Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Three Strikes You're Out; My Duty to Revoke Corporate Charters
Members of the public have asked me whether as Texas Attorney General I will apply a "three strikes and you're out" policy to corporations such as is applied to human beings, meaning whether I will take action to revoke a corporation's charter if it receives three criminal convictions.
Article 4, Section 22 of the Texas Constitution lays upon the Texas Attorney General the duty to monitor the activities of private corporations and to pursue judicial forfeiture of their charters upon sufficient cause. This is talking about civil action, not criminal prosecution. The burden of proof for the Attorney General in civil actions is less than the burden of proof in criminal prosecutions - proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not required. Thus the Constitution does not require conviction of crimes for the Attorney General to pursue charter revocation; rather, the legal requirement is "sufficient cause."
Since government belongs to the people and the Attorney General is the people's lawyer, any corporation's convictions of multiple criminal offenses would clearly be sufficient cause for me as Attorney General to undertake charter revocation action. After all, since the United States Supreme Court declared 120 years ago that corporations are persons under the 14th Amendment, the receipt of multiple criminal convictions entitles the people to treat corporations the same way the people treat human beings who receive multiple criminal convictions.
In addition, when I am Attorney General my duty to the people under the Texas Constitution will not allow me to set an arbitrary minimum threshold of misconduct, such as three criminal convictions, to trigger charter revocation action. Although the corporate government that runs the show today doesn't realize it, corporations are holders of public trust in that they operate under charters issued by the State granting them the privilege of corporate existence. Even one violation of the public trust - which need not necessarily be a criminal offense - may compel me to find sufficient cause to seek charter revocation under the Constitution if the violation is of a magnitude demonstrating that the corporation represents a continuing danger to the public trust.
posted by snarko! at 4:21 PM
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Voting Technology Violates Constitutional Rights
With the touch-screen electronic voting machines that the Republican political cabal is forcing on all Texas counties, the voter cannot see his own ballot being cast. The visible touch screen is not the ballot; it is only a purported replica of the ballot. The electronic ballot is within the innards of the machine, hidden from the voter's sight.
You would think as a matter of common sense that the machine would at least give the voter a receipt to confirm that the hidden ballot was cast as the voter intended, but it doesn't. The voter has no means to know whether or not his vote was recorded as he intended, other than by private corporations who sell the machines saying, "Trust us." And that is really all the public gets, since the computer programming codes that tell the machine's insides what to do are claimed as proprietary by the private corporations and kept secret from the public.
You sure wouldn't trust your money with any bank that wouldn't give you a receipt for your deposit. No politician in his right mind would ask you to, either. Why should you be expected to trust a private corporation that has no democratic accountability to you to take your deposit of your most precious possession of free citizenship, your vote, and not give you a receipt? Anybody who thinks this makes any sense, come talk to me quick because I have a bridge to sell you.
Now let's take a look at the Texas Constitution.
Article 6, Section 2 states:
"The privilege of free suffrage shall be protected by laws regulating elections and prohibiting under adequate penalties all undue influence in elections from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practices."
Article 6, Section 4 states:
"In all elections by the people, the vote shall be by ballot, and the Legislature shall provide for the numbering of tickets and make such other regulations as may be necessary to detect and punish fraud and preserve the purity of the ballot box."
Now you tell me. How in the world can a system prohibit undue influence in elections from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practices when there is no way to verify whether the things that are going on inside the machine are even recording the votes as the voters intend? How in the world can the purity of the ballot box be preserved when even the voter who cast the ballot has no way of knowing what actually got recorded on his ballot in the interior of the machine? Clearly, it can't, and it can't.
These machines clearly violate the Texas Constitution.
Federal law does not require that there be a voter-verifiable paper trail, nor does federal law require that there not be one. The federal laws are silent. In the federal law's silence, the Texas Constitution governs in all elections conducted within the jurisdiction of Texas.
This blatant disregard of the Constitutional rights of all the citizens of Texas is the plain result of partisan, power-loving, one-party Republican rule. The manufacturers of the electronic voting machines are big corporate powers that are headed by Republicans who love Republican rule for the way it protects the divine rights of big corporations to profit as much as possible off the backs of working people. The Governor is a Republican who depends on money from Republican corporate America to feed his campaign chests. The Secretary of State is a Republican who depends on the Republican Governor for appointment to his job. The Attorney General is a Republican who depends on the strength of the Republican corporate-political power machine to turn out his votes.
It is an outrage that these partisans of the power-loving, one-party, Republican power machine are conducting the public's business with such detestable disregard for your most precious act of citizenship in this great democracy, your vote in free democratic elections. This has to be brought to a halt.
When I become Attorney General of Texas, I am going to take immediate action to enforce the Texas Constitution against such outrageous excuses for voting technology. But it should not have to wait for my election.
This unconstitutional situation needs to be corrected immediately. I am calling on all the citizens of Texas to demand restoration of their Constitutional rights to cast a secure, free and pure, democratic ballot. I am calling on the Governor, the Secretary of State, and all the legislators to act promptly to conform voting technology to the Texas Constitution. I am calling on the Attorney General to take prompt action to enforce the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Texas to free suffrage and secure ballots. The patriots of history who lived and died to make our nation and our state beacons of democracy are sitting in judgment on you.
posted by snarko! at 1:03 PM
Monday, November 21, 2005
How the People Will Win Texas
If we want to restore government to the people, we also have to restore to the people the election process by which the people exercise their political choices. This means no "battleground" type strategies -- we write nobody off and we trust the people. We trust the people's capacity to understand truth and their capacity to be motivated to vote for truth. We go to the people. We go to the small towns and listen to what people have to say, because in those communities government is closer to the people and we can always learn more about how self-government is supposed to work. We go to the inner city communities that have been taken for granted in the consultantocracy's mad rush to find "swing voters," and we take up their battles not just to win votes from them, but in order to win justice for them. We go to the suburbs and we confront and challenge the con games that have been tricking those voters out of their votes for too long.
Everywhere we go, we attack the predatory political and corporate elites head-on, and fight them tooth and nail on behalf of the people. We carry the fight to the enemy head-to-head against the Radical Republican incumbent, and we keep carrying it to him, and we don't play any nicey-nice as if this were just a parlor game; we play tough and determined because it's real, real life and it's real, real struggles for the great majority of the people who get nothing out of having a corporate mouthpiece for an attorney general. We never concede a millionth of an inch of ground to the Radical Republicans; we confront their lies head on at all times.
We spend our time not in polished conference rooms pandering for big checks, but in the towns and the cities and the suburbs talking and listening to real people. We organize for our victory with grassroots people-to-people methods -- in-person meetings, house parties, rallies, at porches, picnics, town squares, living rooms, restaurants, union halls, coffee shops, and over the Internet. We expand the campaign's outreach and visibility through the creativity and resourcefulness of our grassroots steering committee, local coordinators, and volunteer network, as well as our dedicated staff. The best bottom-line image to me is the way Harry Truman told the pollsters and pundits to go stuff it and reached out to the people through his whistlestop tour.
We organize at the grassroots level, we campaign at the grassroots level, and we fundraise at the grassroots level. "Grassroots" means at the ground level where the people are. Pulling off this victory against a mega-bucks, mega-resources, incumbent Bush Republican is a political challenge of a lifetime for all of us who are involved in this campaign.
Representatives of the inner-circle consultantocracy have been heard to say, "No consultant in Texas would be willing to help David Van Os." The reason being that, "He won't take advice and insists on doing things his own way.” As a matter of fact no truer words could be spoken about my attitude toward those who do not understand speaking and acting from the heart.
I do insist on a grassroots campaign that talks to people, listens to people, puts people first, and that trusts the people. I do insist on doing everything within my power to restore the political process to the people. I do insist on campaigning from my heart all the time and never from anybody's script. I do insist on saying what I mean and meaning what I say. I do insist on sharing my heart and my passion with the voters and not letting any handler try to hold me back. I do insist on campaigning in out-of-the-way parts of vast rural Texas that the consultantocracy has ignored for a generation or more. I do insist that an old-time populist, real Democrat will beat the Republican money and the Republican power machine in a contest for the most powerful office in Texas government, the attorney general, in 2006, with a people-oriented grassroots campaign that speaks truth to power. I do insist on showing the doubters, nay sayers, pundits, and cynics that the back-to-basics old Democratic campaign style that "gives 'em hell" against the corporate interests on behalf of the people and means it will win anywhere, everywhere, any time.
posted by snarko! at 2:30 PM
Friday, November 11, 2005
No More Corporate Government
I'm David Van Os and I have something to say. Government by lies, secrecy, and cronyism was not what the American Revolutionaries had in mind when they proclaimed government by the consent of the governed. Bushite government is crumbling by the day, and it is up to us, the grassroots American people, to pick up the pieces and rebuild self-governing democracy the way it is supposed to be: every citizen a 100% equal part owner of the government, and government serving the people.
Let's do it right this time, and dismantle the whole corrupted political culture that led us down the path to Bushite government. Let's restore democracy and the political process to their rightful owners, the people. No more of electing hustlers who use public office to benefit themselves and their cronies. No more of government by pollsters or marketing consultants. No more corporate government.
posted by snarko! at 10:47 AM
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Fighting All the Way
Texans have always believed that government belongs to the people. All over our state people from all walks of life are fed up with the rip-off of their democracy and they want it back. The Texas Constitution (Art. 4, Sec. 22) directs the Attorney General of Texas to protect democracy from corporate special-interest government and gives him the tools of office to do it. I've received all my education and lived all my life in Texas; I love this state; and I've vowed to honor the education and training Texas gave me by using them to answer the moral imperative of our time, to restore government to the people. Those coming before us who founded self-governing democracy intended that it last forever. For my part I will not let it go down, and my part is clear to me. This state belongs to all the people, and they are entitled to a people's lawyer as Attorney General who'll fight to restore it to them.
Fighting to restore government to the people means: defending the people against the predatory exercise of monopoly power by big corporations, instead of protecting the corporations by winking and looking the other way. It means: defending democracy from being ripped off by the buying and selling of public votes for private gain. It means: defending the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the people of Texas. It means: fighting to preserve the ownership of government by we the people, using the tools of office that the founders of Texas wisely provided to the people's lawyer, the Attorney General, for just such purpose.
posted by snarko! at 3:26 PM
Monday, November 07, 2005
No Second Class Citizens - Vote NO on 2
My opponent in the 2006 general elections, incumbent Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, is campaigning on behalf of the passage of Proposition 2. So is the Ku Klux Klan. Let there be no mistake about where I stand and what I appeal to you to do.
If you did not vote early, please let nothing stop you from making it to your polling place on Tuesday and voting AGAINST Proposition 2. The vote on Proposition 2 has become one of the defining moments in the modern history of Texas. Do we want a society that honors privacy, equality under law, and the separation of church and state? Or do we want a society that exalts discrimination, hate, intolerance, and the elevation of some people's one-sided religious beliefs into state Constitutional law?
The Texas Constitutions of 1836 and 1845 prohibited members of the clergy from serving in the legislature. The hardy founders of Texas respected religion, but they did not want priests, ministers, or rabbis making public laws. This principle runs deep in Texas culture. When John F. Kennedy was campaigning for President in 1960, he felt compelled to come to Texas to deliver a major address pledging that if elected as the first Roman Catholic President he would not permit the Vatican to set United States public policy. Consistent with the values of the real Texas, I whole-heartedly support this principle and I urge you to support it on November 8 with the power of your vote in opposition to Proposition 2.
The Texas Bill of Rights is one of the strongest written charters of liberty, democracy, and equality in the world. Texans have always been proud of this. Texans were one of the first groups of people in the country to place the Equal Rights Amendment into their State Constitution (Bill of Rights, Article 1, Section 3a), doing so by a large margin by referendum vote on November 7, 1972. I am not a historical revisionist who is pretending that the promises of the Texas Bill of Rights have always been honored, for clearly they have not been through much of our history for many of the residents and citizens of Texas. But at least those promises have always been there as goals to fight for and to point to as destiny's call. In Proposition 2, the forces of hypocrisy and hate are seeking literally to elevate discrimination to Constitutional stature. The Bill of Rights of the Texas Constitution was written to protect liberty and freedom, not prohibit them.
As parents in a conventional family structure of mother and father and four children, my wife Rachel and I stand with all our fellow Texas citizens who would be reduced to second-class citizenship by this odious amendment to our precious Bill of Rights. Rachel and I stand against intolerance, hate, discrimination, and hypocrisy. We stand against making anybody a second-class citizen. Please join us in voting against Proposition 2 on November 8.
posted by snarko! at 10:42 AM
Greg Abbott versus The Bill of Rights
Democratic Texas Attorney General candidate David Van Os has this to say about current Attorney General Greg Abbott's active support for Proposition 2 in the November 8 vote on proposed Constitutional Amendments:
"It is outrageous that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is campaigning publicly arm-in-arm with the forces of prejudice in support of changing the Texas Bill of Rights, much of which has existed since the first Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836. If Proposition 2 is enacted it will officially enshrine discrimination against a class of people into the Bill of Rights. The highest duty of the Attorney General as the people's lawyer is to preserve, protect, and defend the Bill of Rights of the people of Texas -- not change it to make some Texans permanent second-class citizens!
"This should come as no surprise. Abbott has a long track record of doing anything necessary to justify discrimination and prejudice against citizens whose choices he disapproves of. As a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court he wrote the Court's opinion denying the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay-lesbian caucus of the Republican Party, the right to have a booth at the 1996 Texas Republican Party Convention. In that case Abbott relied on "strict construction" of the Constitution to hold that the literal words of the Free Speech Clause did not grant the gay Republicans a right to free speech at the State Republican Convention. Yet when it comes to Proposition 2 he argues the exact opposite -- that it should be interpreted by delving into the motives of its legislative sponsors rather than by applying its literal words. When he can use strict construction of wording as a vehicle for discrimination Abbott purports to be a strict constructionist; but when strict construction would stand in his way Abbott wants to ignore the wording and search elsewhere to get the result he wants.
"I'm sick and tired of slick hypocrites using pious platitudes as a smokescreen to wipe out our Constitutional protections so the greedy and powerful can keep getting away with more and more. Enough is enough!"
posted by snarko! at 10:30 AM
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
No Nonsense in the Texas Constitution
On October 27, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott issued on State letterhead an unsolicited letter in support of Proposition 2 to State Representative Warren Chisum and State Senator Todd Staples, the co-sponsors of the legislative resolution that put the proposed Constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Proposition 2 would amend the BILL OF RIGHTS of the Texas Constitution. Abbott's open support of the measure flies in the face of one of the highest duties of a Texas Attorney General, which is to protect the Bill of Rights as the basic charter of liberty and democracy of the people of Texas.
The right to live one's private life as one chooses has been recognized and protected in Texas as one of the foundations of a free society since the founding of Texas as a republic. It is a fundamental right that manifests itself in numerous sections of the Bill of Rights. It is outrageous for a Texas Attorney General to advocate AMENDING Texas' fundamental charter of rights and liberties in a manner that would diminish our centuries-old commitment to the precious right to live and let live.
posted by snarko! at 2:44 PM