Old news: Democrats, who by and large cut and ran from opposing the war in Iraq when Dubya’s numbers were popping, have benefitted from a public protest they only encouraged when safe to do so. Though Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s performance in Iraq was rejected by a public unable to understand a complicated war, he now has plenty of time to ponder the uncanny resemblance between himself and Winston Churchill. And while President Bush has been forced to down a dose of reality about the complicated war, he’s an optimist (detractors add “cock-eyed”) and will soon forget the nasty taste. Karl Rove however, will never forget what he learned about metrics.

Good news: genuine independents (as opposed to Independents bankrolled by Dempublicans) can party hearty. Democrats and Republicans may think the donkey raked it in, but indies swung the nation. Self-identified independents now comprise roughly a quarter of the electorate. And their numbers are growing. Issues which defined the election are close to their hearts– the war in Iraq and public corruption.

Much has been said about the war. More will be. Expect plenty of righteous wrath to be hurled at Dubya & crew. Expect little about how both parties, plus the majority of the mainstream newsmedia, melded into a war machine in 2003. And how that machine only came apart when Iraq turned out not to be Gulf War 2.

Those in or around the Bush administration who pushed invading Iraq, did so based on flawed perceptions of conditions within that country, colored by an ideological desire to transform the entire Mid-East. They sold the war with dubious WMD info and by suggesting Saddam & Osama were joined at the hip– reflecting an assumption the public might not buy anything more complicated than a 9/11 payback and preemptive strike against Those Who Hate Our Freedom. Yet in 2003, the overwhelming majority of Americans thought Bush knew best. Support for the Iraq adventure might not have been as strong if more truth had been on the table, but conversely, neither might the bitter aftertaste of false expectations. Whatever. The dodgy selling of the war should have been laid bare by our two party system and free press.

Both were largely out to lunch. A good reason for being an indy with an Internet connection.

Then there’s corruption. Republicans ruled at the national level. They rolled in the trough as vigorously as their predecessors. Come election time, voters did their duty. As they will again when needs be. Who doubts the day will come? Pumped by unlimited taxpayer jack, ever-expanding government power, and freedom from term limits, crooked pols are a given. And a takin’. Only difference is– which party goes better with Coke? And cash served under the table?

Another reason it’s good to be indy; not having to decry the other side’s corruption while dodging your own party’s poo.

Real good news: on election day voters in twelve states voted on ballot measures aimed at curbing eminent domain abuse (EDA). Nine states, representing a wide swath of the nation, passed anti EDA measures: New Hampshire, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana (which voted on the measure in September’s primary elections) North Dakota, Arizona and Oregon. The reforms will be enacted via amendment to state constitutions. Thirty other states have passed anti EDA legislation in the past year. Reforms range from wimpy through moderate to full throttle.

In Michigan, the vote was a bittersweet vindication for the long gone Detroit neighborhood of Poletown. A blue collar Polish enclave wiped out in 1981 by X Mayor Coleman Young, acting on behalf of General Motors. GM wanted to expand one of its plants. Over Poletown. Mayor Coleman was an urban dictator with a hefty corruption rep. Some say he chose to use eminent domain on Poletown because its residents didn’t support him. After Poletown was bulldozed, GM’s proposed expansion shrank; it never delivered the promised employment numbers or tax revenues. Poletown, which had been a tax producing neighborhood, was left a collection of empty lots. Motor City continued to decline. The ballot measure (Proposal 4) Michigan just approved reads thusly: “The proposed constitutional amendment would prohibit government from taking private property for transfer to another private individual or business for purposes of economic development or increasing tax revenue.”

Louisiana’s Ballot Measure 5 also bans state or local government entities from taking private property and transferring it to private individuals, corporations or developers. Post Katrina, minority residents of New Orleans feared their property would be swept away by revitalizing land grabs.

Nevada’s anti EDA measure wins the snappy acronym award. PISTOL stands for the “Peoples Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land”. PISTOL not only shoots holes in abusive eminent domain transfers in the name of redevelopment, it targets the “just compensation” property owners receive when their land is taken for true public uses. Giving owners more more more.

Of all the anti EDA measures passed on election day, Arizona’s Proposition 207 is the most radical. Along with curbing EDA, it acts to compensate property owners negatively affected by land-use actions. Measures similar to Arizona’s 207 were defeated in California, Idaho, and Washington. The thought of land-use compensation raises the hackles of many environmentalists and “smart growth” advocates. Concerns have been raised that taxpayers will balk at regulatory actions if it means paying land owners. The latter ask why they should take the hit. Particularly if and when such actions are based on dubious premises, or benefit other parties’ real estate interests.

Funny how the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision re Kelo v. City of New London, a victory for speed-the-plow, government empowered greed at the expense of property rights, ended up moving the defense of those rights onto the front burner of public consciousness, while broadening the scope of the debate beyond eminent domain abuse. The Kelo call has also led to a tsunami of citizen initiated, democratic activity at state levels. Ain’t that good news yeah ain’t that good news. The kind indies go for.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Mondo QT

Sources include but are not limited to:

“Proposal 4: Property owner’s rights triumph,” John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, 11/08/06″Eminent Domain passes,” Christian Palmer, Arizona Capital Times, 11/07/06

“Landmark Election for Property Rights,” Scott A. LaGanga, Property Rights Alliance, U.S. Newswire, 11/06/06

“Analysis: PISTOL ballot question,” Omar Sofradzua, The Ely Times, 11/06

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