2016/11/24

Clinton misbehavior not constitutional crimes

Many people are shocked to find out, but under the Constitution, as strictly interpreted,

1. There is no authority to make bribery a crime, just a impeachable/removable offense (high crime or misdemeanor). So while what seems to have been done with the Clinton Foundation might have violated some state laws, the federal statutes that would seem to cover it are unconstitutional.

2. Disclosure of classified information is a kind of treason, but the Constitution does not grant Congress power to punish that either.

3. Pedophilia and other sex crimes are state crimes, not federal.

The FBI can investigate anything, but not charge federal crimes if there are none. Have to turn over their findings to the states.

The only crimes punishable under grants of power to Congress are counterfeiting, felony on the high seas, or offenses against the law of nations (which includes piracy), deprivation of the privilege of voting on several grounds, enslavement (13th Amendment), or deprivation  of rights by state actors (but not federal).

The commerce and necessary and proper clauses do not provide authority to make anything a crime, despite all the federal criminal statutes based on them (which are in turn based on one Court decision, Wickard v. Filburn).

Is any of this new to the people on this forum?

2016/11/21

Eighty ambiguous phrases

My analysis of the U.S. Constitution counts about 80 words or phrases that are somewhat ambiguous, and give rise to most of the interpretation/construction controversies. I have highlighted those at http://constitution.org/cons/constitu+.htm , Most of the rest of the Constitution is fairly unambiguous. One might quibble about this analysis and my count, but let's accept it for the moment. Textualism works well enough for that part of it, whether one considers the document written in lay English of 1787, or in legal English.

Most of those eighty are written in legal English, which requires reference to 1000 years of English legal history, and may extend back 2000 years to Roman or Greek law or another 1000 years to Hebrew law.

It is not necessary, initially, to develop a single comprehensive theory of legal construction (originalism) for all eighty. Take one at a time, and develop a theory for that one. Then move on to the next one. If two or more theories have commonalities, unite them into one for those phrases.

Perhaps we eventually arrive at one theory for 70 of the phrases, another for two or three more, then a few more for the rest. That narrows the scope of the theoretical search, making it more comprehensible and more manageable. Who knows, we might actually wind with one that unites them all.

This is the approach I have tried to take. The combined theory is not simple, but it works. It can be applied quickly and definitely.

To solve a theoretical problem, first divide it into manageable parts.

2016/11/15

Can seditious libel be made a crime under the U.S. Constitution?

Professor James G. Wilson asks whether it is constitutional to make seditious libel a crime. As a consistent originalist I can answer that. The answer is no.

Sedition and seditious libel are common law crimes, and it was correctly ruled in U.S. v. Hudson that there are no common law crimes under the U.S. Constitution, even in federal enclaves or incorporated U.S. soil outside a state. Common law crimes are intrinsically ex post facto, since the crime is not defined until the judgment is announced, and that is after the fact.

There is no power delegated to Congress to make it a crime. The only delegated criminal powers are: counterfeiting, offenses against the laws of nations, and felony on the high seas. Piracy is an offense against the law of nations. Treason is defined in the Constitution, but there is no authority delegated to actually punish it.

Arguably subsequent amendments expanded the list of offenses that could be punished as crimes: enslavement, violation of rights by a state actor (but not a federal actor), or deprivation of the privilege of voting on several grounds.

So what about all the federal criminal statutes outside the above list? All unconstitutional. Perjury? No. Fraud? No. Contumacy? No. Interfering with the enforcement of laws? No. Conspiracy? No. High crimes and misdemeanors? Only removal from office.

So, a consistent application of originalism makes some determinations easy, if distasteful.

2016/11/13

Trump's first 100 day agenda

President-elect Trump has proposed a list of initiatives he intends to make during his first 100 days in office. The list can be found here. My commentary under each.

* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

Limits on the number of terms in Congress is a bad idea. It takes most members at least 12 years to learn enough to be marginally effective. A limit on number of consecutive terms might make some sense. But a limit on consecutive years for professional staff is more important. They hold the real power, and have the knowledge and connections to get anything done. Most members are only experts on getting elected. They don't acquire policy expertise by serving, not even enough to identify who the experts are.

* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

Attrition rates are not very high. Better would be focused cuts.

* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

The proper measure of regulations is not their number, but their length in words.

* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

Restricting lobbying would violate the First Amendment. Better would be to ban members from fundraising while Congress is in session.

* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;

Again, violates First Amendment.

* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Again, violates First Amendment.

On the same day, I will begin taking the following 7 actions to protect American workers:

* FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205

This misunderstands the problems with NAFTA, which reduced the tariffs of Mexico on our goods, which made it cheaper to ship parts to Mexico to build things.


* SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

It's not really in effect yet.


* THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator


Useless. We all know they are. Labeling them won't change anything.


* FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately


Aspirational. Need to be more  specific


* FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.

There aren't that many restrictions now


* SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward

This one would be useful, but not mainly for U.S. benefit, but for Canada.

* SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure

This one would be useful, but most of that money not spent yet.

Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama

Need to cancel all executive orders, which are properly only directives from an executive to those under his supervision, which are supposed to expire when he leaves office.

* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States

Presumably already under weigh.

* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities

"All" is a tad broad, as some represent long-term commitments.


* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won't take them back

What would do the most good would be to make it a crime, not just a "deportable offense", to enter the country illegally. It is not now. Cancelling visas won't work.

* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

Some groups can be considered safe without much more vetting, such as victims of terror, those who helped us in war.


Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:

Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.

Is this going to be paid for with more borrowing?


End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

Won't work. Bilateral tariffs don't work in a multinational trading system.Tax and trade policy is not going to bring good jobs back. The good news is that work is coming back. The bad news is that when it does it will be done by machines.

American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

Picking winners and losers.

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

How is this paid for?.


Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.

Okay if done right.


Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

Doesn't work to create savings accounts for people not getting enough money to save.

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Need to make it a crime to enter illegally

Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.

Already trying to do that. Not so easy.


Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values

Okay if done right.

Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

Aspirational. Need to be more  specific.


A start, but more attention needed for constitutional compliance.

2016/11/11

Pardon before conviction?

Can the President pardon people who haven’t been convicted?



Jacob Leibenluft, in his article in Slate, has missed an important point. To understand the pardon power, we need to examine just what is happening when an executive with pardon power grants a pardon. What he is saying, essentially, is “I won’t enforce a sentence against x for y, and I bind my successors not to do so as well.”
Where the question gets interesting is when we ask if he can grant a pardon for a conviction that has not yet occurred, or prevent a trial from being held. From my historical research, and despite Ex parte Garland, I find the answer to both is no. A pardon has to specify a sentence as well as the defendant, and that can’t be known before conviction. Granting a pardon to someone for anything he might be convicted of, in advance of such conviction, is in conflict with the constitutional prohibition against granting titles of nobility, and exempting someone from prosecution for anything at all is making that person a noble, even if it comes only with a title of “he who is above the law”. Leaving aside the obvious likelihood that the Court in Ex parte Garland was corrupt, this point was not argued before the Court and therefore the precedent does not cover it.
Even if we ignore the problem of conflict with the title of nobility prohibition, it cannot be logically inferred from the pardon power that a pardon can prevent prosecution. The president may refuse to carry out a sentence but he has no power to prevent a charge from being filed, an indictment obtained, and the court from trying the accused. The court might be reluctant to do so if the sentence won’t be imposed, but a trial serves many purposes besides executable conviction, one of the most important of which is to bring out the truth, and it may be important to proceed with trial even if the conviction won’t be executed.
There is also an issue of whether a president can bind his successors not to enforce a conviction. That is an implied power of a monarch, but not of a president. My finding is that the pardon power of the president is not the power to bind his successors.

2016/11/10

Voting for the least embarrassing

I have found this presidential election enlightening for the motives I found among the partisans for each of the main candidates. They had very little to do with policy or promises. They had everything to do with how the candidate projected strength or resolve.
Trump made the point that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his followers would still support him.That is likely to be almost literally true.
Supporters of a candidate tend not to care about the faults of a candidate as long as he or she doesn't make them look bad, or weak. In general, they want their leaders to project the qualities they admire, whether or he or she has those qualities. It is appearances that matter. The worst thing a candidate can do is be a laughingstock. We don't want other people to think our leader is a joke.
So most people don't care what a candidate has done or is likely to do, because most of that is not likely to affect him personally. Of course, delivering on benefits matters, because that is likely affect him personally. "Sp steal or kill all you want, candidate, as long as you don't steal from or kill me, or look foolish doing it. I don't want to have to apologize for you.

Now clearly people are going to differ in what they think will reflect badly on themselves.

Type 1. Some want the candidate to be cultured and refined, never vulgar or uncouth. They also want him to be tall, attractive, witty, and well-spoken. In their social class that is what matters to having prestige. Such persons like soaring rhetoric that makes them feel exalted, as long as it doesn't ask  them to sacrifice anything important to them, such as the lives of people they don't know.

Type 2. Others want the candidate to project strength or "toughness". Never mind if the exercise of it may be misdirected. If one wants the candidate to be tough in some ways, it may not matter if that toughness strikes at the wrong things (as long as it is not oneself). Such tastes tend to be for force and the willingness to use it, and often reflect a sense of personal or physical inadequacy.

When party leaders try to recruit candidates they usually seek someone of Type 1. But these days candidates of Type 1 are often taken to be or represent "The Establishment". Candidates of Type 2 may seem to represent "The People", even if they are less well educated than candidates of Type 1, who don't need to know anything as long as they are tough enough to find the people that do. Of course, candidates of Type 2 can seem alarming to voters who want Type 1 candidates, and vice versa. One never knows what they might do, and it is easy to imagine the worst. It may come as a surprise to them if the Type 2 candidate, if he wins, governs more like a Type 1.
On the other hand, if Type 2s establish a pattern of winning, it also becomes more likely that they will eventually set up for a Type 2 who does fulfill the worst fears of the Type 1s.
One of the characteristics of Type 2 is a rejection of complexity, or at least of the need to address it in making decisions. This is the basis of the old maxim of politics, "If you have to explain it, you're losing." Type 2 people just want things fixed. They don't want to know how. But Type 1 people often know how complex the world is, and that there often are no simple solutions. Perhaps not any solutions at all that Type 2 people would accept. Or any experts that can tell us what to do. People in government often pretend to be more expert than they are, than anyone is. And they often don't know enough to know who the experts are, or whether there any any experts.

That leads to my proposed Epitaph for Humanity:
They were smart enough to create problems for themselves they weren't smart enough to solve.

2016/10/27

Wayward World


New Amazon Kindle book by Jon Roland
Wayward World: A new kind of hero must set history on a different course to save Earth from destruction a thousand years in the future.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MPW3Y10

You don't need a Kindle device to read it. Almost any browser will do, with a plugin, or get the app.
This is a fundraising project for the Constitution Society. All the revenues go to it.

Still making some minor edits to it that should be live in a day or so.
Internet slow for you? If you can get to the book, reading it can give you something to do while you wait.

An interstellar planet is on a collision course with Earth in 1000 years. To get humanity ready to divert it, human technical progress needs to be advanced more rapidly, and history will take a wrong turn in 1265. Our heroes have to take Earth on a different course, without being around for the entire thousand years, so they have to set up institutions that can continue to move things forward and avoid several disasters that will set humanity back even further. They face strong resistance and many hazards, but are led by one who has the skill and charisma needed, if she can survive long enough.

One of the advantages of the Kindle edition is that it has live links to many web pages that provide background on much of the content discussed in the chapters.

2016/10/09

Why Brexit? Meddlesome regulations.

I expected something like Brexit would happen eventually. Perhaps not first with Britain. Once the Brussels Bureaucracy began to flood the EU countries with meddlesome and often silly regulations that ordinary citizens and businesses were expected to follow, it became inevitable. It escapes me how anyone can  think that meddlesome regulations from a nascent administrative state without real lawmaking authority and electoral accountability would unite the confederated but still sovereign nations of the EU, rather than divide them. Perhaps some ideological bureaucrat might delude himself into believing that, but it doesn't work that way.

Just Google "silly EU regulations" to find many of them. Such things are intensely irritating to people. It is an accumulation of thousands of small irritations that combine to drive people to rebel. The entire Brussels Bureaucracy needs to be sent home to find real jobs.

I have discussed this with several British friends, who all seem to agree it is the regulations that drove Brexit. Nobody minded the lower barriers to trade, investment, and travel (except of Muslim immigrants that are trying to conquer Britain by infiltration).

Muslim immigrants shouting to native Britons, ""his is our country now. Get out!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlBsG1UJoLc

The EU Parliament is not a true lawmaking body that can make laws for citizens of EU countries that are lawfully enforceable. Neither is the Brussels Bureaucracy authorized to make laws or "regulations" for ordinary citizens. Unless national authorities yield to them in a surrender of sovereignty. People want to elect their lawmakers so they can turn them out at the next election.

The EU has been experimenting with various ways to bring their members together. The one kind of experiment that could work would be a European Constitution. But the one attempt at that was so incredibly incompetent that it is no wonder the voters of France and the Netherlands rejected it. Nothing but vague, aspirational political slogans. To get a model for a constitution that might work see http://constitution.org/reform/us/constitution-us-model.html Compare it to the proposed 2004 EU Constitution http://www.unizar.es/euroconstitucion/Treaties/Treaty_Const.htm and note the differences.

What really works to unite nations is an external enemy. It appears that Russia is trying to become that enemy. We will see if that survives Putin. Fortunately he can't live forever.

So where does Britain go from here? Union with the United States  would make some sense. The UK would have to lose the monarchy, and if it loses Scotland that might follow. If it does lose Scotland then another kind of union might be in order, something more like my model. It would also need a written constitution. The present legacy of "constitutional" documents doesn't really do the job. Neither do the Canadian and Australian constitutions. The Australian is still an act of the British Parliament. There is still a movement in the UK to seek a written federal constitution, but it seems to be dominated by socialists.

See http://constitution.org/ech/eng_const_hist.htm and http://constitution.org/sech/sech_.htm

2016/08/02

Three schools of interpretation

The English common law tradition has essentially three schools of interpretation: royalist. tory, and whig.

One point on which the schools did differ was whether a delegation of power included incidental powers of carrying such a delegation into execution. Originally, going back to before the 17th century, it did not. By 1776 the tories were tending to hold that it did, and the whigs were the ones taking a  more conservative position. It was that split that led in the Constitutional Convention to the inclusion of the Necessary and Proper Clause to expressly delegate incidental powers, to carry into execution the other express powers. However, from the legacy of this split we can find that such incidental powers were only to make a limited official effort, not to do whatever might be thought expedient to get a desired outcome.

Some Latin legal maxims shed some light on this question:
  1. Potestas stricte interpretatur. A power is strictly interpreted.
  2. In dubiis, non præsumitur pro potentia. In cases of doubt, the presumption is not in favor of a power.
  3. Delegata potestas non potest delegari. A delegated power cannot be delegated.
  4. Ubi jus ibi remedium. There is no right without a remedy.
Another point of division was on the role of the jury. The whig position, notably asserted by John Lilburne in his trial, was that the jury had the right and duty to judge the law, and could override the judge on a point of law in favor of the defendant. The tory position was that the jury lacked the duty to do so, although they begrudgingly conceded the jury had the power to do so, especially as all arguments on issues of law were then made to them as well as to the judges. The tory judges later asserted their position on this by having the lawyers make legal arguments to them in writing out of the hearing of the jury, which is still the practice today.

2016/07/16

How to get people today to adopt sound reforms?

How to get people today to adopt sound reforms?

That is the question many concerned people ask themselves as they try to develop and sell reforms that would actually work.

People today are distracted by many entertainments. Many consider politics a form of entertainment, and show this by electing entertainers to high office, usually on promises to "do something" they cannot possibly do, or that would have bad outcomes if they did. Proposals for sound reforms are drowned out by a flood of unsound proposals. Everyone tries to put forward his own, and most don't have a clue how to do it, nor does the public have a clue how to select the better ones..

In the past the main vehicles for reform were long treatises. We have many of them online in our Liberty Library. We don't see many such treatises being written today, because people don't read them. Not many people read those past treatises, except for a few students and scholars. Our website, can be considered a kind of modern treatise, a compilation of many articles on many subjects, but most visitors seem to go to particular pages based on web searches, and no further. Attention spans seem to be limited to a few hundred words at a time, or 140 characters.

But this is not a litany of alarm. I and others have done that elsewhere. This is to explain a way I have tried to solve the problem.

The way is a novel, now nearly completed, I have spent the last three years writing.

A new kind of hero must set history on a different course to save Earth from destruction almost a thousand years in the future.

The title link takes one to the novel online. To access the chapters one needs the chapter password "wweditor". I put it online to facilitate getting help with editing.

In planning the novel I first had to identify a single wrong turn in history that, had it been taken differently, history might have taken a much better course. There are many wrong turns in history.  some are more critical than others, and and some occurred during periods where taking a different turn might have had a more lasting effect. Most situations requiring reform are the result of historical wrong turns, and most reforms are attempts to correct the historical mistake.

One wrong turn turn stood out. The Battle of Evesham on August 4, 1265, when royalist forces led by Prince Edward, later to become Edward I, slaughtered Earl Simon de Montfort and most of his reformist followers. A faction of English and Welsh barons, led by Simon, had seized control of King Henry III and established the first English parliament at Oxford, to which commons could elect representatives. Although weak parliaments continued to be held thereafter, centuries of civil war among claimants to the English throne retarded progress of England through what would otherwise have been an earlier flowering of the Renaissance and the industrial revolution in the British Isles, by involving merchants and craftsmen in the making of law. It is plausible that Evesham set back human progress by perhaps 400-500 years at a critical stage in progress in Europe, that might have accelerated if the Montfortean reforms had become established in 1265.

The late 13th and early 14th century also presented many opportunities for reform. The Roman Catholic Church was without a pope and its cardinals could not agree on a successor. The Holy Roman Empire was without an emperor, and its electors also could also not agree on a successor. Northern European lands were experimenting with various reforms.  Spain and Portugal had established early parliaments, each called a  cortes, to which commons could elect representatives. Venice, Florence, and Genoa experimented with republican government using random selection. The Egyptian Emir, Baibers, swept across the Holy Land, driving out Christians and Jews and consolidating Arab control of the region for the next 800 years. The Mongols were destroying the lands in the Caucasus region, and also conquering what later came to be called China, but were temporarily set back by deaths of some of its leaders. The Persian llkhan had conquered Baghdad and killed most of its people. The peoples of the Indian subcontinent were at war in ways that presented opportunities. The Aztec and Inca empires had not yet emerged in the New World.

The situation presented an opportunity for an enlightened, gentle military leader, based in  the British Isles, to put the stamp of her personality on most of the world, as had not been done since Alexander. After some deliberation, I concluded this could only be done by an extraordinary young woman who was formidable both in personal combat and as the head of military forces intensely devoted to her. She had to have superior abilities, not superhuman, just superior. Not only as a leader, but as a charmer. I have known such women, perhaps none as intelligent as our Ariel, but serene, regal, beautiful, and professional.

If we examine most examples of science fiction today, most of the leading characters, such as the crew of the Starflight Enterprise, are regularly exercising abilities far beyond the reach of someone with an IQ of less than 200. They might claim not to be genetically enhanced, but they would have to be to do what they do.

So what are the biological limits on how much intelligence the human brain can achieve? I examined the abilities demonstrated by savants on specialized problems, then extrapolated them to the brain as a whole, and to a full array of problems. I came up with a functional IQ about 5 times that of unenhanced humans. This is not the extravagant intellectual power of a Lucy, which is not plausible. However, the motivations of the character are plausible. It is considered standard plot design to give heroes flaws or weaknesses. Ariel has no flaws. like many of the women I have known on whom she is modeled. She does have weaknesses, mainly arising from her love for others, but we see in Chapter 25 what happens to a villain who tries to exploit it. Unlike conquerors of the past, Ariel loves deeply. It is what motivates her.

On the whole, the enhancements made are essentially those that might be made by progress in human genetic design and market demands for them that can be expected during the next 200 years. They are a break in 1224 (when Rebecca was conceived), but not in the larger course of human history. Our novel merely moves the progress ahead by a few decades, leaving readers to consider how to deal with it.

She also knows how to have fun. From sex to music and other arts. She can learn a new language in a few days. She admires her Jewish tradition as a art form, not because she accepts the faith, like many of my Jewish friends. She laughs easily, and has a wicked sense of humor.

It would not have done to merely introduce supremely talented individuals before the battle. They needed to know things they could not know. That meant finding a way to get information from the future, and the obvious solution was from a future human. But I needed to introduce a plausible way to do that. Modern physical theory provides a possibility. It posits that if a stable wormhole could be created and maintained, and one end accelerated at nearly the speed of light for long enough, the ends of the wormhole could be separated in time, with one end in the past and the other in the future. the past end could be left in the past for use of a future individual.  A stable wormhole would be unlikely to be wide enough to permit passage of even a single subatomic particle or photon. However, it might enable a telepathic connection between the two ends. For that I posited that what we call telepathy is a kind of quantum entanglement, and that human brain functions are themselves a kind of quantum entanglement between parts of the brain. Much of mental capacity can be explained that way. I have also regularly experienced telepathy, so can testify to the reality of the phenomenon.

Information, in the physics sense, is conserved, so that no information can be transferred between past and future without an equal exchange in the opposite direction. Quantum entanglement avoids the problem, because within a quantum entangled system there is no real transmission of information. Within or between minds information exists everywhere at once, without being transmitted. It is a theoretic leap to posit enablement of this connection through a wormhole, but not implausible based on present theory. It makes a convenient plot device for this story.

The awareness (not "information") conveyed could not require the 13th century young people to recreate industrial civilization within a single year. They had to build on what was available in 1264. Fortunately, that foundation did exist then, mainly in Northern England, with clever action on the part of our Three recipients of future knowledge. Such a thing could not have been done sooner, or done anywhere else. With their new awareness, it was just barely barely possible to create and use the needed weapons in the time available.

The Three could have intercepted the royalists somewhere else than at Evesham, but Evesham was the perfect spot. It had a hill for artillery emplacement. The royalist forces could be expected to form themselves in the same arrays used in the other timeline, making them vulnerable to bombardment. That presented the Three with an opportunity to only defeat the royalists, but to crush them, as they had not been following their defeat at Lewes. The royalists had to be defeated so thoroughly that they could never make a comeback. In 1265 the royalists were on the ascendant, for reasons that would survive a battlefield defeat.

When Ariel saw that not all the royalist leaders were killed, she sallied forth to finish them off. They could have surrendered, but were unlikely to do so to a single knight. That gave her the warrant to kill them all.

That still left the problem of the king. Prince Edward was mortally wounded by the barrage, but the king had to die of an accident, so the reformists could not be accused of regicide. Dragging the king by his stirrup through the battlefield accomplished that. That left the realm without a king, and since Simon did not want to assume the position, there was an opportunity to replace the monarchy with a republic. The main other plausible claimant to the throne was Simon's son Harry, as he king's nephew, who also didn't want the job.

That situation opened the way for the Three to introduce a new Constitution, Bill of Rights, Rules of Order, and other reforms, which they do at the banquet following the battle, in the form of printed booklets using their new printing presses. In accepting them Simon lent his support for adopting them, and that brought the consent of others among the reformers and the nobility (whose privileges were not divested). Once land was granted to the farmers who worked it, there was no going back to the old feudal system most of them knew.

It would not work to make the rest of the novel a manual on the governing documents. That would lose the readers. The relevant elements could be woven into the narrative at various points as the drama permitted, leaving the documents to appendices for those who might want to read further.

If Britain had become a merchant republic in 1265, like Venice, Genoa, the Netherlands, or Portugal, It would very likely have explored, and discovered both the New World and the way around Africa to India. If so, it would have displaced Spain, Portugal, and the Dutch as exploring and colonizing powers, especially if it had first incorporated northern European lands, perhaps including the Netherlands. If this had occurred under thew enlightened leadership of someone like Ariel, those colonies would have been quickly incorporated into a British Federal republic as new states, thereby extending the federal union to most of the world. The Union Constitution provides for that.

It would also work if Ariel continued to lead it, not as a public figure, which her own Constitution would not enable, but as the head of a system of private foundations that control most of the wealth of the world, if she lived a long time, and had fellow descendants of her mother to whom she could delegate authority. Unlike Alexander, she does live a long time, and her relatives are worthy successors. Although the army and navy are nominally under the authority of the Union, in fact they are private, under the personal command of Ariel and Harry (mostly Ariel in practice). That would give her a free hand in putting her stamp on the world under her control.

It is also a plot element that her relatives, the Rebecchim, are not only intellectual superior, but also morally superior. This posits the controversial premise that moral behavior is mostly genetic, which is supported by many breeding experiments. It is not just the result of nurture or accident. None of her family are corrupt or abusive of their power. All are willing to lead austere personal lives, and avoid the trappings of personal wealth. They also thereby set an example for nonenhanced people. This eventually dominates custom and standards of proper private and public behavior, contrary to natural tendencies to acquire and display wealth. Wealthy persons are encouraged to form new charitable foundations, which include churches, universities, and medical institutions.

It is important that despite Ariel's prowess in personal combat, and that she often leads from the front, in most conflicts she directs strategy and tactics, and manages logistics, so that her forces always have what they need, and always know precisely what to do in every situation. They are trained to improvise and use a chain of command to replace fallen officers. Most are trained in multiple skills so they can fill in when  necessary. Like modern armies.

So world government would not be achieved by a UN acquiring the powers of government, but by the spread of a federal union to include ever more lands until it included most of them. More of an voluntary imperial process. Not of conquest or oppression, but of investment and trade. Nations join the federal union when they are ready. Nations don't join before they are ready. Some never do. It is a patient diffusion process, much of it cultural.

Not provided is a technical solution to how to divert Wayward (or the Earth) to avoid a collision. Collisions with Earth are an old trope in science fiction. Usually if the other planet is almost the size of Earth no attempt is made to divert it. Yet our future correspondent Andra said the Wayward aliens had found a way to do it two hundred years before Andra arrived, but too late to use it, so they evacuated. They provided a general outline of the method, involving the diversion of seven Oort Cloud objects, but no details, so Andra could only convey that, and leave it to future humans to work it out. That meant that within 800 years humanity had to develop the technical means, and discover the Wayward World. In 1265 humanity had a head start, and could do it, but there were also natural disasters to get around.

I posit the natural disasters to have been eruption of the two major supervolcanos, Yellowstone and Campo Fliegre, which I had go off within a few years of each other. I considered an asteroid impact, but I needed something more manageable with preparation, which consisted to getting everyone to build survival shelters in their homes, sufficient to enable most of them to survive the events.

I also considered the singularity problem. In Andra's timeline the machines took over all production, and having no more use for human labor, relegated humans to live 19th century wilderness lifestyles, with limited resources. There was no war with the machines. Only a loss of control, followed by benign neglect that would eventually lead to slow extinction. In Ariel's timeline, the now genetically enhanced humans were able to maintain control, which they would not have otherwise been able to do. Their minds were so advanced that passage through the singularity without being pushed aside was possible. That is a long conjecture, but is needed to make the book work.

There is mention of alien outposts on Earth, which evacuated Earth, other than that they may have helped the Waywardians genetically enhance some humans. Providing the motivation for the Waywardians to help the humans was more complicated. That turned out to be a scientific experiment which would test the possible effects of using their wormhole to set past humans on a course to save the Earth.

There are no exotic technologies. No FTL drives. No transporters. No planetary tractor beams. No force shields, Just advanced versions of what we have now, or can expect to develop within a few hundred years. The Oort Cloud objects are diverted using standard gravitational slingshot methods, taking advantage of there being seven such objects in just the right places. The diversion devices are straightforward lasers. Just very powerful ones, enough to burn jets of plasma in the sides of plutoids to provide the gentle nudges of them in the desired directions.

The theory of the wormhole blast upon recombining the two ends is plausible. Accelerating one end would have resulted in a buildup of a great deal of energy, released when the wormhole collapses.

All that having been said, what can we learn from other attempts to deliver political reform ideas through fiction.

The Bible itself, especially the Book of Deuteronomy, is largely a litany of early Jewish law. It has been described as the Hebrew Constitution, although elements of the fundamental laws are found in other books. It is more history, or told that way, but in that resembles a work of alternative science fiction. But it is not fiction as we understand it.

The next example might be Utopia, by Thomas More (1516). Not fiction, but a satirical analysis, with a depiction of a reformed society.

There are tow Wikipedia articles, Social science fiction and Political ideas in science fiction that explore the use of science fiction to deliver political ideas. Alternative history is one of the genres used.

One of the works not discussed in these articles is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, which is not great science fiction, but presented her philosophy of objectivism in a novel form, mainly as a set of attitudes voiced by her characters. No propositional content, or programmatic reforms. It has become a cult classic, despite its shortcomings.

Normally, the action of such a novel would be carried by dialog, but a 90000 word limit makes that infeasible, which is about the limit of a novel that could be converted into a screenplay for a two-hour movie. Of course, it could be more than one screenplay, or a television series. In which case the narrative track would provide the framework for a series of dialogs. The reader should read the novel with that in mind. I have provided enough dialog to tie the narratives together. If that is not enough I can rewrite. One-off publishing makes it easy to put out new editions.




2016/06/13

Fonet
A new, simplified phonetic alphabet for English
Jon Roland

CONSONANTS
Fonet lowerFonet upperIPA lowerExampleIn Fonet
monophthongs
bBbbenchbentc
pPpputterpǝtr
dDddiddyd
tTttaketeik
zZzzebrazibrǝ
sSssunsetsǝnset
vVvvoicevoys
fFffindfaynd
gGggivegyv
kKkcatkɋt
jJʒpleasureplejr
cCʃsheci
ð  (00F0)Р (00D0)ðthisðys
þ  (00FE)Þ  (00DE)θthinkþyŋk
hHhhowhau
lLllegleg
mMmmanmɋn
nNnnevernevr
ŋ   (014B)Ŋ   (014A)ŋsingsyŋ
xXxlochlox





affricates
tcTCchecktcek
djDJjudgedjǝdj
tsTStsmeltsmelts
dzDZdzaddsɋdz





extended
ɽ   (027D)Ɽ   (2C64)ʀburrobwɽou
VOWELS
Fonet lowerFonet upperIPA lowerExampleIn Fonet
monophthongs
aAɑfatherfaðr
ɋ   (024B)Ɋ   (024A)æcatkɋt
ǝ   (0259)Ə   (018F)ǝthusðǝs
eEemetmet
iIiseeksik
yYıhithyt
oOɔcallkol
uUublueblu
wWʊputpwt
rRɜturntrn




















diphthongs
eiEIsaysei
ayAYfightfayt
ouOUǝugoatgout
auAUaucloutklaut
yuYUjucutekyut
oyOYɔıcoykoy































The aim with this alphabet was to begin with the 26-character Roman alphabet, add as few characters as possible, here five (ǝ, ð , þ, ŋ, ɋ), drop one (q), and assign four characters (j, c, x, w) to single sounds, to make a total of 30 characters, 10 vowels and 20 consonants. The idea is to minimize the difficulty of transitioning to the alphabet and spelling using it. Where possible, IPA symbols were used, but similar-sounding phonemes distinguished by the IPA are sometimes combined. for example, the IPA distinguishes the sounds of "ə" (schwa) and "ʌ" but in American English they differ only in how they are stressed, and we think it better to minimize the number of symbols and use diacriticals to indicate stress.

For the added characters the UTF-16 codes are shown. The character "ɋ" is actually a variant on "q" but is chosen because it also resembles the familiar variant "ɑ", with the tail distinguishing it, and the letter "q" can be used for it. The letter "j" is used in a way uncommon in English but common in French and some other languages, however, not the way used in the IPA.

The letter "ð" (eth) for the soft "th" sound is ancient and dropped out of use in the 13th century, but it was found convenient to revive it. The letter "θ" U03B8, the Greek letter theta, capital U03F4, is used by the IPA for the hard "th" sound. We prefer the Old English symbol used for this sound, the thorn "þ" (U00FE, capital Þ U00DE), which seems more readable.

The letter "c" is reassigned to represent the "sh" sound, which is perhaps the one change that may cause trouble for new users. This seemed better than adding the character "ʃ".

The letter "x" is given the sound like "ch" in "loch" or "chanukah", which is also a usage in several languages.

The letter "r" is here reclassified as a vowel, although the IPA uses "ɜ", which looks too much like a three "3". Some phoneticists may disagree, but we consider it more a vowel and the transition easier if used as such. However, we need a way to indicate the difference between "krent" and " "current", which can be done by doubling the letter, "rr" for the latter.

The letter "w" is assigned to represent the short "u", which it often does in English. The word "wet" might be represented as "hwet", when the "h" is sounded.

The trilled "r", as in "burro", is actually a consonant, but the IPA uses the letter "ʀ", and this is unsatisfactory.  A better solution might be the tailed "ɽ", "bwɽou", with diacritical marks used to indicate the many variants. Here we do not include it in the basic fonet alfabet, but classify it as an extension.

Some non-English vowels with other sounds can be represented, as they now are, by these symbols with diacritical marks.

It is commonly supported on many computers to key in any of the UTF-16 characters by simultaneously holding down three keys, ctrl-shift-u then typing the four-character code, followed by some other key like the space bar. Most computers also support reassignment of keys on the keyboard using keyboard configuration software, and the defining of one key, such as the right-alt key, as a kind of third shift key, to be held down while pressing one of the other keys, and for upper case, also holding down the shift key.

Examples of transcriptions:
  1. John Donne, 'No man is an island, entire of itself'
    (Original)
Tools:
  1. Phonetizer
  2. PhoTransEdit
  3. Upodn
  4. Phon
  5. transliterate
  6. Phonetic symbols in Unicode
  7. Unicode Character Table — In numerical order
  8. List of Unicode Characters — Wikipedia, better organized
  9. Custom keyboard layout definitions — The xkb tool used in most Linux distributions
  10. Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC) — Create custom layout (but keyboard not displayed properly in Win 8, so have to install Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 or greater to see it)
  11. KbdEdit — Tool for editing keyboard layouts that works in Windows 8.

2016/05/21

Libertarian judge candidates

After reviewing the list of judicial candidates from Trump, I started to try to put together a list of libertarian lawyers and judges that might be proposed by the Libertarian Party nominee. I can't find a list anywhere, and have tried to put one together from general knowledge.
My first candidates would be

Randy Barnett
Roger Pilon
Janice Rogers Brown
Alex Kozinski
William Baude
Larry Becraft
Stephen Calabresi
Elizabeth Price Foley
Michaek Greve
Kurt Lash
Gary S. Lawson
John O. McGinnis
Robert Natelson
Clark Neily
Michael Rappaport
Roger Roots
Ilya Somin
Lawrence Solum

These are taken from http://constitution.org/cs_peopl.htm , not including some who are social conservative or too old. You might have some more.

2016/05/18

Trump candidates for Supreme Court

Today presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump released a list of eleven candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court. I list them here with links to more information about them and my brief comments on their fitness.


  1. Steven Colloton -- Iowa. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  Professor  at U. Minnesota School of Law, specializing on constitutional law. Clerked for SC Justice Clarence Thomas.
  2. Allison Eid -- Colorado. Justice, Colorado Supreme Court. Professor U. Colorado Law School, specializing on constitutional law. Clerked for SC Justice Clarence Thomas.
  3. Raymond Gruender -- Missouri. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. 
  4. Thomas Hardiman --  Pennsylvania. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. One good decision: Dissented from the court's decision to uphold under the Second Amendment a New Jersey law requiring residents to make a showing of "justifiable need" to receive a license to carry a handgun in public. Bad decision: held that a police officer was immune from suit because there is no clearly established First Amendment right to videotape police officers during traffic stops. The right is a Ninth Amendment right to supervise public servants.
  5. Raymond Kethledge -- Michigan. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Clerked for United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
  6. Joan Larsen -- Michigan. Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. Clerked
  7. Thomas Lee - Utah. Associate Justice of the Utah Supreme Court. Pioneer in the application of corpus linguistics to determine ordinary meaning, being the first American judge to do so in an opinion.  Clerked for SC Justice Clarence Thomas.
  8. William Pryor -- Alabama. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Said that Roe v. Wade was the "worst abomination in the history of constitutional law." Some controversial opinions in civil rights cases. Many pro-government decisions.
  9. David Stras -- Minnesota. Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Clerked for SC Justice Clarence Thomas.
  10. Diane Sykes -- Wisconsin. Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, formerly Judge on Wisconsin Supreme court. Strong supporter of Second Amendment.
  11. Don Willett -- Texas. Justice Texas Supreme Court. Drafted the first two executive orders of the Bush presidency. 
Of these the only one I have met personally id Don Willett. He is a bright, personable guy with a good sense of humor, which could be a goo thing on the Supreme Court, where Justice Scalia was famous for his wit. He is also active on Twitter, with some critical tweets on Trump.

2016/05/13

Fetura is the answer to objections to sortition

This post opposing sortition seems to assume direct random selection from the general population, when historical sortition systems have never worked that way. They alternated sortition with a screening stage, a system I call fetura, from the Latin word for breeding, which involves such alternation. The systems of Venice and Florence are examples of this. I have one, as part of a model constitution.
1. Selection of officials is multi-stage, beginning at the most local level (wards), but those selected at random are not limited to selection themselves for the next round.
2. As for policy juries, there would be more than one on any policy, and policies would go through the same kind of fetura, using competing juries that would decide how to present the policy options to one another. Some such juries, which I call inquestries, would function like grand juries to empower prosecutors to propose and defend policies to further juries.
3. Corruption of members would be be inhibited by audits of the members of one jury by another. There would have to be full disclosure of assets and income. That does not prevent payoffs to cronies, but the same process could be used for that. Everything checks and balances everything else.
4. One inhibition to corruption would be that selection is not confined to the selectees of the last random round, so that reputation for integrity would be important. One might call the system reputaracracy (combining Latin and Greek). Everyone would have an incentive to acquire and maintain a good reputation, because not all selection is random. Our modern system of credit scoring is an example of this, although it can be manipulated.
One can describe the system used by political parties in their nominating process as a kind of fetura, although it is vulnerable to dominance by cult leaders.

Venetian system

New regulations for the elections of the doge introduced in 1268 remained in force until the end of the republic in 1797. Their object was to minimize as far as possible the influence of individual great families, and this was effected by a complex elective machinery. Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge. None could be elected but by at least twenty-five votes out of forty-one, nine votes out of eleven or twelve, or seven votes out of nine electors.

Florentine system

Florence was governed by a council called the signoria, which consisted of nine men. The head of the signoria was the gonfaloniere, who was chosen every two months in a lottery, as was his signoria. To be eligible, one had to have sound finances, no arrears or bankruptcies, he had to be older than thirty, had to be a member of Florence’s seven main guilds (merchant traders, bankers, two clothe guilds, and judges). The roster of names in the lottery were replaced every five years.
The main organs of government were known as the the maggiori. They were: the twelve good men, the standard bearers of the gonfaloniere, and the signoria. The first two debated and ratified proposed legislation, but could not introduce it. To hold an elective office, one had to be of a family that had previously held office.

Genoese System

The Republic of Genoa, a communal republic and a state of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1339 until the state's extinction in 1797. Originally elected for life, after 1528 the Doges were elected for terms of two years.[1] In actuality, the Republic (or Dogate) was an oligarchy ruled by a small group of merchant families, from whom the doges were selected.

The first doge ("duke") of Genoa, Simone Boccanegra, whose name is kept alive by Verdi's opera, was appointed by public acclaim in 1339. Initially the Doge of Genoa was elected without restriction and by popular suffrage, holding office for life in the so-called "perpetual dogate"; but after the reform effected by Andrea Doria in 1528 the term of his office was reduced to two years. At the same time plebeians were declared ineligible, and the appointment of the doge was entrusted to the members of the great council, the Gran Consiglio, who employed for this purpose a political system almost as complex as that of the later Venetians.

Of all the "perpetual" doges of Genoa who ruled for their lifetime, only one ruled for more than eight years. Many resigned or were driven out before taking office. Some failed to complete a single day in power. Between 1339 and 1528, only four doges were legally elected. Genoa did not trust its doges; the ruling caste of Genoa tied them to executive committees, kept them on a small budget, and kept them apart from the communal revenues held at the "Casa di San Giorgio". Not surprisingly, the doges of Genoa have been less renowned than the doges of Venice.

Still, the position of doge stood at the head of state patronage, and the city's inner group of leading merchant families vied with each other to place their man in the position. Rival elections were known to take place within the building. In 1389, a frustrated candidate made a surprise return from enforced exile accompanied by 7,000 supporters, and after dining amicably with the incumbent, politely but firmly ejected him, thanking him for serving so ably as his deputy during his own "unavoidable absence" from Genoa.

For generations two powerful families in Genoa all but monopolized the dogate: the Adorno, supporters of imperial power in the Middle Ages, and the Campofregoso or Fregoso, supporters of papal power. Tomaso di Campofregoso became doge three times: in 1415, 1421 and 1437. In 1461, Paolo Fregoso, archbishop of Genoa, enticed the current doge to his own palace, held him hostage and offered him the choice of retiring from the post or being hanged. When Fregoso was in due course himself toppled, he fled to the harbor, commandeered four galleys and launched himself on a whole new career as a pirate. While the doge's palace in Venice accumulated great furnishings and works of art over the years, in Genoa, each doge was expected to arrive with his own furnishings and, when he left, to strip the palace to its bare walls.

Genoa's power peaked early, and it was eclipsed by Venice. In the 16th century the republic enjoyed a dramatic revival under the leadership of the admiral, statesman and patron of the arts Andrea Doria who ruled the state as a virtual dictator but never actually became doge. It was through the Spanish empire in the New World that Genoa became rich again. Doria served the Spanish Habsburgs as admiral-in-chief, and the bankers of Genoa handled Spain's financial business, which vastly enriched Genoa's banking oligarchy.

The Napoleonic Wars put an end to the office of doge at Genoa. In 1797, when Napoleon Bonaparte incorporated Genoa into the newly organized Ligurian Republic, French soldiers and the city's mob ransacked the doge's palace.



“Sortition” should not be conceived as only a cramped. one step random procedure. Yes, the prisoner’s dilemma applies, or at least the iterated prisoner’s dilemma, discussed by Rappoport in The Evolution of Cooperation.

A better model is provided by genetic (or evolutionary) algorithms, in which random steps (such as reconfiguration) alternate with a fitness screening. That is why I use the term fetura, which is another name for the process.

Another key concept is self-organizing systems (part of chaos theory). Society is a self-organizing system composed of other self-organizing systems, which in turn are composed of other self-organizing systems, and so forth.

The argument we should be making is not over just the random step, but over the entire system in which it is just one step of many. A well-designed system is composed of many self-organizing systems composed of other self-organizing systems in which fetura is a key element.

What we are discussing is how to design a subset of society that serves society as well as society could if it were reduced to a single wise decider, who is himself composed of other systems. In other words a microcosm of society that somehow represents society, and makes decisions for the best interests of society.


A well-designed system cultivates virtue among its decisionmakers, which can be assessed by other decisionmakers. This relates to one of the three types of morality: deontological (duty based), consequentialist, and aretaic (virtue-oriented). The last depends on reputation and admirable qualities. “We become what we admire.” But admirable qualities are not just a matter of taste, because they have consequences.

So a well-designed system cultivates good reputations and the perception of such.

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