Back to previous post: A novel attack on the First Amendment

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Paint and sensibility

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

March 4, 2004

Gasp, wheeze, cough
Posted by Teresa at 11:16 AM *

Hello, all. I got the same bug as Patrick, and haven’t been up to doing much more than dragging myself back and forth to work and falling over once I get home. I’m hoping I’ll be more myself soon. There are a bunch of half-finished posts sitting in my queue gathering dust.

The Ralph Nader one (provisionally titled “Fck ff nd D, Rlph”) is clearly not worth resurrecting. The tidal wave of eloquent and articulate disapproval that rose in response to his announcement of his candidacy has come and gone. I remain grateful to Candidate Nader for one thing only. He was the occasion of my finally sorting out what it is I dislike and distrust about the “things have to get worse before they can get better” meme, and its less commonly seen sibling, “we have to deprive ourselves of power in order to seek power.”

In the end, my answer to people who say “things have to get worse before they can get better” is, “How much worse? Can you specify, exactly?” Because what I always find, if I ask enough questions and they’re willing to answer them, is that the measure of how much worse things supposedly have to get is, “bad enough that people will be willing to adopt our viewpoint, policies, and platform.”

Have you noticed that? “How much worse?” never turns out to be “only about halfway to the point where our position looks good, so we’ll have to persuade the electorate to go the rest of the way,” or “we’re afraid that if things start moving in that direction, it’ll get so bad that the real hardline weirdos will look good, so we’ll have some repair work to do at first.” It’s always “things need to get bad enough for the electorate to wake up and see things the same way we do.”

(Testing, testing: “We have to let the other side overrun our front-line positions in order to convince our troops that those guys are firing at us and we ought to fire back.” Nope, doesn’t work.)

Does someone who makes this argument understand themself to be saying that hundreds of millions of people should sacrifice the good that might be had by things incrementally getting better, and accept the suffering implicit in things getting worse, in order to bring their own particular faction into an effortless preeminence, and spare them the long hard task of persuading their fellow beings to share their point of view? I doubt that they do; but that is what it means.

It’s my feeling that “we have to deprive ourselves of power in order to seek power” means “I perceive you as a potential follower once I attain power, so how’s about you stay out of power until I get there,” but it’s such an obviously stupid position—right up there with “don’t vote, it only encourages them”—that I don’t think I need to take it any further.

Comments on Gasp, wheeze, cough:
#1 ::: Rich Puchalsky ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 01:29 PM:

Yep. It's like when Nader supporters start asking what good Clinton ever did, and I start going on about the Earned Income Tax Credit and the raise in the minimum wage and how these types of things really helped a lot of people who were on the edge of poverty, and they look at me blankly and I realize that they could care less because this is all just an ideological game to them and they can dismiss incremental gains because they don't personally need anything and if things get worse for a while, well it won't get worse for them.

Sorry for the run-on sentence.

#2 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 01:35 PM:

I thought something similar last night, at the anti-marriage amendment rally in DC. One of the speakers was Carol Schwartz, DC Councilwoman. A Republican, she said she was in no way supporting the amendment, but she doesn't support gay marriage either. Just 'civil unions.' She urged the crowd to be patient, to accept the [way-less-than-]half-step, and soon those in power (i.e., her) would deign to grant us full rights. Once they got used to us being around, that is.

#3 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 01:36 PM:

What happend to the rest of the title: "nd th hrs y rd n n"? (grin)

I have always suspected that this attitude (which I have run into all too often) is a sign of an romantic attachment to some ideal position, which is attractive because at some level it is seen as unattainable. If the objective actually could be reached, one might actually be obliged to actually take the risk of real success or failure in attempting to get there. Instead of that, one can avoid any responsibliity for either how things are, or for trying to improve them.

#4 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Also, I assume Patrick is now taking his turn squeezaing citrus for you?

#5 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:13 PM:

"We have to let the other side overrun our front-line positions in order to convince our troops that those guys are firing at us and we ought to fire back."

This was tried on 22 January 1879 at Isandlwana, in the slight varient "We have to let the other side overrun our front-line positions in order to convince the supply sergeants to issue more ammunition."

That one didn't work out well for the supply sergeants.

#6 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:15 PM:

You two too? I just got over the horrible bug that my better half passed on to me. <tongue style="firmly" location="cheek">Do the people lining up for gay marriage know about this phenomenon?</tongue>

Get well soon.

#7 ::: aha ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:15 PM:

Claude,
It could be argued that Kerry, not Nader, has the romantic attachment to ideal positions. Who has the better record of objectives reached?

#8 ::: aha ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:17 PM:

that "objectives reached" hypertext should point here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/nader03032004.html

#9 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:29 PM:

The people who say "it has to get worse before it gets better" are very rarely the people who it'll get worse for.

It's somewhat similar to saying that the only way some people will learn how to do a thing is if they screw it up enough times. Well, perhaps, but another way they'll learn is if you teach them to do it properly after (or before, for preference) the first screwup.

Both things are just ways of ducking responsibility.

Feel better, TNH and PNH.

#10 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:37 PM:

but it’s such an obviously stupid position—right up there with “don’t vote, it only encourages them”—that I don’t think I need to take it any further.

if you could, in fact, go on some about "don't vote, it only encourages them, i would greatly appreciate it. yes, the system doesn't work particularly well. yes, voting is participating in that system. yes, you should vote anyhow. and that's about the point where i lose the ability to explain it coherently because i get too angry.

#11 ::: McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 02:46 PM:

Hmm...

I'm utterly of two minds about this whole issue. On the one hand, I agree with Theresa that the whole reason I say "perhaps things have to get worse before they can get better" is that, yes, I think people should do what I want them to do, dammit! I appreciate that my opinion is only my opinion, but on the other hand I think I'm right. I wouldn't hold an opinion I disagreed with, would I? That's everyone else's job.

However, as Ken MacLeod pointed out in his blog on March 1, Clinton Knew. The sanctions were kept up based on false evidence; the same false evidence that Bush used to justify his little jaunt in Mesopotamia. Bush may have waged an unjust war for political reasons, but Clinton pushed for policies which starved the population of food and medicine.

I am not saying that Bush and Clinton are not different at all -- for a start, a vote against Bush is a vote against Ashcroft, and if that's not enough I don't know what is -- but I have my doubts that Clinton, or Kerry, are different enough.

At the end of the day, the fundamental structural problems with the world, the US government, the UN, the WTO, the EU etc. will all still be in place regardless of who wins. The US needs electoral reform to break the two party system, which fails to adequately reflect the majority of the country and which is pushing both parties towards a nationalist/conservative centre (it pains me that there was not a single Democratic nominee who was progressive on trade - everything was and remains protectionism in fancy baubles, no matter how much they label such things "fair trade," and as much as I prefer such things to destructive Market Fundamentalism and NeoLiberalism, I can't see where they differ from George "Steel Tarriff" Bush in any great respect).

Internationally, God knows what needs doing. International organisations need strengthening so that they can withstand lone brutes like the USA and EU forcing their doctrines on the rest of the world. That's something which I feel will have to be caused by crisis and the reaching breaking point, a global "Let Them Eat Cake" moment. God only knows the havoc and destruction that could erupt on the way to positive change of the world, but we see now and observe with our own eyes the havoc and destruction that holds sway before such reforms take place.

In short, Kerry would be a short term gain over the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney/Ashcroft nightmare, but my concern is that the difference will cause the American Left to relax, to believe that they have "woken up" the Democratic Party and made it into a genuine cause for liberalism and reform. Things can get incrementally better only if people acknowledge that once the Democrats are in power they must continue to travel the path. The danger is, as always, that without a viable party on the Progressive Left of the Democrats, they will be able to skate by on "at least we're not John Ashcroft." That will not do.

So, yes, until America has a crisis that inspires reform of the Federal election process (and if 2000 didn't do that, then yes, it will have to get worse), I do not hold much hope for long-lasting and effective change.

#12 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:06 PM:

sennoma - I rarely catch my husband's bugs, yet I caught this one from him.

I find comfort in the fact that, while this bug knocked me out for nearly a week, my breathing patterns are back to normal, and he still has a lingering cough. And he caught it before I did.

I guess this disproves the old wives' tale: "To get rid of a cold, give it to someone else."

And perhaps this will teach him to wash his hands more often.

#13 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:17 PM:

This is all summed up by Ehrman's Commentary:

1. Things will get worse before they get better.
2. Who said things would get better?

#14 ::: Emily B ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:25 PM:

This was tried on 22 January 1879 at Isandlwana, in the slight varient "We have to let the other side overrun our front-line positions in order to convince the supply sergeants to issue more ammunition."

That one didn't work out well for the supply sergeants.

According to an episode of Secrets of the Dead on PBS, that's the conventional view of what happened, but the evidence doesn't back it up. Bent screws of the sort that fastened the ammo boxes shut, found scattered around the British positions, indicate that the soldiers had boxes of ammo with them and were able to quickly smash the boxes open to get to the bullets inside.

Fascinating stuff. I love forensic anthropology. Speculate all you want about how something happened - it's still speculation. Get your hands on the artifacts in question, and many things become clearer.

Bringing it back to the political situation, there are lessons we could be taking from it. For example, the British were overrun in large part because they were trying to defend a too-large area with too few people against large numbers of people who knew the land intimately. Hmm... that sounds familiar.

#15 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:28 PM:

McDuff wrote:
> but I have my doubts that Clinton, or Kerry, are different enough.

Er... George W. won a little under 50% of the popular vote, remember. When push comes
to shove, there are *lots* of Americans with all the raw brainpower of canned pineapple. You can
*forget* a "real progressive" taking office; we're fighting a holding action to keep from slipping back
to the 1930s right now.

#16 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:34 PM:

Stephan wrote:
>When push comes to shove, there are *lots* of Americans with all the raw brainpower of canned pineapple.

*sigh*

Agreed.

This is precisely what worries me about the upcoming election. As much as Bush has messed up our country, how many people SEE that?

I stumbled across some online propaganda the other day, and was stunned to see how many comments there were supporting our current President. With every comment, my heart sank a little more (or maybe it was just lunch). Because if there are that many people who defend him, how many will vote for him?

Too many for my comfort, I'd say.

#17 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:43 PM:

I get really worried when people start trying to drive politics with morals.

It is not possible to agree about morals.

Sure, Clinton's second term (at a minimum) involved knowing that Iraq had meaningfully disarmed. If this was followed to its logical conclusion, and the sanctions were lifted, what could be expected to happen?

Clinton could expect to be relentlessly attacked by the Republican Congress, for even suggesting the brutal dictator to resume constructing whatever nastiness. (Since that's more or less what the lifting the sanctions means; knowing that the disarmament process worked also means knowing that Saddam is seriously nutso-cuckoo.)

Saddam would go back to selling oil, with the added cachet of having defeated the United States in a contest of wills.

Neither of those things make any sense to expect of a sitting President; they cause damage to that sitting President's ability to do their job, and (in the second case) to the security of the United States.

Absolutes don't survive politics, or society doesn't; take your pick.

#18 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 03:45 PM:

Betsy wrote:

if you could, in fact, go on some about "don't vote, it only encourages them, i would greatly appreciate it.

Well, I'm not Teresa, and I certainly could never play her on TV, but I'll take a stab at it.

yes, the system doesn't work particularly well. yes, voting is participating in that system. yes, you should vote anyhow. and that's about the point where i lose the ability to explain it coherently because i get too angry.

The next question to ask is, do you want to fix the system, or destroy it entirely and replace it with something else?

If you want to fix it, then voting is the mechanism we have set up to repair the system from within. Call it the "meta-system" because, if things work as designed, it's the system that defines the system. The thought of fixing the system without giving the people a voice through their vote is even scarier than what's happening now. (Some would argue that it is what's happening now, for authoritarian values of "fix".)

If you want to completely replace the system, then not voting is a legitimate response -- but by itself it isn't going to accomplish anything. Let's be realistic, if you think that the United States is so badly flawed that voting can't fix it, then you're advocating nothing less than the overthrow of the government and Constitution. No one can stop you from holding that opinion, but now the ball's in your court. Whatcha gonna do besides not vote?

#19 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 04:08 PM:

Hope you two get to feeling better. I've kept stopping by, and stopping by...trying to distract myself from anticipation of my trip to Scotland tomorrow (*glee*), but nary a new post has appeared. Glad to see you post before I go (*gibber*), and take care of yourselves!

#20 ::: James Davis Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 04:15 PM:

Aren't won't-voters willfully chosing to be irrelevent? Or perhaps more irrelevent? So really, declining to engage them in political conversation in any way is merely being polite.

Actually, I can think of some political tendencies I'd like to con into thinking non-participation is a winning game, as long as they can be detered from resorting to violence.

#21 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 04:31 PM:

By the time you're reduced to smashing open boxes of bullets with your rifle butts the world has already turned to sh*t around you.

#22 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 04:38 PM:

McDuff: what plausible scenario can you lay out in which increasingly reactionary governments lead to electoral reform? Do you seriously believe, as I understand elements of the Left once did (and may still), that at some point the People will Rise Up in Righteous Anger and make things the way you want them to be?

Outright revolution is unlikely to be the answer; from France to Iran, revolutions against local authority by and large make matters worse -- because once a revolution starts it moves by the biggest guns or the loudest voices, not the sanest people. (Nicaragua might be a counterexample -- but from the first Nicaragua had critics looking over its shoulder, insisting that the revolution meet the standards it had espoused. Who do you think will do that to the US? And do you really want to live under two generations of Somoza to get there?)

For all that Nixon, Reagan, the two Bushes, and Clinton could do to sully the presidency, it is still idolized by a large fraction of the US, which makes it an excellent pulpit. (Partly to make sure it continues to get idolized; for all the smear artists and revanchist Nixonites in the Republican party could do, they couldn't even get everyone in their own party to vote Clinton guilty of impeachable offenses, and the attempt probably made Clinton the only recent 6th-year president whose party gained.) Putting someone at the top to drag the political center of gravity away from the self-comforting lies of Shrub and company looks like the start of moving the electorate -- which is still the name of the game. Or do you believe moving away from the two-party system will reduce pandering to get elected? From what I see, multiparty parliamentary systems just make the pandering more precise, then put the power decisions back into smoke-filled rooms, instead of asking each voter to pick the one individual who best represents them. (And yes, that approach has its own problems; I'd be very happy to see preferential voting instituted. But who do you think is more likely to support such a move -- the man whose party has consistently opposed making voting easier, or his opponent?)

You doubt that Kerry won't be "different enough". Different enough for what? Different enough to make a paradise on earth? Different enough even to raise most of the world's people out of miserable poverty? Different enough even to drive the viler members of Congress back to the caves they crawled out of? Different enough to put something resembling a decent judge in each available slot? (Yes, Clinton got half his nominees blocked by Congress -- but none of the half who got through were as bad as many of the types that have gotten through with Shrub in power.)

I don't even believe your worry that the ]Left[ will relax without Shrub to kick around; it certainly didn't relax during Clinton. (And Kerry at least is not a creature of the DLC, and strikes me as less likely to "triangulate" a Congress led by members of his party, should he be so lucky as to get one.) I can see arguing that the liberal side didn't take Gingrich and his fellow bomb-throwers seriously enough in 1994 -- but I don't see anyone making that mistake the next time the Man on a White Horse shows up promising the moon.

On a less shrill note: I'm curious about what you consider an appropriate trade position. There's a large gap between traditional tariffs and the (generally left-of-center) argument that something has to be done to prevent US companies from sending US jobs abroad -- this is a situation that traditional trade economics doesn't even cover. And the positions of Kerry and Edwards are a long way from the target-the-swing-voters position of ]your[ Mr. Steel Tariff.

#23 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 05:21 PM:

Aren't won't-voters willfully chosing to be irrelevent? Or perhaps more irrelevent? So really, declining to engage them in political conversation in any way is merely being polite.

They're saying "whatever the majority decides is OK with me." And then later they complain about how what the majority decided is NOT OK with them. (If they don't, that's another thing; but IME they usually do.)

While I agree that not conversing with them is polite, I question whether being polite is an appropriate response in this case.

#24 ::: James Davis Nicoll ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 05:52 PM:

I don't seem to have the hang of threading or quoting in this medium. Sorry.

What I really mean by 'polite' is 'efficient'. They don't vote, they don't matter, they may as well not exist except that they take up space and use air. Their existance has no utility. Debating with them on this subject wastes limited time, time that can be better used in some other way, like getting to potential voters first so as to convince the proto-voters that defeatist apathy is not a viable political stance, at least not for the side relying on defeatist apathy.

Originally I had 'young voters' up there but hell, if an eighty year old suddenly wants to jump into the trenches, more power to them.

My main problem with voting is that by itself it is not enough. Only being involved once every four or five years to vote (or nine months, whenever Joe Clark is PM) is unlikely to be enough to defend one's interests if those interests are at all different from the perceived averaged interests of the riding population (Or the plurality that voted for your guy). That's an argument for _more_ involvement in the political process, not less.

#25 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 06:01 PM:

A few thoughts aha --

I am quite familiar with Nader's record and reputation, including what seems to be the canonical list of bills that Nader influenced, lised in the aricle you cited. I am also familiar with the legislative history of some fo these bills.

-- In a number of these bills, Nader was only one of many persons and groups involved in the legislative process, and not always a particular important one.

-- As the title of the article itself points out, Nader's main direct legislative effect was in the 1960's through early 1970's -- thirty years ago. Since then significant work has been done by a variety of groups that he is associated with, but these groups are generally led by someone else, not Nader.

There are a variety of career paths in Congress, and the options available are different for members of the Senate as opposed to the House. All legislative staffs do constituent work, and some members, especially in the House, specialize in that. They tend to be long term members that are lead authors on smaller measures that affect their area. There are issue leaders in both Houses -- Kennedy is a good examnple of that. These members tend to be the main force behind major pieces of legislation, and build the most impressive legislative records. Then there are members that specialize in investigation and oversight, as Kerry has. These members tend to be in (sub)committes such as Government Operations or Intelligence and often have formidible expertisse in the area but rather brief legislative records -- you measure your success by scalps, not laws passed.

I suggest you start with this story from yesterday's CS Monitor, which includes this:

As a fourth term US Senator, Kerry's legislative record is modest; Few bills bear his name. His 6,310 Senate votes, mainly liberal, have enough twists and turns to invite charges of inconsistency. But his signature investigations were models of dogged, even relentless focus, and may tell more about his persona and likely attributes as a president than anything else he has done in his 19 years in the Senate.
His probes included tracking illegal gunrunners to the Reagan White House (1985-86), drug traffickers to Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega (1988), and Mr. Noriega's dirty money to BCCI and some of the top powerbrokers in Washington (1987-92).
"Every one of his investigations is about holding government accountable and forcing Washington to change official reality to conform to the facts on the ground," says Jonathan Winer, a top Kerry aide during these investigations. "He did it year after year after year. One investigation led to another."

Being a good investigator, even as a Senator, means preferring reality over comfortable fiction, and insisting that others face reality as well. His voting record is about as liberal as could be found in someone who has survived in the Senate over the past couple of decades. I don't consider myself a fan of Kerry's, but he'll do nicely all the same.

#26 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 08:00 PM:

Re "things have to get worse before they can get better"

Politically, has tbis ever worked? Anywhere? Sit back and wait for things to go completely worms, and have the Multitudes come in and beg for leadership?

Most likely, the Multitudes would regard those waiting for things to get "bad enough" as collaborators or worse.

Those expecting a "revolution" (bloody-shirt variety, not metaphorical variety) seem to be uniformly butt-ignorant of the history of real revolutions. (Summary: nasty)

"You should never have your best trousers on when you go out to fight for freedom and truth."
-- Henrik Ibsen

#27 ::: Kylee Peterson ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 08:09 PM:

Stephan wrote:
When push comes to shove, there are *lots* of Americans with all the raw brainpower of canned pineapple.

I've started to think that people aren't really as dumb as all that. Example: I grew up in rural Washington state, am reasonably intelligent, and had one militantly Democratic and one apathetic parent. Despite my parents, I grew up thinking that taxes were a mean thing the government did to us for no reason. That way of thinking just crept in. The idea is probably more prevalent where I was than in many places, but there are a lot of places like that, and a lot of people never happen to examine their knee-jerk reactions, or don't have enough counterexamples.

A lot of people start out indoctrinated like that. Then they don't learn to value information, so they don't seek it out, so they're more vulnerable to the manipulation that's being pulled on them. And it is manipulation. If immunity to being fooled is the standard for intelligence, I know I don't make it either. There's a problem, but it's not that they have no brain power, it's that they don't care about being informed.

(Sorry for the poor composition today. It's hard to type with a big bandage on the cat-mauled finger.)

#28 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 09:28 PM:

Teresa: You and Patrick both be careful. I thought I was over it and it leaped on me again this morning. Apparently this is typical of this particular bug. Fortunately this go 'round seems less vicious than the first. Though the cough is starting to get chesty again dammit.

MKK

#29 ::: McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2004, 09:29 PM:

Chip:

Can I lay out a convincing path by which increasingly radical presidents pave the way for electoral reform? No, I can't. However, I also doubt that you can lay out a convincing path by which electoral reform can ever be achieved as long as the two major parties in the USA both benefit so strongly from the mutual backscratching agreement that locks everybody else out of the game. The only "electoral reform" which has been carries out with any degree of enthusiasm over the years by either party is the bipartisan activity of Gerrymandering. As far as outright revolution goes, I don't want to take up too much room in the comments section, so let's leave this at "you must be kidding me."

However, we should take a look at what has happened and try and work out what has gone wrong. Of course we should not allow the front lines to be breached as a warning to convince the troops to fire back, but the front lines are already breached, and have been for some time, and the electorate are still unconvinced that they should pick up those guns and start shooting.

Let me put it another way. Election 2000, the lies over Iraq, the USA PATRIOT Act, CAAPS II, Guantanamo, Ashcroft. All these things should have been a wakeup call to the American electorate. Yet despite all these things, if Kerry wins it will not be decisive, it will be hard fought and close up to the edge, right to the end. My belief that it will get worse before people are truly woken up is not an ideological belief, it is an observation of what is actually happening. I've spent the last three years trying to work out why on God's Green Earth it should possibly be the case. It's not something I believe should happen, it's not something I want to happen, it's not something I think has to happen. It's just what I think WILL happen. Kerry or no Kerry, we're not out of the woods anytime soon.

By all means, vote for Kerry. Bush, contrary to your assumptions, is not "my" Mr Steel-Tariffs, and I am as keen to see the scary Triumvirate of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft removed from power as anyone here. However, I do not believe that a vote for Kerry is a vote for anything other than damage limitation. I've got nothing against damage limitation. Damage limitation is good! It doesn't make things "get better". If he is voted in, it will be by the narrowest of margins and he will likely be handed two houses tilted against him and an electorate still in thrall to nationalist sentiment, always sculling below the surface of American Patriotism, that has been inflamed and brought to the surface by Bush's rhetoric. You say the left was not idle when Clinton was in office. We got Bush anyway. Excuse me for not dancing the Victory Jig.

In short, although I think Kerry will be better, I do not think he will be better enough to matter in the long term and prevent the remission into nationalism. I think he will provide breathing room, with which the electorate will get bored before adopting a new nationalist darling who whispers sweet nothings into their ear and tells them that they're special.


As far as Trade goes, I think that Kerry and Edwards are definitely pandering. "I'm for jobs!" Well shove rhubarb up my arse, I'm so suprised that someone's running for office on that ticket! Seriously, though, I've checked out both candidates websites and the list is depressing. Strengthen international IP, "break down trade barriers" in SE Asia, gang up on the Chinese/Japanese... it sounds like the 19th Century all over again. It's like Chang and Stiglitz never happened.

I'd prefer it if people were actually serious enough about international trade organisations to strengthen them in such a way that enabled them to genuinely develop emerging markets, rather than "one rule for the rich, one rule for the poor" systems as they currently function. The long term benefits of ensuring that developing economies can successfully transition to developed, rather than being stuck in the "developing forever, never quite making it" loop, would be immense for the global economy of which we are a part. However, I'd also like a naked lady to give me a million dollars. I've got a feeling monkeys are going to fly out of my butt before either happens this decade.

#30 ::: Ray ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 08:59 AM:

"If you want to completely replace the system, then not voting is a legitimate response -- but by itself it isn't going to accomplish anything. Let's be realistic, if you think that the United States is so badly flawed that voting can't fix it, then you're advocating nothing less than the overthrow of the government and Constitution. No one can stop you from holding that opinion, but now the ball's in your court. Whatcha gonna do besides not vote?"

Joe Hill's ghost drifts over from Electrolite to whisper "Organise".

'Don't vote, it only encourages them' is a frivolous way of making a serious point. The problem with participating in elections is that it legitimises the belief that this is how you change things. And the argument is that this is not actually how change happens.

The laws that are passed are not down to how nice the officeholder is, they're a reflection of the balance of forces in society. To change the law, you change the forces. Organise a union. Organise an anti-war campaign. Set up a local branch of NOW. And then get active _yourself_ on the issues that concern you. Hold public meetings, deliver leaflets, write letters to the paper, occupy public buildings - whatever you can do that you think will be effective.

The advantage of this method is that you are in control of what you do, and you're not relying on someone else. Instead of spending your nights delivering election leaflets to get someone elected, who then turns around and breaks every promise they made, deliver leaflets that address the issue that concerns you. Because those election promises will be broken, we all know it. There is no way of holding someone to a mandate, your only recourse is to wait another four years to the next election. And when that comes around, it'll be back to "Gee, I don't believe Candidate A when he promises X and Y, but Candidate B doesn't even bother to lie that he'll support X and Y. I guess I'll only donate half as much this year."

Sure, if you don't vote _and don't do anything else_ than you're not going to have much effect on society. But the same is true if you _do_ vote and don't do anything else. I know, I know, political activism is hard work. But saying 'at least I vote' is like saying 'sure, I don't do anything effective, but at least I do something ineffective'.

(BTW, nobody I know has ever hoped that things get worse so they'll get better)

(written in haste, so a little intemperate, but the suggestion that non-voters are choosing irrelevance is also more than a little dismissive)

#31 ::: Rich Puchalsky ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 10:08 AM:

If you really want proof that you should vote, you have to turn to game theory.

First of all, there is no signal that you are sending by not voting. No one really cares what the percentage of people not voting is; it is assumed that they are apathetic, and all that really matters is who wins the vote. So there is no benefit to not voting, and the individual cost of voting is only the time you spend actually doing it.

The individual benefit of voting is harder to determine. No major election is really won by a single vote. However, if any sizeable number of people in a group think that their individual votes don't matter, their side will lose.

So what you really have is a form of economic free rider problem, or perhaps a Prisoner's Dilemma, where "cooperating" is voting, and "defecting" is not voting. If everyone else on your side cooperates, and you defect, then you get the maximum individual benefit -- your side wins, and you didn't spend any of your time voting. However, if many people on your side make the same calculation, and defect, then everyone on your side loses. If everyone cooperates, then everyone pays the cost in time of voting, but your group has its best chance of winning.

The rational thing to do, since you don't know how many defectors there will be, is to go ahead and vote. You can object that "your group" does not have a candidate, or that no candidate will advance your real goals. But if the available candidate makes any incremental advance towards your goals that is worth more to you than the cost of the time spent voting, you should go ahead anyway. Only if you truly believe that none of the candidates will put you any closer to your goals is it worth while not to vote.

Nader made an argument for the last statement with his bits about there being no difference between the two parties. Of course, anyone with normal observational capacity, who is not completely ideologically blinded, can see that this isn't true. If they can't see this, then everyone is probably better off with them not voting.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 10:28 AM:

I think that "Things must get worse before they can improve" is a case of the post hoc fallacy.

#33 ::: Ray ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 11:26 AM:

The costs involved in voting are more than the time it takes to go to the polling station. There is also the time and energy you spend on primaries, on fund-raising, on following election minutiae, talking to your friends and colleagues about voting, and on, and on, and on. All of which could be spent somewhere else.

The game theory example doesn't reflect reality, any more than Paschal's wager does. If you decide that voting is how you change the system, then that will have effects on other aspects of your political activity. The potential change is not just to the outcome of the election, but also to, I don't know, public awareness of freedom of speech issues in your area. Similarly, deciding to believe in God is not a win-win situations, because although you might end up in heaven, you'll have to swear off some debauchery in the meantime.

#34 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 12:25 PM:

The problem with participating in elections is that it legitimises the belief that this is how you change things.

This is a hard argument to answer, since we still clearly have the environmental protection of Kyoto and a surplus and no one plans to gut social security and hundreds of US soldiers aren't dead and thousands aren't wounded because we're not at war in a country that was already contained and the World Trade Center is still standing because terrorism was kept on the front burner despite all the people who voted for Bush and Nader, who were willing to dispose of all those things as acceptable costs of doing business on their priorities.

I mean, imagine if those people had gotten what they voted for. I shudder to think.

I'll have to think about it some more, I guess.

#35 ::: tomb ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 12:38 PM:

To change the law, you change the forces. Organise a union. Organise an anti-war campaign. Set up a local branch of NOW. And then get active _yourself_ on the issues that concern you. Hold public meetings, deliver leaflets, write letters to the paper, occupy public buildings - whatever you can do that you think will be effective.

Organizing on issues is good. By all means organize. But it's not an argument for failing to follow up and vote. In addition to lobbying the government, we get to exert control over who is in it. We can change the law by changing the lawmakers.

#36 ::: lou ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 01:25 PM:

"Things must get worse before they can improve"
Um, I have two words for that: Supreme Court. and if anyone has read the stories out of the Blackmun papers and is still convinced that Kerry won't be an improvement over Bush, then, honey, you're getting what you deserve. It will get worse -- for a lifetime, not just four years. Remember JP Stevens is hanging on by his fingernails, and Sanda Day O'Connor looks downright liberal in comparison to the folks Bush would put on the bench in her place.

#37 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Another idiotic motto like "Things must get worse before they can improve" is "People have to hit rock bottom before they can get better."

It seems to me that this encourages people who are struggling to give up until things *really* get bad. Heck, lots of people seek and receive help when things are just starting to get bad then they don't have to hit rock bottom.

And really, isn't the point we are at bad enough that we don't really want to see worse?

Sara

#38 ::: Becky Maines ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 04:37 PM:

The Democratic Party seems to feel it has a divine right to the votes of progressives, and so focuses all its energy on trying to be all things to everyone else, at the expense of the values the party used to represent. It seems perfectly reasonable for someone else to attempt to either force the Democrats back toward the left, or replace them with a genuinely liberal party (as has happened to parties in teh past), which is the long-term goal of a Nader candidacy.

However, and I say this as someone who voted for Nader last time for that very reason (don't bother with the "Bush is your fault" crap; my state went for Gore), a Nader candidacy will backfire in that if Kerry loses, rather than reassess the direction of the Democratic Party itself, that party's leadership will have a convenient scapegoat.

And that is why I wish Nader had chosen to sit this one out.

#39 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Ray, I agree with your point on organizing, enough so that I put some time and money into the Dean campaign last year, and will be doing the same for Kerry this year. I've always felt passionately about certain issues, but it wasn't until the 2000 elections that I got scared enough to actually put my shoulder to the wheel.

And, to take another whack at the straw man, it wasn't because things have hit rock bottom. The state of the nation could get a lot worse than this. I'm acting so that it won't.

But I still would rather see action combined with voting, as opposed to action combined with non-voting, simply because I trust revolutionaries even less than I trust the electorate.

(Throughout this whole thread, I've been hearing the voice of Saint John of Liverpool as the background music...)

I think that most people, without being aware of it, are small-d democrats for reasons of self-interest. I want to make sure that everyone has the vote, even the people I think are idiots, because otherwise someone might think I'm an idiot and take the vote away from me.

#40 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 06:23 PM:

or replace them with a genuinely liberal party..., which is the long-term goal of a Nader candidacy.

Oh really? Well, then why isn't he running under the aegis of a party?

#41 ::: Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 06:44 PM:

I suspect that "people have to hit rock bottom before they can get better" is easy to believe in because "rock bottom" can always be defined as "the point at which I was before I got better".

#42 ::: MD ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 08:23 PM:

The Democratic Party seems to feel it has a divine right to the votes of progressives

Actually, it seems more and more that progressives feel they have a divine right to exclusively control the Democratic Party.

Which, I guess, is perfectly fine. The Republicans certainly wouldn't mind making their big tent just a little bigger. George W. Bush certainly wouldn't complain about the hard, tiring work of finding something -- anything! -- that the voters of South Carolina might find unappealing about Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. There might be a few million poor people with no health insurance and a higher tax burden who would have some random complaints, and maybe there'd be a few grieving widows whose husbands got shipped home from Syria or Iran in boxes (in the interests of national security, of course), but hey, as long as Ralph Nader's happy, isn't that all we need?

Sufficiently advanced progressivism will never be satisfied. Take Canada, for example, home of the New Democratic Party. This is a party of social democracy, founded on progressive ideals and fighting hard for the poor and disadvantaged, for minorities and labour. New Democrats were the ones who introduced universal health care to Canada; New Democrats were the first to speak out in favor of gay marriage; New Democrats have consistently been championing the people against the powerful. Why, even the name sounds like what Ralph's after, doesn't it?

And how do Canadian progressives feel about the NDP? You're about to say that they've all rallied around the NDP and worked hard to expand its base of power, and that this proves that Ralph has a point about giving people a genuinely liberal choice, right? Oh, you! You should be on Jay Leno with that hilarious comedy. Of course all ten provinces and the country as a whole have their own Green Party. The NDP is just too damn conservative for some people, which only makes sense, given the way that gay marriage, marijuana legalization, the Kyoto accord, and universal health care are the issues that Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms championed every single day of their political careers. True progressives feel that they just can't trust these raging right-wingers, so Green it is!

The NDP-vs.-Green experience illustrates that moving further to the left to keep the leftmost happy is a never-ending process. Start down that road and you will never stop. (And if you don't heed that warning, when you do stop, no matter how far down the road you've gone the leftmost will break off from you anyway.) Better, and easier, to wave goodbye and go back to winning an election by appealing to the other 97% of the citizenry. Of course, the Democrats will move that much further to the right to do so, but hey, once the Naderites have taken their basketball and gone home, by definition they are not on your side, and when they give friendly, cheerful advice about what the Democratic Party must do, it should get the same weight and consideration as friendly, cheerful advice from David Brooks, George Will, or Rush Limbaugh.

#43 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 10:19 PM:

However, and I say this as someone who voted for Nader last time for that very reason (don't bother with the "Bush is your fault" crap; my state went for Gore)

Gosh, I'm sorry it didnt work out for you.

You own your hostility, or it owns you.

#44 ::: Rich Puchalsky ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2004, 10:37 PM:

Ray writes: "If you decide that voting is how you change the system, then that will have effects on other aspects of your political activity."

Well, don't decide that then. The game theory analysis of whether you should vote doesn't depend on you having decided that it's how to change the system. It does depend on you finding some incremental benefit in having one candidate win over another. Which I think that there almost always is.

Ray also writes that the cost of voting is greater than just the cost of the time spent actually voting, because you have to vote in primaries, talk to friends, study records, and give contributions. Well, no, you really don't have to do any of those things. You can choose to not be involved in any other way than going to the booth and voting on a party-line basis.

#45 ::: Mr Ripley ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 03:56 AM:

I've known one or two non-voters who did good political work in their communities. But it was rare that such people tried to claim a moral high ground on the basis of non-voting. They just regarded the process with a mournful sense of futility, having been worn down by seeing their ideals so often defeated. Surely that's a state of mind many of us have been tempted by.

On the other hand, the student Marxist-Leninist Organization where I used to live (which had, I should acknowledge, done some good work in mobilizing people to call attention to social injustices) once plastered the campus with flyers to the effect that you must refrain from voting, but to refrain from voting won't do you any good if it's prompted by apathy: you must actively refrain from voting, and do it for the right reasons. How can one interpret that gibberish except as the manifestation of a belief that when the milennium comes, you'll be judged by your purity of heart? ("Back then, it was the genius of the Stalinist mindset to reduce every political discussion to an argument about motives" --Saul Bellow)

Hope you improve with alacrity, Teresa. Heck of a way to spend Purim.

#46 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 04:00 AM:

One of the traditional explanations of the disaster at Isandlwana is that the resupply of ammunition failed, partly because the ammo boxes needed screwdrivers to open.

Yet the hard physical evidence is that ammo boxes were getting to the troops, and being opened. More, the design of the ammo boxes deliberately allowed them to be broken open, in a more or less controlled way, by a rifle butt.

It's tempting to compare the ammo box myth to Florida-2000 and the electoral system, and the fiddle with fixes to that problem. But the Zulus won because of incompetent British leadership, which essentially fought the wrong battle. Deploy the army properly, and remember the alternatives to screwdrivers.

Hmm, the thought of the energetic application of rifle butts to a few political problems is rather tempting....

#47 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 06:49 AM:

Of course, after Isandlwana, the Zulus had a stock of modern British rifles and ammunition, and swept onwards to annihilate an understrength detachment of Engineers at the hospital and trading post of Rorke's drift...

#48 ::: Ampersand ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 11:12 AM:

I voted for Nader because my number-one issue in 2000 was how sanctions on Iraq were harming Iraqi civilians; I thought that neither Gore nor Bush was an acceptable candidate. It's not clear to me that things would be better now had Gore been president. It'll take many years before it's possible to judge if invading Iraq will have been a net benefit to the Iraqi people.

Of course, 2004 is not 2000. I intend to vote for Kerry in the national election, unless the election's outcome seems like a foregone conclusion in November.

Still, I think Ray is right - the really significant political activism, for progressives, is organizing outside of electorial politics.

#49 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Jakob wrote:
> after Isandlwana, the Zulus had a stock of modern British rifles and ammunition

Where did the Zulus find screwdrivers to open the boxes with?


Regarding Nader: I'm going to go ahead and condemn folks who voted Nader in 2000, even if
their states went Gore.
At least in my circle of more-or-less lefties, we were sending email back and forth reminding
each other of times in the past when a split vote ushered in a *total* moron. I was flabbergasted
when people equivalenced Gore and Bush about anything-- having read Molly Ivan's _Shrub_, I
would have voted for Charles Manson before George W.

But to get back to castigating Nader voters: the problem was that everything that made Nader look
like he had a hope in Hell, or at least was a meaningful protest vote, drew voters away from
Gore. This includes Nader supporters in states like California-- pre-election polls showing Ralph
was garnering a few points of the vote made voting for him *thinkable*. Any individual Nader voter
may never have been polled-- but supporting a candidate to ones circle of friends spreads the
idea around until it starts showing up in polls.

Actually, the whole idea of a protest vote strikes be as being as silly as a a toffee spear. You
don't like either of the candidates; great. In that case, why bother voting at all? I guarantee
you that Bush the Lesser didn't take office thinking, "Gee, more people voted for leftists
like Gore and Nader than for me. I'd better make sure I don't do anything to piss off the tree
huggers."

#50 ::: McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 04:27 PM:

MD,

What you're driving at? There will always be people on the left of the spectrum, and they'll never be happy, so we should just ignore them and concentrate on "the other 97%"? Well, far be it from me to point out the fantastically obvious, but there are plenty of people on the right, it appears, who will likewise never be happy no matter how much they are pandered to.

I don't see why the whackjob Religious Right should have such an easy ride of it, with everyone bending over backwards to show how God-Fearin' they'd be while in office, if we're then going to ignore the loopy left. Both extremes are stuffed full of nutters, why give preferential treatment to the conservatives over the progressives?

Hell, I think any progressive voter who has a choice of Centre-Right Candidate A or Centre-Right Candidate B has a right to complain that there's nobody on the ticket who adequately represents their views. Nobody likes voting for the lesser of two evils, no matter how much they may suck it up because the evil of the two lessers is particularly unwanted.

#51 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 07:54 PM:

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

#52 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2004, 09:18 PM:

McDuff wrote:
> Hell, I think any progressive voter who has a choice of Centre-Right Candidate A or Centre-Right Candidate B has a right to complain that there's nobody on the ticket who adequately represents their views.

This is true. However, I also have the right to complain that my hairline isn't what it used to be, and blueberries tasted better in the old days. But I have a *responsibility* to vote for the candidate who *best* matches my views. There are six billion people on the planet, and the only one who agrees with me on everything is me. (And that's only on a *good* day.)

#53 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Wishing your health better with each day. And wishing clues to those who've never actually had to deal with electoral politics at the state (or national) level beyond voting....

#54 ::: MD ::: (view all by) ::: March 07, 2004, 06:22 PM:

> Both extremes are stuffed full of nutters, why give preferential treatment to the conservatives over the progressives?

If I was an arch-conservative, and had just seen four years of Al Gore doing his best to wipe away everything I held dear all because the rightmost 3% of Americans had gone chasing a mirage that promised them the moon, the stars, and a pony, I'd tell that rightmost 3% the same damn thing.

But I'm not a conservative. And they didn't throw away their candidate (who, to the surprise of nobody, made them a lot more happy than unhappy) for a pot of message. They get "preferential treatment" because they earned it by correctly deducing that their self-interest is best served by acting in their own self-interest.

#55 ::: Becky Maines ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2004, 02:13 AM:

McDuff wrote:
> Hell, I think any progressive voter who has a choice of Centre-Right Candidate A or Centre-Right Candidate B has a right to complain that there's nobody on the ticket who adequately represents their views.

Stephan wrote:
>This is true. However, I also have the right to complain that my hairline isn't what it used to be, and blueberries tasted better in the old days. But I have a *responsibility* to vote for the candidate who *best* matches my views.

And I write:
The logical conclusion, then, is that if the major party options included, say, a George W. Bush-like candidate and a Pat Buchanan-like candidate, liberals should vote Bush? Obviously, that particular race isn't happening; my point is that in 2000 there was NO major party candidate who "best" matched my views. And I am old enough to remember when there were, and the Democratic Party was fielding them (and I worked actively for many of them); my views have, if anything, become more moderate with time, so it's not that I've left the party--the party's left me. Some may think that everyone who doesn't like the direction of the Democratic Party is a far-left nutter; I don't think that's necessarily the case.

My hope in 2000 was that with a high-profile candidate perhaps the Green Party could begin to become the party for all of us the Democrats who feel left behind. No luck, but it was worth a try.

I am also old enough to remember (boy, am I feeling old!) when Reagan was elected, and there was a lot of doomsaying on the left about how he would drag us into nuclear war, abolish minimum wage, etc. We lived through the Reagan years. And in 2000 after Bush was anointed, I figured, well, we survived Reagan, we'll survive Bush.

Might have been a bit too sanguine there.

But I still don't regret using my vote for the candidate who best represented my viewpoint.

I had to laugh at Joe Lieberman's approach: that the Republicans couldn't attack him in the same way as the other candidates, because he agreed with them on the things they criticized the rest of the Democrats for. At least that didn't fly.

Meantime, everyone jumped on the Kerry bandwagon as "the guy who can beat Bush." I've nothing against Kerry, but I do think the premature finish to the primary season deprived us all of an opportunity to hear multiple viewpoints and approaches debated and tested.

And let's not forget all those people who voted for Bush in the first place. I know a guy who votes Republican because he felt it was the major party that most closely represented (before now) his libertarian views. He's not happy. But the rest of the Bush voters I know are perfectly happy with W. I can only shake my head.

#56 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2004, 03:41 AM:

The logical conclusion, then, is that if the major party options included, say, a George W. Bush-like candidate and a Pat Buchanan-like candidate, liberals should vote Bush?

Well, yes. "Vote for the crook: it's important."

#57 ::: Stef ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2004, 10:01 AM:

I agree with Ray - voting is necessary but ineffective and insufficient if I am not happy with the choices and I'm not doing anything to influence who and what gets presented to vote for. If I want to influence the direction of the political discourse and political decisions, I have to participate in organizing.

(Note, I find politics sufficiently distasteful that my only participation in organizing is giving money to large groups that support positions I agree with, and I think that's probably fairly ineffective...but more effective than voting.)

I'll also add that it's important political action to participate in discussions about politics and about what the world should be like. Otherwise no one will know what I believe and what I believe won't matter and I won't have an opportunity to learn from others and revise my beliefs.

In the US, sadly, one has to work pretty hard to find political discussions in which people are actually informed and in which more than one belief is represented.

Mr Ripley, that is what "actively refrain from voting" means: talk to people about why you're not going to vote. Make the notion of not voting for a political reason a part of the public discourse, present people with an alternative other than "not voting can only mean not caring." (I don't agree with the notion of not voting as a political protest, but I have some emotional sympathy with it. Then again, I regularly cast protest votes. I rarely vote for a major party candidate for US President. I suspect a lot of people consider my behavior one of a piece with the not-voting-Marxists.)

#58 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2004, 01:41 PM:

"Do the people lining up for gay marriage know about this phenomenon?"

I just caught my "domestic partner's" bug, so I, at least, am aware of it.

Let me not to the marriage of true influenza viruses admit impediments . . . .

#59 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2004, 09:28 PM:

I'm not sure I agree with the comment about the early end to the primary season. As a Californian who, until this last round, had no real say in the primaries, because we didn't vote until June, it has always seemed to me that by Super Tuesday the selection was pretty much sewn up.

What I did see this time around was a lot more debating of the issues, and all in the search for that elusive, "electability," when, as Patrick said, with a modicum of facts to lay before the public, Charlie McCarthy ought to be electable.

In other fora I have to watch people who claim to hate Bush, excoriating Kerry as someone they can't support (even though they may vote for him, but that is far from clear). That sort of thinking baffles me. If one thinks Bush is bad (and they claim to) then the better is, well better, and what is better is worth praising.

I've been quoting this, “See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII) to myself lately, and to those who want perfection in their candidate I quote it aloud.


Terry

#60 ::: DM Sherwood ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2004, 08:31 AM:

See your POV the go for broke option appeals to the romantic in me but ...
Hope they can zap whatever bug you've got

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.