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, US, told
a meeting at the Royal Society in London, UK. This loss, which is
increasing each year, is many times faster than the ice can be replaced
by snowfall inland, he says.

Antarctic glaciers are much bigger than those in warmer climates.
They are up to a kilometre thick, tens of kilometres wide and hundreds
of kilometres long. Connected to inland ice tributaries, they drain the
continent’s ice caps, which are the largest stores of frozen water on
the planet.


many places, the glaciologists reported that the recent acceleration in
glacier flows has been triggered by the break-up of a series of
floating ice shelves at the continent’s edge. These shelves acted like
a cork in a bottle, holding back the glaciers.

Got this article via the New Standard News news summary page.  A great source of news.

The Guardian also reports on an article in Science (not available without a login) that scientists using new techniques for analyzing satellite images of the Amazon Rainforest have concluded that the rate of destruction of the Amazon is twice what we had estimated.  They were able to identify the areas where single or several high value trees were pulled out resulting in increased drying in that area and the attendent destruction around the tree.

Why Can’t the Left Face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008?

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have an interesting article entitled Why Can’t the Left Face the Stolen Elections of 2004 & 2008? They talk about how various "left" pundits and magazines (The Nation and Mother Jones being the ones they mention) are trying to convince us that the Republicans did not steal the 2004 election (with the Democrats acquiescence).

Thankfully, the David Cobb, the Green Party presidential candidate, the Libertarian Party presidential candidate and hundreds of volunteers attempted to get to the truth.  You can find what they found at the Vote Cobb website.

Pictures from Art Beat Tabling

We were to have a table at Art Beat, but the mayor decided that he
needed to cover his ass after he  banned the Somerville Divestment
Project from having a table.  So as part of Art Beat we setup a virtual
table and encouraged people to make their own street art.

I posted these pictures awhile ago and emailed the link to the a local list.  Now that I have this blog, here are the Art Beat Pictures I took.  Not the best since I took them with my mobile phone, but that was what I have.

Has the Green dream wilted?

In the article, Has the Green dream wilted? , the BBC news site has an interesting article on the state of green parties and politics in Europe.  My favorite quote:

For Prof Kleinert, being out of power gives greens a
chance to rethink their allegiances, including the possibility of
entering coalitions with centre-right parties like Germany’s CDU.

It could be a divisive debate, as "the feeling of the
Greens’ leaders is surely more to the middle, but the feeling of the
base is more left-wing".

The cult of ‘People Power’?

The BBC news page has a commontary by Mark Almond entitled The cult of 'People Power' .  He makes some good points, but doesn't seem to note that a non-violent revolution, even if it leaves many of the same corrupt lower-level pols in power, is significantly preferable to a violent revolution that likely does the same thing, but leaves far more people dead.

He notes:

Revolutions may sometimes be necessary but their
outcomes are always messy. The danger today is that when ordinary
people see the intrigue and backroom deals which accompany People Power
behind the scenes, they plunge from hope to despair. Far from
energising true democracy, People Power's "day after" of cynical
politics as usual causes the people who went on the streets in millions
to sink into apathy for years to come.

The need then is to keep the new leaders feet to the fire with social movements organized outside of the prevaling power centers.  Or perhaps to reject leaders altogether.  Hmmm… sounds a bit like anarchy.  Good.

Introducing Nonviolence to Children

Having a son has made me think about how we can introduce nonviolent action to children in terms they understand.  I have found very few books that help.

However, one book I particularly like is a book called Click, Clack, Moo.  It is a story about cows that learn to type and start making requests of Farmer Brown.  When Farmer Brown refuses to implement their requests, the cows go on strike.  The PBS Show Between the Lions, which is a great show that focuses on reading, has a version of it on-line.  The teaching unit is also on-line.

Here is more info about the book so you can find your own copy:

CLICK, CLACK, MOO: Cows That Type
by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0689832133