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July 2, 2007

Get Out of Jail Free
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 08:28 PM *

The headline at CNN is Scooter Skates.

The headline at MSNBC is No Prison.

The story at McClatchy reads:

President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Monday, keeping him from serving a two-and-a-half year prison term meted out in the CIA leak case.

Calling the sentence “excessive,” Bush’s last minute commutation came after a federal court refused to allow Libby to remain free pending the appeal of his perjury conviction. Libby, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the CIA leak case still faces a $250,000 fine.

More to come…

Isn’t obstruction of justice a High Crime and Misdemeanor? Can we impeach the stupid SOB now?

Comments on Get Out of Jail Free:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Yes.
We should.
I called and e-mailed my congressman this afternoon and said that I want them impeached, and I want their hides on the wall. Also e-mailed both my senators (all three are Democrats).

Emptywheel put it well: not only does Scooter walk, Shrub lied when he called it excessive prison time, because the sentence was in the middle of the recommended range. And Libby never expressed any sign of remorse, either. (How many sentences has Shrub commuted in the last seven years, anyway? Ten? Fifteen? He doesn't do it for people who've done the full remorse and restitution bit; why should Libby get it?)

Can we do an official change of national flag, to the Black Flag of piracy? Seeing as we're not a nation run by lasw but by influence?

(I'm planning to stay p*ssed off for, oh, two or three years. Or until we get a lawful good administration again.)

#2 ::: Victor S ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:21 PM:

Wow. Not even the hint of a fig leaf. Not even a quiet word after a month or two. It beggars belief.

#3 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:31 PM:

See, Scooter's a good man, not like that Karla Tucker woman.

#4 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:34 PM:

Impeachment? Whoa there sport, it's not like there was a blowjob involved or anything. Keep some perspective, people.

Seriously though, let's just throw out the pretense that we're still living in a Democracy right now. We're just going through the motions.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:45 PM:

'If someone gives him a blow job, can we impeach him?'

(Probably only with video of it being done, on the South Lawn, at noon, on Sunday, with Laura, a dead boy, and a live sheep also present.)

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:49 PM:

If it takes a blowjob I'll give him the blowjob myself.

#7 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:53 PM:

The prosecutor in the case, Fitzgerald, had a brief comment:

CHICAGO Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the Republican-appointed federal prosecutor in the Plame/CIA leak case, released a brief statement tonight, after President Bush commuted the prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

It read: "We fully recognize that the Constitution provides that commutation decisions are a matter of presidential prerogative and we do not comment on the exercise of that prerogative.

"We comment only on the statement in which the President termed the sentence imposed by the judge as 'excessive.' The sentence in this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country. In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing.

"Although the President’s decision eliminates Mr. Libby’s sentence of imprisonment, Mr. Libby remains convicted by a jury of serious felonies, and we will continue to seek to preserve those convictions through the appeals process.”

#8 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:55 PM:

Some additional perspective, from former US Pardon Attorney Margaret Colgate Love, Begging Bush's Pardon:

But pardoning has fallen on hard times. Bush has been more sparing in his exercise of the constitutional pardon power than any president in the last 100 years, including his father. He has pardoned only 113 people in more than six years in office and denied more than 1,000 pardon applications. He has granted only three of more than 5,000 requests for sentence reduction from federal prisoners. Many hundreds of applications remain to be acted on.

By contrast, six years into his presidency, President Reagan had pardoned more than 300 people and commuted 13 sentences — and that was at a time when federal prisoners could still hope for parole. Going further back, President Nixon issued 863 pardons and 60 commutations; President Ford issued 382 pardons and 22 commutations; President Carter issued 534 pardons and 29 commutations.
And Libby scoots to the head of the line somehow. Figures.
#9 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 09:55 PM:

The Times opinion piece is up already, and it's lovely.

#11 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:03 PM:

I really like the last sentence of the NYT op/ed:

"He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell."

Libby will no doubt be offered a sinecure at Heritage or AEI within days, along with a "loan" to pay the $250,000 fine.

#12 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Proposed Constitutional amendment:

Section 1. The President shall not, without the consent of Congress, grant a pardon or reprieve for any felony which was committed while the felon was an employee of the executive branch.

Section 2. The President shall not, without the consent of Congress, grant a pardon or reprieve for any felony in which the felon was an accomplice, accessory, or co-conspirator with a felon described in Section 1.

Section 3. The President shall not, without the consent of Congress, grant a pardon or reprieve for the felony of obstruction of justice, when such a felony impedes the investigation of a crime described in Section 1.

Can any of the legal beagles improve on the wording here?

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Seth: You might post that over at The Next Hurrah or at Firedoglake. They have lawyers reading and commenting.

#14 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:20 PM:

And over at Talking Points Memo, I learn that a full pardon would have left Libby with no Fifth Amendment right. This way, he still doesn't have to answer questions.

Neat.

#15 ::: Rich McAlister ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:32 PM:

Stephanie@14: Don't see the 5th as being a big deal; can't convict him again for the same offense anyway, and Fitzgerald already determined there's not enough evidence to charge him with anything else. So giving him immunity wouldn't actually be giving him anything. On Countdown, John Dean even suggested Fitzgerald should do that -- grant Libby immunity, and ask him all the same questions again. If we get different answers, we learn something; if we get the same answers, convict Libby of perjury again (new offense.)

#16 ::: Joyce Reynolds-Ward ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:37 PM:

I can hardly wait to see John Dean's commentary on Findlaw.

Trying to e-mail my rep--Earl Blumenauer. The server's not responding. D'ya suppose there's a lot of reaction going on right now?

God. I thought I'd already gone through this in 1974.

#17 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:40 PM:

What does it say that the only thing about this that is surprising to me is the fact that it was a commutation, and not a full pardon?

Seriously, there is nothing this administration could possibly do to surprise me at this point.

Wake me up when the tanks start rolling in the streets (which I reckon will happen sometime around November 3, 2008)...

#18 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:43 PM:

Scooter done bad things,
But he lied for chimp's Bestie:
I can has pardon?

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Actually, there is a legal-technical question as to whether the President - any of them - has the authority to commute a sentence. The Constitution says he can grant only reprieves and pardons. (FWIW, since these guys are ignoring it anyway.)

#20 ::: C. A. Bridges ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 10:52 PM:

They do. The Supreme Court interpreted it to mean the President can pardon, partially pardon, commute, respite sentences, remit fines, etc. Check out the DOJ's page on it.

#21 ::: Kyle ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:02 PM:

And have Cheney assume the Presidency? Really?

#22 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Rich McAllister@15: It isn't that Libby's first-amendment right protects him from further prosecution; it is that it shields him from being compelled to testify about his accomplices' crimes.

#23 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Before beginning impeachment proceedings, I'd like a list of the 67 senators likely to vote for conviction. That's the same question I asked in 1998 re: Clinton. The Republicans seemed to expect a huge sweep in the 1998 elections that would have given them 67 or more seats in the Senate; when they didn't get it, they were left with their pants down. Assuming all the Democrats vote for it plus Bernie Sanders, who are the remaining 17?

I don't like the idea of impeachment for several reasons. First, since I assume we're not seriously proposing President Cheney, a double impeachment is unprecedented. Even had Clinton been convicted, we'd still have had President Gore. However wrongly, a lot of people will see this as a power grab by the Democrats.

Second, we're looking at most a year off the Bush/Cheney administration (I can't see the process taking less than 6 months). Third, what if Bush is convicted but Cheney is not? President Cheney again.

#24 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:21 PM:

At this point I feel that there are so many things that Bush *needs* to be impeached for -- not needs in the sense that it'd be good to have him gone, or needs in the sense that they are clearly, unmistakably impeachable offenses, but needs in the sense that Bush's getting away with this will do grievous, probably permanent harm to the republic -- that I feel like impeaching him once would not even be sufficient. Whatever we impeached him on, it would imply that the many other crimes -- high crimes, the highest of crimes, crimes against our beloved country (not to mention so many others) -- he was skating on.

How could we not impeach him for the signing statement, by which he has openly announced his intention to wantonly disregard the very laws he was signing, attacking the very structure of our constitution?

How could we could we not impeach him for his admitted spying on American citizens in direct violation of FISA and the fourth amendment (the extent of which remains wholly unknown, although it is likely to be not simply for security, since those would have clearly been approved by the FISA court)?

How can we not impeach him for sanctioning torture, in direct violation of American law, the Geneva conventions, and the basic principles of morality?

How can we not impeach him for imprisoning American citizens without trial, in defiance of habeas corpus -- indefinitely?

How can we not impeach him for running secret prisons around the world, sending prisoners off to be tortured in other countries, picking up random civilians (many picked out randomly by bounty hunters) and holding them indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay?

And how can we not impeach him for waging an aggressive war based on false claims -- a war that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, not to mention thousands of Americans -- a war that is surely, finally, the greatest of his many crimes?

Not to mention whatever secret crimes this most secretive administration has committed without public knowledge.

Obstruction of justice? Of course. Nixon was going to be impeached for it; Bush should be to.

But it's not enough. It leaves to many crimes -- high crimes, the highest -- unanswered.

That they were committed wounds the republic. To leave them unpunished would wound it permanently.

But how unlikely is it that he will be impeached even once?

And even if a miracle occurs and he is -- it would not be enough. It could not be enough. Not enough to restore our country to us.

At this point, I don't know what would. Or if anything can.

#25 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:28 PM:

No kidding? The President of the United States can pardon (etc) convicted offenders simply as an exercise of his executive power? And, if I read the comments correctly, this act is not subject to oversight or reversal by the Congress or the Courts? And he can do it without formal advice from anybody?

Good grief. The Governor-general here can pardon felons convicted in Federal courts, but only on the advice of the Executive Council - essentially, of the Cabinet. No one person has that power, and if Parliament were to demur, it could rescind such a pardon by legislation. At the very least a Parliamentary debate could be forced by the Opposition. Is no such procedure possible in the US?

#26 ::: Anthony Ha ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:30 PM:

Stephen Frug @ 24: Well said. It's not going to happen, but it's nice to dream ...

#27 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:44 PM:

Dave@25: You got it.

As to the checks and balances you hear about; well, Congress is supposed to have the power of subpoena for oversight, and the power of the purse to cut off unwanted action --- but Dubya has signalled his willingness to flout both. Neither of those is applicable to a pardon, though.

Beyond that, there's only impeachment, and even given perfect party discipline among Senate Democrats (including Lieberman!) that would also require finding seventeen Republican Senators who'd put loyalty to the Constitution above loyalty to party. Which, in this day and age, is probably asking too much...

#28 ::: Sean D. Schaffer ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:45 PM:

This is some pretty scary stuff. I haven't liked Bush for some time; this basically gives me even more reason not to like him.

I know he has the prerogative as President, but like Uncle Jim points out, obstruction of justice is a crime unto itself. The President of the United States should be no more immune to the implications than any other citizen.

#29 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:49 PM:

If Bush isn't impeached, what can anyone ever be impeached for?

I haven't seen anything like this since the Saturday Night Massacre.

#30 ::: Greg Machlin ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2007, 11:52 PM:

23, Alan: You make good points--in fact, up until today I was thinking pretty much along those lines; but I would certainly support the impeachment of Cheney. Get him out, anyway. He's ignoring Article II. High Crimes, bitch.

What I'd really like to see is the following poll, with the following preface:
1) George W. Bush has almost certainly committed high crimes and broken the law.
2) Despite this fact, it is extremely unlikely that any Republican Senators will vote to remove him from office, even if there are mountains of evidence to convict.
Knowing these two facts--that Bush is guilty, but that he won't be removed--would you support impeachment and a trial anyway?
(one could modify this to include info on why impeachment is important re: historical importance, the evidence a trial will uncover, the possibility of prosecuting Bush in 2009, etc.…)

ARRRRRRRGHHHHH. I can't believe this is happening.

#31 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:19 AM:

I used to think President Bush was at least a common sense man, thats the only view of him I hadn’t changed so disrespect. But all things change, and now I realize Bush, and his horrible henchman, have no honor anymore. They only watch over themselves, breaking the Constitution’s back with every decision, pushing the carefully chosen powers to their limits. Their offices used to hold basic respect, but they have sapped all that away, for power, for money, for whatever else they saw fit.

Let us choose this time as our start, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This isn’t simple politicians doing the normal politicians job. This was a drop in a already overflowing bucket that has the threat of drowning our great republic.

Let us fight back now. By protesting, by contacting elected officials, tell them this isn’t going to stand. Tell them the name Bush, will resonate as ten times worse as Nixon. For Nixon only brought his corruption upon this nation. Bush has brought his stupidity and lust for power, upon the entire world, putting us all in grave danger.

#32 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:23 AM:

James Madison, "father of the Constitution", specifically cited impeachment as the remedy for this kind of Presidential misconduct at the Constitutional Convention. But hey, given the Bush boys' rad ideas about the Geneva Conventions, I'm sure they've got some wonderful things to say about that much earlier Convention in Philadelphia...

#33 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:34 AM:

I expected a pardon, not a commuted sentence. I'm just as pissed off as I would have been had Bush pardoned Libby outright. A pardon would have said; he's guilty, but he's my guy, and I'm pardoning him because he was loyal to me, and because I can. F**k you. The commuted sentence says, He's guilty, but he's in my tribe and people like me don't have to serve time, even when we're guilty. We're better than that. F**k you.

Seth, tinkering with the Constitution for this is a waste of time, though I approve the sentiment. P J, I kind of like the flag notion... Black flag, yeah -- with an upraised middle finger printed on it.

#34 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:46 AM:

When the history of this sorry time is written, I hope the #%^$%^$ donkey-#$%#$%%$# panty#$%#$# chewer of genital warts who LET BUSH'S PERSONAL LAWYER slip into the A.G.'s office get all due condemnation.

Really, what were they thinking?

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:13 AM:

I don't think you're going to get an impeachment on issuing a pardon (commutation?). But man, how I'd love to know what sort of pressure was applied by Libby and his friends to get this done now. What was Libby going to spill?

#36 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Can I suggest this post by Kung Fu Monkey as wonderful reading on this topic? It might even be the first step of a General Theory of the Bush Administration.

A small taste of what the post says:

According to the Dictionary of Video Game Theory, an "exploit" is... "a case where a player knowingly uses a flaw in a game to gain an unfair advantage".
[SNIP]
[T]he Cheney Administration has discovered... the "exploit" within the United States Government. As I watched Congressmen and Senators stumble and fumble and thrash, unable to bring to heel men and women who were plainly lying to them under oath, unable to eject from public office toadies of a boot-licking expertise unseen since Versailles, it struck me. The sheer, simple elegance of it. The "exploit".

...and I'll leave it on that cliff-hanger, in hopes people go read it.

#37 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Dave #25: The American Founders were of their own time, which meant that, despite their successful rebellion against the Crown, they still hadn't entirely rid themselves of the notion that a King was a necessary component of a functioning government.

Michael #31: (blink) Common sense? Bush, possessed of common sense? I would have thought it was obvious long ago that he is a narcissist -- a kind of psychological dysfunction that is essentially incompatible with reality.

#38 ::: Robert Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:30 AM:

Unfortunately for him, Mr. Bush is not in a position to choose a successor who will, as Gerald Ford did, pardon his predecessor for any crimes he might have committed during his presidency.

I was daydreaming this afternoon and I thought of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

And I thought: what if, when 2009 rolls around, the way you get out of being prosecuted for your role in caging black voters or selectively prosecuting "vote fraud" cases or corruptly obtaining a no-bid contract from Homeland Security or, you know, imprisoning and torturing innocent people, what if the way you avoid prison is to sit before a commission and relate, in as much detail as needed, exactly what you did, why it was criminal, and why you believed that you would never be held to account for it?

Really, it's not that important to me that the President of the United States be impeached by the Senate. What's important to me is that Americans learn unequivocally what the men they chose to lead them really were. They are not going to learn of the contempt in which this Administration holds them through ritualized name-calling in Congress.

I have more extreme and unlikelier fancies from time to time. I like the one where the Democratic candidates for President travel en bloc to the Naval Observatory to tell the man who lives there that if he refuses to cooperate with them they'll let Interpol and the ICC know that the United States government will neither interfere with nor protest the extrajudicial rendition of American citizens accused of war crimes during the second Gulf War.

#39 ::: Dvi Frnk ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:38 AM:

Wht lt f prdctbl nnsns frm y msrbl fls.

Lbb's sntnc s cmmtd. Prhps y'd lk t rvst Mrc Rch's prdn, h?

knw, knw.....thr's BG dffrnc btwn th tw, rght? Bt, lt's nt lt th fcts gt n th w.

Y scrmrs r lsrs. Y hv msrbl lv tht scrm t t b lvd nd prjct ll yr scknss n Bsh, prtndng t knw hs mtvtns. Y dn't vn ndrstnd yr wn.

G hm, tk shwr brk. Y'll fl mr nrgzd t g t nd thrw p sm mr, ll th whl cngrtltng yrslfs tht y r spkng th trth nd tht y ll hv th cntr's bst ntrst t hrt.

LRS!

[posted from 68.96.232.47]

#40 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:47 AM:

When David Frank is disemvowelled, maybe I'll understand "You have miserable live that scream out to be lived" better.

#41 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:49 AM:

The reason Bush commuted Libby's sentence, rather than pardoning him, was to leave him his Fifth Amendment rights. He needs those because he's still filing appeals. If the judge had let Libby stay out of jail until the appeals were finished, Bush probably wouldn't have done anything now.

And yes, David Frank, as I said on the previous thread, Democrats pardon people important to them, too.

#42 ::: Dvd Frnk ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:57 AM:

B, Jff. Y gt m n spll chck. Hw pntrtng!

s tht ll y gt? Ths whl ffr.... cmplt wst f txpyr mn. CMPLT! nl fddr fr th ntllctll lz.

Cncl th spcl prsctr....prmnntl!

[posted from 68.96.232.47]

#43 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:12 AM:

My one sort of... against the grain comment here is this:
Libby had absolutely no reason to blackmail or threaten Bush to get this commutation. There is no "fear of what Libby would squeal to get out of jail."
Why? Because Bush is not a "let'em'swing" type of guy. His whole presidency has been an exercise in mutual back-scratching. Libby's a friend (even, it seems, a loyal one), Bush has the power. The deal is done.

What I wonder, is if Marilee @41 is right... if the judge had let Libby stay free until the appeals were over... would Bush have held his tongue? Would Libby have gone to, and stayed in, jail because Bush was out of office by the time the last appeal is finished? Would Bush have pardoned him on his last night? It's all pointless speculation,

Lastly, the idea of "Libby is suffering enough" from the fine, and the loss of his public office, and legal career is sort of jaw-droppingly lame. I can't even find a word better than lame... it's just... calls out for eye-rolling and teenaged epithets.

#44 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:14 AM:

I hope that all will be calling the WH tomorrow to publicly, and politely express their displeasure with the commutation. Correntewire has posted a number of numbers from the WH b/c it is uncertain if we can get through on the main numbers, especially as they shut them down today.

WH phone book

#45 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:27 AM:

It pains me deeply to say it, but we will never get the kind of closure we want on Bush or any of his immediate cronies. Even assuming the Democrats have the guts to try going after some of the criminals that Bush has enabled, they're not going to get many of them, and certainly none of the big fish, most especially not Bush or Cheney. The Bushies have gamed the whole system successfully up to now, and ill-gotten gains will pay for one large boatload of lawyers, allowing them to continue to game it.

There may be something we as a country can do about long-term damage control, though. The single biggest task ahead is to root out all the little bushes who are trying to slither in to the system now; the ones who are trying to control the military with religion and corporate graft, or to control the media by buying it up and telling it to lie to us 24x7. We need to convince this country that the Bushies, both present and future, are more dangerous to us, and better organized and funded, than Al Qaeda. They've certainly done more damage to our institutions, and may have killed more people, than Al Qaeda.

#46 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:36 AM:

Bruce @ #45, one of the things I heard today (maybe it was Linda Greenhouse of the NYT on Fresh Air) was that roughly 2/3 of all judicial appointees now in office were put there by Republican Presidents. It's going to take a long time to replace them.

#47 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:34 AM:

I was in the midst of composing an answer to Mr. Frank and wondering how long it would take Our Hosts to disemvowel him. Glad to see TNH beat me to the draw.

Jane

#48 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:48 AM:

Absolute Power
The Emporer has no clothes
America weeps

#49 ::: daly juavez ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:57 AM:

For Christ's sake! This admistration should be working for the people and abide to the constitution of this country.
We really should fire these bastards. They have not been doing the job they made an oath for!!!

#50 ::: Brad Mathews ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:31 AM:

I found it hard to believe but it's true. The United States is now a third world country with a dicktator at the helm. May God have mercy on your souls.

#51 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:44 AM:

Well, that clarifies the US legal system usefully for us non-Americans. It was already clear that civil cases and many criminal ones came down to "who has most money?" It's now also clear that the law claims no moral standing, and is simply a question of "we'll enforce it or not according to our opinion of you." This is no real suprise, since that's the way foreign policy has been working for most of the junta's period in office. But now there's no room for doubt.

#52 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:13 AM:

As the Bushies continue to whine "Marc Rich, Marc Rich" they never mention that Rich's lawyer that negotiated for the pardon was none other than Scooter Libby.

It's damned obvious now that that little affair was just another trap for Clinton. The machine would have been on him now just as much for denial of that pardon as it is for the granting.

#53 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:53 AM:

The United States is now a third world country with a dicktator at the helm.

I don't know if this was a typo or a deliberate pun... but it's perfect.

#54 ::: Mary Newlon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:21 AM:

What does Mr. Libby have on this administration? I would guess a great deal of information that needs to be kept close to the chest.....thus, no prison time and maybe time to get the whole thing appealed. Of course, some money may have to enter into the deal?

#55 ::: Mary Newlon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:21 AM:

What does Mr. Libby have on this administration? I would guess a great deal of information that needs to be kept close to the chest.....thus, no prison time and maybe time to get the whole thing appealed. Of course, some money may have to enter into the deal?

#56 ::: Mary Newlon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:21 AM:

What does Mr. Libby have on this administration? I would guess a great deal of information that needs to be kept close to the chest.....thus, no prison time and maybe time to get the whole thing appealed. Of course, some money may have to enter into the deal?

#57 ::: GiacomoL ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:38 AM:

Well, I only hope this will finally force someone in "Deep America" to rethink their allegiances.
The Republican party successfully killed the Republic in less than a decade. I wonder if they'll change their name... "the Oligarchic Party" sounds catchy enough, and I'm sure people will keep voting them while hoping that, one day, they will be oligarchs too.

#58 ::: Mike G. ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:42 AM:

PJ Evans @ 1:
>(I'm planning to stay p*ssed off for, oh, two or
>three years. Or until we get a lawful good
>administration again.)

Do you really think the next administration will be "lawful good", whether it's Democrats or Republicans?

That seems extremely unlikely, given how messed up both parties are.

#59 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:43 AM:

Tony Hendra is in the running for bluntest (and perhaps best) one line summary of this affair: War Criminal Commutes Sentence of Convicted Perjurer at Behest of Traitor.

#60 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:50 AM:

P.J. @ #1, you blacken the name of pirates by comparing them to this crew of jackanapes. Honestly, even pirates were more democratic; they at least had a code.

#61 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:54 AM:

I think if we can't get rid of Cheney first, removing Bush from office would be disastrous. And I'm not sure we can get rid of Cheney first.

On they other hand, impeaching Bush and not removing him from office would be a good thing in itself. Not as good as kicking them all out and putting them in prison for life (I'm against the death penalty on principle, even though several of them clearly deserve it), but a step in the right direction.

They can't surprise me with their scumminess any more. There's no limit to their perfidy, no vileness to which they will not stoop.

Apparently, however, they can still surprise me with their blatancy. They're not even pretending to follow the law any more.

#62 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:01 AM:

Every time the Shrub's administration convinces me that they can't get any lower into the moral cesspool, they surprise me and sink deeper still.

#63 ::: RCastle ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Anyone who does not believe this deal was done months and months ago... Libby takes the fall and gets out of jail free. 250,000 dollars to this group is beyond laughable.

#64 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:13 AM:

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64.12.116.201

#65 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:17 AM:

What is Bob on about?

Is this another one of those posts that's going to make more sense disemvowelled?

#66 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Third world healthcare, third-world election-rigging, third-world justice ....

The reactions to Scooter's get-out-of-jail-card from the republicans are depressingly enthusiastic --- isn't there even one person on that side who can muster a tut-tut?

#67 ::: Bushless ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:19 AM:

"I don't understand what everyone is so upset about."

You wouldn't Bob -- you wouldn't...

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Of course Bob wouldn't. He wouldn't even understand why commas generally go after a word instead of before one. Not that understanding the rules of punctuation automatically lets you understand the Rule of Law, but someone who can't even bother with the former is almost guaranteed not to grasp the latter.

#69 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:42 AM:

#29 JDM: If Bush isn't impeached, what can anyone ever be impeached for?

Well, he certainly can't be impeached for this.

Article II, Section 2:
The President ... shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Anyway, let's look at the history here. There have been three serious attempts to impeach Presidents.

Andrew Johnson was impeached essentially over the fight with the Radical Republicans over how "hard" Reconstruction was to be. This was a political fight. They almost got him, missing conviction by one vote, as I recall.

Richard Nixon was about to be impeached for a whole raft of things that almost certainly would have led to his conviction; he resigned and was pardoned by Ford. Should Ford have been impeached for pardoning him?

Clinton was impeached because the Republicans hated his guts; obviously political from start to finish. It was a joke and they never came close on a conviction.

Impeach Bush if you want (as someone asked though, where are the votes?), but you're not going to get him for performing an act he is specifically empowered to perform under the Constitution.

My advice is to just get through the next 18 months without blowing a gasket.

#70 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Bob, that's low tactics. We all know Rethuglicans are illiterate jerks, but your imitation goes beyond parody.

You want Bush's supporters to look like a pack of inbred, mouth breathing, synaptically challenged cretins, sure. But you don't have to work quite so hard at making them sound that way, especially under the current administration. Combining the punctuation mistakes with the random spaces, misspellings, creativity with the past and general ranting is overkill - who's going to believe it?

I mean, really. Who is going to believe that even WonderMonkey's minions are so utterly lacking in feck?

Next time you try and mimic a Repuglycan, ratchet the rhetoric down a notch. Seriously.

#71 ::: C.MacLean ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:47 AM:

People, people. You're just not thinking 4th dimensionally.

This is not about Libby's prison sentence being excessive (it was). This is not about Bush showing utter disdain for the law or the separation of powers (he does). And this isn't even about Bush kissing Republican party a** (he is).

This is about PROTECTING DICK CHENEY.

As long as the focus is on Libby, and to a lesser extent, on Bush, it keeps the focus OFF Cheney.

What does it tell you when the president is working this hard to protect the vice president? (and FYI, Cheney learned the secrets of real VP power from none other than Georgie's daddy, Bush the Elder, who was Nixon's CIA director and Reagan's VP. Cheney just didn't learn the stealth lesson well enough.)

People - it is not Rove, Ashcroft, or Rumsfeld:

it is Cheney, Cheney, Cheney.

If we're going to impeach someone, let's make sure we get the right guy.

Soon.

#72 ::: DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Yes it that and contempt of Congress and Contempt of the American People as well- I know the last isn't a recogmnised Felony but it SHOULD BE.
If we had a half decent press there'd be special editions devotedto this & Hour long specials on CBS. Even Nixon wasn't this bare-assed.

#73 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:08 AM:

DaveL@69 --- James Madison disagrees with you about impeachment as a remedy for pardons of accomplices to Presidential crimes, as I already noted above.

#74 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:08 AM:

I think Cheney, like some fantasy vizier behind the caliph's throne, prefers to work clandestinely, cloaked in darkness, if this article in the Daily Telegraph is anything to go by.

I say, impeach Bush by all means, flush Senator Palpatine from cover and let his machinations be played out in the public eye, rather than hidden in an obscured office.

#75 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:08 AM:

C.MacLean@71: BINGO!!! This is all about Cheney.

Last night, while watching Olbermann, I half-remembered a story I read a long time ago, enough that I don't remember either author or title. It was (I think)about an arms dealer who finds out that the lake in his property, inhabited by a mating pair of swans, protects the world from perpetual war. At the end of the story, he orders the swans killed and the lake drained.

That's Dick Cheney. Evil for profit's sake. It's freaking terrifying.

Patrick one honored me by putting one of my quotes in his sidebar. I don't think it's operable any longer. America seems to have forfeited its greatest products and all it has left is the gun. God help us.

#76 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:13 AM:

Shorter Bob (#64):

A Democrat had sex[1], and another may have driven while drunk[1] and injured someone while so doing[1], and that means that the law does not apply to Republicans.

[1] And obviously this is only a minor peccadillo wrong a Republican does it.

#77 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:16 AM:

DaveL #69: Well, you are likely right that you aren't going to be able to impeach Bush for giving Libby the Get Out Of Jail Free card. But the reason isn't constitutional, it's political. See #32 from "Charles Dodgson".

Pardoning a confederate to hide a President's own illegal actions was specifically mentioned by Madison as grounds for impeachment when the issue of the Presidential pardon power was first being debated.

#78 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:19 AM:

sed 's/wrong/when/g'

#79 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Ideally you would impeach them both, but if you can only get rid of one... President Cheney.

Bush without Cheney would be activated by random petty spite, which is scary enough in a President... but that is still a little better than outright purposeful evil.

#80 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:36 AM:
Should Ford have been impeached for pardoning him [Nixon]?
Probably not, since as you point out, he had the authority to do so. But he most certainly should have been hounded out of office at the next election and gone down in infamy as the man who let Nixon off the hook. The fact that he wasn't - that he was actually praised for what was, until recently, one of the most corrupt acts in American history - seems to me to indicate that the fix was already in, in the American media, that long ago.

Nixon was out, but with impunity, and Ford kept business running as usual. Sound familiar?


Things like this make me wonder whether it is still possible to repair democracy in the United States, or whether my loyalty to those principles the US was founded on - you know, liberty, democracy, rule of law, separation of church and state - would be better served by going somewhere where those principles are still respected and upheld. (If there is such a place.)

There's nothing special about American land or the American people, but there once was something special about our government and political traditions. Can we get that back? And if so, how?

#81 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:42 AM:

I continue to insist -- wearily -- that an attempt to impeach Bush and Cheney ('cause you know we'd have to get then both out) would be a very bad idea. First of all, it wouldn't work. Second, it would rip the heart out of the hope for national reconciliation led by President Obama. (Yes, I still have hope that there will be reconciliation, though it's pretty clear that about 25% of the country is just lost to authoritarian and/or militaristic dreams.) Do I want Bush and Cheney gone. Oh God yes. But Congress won't do it, and the MSM for sure will not cooperate with such an effort, and without the media impeachment will go nowhere. Clinton was impeached with the shameless, vicious, gleeful cooperation of the media. Given that, the question is, how can the Democrats use the political process to limit further damage to our country? Repeal the Military Commissions Act. Investigate everything they can: pre-war intelligence, spying on Americans, the firing of the federal prosecutors, Cheney's office, Guantanamo, everything. Unite (insofar as they are capable of doing so) around a candidate for 2008. Hold the line on conservative federal judges at any level. Filibuster if that's what it takes to keep them out. HOLD the line on attacking Iran. Don't authorize it, don't fund it.

#82 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:45 AM:

C.MacLean @ 71

What 'excessive sentence' are you talking about? Libby got one that was within the sentencing guidelines for the crimes of which he was found guilty - those same guidelines that the Republicans keep saying are too lenient. He would have been in a minimum security prison (not unlike the one Martha Stewart was in) for maybe two years, allowing time off for good behavior.

Bush has obstructed justice by allowiing Libby to not serve a day of his well-earned sentence, and Libby gets to keep his right not to incriminate himself in testifying in court or before a committee. This is part and parcel with the obstruction of justice that Libby did in blocking the investigation of Ms Plame's working identity being revealed. Since Cheney was pretty clearly involved in that, and probably Rove, Bush and Cheney clearly benefit personally and directly from keeping Scooter from telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

('Soft on crime' Democrats? Cr*p. The GOP just showed their true colors, which are 'it's okay if you're one of us'.)

#83 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:57 AM:

I'm not that much in favor of national reconciliation. It was reconciliation when Ford pardoned Nixon, and that's part of what landed us in this mess we're in today.

Had Nixon and his cronies done jail time we likely wouldn't have seen Cheney or Rumsfeld on the national stage.

I'm at the weary place where I think that if impeachment isn't an option that armed insurrection is the alternative.

#84 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:19 AM:

#81:

Repeal the Military Commissions Act.

Vetoed (or signed with a statement indicating that he'll continue to run military commissions when he judges it necessary for national security).
Investigate everything they can: pre-war intelligence, spying on Americans, the firing of the federal prosecutors, Cheney's office, Guantanamo, everything.

Stonewalled. What are you going to do, prosecute administration officials for perjury and obstruction of justice? They know they won't do any jail time and someone will pay their fines under the table.
Unite (insofar as they are capable of doing so) around a candidate for 2008.

This, I think, would be precisely the wrong move. They need to let the people choose a nominee (and no more of this Iowa and New Hampshire crap - with all due respect to people in those 2 states, the other 48 would like a voice now too. A national office needs a national primary, on the same day everywhere.) Back-room "unity" would just make them look like another party of corrupt fixers. If the Democratic Party stands for democracy - prove it. Let voters, not campaign contributors and not party officials, choose the nominee.

Yes, the media will savage them - but that's a given no matter what they do. Most mass media in this country are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Republican Party and that will continue through this election cycle regardless of what the Democratic Party does. So just live with it. Fix it in '09. Until then trust the American people to know bullshit when they smell it, at least one more time.

Hold the line on conservative federal judges at any level. Filibuster if that's what it takes to keep them out.

OK, but for the most part, that horse has already left the barn. What do you do about all the people already on the bench who won't let the laws or Constitution get in the way of what they think is the right outcome?
HOLD the line on attacking Iran. Don't authorize it, don't fund it.

He'll order the troops to attack anyway in violation of the law. You know he will. Then what? Prosecute them if they obey? He owns the prosecutor. If you don't give him the money, he'll steal it. And not be prosecuted for it.

You have to stop thinking in terms of laws and legal authority, as if they were an effective restraint on the Administration's behavior. They aren't. This shows that as clearly as possible. Libby is guilty, he's convicted - but he won't be punished. Bush has just publicly proclaimed that anyone who works for him is above the law - and as long as he owns the prosecutors and the commutation/pardon powers, they are. If he orders the suspension of elections, or orders the Democratic candidate arrested on suspicion of terrorism with no public evidence whatsoever... who's going to stop him?

#85 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:26 AM:

But, if you can only get rid of Bush, try having an inauguration ceremony for Darth Cheney which is full of loud and unexpected noises:

Swearer: Do you, state your name, swear to uphold and protect the Constitution from

Cheney: wah, steak-yerch-name, wah wah wah.

Swearer: Scandinavian heavy metal bands

GDANG! GDANG!

Cheney: urk!

Swearer: Random attacks by CGI dinosaurs!

CGI Dinosaurs: ROOOAWWWWR!

Cheney: urk!

Swearer: Being beaten about the head by plastic dinosaurs! *bop* bop*

Cheney: urk!

And so on and so forth, until that damn red glow in his eyes dims.

#86 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:28 AM:

He who has no shame
Cannot be made to suffer
By public shaming.

#87 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:31 AM:

James @ 83

I'll give them a choice:
* Door #1: resignation, with possible criminal charges of various kinds following
* Door #2: impeachment, with possible loss of pensions and other benefits
* Door #3: lots of people with pitchforks and torches

#88 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:33 AM:

IM IN UR OVUL OFFIS

HELPNG MY FRENZ

#89 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:43 AM:

*loads up some Billy Bragg*

*sets iPod to stun*

#90 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:56 AM:

I say screw impeachment. Keep the focus on the @ssh0l#s you can actually convict. Force Bush to pardon someone every month. Keep working up the food chain till all that's left is a White House staffed by pardoned convicts, plus Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.

And have The Hague deal with those last three. They aren't felons. They're war criminals. I'm starting a collection to buy three plane tickets for those 3 jokers, departing the day after inauguration. One way.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:56 AM:

Kagro X found this:

“The following is from a report written and released by the Judiciary Committee in 1974 in the aftermath of the Watergate crisis.

In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to “pardon crimes which were advised by himself” or, before indictment or conviction, “to stop inquiry and prevent detection.” James Madison responded:

[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty…

Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected.”

#92 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:58 AM:

Dave @ 76 -- Thank you. Seriously. I wasn't being all that snarky when I asked what Bob was on about; I couldn't parse most of that comment. I could tell it was something like BUT THE CLENIS!, but couldn't follow much else.

#93 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:09 PM:

George III Dun Took Mah Buckit

I'm too offended by this whole situation to say anything in words... even if my NDA (which expires after the heat death of the universe) didn't seem to limit my comments to the largely irrelevant.

#94 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:17 PM:

"Law exists for those who are not wealthy, white, Republican men." -- The Gospel according to St Dick Cheney.

#95 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:20 PM:

#73 Charles Dodgson: James Madison disagrees with you about impeachment as a remedy for pardons of accomplices to Presidential crimes, as I already noted above.

Yes he does (though I think Madison is speaking of the President as an accomplice, not the other way around), but if you read the whole section of the report (and the footnotes), you'll find that his position was hardly universal even then. Madison was generally a maximalist on the breadth of the impeachment power.

The precedents on the use of impeachment and the pardon since then have gone against him.

#96 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Pardon me for fixating on a very minor point, but ...

WHY is the White House general contact number turned off??

It can't possibly be because the Resident knew just how much outrage this decision was going to stir up and, as with everything else, doesn't want to hear it??

The image of Shrub sitting in the Oval Office (oh wait, he's NOT EVEN THERE) with his fingers in his ears and eyes screwed shut going "LALALALALALALAICAN'THEARYOU" doesn't even give me a giggle. That's how sad this whole situation is.

#97 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Chris at 84: You have to stop thinking in terms of laws and legal authority.

But we were talking about impeachment, which is the legal remedy provided in the Constitution for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. If you don't want to impeach, and you don't seem to like my suggestions much, what do you suggest we do? Do you want to go right to the pitchforks?

Also, in suggesting that the Democrats unite behind a candidate, I didn't mean to imply that they should short-circuit the primary process. I'd be pissed as hell if they were to do that, because the fixers and power brokers in the Democratic party want Hillary Clinton to win, and I don't want to have to vote for her. But once the choice has been made, I want serious party unity, and someone should stuff Joe Lieberman in a bucket.

#98 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 12:55 PM:

Someone who is good at linking, please link to Kung-Fu Monkey. The guy's on fire. Or go look yourselves.

BTW, Jim, when I suggest we're going to need reconciliation, I wasn't talking about everyone holding hands around a campfire and singing Kumbaya. Hell no. Let's impeach Gonzalez. Let's de-fund the f**king VP's office. Let's expose the folks who ordered Abu Gharaib. Let's indict everyone we can indict... I like the idea of forcing Bush to pardon everyone who ever worked for him, one after the other, month after month, as we get closer and closer to January 2009. Let's get creative... But I think impeaching Bush is tactically a waste of time, the Rethuglicans will not do it.

#99 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:08 PM:

Jim MacDonald @29: I haven't seen anything like this since the Saturday Night Massacre.

Really? I'm thinking this isn't as bad as Poppy Bush's 1992 Christmas pardons of the Iran-Contra conspirators.

#100 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:13 PM:

Andrew Sullivan gives us the bumper sticker version: "Paris Hilton did more time than Scooter Libby."

#101 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Bob, you ignorant slut:

18 USC PART I CHAPTER 79

§ 1621. Perjury generally

Whoever—
(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or

(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;

is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.

Any material matter. Since the questions about Lewinsky weren't material (as specfically ruled by a judge later) Clinton didn't commit perjury.

He lied, but it wasn't a crime.

Further, it was a civil case, not a criminal one, so the "justice" he might have been obstructing was private justice, not public.

Never mind that Libby's perjury was about an issue where the national interest of the United States was harmed (bcause we took a setback which will take at least a decade to recover from; in the area of nuclear proliferation. If Iran is trying to make a bomb, some of the places/ways in which they might get more material are now more open to them; as a direct result of this perjury).

George Tenet, Bush's guy at the CIA said it needed to be investigated.

The DOJ, run by Ashcroft agreed.

Fitzgeral, appointed by Bush, did the work.

A Grand Jury found issued a true bill.

A Bush appointed Judge presided.

Twelve citizens, "good and true" heard the evidence, saw the case put on by Libby's million-dollar legal team, and convicted him.

Yep, he was railroaded. It was all political.

One of the people arguing for Libby's commutation (William G. Otis) just argued a case at the Supreme Court arguing, for the Gov't that a guy convicted of lying to a grand jury ought not be given a lighter sentence (because of his good record, military service, and the 80-100 people whose livelihoods depended on him) because the sentencing guidelines are fair and just.

But for Libby, (two and a half years, not five) not so much.

It makes one think the real issue is actually the personal relationship of this convicted felon to the president, more than the question of fairness of sentence.

#102 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Impeachment proceedings against the entire administration - the full cabinet; all the political appointees - have to start. It's the only way to prevent Bush from pardoning everyone.

#103 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Impeachment proceedings against the entire administration - the full cabinet; all the political appointees - have to start. It's the only way to prevent Bush from pardoning everyone.

#104 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Is the Attorney General technically impeachable? I thought that was for judges and elected officials, and that everyone else gets handled by the regular criminal system (or the military justice system, in cases of military personnel serving in the Executive Branch), in which case a presidential pardon could put the AG back in office again.

#105 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:30 PM:

Lizzy @ #98, Easily done: http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com

#106 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Just had a horrible afterthought: can the theoretical impeachment of Dick Cheney be nullified by a presidential pardon, placing him right back in office?

#107 ::: Flamingo Montoya ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Libby is now facing an interesting dilemma. Does he persue his appeal or not?

The advantage of persuing the appeal is that if he wins, he saves a quarter-milion in fines, is no longer a convicted felon, and most likely escapes disbarment. How important this is to this 56-year-old is anyone's guess. His public reputation is already shot, and his connections will ensure he gets a cushy private sector job.

If Libby appeals and loses, it is an endorsement of the trial verdict and he's out a few more bucks.

If he appeals and wins, he gets a new trial. It's quite likely that the trial won't take place until after January 2009. If he's convicted a second time, he once again faces prison time. While I expect Bush to give him an end-of-term pardon in any event, I'm not sure Libby wants to bet my freedom on it.

I find Bush's action entirely consistent with his arrogance, his loyalty to his team (if no one else) and the view that the executive branch (plus Cheney?) has absolute power. At least this time, he did not exercise extra-constitutional power nor violate any international treaties.

I won't be writing my congresscritters to call for impeachment for the commutation. Instead, for the next couple of days I'm planning to watch the Republican Candidates dance.

#108 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 01:46 PM:

>Just had a horrible afterthought: can the theoretical impeachment of Dick Cheney be nullified by a presidential pardon, placing him right back in office.

The pardon power only applies to criminal or civil convictions. Does not apply to impeachment. Unless the Supreme Court rules 5-4 that it does....

Also the Federal authority to pardon does not apply to conviction in State courts. I wonder if any of the stuff this administration has been doing is a felony under the laws of any U.S. state or territory?

#109 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Flamingo @ 107

If his case were that good, he'd have been out on bail, according to the circuit court. (Actually, if it had been that good, he would have gotten off already and wouldn't have needed the commutation.)

The Supremes might let him go, but they'd have to do some tapdancing on the reason, since they just ruled that another guy's sentence was correct, in a case in which the argument was that the guidelines for sentencing were too harsh.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Chris 80: In the universe I live in, Ford WAS voted out of office in the next election. He shares with Bush the distinction of being a President who was never elected at all.

And I clearly remember that the Dems used "the pardon of Richard Nixon" as their rallying cry for that election. They rode public outrage over it into office.

#111 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:24 PM:

30 months in a civilian prison (with visitation rights and plenty of access to your lawyers, family, and the press) after you're indicted by a grand jury, put on trial in a court where you're allowed to present a defense with (presumably expensive and very good) lawyers, and convicted by a jury on four of five counts after full due process: excessive, because "Scooter" Libby has friends.

3+ years in what may as well be an oubliette, with no charges being brought until a habeas corpus appeal is just about to go to the Supreme Court: not excessive, because Jose Padilla is an Evil Brown Person.

#112 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:42 PM:

crln y mst b dmcrt r y hv n cl bt ths thngs tlk bt .

64.12.116.201

#113 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Christopher 111: Yes, the term 'excessive' has certainly been used in an odd way lately. So has the term 'reasonable'.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:44 PM:

Bob you must be a Republican and probably under the age of 16 because you have no clue about these things you talk about.

#115 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:52 PM:

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64.12.116.201

#116 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 02:57 PM:

xphr 'm nt nly wy vr 16 hv grnd chldrn n thr 20s hppn t b 69 yrs. ld nd d knw bt ths4 thngs tht tlk bt .

64.12.116.201

#117 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Bob's posted the exact same comment twice, once at #64 and again at #115, six hours apart. I mean exact, right down to the non-standard capitalization and punctuation.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's just visiting all the blogs he can find that are complaining about the Libby commutation and pasting the same text in.

#118 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:05 PM:

What really gets me is Bush highlighting in his statement that clemency is a power granted to the President by the Constitution. (here)

As though anyone still thought the Constitution had any meaning to that crew? Isn't that just an extra flip of the bird to the rest of us?

That sound bite hasn't been getting as much airplay today, but I kept hearing it last night.

#119 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:06 PM:

Amerika's Ceaucescu and his wife: the Schmuck and Cheney.

Tomorrow is July 4, are there going to be any burnings in effigy of poppets of Schmuck and Cheney and Gonzales and Alito and Scalia in front of e.g. Fanueil Hall as the Declaration of Independence gets read, and/or hung in effigy from Liberty Trees, after tarring and feathering?

George Bush we're poor
We weren't always poor
George Bush each day
We hate your much more
We want our rights
That you took away
We want you [censored] TODAY

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:09 PM:

Well, Bob, maybe if you'd stayed in school when you were 16 you wouldn't write like a halfwitted 15-year-old now. And perhaps you'd know more than 4 things to write about!

But perhaps I'm being unkind. Are you recovering from a stroke, perhaps? Or maybe you live on a locked Alzheimer ward? If so, I'm sorry, but I didn't know they built hospitals under bridges these days.

Bob, perhaps you should search for the word 'piñata' in this blog before posting further. Just a cautionary note.

#121 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:14 PM:

vrm
pstd t bcs xphr sd ddn't knw wht ws tlkng bt nd wntd hn t r-rd t b s h wld ndrstn t .

152.163.100.201

#122 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Don't feed the trolls...

#123 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:18 PM:

bob (favor for favor), I read it and understood it the first time. That's how I knew you didn't know what you were talking about. And you know, there's this funny thing about this thread: I could scroll up if I wanted to read it again.

When you write things, you can read them again. Isn't that cool?

But wait, I'm talking to someone who doesn't even read his own posts bevore posting them, or crap like I wanted hin to re-read it be so he would understan it wouldn't appear. That's what Preview is for, y dt.

#124 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:19 PM:

Bob #121: Do yourself a favour: learn the difference between public and private acts.

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Lizzy 123: DNFTT understood. BTMCIH!

#126 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:23 PM:

What I don't understand is -- what gives Cheney such a hold over Bush? Are there any plausible theories out there?

#127 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Bush can't even TALK without Cheney's hand up his ass?

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:25 PM:

Bush can't even TALK without Cheney's hand up his ass?

#129 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:26 PM:

I oughtn't feed the trolls;

Bob, did you read the citiation I made of 18 USC?

Because if you did, you have to show me how Clinton committed perjury.

If you want to go for the Dems vs Republicans for corruption (and we get to go back pretty far, since you brought Chappaquidick into the fray).

Nixon (not impeached, but on the way out when he resigned), Erlichman, Haldeman, Dean, Mitchell, Hunt, Liddy, and Colson.

Wienberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert McFarlane Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George. Those were pre-emptively pardoned (one wonders what would have come out at the trials). By accepting the pardons, the all admitted being guilty of the charges.

North.

For recent scandals, DeLay, Cunningham.

We also get such charming things as the ongoing Abramoff scandal; while he wasn't a member of the administration, everyone loved him, until he got caught putting cookies into other people's jars.

So, we have a case of stupid behavior as a young man; which was brushed under the rug (shall we talk about Bush's youthful indiscretions... say failure to fulfill his obigations as a membe of the National Guard, and his subsequent reduction by the Air Force to Airman (though he still holds a state comission from Texas, or the; apparent, death Laura caused while drivig drunk? We can lay those against Teddy and Mary Jo. Teddy, at least, admits to what he did), and a non-perjurous lie.

You say this is at least equal to protecting someone/people who made it easier for "rogue states" to get nuclear material, which was done to score political points and make it easier to engage in a war of aggression against a nation which posed no direct threat to it's neighbor, much less the US.

If those are your values of equivalent harm... I hope you never vote.

#130 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Bob, I appreciate your taking time to give a well thought out assessment of this whole Scooter Pardon, er, commutation (though a full pardon hasn't been ruled out).

I take it that your bringing up the idea that Clinton perjured himself didn't get the Democrats to perjur himself is an attempt to point out an inconsistency in the Democrat response. i.e. Clinton perjurs, dems are silent, Scooter perjurs, dems go to court. Doesn't seem consistent. Is that your point?

You of course, are no doubt a bastion of consistency, and I'm sure when Clinton perjured himself you were howling with rage, and when Scooter perjured, your were equally howling with rage.

No?

Hm. That doesn't seem very consistent of you.

Well, of course, when that democract Kennedy did his thing way back when, you no doubt howled at the injustice of it all. And I'm sure when the Republicans recently outed a secret agent, you howled with equal indignation.

No?

Well, I must say it is rather lopsided how your laundry list of historical injustices only seem to list "wrongs" done by democrat politicians.

Ya know, if I didn't know any better, I'd think you were playing hypocritical political games, pointing fingers at the political party you don't like and over looking every single wrong done by the party you support.

Unless, of course, you voted Democrat in the last election. If you did, I stand corrected. If you didn't, then you're more a hypocrite than those you accuse. Or, to use small words so it's perfectly clear: pot, kettle, black.

More likely, you have no problem with Bush lying our country into war in Iraq, saying they had somethign to do with 9-11, they had WMD's, they had al-qaeda. Lying about how many troops it would take, or how long we'd be in there (6 weeks) And you likely have no problem with Bush and company fabricating evidence about yellow cake from Niger, as an excuse to get into a war. And if someone were to investigate those claims and publicly "out" that the president's war really has no clothes, then you also likely have no problem with Bush using whatever underhanded tricks he can use to get back at that person, even if he has to out a covert agent working for the US Government to do it.

A stupid war, and the lies that got us into that war, are not morally equivalent to getting a blowjob.

Sorry charlie, you lost the moral high ground years ago.

#131 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:41 PM:

And what does Bob have to say about Laura Bush having run a stop sign, smashing into the car ahead of her and killing the driver?

There was a pocketbook in the car that Teddy Kennedy drove off the road into the deep water, which belonged to a woman who was NOT MaryJo Kopechne. Apparently the latter was sleeping in the back seat of the car which she had presumably crawled into to sleep off too much partying, and a DIFFERENT woman had gotten into the car with Sen. Kennedy, and the fact that there was someone else in the car...

But I noticed that whenever someone brings up the crimes against humanity of the Schmuck, there's a sidelining with whatever red herring pops up, usually an attack regarding Bill Clinton's penis or something about Teddy Kennedy (notice how they NEVER mention that he served in the Army, that he lost THREE brothers to government service--one lost in action in WWII, and the other two ASSASSINATED while in office, that he survived a an airplane crash that broke his back, that he risked his life trying to rescue poeple in a boat in distress last summer....

#132 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:47 PM:

The Schmuck, Cheney, Gonzales, Alito, Thomas, Rove, Scalia, plus the coterie of Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Fux News Media Personalities, those who orchestrate the slanting of the alleged news on the commercial broadcast station, Rupert Murdoch, etc., are rabid weasels foaming at the mouth running around biting and spreading their noxious infection.

#133 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:47 PM:

The Schmuck, Cheney, Gonzales, Alito, Thomas, Rove, Scalia, plus the coterie of Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Fux News Media Personalities, those who orchestrate the slanting of the alleged news on the commercial broadcast station, Rupert Murdoch, etc., are rabid weasels foaming at the mouth running around biting and spreading their noxious infection.

#134 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Paula Lieberman #s 133 & 134: No weasel was ever as disgusting as that collection of lice.

#135 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Fragano, isn't that an insult to lice as well as weasels? (I, myself, think they have the morals and ethics of Yersinia pestis. Without whatever socially redeeming chracteristics it might also have.)

#136 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:04 PM:

"I did not have sex with that woman."
His penis didn't go into her vagina. A blow job was OUTSIDE the definition of "sex" which was being legally applied.
The issue of "what is the definition of sex" did not involve torturing anyone, arrests without warrants and incarceration secretly in secret jails spread around the world without legal represention and without trial dates, did not involve torturing people to death, did not involve complaints by the International Red Cross about treatment of prisoners and civil rights in multiple countries at multiple locations (Abu Ghraib was far from the only place complained about, there have been reports of mass murder of prisoners summarily trucked out and shot in Afghanistan, for example, without trials, by US contractors, there other locations than Abu Ghraib in Iraq where civilian Iraqis were taken arrested without warrants and without "due process of the law" and physically abused by US military troops and civilian "advisors" (The 10st and/or 82 airborne was involved for example at one particular location....), there is that case of the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman by US solders and the coverup of the incident, there is the general who was tasked with the "investigation" into Abu Ghraib and BLOCKED from looking at the chain for command above the scapegoat weekend warrior Karpinsky... there is the fact that military lawywer went to a CIVILIAN agency overseeing lawyers to make a complaint about Guantanamo because the "chain of command" and the US Government was and continued to abrogate the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice as regards Guatanamo and the operations there....

The Schmuck, Cheney, Alito, Gonzales, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, all those Republican legislators, Clarence Thomas, Anton Scalia.... swore an oath to uphold and protect the Constituation of the United States of America. They are oathbreakers and liars, foresworn, and traitors. How must more mercy and immunity do these evil corrupt destructive destroyer slime get?

#137 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Grg
'm trgd t ll f th pltcns n tdys wrld . Tht s why thnk thy shld gt rd f th 2 r 3 prty systm nd mk th pltcns stnd n thr wn 2 ft . Thy ll vt lng prty lns s wh vr th mjrty s tht's wh wns . sy gt rd f th sl s thy cn ll vt thr wht thr hrt tll thm t .

205.188.116.10

#138 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:21 PM:

Pl
t dsn't mk ny dffrnc dms r rpblcns thy'r ll lrs , nd thy'r ll hypcrts

205.188.116.10

#139 ::: Bb ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:26 PM:

My pnt s rght hr n frnt f vryn . vryn hr s fghtng vr bt Bsh nd hs dccns . SWm r dms sm r rpblcns nd th splt s lng prty lns

205.188.116.10

#140 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:30 PM:

I'll admit to being somewhat conflicted. While I would dearly love to see the current batch of impediments to the government get what they deserve, the arguments about not impeaching Bush because a) we'd get stuck w/ Cheney, and b) it would only tie everything up from now until past next Election Day are fairly convincing. That said, Stephen Frug at #24 gave a list of high crimes and not-so-misdemeanors for which impeachment is unarguably imperative.

What bugs me about impeachment for pardoning Libby is that it gives all of those reasons cited by Stephen a miss, and trivializes the whole exercise. OTOH, one must remember what it took to actually put Al Capone in jail.

#141 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:30 PM:

P J Evans #136: Given the means by which Y. pestis propagates, I think that Dr Johnson's observation 'there is no settling the precedency of a louse and a flea' is apposite.

#142 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:42 PM:

joann @ 141

Everything's tied up anyway. The Republicans in the senate are making sure of it; they've made it clear that they're going to obstruct everything they can until the end of the session or until they're removed from office, whichever comes first.
So we might as well go for impeachment; it can't tie things up any worse than they are now.

Just for amusement: Dan Froomkin in the Post.

#143 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Xopher, or anybody: what does BTMCIH mean?

#144 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 04:53 PM:

I think it would help to take a step back and realize that American politics have always existed on a pendulum. Back and forth, back and forth, forever swinging. If the Presidency of Bush represents a swing too far in one direction, the inevitable result (as we saw with the 2006 elections) is a swing back in the other direction. Bush will be gone by 2009, another person will be in his place (probably a Dem, but I could hope for an Independent) and things will change. Maybe not as fast as we'd prefer, nor precisely to our liking; but then, when is this ever the case with government?

Bush is not the first controversial President to become mired in war and other boondoggles of his own devising. Nor will he be the last. The best thing that can be said, about Bush or Johnson or any of the others, past or present, is that the damage can be more or less muted and repaired, given time and successive elections.

The key, of course, is in cultivating a voting public that a) cares and is b) knowledgeable.

This, to me, seems the far greater task. Because in a democracy, you really do get the government you deserve.

Maybe this will be the one lasting, positive legacy of Bush: a re-energized public which takes its voting responsibility and the issues more seriously? At least for a couple of generations?

Failure to do so can (and will) result in people we don't like making decisions for us that we also do not like. When the voters are asleep at the switch, havoc can sometimes result.

The important thing right now is to not let yourself fall into a false feeling of impotency. I know too many people who just throw up their hands, declare the entire government a sham, and don't bother to vote. This, to me, seems like the ultimate "cut off your nose to spite your face" exercise, and I hate seeing it happen to any American, regardless of political persuasion.

Again, the 2008 elections are just around the corner. With a lively voting public hitting the issues and the polls, by 2010, the American political landscape could look quite different.

Again, my real fear is voter apathy in 2008; that fatalistic sense many Americans have that votes don't matter and that nothing really changes. I think we all sometimes lapse into this kind of cynical attitude, because on the surface it so often appears to be true. But we all need to fight this attitude and believe that, even though it's not perfect, the system still works for us, the average citizens.

If we dislike what the system is doing, or who is in charge, it's up to us to fix it. Our vote is our voice. How wisely shall we use it?

#145 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:00 PM:

I respect e.g. Rep Waxman and some other federal legislators.

Others I have so little postive regard for, that them being hogtied at the bottom of a public latrine as earned reward is about the most generous think I have to say about them.

#146 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:02 PM:

PRV:

We haven't had the press and two branches out of three stacked against us either. We didn't have a Supreme Court that decided to short-circuit the legal processes at the request of a political party that was otherwise losing an election.

I'm not despairing, I'm p*ssed off.

#147 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Bob @ 138 said:

I'm outraged at all of the politicians in todays world . That is why I think they should get rid of the 2 or 3 party system and make the politicians stand on thier own 2 feet . They all vote along party lines so who ever the majority is that's who wins . I say get rid of the aisle so they can all vote their what their heart tell them to .

The two party system is not so much a matter of law as it is a matter of tradition and corporate dollars. Think of the Democrats and Republicans as corporations and the whole thing makes more sense. The advantages of having party backing are overwhelming because the party structures are large and well-funded.

Despite that, any representative can vote his heart. I'm proud to say that my senator used to be Paul Wellstone, and that man voted with a whole hell of a lot of heart. But you know, if you don't work for the company, they won't give you a paycheck. Which is roughly how the party system works. If you don't support the party in the legislature, then they won't support you on the campaign trail. The Democrats are far less ruthless in party unity than are the Republicans. Democrats cross the line more often than Republicans. If anything, in this day and age I'd like to see more party loyalty. The Republicans have proved over and over that they are not the honored opposition. They play dirty. That means that the only reasonable response from the Democrats is to -- play dirty? No. It is to hang together so that we don't have to hang separately.

That's the other thing about political parties. A single man is never as strong as a group. Parties exist to leverage the power of one into the power of many. Because we don't have a parlimentary system, the compromises have to be worked out within the party, and then the two parties have to negotiate with each other. Every representative cannot negotiate seperately with every other representative. There isn't that much time in a term.

#148 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:08 PM:

Bob @ 138 said:

I'm outraged at all of the politicians in todays world . That is why I think they should get rid of the 2 or 3 party system and make the politicians stand on thier own 2 feet . They all vote along party lines so who ever the majority is that's who wins . I say get rid of the aisle so they can all vote their what their heart tell them to .

The two party system is not so much a matter of law as it is a matter of tradition and corporate dollars. Think of the Democrats and Republicans as corporations and the whole thing makes more sense. The advantages of having party backing are overwhelming because the party structures are large and well-funded.

Despite that, any representative can vote his heart. I'm proud to say that my senator used to be Paul Wellstone, and that man voted with a whole hell of a lot of heart. But you know, if you don't work for the company, they won't give you a paycheck. Which is roughly how the party system works. If you don't support the party in the legislature, then they won't support you on the campaign trail. The Democrats are far less ruthless in party unity than are the Republicans. Democrats cross the line more often than Republicans. If anything, in this day and age I'd like to see more party loyalty. The Republicans have proved over and over that they are not the honored opposition. They play dirty. That means that the only reasonable response from the Democrats is to -- play dirty? No. It is to hang together so that we don't have to hang separately.

That's the other thing about political parties. A single man is never as strong as a group. Parties exist to leverage the power of one into the power of many. Because we don't have a parlimentary system, the compromises have to be worked out within the party, and then the two parties have to negotiate with each other. Every representative cannot negotiate seperately with every other representative. There isn't that much time in a term.

#149 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:10 PM:

oops. sorry for the double-post.

#150 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:11 PM:

One note, regarding impeachment:

I think this would be a colossal political mistake for Democrats. The public soured quickly on the Clinton impeachment, and Republicans failed to understand how flimsy their case looked to the average American; whether that average American gave a damn about Monica blowing Bill or not. The Clinton impeachment looked to many Americans like the pure politics that it was, and if Bush has impeachment brought against him over the next 18 months, I believe absolutely that the public will reach the same conclusion: that Democrats are out for political revenge.

What this potentially sets up, then, is a voting body turned off to BOTH big parties. And unless a Ross Perot kind of energetic third party campaign rides into the picture, the voters will stay home in 2008; and that is NOT what this country needs right now.

So as much as I understand that impeachment would viscerally satisfy a great many Americans, I think it would have a larger, mostly negative effect on the future.

Personally, I'd be happier to see Democrats focus all their attention on a, "Life after Bush" scenario, instead of a, "How do we settle the score with Bush" scenario. Short term justice is all well and good, but what happens when the quest for short term justice does damage to longer-term goals and progress?

Food for thought, people.

And no, I am not telling anyone not to be angry over the Libby pardon.

#151 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:23 PM:

PRV, #151: blow job, lying to get the USA into a war, torture, arbitrarily and capriciously enforcing laws, breaking any number of laws, oath-breaking.

One of these things is not like the others.

#152 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:28 PM:

Is there a sane, non-snarky explanation for why many rabid anti-Democrats bring up Chappaquidick? I've no interest in re-hashing the thing. I just don't understand why it has emotional resonance or political relevance. If one wants to be angry with the Kennedys, wouldn't it make more sense to criticize Joe Kennedy? Talk about the Mob connections?

Other than being a sexy tragedy about a dead young woman, what is it about Chappaquidick? After so long, it seems that even its sex appeal should have given out. Every voter in Massachusetts knows more about it than they want, I expect, and they elect him, so presumably he's good for something. Me, I kinda like the old goat. If Nixon isn't relevant to how we perceive the Republican party (as many Republicans appear to think), then how can something foolish and cowardly (probably) that Teddy did before he ever came to office be relevant to how we perceive the Democrats?

Please understand me, this is a genuine question. I am clearly supposed to feel backed into a corner when someone hisses Chappaquidick. I don't. So what am I not getting?

#153 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:35 PM:

PRV @ 151

The last couple of times we did a forgiveness routine with Presidential crimes (I'm excluding Clinton here), we got the criminals back in government one or two presidents later. Cr*p, these guys brought back Kissinger and Nixon as some kind of 'elder statesmen'.

No. Not again. Never again.
This time, they have to leave permanently. If that means no forgiveness, too f*cking bad. They did the crime, they should do the time.

#154 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Personally, I'd be happier to see Democrats focus all their attention on a, "Life after Bush" scenario, instead of a, "How do we settle the score with Bush" scenario.

I'm not interested in "settling a score" with Bush. I think he is so dangerous to America that he cannot be allowed to remain in office. Every day he reaches a new low, breaks through the crust, and keeps on going.

The alternative to impeachment exists, and more than one country has used it, but it is awful to contemplate.

#155 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:48 PM:

PRV: We got out and voted in the last two elections, and the Bush coterie stole them both. At what point do we stop trusting that the system still works for us, the average citizens?

#156 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:52 PM:

PublicRadioVet: I think how productive it would be to impeach the president and vice president depends on the exact articles of impeachment. If they are real, solid, obvious crimes such as bribery, ignoring constitutional 4th amendment rights, and some of the other honeys that these jackasses have committed, and if they are charges that come with the possibility of actual jail time, then it's worth it. If it's a namby, pamby sort of thing, like "not really perjury because you aren't under oath when making the State of the Nation speech" with the penalty being censure, then I agree that it's pointless.

These guys have committed real crimes. The key to an effective, helpful impeachment is real truth, real consequences. I don't just want to have Bush and Cheney punished, I want them to be publically punished for the things that they did wrong to prove that this really is a nation of laws. And if not punished, I at least want to see a trial in open court with evidence read into the record, and the crimes that I believe have happened thoroughly investigated and properly prosecuted. I want to see the elected representatives vote for or against conviction, and we'll see just how political that looks. Because, you know, if it comes down to real jail time, I'm thinking that the vote will actually look a lot more like a real thing, and a lot less like a show trial.

When there's that much at stake, and it's that public, I think that the politicians will tend to run to the high ground. Trying to explain an obviously bogus vote would be damn hard. The evidence should be completely damning, it shouldn't be easy to take down a president. And I do truly believe that this president and vice president have committed sufficiently heinous crimes to warrant being taken down.

I think that that is worth fighting for. A lot of political disillusionment happened when Ford pardoned Nixon. We shouldn't let that happen again. Where will you find the passionate political animals, within and without the party, when you let the law be flouted so rawly? Why bother fighting when the elections are fixed? Why care when nothing they do is bad enough to warrant so much as a raised eyebrow? A man is known by the company he keeps. Who will we draw to public service if they must keep company with people like Bush and Cheney?

#157 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 05:57 PM:

#145:

Bush will be gone by 2009, another person will be in his place (probably a Dem, but I could hope for an Independent) and things will change.

I would point out that the last substantial group of people who hoped for an Independent placed the election within reach of Bush. Without Nader, it wouldn't have even been close enough to fake convincingly. (If it was faked. Which we don't really know with any certainty one way or the other.)
The key, of course, is in cultivating a voting public that a) cares and is b) knowledgeable.

It is presently *unknown* how much, if anything, the voting public had to do with the results of the last *two* presidential elections. That is a real, serious, fundamental problem of huge importance. An election that even looks like it might possibly have been stolen undermines the whole system nearly as much as one that actually is stolen.
Maybe this will be the one lasting, positive legacy of Bush: a re-energized public which takes its voting responsibility and the issues more seriously? At least for a couple of generations?

Boy, are you an optimist. I'd be more inclined to believe in this if I were seeing it. Instead I see that the stenography corps continues unimpeded, passing along the latest unsubstantiated rhetoric about Iran. The people who fooled us once aren't bothered by shame on them; if they fool us twice, shame on us will be the least of our worries.
The important thing right now is to not let yourself fall into a false feeling of impotency.

How do you know it's a false feeling of impotency?

Charges of vote-rigging, especially when they are swept under the rug without investigation, undermine the whole basis of democracy: the idea that people's votes will be counted and determine the winner of elections. Without that the whole system falls apart. There is quite simply no reason right now for the average citizen to trust the election system. Rather, the refusal to investigate election irregularities has exactly the appearance of a cover-up staged by people who *know* there are bodies buried there.

Rose-colored glasses won't help the situation, either. No system was ever fixed by loudly insisting that it isn't broken. We need to *know* if it is broken, and how, before we can decide how to fix it. If the system is truly ours, then we have a right and a duty to examine it. In detail. NOW.

If we dislike what the system is doing, or who is in charge, it's up to us to fix it. Our vote is our voice. How wisely shall we use it?

Hmm. I guess this is the main difference between our viewpoints: I believe in democracy as an ideal, but I'm not confident that it is *presently, actually* functioning in this country. Not just in the sense that the public can be deceived, but in the sense that I'm not confident that election results actually reflect the will of the electorate.

You seem to have faith in the actual working of democracy here, beyond what the evidence seems (to me) to justify. I don't believe in faith beyond reason, and my reason is telling me that something is rotten in the States of America.

Or, in short, tell the Floridians that their vote is their voice. But don't be surprised when they use their voice to laugh in your face.

#158 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:04 PM:

I'd be a lot happier of some of the current Supreme Court justices actually understood the Constitution. Instead we get non-decisions that contradict previous rulings, which they don't actually overturn, and we get stuff like you don't have any right to privacy and you have the right to vote, but you don't have the right to have your vote counted, because they aren't explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. (Which is nonsense if you think about it. What else is the 10th amendment for? Why bother voting, if the vote isn't going to be counted anyway?)

#159 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:10 PM:

Clinton and Lewinsky--consenting adult activity.
Abu Ghraib--torture, rape of MINORS in front of their RELATIVES, apparently deaths from torture, arrests without warrants and incarceration.... the inmates of the Bastille might have been treated better, and look at what the Bastille led to: April 1775, British Army loses battle in Concord, marches back to Boston with losses (losses on the other side, too, but the British Army lost that first battle); July 1775 Continental Congress declares Independence, months later, surrend of British land commander to the new United States of America. 1789--with the Articles of Confederation having failed to prevent internal war in the United States of America (Shay's Rebellion and other uprisings), the United States of America reorganized with the Constitution of the United States of America and Bill of Rights as the Basic Set of Law. 1789--the corruption and inequality of the Ancienne Regime of France and issues about e.g. incarceration of people in the Bastille, cause the fall of the French Monarchy, and then The Terror with war in the streets and blood flowing massively.

Afghanistan--allegations of abominations against the Geneva Convnetion including mass murder of prisoners, trucking them out to fields and shooting them; USA providing propping of warlords indistinguishable from Taliban in their treatment (reach suppression and locking in purdah) of women and imposing of religious fanatical intolerant bigotry of enforcing religious totalitarianism and atrocity of mayhem and murder against those who don't comply.

Guatanamo Bay--kidnappings of persons without warrants, secret captivity, waterboarding, no legal representation, no public list of inmates and gulag practices otherwise of the "disappeared" invisible anonymous all information kept secret inmates....

"extraordinary rendition"

failure to take ANY measures to suppress looting of museums, of schools, of government offices and records other than the Oil Ministry, of archaeological sites, of libraries, of irreplaceable hundreds of years old archives of records and books and texts, of universities and schools and their facilities and millions of volumes of books and texts, of the infrastructure of what water and sewage treatment and electrical power generation and distribution that remained after a decade of insufficient maintenance, failure to suppress vandals and muggers and kidnappers and religious extremists committing mayhem and rape and kidnapping and murder upon any not of their particular Muslim sect and not complying with their attitudes about properly modest attire and lifestyles for women and beards for men and prohibition of alcohol for all....

failure to round up the military and do any sort of orderly outprocessing segregating out the murderous republican guards from reluctant inductees to mandatory miltary service, failure to provide jobs with living wages for demobilized military members, failure to provide jobs generally to allow people reasons to get on with their lives and rebuild their country with a stake in it as a peaceful country working back into prosperity and peaceful coexistence and ambitions to restore Baghdad to its historical place as a seat of learning and progress and jewel of civilization....

what else--the continuing rape of New Orleans, the dismantling of the US Public Health system as something supporting the public health and preventing the spread of all sorts of diseases physical and psychological, turning women into locked in purdah chattel except for Queen Bees of the ilk of Ann Coulter and Elaine Donnelly and hypocrites like Beverly LaHaye and Michelle Malkin...

ETC.

As for "why bring up Teddy" -- it's a tried and true distraction and red herring

#160 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Lydia,

The main problem I see with an impeachment is that it's going to be hard for Democrats to show themselves as blameless, when we start pawing through all the evidence of Bush wrongdoing. Especially if our chief charge is that Bush lied to take us to war, every Dem that authorized the 2003 invasion cannot simply hide behind the argument that they were "fooled."

I think this is why Dems have been so resistant to the impeachment idea, even now. They know they will be exposing themselves to significant political damage if they go after Bush because they know they made many decisions which helped Bush along the way, either explicitly or otherwise. Any time a prosecutor tries to tag Bush on the war, the defense will trot out all the quotes and footage of notable Dems going right along with Bush, citing all kinds of claims and whatnot, dating back to the 90's.

I think the embarrassment for Democrats is that they supported the invasion when it seemed politically expedient to support it, then turned on the invasion when it seemed politically expedient to become anti-invasion. It's not like the Dems, to the last Representative and Senator, uniformly opposed the invasion. There were some standouts who did, and now they can pat themselves on the back for it, but the majority of Dems went with the flow, and are undoubtedly loathe to embark upon hearings against Bush which will dredge up this uncomfortable fact; among others.

In a certain sense, I find myself back in the place I was at when I first voted as an 18 year old in 1992. I'm back to wishing we had a real, bona fide alternative party to which I could lend my support. Because when people talk about taking out the Republican trash, I often find myself wishing they'd include the Democrat trash too.

If there are staunch, card-carrying party Democrats reading this, who are offended, my apologies. I know lots of average street Dems who are upstanding citizens and I know you are not responsible for the party as a whole. Just as many street Republicans are not responsible for their party as a whole.

Me, I never registered with any party, because I hate the idea of party allegiance. Dems, Reps, these are just labels. What the different parties stand for, over time, seems to be a moving target. Chain yourself to one party for too long, and sooner or later you'll end up "voting against your interests", to use a favorite phrase.

Maybe if we come up with a new third party for 2008 we should just call it the Disillusioned Party? The Disabused Party? The Disaffected Party?

#161 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Lydia, most of them are Mad Dogs.

IMT made the sky fall

They're NOT sane by the criteria of the of the contributors here, and that to me is the mistake that I keep seeing made about them. They DO not have the common values that underly the Constitution, they do not have the beliefs in tolerance and diversity and E Pluribus Unum, they do NOT believe in religious tolerance and they do not believe in the value that Abigail Adams urged her husband on regarding women are poeple to and should be accorded rights as citizens to vote etc.

#162 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Chris,

I base my faith on history. American democracy has survived far worse than Bush. I believe we'll emerge from the Bush years and move on, democracy more or less intact. The pendulum will continue its cycle.

#163 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:26 PM:

Paula @ #162:

Are you talking about pundits and talking-points types? Or average American citizens who bring up Chappaquiddick?

#164 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:28 PM:

PublicRadioVet:

Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party existed when Nathan Hale, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Mr Lee (can't remember his name), various ancestors of David G. Hartwell, etc. etc. put their lives on the line to conspire to uprise and rebel against British rule of the colonies and to create a new country.

Crispus Atticus was the first recorded death in what came to be called "The Boston Massacre" that was one of the instigations. There was the battle of Bunker's Hill, the port of Boston was locked up by the British Navy. There were battles up and down the coast and inland. There was Valley Forge.

The US political parties did NOT exist, but people put their lives on the line to break away from the rule of the King of England and declare independence. I'm sitting in a building near roads on which some of the Minuteman marched to that first battle on. The Concord River is nearby, the river that flows under the bridge where the British Army was stopped and repulsed and driven back to Boston from, on that April day.

#165 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:31 PM:

PublicRadioVet: I thought I specifically said that we shouldn't try to impeach Bush for getting us into Iraq. I don't know what the particular legal charge would be. Clinton was essentially impeached and censored for moral turpitude. He never went to trial. The Bush administration has done things that are genuinely against the law, such as the wire tapping.

While I'd love to nail his ass on war crimes, I don't think we can do it legally. As I recall, we're not a signatory to the agreements that would allow the case to be heard at The Hague. The unbid Halliburton contracts, however, look like political corruption to me, which is against US law. The Executive Branch has refused to enforce the law. I dunno how to press charges on that one, but I'm sure that it's against the law. And the thing is, these are things the Bush government did all on its lonesome, misusing the power of the executive branch.

No, the Democrats aren't lily white, but it's time for them to stop being afraid of the false moral equivalence game. Nothing the Democrats have done is remotely as awful as what the Republicans have done and they should be able to say so very calmly. "Yes, Sen. So-and-so took a $50,000 bribe (or whatever). He's also being charged. Vice President Cheney made a deal with a company in which he has investments worth billions. The difference between these two is a matter of many, many zeroes. A serious difference. Now, shall we discuss the impeachment?"

#166 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Paula @ #165:

Good post, and I'm not going to disagree with any of it. But how does this pertain to your 'mad dogs' comment?

#167 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Lydia @ #166,

Sorry if I misread your earlier post.

I sometimes wonder if it would not be easier to put Bush and Cheney in jail after 2008? Wait until they can be put into a standard court room on corruption charges, racketeering, etc. As long as they're in office the politics will muddle things. But a team of lawyers armed with evidence and witnesses might be able to get them, once they no longer have their offices to hide behind?

Just a thought.

#168 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:36 PM:

PublicRadioVet:

Why haven't the pundits been run off the public airwaves, why do they get airtime but not others? Why does the American populace not demand that Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, etc., be gagged and Fux News and Sinclair lose every broacast license they have and most of Viacom's and General Electric's and Disney's be taken away, too, and stations required to have local control... (there was the case of the remotely run radio station in the midwest where the local community has a disaster weather warning and there was NO WAY that the local officials could find to get a warning broadcast from the "local" station... the federal congressional representative for the area was absolutely furious about the situation, and let his ire fly on Capital Hill==to apparently no action, which the Repubicrap Congress didn't CARE.

Anyway, there are lots of people who are not screaming and who regard Kennedy as the embodiment of Evil Liberal Northeast demonic Democrat... and believe that Fux News and Sex Trip Condom Junkie Rush Limbaugh tells The Truth.

Whether there in any intelligence in their brains is beyond me....

#169 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:37 PM:

PublicRadioVet:

Why haven't the pundits been run off the public airwaves, why do they get airtime but not others? Why does the American populace not demand that Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity, etc., be gagged and Fux News and Sinclair lose every broacast license they have and most of Viacom's and General Electric's and Disney's be taken away, too, and stations required to have local control... (there was the case of the remotely run radio station in the midwest where the local community has a disaster weather warning and there was NO WAY that the local officials could find to get a warning broadcast from the "local" station... the federal congressional representative for the area was absolutely furious about the situation, and let his ire fly on Capital Hill==to apparently no action, which the Repubicrap Congress didn't CARE.

Anyway, there are lots of people who are not screaming and who regard Kennedy as the embodiment of Evil Liberal Northeast demonic Democrat... and believe that Fux News and Sex Trip Condom Junkie Rush Limbaugh tells The Truth.

Whether there in any intelligence in their brains is beyond me....

#170 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 06:56 PM:

Paula @ #170,

Now, I've had a bit of experience (heh!) in the radio world, and I can say that people would be surprised at how easy it is to get a broadcast license. What's not easy is:

a) coming up with the money for equipment and operational overhead
b) finding an envelope on AM or FM not already occupied in the area in which you want to broadcast
c) building and keeping a market share

ClearChannel often gets blamed for the wholesale buyout of "little radio", much the same way WalMart often gets blamed for destroying independent stores and vendors wherever it goes.

Even so, ClearChannel is not immune to market forces. Neither is FOX. The American public votes with its eyes, ears, and ultimately, wallet. Hannity is on the air because FOX knows it can make money with Hannity on the air. If enough Americans stopped watching Hannity, and stopped buying his product, FOX would lose him.

As for "gagging", I am uncomfortable with the use of that word in this context, if only because it seems implied that it's someone's "job" to shut down and shut up the Malkins and the Limbaughs of the world. And whatever I might think about Rush, I think he has the right to speak his mind. It just so happens that Rush was an opportunist who showed up on the airwaves at the right place and in the right time for a conservative loudmouth. I think his stock has gone way down, just like Bill O'Reily(sp?), mostly because of oversaturation and embarrassing personal goof-ups. But obviously he still has a market, hence he stays in business.

Again, the onus is back on the listeners and viewers. If enough people change the channel, switch off the set, then no force can keep the Limbaugh alive, other than through his web site. Which seems to be pretty much where Malkin is at: web broadcasting.

Now, as to the EBS being unable to "reach" to a small remote radio station in the Midwest, I have to wonder about technical problems. Do you have a link to the story? I'd like to read more about it. Technically, all commercial and public radio must employ the EBS, and if the EBS at this station failed or was non-existant, it's got to be a technical issue, or flat-out oversight failure. The FCC should/could be all over that, like white on rice. It's not even a legislative issue.

Again, I am curious about the story itself, from a radio geek point of view.

#171 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:02 PM:

#161:

Maybe if we come up with a new third party for 2008 we should just call it the Disillusioned Party? The Disabused Party? The Disaffected Party?

The Handing Victory to the Republicans Party?

Study the electoral system in this country. A third party cannot rise until one of the existing two has been *completely* destroyed and the wreckage has smoldered for at least a couple of years. What it can do is take anti-status-quo votes away from the opposition party and therefore inadvertently perpetuate the very status quo it declares itself in opposition to. (Nobody ever forms a third party to *maintain* the status quo because, by definition, at least one of the existing parties is already doing so.)

It might be more productive to try to take over one of the existing parties - it worked a generation ago, when the old racist wing of the Democrats, thrown out over the civil rights issue, tipped the balance between McCarthyists and the libertarian faction in the Republican party and gradually turned it into the party of ignorance, fear, nativism and Christianism (and that's just their public agenda!) we have today. (I oversimplify, of course - it would take a full length book, or several, to fully detail the transformation of the party over the last half century.)

#172 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:11 PM:

As an outsider, an interested observer of US politics from abroad, I'm not surprised that Bush gave Libby a Get Out of Jail card, nor am I surprised that regulars here are freaking out.

My outsider's view is that Democratic politicians are missing a pitchfork moment: a time when they could actually change the system with massive public approval rather than score a few points on the Inside the Beltway game.

Your current checks and balances don't work. BushCo has proven that. Kicking BushCo out won't fix it, jailing them won't fix it, executing them won't fix it. These things would take a huge effort, nation-splitting aggression, tie up a generation's worth of political will. These things aren't worth it.

You know what would be worth it? Making sure it can't happen again. Harness that Ceaucescu feeling, that "Where's my burning torch?" disgust with BushCo to rein in the insane power of the US Executive Branch. Permanently.

#173 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Paula Lieberman #165: Crispus Attucks.

#174 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:23 PM:

PRV @ #171, here's the NYT story I think Paula's referring to.

Briefly, a train derailed in Minot ND and exuded a toxic cloud of ammonia-related chemicals. The local cops and emergency personnel couldn't reach anyone at the local radio station to issue a warning because the station had no employees in the building. Clear Channel owned/operated it from a distance. During normal circumstances it provided "local" news from some broadcaster at one of its centralized stations.

#175 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:25 PM:

Upon further reading of that article, it appears that there's some dispute as to whether there were employees in the building or not. Either way, it got quite a lot of attention from Senator Dorgan when the Telecomm Act was up for renewal.

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:28 PM:

Lizzy 144: But There's More Candy In Him.

#177 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:29 PM:

Thanks, Linkmeister.

#178 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Um, Niall at 173: just how do you recommend we do that without first getting rid of Bush and Cheney one way or another?

Inquiring minds want to know.

#179 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:49 PM:

Lydia @ 166:

While I'd love to nail his ass on war crimes, I don't think we can do it legally. As I recall, we're not a signatory to the agreements that would allow the case to be heard at The Hague.
It is quite true that we withdrew from the Rome Statute and are not a party to the International Criminal Court. However, as the Supreme Court pointed out in the Hamdan decision, various parts of international humanitarian law such as Geneva Common Article 3 and the treaty barring the taking of hostages are enforceable in federal court. (Even more is enforceable in military courts, due to the provisions of the UCMJ.)

I think the Constitution would bar such prosecutions during the President's term, but once he is a private citizen again, a federal indictment could be the gift that keeps on giving.

#180 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 07:51 PM:

PublicRadioVet @167: [..] how does this pertain to your 'mad dogs' comment?

The 'mad dogs' and "IMT made the sky fall" are both SF references to villians appearing in James Blish's Cities in Flight stories.

In that series, cheap antigravity that worked best on a large scale allowed whole cities to lift into space to follow resources and markets. Pittsburg was the first, leaving Earth to develop steel on Mars; others followed.

Rarely, some of these cities became pirate states; a group called 'International Master Traders' (also called the 'Mad Dogs') used their power to set themselves as rulers on some distant planet, dropping their city down like a giant's foot on population centers until the planet's people capitulated to their rule. "IMT made the sky fall" was a folk-tale re-telling, generations later, of how they had been enslaved.

It's a nice metaphor, although unfortunately a little obscure (unfortunate, because there is much to like in Blish's writing, even if much of it has become dated). In an earlier post, Paula suggested the identity of the city that would become IMT.

#181 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 08:45 PM:

James #155: The alternative to impeachment exists, and more than one country has used it, but it is awful to contemplate.

If we get too close to that point, we'll see elections "delayed" for the duration of the emergency, FEMA Happy Camps for dissenters, and we'll find out if the U.S. military can pass the Tiananmen Square Test.

#182 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:04 PM:

I've tried to write something about this, but Earl, you nailed it.

I've believed ever since his second term started that Bush is not planning to exit in January 2009. I think we're fucked. I do not believe the general populace (who is far more interested in that PH twit et al -"ooh, shiny!") nor the poliicians who we unfortunately entrusted with our votes in the false belief that they might 'represent' us rather than their oliogarch masters, will exert any kind of will against this gang of thugs and thieves.

I despair.

#183 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Earl Cooley III wrote -
James #155: The alternative to impeachment exists, and more than one country has used it, but it is awful to contemplate.

If we get too close to that point, we'll see elections "delayed" for the duration of the emergency, FEMA Happy Camps for dissenters, and we'll find out if the U.S. military can pass the Tiananmen Square Test.

Then you need to be ready before that day arrives.

Four Boxes.

#184 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:45 PM:

Well, we're trying, some of us, a lot of us, to push our congresspeople toward impeachment, because that's the only way they'll do it. If it doesn't happen, it won't be because lots of us were nice quiet little citizens. (We may be quiet if Bush goes the civil emergency route, though, because we'll be locked up, if not actually dead.)

#185 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 09:46 PM:

From here in Aussieland, I'm afraid that you won't see elections delayed, but more that if the results aren't to the Deciders liking, they won't be happening. Overturned results, elections declared void due to 'errors', fraud only investigated if the wrong party won...

Good luck.

#186 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Avram (117) said:

"Bob's posted the exact same comment twice, once at #64 and again at #115, six hours apart. I mean exact, right down to the non-standard capitalization and punctuation.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's just visiting all the blogs he can find that are complaining about the Libby commutation and pasting the same text in."

What are the odds that someone who writes as awkwardly as Bb does in his first post should to just happen wander into Making Light, today of all days? Or that his punctuation and clarity of expression should vary so much throughout the day? Or that someone who's engaged enough to make specific comments to specific commenters would then re-post the same wodge of text he posted at the start?

Also, his first post had a pattern of typos I've never seen before, and it looked unnatural--I couldn't model how and why those errors were made. Mind, I'm not saying that can't occur in nature. If I weren't already thinking astroturf, I wouldn't have thought twice about it.

#187 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:16 PM:

James D. Macdonald: If it takes a blowjob I'll give him the blowjob myself.

I suspect what you really wanted to day would be "If a blowjob would get rid of him...." ;-)

As far as differences between the parties: The Democrats certainly have a political Stockholm Syndrome going on, but that in no way makes them equivalent to their abusers.

The neocons, in contrast, have achieved a trifecta of misrule -- not just evil, but stupid as well, not just stupid, but outright insane, not just insane, but actively evil.

#188 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Olbermann's special comment this evening was, um, incendiary. Or something. (Maybe a Molotov cocktail thrown into the West Wing would describe it best.)

Teresa, I did a fast Google run earlier today on Bob's e-mail address, and he's posted a couple of other places in the last few years. I didn't read the stuff, but one of them looked like his type of politics. He may actually be using his real name (he was using 'Bob Norton' at one the ones I found).

#190 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:53 PM:

and oddly enough, last time I posted something political on my regular Live Journal (dragonet2) a Bush supporter emailed me promptly to tell me I was a stupid woman and what did I know about politics.'

I don't think I've gotten such from here. So it is a safe place to post.

#191 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:55 PM:

The people who claim "it's just the pot calling the kettle black" should remember that the kettle is, in fact, black.

#192 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 10:58 PM:

Lydia, #166. "While I'd love to nail his ass on war crimes, I don't think we can do it legally."

As far as I know, "high crimes and misdemeanors" means whatever the House says it does, so if they want to impeach W. Bush for talking in malaprops, they can. I think convicting W. Bush of war crimes would do much to restore the reputation of the USA worldwide, saying in plain language that we repudiate the works of this administration. As for reasons to impeach, it seems to me that two of the best are that the longer Bush stays in office, the more likely he is to invade Iran or steal the next election. As if that were not enough, he's surely going to pardon all the bastards in his administration if left in power.

#193 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:10 PM:

Teresa 186: The typos did look familiar to me. Especially the one where he types space period space instead of period space space. He could be faking, but there are also medications that mess up your timing and your aim...I remember when I was taking one I would type 3 when I meant e (and not to be 1337, I mean unintentionally) and space when I meant v.

Some people learn to type two spaces after a period as a left-right with the thumbs. This is faster, ultimately, than typing every space with the right thumb, as I do. So it's possible; it could also easily be faked.

#194 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:25 PM:

No, I won't be ready if there's general civil disorder. It will be a race between death due to violence, starvation or dying due to lack of medication for me. Darwinism will finally catch up. At least I'll be able to stay in contact with people online until the electricity or the cable connection fails.

That's what I get for having read Cory Doctorow's When Sysadmins Rule the Earth so recently....

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:27 PM:

Scott 183: Four Boxes? *?

#197 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:37 PM:

Olbermann's my hero. Him and Marianne Pearl.

I figure if things get really bad here, I'll move to a civilized country. Since there's only one in the Western Hemisphere, it's not hard to choose.

#198 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:38 PM:

Xopher -
Scott 183: Four Boxes? *?

"There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Please use in that order."
--Ed Howdershelt

#199 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:41 PM:

Ah. Thanks.

#200 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:56 PM:

I have archived Olbermann's ultimatum here as well, but please, try the other locations first - my puir wee .mac account's not-infinite bandwidth thanks you

#201 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:57 PM:

(and yes, Olbermann is, in fact, The Man.)

#202 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2007, 11:59 PM:

A civilized country in the Western Hemisphere? Hmmm, Nunavut is fairly autonomous. Dress warmly....

#203 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:13 AM:

Olbermann -- wow.

I'm inspired to send an e-mail to Nancy Pelosi, asking her to reconsider impeachment. Maybe I'm wrong.

#204 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:33 AM:

Lizzy L, #203: I've written my Congressman with more-or-less the content of #192. I hope it does some good.

#205 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Scott Taylor (#198): ah, but there's the problem.

The soap box got taken care of a while back, with "free speech zones" and kicking people out of events for having the wrong T-shirts or bumper stickers.

The ballot box? Florida. Ohio. Diebold.

The jury box? "Scooter" Libby got a jury trial.

#206 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:46 AM:

Contrary to PublicRadioVet @160, I think that the Democratic representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate should push for impeachment. Although it seems quite likely that Republicans and the news outlets that they own (increasingly including public radio) will lie and distort the actual facts of Democratic support for anti-Saddam-Hussein activities, habitually holding back for fear of such a response will hold back the USA from a much-needed discussion and clearing of the air.

Basically, lies and distortion in news outlets have been the stock in trade of the anti-democracy forces in this country for decades, and it's not possible to address this problem without engaging it.

PRV@160 appears to be engaging in just this kind of FUD mongering in that statement. The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq (as seen on the official White House web page) clearly authorizes the President of the United States to exercise discretion in using US armed forces against Iraq to force compliance with UN Security Council resolutions or to prevent an attack on the United States. The Joint Resolution also clearly calls on the President to be accountable to the House and Senate and requires that the President report back on the events which led to the initiation of armed hostilities.

The Joint Resolution clearly does NOT require or even endorse the use of deadly force against Iraqi civilians based on the facts as known by the members of the House and Senate. To the best of my memory the sentiment at the time was that the deployment of US armed forces around Iraq were important if the government of Iraq's collective nose were to be held to the UN Security Council's inspectorial grindstone. It was George W. Bush's decision to give up on the inspection process and other diplomatic efforts to change Iraq's course and start killing people directly.

Regarding Democratic Party attitudes towards the overthrow of the Iraqi government going back to the 1990s, I note that the Joint Resolution makes reference to Public Law 105-338 (the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998) as well as Public Law 105-235, also passed in 1998. The former law appears to authorize the holder of the office of President to support an Iraqi party of insurgence against the then-existing Iraqi regime, and the latter urges the holder of the office of President to take actions to push the then-existing Iraqi regime to cease programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and otherwise comply with the requirements of UN resolutions.

So what we have here that Democratic Party members can be tarred with is the recognition that the US shoudl support insurgence against the Saddam Hussein regime and that the US should push the Saddam Hussein regime to stop developing WMDs and comply with UN mandates.

What we had George W. Bush doing in fact was arbitrarily deciding to stop trying diplomatic measures when they appeared finally to be working, lying (or at least making shit up) to convince people that the decision wasn't arbitrary, and waging an aggressive war, completely contrary to mandates from the UN, in order to support UN mandates.

That's a lot of words to try to make a basic concept clear: both parties agreed that Saddam Hussein and his cronies were a danger to his own country and others and authorized armed force to make him submit to measures designed to make them less dangerous. George W. Bush abused his discretion, caused thousands of people to die sooner than they otherwise would have died and made Iraq and the world at large more dangerous. This indicates malfeasance by George W. Bush, not complicity by the elected representatives who were members of the Democratic Party.

#207 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:54 AM:

Dave@25 if Parliament were to demur, it could rescind such a pardon by legislation.

It is possible this would be considered a bill of attainder, which is specifically barred by the Constitution.

PRV: I believe we'll emerge from the Bush years and move on, democracy more or less intact. The pendulum will continue its cycle.

Do you suppose the Romans thought this after Caesar crossed the Rubicon?
For that matter, are you really convinced that the Bush years will end on 20 Jan 09? Some of the comments (in this thread and previous) are more foil-hatted than I'm comfortable with; others make clear that this is not a worry that can be completely ignored.

Bob@206: how much of that reasoning will fit into a sound bite -- especially with Democrat candidates admitting to "voting for war"?

#208 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 02:02 AM:

Olbermann is an angry man, with good cause.

#209 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 02:46 AM:

CHip @ 207

You've alluded to exactly the thing that scares me the worst. What took down Rome wasn't the first Caesar to take power, it was the later ones who, given that Law no longer ruled, took more and more strong measures to take the power by influence, bribery, blackmail, assassination and ultimately force of arms. Now the Darth Party has taken us onto the slope, can the Democrats afford not to use the same techniques, so as not to get squeezed out of the power structure, slipping us down a little further with each election?

Once representative democracy is perverted into organized crime, why should we expect it to go back just because the first set of thugs leaves office? There are plenty of other thugs who may not be smart or brave enough to be the first to try these tactics out, but are certainly capable of giving the sincerest form of flattery to the ones who do.

And there is that lurking doubt that maybe King George really doesn't intend to abdicate come January 2009. You have noticed, haven't you, that he's been busily replacing all the loyal, honorable, and competent generals with his bootboys, haven't you? As we all know, the one who with the most legions doesn't have to accept that he needs to leave the playing field.

#210 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 02:51 AM:

P J Evans,

Stay mad. Keep the juices flowing, we're in for a long slog if we hope to get back to real democracy in this country. This hasn't been about just Bush and Cheney for a while now; we really do have to start thinking and acting strategically, because this is not a single battle, it's a war against the thugs who are moving in on us in an organized fashion, just like a foreign mob moving into the rackets in a new town.


#211 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 03:59 AM:

PRV: Part (and no small part) of why the Dems are reluctant to issue articles of impeachment (and the list above, even absent the issues of why/how we got into the war; though his lies on that score provide reasonable cover even if they are included) is becuase so many, "reasonable" people like yourself go around telling them so.

Honestly, the way people are talking (and I heard it tonight at the Altadena country club, not a hotbed of liberals) Bush being impeached is not a liability to the party which initiates it.

And the pendulum doesn't swing back and forth. The pivot point around which its arcs are determined has been moving to the right.

For all that he was a scumbag, and got less than he deserved, Nixon was more "liberal" in his policies than many of today's democrats. He couldn't run in the present Republican Party, and the Dems have people like Lieberman (who's only an independent because the present administration went and shilled for him).

So holding my nose and trusting the system to return to the mean, doesn't look like a good idea.

#212 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 05:34 AM:

How to change the system? In 2009, the Democratic party should control the Senate, House and Presidency. The real elections in 2008 should be the Democratic primaries. Starting now, support bloody-minded Democratic candidates who will reverse the damage Bush has done, not cement the powers his regime has grabbed.

#213 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 06:52 AM:

I think if Bush doesn't leave when this term ends, then it will be time to consider alternatives to impeachment. But I don't think even he will be prepared to take that risk.
He's not Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. He may have really been democratically elected last election, certainly he came very close to it - we're talking about fraud swinging a close result, not a one party system with secret police enforcing voting. The American military might be unhappy about Iraq, but they aren't mutinying, so presumably most of them still regard him as their legitimate commander in chief.
Despicable as Bush is, I can't see armed revolt being an improvement (nor assassination cleaning up the overall system).

#214 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 08:21 AM:

PublicRadioVet's repeated assertion that American politics "have always existed on a pendulum...back and forth, back and forth, forever swinging" is nothing more than Panglossianism: an empty claim, unsupported by evidence.

Of course it's always possible to discern "pendulum" cycles within a sequence of historical events. But human history doesn't, overall, follow any such simpleminded binary scheme. In fact, the only "rule" discernable from history is that things change, constantly and permanently, and not all change is for the better. Believing that "America" is exempt from this has been the cause of much folly.

#215 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 08:45 AM:

Well, if Dubya won't leave office in 2009, it really is time to flee to Canada—and start organizing a network and raising an army to take the United States back for democracy. Or a Republic, if you prefer.

Whatever, we started the process of overthrowing a despot named George 231 years ago this very day, and I for one am NOT welcoming our new Texan overlord!

In fact, I'm ready to pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor to preventing this scumbag from becoming dictator. Or anyone, really, but he's the only one who seems like he might try it.

Maybe it's just that it's Independence Day, and I just heard the Declaration of Independence read in full (twice!) on the radio, and I'm flush with patriotism. And if sentiments such as mine be treason, America is dead.

#216 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 08:51 AM:

Randolph, 192:

The best reason I can think of to impeach Bush is to keep him from doing something a normal person wouldn't even think of. I'm joking, but I'm not kidding.

#217 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:30 AM:

I've got a different take on the Libby pardon. I'm not necessarily asserting that it's true, but I think it's worth thinking about.

Maybe Bush is starting to crack.

Here's why: up until the current congress started overriding his whims, George W has had his own way for literally his entire life. I think we're all in agreement that if it weren't for his parentage and position, he wouldn't have amounted to much more than a hardware store clerk. However, I doubt that W himself is aware of that fact. He's "the decider", he's God's chosen defender of the One True Faith and he's got his own jet. Any personal setbacks he's experienced have always been smoothed away by family connenctions, power, and luck.

But now, for the first time in his life, he's in a situation where Daddy and Daddy's friends can't make the bad people stop being mean to him. Like it or not, he's facing a congress that has the knife out for him and an electorate that show disturbing signs of realizing that he's an idiot. He's frustrated, he's dumb, and he doesn't know what to do. This isn't the way the world is supposed to work.

So what does he do? Does he grit his teeth and try to come to an adult accord with the congress that might get him some of what he wants? Nope. He forces votes that he can't possibly win, apparently out of sheer disbelief that the world may, in some circumstances, thwart his whims. And now this.

The outrage generated by the Libby commutation will not help the Republicans in the 2008 elections. In addition to providing a focal point for democratic outrage, it's also likely to offend a sizable chunk of the well-intentioned but dumb law-and-order Republican backbone, the folks who think lengthy incarcerations are the cure all societal ills. The Republicans will lose votes over this in 2008, guaranteed. Someone in the White House must have pointed this out to Bush before he did it, but he did it anyway.

I'd interpret the Libby commutation as a petulant, childish act by an overgrown infant who has never had anyone tell him "no."

#218 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:43 AM:

I'd like to take a moment here to recommend Glenn Greenwald's new book. It's about Shrub. It's about his worldview. And it says things may very well get worse, because he's never had to take the consequences when he's made a mess of things. He has a Manichaean's view of the world, where he's Good and anyone, everyone, who opposes him is thus Evil and must be fought in any way possible, and defeated.

Hang onto your hats, it's going to be wild.

#219 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:59 AM:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

#220 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:26 AM:

"He has sent among the Peoples various Agents, to harass them in the public spaces, not for the purposes of securing Liberty and Justice, but for reasons of Security that are backed up neither by statements of Fact nor sound assertions of Reason."

"He has furthermore caused to be created unreasonable limitations on travel and commerce, derived again not from sound judgment, but for the purpose of formenting Fear and Uncertainty in the Peoples and the States."

"He has authorized the secret collection of informations heretofore considered personal and private in nature, and has caused them to be disseminated amongst various Agencies without regard as to need or appropriateness of these actions, all without Oversight by the Senate or the Courts, and without the Knowledge or possibility of Redress by the People.

#221 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:26 AM:

"He has sent among the Peoples various Agents, to harass them in the public spaces, not for the purposes of securing Liberty and Justice, but for reasons of Security that are backed up neither by statements of Fact nor sound assertions of Reason."

"He has furthermore caused to be created unreasonable limitations on travel and commerce, derived again not from sound judgment, but for the purpose of formenting Fear and Uncertainty in the Peoples and the States."

"He has authorized the secret collection of informations heretofore considered personal and private in nature, and has caused them to be disseminated amongst various Agencies without regard as to need or appropriateness of these actions, all without Oversight by the Senate or the Courts, and without the Knowledge or possibility of Redress by the People.

#222 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Whoops. I swear I only hit "post" once, honest...
(happens to the best of us, tho'...)

#223 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:48 AM:

#215: Hear, hear.

#217: I think it's deeper than that. He believes that because he's the Leader everyone has to obey him. He literally cannot understand what democracy is or what it means. *All* relationships are monarchical, and now that he's in charge, everyone is supposed to do what he says. So why aren't they?

#218: I looked for that last week, but couldn't find it. Maybe I should look again. While we're on the subject of book recommendations, I'll re-recommend Bob Altemeyer's online book The Authoritarians, which can be found here. (unfortunately PDF-only - surely I can't be the only one to actively prefer HTML for things that aren't going to be printed on paper?) John Dean's Conservatives without Conscience is also really good (he makes some use of Altemeyer's research, but also his own experience with Watergate and American politics generally).

#224 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:58 AM:

P J at 218: I would like to support GG, whose work I truly admire. I have read excerpts from the book online; the theory is attractive and the writing is persuasive. But is there more to the book -- it's long, I believe, unlike his earlier, much smaller book How Would A Patriot Act? -- than an extended theory about George Bush's worldview? A little of that can go a long way...

#225 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 11:38 AM:

#217: Bush issued the Libby pardon immediately after a weekend with Daddy. Wonder what they talked about.

#209, #213, #215: Bush will leave office in January 2009. There's no need to explicitly violate the written Constitution. The new front man (Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney) will assume the title and things will continue on as before. The real power holder won't need the title as long as the bureaucracy knows who the real boss is. Historical examples: Deng Xiaoping, Stalin, Augustus Caesar, and just about all of Japanese history.

#226 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:19 PM:

I can imagine a situation where a US president at the end of his second term convinces the armed forces that they should stage a coup instead of letting his democratically elected successor take power.

But this president? What has he done over the past four years to inspire such loyalty in the troops? If he tried, he'd be lucky to only get a chorus of Marines saying "Sir! Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, sir!"

#227 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:41 PM:

It seems appropriate here to reference Kissinger's insights into the nature of revolutionary powers and their relationship to the status quo, as rediscovered by Paul Krugman:

… reasonable people can’t bring themselves to see that they’re actually facing a threat from a radical movement. Kissinger talked about the time of the French Revolution, and pretty obviously he also was thinking about the 1930s. He argued that, when you have a revolutionary power, somebody who really wants to tear apart the system — doesn’t believe in any of the rules — reasonable people who’ve been accustomed to stability just say, “Oh, you know, they may say that, but they don’t really mean it.” And, “This is just tactical, and let’s not get too excited.” Anyone who claims that these guys really are as radical as their own statements suggest is, you know, “shrill.” Kissinger suggests they’d be considered alarmists. And those who say, “Don’t worry. It’s not a big deal,”are considered sane and reasonable.

#228 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:51 PM:

Seth, 226: You'd be surprised. I don't know any soldiers, but I know plenty of women related to soldiers--and they do not seem to be in a hurry to get their guys home. I haven't pressed it because I need to stay on speaking terms with them, but I get the impression that "loyalty to the chain of command" is trumping everything else. And we know that the officer corps is stacked with Dominionists. I'll be over here with my chapeau de papier d'aluminium if you need me...

#229 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 12:57 PM:

Seth Gordon @ 226, I sincerely doubt that this president has much currency at all with the military, especially beyond the end of his lawfully elected term. The growing number of retired command staff speaking out against him doesn't indicate overwhelming support among those still in uniform. The fatalistic awareness among the rank and file that if they die their coffins and their names will be a matter of secrecy, if they are damaged they will be blamed for not being perfect soldiers, doesn't bode well for the dependability of those troops to enforce a junta.

And the officers wives are showing up to stuff envelopes for Democrats, around here.

#230 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:05 PM:

CHip @207: I think that a soundbite version of my comments would be something like, "We armed George Bush to guard some suspects while we searched their home. Even though the suspects were cooperating, Bush opened fire, slaughtering innocent adults and children."

But it's really pointless, isn't it, if the publishing mechanisms which run on sound bites decide not to publish it or, as with, "I voted for war," publish only distortions. Having the Democratic party make decisions based on such considerations leads to their continuing to be blocked from what is most important, doing the right thing.

Most of which isn't so relevant to my main point, which is that in this discussion forum we don't have to parrot the distorted reports of events.

#231 ::: otherdeb ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Re Comments # 5 and 6: Okay, now that I've used the brain bleach....

Y'know, Jim, if you sold tickets to that, you could probably raise enough money to successfully lobby for impeachment.

#232 ::: otherdeb ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Re Comment #100:

And, Avram, isn't it somewhat scary that the so-called "person in the street" can make the mental connection that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system when Ms. Hilton does however many days for breaking the terms of her parole, and Libby gets off scot-free for obstructing justice?

#233 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:45 PM:

"Isn’t obstruction of justice a High Crime and Misdemeanor?"

Yes, it is. However, the President using his Consitutional power to pardon (commute/reduce) is not obstruction of justice. Every one who has ever been pardoned was lawfully convicted of a crime.

Trust me, President Bush will not be impeached. As far as the damage done to this country, we will forget about it within two or three years of Bush leaving office. I seen it again and again. We will all have something else to be upset about. Believe it.

#234 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:46 PM:

Xopher @215: I for one am NOT welcoming our new Texan overlord!

Dammit, Dubya is not a Texan. He was born in Connecticut. Although there are a great many Texans who were accidentally born in the wrong place and have proven by their deeds to be worthy of the name "Texan", Dubya is not one of them. It will be generations repairing the damage he's done to our state's reputation.

#235 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Scott@217:

The problem is that so far, at least, when Dubya pouts and stamps his feet, the bad people in Congress --- the nominal opposition leadership --- do stop being mean to him. They send up a military funding bill with a toothless timetable for withdrawing the troops, which he could have overridden with a "finding". He vetoes it, and snarlingly dismisses it as political posturing. They promptly give him the no-strings funding that he asked for in the first place, proving him right.

As to impeachment, well... scanning my blog archives in prep for a post about the Libby mess, I found I'd already more or less written it about the warrantless wiretaps, a larger and more blatant abuse of power, revealed more than a year ago. If there's still inaction in Congress, it's not for lack of cause, but for lack of will. Which leads to a certain fatigue from the folks who have been bitching about this sort of thing all along as we saw it happening. So, quoting what I wrote instead on my own crappy blog,

The time for impeachment was some time ago, but these guys don't have the guts to insist on a spending cap. And I'm sitting in my living room, listening to my upstairs neighbor's off-key rendition of "All Along the Watchtower", and asking myself, what --- what lie, what scandal, what no-bid contract to cronies, what obstruction of justice, what imprisonment under torture without any pretence of justice, what futile war, what hitherto undreamed-of outrage will finally make them say, "Enough"? What on Earth are they waiting for?
#236 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 01:56 PM:

CosmicDog @ #233,

Good post. I agree with it 100%

#237 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Hunter at DailyKos:

With each passing day, Bush becomes a little less presidential, and a little more like Al Capone with an Air Force.

#238 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Patrick @ #214,

I call it like I see it. In over 200+ years of tumult and turmoil, the United States, as a nation, somehow retains enough elasticity to survive even the most outrageous stretches. Even civil war. Even the economic disaster of the Great Depression, or the world war that followed on, or the cultural and civil rights 'wars' that followed after that....

Maybe I do place too much faith in the "pendulum", but it seems to me that in our time of tremendous wailing and gnashing of teeth, it would do us good, as a country, to retain a little historical perspective. I think future decades will show that 2000-2008 were momentous, yes, but hardly ruinous or irrevocable.

#239 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 03:18 PM:

If Shrub is to be brought back in line, it seems to me that, given the structure of our government, it is important that this be done not by "the Democrats" but by "the Congress."

The structures to control him are tied to the checks and balances of having a three-branch government. A lot of the justification for the increased presidential power lately (not just Shrub, but in general) has been from an over-acceptance of the concept of "separation of powers," interpreted as the congress and courts not being able to interfere with the actions of the presidency.

If what happens to control Shrub is one party bringing down the leader of another party, the structural problems that led to congress letting him run amok in the first place will still be there.

The power of the presidency needs to be checked. Right now, the courts are extremely strong, and having them grow stronger doesn't strike me as wise. Congress, however, has been week and ineffective, and strengthening Congress is probably the only way to check both the presidency and the courts.

#240 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 03:20 PM:

#233 Cosmic Dog, whoseover you be, you have your head up your ass, and probably are NOT female with any chance of being impregnated without consent, pregnant and with the pregnancy going badly (I have at least one friend who had a series of miscarriages and her final pregnancy aborted, she did NOT want to have an abortion, but the ultrasound showed a "non-viable" fetus that was either going to die INSIDE her, or expire immediately after birth, there was no way it was going to transmute into a fetus ever capable of surviving infancy and attaining sapience; I know women who risked their lives in "problem pregnancies, and while it's not common and I can't think of anyone I know who died from complications of being pregnant or in childbirth, it DOES happen still--the drop in the maternal mortality rate from when abortion was not legally available in the USA is because women had (and don't have contemporarily in most of the geography of the USA, actually, if one looks at the distribution of abortion-providing facilities...) access to legal abortion by medical professionals in antiseptic facilities to terminate life-threatening pregnancies (including ones that led to suicide or fatal backalley abortions by girls and adult who had determined that death or illegal abortion was preferable to being pregnant... "honor killing" of girls/women who get pregnant still occurs by those who disapprove of the "dishonor" to the family or by the impregnator who objects to consequences being imposed on the impregnator of having impregnated. or the concept of having fathered a fetus that is going to be fingered as -his- engendering....)

Banning all abortion in the USA (that first case is only the first...) is only ONE consequence of the tenure of the vilest administration ever to infest the US Government.
Others include:
- the packing the rest of the federal court system with narrowminded Christian Dominionist misogynist fascist bigots,
- packing the US military hierarchy with fascist Christian Dominionist misogynist bigots (Lt Gen Boykin being but the most obvious example),
- expelling or less directly forcing out in mass those in the US Department of Justice genuinely concerned with and worked for voters' rights of preserving the legal access and rights of those who aren't white Christian Dominionist Republicans to vote in elections, particularly federal elections, and have their votes accurately preserved and COUNTED in the elections instead of using fraud and deceit and bureaucratic bitbucketing to remove them from and keep them off the voting rolls, limit the voting equipment available for their polling places so that they have to stand in line for eight hours for a chance to get into a voting booth meaning most people are likely to have to LEAVE first to avoid losing a day's salary or pick up the kids or check on the sick parents or get food etc. Also, there are those huge number of provisional ballots in Ohio in the last federal election that did NOT get counted that were from districts with high proportions of people who weren't white Christian Dominionist Republicans... meanwhile Karl Rove etc. were packing the DOJ with replacements whose "qualifications" boil down to "rightwing Republican Faithful Cheney-crony white male (occasionally white female, see e.g. Ann Coulter and Elaine Donnelly and Beverly LaHaye and their ilk) Christian Dominionist whining about how downtrodden and discriminated against and underrepresented white male Christian Dominionists are and how everyone else is given too much federal cosseting and preference especially regarding voting rights....
- gutting all US agencies of people who might use the scientific method for observation and analysis instead of Christian Dominionist credo in everything from the creation of the Grand Canyon

(the Schmuck's administration forced the placement of a piece of Creationist bullshit book claiming that the Biblical Flood created the Grand Canyon in the Grand Canyon's alleged scientific books section for example... I do NOT comprehend how very allegorical redacted religious text which MY ancestors lugged around for the past two or three millennia had become the credo of people whose ancestors adopted as religious tenet the redacted works labelled Matthew, Mark, Paul, Luke, etc., which works I don't think say ANYTHING about belief in how long ago the world was created... the Christian Dominionists don't follow all those laws in Leviticus banning shellfish, pork, mixing of meat and milk, etc. etc. etc., and yet there they are shoving Genesis tales at everyone as Truth, regardless of race, creed, religious background, etc.)

to gag-nordering any federal scientist from MENTIONING salmon in the Northwest, because the Schmuck's policies and ukases about the northwest federal policies had produced massive fish kills of salmon, interfered with their spawning and reproduction, and crashed the fish population numbers of Northwest salmon... and then there's global warming, mercury in the air, air pollutin, water pollution, runoff and stinking cesspools from agribusinesses full of pollution from at the least animal urine and feces...

ROTC takes up to four years (sometimes more, with people who get deferments for grad school) to turn a college student into a new active on-duty military officer, the military academies take four years, OTS/OCS takes time in service pluse months, creating a sergeant takes several years from the time someone enlists, even new troops take months from the time they are inducted until they have enough training to be militarily -effective- at anything and not dangerous/incompetent/untrained.

The senior officer corps takes years, plural, to to grow and seaons. The Schmuck has CORRUPTED the US military to a degree never seen in the history of the country before--purging the upper ranks of anyone who put their oath to the Constitution above the (illegal) orders from the Executive Branch, and promoting only those who put loyalty to the Chief Executive and his cronies, above their oaths of office... Generals typically have -decades- of service, and the minimum time for even a "fast burner" to get to ONE star is rather more than a decade--and more usually it's more like THIRTY years' military service--the normal promotion zones are promotion to 02 from 01 at two years, 02 to 03 at 4 years, 03 to 04 at 12 years, is it, 04 to 05 between the 16 and 20 year point, 05 to 06 at the 26 year mark or earlier, 07 to general no later than 30 years...

Looking at the Supreme Court, unless something rewires the brains of Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy, Alito, and Roberts, they're in their with their fascist misogynist suppress individual rights exterminate the Bill of Rights and Constitution Christian Dominionist bigotry until they die, and some of them are in their early fifties.

Personally, as female and Jewish, I consider it completely ILLEGITIMATE to have THEM ruling on e.g. abortion and other matters of GENDER and religion when they are NOT capable of being personally made pregnant and experiencing first hand all the biological and chemical and physiological and psychological personal effects of pregnancy, particularly when different religions and religious sects have all sorts of different rules and laws regarding gender relations, marriage, pregnancy, responsbilities regarding pregnancy, etc.

The Internet and Televison and radio are very much limited in memory--TV and radio are instantaneous and memoryless, Yesterday's News is -gone- and not even buried, it's not even that endurant, it's ephemeral, completely, and gone after it shows/plays. The Internet has -some- memory to it, but only so long as a web page is on-line and accessible and there are accessible links to it and it is NOT drowned out from being accessed by spam, cache dumping, bad indexing, astroturfing, heckler's vetoes, etc.

Schmuck is like an infection of herpes, spread it around and it goes into the nervouse system of all infected to be there forever after infesting....

The dismantling of and eradication of federal structure and organization and expertise to build up, the discontinuating intentionally of collected even statistical data regarding e.g. the status of women in the workforce--deliberately because when there is no data there is NO PROOF THAT CAN BE GENERATED!!! of ANY discrimination against women regarding pay and benefits and promotion... and the fact that someone FINALLY managed to get access to data that had been suppressed for years, and charge discrimination, and then have those five utter pieces of excrement on the Supreme Court say tough, the lawsuit is invalid because too much time went buy from when the damn discrimination STARTED... rot in hell, Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy, and rot in hell the people who PUT you there to judge, and may the lot of you be removed and all your works exterminated... but the lot of them have removed what was there before them and perverted it, blocked those of other creeds and values and ideals from entry and filled the ranks of US Government and private industry with those of their values and beliefs, and tried to eradicate the rest of us...

It's impossible to get promoted when the promotion board is full of people who promote people Just Like They Are and won't even hire anyone one. It's impossible to get a job in the software industy in the USA if female and a US citizen if the policy of the organization is to put in H1B visa and greencard labor for any position that hasn't already been offshored to India or Eastern Europe.

My former boss used to work at Fidelity, he said that most of the developers there were from outside the USA, and they would go home for a month, come back married and within a year the wife of the couple would bear a US by birth citizen giving them permanent resident status. There are companies that SPECIALIZE in staffing up businesses with foreign worker labor and have all sorts of ways to disqualify anyone who isn't a foreign worker.

And no, it';s not that I think that there should be a Fortress America, the point is that hiring foreign workers does several things--it provides the corporate world -control- of the labor--as foreigners, the workers have to keep the employer happy or face the threat of deportation, at least until they engender a US citizen, and the foreign workers tend to get paid -less-, and the foreign worker MUST have a US employer sponsor, or again, be faces deportation.... It's about greed and control and inequity and unfairness and greed and POWERLESSNESS on the part of the workers.... and that's part of what the Schmuck's Plutocracy is all about. POWER, GREED, CONTROL, INEQUALITY.

When does the Terror start... "Marat we're poor.... "

#241 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Earl 234: I, for one, am not welcoming our new Oligarch Overlords, whatever state they may come from.

I'm not welcoming our new pseudo-Texan northeastern blueblood overlord. OK?

#242 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 04:02 PM:

"It can't happen here."

Bullshit.
Look at Afghanistan, before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan was a country which had female professors, female judges, female lawyers, female doctors... look at Afghanistan seven years ago and today--one of the world's highest infant mortality rates. Women not only NOT in judgships and professorial positions, but women locked in purdah and brutalized for stepping out of purdah without being covered head to toe and with a male relative as escort. Rampant illiteracy among females under 20 years of age, no schools legally available for teaching girls to read and write seven years ago, and few of them staying open today which were opened after the US invasion of Afghanistan--seems that the US-backed warlords in their attitudes towards women are indistinguisable from Taliban, and also, that any school that opened to teach girls, has been the target of fanatical misogynist hatemongering using guns and bombs to commit mayhem and murder who on the one hand target such schools for bombings to destroy the school and anyone who might be in it, and shootings to also eradicate anyone involved in educating girls, eradicate girls who have been going to school, and to deter anyone ELSE from trying to educate girls or be a girl intent on becoming literate, and intimidating the families of the girls and would-be educators...

Look at Iraq. Back before the Gulf War, there was a health conference in Africa which Saddam Hussein's Iraq sent an all-female delegation of health care professionals to. Look at Iraq today, and it looks at least as bad at Afghanistan when Taliban was taking over, with brutal suppression of women, bombings, rampant atrocities and fighting, violent intimidation and suppression of anyone or anything not compliant to extremist intolerant Islamic sect rule, mayhem against Muslims who shave, attacks on non-Muslims and destruction of stores selling alcoholic beverages or anything else "haram" to Islam..

Iraq had had universal education of girls and boys and state heathcare, now it has mayhem and murder and women stripped of their livelihood and shrouded in veils and increasingly locked in purdah.

And the Christian Dominionists of the USA have essentially the same outlook on life, regarding imposing their religion on everyone else, locking women into "submission to their husband" and engaging in nonstop evanglizing:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/int_rel19.htm

"Caution: Some of the definitions of common religious words used by [Conservative Protestant Christian] sites may be confusing to the average person. They often restrict the term "Christian" to refer to themselves; others might use the term "Evangelical Christian." They may use the term "non-Christian" to refer to mainline and liberal Christian groups as well as Muslims, Hindus, followers of Aboriginal and Neo-Pagan religions etc. They have unique definitions for abortion and homosexually related terms, like "pregnancy," "sexual orientation," "lifestyle," etc. This makes honest dialogue almost impossible. We have prepared a cross-cultural dictionary to clarify the different meanings assigned to common words by conservative Christians."

"Christian Coalition of America is an organization promoting conservative Christian legislation. At the last national election, they distributed a record 70 million voter guides throughout all 50 states promoting Republican candidates. They are at http://www.cc.org/ "

http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm

"DOMINIONISM
"(A.K.A. CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM,
"DOMINION THEOLOGY, AND THEONOMY)

"...Its most common form, Dominionism, represents one of the most extreme forms of Fundamentalist Christianity thought. Its followers, called Dominionists, are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of United States so that they match those of the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools....Their eventual goal is to achieve the "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. They feel that the power of God's word will bring about this conversion. No armed force or insurrection will be needed; in fact, they believe that there will be little opposition to their plan. People will willingly accept it. All that needs to be done is to properly explain it to them.

"All religious organizations, congregations etc. other than strictly Fundamentalist Christianity would be suppressed. Nonconforming Evangelical, main line and liberal Christian religious institutions would no longer be allowed to hold services, organize, proselytize, etc. Society would revert to the laws and punishments of the Hebrew Scriptures. Any person who advocated or practiced other religious beliefs outside of their home would be tried for idolatry and executed. Blasphemy, adultery and homosexual behavior would be criminalized; those found guilty would also be executed. At that time that this essay was originally written, this was the only religious movement in North America of which we were aware which advocates genocide for followers of minority religions and non-conforming members of their own religion. Since then, we have learned of two conservative Christian pastors in Texas who have advocated the execution of all Wiccans. Ralph Reed, the executive director of the conservative public policy group the Christian Coalition has criticized Reconstructionism as "an authoritarian ideology that threatens the most basic civil liberties of a free and democratic society." "

http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp

[excerpts]

"....It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ...."

"....The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists."

"....Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love. In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth."

"....A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation"

#243 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Astroturf, astroturf,
See the screed come in
Astroturf, astroturf
Making louder din,
Spread far and near
Worse ev'ry year,
Astroturf,
Astroturf,
Astroturf

Astroturf Astroturf
Rove and Cheney
And there's the Schmuck who's commuting Libby
Hubris they show,
When will they go,
Astroturf, Astroturf, Astroturf.

Astroturf Astroturf
See it arrive
Astroturf Astroturf
In forums live,
Stomp it all out,
Disemvowel the louts,
Astroturf, Astroturf, Astroturf!

#244 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 04:43 PM:

Lizzy L 2 224

GG discusses also how we got into the mess in Iraq, how we're about to get into an even worse mess in Iran (barring a miraculous immediate removal from office), and how big a mess we're going to be in whether or not we impeach these guys. Also shreds many of the louder supporters and points out the light that some of them have seen. (Incident: a guy who turned 40 last winter, realized that he'd been lied to by Bush/Cheney for several years, and that he was going to have to teach his kids not to trust everything government said, and to question authority - and realized that that was what the hippies had said, and he'd laughed about it and at them, and they were right all along.)

You might not want to keep it around, but you can donate it to your library.

#245 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 04:57 PM:

Despite my own hatred of the current govt., and a tendency to think negatively, I am *not* ready to put on my tin-foil hat. I agree with Alan Graggins (#213) that Bush is no Stalin, Hitler, etc. (Cheney may be closer but the heart condition doesn't suggest he'll live another decade or two), and Scott H also put it well in #217. If Bush ever brainwashed a substantial portion of the US public, he's failing at it now, and I don't think he's close enough to the full US military to establish an Evil Empire after '08.

The Dems are currently raking in more campaign contributions than the Republican oligarchs (not all zillionaires are crusty old conservatives), and a huge portion of the public would be *really* pissed off if there was any attempt to hijack the next election. We aren't a nation of serfs, with an utterly decadent nobility or a huge rah-rah chorus of Hitler Youth types. And as mentioned above, we've survived some pretty scummy presidents in the past.

I expect this comment will get highly negative responses from some people in this discussion, and fear seems natural enough -- along with rage. (After all, I'm *still* sort of amazed that we didn't H-bomb ourselves into another Stone Age back in the past century.) But neither paranoia nor bile is likely to be of much use at present.

#246 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 05:12 PM:

Cosmic Dog @ 233

Are you aware that the guidelines for pardons and commutations (which Shrub ignored) require serving at least some time?
Are you aware of US vs Nixon (1974) where the Supreme Court said that a President promising (or even discussing) a pardon for someone (in return for silence about presidential acts) is obstructing justice?
Do you really want a country where 'justice' is based entirely on who you know, what party you belong to, and what color skin you have?

#247 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 05:29 PM:

PublicRadioVet, #238:

I call it like I see it.

Oddly enough, so do most people in this conversation. Nobody's suggested you ought to do otherwise. Statements like this amount to nothing more than attitudinizing.

In over 200+ years of tumult and turmoil, the United States, as a nation, somehow retains enough elasticity to survive even the most outrageous stretches.

Of couse, this hasn't hitherto been a conversation about whether, in the near- to middle-distant future, the US will continue to exist as a sovereign political entity. Most of the people hereabouts who have expressing a sense of loss in connection with recent American history haven't, in fact, been suggesting that there will soon cease to be a "United States" on the map. Your false suggestion that they are doing so is an unpleasant rhetorical turn.

Even civil war. Even the economic disaster of the Great Depression, or the world war that followed on, or the cultural and civil rights 'wars' that followed after that...

It's striking that you equate the civil rights movement with disasters such as the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. But let's pass that by.

The fact is that wars and economic collapses spell the end of a lot of people's worlds. The PBS-documentary view of history as a series of sepiatone pictures backed by uplifting music doesn't undo those losses; it just encourages us to feel even more preciously wonderful about ourselves than we, as subscribers to the America-Is-Ever-So-Special school of history, already do. They supply us with a heroic backstory that we didn't earn.

[I]t seems to me that in our time of tremendous wailing and gnashing of teeth, it would do us good, as a country, to retain a little historical perspective.

Oddly enough, most people in this conversation think they have "historical perspective," too. Their "historical perspective" just doesn't agree with yours. This is what we call substantive disagreement. Merely claiming to have "perspective" doesn't amount to making a case; indeed, once again, absent an actual argument, it's mere attitudinizing. I'm sure you regard posts such as Paula Leiberman's as nothing more than "wailing and gnashing of teeth," but she at least makes an effort to muster facts and a narrative. You're just gazing admiringly at yourself and adjusting your rhetorical makeup.

I think future decades will show that 2000-2008 were momentous, yes, but hardly ruinous or irrevocable.

I think your argument to this effect is long on assertion and short on substance, even by the casual standards of an online conversation.

#248 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:00 PM:

PRV, #238: "In over 200+ years of tumult and turmoil, the United States, as a nation, somehow retains enough elasticity to survive even the most outrageous stretches."

The question isn't whether or not the USA survives; the question is how, and in what form. Do you want to see a return to segregation? 10% voter turnouts? Women dying from back alley abortions? The USA at war with all Islamic world? The disaster of New Orleans and Katrina repeated over and over again, until we have tens of millions of internal refugees? The citizenry impoverished, except the few with the right connections? If we keep on the current path, that is what we shall see. Do not assume things are going to get better; they will get better only if we make them better.

"I think future decades will show that 2000-2008 were momentous, yes, but hardly ruinous or irrevocable."

What on earth are you talking about? Exactly how, pray tell, is the USA supposed to get back the international goodwill Bush has squandered? It will take a generation at least to recover the civil rights this administration has stolen. The Roberts Court seems likely to go down in history alongside the Taney Court as a maker of unjust law. And the loss of time on the environment will cost and cost. You talk of "historical perspective"--this is the historical perspective; it may be even worse, yet, than we imagine.

Yes, I'm angry. I want this madness stopped, and our feet back on the road to sanity, the sooner, the better.

#249 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Phil Nugent has some pertinent thoughts on this event, as well as on the future behavior of Libby's buddies on the off-chance some non-approved person wins the election in 2008.

I admit I've never heard of Nugent before, but I got there via Crooked Timber. He's got a cynical view that's akin to mine.

#250 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 09:33 PM:

I don't see any way Bush could carry off a coup. He has very little public support, he's lost a huge number of conservative supporters, and he's been despised by most people to his left since 2000.

IMO, the danger is that he's given up on the future--he has no future in politics past 2009. Until then, he has the formal powers of the presidency, and very little else--much of his own party is distancing itself from him, the immigration bill was absolutely a slap in the face to a big chunk of the conservative movement, hardly anyone believes anything good will come of the war anymore.

I think the immigration bill was a kind of signal, saying he's going to do what he pleases for the next couple years, and to hell with the political future of the party. I worry very much that he may decide to take some decisive action against Iran, because he thinks it needs to be done, and he has little to lose. Or that he may take some other spectacular, disasterous action, in an attempt to establish a place for himself in history, something he can point to at least to himself as an accomplishment to be proud of among the failures.

#251 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:10 PM:

PJ Evans @ 246

I think you are reading too much into my comment. I didn't say that I agree with the President has done, just that it isn't illegal. And although I don't doubt you, I've read the text of the UNITED STATES v. NIXON, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), I can't find any comment regarding Presidential pardons. I would appreciate any education you can provide.

Paula @ 240
Whoa. Slow your roll. I have no opinion regarding abortion rights, as I am not a woman. My understanding regarding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban is that it bans a particular method of abortion, not abortion all together. From what I've read, the controversy is that the banned procedure may be safer for the woman for 3rd trimester abortions, which many states have banned. In any regards, Bush signed the law, he didn't make it. As far as him appointing people with similar political and religious views as himself into positions of power, well, wouldn't you? I mean, if you were in a position to try to fix waht you saw were problems in society, wouldn't you try. You don't agree with Bush's worldview, I don't blame you. For the most part, I don't either. The good news is that in 18 months, it will be over.

I will go on record that I don't like abortion and wish that it wouldn't happen, but I not concerned about changing the law, but with changing of hearts.

I'm sorry. This is clearly a very important issue with you and want to give you respect and consideration.

So please, lay off the personal attacks. I do not have my head up my ass. I was simply providing my perspective to one aspect of Jim's original post.

Please, let's play nice now. Shall we?

#252 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 10:56 PM:

Cosmic Dog: Every one who has ever been pardoned was lawfully convicted of a crime.

Hello? Ford pardoning Nixon before trial (let alone conviction)?

#253 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 11:11 PM:

To those that assert that it's been worse, I would like to ask: When? and How? I'm not being snarky. I have a high school education in US history, which means that half of what I know is lies. Was it really worse during the McCarthy era? The Teapot Dome Scandal? What was the effect of suspending habaeus corpus during the Civil War?

What I do know is this. This is worse than anything I've seen in my adult life. I voted for John Anderson in 1980, when I was 18. Things looked pretty bleak. What I see now is worse than anything I ever imagined possible back then.

#254 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Cosmic Dog, I can't track down that quote without spending more tiem on it than I want to right now (I'm on dialup). But some relevant-to-this-stuff quotes:

The Nixon WH tapes:
Saturday, April 14, 1973

ABSTRACT: Discussions of press coverage and the issue of campaign funding; Hunt's testimony; President insisting, publicly, to Mitchell, Magruder, Liddy not to withhold testimony thinking they to protect the President; reports of promises of pardons, clemency; implications of hush money to defendants; possible Ehrlichman meetings with Mitchell, Magruders and their lawyers; possible grand jury appearance by the President; legal exposure of Dean, Haldeman, Chapin in the cover-up.

Saturday, April 14, 1973

ABSTRACT: This conversation recounts Ehrlichman's meeting with Mitchell and his attorneys earlier that day. Topics discussed include: dissuading suspects from remaining quiet thinking they were protecting the President; origins of the break-in; Operation Sandwedge (intelligence-gathering operation at the Committee to Re-Elect the President; Dean influencing Magruder's testimony; Mitchell and Magruder's prior knowledge of break-in; conflict between Liddy and Magruder; payments to defendants; disposition of $328,000; pressure from Kleindeinst to appoint a Special Prosecutor; White House role in break-in; an upcoming meeting with Magruder and his attorneys; involvement of Strachan and Colson; Dean's views; Hunt's attorney; clemency discussions; Mitchell's legal prospects.

The Nixon Impeachment
Article 1: Obstruction of Justice.

In his conduct of the office of the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that: On June 17, 1972, and prior thereto, agents of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his subordinates and agents in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede and obstruct investigations of such unlawful entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities. The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan have included one or more of the following:

(1) Making or causing to be made false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States.

(2) Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States.

(3) Approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings.

(4) Interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force and congressional committees.

(5) Approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payments of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities.

(6) Endeavoring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States.

(7) Disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employes of the United States for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability.

(8) Making false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation has been conducted with respect to allegation of misconduct on the part of personnel of the Executive Branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct; or

(9) Endeavoring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favored treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

(Approved by a vote of 27-11 by the House Judiciary Committee on Saturday, July 27, 1974.)

Summary of US vs Nixon
The unanimous decision held that the Supreme Court has not only the power established in Marbury v. Madison to rule a law invalid for conflicting with constitutional provisions but also power to decide how the Constitution limits the President's powers; that the Constitution provides for laws enforceable on a president; and that executive privilege does not apply to "demonstrably relevant" evidence in criminal cases.
---
Notice the parallels. (My italics)

#255 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Cosmic Dog #251 --

Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, Roberts, and Thomas have shown how much regard they have for past decisions and precedent of the US Supreme Court and "judicial restraint" in anything they personally disapprove of.

Personally, I don't have a high regard for using abortion as a form of birth control--but any other woman's body isn't my body. There's an entire website with a title of something like "The Only Moral Abortion Is My Abortion" which exposes the massive hypocrisy of women who spend day after day picking health clinics that perform abortions, with some of them carrying signs calling for the death penalty to be applied to abortion providers, who then when it comes to themselves or their friends and families, go into the clinic and demand abortion services.... and if provided them, come back soon after to the picket line protesting the existence of abortion services and calling for dire punishment to abortion providers!

My main point, though, is that Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Kennedy's intent is to overturn Roe v Wade and outlaw all abortion services--following the directives of their religious denomination and spiting the concept of separation of church and state and freedom of religion and that they personally have never been and never will be in, or at least for their present lifetimes, any danger of dying from pregnancy complications or side-effects of pregnancys or bleeding from rupture in miscarriage or during or after childbirth or toxic reactions from pregnancy, or any of the other conditions that can turn fatal when pregnant or miscarrying or giving birth.

Aborition is merely the most visible contention issue, but there are lots of other issues where there is a 5-4 Supreme Court split, and individual civil rights are being systematically eradicated. The schoolkid with his caricature sign something like Bongs 4 Jesus the Supreme Court rules against by the 5-4 vote, even though the same votes against him, voted that thinly veiled corporate pressure group attacks on candidates masquerading as one-sided screed "issues" ads were protected free speech and not partisan political attacks on promoting one candidate and by the attack on another.

There were some end of court session decisions which didn't get the broadcast media attention that were at least as repressive to true free speech of individual citizens with service and facilitation to rich vested interests which control the plurality of assets and wealth and revenue in the USA... the upper 1 percent of the population in terms of wealth and income, have gotten richer disproportionately to the rest of the population more than at any time after the Great Depression.. that $250,000 fine to Mr Libby is chump change to e.g. the Sinclair broadcast owners, but to people at minimum wage, no more than about half of their pre-tax and pre-deductions lifetime earning potential, assuming they don't spend time being unemployed...

Someone earning no more than $8 an hour would have to work more than 15 years to get to $250,000 earned--that again is earnings, not after taxed and deductions income, and without spending a cent for food, clothing, shelter... meanwhile, a $1000 an hour earns $250,000 pre-tax etc. (but then the lawyer also gets to charge expenses in addition to the hourly rate) in slightly over six weeks, or an eighth or so of a year. The rich venal blonde bimbo that the news media consider so important and relevant to give massive amounts of attention and airtime and magazine cover space to, has millions and millions of dollars of funds at her disposal and lots more accruing to her over time. The folks working at supermarkets and Wal-Mart and McDonalds etc., however, don't and are mostly financially precarious, not earning income at a rate to build up cushion and afford decent housing where their jobs are.

Massachusetts is one of four "commonwealths" in the USA--but there is nothing about common wealth in the increasing concentration of the plurality of wealth and revenue and consequently influence and control, into the hands of a very small percentage of the USA population, and the increasing financial impoverishing and debilitation of an every larger percentage of the populace into indigency, including permanent indigency--which breeds crime, disease spread (people too poor to afford medication for the full course of treatment for infectious diseases which have now become resistant to virtually every antibiotic in existence due to the failure of peoiple infected with the diseases, to take the full course of treatment--e.g., drug-resistant tuberculosis, "Russian Jail" communicatble diseaes that are antiobiotics resistance, resurgences of gonorrhea and syphillis and such), thievery and mayhem and murder....

The inequities between the nobility's affluence and corruption, and the impoverishment of the ordinary French citizen, was much of what brought the French Revolution and then the Terror which followed it.

"Libertie, egalite..." etc. The aristocrats and royalty became symbols to cart to Madame La Guillotine and chop off their heads as public spectacle.

Delia Sherman's novel The Porcelain Dove shows some of the depravities of the French nobility and their power and abuses which led to the French Revolution and then the Terror.

But once again, getting back to the plutocracy--the CIA and FBI and NSA have turned into the Stasi, spying without warrants on any and all on bases that don;'t involve a seasons judge issueing a warrant, but rather arbitrary and capricious imposition without oversight and vetting by any disinsterested parties.

And the appointees of the Schmuck uphold the politcal agenda of the Schmuck, or he never would have appoitned them--Karl Rove does the initially vetting/willings, and the result is {derogatory term coming} no-life-experience ignoramous political bigoted No Nothings ideologues get appointed to positions their sole qualifications are, "Republican appartachik the [mis]administration wants replacing anyone who wants the Constituation upheld and protected.... and the Roberts Court is another rubber stamp.

#256 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:37 AM:

Okay, Paula. I give up. I going to admit that I cannot make sense of your postings. They are too long and go in too many directions for me comprehend your meaning. I'm going to assume that this is my failing. I would love to engage in some political debate but my ego and my mind nessitate that statements and responses be polite, short, and to the point. I wish you all the luck in the world.

#257 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:54 AM:

CHip @ 252

You're right, my bad. I made an assumption that a person must be convicted in order to be pardoned. A brief bit a research showed me the error my assumption. I guess a better assumption would be that everyone that has been granted a Presidential pardon has committed a crime or was likely to be lawfully convicted of a crime.

There have been some very controversial pardons in the past, in fact Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush (I), and Clinton all issued pardons on questionable grounds. It seems to be something that Presidents do. Whether Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, the men that have held the highest office in the land have (apparently) faltered in their duty at times.

So be it, it's frustrating. I say, let's follow Al Gore's advice: If your elected representatives aren't representing your interests, run for office.

#258 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:57 AM:

Lots to comment on...

Firstly, George Bush's coup d'etat chances extend about as far as the muzzles of the pistols belonging to the secret service agents who currently shield him. Those men serve the office, not Bush per se, and would cheerily show Bush the door (or a paddy wagon) if he tried to stay in office illegally. And as for Bush calling on the military.... Same answer. Nobody I know signed up for Bush. Not even the avowed Republicans. And as albatross pointed out, Bush has sort of painted himself into a friendless corner at this point, so Bush's ability to exert military force to stay in office is practically non-existant.

But in all honesty, I don't think Bush or Cheney has plans in this regard. FUBAR as the two men might be, I don't think they're unrealistic enough to believe that either one of them has a shot in Hell of staying on past their expiration dates. They'll take their bows at the curtain, and it'll be a new roll of the dice for America in 2009.

Patrick @ #247,

All I am saying is that the United States has always managed to navigate the storm; whatever that storm might happen to be. Read whatever you want into my comparisons, but the 1950's thru 1970's were a period of tremendous cultural and political change, not seen since probably the Civil War and abolition. In many ways the 1960's alone should have shattered the country. Indeed, based on anecdotal evidence from my grandmother's generation, many did in fact believe that the 1960's and 1970's would spell doom for the republic.

Yet, clearly, the country survived, and even thrived.

What happened?

I think there is a lesson to be learned, from the response of past generations to the strife and turmoil of their day. The reactionists of their era looked at the changes that were taking place, from 1950 through 1980, and spoke ominously of doom. If it wasn't the McCarthyists crying 'Commie Doom' it was the Earth Day set crying 'Ecology Doom' while the peace movement cried of 'Nuclear Doom' and the racists cried of 'Racial Doom', and the energy crowd talked of 'Oil Doom' and political fetishists of both Left and Right looked to Washington D.C. and saw imminent political dooms aplenty.

Somehow, the U.S. remained intact. Somehow we navigated those decades of political and social tectonics and emerged into the 1990's a wealthier, more prosperous, and in many ways, more free nation than we had ever been before. And whatever Bush has fucked up in the last 7 years, perhaps unintended (on Bush's part) benefits will come of it?

Consider...

1) The next President is almost guaranteed to be an anti-war Democrat. If the Republicans had any chance of fielding a man in 2009, Bush's legacy as a Republican president has pretty much cost the GOP the White House in he next election. The public is pretty sour right now, and unless a GOP candidate suddenly comes out as staunchly anti-war and is not afraid to declare Bush a fuckup to his face, the White House is 95% certain to turn blue in 2009.

2) It will probably be several generations before the U.S. is again prepared for major military adventures in the third world. Once an anti-war President is in the White House, backed by majority-Dem congressional and senatorial support, the Iraq fiasco will be brought quickly to a close, perhaps as soon as 2010. The White House, again with majority Dem support, will most likely go back to falling in line with the U.N., where military operations are concerned. Which means no more Iraq, and certainly no Iran. Maybe we keep on in Afghanistan, maybe we don't. But Iraq will be through, and the United States will not be sending an aggressive expeditionary force abroad for a long, loooooong time.

3) Bush has put the lie to idea that the Republicans are the party of the Small Man who desires a Small Government. A great deal of the conservative base clings to the Republican party as the down-home party of reduced spending, reduced pork, reduced debt, and so forth. Under Bush, this mask has been shattered. And the conservative base is pissed. The Neo-Con lordship over the conservative mind has already slipped substantially. By the time Bush leaves, the Neo-Con fad will be at an end. Anyone clinging to it will be committing political suicide because the public has had enough of the Neo-Con game plan.

Really, if I sit back and do a "what if" 20 years into the future, I see 20 years of Dems and liberals pretty much getting to own the wheel of power because Bush and Cheney have not only betrayed the blue half of the country, lots of people in the red half also feel betrayed, because Bush and Cheney have been anything but 'conservative' on a range of issues important to conservatives, especially economics, border control, etc.

A divided and unhappy conservative base, marginalized by the antics of this President, will not be rallying any time soon to a Republican flag. There will be lots of 'purple' people lending cross-party support to the Dems if the Dems have success in bringing the war to a close, rolling back some of the GWOT powers Bush exercised, etc.

Unless the Dems colossally fuck up from 2009 through 2012, I think the Bush Era has practically guaranteed that Dems will get a very favorable hearing from the American people on a raft of different issues.

If you want boatloads of citations to back these assertions up, sorry, I cannot provide them. This is all largely my "hunch" based on what I know of American history since World War 2, and how the American public has responded to a range of different events. My feeling is that the Republican Revolution, began with Reagan, has run its course. The Republicans have largely fallen on their own swords, and become their own worst enemies. Seeking an end to Iraq, an end to runaway spending, an end to many things, the American people will look to new faces for leadership, and sensible decision-making at the top level.

Me, I'd love to see a bona fide third party jump in at this point. There has probably not been a more ripe time for it in the last 50 years.

But I will be content with the Dems, assuming they can pull their heads out on a few things and come up with a couple of decent Presidential terms that don't terminate in scandal. But even here, it will be tough for a Dem to underperform, if only because Bush brought the bar so low.

#259 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:35 AM:

PRV: Your so-called nuclear, oil, and ecology dooms still threaten. Just because they haven't happened yet doesn't mean they won't. It's also interesting that you talk about upheavals lasting from 1950 to 1980, and then go straight into emerging into a prosperous 90's. Looking at who's in between there, I wonder who you're a secret fan of.

And to respond to your considerations...

1) We are certainly not guaranteed any such thing, not when none of the Democratic front-runners could be described as "anti-war" (one of them being just as militaristic as Bush himself), and not when the Republicans control the voting process to the extent that they do. I will not accept that talk of vote-fixing is far-fetched; we've seen it at least in the last two presidential elections, and they're getting better at it.
2) People could probably have been forgiven for thinking that same thing after Vietnam, and, well, look at us now. I'm also wondering what your mystical speedy resolution (by 2010!) will look like, and whether you think any resolution will magically make it OK that hundreds of thousands of people are dead.
3) Dare to dream. I do not see this possibly happening given the entrenched power structures we're dealing with.

As for the rest:
I see 20 years of Dems and liberals pretty much getting to own the wheel of power
I see at least this many years of a solidly regressive Supreme Court, which pretty much means we're fucked.

My feeling is that the Republican Revolution, began with Reagan, has run its course.
Point of interest: the "Republican Revolution" did not begin with Reagan.

But I will be content with the Dems, assuming they can pull their heads out on a few things and come up with a couple of decent Presidential terms that don't terminate in scandal.
Then you and I are together in hoping that any hypothetical Democratic president is allowed to do this? Because I can't help feeling like they won't be.*

*In other words, I call total bullshit.

#260 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:46 AM:


PublicRadioVet #258

The vote recount in Florida held according to Florida's rules about counting votes that was paid for by e.g. newspapers had Al Gore as the clear winner, in 2000.

2004 was "vote fraud in Ohio" (and in another state), with all those uncounted provisional ballots given to voters who'd been illegally purged off the voting roles, the more-votes-for-Bush-Cheney recorded by Diebold machines than there were voters in at last one district, voting results from machines which both Caltech and MIT investigation into determined were anything but tamperproof and which there was no valid audit possible, exit polling indicating victory for Kerry rather than a win for Bush by a margin of something like 3 percent, voting machines withheld deliberately from districts with a majority of voters registered as other than Republican causing hours-long lines for voting but no such shortfalls occuring in Republican majority districts, ballots which in effect impounded by Republican appartchiks and for which there was no assurance that they weren;t tampered with before turned over for counting... the allegations and the evidence point strongly to 2004 being a "stolen election," especially with the then-head of Diebold having promised to throw the election for Bush.

Bottom line, the results were rigged by corrupt officials and in the case of 2000, a corrupt court.

What; to prevent the same thing from happening yet again, with an even greater percentage of federal judges appointed by Bush and his feckless Republican predecessors of e.g. his father and Nixon (note that Clinton's nominations for the court were mostly bottlenecked and held up from even being considered by the Senate much less confirmed, while the Schmuck's picked got rubberstamped and railroaded through for the first six years he was in--none of that stonewalling that occurred to Clinton's picks, and all those vacancies that Clinton tried to fill and was prevented from filling, got filled instead with appartchiks and functionaries for the most part placed for their service for the Christian Dominionist-oriented Republican iniatives and loyalty to Bush-Cheney goals and values and initiatives.

The same is true for federal marshals and the rest of the Department of Justice--civil servants who have not been active participants and promoters of the Republican Dominionist-oriented set of agendas, have been purged/reassigned/railroaded/forced out to make way for replacements who promote and support the Bush-Cheney agenda and goals.

The same is also true for the rest of the federal government and the military hierarchy, compliance and promotion of Bush-Cheney views and values are the litmus tests for hiring and promotion. Noncompliance gets one in the extreme cases outed like Valerie Plame, fired, or reassigned to a dead end makework position with output that gets sent directly to the trashcan.

In summary:
1. Gore was the winner according to the law in 2000. The Supreme Court however appointed Bush in a 5-4 decision.
2. The election in Ohio (and another state) was tampered with rigging the outcome to give the election to Bush in 2004.
3. Bush packed the federal court system with partial judges.
4. Bush removed or "neutralized" civil servants who objected to his policies and agenda or criticized them and replaced them with loyal flunkies, particularly federal marshalls and attorneys in the Department of Justice concerned with federal election operations.
5. Unless there is a purge of Bush appointees before the 2008 election, those appartchiks appointed by Bush are still going to be in place and their loyalties are to Bush-Cheney initiative and endeavors, not the well-being and best interest of "We the People of the United States of America." The cynical definition of "honest politician" applies--they stay bought and loyal to the folks who put them where they are.

======================================

The evidence is that the Bush appointees generally qualifications of appropriate experience, training, and judgement for the positions they have been appointed to.

Mike Brown who was at FEMA was a typical case of someone appointed on the basis of political affilition and favoritism instead of merit and relevant experience and expertise.

Currently there is a US assistance federal attorney in the Northeast that there are complaints outstanding regarding his performance and competence and qualifications, for example, the controversy was in at least the Boston Globe earlier this week.

#261 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:52 AM:

PRV notes:

"All I am saying is that the United States has always managed to navigate the storm; whatever that storm might happen to be."

You're right. Dead on.

But you're glossing over the details of the "Somehow" you evoke in a later paragraph.

The "somehow" is not a mystery. It's not gravity pulling on a pendulum. Righting wrongs, rooting out corruption, and putting tyrants in their place requires effort and motivation and people getting hot under the collar. It means occasionally getting impolite and uncivil, and exposing cherished myths as convenient lies. It means CHALLENGING schemers like McCarthy*; it means facing down power-grasping slime balls like Nixon**.

We're not going to shut up and smile and have faith that that ol' pendulum will swing on back.

And hey, maybe this time we'll FINISH the job. Maybe we'll so thoroughly disgrace the power-hungry would-be aristocrats and their lick spittle functionaries that, 20 years down the line, we won't have to read revisionist twaddle about how "Old Dubya wasn't such a bad guy, he was just defending us against the islomafascists."


* And Karl Rove.

** And Dick Cheney.

#262 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:58 AM:

PRV, are you seriously saying that all that's required for the triumph of virtue is that good people do nothing at all?

#263 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:30 AM:

PRV, #258: you are assuming that everyone, even, who wants to vote is going to be allowed to in 2008. That's not very likely. For one thing, we're going to be hip-deep in anti-immigrant propaganda come the next national elections. This will be an excuse to make it more difficult to vote; I am expecting riots in LA, but I suppose the biggest impact on the vote will be in the South. For another, Real ID and various "keep-in-the-vote" devices will be brought into play--and turnout wins close elections in this country. It is possible that through these tactics, the Republicans will retake the Presidency and one or both of the Houses of Congress, despite the will of the voters; we cannot count on the Roberts Court to rule against even the most dishonest electoral practices.

But let's assume, for the moment that say, Hilary Clinton becomes President, and the Democrats gain a few seats in the House. Are we out of the woods yet? I don't think so. For one thing, there's the Roberts Court. For another, it's not clear that H. Clinton would actually withdraw troops from Iraq or face down the big corporations, who have been let run riot for the past eight years. Finally, there's the chance that W. Bush will make some irreversible mistake in the next two years; something that will put all his previous mistakes in the shadows. Invading Iran is the most likely, but let's not underestimate the possibility of some other horrible foreign policy error, or another Bush-appointed Supreme Court judge.

As I keep saying, what do you base your logic in?

#264 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:05 AM:

Jim,

I'm not suggesting people do nothing.

I'm suggesting that cool heads would be a great change, considering the hystrionics and hair-pulling of the Republicans and their media mouthpieces over the last 15 years.

If you're in a heated debate with someone, and they're always being a hyperbolic jerk about it, is the answer to simply become a bigger hyperbolic jerk?

(GIANT DISCLAIMER: that was a rhetorical question, so everyone warming up their "Who are you calling a hyperbolic jerk?!" replies, just stop now, because I am not talking about anyone in particular on this blog...)

Maybe I can only speak for myself? But I am totally pegged out on hyperbole right now. Since about mid way through the 90's, the shit has been getting out of hand. Nobody speaking politically differentiates between large and small problems anymore. Everything is always the fucking end of the world all the fucking time, and pretty soon I find myself ignoring both sides of the debate because neither side seems capable of discussing national problems or issues without going from zero to 200 MPH and setting my hair on fire in the process.

We need national leadership that can correctly prioritize. We need national leadership with a long view. We need national leadership with perspective.

Dems need to be thinking out loud about life after Bush, about how they're going to be doing things in 2010, 2011, 2012. Not about how outraged they are that Bush used executive privelege to spare one of his minor aparatchiks prison time over a sideshow like Valerie Plame.

Tilting at the Bush/Cheney windmill, especially when we have Dem control of House and Senate and Bush/Cheney are only 18 months away from being gone, regardless of what happens, seems about as productive for America as the Clinton impeachment. (e.g: not very productive!)

Yes, I am sure it would make for great TV and would have a sizeable number of Americans calling for Bush's head and eagerly awaiting the drop of the gavel. Alas, I think Bush has as much chance of being removed from office as Clinton, and that's just not a good enough chance in my book for us to waste time with impeachment.

#265 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:20 AM:

Randolph,

Sorry, no way in Hell does a Republican even come close to winning in 2008. It would take a re-revolutionary candidate from within the party to capture enough popular imagination to even come close to recovering some of the ground Bush has lost.

1) Republicans are no longer the Small Government party, and everyone knows it.
2) Bush has chained Republican fortune to Iraq, and Iraq is going badly.
3) No Republican candidate can fully denounce Bush and retain party support; but they cannot fully support him either.
4) Bush pisses off the conservative base with his handling of the Mexican border.
5) Believe it or not, the war has also divided the conservative base; they just don't like to talk about it.

Right now all roads lead to a blue white house in 2009. I would bet large on that. Even with thumbs on the scales, the Republicans can't tip things back in their favor when all they have are a few dried up pieces of dog shit, and the other side is loaded down with fifty pounds of granite.

And again, there will be no coup d'etat. Nobody who carries weapons in this country will support it. Not the secret service. Not the military. Not the police. Not even the many NRA members who typically vote Republican.

#266 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:28 AM:

It's late and I need to get to bed.

Look, all. Bush and Cheney are gone in 18 months.

18 months is going to fly by.

There will be no sinister coup. Not even Bush or Cheney are thinking there will be one.

Barring the emergence of a true third party, or some fantastical Republican maverick, the Dems have the White House in the bag in 2009.

By 2010, Iraq will be largely over.

Much of the GWOT excesses will be rolled back, thanks to Dem majority through two of the three branches of government.

As for the Supreme Court, they don't get to govern by fiat any more than the other two branches. If they're doing their jobs, a Dem President and a Dem House and Senate should be able to keep even a terribly conservative court mostly in check.

Have a little faith in the durability of the system, folks. Founders knew what they were doing when they built it. It's stood up to a lot worse than this current bullshit.

Goodnight. Hope everyone had happy fireworks.

#267 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:54 AM:

Set @ 226, TexAnne @ 228, JESR @ 229

I wish I had better visibility into the current officer corps; I'm out of contact with all of the officers I've known and most of them have retired by now anyway.

But, based on what I hear in the news, I am not optimistic that the current military would opppose a coup by Shrub, as long as they weren't actually required to fire on Americans, especially other military personnel.

The Neobarbs have been systematically gutting the general officer corps for years. The reason so many retired officers are against him is that he's been forcing them out and replacing them with "political" generals and other ass-kissers, people who won't tell him he doesn't have a strategy and his concept of warfare is cretinous at best. There appears to be some resistance among senior field-grade officers, but a "Revolt of the Colonels" isn't in the cards of the modern US military as I see it; they simply don't have enough responsibility or control to do anything if their commanders can be persuaded to stand aside. And the junior officer corps is more rotten than it's been in a long time if what I'm hearing about the academies is any indication.


P J Evans @ 244

and realized that that was what the hippies had said, and he'd laughed about it and at them, and they were right all along.)

And it is damn cold comfort to be right. Ask Cassandra.

#268 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:28 AM:

PRV @ 268

By 2010, Iraq will be largely over.

What does this mean? Everything in the country will have been blown up or burnt down? Or do you mean that there will be no American military presence? What makes you think this is likely to happen when the Democrats can't even take a 27% approval rating for the war and translate it into any kind of political action to slow down the involvement, let alone scale it back?

It's easy to say that having a Democrat in the White House is going to make everything golden again, but it's not likely to happen that way. There are a number of Democrats, and a lot of non-Bush Republicans who still support the use of military force in Iraq, just not the way Bush wants to use it.

There will be no sinister coup. Not even Bush or Cheney are thinking there will be one.

And you know this how, exactly? Just because you say it doesn't make it so. Tell us why we should believe this statement.

You notice I'm not saying you're wrong. I am saying you haven't said anything to support any of what you've said, in the face of statements of fact from a lot of other people here.

Your support for all that you've said seems to boil down to "It Can't Happen Here!". Sorry, it can, and slmost did at least twice before (pro-German sentiment promulgated by rabid evangelism and fascism disguised as populism in the 1930s and again in the 1950s with the Red Scare. In the latter case, it was because McCarthy took on the Army that he didn't go further; Bush has the Armed Forces, he doesn't need to go against them at all.

Let's hear facts, man! Not opinions or pious wishes!

#269 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:40 AM:

PRV @ 265

"Sorry, no way in Hell does a Republican even come close to winning in 2008."

You've missed an important point made by ethan @259 and Paula Lieberman @260: It's not about who people will actually cast their votes for. I think people on the blog generally expect the majority of cast votes (or intended-to-be-cast votes) to be for a Democrat. The question is who will be elected. Unfortunately that's not the same thing, not when voting machines can be rigged and there is no way of checking their results. Not when all sorts of things can be carried out by those presently in power to ensure that, in key places, people likely to vote Democrat somehow don't get to the ballot box. And I don't see the US offering to make the forthcoming presidential election open to international scrutineers so that everyone can be confident that voting has been free and fare.

The problem of the Supreme Court worries me as well. I'm female and of child-bearing age. I'm very glad at present that I do not live in the USA. Making abortion illegal (and the recent ruling is a step in that direction) does not prevent abortion, it just increases backstreet abortions, with all the attendant risks (try asking some nurses who were around when abortions were illegal - my mother-in-law was a nurse back when girls and women came into hospital following back-street abortions. She never wants to see that again).

To give an extreme example: the ruling basically says that, even if scans have shown that e.g. the baby is anencephalic (lacking most of its brain, and will die in hours to a few days after birth) and medical opinion is that continuing with the pregnancy means the woman will end up blind and incontinent in a wheelchair - but not dead - the pregnancy has to be allowed to continue rather than a partial-birth abortion carried out. Any court which puts such a low value on a woman's life (including quality of life) is heading towards the world of The Handmaid's Tale. Or even if the baby will be live and well, but the woman severely and permanently disabled. What a great start in life that baby and the rest of that family will have - oh and the woman herself....

I look at that, and I look at some of the other rulings mentioned in Making Light recently, and I remember that you in the USA have no way of getting rid of these judges. And I worry.

#270 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:04 AM:

#269: I remember that you in the USA have no way of getting rid of these judges.

Well, there's James' "armed insurrection" option, which worked for the American colonies getting rid of a monarch. I personally can't see it working now, but maybe it really will come to that eventually.

#271 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 07:02 AM:

PRV, #269, "There will be no sinister coup."

What do you think Florida in 2000 was, pray?

Seriously, every time people like you have said, "we believe they will go no further" they...go further. What's your argument, now, after eight years of further?

#272 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:10 AM:

Federal Judges have been impeached before, including one SCOTUS judge, Samuel Chase, who was impeached but not convicted in the early 1800's.

#273 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Look, all. Bush and Cheney are gone in 18 months.
I've been hoping that Republicans will be gone from the Executive Branch in 18 months. There's some reason to believe in this based on current opinion polls. But it's not certain.

18 months is going to fly by.

I've been wondering about what might be gained or lost by attempting to start impeachment proceedings immediately. But reading this statement gets my hackles up in the other direction. Bush and Cheney are capable of perpetrating a number of horrible things in the next 18 months. They've already perpetrated more horrible things than most U.S. administrations in history.

PRV's blithe minimalization of the damage that's been inflicted in this country by Republicans over the past 7 years makes me wonder about his true allegiance and agenda in posting here. (To give the benefit of the doubt -- maybe he's only interested in excusing himself from processing the enormity of the damage we're sustaining.) I was going to reply earlier, with some links to economists who have strong reason to believe the U.S. economy and stock market are going to tank in the not-to-distant future. A country-wide depression might serve as a wakeup call for him, on blind trust that the future will take care of itself.

There will be no sinister coup. Not even Bush or Cheney are thinking there will be one.

Neither PRV nor the rest of us have any way of knowing whether this is true or false. And this last statement drives me into agreeing with one of Teresa's operating principles that I generally want to take with a grain of salt. PRV's statements sound very much like ones that a slightly-sophisticated, hired sock puppet might make. I'm not smart enough to figure out who he might be working for. I hope I'm wrong about that, and he's just a self-satisfied passerby who wants to feel superior to the rest of us.

#274 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:56 AM:

Would it be possible to at least do something about the U.S. election process for 2008, to bring the machines up to modern international standards for verification etc.? This is technologically feasible and should be socially feasible. This wouldn't address the problem of people not being allowed to vote in the first place, but it'd be a start.

#275 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:08 AM:

Joel @ 274

From what I understand, the international standard is pen or pencil on paper, counted by hand. Easy enough to bring up to standard, but more labor intensive. One official, hard copy record per voter, and anyone looking at the ballot can know what it means.

It ought to happen, but it isn't going to happen. To get change, you need at least some media support, and they're addicted to fast returns.

Heck, we have over a month between voting and inauguration, very much with the idea of being able to have the time to count the votes. But Shrub @ co. stood up in court in 2000 and said that the votes shouldn't be counted.

#276 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Ursula @ 275

Worse, they did it by going to the federal courts before the state courts had finished their proceedings (and election law was, at the time, entirely state law), they staged a 'riot' to force an end to the legally-restricted-by-an-interested-party recount, and they did this after campaigning on a platform of states' rights (and with the slogan of 'trust the states - trust the people').

CA used optical scan ballots (minimal change from the punchcards we previously used), ink-on-card jobs. I know what my vote is before it goes into the counting machine. I can only hope it's counted honestly.

#277 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Ursula L: Exactly. Pen on paper ballots here, and no machines at all. Yet the result of the election for the House is always known, generally, by midnight of election day. That is, there may be some seats still in doubt, but the overall result is clear. The Senate does take longer, but that's because of the larger fields and the preferential system, not because the votes are tallied by hand.

I was Presiding Officer at a polling place in several elections. Each and every ballot paper is scrutinised by party representatives, over the clerk's shoulder, during the sort or the count. Any of them can challenge any ballot, but they can't touch a paper. If a challenge is made, the Presiding Officer, Electoral Act in hand, decides whether, and how, the ballot is to be counted. It then goes into the "challenged" envelope for further scrutiny. Every ballot paper is retained in case a recount is required, and every one can be scrutinised again.

You get all sorts of spoiled ballot papers. But the number of ballots that are debatable is very small.

Personally, I recommend the process. There are too many random people involved for it to be easy to cheat.

#278 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:45 AM:

CosmicDog, 251:
That recent Supreme Court decision did not include consideration for the health of the woman.

I do not see any reason to be calm and reasonable about this, and I despise you for treating women's health as irrelevent.

I will not "play nice" about this.

Lydia, 253:

I'm pretty sure the Civil War was a greater challenge for this country than anything we're going through now. It isn't just about Abraham Lincoln suspending habeas corpus--it's tremendous numbers of dead, ongoing bitterness that could have been a lot worse (what if Lee had encouraged guerrilla warfare instead of surrender?), and no guarantee that the North would win?

One more thing that this administration has pissed away which will take decades to get back, if ever--our reputation for treating prisoners of war decently.

The point isn't to get into definitions of who you get to torture, the point is that people used to be a lot more willing to surrender to US forces.

#279 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Regarding voter tampering and election fraud,

The only time I have seen this happen, up close and in my area, the person who "won" was a Democrat. And it took the initial popular election results being a practical 50/50 split for tampering to even have any effect.

And to be honest with you all, I just don't see any Republican candidate out there getting 50% or more of the popular vote in 2008. They'll be fortunate to get even 40%.

But that is beside the point. What concerns me is that we're getting to a place now where the automatic assumption is that when 'our' team wins, it's the will of the people, and when 'their' team wins, it's vote fraud.

Sorry. I think that's a too-convenient way of thinking. Mostly because it removes a lot of the responsibility for the Democrats to a) communicate to voters, and b) come up with solid candidates who c) push a solid platform.

IMHO the Democrats' handling of the 2004 Presidential election was pretty slipshod. I mean, John Kerry? As a man with a lifetime voting record that is 70% Dem, I was so thoroughly put off by the Kerry candidacy that I had to make a 'conscience vote' and go with an obscure choice. My wife did the same.

And no, just because Republicans and Bush suck, that's not a good enough reason for me to just automatically hand someone like John Kerry the car keys. If voting my conscience and refusing to lend my support to an ambitious empty suit, just because he has DEMOCRAT next to his name, means I have an "agenda", then so be it.

Part of the reason we only have two gottdamned parties in America is because people keep using the logic, "Well, I think Candidate A sucks, but Candidate B is worse, and I don't want to throw my vote away and let Candidate B win, so I am going with Candidate A."

In this scenario, Candidate A never has to do much work to be much better than Candidate B. And from where I sat in 2004, Kerry didn't look much different from Bush. What I saw was yet another ambitious and fabulously wealthy white guy who wanted to be President, not because he had this massive internal drive to make America better, but because he saw an opportunity, as a career politician, to be top dog.

If I speak heresy to some ears, I care not. I'm mad at the Democratic Party because it's taken Bush totally screwing up in Iraq and taking all kinds of liberties at home to put the Dems in a position to win. Why did it take Bush being a clusterfuck President for the Dems to make progress with voters?

I feel like a customer at a diner and when I open the menu, I have two options:

1) Shit sandwich
2) Shittier sandwich

If I have an "agenda" it's in wanting a third option on the menu! Or wanting to have the ability to demand that my shitty sandwich be upgraded to at least an OK sandwich, preferably a good sandwich.

Republicans can't steal elections if the elections aren't close. So why in the fuck was 2000 even close? What problem did the Dems have overcoming Chimpy the default Republican candidate? When that whole thing went down, I was less mad at Republicans than I was at the Dems. Dems didn't do a good enough job communicating a clear vision and solid leadership to average Americans. That, and I think Gore was tainted by Clinton's shenanigans.

I don't care how many people think Clinton did nothing wrong when he let Monica blow him. Clinton was a stone around Gore's neck because of how that played out, and we can argue until we're dead about how Americans are dumb for caring that Monica blew Bill, but the fact remains: a lot of swing voters obviously cared enough to make it a close enough election that Bush could win in the electoral college.

This would not have happened had Clinton handled himself better. Republicans shot themselves in the foot with a failed impeachment and they STILL got Bush close enough for an electoral college win.

Instead of always assuming vote fraud, we should be demanding of our Democrats a higher standard. Better candidates, clearer message, more spine. No more John Kerry empty suit presidential offerings. Get people up there who can pull in the 'purple' vote to such an extent that no amount of Republican meddling via Diebold can possibly make up the ground necessary to win.

Again, if this is a heretical position, I'll be the happy heretic.

#280 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 11:05 AM:

PRV @ 279

Of course the vote tampering only had an effect in a tight race. Did you think they'd use it when there was no possibility of winning? It's in the close races, the ones where every vote matters, that the machines will be tilted slightly or 'mislaid' or 'not initialized correctly', the minority and opposition voters will be challenged, the phone lines for rides to the polls will be jammed, the absentee ballots will be mislaid until too late to count them. Ohio. Florida. Georgia. What other states have been bent, I don't know, and I may never find out, because it's to the benefit of the current administration that people not know what's being done.

I want voting machines run by, say, the rules of the Nevada Gaming Commission: inspected and certified as honest, including the software they use. Why should slot machines be more open and honest than voting machines?

#281 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 11:11 AM:

The only upside to a fanatical, out-of-control Supreme Court that I can see is that it might make passing some Constitutional Amendments look a lot more urgent. It's one thing to try to pass the ERA in the wake of Roe, it's another when the Supreme Court is so clearly willing to ignore precedent whenever they feel like it. It adds a certain urgency, no?

Amendments I'd like to see:

-Equal Rights Amendment
-Abolition of the Electoral College
-jkmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm*
-Explicit Constitutional Right to Privacy
-(If I dare to dream) Binding the US to obey international law.

Amendments to add, criticisms of these?

*This is what my cat added, and well, you can't really argue with that, can you?

#282 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:15 PM:
Part of the reason we only have two gottdamned parties in America is because people keep using the logic, "Well, I think Candidate A sucks, but Candidate B is worse, and I don't want to throw my vote away and let Candidate B win, so I am going with Candidate A."
The point you seem to be overlooking is, when people *don't* use that logic, candidate B *really does win*, with the electoral system we have. That's B as in Bush, because as has already been pointed out on this thread, this is exactly what happened in 2000. Without Nader in the race, it wouldn't even have been close enough to fake.

If a constitutional amendment forced every state to allocate its electors proportionally to the votes in that state, then a third party might get enough electors to form a coalition and decide an otherwise narrowly divided election. But no state is going to be the first one to do this, because they'll effectively have no more than 1-2 electors in play in any given election (the rest will already be determined by voters too committed to be shifted by electoral propaganda) and therefore they'll lose attention from candidates.

As long as states are winner-take-all, you have to have a serious chance to *win* a significant number of states or you're just splitting the electorate for whatever part of the political space you're from and helping the major-party candidate *furthest* from you win more states.

If you want to reposition the parties, get involved at the primary and platform-building levels. The Republican Party has been transformed almost beyond recognition in the last half century - there's no reason someone couldn't take over the Democratic Party and steer it in a different direction, too. If there were enough of them and they worked hard enough at it.

#283 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:18 PM:

#279:Instead of always assuming vote fraud
You seem to think that there is no documentation of voter fraud in FL in 2000 and OH in 2004. If you do a web search for "Conyers" and "Ohio," you'll find plenty of the latter.

I realize that your point is that Democrats ought to be striving for voter fraud proof majorities. However, mistakes in basic matters of fact like this do not help your credibility.

#284 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:21 PM:

CosmicDog @251 wrote:

Bush signed the law, he didn't make it.

BS. Complete and utter BS. If he hadn't signed the murderous bill, it wouldn't be law.

He made the law. It took others, as well, but he had a chance to take a stand for good medical care, human rights, and common sense, and chose not to.

If Shrub signs something into law, it's he is to blame that it is the law. No one holds a gun to his head to make him sign laws banning medical procedures which may be the only one that could save a woman's life.

#285 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:28 PM:

PRV, if you're talking about the Washington gubernatorial election, you're a victim of either selective memory or republican BS: when the PI went out and interviewed a good-sized sample of the people who voted illegally, a wide majority had voted for Dino Rossi. He was especially popular among convicted felons, as Gregoire's reputation as a bull-dog prosecuter didn't make her popular with that demographic.

Close elections are not, in fact, evidence of "voter fraud-" and in the case under discussion I suspect a good proportion of Rossi's voters were Jay Buhner fans overly impressed by that worthy's role in the campaign.

#286 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 12:38 PM:

When all the available evidence points overwhelmingly to something being the case, that is when I "automatically assume" it to be the case.

When the CEO of Diebold, the company that makes the recordless, uncheckable, easily hacked computerized voting machines, is on record saying that he would do "anything in his power" to ensure that Bush got Ohio in 2004, and then, for example, exit polls in Ohio overwhelmingly do not match the "actual" results, in Bush's favor...that is when I "automatically assume" that vote fraud has taken place.

For example.

Don't give me this nonsense that it's just because someone I don't like won that I think the results were faked.

#287 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:42 PM:

#279: "And from where I sat in 2004, Kerry didn't look much different from Bush" ... "it's taken Bush totally screwing up in Iraq and taking all kinds of liberties at home to put the Dems in a position to win".

Are you saying that from where you sat in 2004, Bush hadn't screwed up in Iraq and taken all kinds of liberties at home? Or that Kerry looked like he would too if given the chance?

#288 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 01:47 PM:

PRV@279 (and elsewhere): Far from being heretical, your comments are very much aligned with the orthodoxy which blames the Democratic Party for the failure of their last two presidential candidates.

This is an orthodoxy which ignores a great deal of reality. It ignores the complicity of of news outlets in branding Gore's factual statements about the state of the world's thermal budget and sensible suggestions about the financial budget of the USA as nonsense and endorsing Bush's pretend arithmetic and pretense of not being in the pocket of the carbon-based energy industry.

This is an orthodoxy which portrayed Kerry, who saw active service in Viet Nam and came to extreme wealth as an adult, as "no different from" Bush, whose supporters claim service in the Texas Air National Guard as his equivalent to active service in a war zone and who was born into extreme wealth.

That you can state that you still see no difference between Kerry and Bush is to say that you see no difference between a candidate who had no self-centered interest in continuing and building up the occupation of Iraq and a candidate wo clearly had self-centered interest in continuing and building up the occupation of Iraq, and who has demonstrably done so. As such you are stating that you are indifferent to the role of the President of the United States in squandering the lives and wealth of the nation he is elected to serve and lead, let alone the welfare of the Iraqi people.

There were clearly far more differences between Kerry and Bush and far more Republican-generated phantasms than real issues obstructing both Kerry's and Gore's candidacies. Saying that coming in second was purely a result of mistakes of the Democrats is orthodox cant at its most unrealistic.

The tactic of accusing those oppose your opinions of responding to you as doing so without thought and from a basis of orthodox opinion, cloaking the superficiality of your comments in the rags of the pariah heretic, is a well established method for subverting honest conversation.

To me you seem not at all worth the candle to read, let alone argue with, any further. My soundbite for you comprises only two words: J'accuse.

#289 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Ursula @ 284
"If Shrub signs something into law, it's he is to blame that it is the law. No one holds a gun to his head to make him sign laws banning medical procedures which may be the only one that could save a woman's life."

That is not an accuarate interpretation of the law.

TITLE 18, Chapter 74, Section 1531, subsectin (a):
"This subsection does not apply to a partial-birth abortion that is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."

And not to put too fine a point on it, the bill passed the House with a two-thirds majority (281-142) and passed the Senate two votes shy of a two-thirds majority (64-34). Congress wanted this law, even if the President vetoed the bill, they could have overrode the veto or taken his objections under consideration and provided a revised version of the bill that the President would sign. After reading the text of the bill and looking at the research on Partial Birth Abortions, I would have to agree with them.

#290 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:08 PM:

If I speak heresy to some ears, I care not. I'm mad at the Democratic Party because it's taken Bush totally screwing up in Iraq and taking all kinds of liberties at home to put the Dems in a position to win.

You can pat yourself on the back for being a "heretic" and a "rebel" and a "free thinker" and whatever else you want to call it, but you're spewing Republican Party Line material. You've drunk the Koolaid and claim you're not part of the koolaid crowd. That just makes you an idiot.

from where I sat in 2004, Kerry didn't look much different from Bush. What I saw was yet another ambitious and fabulously wealthy white guy who wanted to be President, not because he had this massive internal drive to make America better, but because he saw an opportunity, as a career politician, to be top dog.

Wow. What independent thinking you have there. I'm totally impressed by the fact that every fcking moron who voted for Bush said that exact same thing. Such insight. Such independent thinking. Such brilliance. Keep patting yourself on the back for being an independent thinker. You keep chugging koolaid at that rate, and you're gonna choke.


#291 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:14 PM:

CosmicDog @ 289:

There is no exception for the health of the mother. Which means, inevitably, that doctors will be afraid that if they do one that they believe is life-saving, they'll be accused of it only being health-saving, and will be prosecuted for it.

Without a health exception, women will die, because by the time you get to the point where you're certain it is a matter of life and not merely health, what was a simple medical condition has become much more complex. Others will die from complications of using a less-safe procedure when they need an abortion to preserve their health. And many more will have their health permanently compromised - be left infertile, or injured, or otherwise weakened.

And even if Congress might have overridden a veto, he still could have vetoed. Just because others are barbarians is no reason for him to be one.

#292 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:22 PM:

PBV,

"18 months" That's infinity compared to the flight time of in ICBM, SLBM, or IRBM -- the maximum flight time for an IBCM is 45 minutes, to get to ANYWHERE on the planet and obliterate the landscape at its destination.

It's infinity compared to the longer minutes' to hours' [depends on where the vehicles are taking off from and going to] duration of flights of cruise missiles and "tactical" weaponry carried by bomb-dropping airplanes, and one doesn't neet a techncially named "weapon of mass destruction" to level mountains--"conventional" weapons -flattened- that mountain in Afghanistan....

(of course, the Schmuck makes-Jubilation-T-Cornpone and various Union generals who got canned for egregious incompetence look good, when it came to pursuing the goal of having captured Osama Bin Laden dead or alive... the US Government declined to provide the troops and equipment on the ground to effectively cordon off the area and collect the fanatics evacuating the facility rather than failing to cordon the area off and allowing them to get away... presaging allowing Saddam's army goons to demobilize and disappear into the general Iraqi population to create a lethal murderous fanatical sets of insurgencies in a war that's not only not died down, but has gotten increasingly lethal and devastating over the years). )

How long was it from when those two planes took off in Boston until the first tower, then the second, the the OTHER buildings of the World Trade Center than collapsed in full or in part, collapsed? It was NOT 18 months.

"Humpty-dumpty sat on a wall
"Humpty-dumpty had a great fall
"And all the king's horses
"And all the kings's men
"Couldn't put Humpty together again!"

The Schmuck's push the USA over a waterfall continuing to push down over MORE waterfalls, dismantling programs and initiatives and values put into place over years and decades, dismantled data collection programs, dismantled oversight agencies, replaced scientists and experienced administrators and attorneys with years of experience in their areas with political appointees whose "qualifications" consist of the ilk of "got Rove rubberstamps elected," "is a Rove rubberstamp," "is an antiabortion lobby favorite single issue ideologue," "went on record promoting the eradication of the United Nations (Bush's recess appointee TO the UN...)," "Surgeon General who tells women to pray to God to relieve menstrual cramps" ETC.

The Schmuck makes Sherman's march through Georgia look like a Sherman was a conservationist.... The Schmuck has since setting up the infrastructure of his regime, pursued a scorched earth policy to exterminate the institutions and checks and balances and oversight built up over the previous centuries of the existence of the US Government, and replace them with plutocratic often theocratic for Christian Dominionism, personalities and agenda and organzation.

If/when Schmuck departs from overt tenancy of the White House and Cheney from the Naval Observatory, the changes they have instituted in personnel, policies, organization, etc., are STILL going to be there, dug in and spreading further the Bush-Cheney initiatives and agenda and values. No document, no policy, no office, no funding, no program, no initiative touched by the directives and ukases and initiatives public and secret by the Bush regime, is untainted and unchanged and "clean." The contamination and infestation is everywhere, and again, has -roots- digging in,

The military is rotten, the Justice Department completely infested, the stenches of Cheney of Karl Rove and Jack Abramoff extend internationally--note that Cheney presided over Halliburton when it was doing business with Libya, Iraq, and Iran through a legal fiction alleged wholly owned subsidiary, when the subsidiary consisted of a locked door to an apparently untenanted office in the Bahamas or the Carribean [Caribbean.. one of those spellings] and a mail drop forwarding mail from the Middle East to Halliburton headquarters in Texas and mail from Halliburton headquarters to the Middle East. At the time, it was illegal for US companies to do business with those three countries....

Federal scientist have been put under adminstrators who believe in gag orders and which administrators lack any credible training in science and engineering much less have credible experience managing research, development, testing, analysis, and evaluation.

Quacks have been placed in national health agencies as administrators or proposed for positions and furors so great the nominations were withdrawm occurred... (see "Surgeon General who tells women to pray to God for relief from menstrual cramps, and nominating a VETERINARIAN!! to head up women's health in the US Government!)

The Defense Advisory Committee On The Status Of Women In The Service got packed with the likes of women-in-uniform-hating Elaine Donnelly Family Values fanatics and converted into a women's auxillary Family Focus agency, no longer much caring about issues concerning women in the military and their status....

There's all that faith-based stuff and Dobson running all over the White House.

And what about that male escort gay porn promulgator who used to be Bush's favorite "journalist" in the White House Press Corps, what were the fellow's name and pseudonum, something Guckert or some such his given name..., just WHAT was he doing staying OVERNIGHT in the White House, anyway?!

#293 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 02:32 PM:

Bob Webber's gotten riled and delurked, wow!
Bob is a level-headed calm and considering and quiet sort. Riling Bob... I'm impressed.

#294 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:03 PM:

ethan #286: My older son was one of the hardy souls who waited for seven hours to vote in Oberlin in 2004.* No vote fraud my arse.


*In 2006 I asked him if he'd voted for the black guy (Ken Blackwell, the Republican goon who helped bring about the result in Ohio in 2004), his response was a bit stronger than 'Hell, no!'.

#295 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Cosmic Dog: what you don't seem to appreciate about the ban against the third trimester abortion is that it is never, ever done unless the life or the health of the mother is at issue. There's no need to "protect the foetus" at that point. No doctor would perform a third trimester abortion of any type whatsoever if it were possible to bring the child safely to term. The only thing that the ban does is create the precedent for a law against a particular procedure, regardless of the health of the patient. I think it may be unique in that. With that as precedent, the anti-abortionists will then use it as a model to go after abortion procedure by procedure, piecemeal. It's much easier, as that law shows, to vote to ban something as long as you theoretically leave other options open. The right was very, very good at obscuring just how many options that law took away. In and of itself, it's a trivial law, affecting some tens of women in a year, I believe. But as a model and a precedent, it is medically dangerous.

The thing that really drives me nuts is this: They're losing the fight on first trimester abortions, the place where there's the most grey area. This is the ground where it makes some sense to try to "save the child" because, by some definitions, there is a child to save. Second trimester abortions are fairly rare, and only for the health of the mother, if I recall correctly. At least towards the beginning of the second trimester, there's still the issue of viability, and therefor, the question of whether or not the foetus can be considered a child.

Third trimester it's just damn fucking dangerous to do an abortion. There is no question of saving a child, the argument is whether or not to save the mother. There are almost no third trimester abortions done in this country, and every single one of them revolved around whether or not the mother would survive in reasonable health. I can't help but think that many people who were ok with this law have forgotten just how dangerous it can be to be pregnant, or to give birth. There may be a case, or two, where there is a choice between a viable child and a viable mother. This seems unlikely. If there are such choices, it seems to me that the family have to be the ones allowed to make that decision, not an outsider. But here I am, arguing something I shouldn't have to argue about, because THIS IS NOT ABOUT SAVING THE CHILD. It's about controlling the choices of the mother and her doctor. One last time (she says, into the frustration of photonic silence, unsure if she will be heard), third trimester abortions are not about the foetus, they are about the life of the mother. This is one of the things that causes me to conclude that the anti-abortionists are not fighting to save anybody; they are fighting to control women.

#296 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:28 PM:

Lydia:
The other point, and it gets lost in all the 'pro-life' rhetoric, is that the whole point of all this legislation is to control the woman's sexual activity. You'll have noticed, although I'd bet that Cosmic Dog has not, that there's no concern for what kind of life that child is going to have, what kind of life, if any, the mother will have, what kind of burdens it's going to place on everyone - us included, because that family is more likely to need social services.

And what kind of person expects a teenager, or worse, a pre-teen, to talk with a parent, let alone a complete stranger from a government or church, about rape or incest, or to understand all the legal and medical options available, possibly in one of the states where there is at most one clinic with the necessary medical skills? And do all this within a three or four month period when the girl might not even know that she's pregnant?

(Cosmic Dog, you hit one of the hot buttons that a lot of women have. The reaction you're getting is the one you asked for.)

#297 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:31 PM:

So, if the 2000, 2002, and 2004 Republican electoral victories were due to election fraud, what about the 2006 elections, which went rather strongly the other way? And why did the electoral results track as well as they did with opinion polls in all three cases? For that matter, how did Clinton win in 1992 and 1996?

The election in Florida was subject to the people in power gaming the rules to slightly change the results, but look at the size of the changes available--they were tiny! I don't recall the gaming being one-sided, either--Gore and Bush each tried to get recount rules accepted that would favor them, an appeal to the Florida state supreme court (all but one appointed by Democrats) favored Gore, and a later appeal to the US SC (mostly appointed by Republicans) favored Bush. That's about what you'd expect, right?

The way it looks to me, Bush and Gore tied in 2000, and the Republicans were able to game the vote counting rules a bit to give Bush the victory. The 9/11 attacks then hit, and gave the president a huge boost, which Rove and company understood how to exploit for all it was worth. They played to patriotism and fear, politicized the war on terror to win elections, and kept almost complete power for about six years with this strategy. If the Bush administration hadn't botched things in Iraq so badly, and if it hadn't been for Katrina, it would probably still be working. Secret prisons, torture, and warrantless wiretapping were policies the Bush administration pursued because they understood that they could get away with them politically, in a climate of fear of terrorists. The Democrats mostly didn't run on these issues, because they knew they'd lose--Rove and company would have managed to spin things as "see, the Democrats want to let the terrorists kill your kids."

But all bad things must come to an end. Katrina and the obvious brewing disaster in Iraq, the appearance that the wheels are coming off in Afghanistan, the open nuclear test by North Korea, continued terrorist bombings in the UK and Spain, and endless scandals by people who had too much power and no oversight, have all destroyed the Administration's credibility. Bush's approval ratings are down to the number of people who think Fox News is part of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy Against the President. Barring massive screw-ups by the Democrats, I don't see how dirty tricks and election fraud and gaming the counting rules will be enough to put another Republican in the white house.

The major damage from this president, however, will stick around. Nobody is going to give back the broad powers claimed by Bush for the executive branch, nobody's going to repeal the Patriot act or stop using massive wiretapping. I hope we'll close Guantanamo and our network of secret prisons and stop officially sanctioned torture, but I have my doubts. Our relations with most of Europe were seriously hurt by the Bush administration. Iran has become much more powerful in the Middle East, which is in general much less stable than it was before, and which also now has a whole new crop of well-trained jihadis, who may soon want to go home and do for Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia what they've done for Iraq. We'll be paying the bills for the next 20 years.

#298 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:53 PM:

The Carpetbagger on When in doubt, "Clinton did it too!"

Snow then proceeded to say, “I know you are but what am I,” made some oblique reference to being rubber to reporters’ glue, held his breath for an inordinate amount of time, and then, fingers in ears, shouted, “La la la, I can’t hear you.”
The amazing thing about Snow’s farcical and humiliating performance today is that it concedes defeat. He wasn’t explicit about it, but with repeated references to Clinton’s presidency, Snow effectively admitted that the Bush White House did something spectacularly inappropriate, but justified this conduct by insisting that Clinton was just as bad. So much for “restoring honor and dignity to the Oval Office.”

#299 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 03:59 PM:

Xopher #298: As I wrote some time back (in March, to be precise):

We've come up with a standard answer
when any of our crimes are brought in view,
it spreads throughout the nation like a cancer,
it covers every briefing like the dew,
we use it with the skill of a great dancer:
'It doesn't matter, Clinton did it too.'

We're pushed and prodded to admit our crimes,
we're asked and asked exactly what we knew
and when we knew it, we abhor such times,
we liked it when hard questions came but few.
Meanwhile, our spokesman, like a slug just slimes:
'It doesn't matter, Clinton did it too.'

The priest who blesses at the sacred grove
answers most quickly when we there halloo;
he looks remarkably like one Karl Rove,
past master both of lies and ballyhoo.
He bellows until he's turning almost mauve:
'It doesn't matter, Clinton did it too.'

#300 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Albatross (by the way, I saw a pair of albatrosses flying overhead in Worcester last year... wow! ) #297:

1. Again, a full recount of the Florida votes, paid for by the news media, proved that the election was -thrown- to Bush in 2000. "Gaming" is mild and misleading to apply to the situation, there were procedures in Florida law which the US Supreme Court's four fascists at the time (Rehnquist, Thomas, Scalia, and Kennedy, who's only "moderate" and centrist compared to the current other four) and the rightward leaning middle member at the time who retired, O'Connor, set aside to appoint Bush the victor.

2. Bolsheviks vs Mensheviks, the Bolsheviks outmaneuvered the Mensheviks and goodbye Mensheviks thereafter in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The Mensheviks got purged, I think it was, and wasn't it lethally so or some such? And the Bosheviks had absolute control of the country and the Russian Empire for more than two full generations going forward....

[#2 refers to how a non-majority in Russia/the Soviet Union got into control and then STAYED there... and there aer those who would say that the Bolsheviks control the country still]

#301 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:23 PM:

Lydia @ 295

I desparately wish you were right, that late-term abortions are only performed for the sake of the health of the mother. Sadly, that just isn't true.

Reasons commonly given for having a late-term abortion include:

- A deteriorating financial situation
- A change in relationship with the father
- A lack of awareness of the pregnancy until its later stages
- Discovery of the pregnancy by others who persuade an abortion, for example, the parents of a minor
- Inability to have an abortion earlier in the pregnancy (possibly due to a lack of funds, lack of transportation, or a legal restriction)
- Discovery of a fetal abnormality, undetectable earlier in the pregnancy
- The pregnancy becomes a risk to the mother's life or health

This is from http://www.answers.com/topic/late-term-abortion so it's possible that this information is not entirely accurate and it does state "There is very little data on how common each of these reasons are." However it does line up with some of the reasons that I have heard for having a late-term or 3rd trimester abortions. It would seem to be a rather irrelevant law otherwise, and maybe it is.

Ursula @ 289

It will be an interesting test if a doctor is prosecuted for performing an IDX due to non-life threatening health issues for the mother when the fetus was non-viable. I don't think that is the intent of the law. I could be wrong. I understand that President Clinton vetoed similar laws because of the lack of a health exception. From what I've read, Congress could not agree on how to define a health risk, outside of a life-threatening health risk. I think that if a doctor decided that the procedure was necessary to protect the life of the woman, no prosecution would stand. They could be prosecuted for political purposes, but there is plenty of room for that in Roe v. Wade, as well.

Of course the pros and cons of this law are like that any other debate. One can find ample support for either position. I guess that time will tell if this Act was simply another step in dismantling abortion rights altogether or if it really is in the interests of protecting children and mothers. I'm sure that some people want to use this law to control women, but I am also sure that there are others that feel that this is the right, moral thing to do. With this country's political history, it's easy to be cynical, but I am trying to be an optimist.

I do thank you for your insights into this subject. I do my best to take other's perspectives into account before I make up my mind about an issue and I am still in that stage at this point.

#302 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Fragano #299:

Very nice.

The point most people miss is that the right response to "Clinton did it too!" isn't to defend Clinton, it's to ignore the red herring (Clinton's rightness or wrongness is irrelevant to Bush's guilt). People being people, Democrats have surely done many bad things throughout the years. But that just doesn't have anything to do with whether Bush should be impeached for pardoning Libby.

#303 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Albatross #302: True! Thanks.

#304 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 04:58 PM:

CosmicDog #295

This is from http://www.answers.com/topic/late-term-abortion so it's possible that this information is not entirely accurate and it does state "There is very little data on how common each of these reasons are." However it does line up with some of the reasons that I have heard for having a late-term or 3rd trimester abortions. It would seem to be a rather irrelevant law otherwise, and maybe it is.

What's the "provenance" of your sources, disinformation gets spread all the time, and the more colorful it is, the more attention it gets and the more it sticks in people's memory. The Bill Veecks of the world ("Veeck as as in Wreck" was the title of a book about him, he was a colorful sports moghul who owned a baseball team, a racetrack, and staged all sorts of publicity stunts and made up stories giving nicknames to baseball players as promotional gimmicks, I don;'t remember if for example he was the fellow who hired a dwarf to take a turn at bat in a game figuring that the dwarf would be walked by the pitcher, due to the small size of the strike zone with a dwarf at bat. He also staged at least one chariot race at a racetrack for media attention....) know about making scnes and inventing controversy and "enhancing" the truth and making up stories to get public attention and do promotion and get partisan support....

People's memories are treacherous, nonexistent candidates whose names look familiar, and crooks with familiar names, outpoll people who are real candidate and not crooks whose names are less familiar to the voters than the crooks and fake people!

TV ads use psychological principles that consumers mostly don't consciously think about which brands of soap, laundry detergent, bleach, toilet paper, etc., that they buy, they instead grab the brand with the most promotional familiarity, without consciously thinking about--it was the whole basis for e.g. the "Don't sqeeze the Charmin!" ads, the object was that in a supermarket with hundreds of feet of supermarket shelf loaded with different brands of toilet paper, the consumer would grab the Charmain without -thinking- about it because the brand was a familiar name... it worked, too. Some minority of the populace went out of their way to buy something else, but the others grabbed the Charmin.

Getting back to disinformation, it's a relative of Big Lie--spread the disinformation and allegations wide and keep repeating them and people start accepting them as Truth and repeating them as Truth--basically, factoid stuff in the original definition that Mailer invented the term for, somethign that is PRETENDING to be true and factual and which people treat as if it is, but isn't.

Rumors that get deliberately spread around that are false and misleading and ugly, but it's endemic in the US Executive Branch regime... all the information removed from federal websites that condoms do too reduce the rate of transmission of disease and reduce the rate of unplanned, uneanted pregnancies, the replacement of information about effective birth control with all that lying abstinence smarm, the claims of Morality of those promoting abstinence (godless [allegedly...] Masschusetts with the married homo perverts has the lowest divorce rate in the USA, and a MUCH lower rates of teen pregnancies and out of wedlock births than the Deep South Bible Belt states... and has lots of churchgoers, people just don't go around bombasting other people with their Holiness as a rule and make a big public policy statement about it.

Anyway, provence saying where data came from, how it was collected, who collected, WHY it was collected, can provide in a lot of cases more actual INFORMATION than the alleged "data" provides.... "Garbage In Garbage Out" is hardly the only, and is not even the most malignant, form of garbage istead of information. Malicious misinformation is a lot more pernicious, and Karl Rove and the funder of the so-called Swift Vets, and various people in the anti-abortion lobby, are masters of it.

There are also sorts of ways to intentionally collect "biased" data and analysis data to rig the results. Questions that ask, "which ONE of these reasons caused you to..." mislead because usually it isn't any ONE reason, and the top reason llisted by the most people, is like asking people their favorite flavor of ice cream to decide what to serve at a party... more people will -eat- vanilla than will eat the exotic flavors that some people will list. Preferential polls of "rank order these" gives infomration that is a LOT more credible... because the second choice which no one lists first, might be the choice that everyone is willingto -accede- to and wyhich in the sort of preferential ballotign done e.g. by the Worldcon, would come in first on a preference poll that involved rank-ordering preferences.

That's simple "we aren't interesting in bothering to collect moret than first order misleading data" laziness/cluelessness/lack of sophistication. There are other techniques that are malicious/malign, intended to produce slanted results from the get-go, of e.g. "Don't you agree that child molestors should be locked up, and X has a reputation as a child molestor, so don't you agree X should be locked up and the key thrown away?"

#305 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Paula

Add to your list of misinformation the line that 'abortion causes breast cancer'. I've heard that one used. By a middle-aged man.

Or that it's a cause of mental illness - I'll grant that it may contribute, but probably as a result of the pressure to make women feel guilty if they don't go to full term and become stay-at-home mothers.

And I never hear any of the anti-abortion people admit that miscarriage is an event ('spontaneous abortion' is the medical term) which kills the fetus as surely as any abortion, and sometimes the mother also. Are they going to make it illegal also?

#306 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:14 PM:

Even if a doctor doesn't get prosecuted for an abortion where she believed it was a matter of life and death, women will be killed by this law.

When you are sick, you get treatment right away. You get the best treatment you can. You don't put off treatment until the condition is a matter of life and death. You don't deliberately select less than the best treatment. Doing any of those things means that the patient may die, or suffer worse consequences, because of delayed treatment or insufficient treatment.

This law requires doctors and women to do both, when considering a woman's health care. Her care is no longer a matter of her health, instead, her health is taken out of consideration, short of matters of life and death.

It's murder, sooner or later, to take health concerns out of health care.

#307 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:16 PM:

#300 Paula L: Again, a full recount of the Florida votes, paid for by the news media, proved that the election was -thrown- to Bush in 2000.

Not so much. The media recount of undervotes showed that Bush won in 3 out of 4 scenarios of counting dimples and chads with varying degrees of leniency. The scenario Gore won (very strict chad-counting) he won by 3 votes.

The later media recount of overvotes (which neither Bush nor Gore asked for) showed Gore winning 3 of 4 scenarios at varying degrees of leniency. The scenario Bush won (oddly enough, also very strict counting) he won by 300-odd votes.

In only one case was the margin of victory over 1000 votes.

In my opinion, all the media recount shows is that it was a very close election.

#308 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:24 PM:

It's an article of faith that knowing more is not a bad thing. So why does knowing more about the "late term abortion ban" make me feel worse? I should feel empowered or something. I assumed that it was, you know, somewhat worse than what was being said in the news, but whoa!

It looks like the easy way out for everybody has been the wonderfully grey and fuzzy words "late term abortion." There are sources that put that as early as 12 weeks -- that is to say, just after the completion of the first trimester. I think it was a JAMA article that used 16 weeks.

Now, when I think "late term abortion", I'm thinking 22, 26 weeks, something like that. Sometime in the range of viability. Actually, to be honest, I was using lazy arithmatic and just divvying things up into first, second, and third trimesters, with late term abortions being in the third trimester. Nope. As early as 12 weeks.

Cosmic Dog, the list of reasons that you gave are roughly the equivalent of ones quoted in Wikipedia. It was a study done in 1987 amonghst 420 women who were more than 16 weeks pregnant. 16 weeks, as I've just discovered, is considered to be a "late term abortion" by many.

So the truth is, the ban is much worse than I thought. It starts earlier and is more arbitrary than I had supposed. And the news media were basely complicit in failing to point these things out.

Anybody else out there as easily fooled as I was? Anybody else assume we were talking about third trimester foetuses? It's a whole different argument when you're talking second trimester.

(Actually, for me it isn't really a different argument. Abortion on demand with no apologies. But it is certainly a significant change if one is taking the possible humanity of the foetus into consideration. Me, my personal argument is that personhood is between the pregnant woman and the whatever-it-is in her belly.)

#309 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:42 PM:

CosmicDog, the so-called late-term abortion law doesn't even make an exception if the fetus is dead. (Yes, it's still technically an abortion then.) Thanks to past laws, Federal heath care has refused to pay for abortions to remove dead or brain-dead fetuses (here's a case involving anencephaly), so don't argue that abortion bans wouldn't cover this. As you may (or may not) imagine, walking around with a rotting corpse in one's uterus is distressing and dangerous.

My ghast was flabbered when you said: "I think that if a doctor decided that the procedure was necessary to protect the life of the woman, no prosecution would stand". The entire point of this law was to declare, by legislative fiat, that this would never be the case. This was, of course, passed by the same merry band of fools who diagnosed Terry Schaivo as pining for the fjords.

Focusing on D&X is a deliberate wedge issue, picking a squicky procedure and using vague, non-medical terminology. This is a nose into the camel's tent to gut or reverse Roe v. Wade, and you've bought into the spin.

From what I've seen, you are willing to bend over backwards to assume good faith, but only in one direction.

#310 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:43 PM:

Clinton and the Painted Penis Distraction!

Uh-oh....

Oh the fascist bent
At a President
In office years ago,
Who ruled the land with a gentle hand
Though his eyes lusting did go.

The country prospered with his rule,
And wealth spread round the land.
But Newt Gingrich with not a twitch,
Attacked with ev'ry hand.

Now Cheney and Bush took over and
They're all about destroying the land
God throw the shitheads out of office.

That Gingrich is a nasty brute,
Committing adultery,
While yelling ill of Clinton's prick,
A hypocrite he be.
For Newt's own prick was in to play
With one not then his wife,
Newt was pushing impeachment
To ruin Clinton's life.

It was nasty and vicious and full of lies,
The Republican Congress and all its spies
God throw the shitheads out of office.

Everything that Clinton tried
His last two years to pass,
Republicans would block and yell
That Clinton was an ass.
He tried appointing judges
But the enemy did block,
Appointments that he tried to make,
They screeched about his cock.

They were vicious and nasty and full of lies,
And Cheney's got a dead man's eyes,
God throw the shitheads out of office.

When Bush gained from election fraud
The seat of President,
He handed to Dick Cheney
All the keys and all the rent
Bush put fanatics on the courts
Appointed quacks and jerks,
And then Katrina came to town
Bush handed out more perks

He's vicious and sleazy and slurs his words
A old dry drunk with brain all curds
God throw the shitheads out of office

The last campaign he mounted back in 2004,
Rove and Cheney and their ilk
Had stuck use in a war.
They smeared John Kerry in all ways
The Swift Vet lies and leers,
The fellow who had funded it
The type to piss in beer

They lied and slandered and paid all off,
They own the media with feeding trough,
God throw the shitheads out of office.

Three years later here we are
And thing keep getting worse,
Bush and Cheney and their ilk
An intergalatic curse
They've made us hated in the world,
They murdered killed and lied,
But Bush and Cheney still are here,
And giving out free rides.

Scooter Libby's got a bye
No jail time us to gratify
God throw the shitheads out of office.

Now the flag it lies in tatters
And the piss has stained it too,
And Cheney Bush and Libby
And Alito I loathe you.
And Thomas, Kennedy Scalia
Robert all you slime,
I hope that someday all of your
In jail will rot all time.

You're nasty and vile all hypocrite,
I think you all are stinking shit,
God throw the shitheads out of office!

#311 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 05:49 PM:

Oh, the tune is The Bastard King of England and the connection is e.g.
"He used to hunt the royal stag
"Within the royal wood,
"But better than this he loved the bliss
"Of pulling the royal pud."

#312 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:10 PM:

CosmicDog @289

Did you bother to read what I wrote at #269?
"TITLE 18, Chapter 74, Section 1531, subsectin (a):" ONLY allows for the LIFE of the mother, not the HEALTH - however severely damaged her HEALTH will be (mental or physical). So it's okay, with this law, for her to end up severely disabled, blind, paralysed, with a dicky heart, having to have limbs amputated, depressed to the point of attempting suicide, whatever (or all of the above), so long as the fetus (a parasite, to the point of parturition), is "saved". Even if it is probably (or certainly) non-viable (e.g. anencephalis) or, as pointed out by FungiFromYuggoth @309, already dead.

As pointed out by Ursula L @ 291: "There is no exception for the health of the mother. Which means, inevitably, that doctors will be afraid that if they do one that they believe is life-saving, they'll be accused of it only being health-saving, and will be prosecuted for it. Without a health exception, women will die, because by the time you get to the point where you're certain it is a matter of life and not merely health, what was a simple medical condition has become much more complex."

AND, as I pointed out befaore, anti-abortion legislation DOES NOT prevent abortions, it just means that SAFE abortions are available only to those who can pay, and other women, if desperate, ahve to risk their health and lives on UNSAFE BACKSTREET ABORTIONS.

P J Evans @305 Are they going to make miscarriage illegal? YES. There is a recent case of a woman being prosecuted (your side of the Atlantic I think) for "concealing the death of an infant" because she miscarried and (for some reason) wrapped up the result and placed it in her freezer.

"Or that it's a cause of mental illness". They (the so-called "pro-life" brigade) are big on the depression which can follow abortion. The high percentage of women that get post-partum depression after carrying a fetus to term and producing a healthy baby gets ignored (if anyone wants the statistics, from reputable medical journals, I'll find them for you).

#313 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:16 PM:

#308 Lydia:

At a guess, any public debate about detailed decisions on a medical procedure would be about this confusing. Could a bunch of uninformed novices have a sound-byte-based public debate about some controvery in *your* field and make a good decision?

The moral/political question is about whether abortion should be permitted at all. Trying to get more detailed than that in a political debate is pretty much doomed to failure.

#314 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:40 PM:

#307: Do those scenarios make any attempt to correct for spurious votes for Buchanan? IIRC, even Buchanan admitted that many of the votes cast for him were unintentional artifacts of the confusing ballot, which made it very easy to vote for Bush but significantly harder to vote for anyone else.

It's difficult to determine exactly *how many*, of course, short of rerunning the election. But given the incredibly narrow margins, it's hard to be confident that the ballot design wasn't decisive. (It *is* clear that with instant runoffs, Gore would have unconditionally won Florida, and maybe a few other close states too. Nader's vote total was way above any reasonable estimate of the Bush-Gore difference, and practically his entire constituency was left-wing. But that's just a way our electoral system needs reform, not a way it was actively subverted.)

There's something wrong when the format of the ballot affects the election results. The goal of democracy is to elect who the people want to elect, not who the people succeed in jumping through the correct hoops to vote for. Ballots should not resemble carnival games where the "good" targets are subtly sloping away from the player, to make sure he/she gets the booby prize.

#315 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:40 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 310... God throw the shitheads out of office!

I wish, but it's not going to happen. All we can do is hope to contain the abovementionned sh*theads in the Oval... er... Porcelain.

Loved your post, nonehteless.

#316 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 06:47 PM:

dcb @ 312

The illegality there was most likely the not reporting, which is pretty standard, rather than the miscarriage itself.
What I had in mind was miscarriage, even in a hospital or with medical help to prevent it, being made illegal.

(I understand there are a lot of very early miscarriages that don't get picked up as such, because it's in the first month or so. Some estimates are as high as 20 or 30 percent of all fertilized eggs miscarry or never implant.)

#317 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 07:03 PM:

JESR @ #285: Pray tell, did you vote for Gregoire?

Alan @ #287: To me, Kerry seemed like just another rich white guy who wanted to be President. Like too many Dems, he had a record of supporting the Iraq invasion when it seemed politically expedient, then he claimed to oppose the Iraq invasion, again when it was politically expedient. He possessed no grand visions nor grand sense of purpose, beyond his own desire to sit in the oval office and be The Man. And I don't know about anyone else, but I am done throwing my vote towards rich white guys who simply want to be President because they can. See my comments below, regarding nose-holding.

Bob @ #288: see below.

Greg @ #290: you seem to be of the either/or mentality, where Kerry is concerned. Either I had to love him because he was the Democratic man in 2004, or I was a Bush stooge? Please. Plenty of people I know thought Kerry was an empty carton, and either held their votes, or did a 'conscience vote' like my wife and I did. And it's not about back-patting or feeling special. It's about forcing the Dems to be an altogether different and better kind of organization than the Republicans are. Again, see my analogy of the diner menu from my post #279.

The bottom line is that I am not obligated to "hold my nose" when I fill in the scan sheet on poll day.

Kerry was ambition without substance, plain and simple. Just another rich white guy who found himself placed within striking distance of the White House, so he took his shot. It doesn't matter if Republicans swiftboated the man. He was swiftboatable. That's my whole point. Why the Dems couldn't come up with a better, more bullet-proof front runner in 2004 is something that still astounds me. And no, it can't all be blamed on smear tactics and bad press. There was smearing and bad press enough on both sides in 2004, and Bush still won. Had the Dems fielded a stronger candidate with a stronger platform, I think a lot less of the right-wing smearing would have stuck.

Again, I am not obligated to "hold my nose" for ANY candidate, nor make apologies for that candidate and his weaknesses simply because he's a Democrat. I think Americans need to halt this kind of vote-think altogether, otherwise neither party is ever going to feel much pressure to improve how they function and how they govern.

Paula @ #292: like CosmicDog, I fear to admit that I am somewhat at a loss when it comes to comprehending the full scope and intent of your posts. Suffice to say I don't think even Bush is whacked enough to launch nukes before 2009, and I believe Bush's tendrils extend neither so wide nor so deep as it might seem. At least in the military. Based on scuttlebutt around Ft. Lewis, most of us in the Army are just looking at our watches and waiting for 2008, so we can find out who the next President will be, and get on with the business of withdrawing from Iraq and healing many of the internal military wounds that have resulted from scraping the Army and Marines over too much bread.

albatross @ #297: very nice post, I agree with virtually all of it, save for a few things in the final paragraph. But overall, a very sound picture of the elections, their results, how these results were arrived at, the Republican chances in 2008, et cetera. Kudos.

#318 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Chris at #314

It's clear that an absolutely atrocious ballot design in Palm Beach county resulted both in spurious votes for Buchanan and in votes for Gore being invalidated. It's also clear that this affected considerably more votes than Bush's margin in Florida.

This is tangential to the argument over whether the results in Florida were fraudulent, however, since it doesn't appear that the designers of the Palm Beach ballot intentionally designed the ballot badly.

#319 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 07:26 PM:

You know, PRV, I'm wondering what Public Radio station you listen to, just right off hand. Or do you just not have time to pay attention to KUOW's political coverage?

In fact, I was a strong supporter of Ron Sims in the primary, and voted for Gregoire in the general election because Rossi is wrong on every issue I care about. I voted for at least one Republican in that election, Sam Reed, the last of the traditional Washington State Progressive Republicans (as I'd always supported Ralph Munro, another rement of the great age when Republicans could think). 2006 was the first time I ever voted straight ticket for either party, and it was in protest of the pure evil that is the national republican party.

Who I voted for doesn't change the truth of that election: it was very close, there were probably an equal number of invalid ballots on both sides, although the studies I've seen give Rossi a slight edge in dead voters. Rossi is anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-labor, anti-education, and particularly clueless on transportation planning, was helped along in the vote by being relatively unknown and having everybody's favorite bald right-fielder as a campaign manager. Gregoire is not terribly gifted at personal politics, the Democratic equivalent of Slade Gorton in warmth and easy personal manner, and Rossi is... a professional salesman.

You're not actually from here, are you? Or are you one of those bright young things who threw Magnuson out in preference to Gorton, because Magnuson was "too old?"

#320 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 07:47 PM:

Fungi @ 309
"the so-called late-term abortion law doesn't even make an exception if the fetus is dead"

Not according to the text of the law.

Section 2 (a)
"(1) A moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion--an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child's body until either the entire baby's head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby's trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb, for the purpose of performing an overt act (usually the puncturing of the back of the child's skull and removing the baby's brains) that the person knows will kill the partially delivered infant, performs this act, and then completes delivery of the dead infant--is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited."

Title 18, Chapter 74, Sec 1531
"`(b) As used in this section--

`(1) the term `partial-birth abortion' means an abortion in which the person performing the abortion--

`(A) deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus; and

`(B) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus"

In both the reasoning for the law and the text for the law state that the fetus must be alive at the time of the abortion and that the doctor must intentially kill the fetus while it is partially outside of the womb in order for this law to apply. If the fetus was already dead, there would be no reason to severe its spine or poke a hole in its skull as it was being removed from the woman. This law is very specific about what is being banned and why.

Here's link to the text:
http://www.theorator.com/bills108/s3.html

#321 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:02 PM:

JESR,

I'm 33 years old, and must admit to having a guilty pleasure: C89.5 FM, the disco station run by the highschool kids. That is a *FUN* radio station.

KUOW does indeed have some good political and news coverage, but it gets pretty dry after awhile, and besides, KUOW (and KEXP and KPLU) is PINO: Public In Name Only. It's not accessible to the average would-be volunteer, and you have to range up to Everett (KSER, my former home) or Bellevue (KBCS) to find a station that operates along more traditional, bona fide community radio lines.

Where Gregoire is concerned, I only ask because I have noticed that most Gregoire voters I know who are up in arms about Bush's wins in 2000 and 2004, seem to feel like Gegoire's win constituted some sort of "revenge". I find this attitude disquieting because it seems to imply that a great many Democratic voters (in the I-5 corridor anyway) are perfectly content to see an election rigged, just as long as it's the Dem candidate who gets the W.

IMHO voter tampering and election rigging is an outrage no matter who wins. And I think regardless of how KUOW reported the Gregoire win, the legitemacy of her skin-of-the-teeth-three-recount victory will always remain in shadow. And rightly so, between the dead voters, the double voters, the voting dogs, the addressless and P.O. box voters...

If Rossi had won this way (and he almost did!) it would have been a sham.

That Gregoire won this way makes it no less of a sham.

#322 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:07 PM:

dcb @ 269

"I look at that, and I look at some of the other rulings mentioned in Making Light recently, and I remember that you in the USA have no way of getting rid of these judges. And I worry."

Supreme Court Justices can be impeached and, if convicted, dismissed, just like any other US government official. In fact, some ultra-right wingers were trying for that a few years ago when the Supreme Court upheld the Equal Rights Ammendment and Gay Rights.

And no, I didn't read your post the first time. You started off talking about rigged elections and the such and I assumed that was the content of your post and skipped it. I'm really only interested in talking about the one subject today.

#323 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:23 PM:

#317: It doesn't matter if Republicans swiftboated the man. He was swiftboatable. That's my whole point. Why the Dems couldn't come up with a better, more bullet-proof front runner in 2004 is something that still astounds me.

The Democrats could have nominated a better candidate than Kerry. They could not have nominated a more bullet-proof candidate. There is no bullet-proof candidate. The Democrats could run a perfectly engineered artificial human cloned from the DNA of Lincoln and Jesus and Martin Luther King, and the kind of people who swift-boated Kerry would swift-boat JesusLincolnKingMan without turning a hair. They would find something, or just invent something, and they would make it stick. It's what they're good at.

#324 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:29 PM:

Cosmic Dog at 320:
If the fetus was already dead, there would be no reason to severe its spine or poke a hole in its skull as it was being removed from the woman.

Are you thinking that the extraction of the brain is somehow the equivalent of pithing a frog? There's a reason the procedure involves sucking out the brain, and while it sounds incredibly gross, the reason is a serious and practical one. Babies heads are big. The point is to make it easier for the foetus to be removed, to dilate the cervix less, and to overall attempt to limit possible negative consequences.

When they say it doesn't hurt to dilate the cervix, they're lying. I've had an IUD placed twice, now, and they don't have to dilate near so much to do that as they would for any type of abortion, and I swear to you that it hurts like a bitch. And the larger the dilator, the more it hurts. Not to mention the risk of tearing. Abortion, any abortion, is not a simple procedure like having a wart removed. They're darn safe when they're legal, but they're a darn safe surgical procedure. (Well, with the exception of RU486 and its cousins.)

#325 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:37 PM:

PRV: In other words, I had been voting for three years before you were born, all of them in this state, and have been paying attention to this state's politics pretty much as long as I've been able to read.

It would have been a lot of things, including a crying shame, if Rossi had won by the same margin by which he lost, but not because there were more unqualified voters than votes between the candidates. Somebody has to win and only the right-wing tinhats have even suggested that there was any kind of organized attempt to introduce fraudulent ballots or queer the count, as in Florida and Ohio. There were no polling places kept closed past the appointed time of opening, there was, what, one mislaid ballot container from the Washington 7th, possibly the most Democratic district on the West Coast which, oddly enough, contained more Democratic than Republican votes. Rossi won King County, with an elections board under the authority by the de facto republican county council, and Gregoire won Seattle, with an elections board under the authority of the de facto democratic city council. This has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with how King County's politics are influenced by the high fraction of its population who moved there to get out of Seattle.

Every media outlet who's actually investigated the 2004 governor's race has come up with the same conclusion: it was really close. There were some ineligible voters, there may have been a some ballots which weren't counted that should have been, and and there were quite possibly some valid ballots which weren't counted. Both Seattle dailies, the News Tribune, the Spokesman-Review, and the Stranger, along with NPR and Pacifica affiliated radio stations have come to the same conclusion; it's the John and Kirby circus who keep spinning the idea that there was some grand conspiracy to defeat Rossi.

And because I have allegiance to KAOS and KBOO (the two Community Radio "Giants" in these parts) I have to say this: you need to drop the P and put in a C, because what you're listening to is community radio.

#326 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Albatross, re: sound bytes. I think that most people were deceived by the term "late term abortion." I doubt that many of them realized we were talking 16 weeks. Although it occurs to me to wonder under what circumstances a D&X is preferable. Possibly it doesn't become an issue until the baby's head becomes too large to to remove easily. I don't know. Even if it means that practically, the issue doesn't come up until late in pregnancy, there's still the issue of banning a procedure without so much as considering the health of the patient.

#327 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 08:47 PM:

PRV@317: If I were to grant that you are correct in your assertion that the problem with John Kerry was that "he was swiftboatable," who should I believe would have better qualilties in this regard?

Are any of the current Democratic or Republican candidates better in regard to swiftboatability? Is there anyone active in public life who would be such a solid candidate that she or he could not be put in a position of defending her or himself against statements that her or his claims of merit were hollow lies?

For what it's worth, I'd also be interested in knowing the basis of the handle you're using for posting. I use my real-world name, I know that some others write under well-known on-line pseudonyms they've been using for years, essentially pen names with which their writing and opinions are widely associated. How about you? Veterinarian who listens to public radio? Long time NPR employee?

#328 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:04 PM:

JESR,

When I was at the big college/public radio convention in San Francisco in 1996, I thought KAOS and KBOO both offered terrific t-shirts. I was student program director for KSVR at the time, and we didn't even have t-shirts, poor backward and neglected little 100-watt station that we were.

But yes, I suppose we must differentiate between Public and Community radio at some stage. I cut my teeth at KRCL-FM in Salt Lake City, and virtually all of us at KRCL used the words "community" and "public" interchangeably.

It would be nice if my wife and I could move back up north and have access to either KSER or KSVR again, alas, housing prices along the I-5 corridor, especially north of Seattle... YECK! And Olympia is too far to drive in the other direction..

Without belaboring the point any further, not just a few registered Dems that I know were upset with how Gregoire won, if only because they felt like it left a black eye on Washington Democrats for Gregoire to win the way she did. Gregoire's campaign basically kept telling the vote-counters to go back and do it again until they got the "right answer", as it were.

Anyway, if you trust the results, I can't change your mind. Like you said, you've been paying attention to the politics of this region a lot longer than I have.

My hope is that we don't ever see a repeat of 2004, whether Dems win or not.

#329 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:07 PM:

Dave @ 277 Yup, the ballot scrutinising and independent Electoral Office are two excellent parts of the Aussie system. But the preferential system "instant runoff" is another very good part. It means that there's a way for people to move across to a third party, which can build its strength up over time, instead of 'splitting the vote'.

OTOH, it looks like there's some serious worries with the current Papua-New Guinea election, and their system is based on ours. Shows what can happen.

#330 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:25 PM:

Bob @ #327:

Here are the problems I saw with Kerry:

- His opposition to Iraq was of the "Johnny come lately" sort.
- His record in the Senate proved this.
- His Vietnam-era testimony before Congress/Senate badly damaged his credibility with other Vietnam vets, who felt maligned.
- His 2004 attempts to highlight his "Vietnam heroism" did not jive with his Vietnam-era anti-war language.
- His wealth kept getting in the way of his attempts to attract the American Everyman.
- He didn't bring enough concrete ideas for the future; no big or inspiring plans.
- He was not terribly photogenic.
- He was also not a terribly inspiring speaker.

Now, one might argue those last two points are weak and it shouldn't factor into it, but they are actually quite important. Part of what made Reagan so tough to beat was his actor's charm, speaking skills, persona, etc. These qualities matter in elections. Was it impossible for the Dems to find, somewhere in their ranks, a man or woman with a more consistent record on Iraq, less waffling, combined with a better stage pressence and no contradictions on account of a military record that is at once denounced by past testimony and then propped up for vote pandering at a later date?

Maybe I am being too hard on Kerry. He'll never get another chance at the White House, and I suppose this eats at him badly when he thinks about it. But even so, I don't feel obliged to vote for the empty suit with the DEMOCRAT label just because Bush is a doofus.

As to my alias, I used to fool around in public (or should I say, community?) radio in my younger years. Three different stations, from 1992 to 2002, either as a paid employee or a volunteer. I had to quit when I got back from active duty in 2003 because I was a dad at that point, and we'd moved too far away from any real public (community?) stations, even if I'd still had the time.

I choose not to disclose a partial or full name because you never know when making comments on a blog will come back and bite you in the ass. Especially when seeking employment.

#331 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:28 PM:

Cosmic Dog @ 322

Supreme Court Justices can be impeached and, if convicted, dismissed, just like any other US government official. In fact, some ultra-right wingers were trying for that a few years ago when the Supreme Court upheld the Equal Rights Ammendment and Gay Rights.

In what universe did they uphold the ERA, since in this one it's never been ratified? Not only that, I don't think they've actually ruled on gay rights, either (at least not as a whole), and the current court would probably not rule in favor.

#332 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:36 PM:

Lydia @ 324

Okay, so there is a reason to poke a hole in a dead fetus's head. I admit to my ignorance about the pain and causes of pain involved in childbirth or partial birth. However, the law doesn't forbid this practice for dead fetuses, only live ones. If the reason for the procedure is only to avoid pain, then I think it's appropriate to look at other options. I would assume that since IDX accounts for only .17% of all abortions in the US, other options must be available. I believe that the clause concerning "necessary to save the life of a mother" can be interpreted broadly or narrowly, depending on the judge hearing the case.

#333 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:55 PM:

PJ Evans @ 322
I'm sorry, I meant "Affirmative Action". It was four years ago, after all, I got a little confused.

Here's a link to an article similar to what I was reading back then. I may have even read that same one.
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33399

I was only illustrating that ther are methods available to remove a Supreme Court Justice through impeachment. I guess a better example would be the impeachment procedings that Gerald Ford started against Justice William Douglas in 1970. No Justice has ever been removed from office through impeachment, but then again, neither has any President. Several Federal judges have been removed via impeachment, however.

#334 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 09:59 PM:

CosmicDog @332:

The intact D&X however, is the best procedure in other situations.

For example, when a fetus develops with "water" in place of its brain, the skull can literally shatter, inside the mother, during normal childbirth or when a D&C abortion is performed. The intact D&X, because it collapses the skull inward, eliminates that risk. And its a pretty significant risk, since the shards of skull can tear up a woman's internal organs.

Or even for a regular D&C - it involves cutting the fetus up inside the woman, which in turns means that you have to stick various cutting instruments inside her, and risk accidentally cutting her, or accidentally leaving fetus-bits inside. You also would need to dilate the cervix farther, to make room for the tools for the procedure. Intact D&X eliminates the need for invasive use of cutting instruments, and reduces the risks to the woman from injury.

And when a fetus is wanted, non-viable, but perhaps still technically "alive", an intact D&X ends the pregnancy in a way that the woman has an intact corpse of her fetus, to bury and mourn over. Which can be a psychological help when the abortion is medically necessary in a wanted pregnancy. (This is very common for third-trimester abortions - a woman who wants pregnancy and has gone through most of it, only to discover something horribly wrong.)

Plus, if the fetus is removed intact, it is whole for examination, which may help determine what went wrong, and perhaps improve the woman's chance of success at future pregnancies.

If you don't know when the intact D&X procedure is used, and why, you shouldn't be spouting unsubstantiated opinion on whether it should be banned.

#335 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:13 PM:

CosmicDog, thanks for the clarification - it is always nice to find out that things aren't as bad as I thought.

Ursula has already corrected your statement about why a D&X would be necessary on a dead fetus, but there is another reason - so that the doctor can have a relatively intact fetus to examine. This is important in the case of profound fetal abnormality, so that the almost-parents can be advised on what will happen should they try to conceive again.

I would have no problem banning D&X except where necessary to protect the life or the health of the mother, or when the fetus was not viable. The fact that the law was deliberately written in a radically different direction should give you pause as to its true intent.

#336 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:24 PM:
I don't feel obliged to vote for the empty suit with the DEMOCRAT label just because Bush is a doofus.
Refusing to choose between the mediocre and the intolerable means you have some responsibility when the intolerable wins. (Granting, for the sake of argument, your assessment of Kerry.)

The outcomes of elections matter. The outcome of 2004 matters a hell of a lot. It was perfectly obvious at the time that it was going to matter a hell of a lot. If you were in a position to influence that outcome (which, admittedly, residents of some states weren't really) and chose not to - either by not voting or by voting third party - then you have partial responsibility for that outcome.

The outcome of 2008 is going to matter a hell of a lot too. If you want to make a statement, that's why we have the Internet, letter-writing campaigns, primaries, etc. The voting booth is a place to actually influence the outcome of an election. Do so, or live with the results.

#337 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Cosmic Dog @ 333
I wasn't arguing the supreme court impeachment possibility. Given that Roberts and Alito were, pretty clearly, lying to the committee, I'd like to see it tried. (Not that I expect a conviction, you understand, since they'd pretty much have to catch the justice in question with the dead boy and the live sheep. Apparently, the current standard for impeachability is moral turpitude.)

#338 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:37 PM:

Since all of Washington State's electoral votes were guaranteed to be blue in 2004, I felt like I had nothing to lose going with a 3rd-party name in 2004. I just couldn't take Kerry, and I wasn't going to vote for Bush, and I wasn't going to not vote, so there we are.

Gotta go. Evening is drawing down upon me.

#339 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 10:54 PM:

CosmicDog@301: This is from http://www.answers.com/topic/late-term-abortion so it's possible that this information is not entirely accurate [...]

www.answers.com articles, as far as I can tell, are stale copies of Wikipedia articles. That's definitely one of them; the text you quote was removed from/revised in Wikipedia on May 2nd. So not entirely reliable, no.

#340 ::: Tully ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 11:09 PM:

A point of clarification:

"Partial Birth Abortion" as defined by the PBA act is a procedure that was only used by a few abortion-mill doctors, a number you could count on one hand. Those few will alter their practice slightly to conform with the law. Namely, an injection of 1-2 mg of digoxin to make sure the fetus is dead before beginning the procedure, as called for in the standard (if unspoken) protocols.

Standard IDX as normally performed everywhere BUT those very very few abortion mills is still legal under the Act--and still pretty uncommon. All the posturing is about not much. DAMN few OB/Gyns will perform an elective abortion on a healthy post-viability fetus without a compelling medical reason. Almost all post-viability abortions are performed for justifiable health reasons agreed on by both patient and physician, ones falling within the scope of the respective state's law. "Post-viability" there is a term of gestational age, NOT fetal viability.

It's a waste of time pointing any of these things out to the rabid anti-abortion crowd.

#341 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 11:09 PM:

PRV's objections to Kerry:

- His opposition to Iraq was of the "Johnny come lately" sort.
So because he wasn't always opposed, he can never be opposed? No matter for how long he was opposed, or even for what reasons, he was, and that's what matters, in terms of damage done and lives lost. We probably wouldn't be nearing one million Iraqis dead if Kerry had been president. This is not an abstract issue. This is lots and lots of people who are dead now who would not be otherwise.

- His record in the Senate proved this.
It also proves that he's in favor of, for example, renewable energy research and first amendment rights, both of which are vitally important, now more than ever, and which Bush is concretely opposed to.

- His Vietnam-era testimony before Congress/Senate badly damaged his credibility with other Vietnam vets, who felt maligned.
Bull. Shit. Bullshit on fire. Opposition to a shitty-ass war is not opposition to soldiers, and anyone with a shred of honesty in them knows it, then and now.

- His 2004 attempts to highlight his "Vietnam heroism" did not jive with his Vietnam-era anti-war language.
See above. The reason his opposition to war is so credible is because he's seen it.

- His wealth kept getting in the way of his attempts to attract the American Everyman.
Further Republican party line bullshit. In order to become president, you have to be wealthy, or at least have huge amounts of wealth behind you. There is no other option. I, for one, would rather have a wealthy man who cares about those less wealthy than him than one who views the rest of us as a slave class and cannon fodder.

- He didn't bring enough concrete ideas for the future; no big or inspiring plans.
Again, no plans is better than plans to create a million deaths.

- He was not terribly photogenic.
- He was also not a terribly inspiring speaker.

You put these on your list and then disclaim ownership of them, which is dishonest in the extreme. You say "one might argue those last two points are weak and it shouldn't factor into it, but they are actually quite important." The reason they are "actually quite important" is that people like you vote based on them. If you didn't, they wouldn't matter. Is this not obvious?

#342 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2007, 11:11 PM:

Nah, there won't be a coup. We don't have to worry about a last minute suicide attack on the Democrats at their convention blamed on the extremist Islamics. That just couldn't happen to insure another Republican-controlled administration.

Frankly, the events are sickening, especially when one looks at how those are being orchestrated and choreographed to make US citizens feel like they're in good hands. Yes, I'm concerned that there might be a coup, but it won't come in an easily recognizable form.

#343 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Dave Kuzminski @342: Yes, I'm concerned that there might be a coup, but it won't come in an easily recognizable form.

You mean there wasn't?

#344 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 12:04 AM:

Ursula and Fungi, 334 & 335 respectively,

Thank you so much. That is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. Some of the other responses were reactionary and not really helpful in my understanding of this issue.

As a citizen of this great country, I feel that it is my responsibility to try to understand the issues we are facing. I glad to say that I understand this issue a bit better. The better I understand and issue, the better I will be at communicating and effecting change in my area influence.

I haven't totally made up my mind about this, I still have a lot to consider, including my feelings. I really appreciate the help in getting to the facts and understanding various perspectives other than my own.

#345 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Wow, I just noticed that I used the words 'understand' and 'understanding' five times im last post. I really need to buy a Thesaurus.

#346 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:29 AM:

Poppy got away clean with the Christmas Eve pardons. Almost nobody (besides Avram and me) remembers those. Let's remember how then President Bush[41] explained himself: "[the] common denominator of their motivation -- whether their actions were right or wrong -- was patriotism."

Sound familiar?

The worst part about this horrible story is that Bush[43] didn't pardon Libby. Because the sentence was only commuted, the rat bastard can still plead the fifth while his appeal is ongoing. Right there, that ought to tell you everything you need to know. The extent to which they're willing to pretend to follow the law is delimited precisely by the boundaries where people still believing in equal justice have not yet capitulated— and, every day, their numbers grow fewer; someday, no one will stand there at all.

I don't for a second believe that President Bush allowing Scooter to skate will rouse the American people to purge these incipient monarchists from Washington, D.C. (and the rest of our centers of political power). In fact, I'm inclined to think that Americans generally, as a People, are uncomfortable with the burdens of participation in the processes of representative government, and the overwhelming majority of them would very much prefer to live under an unconstitutional monarchy. As evidence for this assertion, I submit the facts: Americans, collectively, are neither able to demand the Congress even begin deliberations over articles of impeachment, nor are willing even to consider risking the uncertainties of revolution to obtain an overthrow by force. Just the very thought has become anathema to the American character, it seems.

Who would have guessed? Even Americans can tolerate Rex Lex just fine if the alternative involves watching another heated impeachment trial in the Senate or standing on the same side of the police line as the dirty fucking hippies. "Just let it go, Buckaroo. It's time to put all this acrimony and partisanship behind us and do what's right for the country: restore the monarchy. It's the only way to be sure."

Just ask Caspar Weinberger's ghost, Elliott Abrams, Robert McFarlane, Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George.

#347 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:54 AM:

CosmicDog @344,

Ursala and Fungi's comments cover why an intact D&X might be chosen as safer to the patient than other methods. I'd like to point out that the people promoting the ban knew this, that the remaining methods are less safe to the patient.

Here's an example from a Washington Post article. Focus on the Family's vice president said: "The old procedure, which is still legal, involves using forceps to pull the baby apart in utero, which means there is greater legal liability and danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus. So we firmly believe there will be fewer later-term abortions as a result of this ruling."

They knew exactly what they're doing with this ban.

Look at the risk from the doctor's point of view, and the doctor is forced to choose the method that doesn't risk jail. i.e. If she does a D&C, she loses the ability to do an autopsy, and there's some small risk of damaging her patient's uterus. If she does an intact D&X, she risks severe penalties unless she can prove beyond doubt that it was necessary. Proving it could mean days or weeks lost to the legal system, even if she's found innocent in the end.

I know one woman who had to get a 3rd trimester abortion.

I'm fairly sure it was an intact D&X, because the parents talked about the autopsy of their lost child, which they'd wanted beyond anything. When they found it wasn't going to live beyond childbirth if it made it that far, an abortion at 6 months was much, much safer for her than going through the rest of the pregnancy. Safer for her, and the least risk to her future pregnancies. They've had a child since then.

Focus on the Family seems happy enough with the idea that might friend could have lost her uterus through a less safe abortion method.

#348 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:39 AM:

One more note before bed.

Ethan @ #341:

If you're up in arms because I didn't hold my nose for Kerry, I can't help you. I know retired Army guys who were Vietnam draftees and lifetime Democrats and they couldn't hold their nose for John Kerry. John Kerry's failure to reconcile his Soldier-maligning of the 1970's with his "war hero" persona of the 2004 election, is nobody's fault but Kerry's.

And no, the whole, "But people are dying, man!" rhetorical trick doesn't work with me.

Hopefully, Dems will field a better team in 2008. Bush has made it virtually impossible for the Dems to lose.

#349 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:42 AM:

ethan @ 341: Thank you. You said everything I was going to say. Let me just add this:

"- His wealth kept getting in the way of his attempts to attract the American Everyman."

...just like Bush's hereditary wealth kept getting in his way when he was trying to put on his cowboy act, right? Except not. Which might suggest that it wasn't Kerry's wealth that was getting in his way so much as it was the media's obsession with painting him as a latte-sipping, wind-surfing, Volvo-driving elite liberal from the Northeast come to make everyone all gay. His wealth had nothing to do with it.

#350 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:02 AM:

Kathryn @ 347

Of course folks from the Christian Right are going to claim that this ban is going to reduce the number of abortions. It's what their members want hear. It's not true, by the way, but they still have to say it so that it looks like a victory. I am a Christian, but I am here to tell you that Dr Dobson does not represent the vast majority of us, just the most vocal. (I have to admit, he does have some good ideas on how to raise children.)

As Tully has pointed out, there a ways to perform an IDX that do not violate the ban. It was Congress that ultimately agreed to ban this one, very specific method of abortion. I can see how it can provide comfort to some people.

Please, consider this viewpoint that some (or many) people have regarding 'partial-birth abortions': part of the baby is out of the womb, it must now be recognized as a person. Or maybe this perspective: they are left with the image of baby, so close to being born, on its way out of the birth canal, and just before it is completely out, the doctor kills it. That image stings me just a little bit. I admit it, it hurts my heart.

I still hold to the position that I wish that no woman would choose to have an abortion, or have abortion thrust upon her because of health concerns. But if it must happen, I would prefer that it is the least traumatic method for both the mother and the baby. It seems to be quibling, but the doctor terminating the fetus before removing it from the mother is a more palatable option. I mean, even though the baby is going to die, it should be allowed to die peacefully, if possible.

I think I've said all that I want say about this. My heart and mind are beginning to dwell of some very dark things. I do thank everyone for contibuting to the discussion. You've given me lots to think about. Good night.

#351 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:11 AM:

Lest anyone continue to believe that MSM in the USA have a shred of the professional news ethic left, consider the metric used by the media to report relative success in politics, sports, and executive management: dollars, dollars, and dollars, respectively. The reportage of politics most closely resembles the coverage of professional sports: wins, losses, and strategies are all-important; goals and ethics are at best assumed and not discussed, at worst considered amusing foibles or tabloid-style stories. And off-the-court lapses of legality are considered as well-meant fun.*

* Try comparing the way the misdeeds of many Republicans are treated in the media with, for instance, those of professional football players. Although there is a ray of hope if you consider basketball; the media and the public after years of arrests and disrespect of fans by the players finally got fed up with the Portland Trailblazers and voted with their pocketbooks.

#352 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:23 AM:

PublicRadioVet: It's not so much that any of us who supported Kerry as the obviously superior available choice in 2004 are "up in arms" about the support you and people like you gave to Bush, it's that we are puzzled at your obvious self-satisfaction at your incompetent judgment. I suffer from chronic digestive disorders, but when I have to deal with unwanted gas and irritable bowels, I don't proclaim my superior engagement with fine cuisine; if I were illiterate, I wouldn't boast that I grasp literature better than those who can actually read books. It's not that you're refusing to face the consequences of your actions so much as that you (and a bunch of other Kerry-disdainers) seem downright proud of having helped Bush back into power because Kerry wasn't good enough, as though anything at all in Kerry's history suggests his equivalents with Bush. It's not ignorance, exactly, it's...well, it's a kind of moral incompetence.

I subscribed to the "how different can they be really" view in 2000, but unlike you, I do regard this as a failing, one I haven't repeated yet, one I've endeavored to root out of my own thinking and feeling, one I'd like to help others escape. Honestly, it never occurred to me that it could be a badge of honor until I started running into people like you in 2004, when there was far less excuse for it even than in 2000. I still don't get it, on any very intuitive level. I'll just be glad when more of you join the ranks of those who've achieved moral potty-training and no longer need the rest of us to try to clean up all your foulings. I don't even claim that it will make you happier, because a lot of adulthood is less fun than having someone else do the wiping up. I just think that it's better.

#353 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:40 AM:

Bruce, #352: it's the willingness to take the unfair but still better deal that's hard--that takes some real grit; we really have to swallow our pride. The US two-party system presents voters with that choice all the damn time; it'll be this way until we reform our system. Meantime, I know which party is offering the better deal, even if it's an insultingly poor one, and I'll take it, in the absence of anything else in the market.

#354 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 05:31 AM:

I agree that the system sucks and needs reform, and I wish more folks were pushing for actual changes to local/state voting systems, where it might be possible. I guess I just don't see it as very tough as a general to say "this candidate is demonstrably different from that one, and is more likely to do greater harm to the country", and then go vote for the other one. Throwing elections to the worst candidates won't actually help institute instant run-offs, transferrable votes, or anything like that; it just leads to more warmongers and tyrants in power. And none of this seems difficult.

I guess sometimes candidates really are hard to distinguish, but these are not those sorts of elections we're talking about.

#355 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:44 AM:

CosmicDog @350,

That image stings me just a little bit. I admit it, it hurts my heart.

Yes, it does, of course. My friends I wrote about: I don't think you mean to imply that they... maybe you aren't implying anything. But I'm not sure how to address a word like "palatable." There was nothing a doctor could tell them that was palatable. There was- was- something the doctor could do that was less risky if it had less chance of a perforated uterus. (Any internal needle- any- increases the risk of perforations.) Or perhaps they chose as they did because that way they could have an autopsy.

Otherwise it was all just ugliness.

I suppose part of the issue is that (at least in the West), we're generations removed from the ugliness of childbirth. We think of it as a natural and well-designed process, with pain merely an added characteristic. Give birth in pain, yes. We're generations away from when it was give birth in danger, giving birth in death. The natural maternal death rate from pregnancy used to be about one in one hundred to one in two hundred.

We give birth in pain because we give birth badly, our babies born preemies each and every one for (at least) the past couple of hundred thousand years. We give birth too early- at 9 months- and too squished (all those soft spots) because our brains can't get any larger.

We don't have missing aunts and great aunts. But our greatgrandmothers did. The first survivable c-sections were only 10 or so generations ago.

Used to be ugly all the time, now we can get surprised by it. We can try to pass laws against the ugliness, but nature has this way of slipping in.

Dobson. Hmmm.
[Pulls out can opener.]
You ever read of "entire sanctification"?

#356 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:04 AM:

1. I actually HEARD what Kerry said about authorizing [the Schmuck] to use military force, which involved
1. all OTHER options should be tried first,
and
2. he was giving [the Schmuck] the benefit of the doubt to accept that the situation that [the Schmuck] was claiming was the case, was actually the case,
3. he was reserving the right to change his mind if (2) proved NOT to be the case.

I've tried to find, unsuccessfully, an on-line transcription of the speech he made when he announced which was he was going to vote. Kennedy voted flatout against it, but Kennedy also wasn't considering a run for President. Like it or not, people who run for President have tended to learn that running on the basis of
don't go to war!" tend to not get on the final ballot, PARTICULARLY after mass murder attacks have occurred and the citizenry is all riled up, and the warmongers have whipped warmongering fever to rabid levels.... Kerry said that he was, essentially, voting in favor of giving [the Schmuck] the option to go to war in Iraq, but with reservations, and that he would be watching what happened and reserving the right to change his mind on the subject if it turned out, again, that the basis that [the Schmuck] hadn't been being honest about the situation, etc.

Seems to me that various folks in here swallowed hook, line, and sinker all the screed and lies and misrepresentations and slander and libel by paid political apparatchiks sliming Kerry... Ted Koppel when ABC was still doing reporting on Nightline and sometimes being honest with it, or some of his associates, actually went to the site of the battle that the slimers claimed didn't happen, and interviewed the natives... who described what had happened, and confirmed the veracity of Kerry's account, and that they were indeed Vietcong.... but that didn't stop the so-called Swift Vets from continuing airing their lies.

#357 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:21 AM:

moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion--an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child's body until either the entire baby's head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby's trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb, for the purpose of performing an overt act (usually the puncturing of the back of the child's skull and removing the baby's brains) that the person knows will kill the partially delivered infant, performs this act, and then completes delivery of the dead infant--is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited."

This is dogma, and lying dogma at that. It it pure unadulterated anti-abortion religious fanatic screed.

"is never medically necessarily" is pure credo and based on religious conviction/values/worldview of people who tend to have little to no grounding-with-allowing-validity to such things as scientific method and open minds that not everything they Believe, is universally true, or that their beliefs and values are not infallible, or that those who imparted them their values and beliefs, are not infallible.

#358 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Bruce Baugh @ 352:

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. That was good. I may have that framed; I will certainly quote you.

FungiFromYuggoth @ 309:

"This was, of course, passed by the same merry band of fools who diagnosed Terry Schaivo as pining for the fjords."

Also very nice. You guys are on fire.

#359 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:00 AM:

Regarding 45 minute flight times to mass destruction, the point there is that 18 months is 17,436 times greater than the maximum period of flight of an inbound nuclear missile--it doesn't TAKE years to destroy and dismantle, less than an hour is more than enough time to turn major cities into glassine craters. The techniques used by the excrement running the USA which had turned what was once one of the most advanced cities in the world into a place where, for example:
- religious authorities have banned eating fish from the river because of the number of corpses in it (both from the contamination of the water/pollution of the river with putridity rotting flesh, and the fish eating the corpses), -- there are dozens of uncollected bodies rotting in the streets (in a culture which prescribed immediate burial of bodies... that that can't be accomplished says a lot about the anarchy and mayhem)
- basic civilized services are in short supply for power, clean water, sewage handling, etc.,
- unemployment is rampant and disaffection is high
- the status of women has been deteriorating from professionals with their own means of support in marriages of voluntary affilitation to chattel status (again, compare against the changes in status of women in Afghanistan and tribal parts of Pakistan over the past 30 years, who went from having control over their lives and incomes of their own, to seeking out prenatal testing so that they could abort female fetuses, feeling deeply that it was better to never be born, than be female under Taliban rule--source of that, a Nightline program before the Schmuck was in office, in which various members of Physicians for Human Rights had gone to Afghanistan and tribal parts of Pakistan, and were begging the US Government to intervene and topple Taliban because of the treatment of the people of the country. Women in Afghanistan were risking their lives doing secret videotaping from behind their veils to try to make the rest of the world aware of how horrible their lives were and how much they wanted help to change the situation.

ANYWAY.... the situation in Iraq went from a country suffering from a leaky embargo and a high-living dictator propped up by thug associates and murderous thug relatives that had had universal healthcare and education, however corroding the infrastructure, and suppression of religious extremists forcing sectarian ways and trying to force sectarian violence on infidels to their deonminations, to one in which the streets and waterways are littered with corpses, unemployment is rife, women have had their rights systematically and relentless stripped, being other than Muslim of the particular branch of Islam as the armed fanatics in the vicinity means one's body might join all those others unburied in the streets or floating rotting in the river... and there are roughly 2 million people displaced from where their lives had been months ago.

That's -one- country turned into a shattered hellhole.

It only took minutes for the hijackers on 9/11 to turn civilian airliners into guided bombs murdering more than 4000 people and pushing the United States into a recession from the financial and emotional effects of the deaths and the destruction of some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, disrupting the financial center of the United States for months and disrupting the operations of all the companies which had had offices destroyed, personnel lost, morale devastated, and a tidal wave of disruption spread through the rest of the country from it.

My point, again, is that 18 months is a VERY long time, when a few minutes can change EVERYTHING.

The Schmuck has presided over a deliberate policy of change and transformation, seeking a permananent change in the constituing of the United States, replacing secularism with biased sectarianism, replacing federal programs and agencies with pipelines of taxpayer's earnings to evanglizing Christian churches (non-Christian organizations tend to get turned down for "faith=based initiative:" funding... the money goes to Christian evangelizing organizations, and ones in which those not of the particular denomination, who apply for social work jobs that the funding is from taxpayer money, get rejected for failing to be proper Christians of the appropriate denomination....), dismantling the Clean Air and Clean Water Act/Acts, removing all federal oversight for mine safety, consumer safety, FDA inspection of food processors,.. the litany goes on and on and on.

18 more months of the continued intentional malicious changes removing those working for social justice from the US Government, removing collection of data which shows bigotry in hiring and bias in promotion and pay increases which erode the earnings and the ability of women and minority to have self-determination and emancipation instead of indentured servitude (which is the status of a lot of foreigners working in the USA) and chattel...

Again, I point to Afghanistan and Iraq as countries which changed from having educated professional emancipated women to women locked in purdah, and which changed into places where being of the wrong religion or branch of religion, went from no big deal, to being a death sentence.

#360 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Scott H: In honesty, I didn't invent the moral potty-training metaphor, but swiped it from a friend of mine who used it in an argument with someone who was proud of never voting on gay-rights issues.

#361 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Trying again.

A. Building infrastructure, training people, staffing up agencies with competent people, writing rules and regulations that foster growth while also being protective of rights and conserving, takes years.

B. Destroying infrastructive, buildings, and organization, can happen a LOT faster.

1. The Schmuck's regime has been dismantling all the regulatory and oversight organization.
2. The regime's rewritten rules and regulations removing regulatory and oversight protection and clauses.
3. The regime expunges records it objects to (removal e.g. of anything on federal websites saying anything positive regarding birth control or condom use, for example, or any hint that marijuana could have any medical value... and removing and cessation of collection of e.g. statistical data about women in the workplace)
4. The regime censors and rewrites research studies to fit the regime's religious attitudes (see e.g. stem cell research) and supporter bases (see e.g. federal gag orders about salmon in the Pacific Northwest).
5. The regime replaces federal funds disbursements based on merit/review by generally recognized experts in fields of applications for federal grants, with earmarks for "faith=based initiatives" to e.g. clerics coached by special White House-funded conferenced on how to get federal money... and apparently those conferences get pitched solely to evangelizing-type Christian interests of the Dobson variety.
6. The regime has been systematically removing anyone whose values for e.g. voting rights shows sympathy and efforts toward participation by women and minorities who aren't going to vote for rich white male Republican evangelizing Christians or close approximations (e.g., Michelle Malkin and Elaine Donnelly and Condalisa Rice might be acceptable candidates)
7. The regime replaces those removed, with partisan loyalist of the Right Views whose credentials consist of beign partisan loyalists, whose actual experience regarding the position they're being appointed to, often is nonexistent.
8. The regime is transforming agencies from the purposes they were set up for --e.g., DACOWITS set up to nomitor the quality of life of women in the military and their status--into agencies with totally changed agendas (turning DACOWITS into a Military Families pushing Family Values of the Southern Baptist the women are servants to the husbands variety) which promote the more dogmatic varieties of Christianity and plutocracy and "growth" which enriches the upper 1% enormously and beggars most of the rest of the population and eradicates the social welfare net for anyone Social Security retirement age.

C. The regime's intent is to so totally dismantle all regulatory infrastructure and social welfare net infrastructure that it cannot be rebuilt, to to so totally change the federal bureaucracy and instituations and rules and regulations and laws that Christian Dominionist values get imposed permanently and without recourse and without ability to rollback to any sort of multicultural tolerance in society.

#362 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:01 AM:

PRV@348: If you're up in arms because I didn't hold my nose for Kerry, I can't help you. I know retired Army guys who were Vietnam draftees and lifetime Democrats and they couldn't hold their nose for John Kerry. John Kerry's failure to reconcile his Soldier-maligning of the 1970's with his "war hero" persona of the 2004 election, is nobody's fault but Kerry's. And no, the whole, "But people are dying, man!" rhetorical trick doesn't work with me.

Right, because whatever personal insult you as a soldier decided to take from Kerry's protest of the Vietnam war, a protest probably made before you were even born, is sooooooo much more important than people actually dying today.

Heretic? No. That's your self inflated EGO talking. Kerry didn't get people killed. You just couldn't bear to hold your nose because the people like SwiftBoatIncorporated told you that Kerry smelled. So you hold your nose. Meanwhile, actual, real, people are dying because of Bush.

Rhetorical trick? So, when people started phoning in that Bush was completely INCOMPETENT during KATRINA and that people were REALLY DYING due to his incompetence, was that more rhetorical tricks?

Seriously, at what point do you stop making excuses? Stop dismissing valid criticism? Stop spewing neocon koolaid?

And the absolutely crazy thing about it is you're nothing more than a walking excuse-machine for george bush, and proud of it. You wear the fact that you were able to see absolutely no moral difference between Kerry and Bush as if it were some badge of honor.

#363 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Fungi@309: (to CosmicDog) From what I've seen, you are willing to bend over backwards to assume good faith, but only in one direction.

that nails a lot of the problem square on the head. It's what has people conveniently dismiss separation of powers when they're in power, because they would never abuse power. Bush could name himself supreme chancellor and disband the senate, and there'd be people thinking it's a smart move.

I think a couple of them are on this thread.

#364 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:20 AM:

CosmicDog@350: It seems to be quibling, but the doctor terminating the fetus before removing it from the mother is a more palatable option. I mean, even though the baby is going to die, it should be allowed to die peacefully, if possible.

There is no "seems" about it. You are quibbling.

And since you wish that no woman would choose to have an abortion, you embrace a quibble so that you can enforce your wish on other people.

#365 ::: "Charles Dodgson" ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Paula@356, Kerry speech here (via google search on "kerry iraq resolution speech"). Boy, is it tedious, but a quick skim turns up one of (apparently, several) declarations of Kerry's implicit trust in Dubya:

In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days--to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

Of course, Dubya had (as Kerry acknowledged) already rejected a resolution (the bipartisan Biden-Lugar proposal) which would have made those conditions binding; some might have taken that as a hint about whether he really meant it at the time. And plenty of other hints were available, as... ahem... informed observers were grumbling at the time.

Sigh...

#366 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:06 AM:

Kathryn at 355:

Actually, I suspect the changeover date (on birth being upclose & sometimes ugly) was closer to about 1940 or so - two generations past. There was a decline in infant/maternal mortality throughout the 20th century in Western countries, with a very noticeable drop after WWII. The drop is usually attributed to an increase in births in hospitals and the introduction of antibiotics.

Cesarians were very very chancy for the mother before Lister - so much so that they were usually performed on a dead or dying woman in an attempt to save the infant. The attempt usually failed.

Even after Lister, they were hazardous, since until sulfides, there was little in the way of effective antibiotics. I knew a woman who nearly died from a post-Cesarian infection.

I guess I'm saying the past is rather closer than you thought - we're just good forgettors.

(I have a habit of relating most 20th century events to my parents' and grandparents' lives - when I read (somewhere & and I've been trying to track the reference down, but can't, so take it for what it's worth) that women born before 1920 had less than a 50% chance of living to see their grandchildren, and that much of that was due to death in or related to childbirth, I thought, "That's my grandmothers", (as in their generation - both of them lived to see me and my brothers graduate from college).

I'm not sure that that particular 'fact' is true - especially as I'm having considerable difficulty backing it up so far. But when I read it, it certainly caught my attention. If any one else remembers it & where they saw it, I'd appreciate knowing.


#367 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:23 AM:

CosmicDog @ #350 wrote:

It seems to be quibling, but the doctor terminating the fetus before removing it from the mother is a more palatable option.

More palatable? Forcing someone to undergo a more dangerous surgical procedure, rather than a safer one, is more palatable?

Medical, particularly surgical, procedures of any sort are unsightly. There is nothing about an appendectomy that an outside, untrained observer would find "palatable" in any way.

You aren't there, aren't the woman involved, aren't her doctor. Why should what you consider "palatable" be a factor at all in this woman's health care? Does she get a veto over your medical care if she finds it unpalatable? Should you or your doctor be dragged to court for doing something she doesn't like? Should doctor-patient confidentiality be waived if she suspects you and your doctor decided a procedure she doesn't like is the best one for your health? (Which would be needed for any prosecution or enforcement.)

And why would you think a single injury to the back of the head is "more peaceful" than being torn to pieces?

#368 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:49 AM:

#365, thanks

excerpts from the speech,

http://www.c-span.org/vote2004/kerryspeech.asp

"By beginning its public discourse with talk of invasion and regime change, the administration raised doubts about their bona fides on the most legitimate justification for war--that in the post-September 11 world the unrestrained threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of Saddam Hussein is unacceptable, and his refusal to allow U.N. inspectors to return was in blatant violation of the 1991 cease-fire agreement that left him in power. By casting about in an unfocused, undisciplined, overly public, internal debate for a rationale for war, the administration complicated their case, confused the American public, and compromised America's credibility in the eyes of the world community. By engaging in hasty war talk rather than focusing on the central issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the administration placed doubts in the minds of potential allies, particularly in the Middle East, where managing the Arab street is difficult at best.

"Against this disarray, it is not surprising that tough questions began to be asked and critics began to emerge.

"Indeed over the course of the last 6 weeks some of the strongest and most thoughtful questioning of our Nation's Iraq policy has come from what some observers would say are unlikely sources: Senators like CHUCK HAGEL and DICK LUGAR, former Bush Administration national security experts including Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, and distinguished military voices including General Shalikashvili. They are asking the tough questions which must be answered before--and not after--you commit a nation to a course that may well lead to war. They know from their years of experience, whether on the battlefield as soldiers, in the Senate, or at the highest levels of public diplomacy, that you build the consent of the American people to sustain military confrontation by asking questions, not avoiding them. Criticism and questions do not reflect a lack of patriotism--they demonstrate the strength and core values of our American democracy."

"According to the CIA's report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons. The more difficult question to answer is when Iraq could actually achieve this goal. That depends on is its ability to acquire weapons-grade fissile material. If Iraq could acquire this material from abroad, the CIA estimates that it could have a nuclear weapon within 1 year."

"The reason for going to war, if we must fight, is not because Saddam Hussein has failed to deliver gulf war prisoners or Kuwaiti property. As much as we decry the way he has treated his people, regime change alone is not a sufficient reason for going to war, as desirable as it is to change the regime.

Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war--particularly unilaterally--unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution.

"As bad as he is, Saddam Hussein, the dictator, is not the cause of war. Saddam Hussein sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a different matter."

"The reason for going to war, if we must fight, is not because Saddam Hussein has failed to deliver gulf war prisoners or Kuwaiti property. As much as we decry the way he has treated his people, regime change alone is not a sufficient reason for going to war, as desirable as it is to change the regime.

"Regime change has been an American policy under the Clinton administration, and it is the current policy. I support the policy. But regime change in and of itself is not sufficient justification for going to war--particularly unilaterally--unless regime change is the only way to disarm Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction pursuant to the United Nations resolution.

"As bad as he is, Saddam Hussein, the dictator, is not the cause of war. Saddam Hussein sitting in Baghdad with an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a different matter."

"If in the end these efforts fail, and if in the end we are at war, we will have an obligation, ultimately, to the Iraqi people with whom we are not at war. This is a war against a regime, mostly one man. So other nations in the region and all of us will need to help create an Iraq that is a place and a force for stability and openness in the region. That effort is going to be long term, costly, and not without difficulty, given Iraq's ethnic and religious divisions and history of domestic turbulence. In Afghanistan, the administration has given more lipservice than resources to the rebuilding effort. We cannot allow that to happen in Iraq , and we must be prepared to stay the course over however many years it takes to do it right."

"That is why I believe so strongly before one American soldier steps foot on Iraqi soil, the American people must understand completely its urgency. They need to know we put our country in the position of ultimate strength and that we have no options, short of war, to eliminate a threat we could not tolerate."

============

Bottom line in retrospect, there was a massive disinformation and hysteria-generating campaign orchestrated by the neocons (remember them? Some took nosedives and went pancaking in bellyflops such as Feith etc., but at the time they had firm control of the US Executive Branch as regards "information" dissemination and spreading proganda, disinformation, defamation agaisnt detractors and questioners...) and the were using deliberately distorted, massaged, and suspect massaged "intelligence" to promote their goals of invading Iraq.

Kerry assumed good faith and honesty and values of wanting freedom, etc., on their part, and failed to comprehend that the impetus might be far less idealistic and far less concerned with security and freedom from terrorism for the USA and the rest of the world.

Kerry in trying to be accommodating to the Executive Branch and the MAJORITY of the US Congress (remember, it was Republican-controlled at the time) failed to comprehend the level of -evil- and vileness and degeneracy that the Republican party had falled into and remains in, and the extent to which deceit, fraud, lies, deliberate distortion, calumnification of questioners, suppression of information casting doubt on Republican assertions and promotion of no-confidence confabulation had become the standard operating procedure of Karl Rove and his associates.

Note that this was before e.g. the campaign sliming Kerry by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans....

And, note that the insinuations and defamations spread by Karl Rove have gone out of public view as issues... with all the attention on the commutation of Libby's sentence, there hasn't beena WORD about Rove in MONTHS....

Instead, in this forum, it's gone from outrage against the Schmuck and Libby and the news media spinning the reports for sympathy to Libby, back to castigating Kerry--who's one of Rove's victims.

[and nobody's mentioned that the money in Kerry's household is from his wife, whose high level of wealth is as the widow of the late Sen Heinz of the Heinz fortune, and the mother of Heinz' children. She married someone with a large fortune, and the portion of the fortune accruing to her as a widow and available to the man she married after she became a widow, is what has made Kerry a rich man. He wasn't born with it, he didn't have it years ago, it came to him in the marriage.


#369 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:49 AM:

One reason for supporting Democrats over Republicans, of course, is that the thoroughly warmongering contingent is smaller in the Democratic establishment and flanked by a lot more competition. It gained power in 2002-3 because it could join the much larger and more effective Republican warmongering contigent. If Democrats regain control of more branches of government, that faction won't go away, but it will be significantly contained. There will be counterbalancing pressures from a Democratic majority that simply don't exist in a Republican one - if people who would prefer that war not be a default option are willing to do the hard work of pushing for it as a viable political choice, rather than continuing to concede each election to the worst monster running.

I'm not actually bugged much by people who say "I would rather suffer while waiting for the perfect choice, and in the meantime decline to do anything practical to improve my condition." (Since the people who are going on about their unwillingness to vote for Democrats are, in my experience, almost never actually involved in trying to change local or state electoral practice.) Everyone's got a right to choose their own level of misery, within very broad limits, as far as I'm concerned. What bugs me is the downright pride and glee they take in making others suffer for it: the working mothers that the Republicans want to see destitute, the physically and psychologically damaged soldiers and those who love them, the people who don't yet know they're sick or dying because of contaminated food from Chinese (and domestic!) agribusiness, and all the rest. They're real people, dammit, not props in our personal melodramas, and they're entitled to what relief we can help them achieve right now even as we continue to press for improvements to the system.

Good futures matter. But so do presents that are no more disastrous than they have to be, and there's no damn conflict between voting in current elections in hopes of mitigating damage and pressing for practical changes that will offer better choices in the future. The conflict comes only when people insist on using current elections as an expression of support for an alternative system, which works precisely as well as bandaging your wounds with a car axle, instead of using bandages on your wounds and leaving the axle on the car to drive to get more help.

#370 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 12:38 PM:

Bruce, #354: "I guess I just don't see it as very tough as a general to say 'this candidate is demonstrably different from that one, and is more likely to do greater harm to the country', and then go vote for the other one."

It's like a market, I think; there's such a thing as an insultingly poor offer. And for most of us, that's what our two major parties offer. Economists keep on being surprised that people don't accept the best, but still insultingly poor offer, in studies, but I don't think it's too difficult to understand; human psychology is built around the assumption that there will be a second game, and we all know that if one is a sucker once, the con-men gather round and try to sucker again. Unless one is flat desperate, rejecting insulting offers as a matter of course is a sensible thing to do. (Qualification: if one has an inflated ego, reasonable offers will be seen as insulting.)

And that's the reality of the US two-party system; we take bad deals from the parties, because that's all we can get from it, and then we get more bad deals, because the people who offer the deals know we'll take them. It's not surprising that many voters simply don't want to deal at all, and that many make uninformed votes.

We have the technology. But the will? I can only hope.

#371 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:17 PM:

there's such a thing as an insultingly poor offer

and there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face.

as long as this country uses the majority-vote-wins approach to elections rather than something like the condercet method for voting, your effective choices, no matter how insulting, are limited to the two most likely to win candidates.

Any other vote is allowing personal indignation to overrule national effectiveness.

It is, fundamentally, the reaction of a three-year old who would rather no one play than to have to play by the rules. i.e. taking their ball and going home. It is a temper tantrum which has no positive effect other than in the mind of the person throwing the tantrum, because they feel slighted, wronged, indignified, etc, so they're going to "show them" by refusing to participate at all.

The only problem with a tantrum is that it is a subjective ego stroking to the person throwing it, but otherwise in every measurable way, everyone suffers.

Folks like PRV might prefer to cast that attitude as "heretical", but that only works in their subjective mindset. In every measurable way, they're are throwing a tantrum, nothing more, nothing less.

#372 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Soldier Maligning? No. War Maligning, perhaps. If you read the testimony, he didn't malign soldiers. He had a sense of duty which caused him to speak the truth. Atrocities were committed (My Lai, anyone? Who thinks that was a single incident?).

And a lot of guys didn't want to hear that they'd been fighting a war for a lost cause. Better to say the people who told them that were lying sacks of shit who didn't support the troops.

No one likes to think they sacrificed in vain. It makes them feel cheap, used and lessened.

So the messenger will be beaten up.

Kerry does suffer from a lack of telegenic charm, but if one sees him speak, in person, instead of at a remove; he is a potent speaker.

As for his change of mind... Bush suppressed the real facts, lied about his intentions, and then didn't do what the AUMF required (pursue all diplomatic options, and report to congress on the outcome; before force was used).

And what, you'd rather have someone who makes a decision, and then sticks by it, no matter that it goes south in a big way?

That sort of "consistency" is to be preferred to someone who, looking at the facts makes a decision, and then; when the situation changes, corrects course?

I know what kind of guy I wan't sailing the ship... and it ain't the guy who won't deviate from his first idea.

And telling me that Kerry was too rich to understand the little guy, when he was a little guy; when I compare him to the guy who did win (born rich, to a father who was born rich, of a mother who was born rich; pampered all his life and never managing to do anything on his own. A history of failing upward because daddy was powerful) I see a horror show of potemkin politicians (Fred Clark in his red pickup) being lauded as authentic, when the self-made guys (Edwards) are "phony".

And this sort of argument (that Kerry was too rich, and that alienated people) about "authenticity" is helping to insure that the people willing to fake it, and "look" like 'good 'ole boys" while pulling in millions because of the connections they have are going to get more chances to screw the rest of us, until the entire top-heavy mess comes crashing down in a pile of blood and rubble.

#373 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:33 PM:

Another thing Kerry did, which Bush hasn't yet done, is to start and run a business. It's still operating, although it isn't his business any more. I'd bet that few of Bush's companies are still around. (The baseball team doesn't count, since he was a minority partner.)

#374 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:37 PM:

If you read the testimony, he didn't malign soldiers.

According to SwiftBoat (which must be true, it was in print), Kerry was some kind of Wowbagger's great nephew, the finitely prolonged, or some shite, who walked up to every soldier serving in vietnam and personally insulted them.

#375 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 01:55 PM:

#474, Greg--there are some folks who your sarcasm might escape. (One example of missed sarcasm--people who took the Augustine's Law about the One Fighter Plane in the Year 2020 straight line forecast, seriously.... never realizing that Norm Augustine, the author of said Laws, was perhaps the ultimate defense insider--before he retired he was chairman and CEO of Lockheed-Martin, after having risen to the presidency of Martin-Marietta, and with Lockheed and Martin-Marietta merging. He wasn't at that exalted level when he wrote the his laws, but he was was in engineering management and climbing.

Most of the people who'd served with Kerry on swift boats, went out of their way to as a group come together and say they he had their full support and to indicate that the Swift Boat Veterans's allegations were a pack of smarmy lies.... but since they weren't a rich politically connected media spinner with lots of experience sliming anything that wasn't four-square redneck white s/u/p/r/e/a/c/i/s/t/ W/A/S/P male Republican, the media mostly ignored it, especially since they were spending a fortune going to the media ownership airing ads....

#376 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:00 PM:

I wish I remember where I saw it, but I remember seeing a map, some time during the election, of the area where the swift-boat stuff with Kerry took place.

The people who said they saw him do what he said he did were in the same area of the river with him, while the people who didn't see anything were in a different section. Still in the same general area, but it seemed to be out of sight of the area where Kerry was.

Of course, this information wasn't pulled out to check each person who was complaining they saw nothing...

Stupid. I didn't see anyone else who posts to Making Light brush their teeth this morning, but that isn't any sort of evidence that you didn't do it.

#377 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:01 PM:

Greg London, the only person who is more infinitely prolonged and meticulously comprehensive in insulting individual soldiers than Kerry is Jane Fonda, whose involvement with the anti-war movement is always collapsed to "went to Hanoi, sat on missile" and the FTA Tour and other post-Hanoi anti-draft activities are tidied right out of history.

I wish the hell Stephanie Coontz would shine her powers of truth-telling on her own past and write a second The Way Things Never Were about the anti-war movement, and especially about the involvement of honorably discharged Viet Nam vets in that movement after 1970.

#378 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Ursula @ 367
I'm sorry, Ursula, I was referring to what Tully had stated about injecting the fetus with something to terminate it before going through with the IDX, which is something I'm sure the doctors will do. Kathryn's point about a needle insertion having a risk of perferating the uterus is not lost on me, I wasn't aware of that before. As I have stated before, I am simply trying to understand this issue. I am trying to get through the misinformation and biases on both sides of the issue to find out what is going on. I'm sorry if I offended you or made you think that I don't care about women. I admit, when this discussion started, I thought this ban was a pretty good thing. I am not so sure at this point. I'm still not convinced that this ban is the worst thing in the world and a devastating blow to women's rights, health, and quality of life, neither am I convinced that it's something to cheer about and celebrate.

Greg London @ 364
"And since you wish that no woman would choose to have an abortion, you embrace a quibble so that you can enforce your wish on other people."

No. You are wrong. You are making a false assumption about my political agenda, based on very little evidence. I have no wish to go into all of my personal politics except to say that I am not a Republican or a Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. I make up my own mind about the issues based on the information I receive, and, yes, my emotional responses. I vote for laws that I agree with, and vote against laws that I don't, as is my right as an American citizen. In that way, I suppose that I am trying to enforce my wishes on society. The other way is to engage in discussion in which the participants express the pros and cons of an issue and their feelings about it.

It's comments like yours that turn me off from listening to what you have to say. If you want to inform me and influence me towards your point of view, you really need to change your attitude towards me and, if possible, open your mind to other points of view. If you want to attack my character and motives...no thanks, I'm not interested. I'm not going to play that game.

#379 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:14 PM:

I was referring to what Tully had stated about injecting the fetus with something to terminate it before going through with the IDX, which is something I'm sure the doctors will do.

Probably not. If you inject something like that into the fetus, it could cross the placental barrier into the woman. Or even be accidentally injected into the woman. Really, really bad idea.

#380 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Cosmic Dog, people wouldn't be making assumptions about your political views if what you were saying didn't track so well with certain loudly-expressed views, by a major political party, of non-political matters.

#381 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:24 PM:

CosmicDog 350: Dr Dobson...does have some good ideas on how to raise children.

Are you trying to start another fight? You mean like his ideas on beating babies for arching their backs? The Dr Dobson who beat his DOG to win a dominance fight? That sick, twisted piece of shit?

If you raise your kids according to his formulae, I hope they run away as teenagers and never, ever speak to you or let you see them again.

I've I've mistaken your meaning, I hope no such thing.

#382 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Greg, #371: I also would prefer to see more people swallow their pride and vote the lesser of two evils, and then work for and implement an improved voting system. But the people don't do this aren't spoiled children--they are adults who are deeply disappointed for excellent reasons.

#383 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 02:53 PM:

JESR wrote,
Greg London, the only person who is more infinitely prolonged and meticulously comprehensive in insulting individual soldiers than Kerry is Jane Fonda, whose involvement with the anti-war movement is always collapsed to "went to Hanoi, sat on missile" and the FTA Tour and other post-Hanoi anti-draft activities are tidied right out of history.

I don't see anything other than calumny in that, I don't see quotes, I don't see examples, I don
t see examples with provenance, I don't seen examples with provenance that has credibility... all I see is a calumnifying allegation and comparison in highly indignant, biased, and emotion-yanking bombastic language/techniques.

It looks about as impartial and nonpartisan and calm as the intentionally incendiary phraseology used in the "partial birth abortion" ban legislation....

Bring "Hanoi Jane" into play is slightly less incendiary that Godwin's Law....

Oh, and PS, Kerry voted for support for the military and veterans that Bushco was against.... actions speak, and Bushco sent troops to Iraq without essential gear, without vehicles reinforced to withstand even the early IEDs, with minimal if that training and without qualified translators between English and Arabic... but I suppose [sarcasm] that doesn't count, does it, Patriotism means jingoist flagwaving and warmongering and Kill Gooks and bring Christianity to the world, sending missions around and any country that objects to being evangelized is full of intolerant religious bigots... I wonder how many evangelizers headed off to Iraq after the Ba'athists vacated the government offices there, and I wonder how many are there now... with all the anarchy even dedicaed missionaries might have decided to make for other parts of the world....

#384 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Randolph, disappointment is NOT an "excellent reason" to act irresponsibly in the voting booth.
Your feelings and your actions are separate. One does not excuse the other.

#385 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:20 PM:

CosmicDog: You are making a false assumption about my political agenda, based on very little evidence.

No, your post at 350 is enough of a clue to your political agenda:

I still hold to the position that I wish that no woman would choose to have an abortion, or have abortion thrust upon her because of health concerns.

Who would ever wish any woman have an abortion thrust upon her because of health concerns, or for ANY REASON??? You either are claiming a universally held view as your personal moral high ground, or, you're statement brings with it the insinuation that people want to force abortions on women who don't want them unless people like you outlaw all abortions.

But if it must happen, I would prefer that it is the least traumatic method for both the mother and the baby. It seems to be quibling, but the doctor terminating the fetus before removing it from the mother is a more palatable option.

This is almost hilarious. You start out saying you want whatever is "least traumatic method for both mother and baby" but end up advocating the position that is least traumatic TO YOU.

You don't give a damn about what's best for the mother at all. You want the option that makes you feel the least queasy.

It makes you so uncomfortable that your entire description of the procedure is nothing but a string of emotional pleas.

so close to being born,

emotive plea.

on its way out of the birth canal,

emotive plea

and just before it is completely out,

emotive plea.

the doctor kills it.

emotive plea.

That image stings me just a little bit. I admit it, it hurts my heart.

exactly. it's all about what YOU want, not whats best for the person actually pregnant.

And THAT is your political agenda.

#386 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:31 PM:

CosmicDog @378

It's comments like yours that turn me off from listening to what you have to say..

But I hope that as you do this you also contemplate the (hypothetical) responses you'd get if you were talking to people who made this ban and told them you weren't sure it was a good idea.

not convinced that this ban is the worst thing in the world...

Did anyone say it was? On the margin, it merely means that each year, a certain percentage of women who get complications from their late-term abortion might have not had those complications if they'd had an intact D&X.

(And, per my 347, do you think any doctor can take the risk of an intact D&X? A real risk of jail vs. a small additional risk of 'danger of internal bleeding from a perforated uterus.' That's a cruel math to give any doctor to calculate. [Wow, I was just re-reading the decision. Did the majority write that doctors still have the options of hysterotomy and hysterectomy?])

It is, however, a precedent. Did you read Ginsburg's dissent?(Full decision pdf) Quoting a summary:

Ginsburg, in a lengthy statement, said "the Court's opinion tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health."

She said the federal ban "and the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."

In the course of her dissenting opinion, Ginsburg accused the majority of offering "flimsy and transparent justifications" for upholding the ban. She also denounced the Kennedy opinion for its use of "abortion doctor" to describe specialists who perform gynecological services, "unborn child" and "baby" to describe a fetus, and "preferences" based on "mere convenience" to describe the medical judgments of trained doctors. She also commented: "Ultimately, the Court admits that 'moral concerns' are at work, concerns that could yield prohibitions on any abortion."

a devastating blow to women's rights, health, and quality of life

On the margin, it doesn't affect many women. How many women do you know who've had late-term miscarriages? Probably not too many. How many of those ended up being abortions? It's very unlikely you'd know, but if the fetus was dying, or unviable, the doctor likely made the decision to do what was least risky to the mother.

Did you know the numbers for the background maternal death rate before I mentioned it upthread? (Still the rate today in a place like Afghanistan: 1,500 deaths per 100,000 iirc) I ask because I think people will perceive a big difference between changing the marginal risks of a dangerous activity vs. a merely painful one.

#387 ::: Alex R ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Re CosmicDog @ 350, and Xopher @ 381: Here's an old thread at a predecessor of this fine blog on the subject of James Dobson's child-rearing philosophy and practice. Anyone who thinks that he has some "good ideas" about raising children should read the whole comment thread...

#388 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 03:48 PM:

Alex 387: I did read that comment thread. The guy's a psychopath, and anyone who raises their kids according to his principles is going to have some really twisted kids. I always hope for kids to escape from their abusers, and Dobson parents qualify in spades.

#389 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:28 PM:

CosmicDog @ 350, and Xopher @ 381

And here's the good parts version of Dare to Discipline. Yes, the website is biased, and is focusing on Dobson's worst statements. (15 months?) But it doesn't mean that Dobson didn't write them.

And then there's that problem (as I see it) that Dobson believes himself to be not just saved, but "freed from sin and exalted to holiness of heart and life." Not just pardoned of his sins, but "cleansed from inbred sin and made free from unholy tempers and unholy appetites." (definitions of Entire Sanctification taken from here). That Dobson believes this of himself comes from a co-founder of FotF: Gil Alexander-Moegerle.

It's likely quite amazing how easy it is to discipline your child if you know that you yourself are sinless and incapable of bad tempers, while your child is a little child of the devil as are all kids (and all non-Christians, as Dobson defines them).

It's sadly quite amazing how easy it is to know you should be the kingmaker over the US when you yourself are sinless and incapable of bad tempers.

Dobson worries me. Scares me. In Dobson's Family Research Council version of the US, non-Christians are allowed to live (not "live here" but "live"), but only if they don't talk about their religion to other people. That's plain dominionist theory. Even today they're quite willing to admit that they hate the idea of, say, anyone but Christians praying in Congress. They went nuts at the idea of a Hindu prayer being said there.

#390 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:28 PM:

Paula, do I need to use irony tags?

#391 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Oy. This is starting to drift into frustrating and useless territory for me. As I've stated before, I base my opinions on the information that is presented to me and how it makes me feel. Basically, it's a mixure of reason and emotion. When I started my part of the discussion, the information available to me led me to believe that the Partial Birth Abortion ban was pretty much a good thing. Thanks to folks like Ursula L, KathrynFromSunnyvale, FungiFromYugoth, I have cause to reconsider my position. I appreciate their help and the information that they have given me. I have a better understanding of the opposing point of view on this issue. I acknowledge that I didn't have all the facts before I started commenting on this issue. I'm sure I still don't have all the facts. This is exactly why I have discussions with people that may disagree with me. I'm sure I could go to some conservative forum and have everyone go "yeah, right on, keep the faith" and gain absolutely nothing. What would be the point of that?

Attacking my (assumed) political beliefs and agenda, as Greg has done and PJ supports, is useless. If you disagree with what I say or how I act, present me with reasons to change in a reasonable way. I am aware that my perspective on this particular issue pretty much lines up with the Republican party's expressed point of view. At church, I'm surrounded by Conservative Republicans, for the most part. At work, (I work at the County Welfare office) I am surrounded by Liberal Democrats, for the most part. My friends tend to represent a fairly broad spectrum of opinions, from the left to the right, or kind of mixed, like myself. I get influenced on a number of issues, and I have to make up my own mind about what position to hold and what to speak up about.

I'm not a politician, I don't have the ability to affect laws and policy, other than talking to people about what I believe and how I feel about it. I can be reasoned with and my mind will change about any particular issue based on the information I have.

Be respectful, play nice, and I will listen to your point of view. Please do me the courtesy of listening to my point of view. Again, if you simply want to assault my perceived political agenda, you're wasting your time. You will not change my mind that way.

#392 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:42 PM:

Cosmicdog, Telling adults to "play nice" is about the single most disrespectful contribution to conversation it's possible to use, far more offensive than a nice straight-forward "fuck you."

#393 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:49 PM:

Cosmic Dog, remember that you were the one who was running viewpoints by us that are associated, strongly associated, with one particular political view. That's what I was saying, and all I meant. If the shoe fits you, well, that's your problem, not mine.

#394 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:49 PM:

I also read that thread. AFAIAC, James Dobson is a monster. Possibly one day either his children or his God will tell him so.

CosmicDog, I appreciate that you have the courtesy to go away and think about what Ursula, Katherine, Margaret and others have said. It seems to me, from reading your posts, that you came to your opinions about late term abortion with very little actual information about the surgery and about the choices facing those women who have had it. Perhaps some of what you read here will inspire you to do some serious research. Perhaps also, after you've thought, you will try to answer Ursula's questions at 367.

#395 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:51 PM:

Sorry. Kathryn. My apologies.

#396 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Xopher #381, Kathryn from Sunnyvale #389: Don't you know that the devil has to be beaten out of children (apparently Old Nick inhabits all children and requires fustigation)? Or that the Bible says that those who don't beat their children hate them? How could you dare object to Dobson freely exercising his religion on defenceless infants and urging his fellow xtians to do the same thing? After all didn't that Jesus fellow say 'make little children suffer'?

{irony tag available on request}

#397 ::: ethan is pretty sure he sees weird spam ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:58 PM:

It was a while ago now, and Greg's already responded to it more than adequately, but PRV's notion at #348 that dead people are a "rhetorical trick" is terrifying.

Question, for real, I would like an answer please: Would it be better or worse if a million people were not now dead?

#398 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Ugh, sorry. No spam here. I'm a doofus.

I still want an answer, though.

#399 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 05:17 PM:

*thinks*

I don't KNOW of any particular million dead people who I'd mind not being dead... dozens, oh yes (don't bring back Milosevic, please), hundreds possibly, thousands... no. A million, whichever million you're thinking of, I'd rather they were still alive.

I can't even think of a million people who are alive, who I'd rather see dead. Well, possibly-- if you add them all up, there certainly are at least that many scary racist Dominionist loonies out there who are beyond redemption-- but they're not all in a particular *group*. A gigantic weight you could drop from the sky and crush those people, without crushing anybody else, would be a very complicated-looking object.

#400 ::: PublicRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 05:57 PM:

I'm not sure what else I can say on this, other than:

1) Not supporting Kerry doesn't automatically equate to me 'supporting' Bush. That kind of patented black/white, either/or logic is why America is locked into two parties, often for the worse. I demand the right of a third option if I think the first two options are terrible. And in my opinion, Bush and Kerry both were terrible. You might have thought Kerry was an awesome candidate. I disagree. And I was not alone. And nobody has the right to tell me or anyone else that we had some sort of moral or ethical obligation to vote for Kerry just because Bush is an asshole.

2) Which brings me to ethan's rhetorical device. I like to call it the Kittens Maneuver. You've all seen the endlessly copied picture, right? Anyway, the Kittens Maneuver basically goes like this: if you make this choice (A) which I do not like, or engage in this action (B) or activity (C) which I disapprove of, then you are automatically to blame for the horrible things (D) that will happen because of the actions or decisions of an entirely unrelated, different person (E) over whose agency you have zero control.

We see this ploy used a lot in our popular culture. Like when pro-lifers tell you that you're an accessory to murder if you don't vote for anti-abortion Republicans. Same exact argument as ethan's, "People will DIE if you don't vote the way I think you should vote!"

In some cases I think this trick is effective, otherwise nobody would keep using it. Me? I've heard and seen it too often, from various zealous groups, to be cowed by it. George Bush's sins are his own. And especially when I did not even vote for the man, you can't make me responsible for him, or the death's in Iraq.

3) Regarding Kerry and soldier-maligning, the two retired Army men I am thinking of in particular, one an officer and the other enlisted, both expressed negative opinions to me long before the whole swiftboat campaign began. I didn't know much about Kerry at the time, but I remember these two men quite well, and how they disliked very much that Kerry was now running as some kind of war hero, when his past actions following Vietnam seemed to show that he held his own service and the service of other Vietnam veterans in contempt. Again, if some of you want to keep making apologies for Kerry, go right ahead. All I have done is express my opinions and those of a few people I know. If you think we're full of it, I don't really care. Kerry was the wrong man for the Democrats in 2004. And those of us who couldn't stomach him or Bush had no obligation to hold our noses; especially since all of Washington State's electoral votes went to Kerry anyway. WTF are you complaining about when our 'conscience' votes didn't even affect the overall outcome? We did our civic duty as expected of us by the Founders. If that's not good enough for some people, fuck them.

#401 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:12 PM:

Let the record show that as of today, I am making a minor alteration in my alias, in accordance with JESR's having pointed out that my experience in non-profit radio does lay more with community stations, as opposed to public stations per se.

NOTE: the e-mail has not changed.

Thank you.

#402 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:38 PM:

CRV@400: Not supporting Kerry doesn't automatically equate to me 'supporting' Bush.

CRV again Part of the reason we only have two gottdamned parties in America is because people keep using the logic, "Well, I think Candidate A sucks, but Candidate B is worse, and I don't want to throw my vote away and let Candidate B win, so I am going with Candidate A."

You've got it so backwards I can't find the end.

The reason we have two gawdamn parties is because we have majority-vote-wins elections. We do NOT have condercet voting where you can rank all the candidates.

Because we have majority-vote-wins voting, you either vote for one of the two most-likely-to-win candidates, OR you throw your vote away. That's the way majority-vote-wins WORKS.

What you are complaining about up there is that people do what is called "strategic voting" whereby they implement condercet voting UP FRONT, and guestimate that their first choice isn't going to win, so they fall back to their second or third choice. or whatever choice gets to the two main contenders.

That's actually the logical thing to do in majority-vote-wins systems. Rank your candidates in the order you want, then go down the list until you hit the first one to be one of the last two contenders.

It's condercet voting but you have to implement the ranking yoruself and do a fair guestimate to figure out who will be the top two contenders.

But in a Majority-vote-wins system, if you don't vote for one of the main two contendors you throw your vote away. If, you really, seriously, thought that Kerry was even slightly better than Bush, you should have voted for Kerry, even if you though candidate number 3 was actually YOUR favorite candidate, because if you don't scale your vote back to one of the top two, you actually take your vote away from whichever of those two candidates you would have voted for.

Even with the best voting system, condercet, if your candidate had no chance of winning the majority vote, then you threw your vote away.

So given that we operate in a Majority-Vote-Wins election system, if you thought Kerry was better than Bush, but you instead voted for a third party, then you did in fact "support" Bush by wasting your vote.

Now, and this is where the rubber meets the road, I have this suspicious gut feeling that even if there were only two candidates back in 2004, and you had to vote, you would have voted for Bush over Kerry. Something is setting off my alarms that this "conscious vote" for the third party is a rather large amount of BS to cover up the fact that were push come to shove you would have voted Bush. There's something rather convenient about being a "rebel" or a "heretic" when it really means you get to hide your true feelings. Maybe you just didn't vote for Bush because you figured he was going to win anyway, which was enough of a gap to let you off the hook and let you make a "conscious vote". Sure, whatever.

#403 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:45 PM:

the two retired Army men I am thinking of in particular, one an officer and the other enlisted, both expressed negative opinions to me long before the whole swiftboat campaign began

Oh, so everything Swiftboat said must be true? Talk about the most convenient cherry picking of information I've ever heard.

In short, they said exactly what you wanted to hear.

Otherwise, how the hell does your wonder of logic explain how Kerry's actual fellow crewmen all stood behind Kerry's service? You know, the guys who were on the boat with him? Swiftboat said Kerry didn't deserve his medals. His crew said he probably saved their lives.

I think everytime you say "heretic" you actually mean "dogmatic".

#404 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:51 PM:

CRV: (which is funny, because that is an acronym here, "California Redemption Value).

I'm going to bring up something I said before, please bear with me.

It feels as though you are repeating Republican Talking Points. Kerry was the wrong guy. Bush was bad, but I couldn't bear Kerry. Casting a vote for a third party didn't do any harm because the bad guy didn't get my state electoral votes.

Ok, so a couple of guys with a beef against Kerry told you he'd maligned troops; did you go check into it? A bunch of people with ties to the Bush Campaign staged a campaign saying he did that, and that he made up the stories about Viet-nam.

Did you look into that?

Because what I see is you being really lazy.

Kerry was dull. He had people who questioned him, so you decided he was so bad you had to cast an advisory vote.

Well, there's something to be said for that, when the two choices aren't as different as Bush and Kerry were. I've cast some of those, because I didn't feel like voting for Clinton, and I sure as hell wasn't voting for Dole, and Calif, was going to be so blue as to be negligable, and Dole was going to lose.

If it had been tight, a third party vote, even in a blue state would have been a censure of the Dems; and that would be seen as a positive to the Republicans (because if I vote for a left-wing party I'm a fringe-voter, who doesn't matter, and if I vote for the Libertarian I am saying the Dems aren't far enough to the right).

But the media don't report on the secondary votes. They merely say Kerry lost by 3 million votes.

Well, if some of those people had voted Dem, instead of Third Party, Bush couldn't have claimed he had "political capital" (and thank heaven he didn't have the savvy to properly spend that capital, but blew it all on trying to gut Social Security).

So yes, I do think you are supporting Bush, if only tangientally, when you say Kerry deserved to lose, and that only some new Kerry/Mondale cross could beat whomever the Republicans annoint.

Because that sort of meme is what they are trying to do. Edwards is a girly man, Obama is a terrorist enabler, Hillary is a woman (and a Clinton). All of this is the start of the campaign to make the Dem nominee, "not the right person to be president".

If we had instant run-off/australian balloting, I'd not care who voted for; first, so long as the worst was last (and yes, that presupposes we have a similar idea of what defines worst).

But we don't, and not casting a vote of repudiation matters.

#405 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 06:59 PM:

Xopher, #388, you won't be surprised that Dobson was a prophet at the churches my folks went to.

#406 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:00 PM:

JESR @ 392

"Telling adults to "play nice" is about the single most disrespectful contribution to conversation it's possible to use, far more offensive than a nice straight-forward "fuck you.""

I do not agree. I'm sorry that you were offended. If I am swearing at someone or about something, it means that I am really upset. There isn't really anything that someone could say on a message board that could get me that riled up. It just words on a page. The advantage of a forum is that I can express points of view and talk about issues that I might not be able to with people I know in 'Real Life'. Maybe a better way to say what I mean is hateful, snarky, biased, or otherwise mean comments directed at me and not addressing my arguments or the topic at hand are useless to me, as person trying to grow in my understanding. It is no way the equivalent of telling someone to go have sex with themselves.

#407 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:01 PM:

CRV:

shorter me:

In a majority-vote-wins system, if you vote for anyone who isn't one of the main two contendors, then your vote is indistinguishable from someone who supports the winner but felt he had enough of a spread that you could vote for a third party.

i.e. you voting for a third party in 2004, rather than voting for either Bush or Kerry, is an action that is impossible to distinguish from someone who supported Bush but thought Bush had the election in the bag, therefore had the luxury of voting for a third candidate. Your actions are exactly the same.

So, basically, it comes to this: If the choice was only Bush or Kerry, and if there were no other candidates, and you had to vote for one or the other, who would you have voted for?

Any answer other than "Bush" or "Kerry" is a cop out.

#408 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:04 PM:

CRV: The difference is that masturbating is not actually related to kittens dying, while allowing Bush to be president is the direct cause of a million people being dead. Is this not obvious?

I'm not saying you personally are solely responsible for any of this, and never have, but the memes you so enthusiastically spread are a big part of it.

#409 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:07 PM:

Greg,

I don't give a !*@*%$!! what the swifties said. I never paid attention to their advertisements and I don't base anything I say or how I voted on what the swifties said or wrote.

So please, stop shoving the swiftboaters in my mouth.

Here is how it went down:

1- Dem primaries were held, and Howard Dean fell on his face. I was very surprised at that, and was curious to find out who John Kerry was.

2- I happened to be at drill shortly after that (we now call it Battle Assembly, for reasons I know not...) and we had some retired folk come because one of their young relatives was being promoted, and they were pinning her. Several of us got with the retirees prior to the pinning and someone brought up Kerry. These two men, whom I learned were both retired and Vietnam draftees and more or less Democrats, both said they thought Kerry was an opportunist and a bad choice for the party, and they were pretty sure they wouldn't be able to vote for him even if it meant Bush might win.

3- When several of us asked why, they said they felt like Kerry took a piss on everyone who ever served in Vietnam, but now that he wanted to be President, he was trying to play himself as some kind of war hero. They thought it was 100% pure political bullshit, they hated the idea of Kerry riding into office as some kind of hero after he'd contributed to Vietnam vets coming home and having a bad reputation, and they suggested that all of us younger Soldiers go look up what Kerry said, see the clips, and then we'd know what they were talking about.

4- Myself and a few others did just that. And I was forced to admit that these two retirees were not without warrant in their sour feelings for John Kerry. By his own words, he did a lot more than just criticize the war or the White House. He gave the unknowing public the general impression that attrocity was S.O.P. for soldiers in Vietnam. And I don't know about anyone else, but I've yet to meet a Vietnam vet, regardless of political affiliation, who enjoys having himself portrayed as a rank-and-file war criminal.

After this, I payed a lot of attention to the Kerry campaign, and the more I saw of it, the less I liked the guy and the more I had to agree with the grumbling chorus of current and prior servicemembers I knew, few of them Bush voters, who thought Kerry was a sham and a vote-mongerer, and they were pretty bitter than the Dems couldn't come up with a more consistent, less empty man to run against Bush.

Again, I think the onus is on the Democratic Party to come up with better candidates; not for all of us voters to hold our noses and Vote the Democratic ticket simply because Republicans suck.

#410 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:11 PM:

Lizzy L @ 394

In comment 378, I clarified what I was talking about with Ursula. But to be clear, no, I do not think that cutting a live fetus is less traumatic for anyone. Again, I was under the impression that is was possible to safely (for the mother) terminate the fetus, via injection, before performing an IDX. Also, to be clear, I am not opposed to late term abortions when the life or health of the mother is at stake. I was only pointing out what the law specifically states and the specific method of IDX that has been banned. It's a law, but it's not written in stone. Congress has changed, more than likely the Executive branch will change in 18 months. If you disagree with this law, write your congress person and ask them to change it or repeal it.

#411 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Greg @ #407,

I guess we're just going to have to disagree. This is obviously a philosophical debate about how votes ought to be cast, and for whom, and why. And while I sort of understand your POV on this, I can't make candidates faceless enough to put them on a tiered list like in Consumer Reports. If I think both Option 1 and Option 2 are not viable, I am seeking an Option 3, or an Option 4, or an Option 5. The system might be set up so that I am "throwing away" votes, but that just means the system has a problem, not that I have a problem.

Thanks for sticking with me on this debate. I know I get heated. I've been arguing more or less about third-partyisms and "voters throwing away votes" since my dad and I both went third-party in my very first national election in 1992.

#412 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:14 PM:

Fragano @396,

::channels dobson::

Don't you understand that all people- including children- are the children of satan, ruled by evil, unable to control or even hide their vile nature without the strict rules of righteous godly-men leaders, until they become real-true saved?

And that because the Big Guy judges nations, if the Good People of the US have laws that allow the unsaved to publicly practice any evil ways- atheism to Zoroastrianism (with stops at Catholicism, Darwinism, Democrats, Einsteinism, Feminism, Hinduism,...)- then Our Great Nation could be judged badly? Destroyed? So it's for our own good that only the righteous godly-men leaders be leaders, or make laws. The rest of us are as little children (vile and wild) to them, and if we don't understand why tolerance is bad, well, that's like how a 3-year old doesn't understand that poking sticks into the light-socket is bad.

#413 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale #412: Oh, of course -- and it has to be godly-men, 'cos women have cooties and all...

{irony off}

Every time I come across one of these clowns proclaiming that their fictional big-daddy-in-the-sky says that they're good and everyone who disagrees with them is bad, I reflect that if I believed that what they were saying were true, I would choose damnation over spending eternity with them.

#414 ::: CommunityRadioVet ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:23 PM:

All,

I think I'm done standing up for the philosophical rights of us third-partyists; at least in this thread. I've been repeatedly and unfairly tarred as a Bushie and I've had my fill, thanks. If some of you look at the world and think, "If you're not WITH US, you're WITH THEM", then that's fine. My mind and soul do not work that way and never have, and I can't argue you all into thinking or feeling differently any more than you can argue me into believing that I'm being lazy or a latent Bush fan simply because I couldn't vote for Kerry.

Bush sucked. Kerry sucked. I am not obliged to pretend that Kerry didn't suck, simply because Bush sucked more than Kerry sucked. I loathe the idea of having to choose the lesser of two evils, to use a phrase. Americans, I believe, deserve better.

There. I am done.

Have a good weekend everyone. I hope the Dems come up with a ticket I can respect in 2008. I really, really do.

#415 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:25 PM:

PJ Evans @ 393

My point is that labeling people as this or that gets in the way of understanding. If you decide to disregard anything I have to say about abortion because you are convinced that I am a Conservative Republican Christian Right whatever, you lose out. You have already closed your mind, what's the point in talking about anything? I'm not saying that's what you are doing, it is what Greg is doing, which why I don't want to respond to him. What's the point?

In truth, my conservative friends think I'm a liberal, my liberal friends think I'm conservative. Everyone knows that I try to keep an open mind, and most of them respect that. I am also able to respect their view points, even when I disagree, because I know that they are people. People are complex and confusing, and the world isn't black or white. We have to make our own choices about what we believe and what's right and what's wrong.

I feel defensive, and I shouldn't. I want to clarify what I about, though, because I want to engage in other conversations on this board, and I don't want to shut out because of some stupid label.

(Oh about my conservative and liberal friends, those are their labels that they have chosen for themselves. I'm not very good at applying those labels correctly.)

#416 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Cosmic dog: being sensitive is being as aware of your effect on others as of others effect on you. What you are, is being touchy.

A little sensitivity- or humility, that would work, too- would be a good thing, here.

#417 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 07:48 PM:

It's not so much that votes for morally superior third party candidates are wasted, it's that they leech votes away from safe, boring main party candidates who reside in a similar zone of the political spectrum but who have the advantage of a statistically significant chance of winning the election. The only viable third party candidates are billionaires who pay their own way (but who, of course, are morally suspect because of their wealth).

#418 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:12 PM:

CosmicDog: I'll chime in on the "play nice" problem.

It's rude. It says that the people who were disagreeing with you weren't being nice.

It also implies there is some set of rules required to make debate possible. It's passive-aggressive, in that one can use, "polite" ways of saying someone is a terrible person, but then get all bent out of shape, clutching at pearls when they respond honestly.

Looking at this from the outside (because I didn't need to have a dog in the fight, lots of people with more eloquence, and better informed were handling it), you seemed to be advocating a policy of 1: being in favor of restricting D&X, which is bad enough.

2: Being against it because it makes you feel uncomfortable.

3: In favor of the law recently upheld.

Combining those three things (and knowing what we know of the effect of the law, and the; open, intent of those who got it passsed) it's not unreasonable to assume you are willing to vote your personal, emotional, responses, and inflict them; by force of law, onto others.

It's unpleasant, but it's perfectly, fair, and (in context) nice. No one told you off. No one said you had no right to your opinion. They said you were wrong; they told you why. Some said they thought based on your writings, you had political positions they disagreed with.

They didn't call you out (as Greg, and I have been doing) for being lazy in your research on so important a subject.

But you told them, as though they were bickering children to, "play nice."

It's patronising, and not, IMO, productive of the end you desire.

#419 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:13 PM:

CRV @414,

If you're walking away from here feeling tarred... How to put it...

1. You should never let one person on a board get your goat, because in any group of over 20 people, there'll be one person in your "bottom 5% of compatible discussion styles."

2. When I read your words, I'm picking up an assumption on your part that you see being a 3rd-partyist here on ML as being different, or novel to us.

I don't think that's true, even neverminding the Canadians, Aussies and Europeans here who understand 3rd-parties the way Americans understand [something amusingly well-understood in the U.S. but not in those places*. Got nothing.].

3. This is (or has ended up at this point in the thread) a discussion on politics, religion, and abortion. All things that'll get the blood pressure up. So it's also as good of place as any to practice discussing it without letting one's blood pressure rise.

4. I haven't read things that suggest that people are trying to poke at you for your Kerry statements. I do read it as they're trying to dissect those statements. I think it's a survivable dissection: I've seen other regulars be in / survive / handle much stronger discussions [cf feminism topics]: it just takes practice.

-------------
* The idea that there's something Canadians don't understand about the US, vs. vice versa... can't think of one.

Q: What's the difference between Canadians and Americans?
A: Canadians know the difference.

#420 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Addendum: As Greg and I have been doing with CRV.

Got ahead of myself.

#421 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:10 PM:

Terry @ 418

Paula started off by telling me that I had my head up my ass. Greg has accused of trying to force my will other people. That is not disagreement, those are fighting words (as I see it) and I am not interested in fighting. Ursula, Kathryn and the like have been 'playing nice' by politely disagreeing with me and giving me information to I didn't have previously.

Of course I am going to vote my conscience. If one feels the need to change my mind, for fear what I am going to do, they must persuade me to change.

I didn't mean to be patronising, and for that, I'm sorry.

#422 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:20 PM:

CosmicDog: being put on the defensive is unpleasant, isn't it?

These are the questions Ursula asked that I hoped you would answer -- not publicly, but in your own mind.

Why should what you consider "palatable" be a factor at all in this woman's health care? Does she get a veto over your medical care if she finds it unpalatable? Should you or your doctor be dragged to court for doing something she doesn't like? Should doctor-patient confidentiality be waived if she suspects you and your doctor decided a procedure she doesn't like is the best one for your health?

And then, after you have come up with your answer, I recommend you read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, which is about what the world might be like if one set of people really did make all the decisions for another set of people about sexual choices, when and who to have sex with, pregnancy, and childbearing. It is not meant to be predictive and I don't suggest you read it for that reason, but rather because it will allow you to enter into [many] women's (and some men's) nightmares, and may help you to understand why discussion of this issue quickly leads to tight jaws, clenched fists, and barely suppressed rage. Part of why you feel defensive, I submit, is that you can feel that rage and don't understand why it should be turned on you. Why are they mad at me? you wonder, and you ask us to play nice, not understanding that asking grown women (and men) to "play nice" about the topic of abortion is unbearably patronizing and also pretty clueless.

Here are two pre-Roe vs. Wade scenarios.

1) You are 19, and pregnant. You are not married. You and your boyfriend used birth control but it failed. You are both in college. You are poor. You tell your parents that you are pregnant. Your parents take you out of school and put you in a home for unwed mothers 500 miles away from where you live. There are twelve other women there: all young and white, like you. The women (they are nuns) who run the home are kind but also severe: they want you to recognize that you have made more than a mistake; that you are in need of forgiveness. You are not "allowed" to leave the home. Your parents do not come to see you, nor does your boyfriend, the father of the child you are carrying; indeed, he is forbidden to come to see you or even to call. You talk to your parents once a week on the telephone. You give birth in a hospital, surrounded by strangers who disapprove of you. You are given anesthetic so that you will be asleep when the child is born; this is deliberate, since you must be kept from bonding with the newborn. You are not even allowed to hold her in your arms. She will be adopted by people whom you do not know and will never be able to find. You will never see her again.

2) You are 19, and pregnant. You are not married. You and your boyfriend used birth control but it failed. You are both in college. You are poor. You do not dare tell your parents. You cannot leave school. You find an abortionist. You and your boyfriend scrape together the money to pay him. On the day assigned, you are picked up by total strangers in a car, blindfolded, and driven to a part of town you do not know, to a house. There are other women there. You talk. They are black, white, mostly young... one woman sits with a rosary wrapped around her fingers, praying as she cries. Your name is called. You go to a back room. A painful surgical procedure is performed upon you by someone you have been told is actually a surgeon, in a back room in someone's house. You are given pills, told to take them, then driven to a street corner where your boyfriend is waiting for you. You are bleeding through the gauze they have packed you with. For three days you monitor the bleeding, take the unnamed pills, hope you are not taking a drug you are allergic too, and that you are not getting an infection, because then you will be forced to go to the hospital, which you cannot afford, and where they may very well arrest you and try to make you tell them about the doctor who helped you.

These were common occurrences pre Roe. Believe me. I am over 60; I have personal experience. And these were the good outcomes. You cannot know, because I would guess you were not alive then, but perhaps you can imagine if you try, the wild relief with which many, many women greeted the SCOTUS decision. It is an awful decision to have to make, to terminate a pregnancy. (Yes, I have known some women who took it lightly. People take having children lightly, too.) When we make that decision, when we do it, are we taking a life? I do not know. My church says we are. But I do know, I am sure, that in the United States, which is not a theocracy and whose Constitution forbids that it should be governed by a specific religious code, the legal right of an individual woman to make decisions about her own body, including what lives or doesn't live in her womb should not, MUST not, be given to the state.

#423 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 09:36 PM:

PRV, #400. "Kerry was now running as some kind of war hero." John Kerry has a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. The Silver Star is specifically awarded for "gallantry in action"; the Bronze Star is given for "heroic or meritorious achievement or service"; the Purple Hearts is awarded to a solider "wounded [...] in action"--three purple hearts means wounded in three separate events. Get OFF it, already; the man is a war hero; he has the medals to prove it, and he gets to claim it.

#424 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:11 PM:

bravo, lizzy. you said it much better than i ever could have.

i find it hard to be "nice" when i think that my womb could be perforated & my childbearing abilities destroyed forever in an avoidable procedure just so some dude i never met won't feel icky (yes, it's rare. it's also unlikely that i will be sent to a secret prison & held without trial. but as long as it can happen to any american citizen, it is a risk to me).

i have a uterus, that's my bias.

#425 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Addendum to Randolph Fritz @ #423:

Bush ran as a successful businessman, a claim he had no right to make based on his history, unlike Kerry's war hero status. But you rarely (if ever) heard the word "Harken" or the phrase "SEC investigation" attached to Bush during either the 2000 or the 2004 campaigns in the public press, despite much blogging about those events.

See, that's one of the things that left me really bitter about those two elections (well, besides that whole SCOTUS override of Florida courts' decisions and ultimate selection of a President, contra all our previous history); no honest assessment of Bush's abilities to be President was ever presented to the electorate. Instead we got Al Gore's sighs and GWB's fratboy "like to have a beer" image.

#426 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:28 PM:

Lizzy L @ 422

I am in no way opposed to Roe v Wade, a position that gets me in hot water with some of my friends that are very passionate that it is the greatest evil ever brought forth in this country. I disagree. I fully support a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. I would not want a woman to choose abortion unless there was a risk to her health or even her life. But that's a moral issue, I cannot make moral decisions for anyone but myself, and do not beleive that morality can be legistated. I am not a woman and therfore will never be in position to make any decisions about abortion. This is frustrating because I have feelings about this issue, but I have no safe place in which to express them. If it were possible for me to completely discount the woman's health or feelings, I'm sure I could fit in to the Conservative camp on this issue. I could talk about it at Church or with my Christian friends and not be attacked or accused of hating God. If it were possible for me to not value the life of the unborn child, I'm sure I could fit in to the Liberal camp. I could talk about it and not get attacked or accused of being mysoginistic or fascist and trying to force others to think like me. It sucks.

As far as "playing nice", look I'm sorry, I'm used to hearing that applied to adults and I didn't view as patronising. Folks on this board have shown me that is how the see it and I apologized and will endevour to change. I usually try respect others point of view and feelings. (Not always, I am human, though when I don't, it usually brought to my attention rather quickly).

I think I've made it clear that I knew that I didn't have all the facts when I started discussing this topic. I also think I've shown a willingness to listen reason.

I started off thinking "what's the big deal? They're making something out of nothing." I am now at "whoa, there is a lot more to this than I thought." I believed that the law banned one option out of many viable option because of its cruelty. Comments in this thread have lead me to reconsider that position. If you click on the view all by link in my posts, I think that you will see that I have open mind and that I'm trying to be sensitive to people's feelings. If you don't see it that way, I guess I haven't communicated as well as I would like. Sorry.

So how about this: Please be patient with me as I try to figure things out.

#427 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:34 PM:

Cosmic Dog: I saw those. At the risk of being not nice, you did have your head in a dark hole. You said that the damage Bush has done was so trivial that once he was out of office it would pass. You also said that it was better to just suck up the next 18 months, because the damage he might do in that time wasn't so much.

Far worse things than being told one has one's head up one's ass have been said; some might say for less (I seem to recall my saying that I would, without remorse, be willing to kill someone. I meant it).

The things you were saying about the D&X ban were false, and the least bit of actual research would have shown that (as evidence I offer how trivial it was to show you facts here).

But you went with gut; because the emotive things people said about it (with the specific intent of making it, "unpalatable" and getting people like you to accept that it was so "nasty" that you would willing to acquiece to it, if not go out of your way to make it happen).

That you let them get away with it means, de facto, you were willing to impose your gut response that it was so unpleasant as to be worth banning on women. It may have been the simple act of your silence being equal to assent, but you can't say you weren't willing to impose it on people, because at the top of this thread you were defending that very thing.

. After reading the text of the bill and looking at the research on Partial Birth Abortions, I would have to agree with them.

You agreed that it was a law worth passing.

That's imposing your opinions about what is best for women's health on them.

#428 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:45 PM:

If it were possible for me to not value the life of the unborn child, I'm sure I could fit in to the Liberal camp.

Okay, we give the fetus all the rights to life that, say, a ten year old child has, or an adult has.

That still doesn't include the right to use another person's body for your medical benefit against their will.

Say I need a kidney transplant. Or even something less invasive for the donor, like a blood donation. It's a matter of life and death for me. You're the only person who is the proper match. Can I force you to give me the blood? Of course not.

This debate isn't about a life. It's about invading a woman's privacy, forcing her to give her body for someone else's benefit in a way that is never demanded of a man, or from a woman in any other context.

If concern for life was the issue, you'd see the same concern for life in all sorts of medical situations where the use of another person's body is needed. There would be talk about mandatory blood donation, a universal registry for kidney, marrow, liver-section and other donations that can be made when one is alive, and mandatory organ donation on death. The understanding would be that no one has the right to their own body if it is needed to save someone else's life.

But when the medical need can impact a man's body, then a person has an unquestioned right to their body's integrity, even if it is a matter of life and death for someone else. Only women get treated as if their body was someone else's to use, or as if they can't be trusted to make the right decisions about what they do with their body.

"Life" is a straw-man argument. It's about forced pregnancy, punishing women for sex, not trusting women to make adult decisions and treating woman as vessels for someone else's life while their own wellbeing and interests are ignored.

#429 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Terry @ 427
"as evidence I offer how trivial it was to show you facts here"

What? Please read the rest of my comments in this thread to see how I've responded to facts presented to me. When I came into the discussion, I really thought that it was a somewhat trivial issue, I now know that it's not. When I talked about forgetting about the acts of this current administration, I was responding to what I've perceived to be trend in my lifetime. I remember how so many people were so upset about President Clinton ans his failings, and now, who cares? When was the last time someone got irrate about the Iran-Contra affair? It was thoughtless comment. I guess I was just feeling cynical. I'm looking forward to the end of this mess, and yet, I'm sure that another mess is on it's way. What can I say?

#430 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Ursula @ 428

I know. I agree. And yet, what can I say? It is impossible for to disregard the health and well-being (physical & emotional) of the woman and it's impossible for me to disregard the life of the (potential) child. And I am not saying that Liberals do not value life, just that if that consideration was removed from my thinking, I could focus soley on the rights and health of women. But I do value the life of the potential child. It's a paradox of sorts that gets me all twisted up when it comes to these issues. What's more important the rights and health of the mother or the life of the potential child? Again, I have no right to make that choice, and yet I have feelings about it. Like I've said before, it sucks.

Here's a story to illustrate my personal connection to this issue:
My friends, a married couple, had been trying to have children for the last few years. The wife had gotten pregnant three times, but was not able carry the pregancies to full term. The last time that she got pregnant, things were looking realy good, and the parents were getting realy excited and nervous. At about 6 or 7 months, she developed pregancy related Diabetes. The doctor told her that it was fairly common and shouldn't be a problem. But as time went on, it was clear that there were problems. I don't know the specifics, they had become less social when the complicaions started, but she had to make the choice of having an abortion or risking blindness or even death if she continued with pregnancy. It was a messed up place to be and all of us who cared for her and her husband were feeling it. It almost destroyed their marriage. Thankfully (in my opinion), she got the abortion. I believe that it saved her life, but to this day, she still cries over it. There is no way to convince her that she didn't kill her child in order to save her own life. I guess that I am thankful that I won't ever have to make that choice, but it tore me up watching them go through it.

So, am not entirely unsympathetic to issues involved regarding abortion, but I know that I can never truly see it or feel it the way a woman would. Yet, I still want to understand.

#431 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:23 PM:

CosmicDog, it seems to me that you're conflating two things:
1) What people are paying attention to
2) What's actually going on

This thread has been about the second, and I think you were talking about the first.

Reality, as Phil K. Dick said, is what doesn't go away when you stop paying attention to it. Three years from now, if the US populace is focused on Britney and Paris Hilton buying Graceland as their honeymoon suite or on President Obama's treasonous middle name, the US will be suffering through (and paying for) the aftereffects of this administration.

Regardless of whether or not people are still complaining about Iran-Contra today, the legacy lives on, most obviously in Scooter's pardon. Heck, Elliot Abrams is still around screwing up Middle East policy.

#432 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:32 PM:

You misunderstand me. I must have been unclear. It was trivial for those who had the facts to show them too you. You looked at them, and were persuaded.

But, and this is where moral failing can be ascribed; people had to force these facts on you. When the matter mattered, you allowed the people who wrote the law (who are known to have an agenda, and one which devalues women) to tell you what it meant, without going to find out.

As for the rest: I've been upset about Iran Contra recently. People are bitching about Thomas and Scalia. Those are the remnants of Reagan. That's going on 30 years of aftermath.

Bush pere gave pardons to people who are, right this minute, in the halls of power; "rehabilitated" by time, and forgetting what he did; because it was a long time ago. That's fifteen years gone.

The aftermath of the Clinton impeachment is that this president has been committing felonies; admitting to them, and promising to keep doing it, but we can't get him impeached; why?

Because the Clinton impeachment was a sham, so people are afraid of getting charged with being vindictive; of chasing Bush to get revenge for Clinton being hounded.

The fruits of the past are still with us, rotten and foul, but the stench of them fills the atmosphere and colors the present.

It's short-sighted to say, "he'll be gone in 18 months."

Heaven help us if one of the justices (say Breyer) should fall ill. "Reasonable" people will say, Bush needs to get his way, and we'll get someone at least as bad as Alito.

And that will be six, reactionaries, three of them young.

18 months is a long time.

#433 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:45 PM:

CosmicDog, Folks here are asking you to take care with what you say and to think before you say it. A good example of something you might have been more careful about is your sentence, which Ursula quoted in 428: If it were possible for me to not value the life of the unborn child, I'm sure I could fit in to the Liberal camp. You are saying in this sentence that people you identify as "liberals" don't value the life of unborn children, but that you -- even though you support a woman's right to choose -- that you, unlike these unknown, unidentified liberals, do value the life of the unborn. Can you see how incredibly insulting, and also illogical, that is? It does not follow that because I believe that the state does not have the right to tell me what to do with my body, I therefore do not value the life of a baby in the womb, and am therefore a moral monster. When you say this sort of thing, it sounds like you are buying into a very common right wing position without thinking about it, and also that you are applying it to the people posting on this thread.

That said -- since you asked, I am absolutely willing to be patient. I appreciate it that you are listening, reading, and responding. It is hard to stay open and engaged when you feel that you are being attacked from all sides. I am glad you are sticking with it.

#434 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Terry and Fungi

Yes, I admit it, I am somewhat ignorant of some of these issues. It's difficult to filter through the information available and determine what's true. It seems that everyone has a political agenda as is willing to bend the truth, exaggerate, or outright lie to convince others to agree with them. My resources are limited to researching things on the Internet (which can be very unreliable) and talking to people. I hardly believe anything I see on television or hear on the radio. They all seem to be beholding to another entity and presenting the truth is secondary (or lower) to other concerns, mainly money. You consider a moral failing that I agreed with the law prima facia until people could show how it could be wrong. But, they (Congress) made a reasonable argument in the law. The arguments on many of the sites that came up against the law seemed reactionary and emotional and seemed to be more focused on attacking the character and motives of those that made the law. I can't be moved by those kinds of arguments, because character and motives are really hard to see. I know, for myself, that any judgement that I make regarding these things will be colored by my own personal experience and bias. It is impossible to come to a truthful conclusion. People are complicated.

The facts about this issue presented separately from motive, I can receive. Then I am able to make up my own mind based on the merits of the argument and not on my personal opinion of the person making the argument. Don't despise me for presenting an opinion that you disagree with or for asking you to give me reasons to change my mind.

#435 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:09 AM:

Cosmic Dog at 430: thank you for sharing that story. Of course you felt all twisted up inside, and the pain your friends suffered cannot be minimized. You recognize their pain; now have the courtesy to recognize that almost all choices about terminating a pregnancy carry with them this kind of terrible emotional freight. Have the courtesy to extend the compassion you have for your friends to all those unknown women who for reasons you can't know, but which are not trivial, make the same choice. Yes, some people do take abortion lightly, but they are not usual, despite what the right wing suggests.

The answer to the question you frame -- What's more important, the rights and health of the mother or the life of the potential child? -- cannot be legislated without changing the nature of the contract between the United States as a state, and all the women who live in it. Many of us are afraid that the "late-term abortion law" has begun to do that. In fact, the Bush administration, by convincing Congress to suspend habeas corpus for "some" people, by carrying out warrantless surveillance, by taxing earned income at a rate way higher than unearned income, by so much of what it has done, has quietly changed the nature of that contract between the state and all its citizens, and most of those citizens haven't even noticed.

#436 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:18 AM:

Lizzy @ 433

I'm sure that by now you've read my clarification about that phrase in post 430. I'm not saying that Liberals don't care about the life of the child, just that if I didn't, it would really uncomplicate the issue in my mind and I could more easily take a stand. Which is also to say that I do not believe that Conservatives do not care about women's rights or health, just that, again, if I didn't, I could more easily take stand. I do my best to think about what I am saying before I say it, but I do not know how someone is going to react until they react.

I've said that I am trying to understand other people's points of view, not that I actually do.

I appreciate that while you disagree with my perceived perceptions and agenda, you support that I am willing to talk about it and consider other ideas.

To be honest, everybody, this has been one of the most engaging and enriching conversations I've had in a long time. So many topics are forbidden to talk about at work and it's so difficult, for me anyway, to talk about issues with my friends, unless they already have a similar point of view. For things that I am deeply passionate about, it's easy, because my passion is more important to me (honestly) than what my peers or authority figures think. But for issues that I am not ready to stand up for, or don't really understand, it's much more difficult. I not willing to alienate someone I care about if I am not totally convinced that I am right.

Thanks for being patient.

#437 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:45 AM:

Lizzy @ 435

I can appreciate that point of view. In part, I share those concerns. However, I am still trying to keep an open mind towards the Bush administration, as well. I willing to consider that they may be trying to do what they think is right for the country and for the world. I think that if this is the case, they have made some serious mistakes, but are not necessarily malicious in their intent. I'm not saying that's the case, I am just trying to see it from that perspective in order to understand what is happening to this country.

I do believe that we can, as a nation, heal any hurt that has been done, if we put forth the effort. But it seems (here's comes the cynical side of me) that most people can't be bothered. As long as they aren't personally affected, they don't care. I have to admit that I often fall into that trap. My immediate concerns and problems take up much of my attention, I hardly noticed anything else that's going on. I'm thankful that, every so often, I can come up for air and see a bigger picture. I am often shocked by what I see, with many different, but, sadly, I am rarely moved to action.

I am trying to better person and a more responsible citizen. Conversations like these, as frustrating as they can be, help me in that regard. At least, I hope it will help. Only time will tell.

#438 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:59 AM:

Cosmic Dog, you are not being attacked from my side, anyway. When you said "That image stings me just a little bit. I admit it, it hurts my heart", I heard you, for it stings me, too. Greg London's reply at 385 reads as though he thinks a confession of emotional distress at such a thing were contemptible. It is not contemptible.

But Greg, unnecessarily brutal though he was, was right, in essence. It isn't about our shared squick factor, horribly difficult though it is to separate it from a consideration of what is right. Or at least, what is less wrong. Free, safe, available termination of pregnancy on demand is less wrong than the alternative. That's a fact. None of my feelings and none of yours prevails against it. It's a fact despite our feelings. It is also a fact that making it available only with difficulties and conditions and havering and delay only makes more likely the very thing that distresses the most. It makes late abortion more likely.

I would see some merit in an expeditious counselling process to ensure that the woman is aware of the options and is not being coerced, but this to take no more than 48 hours. It should, of course, be accompanied by emotional and material support for her. And, where desired, a pony.

(I would also plead for better sex education, plus contraceptive information and the contraceptives themselves to be freely available. I, too, wince slightly in my conservative soul when I read of fourteen-year-olds having sex and needing contraceptives. Better that they don't, but I can't stop them. That being the case, better that they have them than do without. And ignorance is never preferable to knowledge. Never.)

I came to these conclusions despite myself. I did it by listening to women. I have no right, and you have no right, to gainsay them. Nobody has that right. No, not even the community united, if that were to be the case, but of course it manifestly is not.

Yes, I know these rights are bitterly controversial. They must be granted nevertheless. This is a free society, and I'm damned if I go down the road of allowing the neighbours to make horridly fraught personal decisions for anyone. The next thing you know, they'll want to do it for me, too.

#439 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:48 AM:

I know. I agree. And yet, what can I say? It is impossible for to disregard the health and well-being (physical & emotional) of the woman and it's impossible for me to disregard the life of the (potential) child. And I am not saying that Liberals do not value life, just that if that consideration was removed from my thinking, I could focus soley on the rights and health of women. But I do value the life of the potential child. It's a paradox of sorts that gets me all twisted up when it comes to these issues. What's more important the rights and health of the mother or the life of the potential child? Again, I have no right to make that choice, and yet I have feelings about it. Like I've said before, it sucks.

The question is, what is person A allowed to demand of person B for the benefit of A and against the will or interests of B?

The answer should be the same regardless of who A and B are.

The problem is, you're "valuing" the child's life far beyond the value you give any other human's life. You wouldn't accept any human, in any other situation, being allowed to use another person's body against their will. You'd call such use rape, or battery.

And you're devaluing the woman's life far beyond the value you give any other human. You wouldn't force any other human in the world to undergo major medical conditions and procedures against their will for the benefit of someone else.

You wouldn't force someone to donate a kidney. You wouldn't accept being forced to donate a section of your liver.

But when it is the body of a woman, you're willing to give someone a claim on her body against her will.

There is someone in your city right now who needs a kidney donation to live. The doctors will be at your door in half an hour to take you to surgery to take your kidney. They aren't waiting for your permission.

How much regard do you give that person's life? Are you staying put to have your kidney taken? Would you tie down your best friend so he couldn't escape, so that his kidney would be taken to save a life?

Unless you're willing to be forced to donate a kidney or liver section to save the life of another, you're a flaming hypocrite to be even considering forcing the donation of a uterus.

#440 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 02:47 AM:

Ursula @ 439

I think I understand what you are saying. But I'm not trying to force anyone to to do anything. I would hate it I were forced to donate a kidney. However, if I knew that someone needed my kidney to live, and only my kidney would do, I would be morally compelled to do it. I would feel responsible for life of that person. Now, if I found out that the donation of my kidney could kill me or cause me to become crippled or dependant on others for care or create some other situation I could not take, I might reconsider my options.

Like I said, I don't believe that morality can be legislated. It's a choice that every person has to make for themselves.

I did not intend to put forth any notion that I am opposed to a woman's right to have an abortion, for any reason. I'm just saying, I would hope that a woman would not choose to have an abortion, just like I would hope that I valued the life of another person enough that I would donate a kidney, bone marrow, or whatever they needed. I donate blood, I am type-tested for organ donation, and checked the organ donor box on my driver's license. But I understand that I have done these things by my choice and would deeply resent someone trying to force me to do it (like when the blood bank keeps calling and calling, I hate that. I do not owe them my blood.)

I used to volunteer at the Sixth Street Free Clinic in San Francisco, and I've made plenty of referrals to Abortion Clinics. In my job now, I am occasionally called on to provide emergency Medicaid (what we in California call 'Medi-Cal') for teenage girls and women to have an abortion. They tried to pass a law that required doctors and clinics to notify a minor girl's parents if she comes in to get an abortion. I voted against it, I found it reprehensible.

This conversation basically started because I thought the Partial Birth Abortion ban wasn't a big deal. I believed that it was simply banning one option out of many, in the interests of the child. I was led to believe that there were other safe options available to carry out a late term abortion. I now understand (or a least I am willing to believe) that there are times when the banned procedure is the only safe option for the mother and the law makes no provision for that. If that's true, we need to something about it. The argument has also been made that this is simply another step in outlawing abortion rights altogether. I'm not convinced that is intent, but I willing to consider the possibility.

"Unless you're willing to be forced to donate a kidney or liver section to save the life of another, you're a flaming hypocrite to be even considering forcing the donation of a uterus."

I guess so. I hate hypocrisy, but I am forced to consider the issue because it's out there. I mean, a law had to be made to give women the right to have an abortion. It wasn't a given. Someone had to decide that it was the right thing to do.

Honestly, I wish there was an option were human children could be born without requiring a woman be the host, if she didn't want to. It's the stuff of science fiction. I also wish that pregnancy prevention drugs, like RU486, were safer and more easily available so that unwanted pregancies could be prevented altogether. Then nobody would have to make such a difficult and painful choice as abortion. I wish for a lot of things. Trust me, I am sold on a woman's right to have an abortion. I just wish it wouldn't happen. If that makes me a hypocrite, I'll have to live with that.

#441 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Here's something that's been kicking around in my head tonight regarding this conversation.

I have a friend who is deeply passionate about his 2nd Ammendment right to bear arms. His is offended and angry at gun control laws. Although he doesn't own any assault rifles, he feels that the ban is a blow to his rights and will eventually lead to outlawing legal ownership of guns altogether. He feels that this will put his family at risk, because he would not be able protect them from attackers. I do not share his point of view. I think gun control laws are necessary, but I can appreciate that it's important to him. So important, in fact, that he would rather violate the law and risk prison (should guns become illegal), than put his family at risk.

The Partial Birth Abortion ban is the law. It may take doctors being willing to risk prison in order to protect the lives and well being of women to change it. In the meantime, write your Congressional representative and tell them how you feel. A lot of people in Congress (Rep and Dem) voted for this act, it's possible that they were misinformed about the risks it has created, just like I was.

#442 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 09:19 AM:

One of the big problem with this law is the framing of it by the very terms it uses: 'partial birth abortion' has an emotional impact that 'dilation and extraction' doesn't. That's why the people who want abortion banned are using those words.

Cosmic Dog, think about that for a while. (While you're doing it, also think about the difference between 'estate tax' and 'death tax', and who uses the second term more often. Some of us notice things like that.)

#443 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 09:30 AM:

#353 Randolph:

You just summarized my last three trips to the polling place. I'm not a Democrat, and one small thing I resent the Bush administration for is giving me overwhelming incentives to vote like the most devoted party member in the country, being so evil and incompetent that I couldn't bring myself to vote even for the appealing Republican candidates for national office.

#444 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 09:35 AM:

JESR, #390
Paula, do I need to use irony tags?

Yes. All information is not created equally credible, and context is important. There are people in this forum who literally have known one another for decades and have that experience to go by as guide to assist in interpreting the person's post. That's not true for people who don't have not only such a history, but don't have a known/familiar name attached/have some degree of anonymity to them.

"Who are you, where are you from, who were your ancestors [what cultural influences/baggage do you have--see TNH on the ancestor relationship trail...], what are your likes/dislikes/idiosyncracies.... when I post something here, Teresa and people here have, again, literally decades of referent information to bring to bear for context. You don't have it about me, and I don't have it about you, and so I can say something here that gets read by TNH, CHip, etc., with them having information that you don't have, that means they are NOT reading the same post that you're reading. Oh, the words are the same, but the context isn't.

#445 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 09:57 AM:

Cosmic Dog #391

Being "respectful and nice" about the prospect of being sentenced to die unnecessarily and horribly from a toxemic pregnancy, from a pregnancy with a nonviable fetus, or other lethal condition directly caused by being pregnant with the Law prohibiting abortion and applied dire penalty to transgressors of the Law, is not something that most people feeling attacked and threatened can or WANT to do. The same goes for being sentenced to carry through with an unwanted pregnancy, particularly one caused by rape or incest etc.

I think that Bushco deserve to be stabbed up the penis with filthy bloody coathangers.... it won't KILL them, unlike the "abortion is NEVER allowable!" are sentencing women to... see also "The only moral abortion is my abortion!" page for the extent of the hypocrisy in some of the anti-abortion lobbyists.

[Yes, I am not being Nice and not being Polite.... when someone is threatening my life with their religion, the only reasons my ancestors passed on their genes, is from meeting violence and hatred by fighting back and/or by leaving for somewhere where there was less intolerance. I;m the descendant of people who fought back against attackers, and of people who decamped. Those who acceded to the demands of the bigots died, and unless they'd had offspring who decampe, their lines -died-.

#446 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:01 AM:

PJ @ 442... Remember Newt's Contract with America? I think that was one of the first times the Republicans started using the tricks of advertising, and it showed when Clinton easily renamed it the Contract on America. Since then, they have become very good at this Naming trick. Heck, having a newspaper headline clamor that Senator Soandso voted against the Loadofcrap Act doesn't sound so bad, but that he/she voted against the PATRIOT Act looks rather treasonous. And the People swallows the whole garbage pail.

#447 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:12 AM:

#432 Terry:

I think this is a really common phenomenon, and one that takes a lot of work to overcome. By default, my standards for evidence that agrees with my assumptions and beliefs are much lower than our standards for evidence that contradicts them. In the extreme case, I could get facts that simply cannot be seen, because they are so opposed to my starting views that an infinite amount of evidence would be needed. Overcoming this is possible only when you recognize it.

Because I recognize it, I notice it all over the place. It's the phenomenon behind those recycled Dan Quayle quotes being attributed to Bush, behind rich east coast latte-drinking volvo driver labels sticking better to Kerry than Bush, behind all kinds of discussions on all kinds of factual issues. (Remember how many people suddenly acquired an opinion on the validity of cluster sampling when the Lancet study on Iraqi fatalities came out?)

I try not to be too critical of people for this, because almost everyone seems to do it.

#448 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:20 AM:

CRV: The system might be set up so that I am "throwing away" votes, but that just means the system has a problem, not that I have a problem.

Look, if the issue is determining who "has a problem", then if it makes you feel better, you don't have a "problem". The system for voting isn't a condercet system. Fine?

OK, now, the thing is that the system of voting you're talking about, i.e. where third party votes actually make any sort of damn difference is condercet voting, and yet, it's never been implemented in any public election.

So, and you really, really, really, really, need to understand this: As long as we do NOT have a condercet voting system, you need to shift your third position vote to one of the two main positions. If you support candidate #2, but vote #3, your vote is thrown away, and EFFECTIVELY SUPPORTS candidate #1. Once you go and AMMEND THE US CONSTITUTION, you can use condercet voting to choose your president and vote responsibly. Until then, you've got to either choose one of the two main contenders, or throw your vote away and support whoever wins.

You can cling to moral high ground and try to justify it away, but in 2004, if you voted for a third party candidate, then you supported Bush. That is the mathematics of majority-vote-wins.

Can you understand that all your justifications have ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT on the mathematical outcome?

If you vote for candidate #3, then your vote supports whoever turns out to be the winner.

If you actually preferred candidate #2, then you mathematically THREW YOUR VOTE AWAY. A vote for #3 has NO EFFECT on the election results.

Now, I asked this before, and I haven't seen an answer, so I'll ask again: If there were only 2 candidates in 2004, Bush and Kerry, and you had to vote for one or the other, which would you have voted for?

Because voting third party not only mathematically supported Bush in 2004, I think that for you personally, it was a convenient place for you to declare a "moral high ground" rather than to make an actual, hard, choice.

So, Bush or Kerry?

#449 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:31 AM:

PBV

Regarding Kerry and soldier-maligning, the two retired Army men I am thinking of in particular, one an officer and the other enlisted, both expressed negative opinions to me long before the whole swiftboat campaign began.

Lots more than two retired Army men didn't want women in cockpits and especially not in military cockpits, flying planes. The airplane doesn't care about the gender of the pilot, only people care about whether the pilot is male or female. Bombs and missiles and guns don't care about the gender of the shooter, and the level of destruction of the target of the weapon has nothing to do with the gender of the person who launched the weapon at the target.

I'm former military. Jim Macdonald is former military. My parents were WWII veterans. My father's surviving brother and his wife are WWII veterans. My mother's surviving sister's husband is a WWII veteran. I expect that all of us voted for Kerry....

I've known retired military types who are -scary- and given a free rein would have dropped weapons of mass destruction in a first strike, long before the current regime oozed its way into control. Someone being retired military or former military does not automatically make that person someone whose judgment is sound. And particularly, the sorts who've got control in the contemporary military, have less integrity as far as I've heard, than 3rd world junta militaries... on second though, the likes of Boykin make 3rd world generals look like social saviors....

#450 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Greg London... Strictly speaking, that isn't quite accurate. If a person voted for a Third party candidate in California, for example, it was not a vote for Bush and away from Kerry. I know at least one staunch Republican who sat out 2004 because of that. He didn't want to vote for Bush, but also couldn't bring himself to give his vote to Kerry, which was OK because it wouldn't affect the outcome in that state.

#451 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:54 AM:

PJ @ 442
"'partial birth abortion' has an emotional impact that 'dilation and extraction' doesn't. That's why the people who want abortion banned are using those words."

I agree that the term is loaded. The reason is use it is because it is the actual name of the law that was passed (`Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003'). Using Public Law 108-105, HR 760, S 3, 18 U.S. Code 1531 everytime I mentioned it would be unclear as to what I was talking about. It also wouldn't be accurate, since the law doesn't ban all dilation and extraction procedures and can apply to other abortion procedures that wouldn't be considered an IDX.

#452 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Oops, PJ, I was being defensive again. I just realized that you were critising the use of the term in the law, and not my usage of it. D'oh. I still recognize the difficulty of coming up with another term that is clear as to the law's intent. We've been hearing the term partial-birth abortion for so long, it hard to think of it as anything else.

#453 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Greg London #448: Er, it's 'Condorcet' not 'condercet', since it's named after the French mathematician who developed the concept.

Neither of the two principal forms of proportional representation, both of which will produce more representative results than the plurality/majority systems in the United States, is, strictly speaking 'Condorcet method' representation, although one, Single Transferable vote, comes close.

#454 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:07 AM:

CRV #409

1. Kerry was in the Navy, not the army.
2. He had political ambitions, that is NOT illegal.
3. He served in Vietnam, and didn't have to--people seem to forget that there were other ways to avoid military service than going into the military or draft dodging, teachers were exempted, and people who went into the Peace Corps or VISTA.
4. Sounds like those Army veterans were just more parrots of what today get called Talking Points--brainwashed parrots who've heard the propaganda and internalized it.

======================

War atrocities and tales of near-atrocities were NOT all that uncommon in Vietnam. One fellow used to get drunk at the bar at Peterson Air Force Base and spill his metaphoric guts about how he killed a minor child, because it was either that or be killed--he'd used his automatic rifle on a man who was targeting him, and the man's son picked up the dead man's weaspon and he shot the son, and years later was carrying around a ton of guilt for that act.

At least one story I heard I have no intentions of repeating details of here, it's an all-around sordid tale that indicates how morally corrosive the involvement in Vietnam was.

C. J. Cherryh has said that some of what the impetus in Downbelow Station was came out of a story she'd heard about a unit in Vietnam that had been trying to stay "clean" and uncorrupted... that got expressed comparing how Signy Mallory ran her ship the Norway and demanded that the crew not steal, not use drugs, etc. etc. etc., versus the behavior of the crews of the other Earth Company Fleet military ships docked at Pell Station, the crews of those ships were doing everything from taking drugs and stealing and intimidating the station civilian population to kidnapping, murder, and rape.

A boss of mine when I was in the Air Force, Lt Colonel Robert Lewis (who was from a West Virginia darkskinned Republican family, which really isn't relevant), said that the drug use in Vietnam by troops was something that fostered in the area by the other side, that it;'s a traditional that-part-of-the-world strategy to use against invaders, to soften them up by pushing high purity opiates at them, particularly for soldiers who are bored, scared/frightened, and don't want to be where they are.

In Downbelow Station, the ship crews were taking drugs, etc., because they didn't -care- what happened to the station population, if they shot someone up, big deal... the mentality Cherryh went into later in much greater detail in e.g. Rimrunner or was it Rimrunners, where the main character was a veteran of the ship Africa who'd been left stranded behind on Pell Station when her ship abruptly left, and was having to make her way through a different universe than the one she'd she'd spent her adult life, which had been as a tough Africa soldier, in. Life on Africa involved brutality and atrocity, and her life continued to involve brutality....

I heard a lot of unsavory stories about Vietnam, for that matter, one of my other bosses, talked about how a newlywed officer on "temporary duty" in England with the unit he was in, sent back letters to his wife and talked to her long distance, about the affairs that so many members of his unit were engaging in. This got back to their wives, and lots of divorces ensued... affairs seemed to have been the usual, not the exceptional, occurrence.

For that matter, there used to be a saying, "I'm not married, I'd TDY!" [on "temporary duty"] regarding husbands in the military engaged in extramartial sexual relationship affairs....

A lot of veterans have all sorts of things to feel guilty about and not want brought up to remind them of.

Vietnam is still a cage-rattler all these decades later--drug use, sex with minors (see "stories"), abuse of civilians, "road rage" manifesting as varying levels of unpleasant consequence, prostitution, black markets, etc. etc. etc. Kerry speaking about atrocities in public, got direct and indirect effects regarding cage rattling and levels of guilt and levels of repression and anger.

#455 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Paula @ 445

The point about being respectful and nice is to allow someone, like me, who is open to other viewpoints, to be able to hear and consider what you have to say.

Saying that you want to physically hurt the President and his supporters for holding different point of view is, well, inappropriate and not very smart, considering this administration's broad definition of terrorist threats and what they willing to do about them.

Although I have heard "abortion is never allowable" from some extremists, I haven't heard from President Bush or any active political leader for that matter.

Your point of view seems to be that Pro-Lifers hate abortion so much that they would rather a woman die than an unborn baby. I know a lot of Pro Lifers, yes most of them are Christians, and none of them feel this way. The most common argument for the Pro Life camp is: Abortions should only occur when it is medically necessary to protect the life and health of the mother, if the unborn child has no chance of coming to full term or living outside the womb, or in cases of rape and incest. Their stand is that abortion should never be a CHOICE and that the unborn child has a right to live, if it can. I've seen it called 'anti-choice' by some, that's closer to the thinking than 'anti-woman'.

To be clear, this is no law in this country that prohibits medically necessary abortions at any time, or elective abortions up until the 3rd trimester (or viability, Roe v Wade isn't very clear here).

Anyway, the real point to my response is this: There are many ways to respond to someone who disagrees with you or a situation that you don't like, why not choose a tact that allows people to understand what you are saying and motivates them to act. Or do you really think that people are going to think "yeah, let's stab those guys in the penis, that will protect aborition rights"?

#456 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:36 AM:

Cosmic Dog #429

Clinton was NOT trying to expunge the previous 60 years of US Government structure and initiatives.

The Schmuck's agenda is to
- remove and exterminate everything initiated by the New Deal and by the union-supportive laws even before then* as regards federal programs promoting worker rights and jobs programs and social welfare nets;
-exterminate and expunge all laws and regulations and data collection monitoring workplace safety and worker health and occupational safety and treatment of workers and salary equity of equal pay and equal promotion opportunity on merit rather than race/creed/color/gender;
- expunge and exterminate all laws applying to deterring and/or busting up business monopolies;
- repeal the laws and regulations and eradicate and expunge all regulatory agencies and regulation regarding e.g. mine safety, hazardous materials and waste handling and disposal, environment protection, pollution control, safety guidelines,
- terminate all action and attention regarding unfair labor practices, unfair business practices, create of monopolies, suppression of competition, etc.
- eliminate all "separation of Church and State" and promote Christian evangelizing throughou the world, and particularly, work against any international resistance or barrier to the insertion of Christian missionaries seeking to convert any and all to evangelical Protestant Christianity
- marginalize non-Christians, particular ones who are not of any Judeo-Christian religion and make them acutely uncomfortable and not socially tolerated
- push women out of the universe beyond Kinder, Kuche, Kirche (children, kitchen, and church) into a relative of purdah, relegated and restricted to the domestic and nurturing sphere, like it or not, with perhaps some exception made for low-paying scut menial labor jobs of housecleaning, nurse-never-to-be-MD-with-nurses-treated-as-servant, elementary school teacher working with young children where one can't trust men because men have Sexual Needs and also need to be Manly and working with babies isn't manly...
- get women out of mlitary leadership positions and out of cockpits and back into the more menial no-leadership over men (see again the Soutthern Baptist credo about the proper place of women as subordinate and submissive to men...) positions of clerical workers or whatever passes for clerical support work these days
- take away all self-determination regarding fertility control and family planning for women particularly and ban all birth control, and take away all self-determination over their own bodies from all women
- pack the US Government federal civil service and the US federal courts with people with the above goals and values
- demonize all opponents to any and all of the above
- put "God" back in the schools and reinstitute school prayer of Christian prayers

Etc.

-------

The Schmuck's agenda is nothing short of a revolution intended to completely restructure and rework the entire society of the USA from the government out--for people who were claiming they wanted to "shrink" the government, it's some of the most breathtaking hypocrisy ever.

#457 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:37 AM:

In my opinion, a government that has the power to ban abortion will, sooner or later, use the flip sided of that power to force abortions.

Why? Because the government, not the individual involved, "owns" the womb.

You don't think so? What entity reserves to itself the right to kill people without punishment?

#458 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:39 AM:

Greg London

We are never going to get Condorcet voting nationally, and likely never in the majority of states, failing the (probably violent) overthrow of the current system, and the implementation of a better (or at least different) constitution and governmental structure (and such an overthrow carries with it it's own hazards). The only persons who could implement such a system are members of the mainline parties, and have absolutely no interest in overthrowing the system they currently have, which supports their continued power. Electoral Fusion (a possible route to a de facto multi-party system) was rejected by the SCotUS in Timmons v Twin Cities Area New Party in 1997.

(It is not impossible for those in power to give it up - they have, in fact, done so before, and may be doing so now, in Great Britain - at least if the current PM has his way and can bull his ideas through Parliment. But it is not common, and when you have an organized machine that is doing the decision making...).

Problem. Some of us don't want to support either the Democrats or the Republicans. (The party we do want to support - if any - is irrelevant. There are folks who self-identify as vaguely libertarian (if not Libertarian), Green, Socialist, Communist (of several different flavors of each), etc. etc. etc. who partake of this board). What you are telling us is "your opinions don't matter. Your beliefs don't matter. Shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and vote for my party, because the other guys are worse."*

You should be able to see why this might not be the most sensible message in the world?

Yes, we currently have a system that is dominated by two parties. It has, unfortunately, been so since relatively shortly after the creation of the country - despite the efforts of the Founding Fathers to discourage such a thing. But it has not been the same two parties throughout this time period.

There are no Federalists - although the Federalists of the day might empathise with Neo-Cons in spirit, if not in practice. The Democratic-Republican party is perhaps represented in spirit by the Democratic party (or perhaps the Republicans - the geneology gets confusing), but again, Jefferson and Madison would scarcely recognize either one's political beliefs. Same with the Whigs, etc. etc. - parties evolve, they change, they break up and die, and they are supplanted by others. It hasn't happened recently, in part, due to the ability of the Dems and Repubs to co-opt the message of 3rd party candidates that got too noisy.

But that doesn't happen if 3rd parties don't get noisy. If half of all Republicans, and a third of all Democrats, dropped affiliation and voted for, say, the Constitutionalist party (no such party, currently - I checked) - they would be the clear cut winners - but the likelyhood that a newly-formed party could pull that off, from zero to hero, in two years? None, not even if Bill-fckng-Gates threw his entire fortune behind it.

If nobody supports third-party candidates (because doing so is "throwing your vote away"), and the chances of real, serious, electoral reform (not just electoral financing, which will get nibbled at and poked at, but Condorcet, electoral fusion, or some other actual, serious breakage of "first past the post" on a national/substantial portion of the States basis**) is also zero, what happens to those who think that the difference between the two parties is largely a matter of whose shit stinks less (which, at present, is clearly the Democrats)? We get to just keep eating the shit you're shoveling?

Thanks loads.

*Before you try and gripe about how I "threw my vote away", you should perhaps go read this, this and or this before you say something stupid.

**I suspect the best we could hope for, in this arena, is representational allocation of electoral votes - that is, if the Green party gets 14% of the popular vote in California, they get 14% of the Californian representatives to the electoral college. And this is frankly unlikely.

#459 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Time out, ladies and gentlemen?

#460 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:45 AM:

Cosmic Dog #440:

I guess so. I hate hypocrisy, but I am forced to consider the issue because it's out there. I mean, a law had to be made to give women the right to have an abortion. It wasn't a given. Someone had to decide that it was the right thing to do.

Actually, abortion was NOT illegal in the USA for the first century or more of the existence of the country, if I remember correctly reading from various source. (Marijuana and restrictions on alcohol availability are even more johnny-come-lately legal restrictions...)

#461 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:59 AM:

#455: After six and a half years of this regime, we all know what a call to be "respectful and nice" really means.

And, for everyone else - go read Sara Robinson's article "America -ACOA Nation", the link at the top of PNH's Sidelights.

#462 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Cosmic Dog #445

Saying that you want to physically hurt the President and his supporters for holding different point of view is, well, inappropriate and not very smart, considering this administration's broad definition of terrorist threats and what they willing to do about them.

Apparently what I wrote, is not what you read. To quote myself,

I think that Bushco deserve to be stabbed up the penis with filthy bloody coathangers.... it won't KILL them, unlike the "abortion is NEVER allowable!" are sentencing women to... see also "The only moral abortion is my abortion!" page for the extent of the hypocrisy in some of the anti-abortion lobbyists.

"I think... someone deserves something," is not saying that I am going to do what I said the person deserves having done to them. It is not even saying that I wantthat done to that person, it is saying that the person's acts/words have been such, that the person has earned a certain consequence or set of consquences for their words/actions.

A coathanger up someone's penis is comparable in some ways to the horrific attempts-to-induce-abortion-with-coathanger that occurred during the decades when abortion was illegally nationwide in the USA.

As for who wants want level of prohibition of abortion--the folks you know are not the full range of the opponents of abortion. There are few people generally who regard abortion lightly--there are some, they're minority, they exist, but so to do the people who regard an embryo and a microcephalic fetus as being endowed with more rights and high value moral right than the woman with a blastula [blastola? whatever the spelling is] that hasn't and might not even implant in the uterus yet, or the woman whose uterus contains a microcephalic fetus. That is, they are insisting that the pregnancy go to as full term as humanly possibly with modern medicine, regardless of the physical and emotional state of the woman, and regardless of the viability of the fetus.

I come out of a tradition that is very highly family oriented... thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks were appalled that Jews raised all the chldren born to them, instead of e.g. exposing female infants for the neighbors to collect and raise as slaves (see e.g. Women in Hellenistic Egypt, the explanation of exposure of infant girls in ancient Greece and ancient Rome boils down to economic issues and social values, Jews not exposing daughters boils down to social values and social structure difference--a major piece of missing information about historically attested Jewish culture is that for at least a thousand years, Jewish women engaged in commerce and production that meant that girls/wives were helping to create wealth/income for the family, therefore there was a pragmatic value to a family to raise a daughter as a legal acknowledged daughter of the house, also there could be were binding arrangements economically between families that involved marriages to provide economic benefits to both families... it was one way, large payments to the husband's family, for the ancient Greeks... so the Greeks didn't want legitimate daughters, they were a drain on the familial well-being that would not provide an economic return, and socially girls were not valued, either, perhaps partially as a corollary... but another issue was the nature of valuing the male as warrior, etc.

But anyway, that's a long digression. The point that I wanted to get to, was that the mother/wife had a value to the family that included economic production and creation of wealth for the family, creating new family members to "increase the House" who were valued, and was valued as someone who was involved in raising the children and inculcating the social values in the children--and was someone whose live extended outside the home into a degree of larger world and relationships.

With that, the loss of the particular wife/mother in the family was going to be -disruptive- to the family....and Jewish law developed putting the well-being of the woman and preserving her health and well-being and existence, as having absolute priority over continuing a pregnancy which was a threat to the woman's health/well-being/continued existence.

Cultures which view women as interchangeable boy bay production units, tend to put the boy baby production as higher priority than the life/well-being of the woman. Cultures which look at women as people tend to increase the value placed on the women....

#463 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Paula @ 460

My understanding of early abortion laws in the U.S. is that they generally followed existing English law, that forbad the practice. It is hard to find unbiased sources for that, but it makes sense. Although the First Amendment provides for the free practice of religion, the dominate viewpoint in the US at that time was the Christian perspective and most laws were based on the accepted moral code found in Biblical scriptures.

#464 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:26 PM:

#440 ::: CosmicDog

I really appreciate your recent comments; one of the things I like about this forum is that people are prepared to listen, and take information, and sometimes realise that what they thought was a "fact" isn't.

This next is NOT an attack on you (stating outright, 'cos I don't want any misunderstandings). Howver, it is a response to something you wrote, because the phrasing got me thinking.

@440 you said: "I mean, a law had to be made to give women the right to have an abortion. It wasn't a given. Someone had to decide that it was the right thing to do."

I, and probably all of the women posting their arguments in this particular discussion consider that this is the problem. It's the woman's body, and what you are saying is that is was necessary to make a law to decide that she had the right to decide not to have a parasite growing inside her.

Why? Paula Lieberman points out @460 that it didn't used to be illegal to get an abortion. I'm going to take her word for it, since I don't have the time to research that statement just now.

[And yes, I've used the term "parasite" , rather than "fetus", or "baby" deliberately, as an example of how word choice can affect things - like "partial-birth" versus "intact extraction", "pro-life" versus "anti-choice". A fetus is a parasite in that it is dependant on the host, takes nutrients from the host body, and the host body may be disadvataged by it.]

This is still a male-dominated society. In the case of pregnancy, carrying a fetus to term, men never have to face the health risks - women do. But a male-dominated political system and judiciary can lay down the law saying that women do not have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies. That's a problem. It should, in a free and just society, be a "given" that women get the right to choose about their own bodies, in this and in other things.

It should, in my opinion, be just as unthinkable to legislate regarding whether or not a woman has the right to choose about carrying a fetus to term as it is, to use an analogy used above on this thread, to legislate regarding whether people should have to be registered as organ donors and forced to give up organs, because others need them, at risk to their own life and health.

But sadly, in our society, it's not a given, which is why Roe v. Wade was necessary. Women who think that they -should- be allowed to make their own choices, and not be treated as walking incubators, are very concerned that decisions like this are not only bad per se but are leading towards an overthrow of Roe v. Wade.

#465 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Being "polite and respect" to people who aren't polite and respectful, might sometimes work, but my experience has been that someone bent on beating one who who thinks that it's fun, is only going to be disssuaded by the application of "peace through superior firepower."

Mongo and the Sheriff apply.

Telling someone their head is wedged up their ass might not be polite, but when the polite disagreement effects no attention/change/concern.... I've seen way too much polite hypocrisy and polite lies etc. in my life to put much value there. It works sometimes for some people in some circumstance, but a lot of the time it gets mistaken for acquiescence or otherwise misinterpreted.

#466 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Being "polite and respect" to people who aren't polite and respectful, might sometimes work, but my experience has been that someone bent on beating one who who thinks that it's fun, is only going to be disssuaded by the application of "peace through superior firepower."

Mongo and the Sheriff apply.

Telling someone their head is wedged up their ass might not be polite, but when the polite disagreement effects no attention/change/concern.... I've seen way too much polite hypocrisy and polite lies etc. in my life to put much value there. It works sometimes for some people in some circumstance, but a lot of the time it gets mistaken for acquiescence or otherwise misinterpreted.

#467 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:39 PM:

(I should have headed to Readercon three hours ago. Instead....


http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/history_abortion.html

"Abortion Was Legal

"Abortion has been performed for thousands of years, and in every society that has been studied. It was legal in the United States from the time the earliest settlers arrived. At the time the Constitution was adopted, abortions before "quickening" were openly advertised and commonly performed.

"Making Abortion Illegal
"In the mid-to-late 1800s states began passing laws that made abortion illegal. The motivations for anti-abortion laws varied from state to state. One of the reasons included fears that the population would be dominated by the children of newly arriving immigrants, whose birth rates were higher than those of "native" Anglo-Saxon women...."

#468 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 12:46 PM:

Margaret Organ-Kean, #457: "In my opinion, a government that has the power to ban abortion will, sooner or later, use the flip sided of that power to force abortions."

The situation is a lot worse than that. Coming over the horizon is the issue of control of our bodies against all kinds of other invasions; the regulation of abortion is only one of these. The numbers of invasive things that can be done to bodies these days is quite large: drug testing, forcible psychiatric medication, and surveillance implants all come to mind, and the list is only going to get longer. So we need to keep looking at the broader picture, because if we have no rights to control our own bodies, we have no rights at all.

#469 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:28 PM:

I'd like to recommend an entry at Jim Emerson's blog Scanners: Everything that's wrong with the world in two examples.

I think it all comes down to that common quality of cluelessness -- either obliviousness to the consequences words and actions or reckless disregard for them. Woody Allen (who, by the way, made a great movie about cluelessness, "Another Woman") divided the world into the "horrible and the miserable." For the sake of this essay, I would like to propose that we divide rampant worldwide insanity into Two Kinds of Cluelessness: 1) Literalism: Those who are certain they know something, but don't know that they don't understand it; and 2) Über-Solipsism: Those who are certain they understand something, but but don't know -- and don't care -- that they don't, because everything is only about them anyway.

Where and how this relates to the current discussion is left as an exercise for the reader.

(Also, regarding the notion that everything will blow over in eighteen months... all I can think of is how Homer Simpson planned to pass his college exams: "I'll hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out.")

#470 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:32 PM:

Albatross, #443: "You just summarized my last three trips to the polling place. I'm not a Democrat,..." My sympathies. I keep saying, "This is not my party" even though I'm a registered Democrat. We aren't alone--the US major parties simply aren't representative of the public, and even if they reflected, say, US national averages, we'd be disagreeing with much of their platforms, simply because there's no way to capture the space of political positions in two platforms; almost no-one is average when the distribution is wide.

Scott, #458: Major political reforms are always difficult and slow. In the case of achieving Condorcet, instant-runoff, or some other improved voting system, the way to approach it in the US is probably by educating the public and passing initiatives in smaller jurisdictions, then tackling states which have the initiative, and then agitating where there is no initiative. San Francisco now uses the IRV, as do some other smaller jurisdictions. The IRV seems to have the most headway in current activism (sorry, Greg), and, once explained, it seems to be popular, so I think it's possible--if an IRV intiative can be passed in California, I think the war will pretty much be won, though it might take a generation to implement it nationally.

"Some of us don't want to support either the Democrats or the Republicans."

Most of us don't. See my remarks to Albatross, above. But it doesn't help when it comes time to vote.

#471 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Cosmic Dog #440:

I guess so. I hate hypocrisy, but I am forced to consider the issue because it's out there. I mean, a law had to be made to give women the right to have an abortion. It wasn't a given. Someone had to decide that it was the right thing to do.

Hardly. In our legal system, things are legal unless affirmative steps are taken to make them illegal.

It took people specifically deciding that it was appropriate to force a woman to go though pregnancy when she didn't want to in order to make abortion illegal.

#472 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Scott, re #458: I've taken to comparing it to different kinds of medicine. Let's see how this works.

National elections are, for those of us whose views are not well represented by either party's establishment, pretty much about mitigating harm. It's great when a good candidate comes along, but it's more likely that the big two options will span the gamut from mediocre to awful, with the occasional leap in either direction. This is like applying first aid to the victims of a highway collision. Conditions won't be ideal. You do what you can, and that includes not throwing the unconscious people back into traffic. Vote to restrain the most awful candidate, when neither party offers someone you actually like - there will be a most awful candidate, and stopping him or her from getting power is a constructive step, even if it doesn't feel very good.

No third party is going to just leap into the presidency, and realistically, if you care about its policies, you wouldn't want it to. (Because the president would then face a really, really hostile Congress and get nothing at all done, and leave office looking like a failure.) The place third parties do sometimes have a chance is at the state and lower levels. If you're fortunate enough to have views represented by a minor party, get out and support it there. Get some power and use it well. This is crucial. Bringing third-party outlook and practice to non-partisan offices via campaigning, voting, and eitehr holding office yourself or supporting those who do is like ongoing physical therapy. You wouldn't dispense with physical therapy because you once applied bandages, and you wouldn't skip bandages and insist that people still bleeding from their initial injuries get on with the weight training. Different conditions.

Finally, there's changing voting systems. My feeling is that this might conceivably work on local levels. It's not going to happen nationally without some demonstrated American success, I think. But whatever the case, the campaign for voting change is separate both from national elections and from local ones - in my medical metaphor, it might be chemotherapy, if hospital examination reveals that the accident victim has previously undiagnosed cancer. Chemotherapy can't replace either first aid or physical therapy, but neitehr bandages nor strengthening regimens can cure cancer, eitehr.

To review:

Current elections - vote to keep the most awful candidate out of power; vote for okay to desirable candidates with a chance of winning where they exist, but damage mitigation is the big thing.

Upcoming elections on state and lower levels - build the alternative. Focus on opportunities like nonpartisan positions to get, hold, and use power well. Bootstrap yourself into public awareness, knoing that media coverage will suck.

Changing voting systems - push for it wherever there seems to be an opportunity. Build coalitions, demonstrate some small-scale successes, all that usual stuff.

The key thing is not to expect voting in a current election to do the work for either of the other tasks, to refrain from abandoning first aid simply because it's not physical therapy or chemotherapy.

#473 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Bruce, #472: I quite like your analogy of different sorts of medicine; I think it's one which most people can grasp and, in this very abstract area, that's very valuable.

Since electoral fairness has come up again, here's a link to The Center for Voting and Democracy (fairvote.org), which is probably the most successful organization in this area.

#474 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 01:55 PM:

In 471, Ursula L speaks of the exclusionary nature of law (things are legal until labeled illegal). In furthering that line of reasoning, I would like to add that the reason the first anti-abortion laws were written was because, pre-anaesthesia and antibiotic, it was an operation with a high chance of damage or death. The tipping point on abortion law came when the existance of abortion bans led to women being excluded from ways to reduce pain and prevent infection.

I've seen some sources which assert that, even in pre-antibiotic times, abortion was always less of a risk to women's physical and mental health than carrying a pregnancy to term.

In the interest of those who need things spelled out: I say this as someone who voted to make abortion legal when Washington has an abortion rights referendum in 1971. Who is the mother of a daughter. Who is the friend of many women who had their lives saved, in very real ways, by access to safe and legal abortions,. Who has dealt with the tears of women well into very much wanted pregnancies, with names chosen and nurseries decorated, found that the fetus they already loved had died in utero, or had a condition which would lead to perinatal death, or to death within a month of birth, and had made the reluctant decision to terminate.

(Me, I find that statement tl;dr, but whatever).

#475 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 02:38 PM:

Thanks, Randolph, I've been polishing it in recent months, and trying to capture a sense of every piece being worthwhile, but not capable of doing the others' roles.

#476 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 02:57 PM:

Paula #466:

How would I distinguish that comment from "I was polite till I found out it wouldn't get my way, then I stopped with the politeness?"

Doesn't it ever strike you as odd that so many millions of people hold a view (wanting abortion to be always or sometimes illegal) that you attribute to the most evil motives imaginable? Is it really possible that the only reasons anyone disagrees with you on this issue is a desire to enslave all women, punish them for having sex, and maybe impose some Southern Baptist version of Sharia law?

#477 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:15 PM:

#461 Jon:

So, how was personal nastiness to people who disagree with you going to help get the Republicans out of office, again? I'm not so clear on that. I see how it might make you feel like you're getting some of your own back, after six years of Rove's attack dogs calling decorated war vets traitorous cowards for opposing unlimited presidential power, pre-emptive war, torture, etc., but I don't see how it helps convince anyone.

#478 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:28 PM:

albatross @ 476

"Doesn't it ever strike you as odd that so many millions of people hold a view (wanting abortion to be always or sometimes illegal) that you attribute to the most evil motives imaginable? Is it really possible that the only reasons anyone disagrees with you on this issue is a desire to enslave all women, punish them for having sex, and maybe impose some Southern Baptist version of Sharia law?"

I accept that some of those who are anti-choice hold their view because they are "pro-life" - but so many of them are "pro-life" for the fetus, and not for the woman, that it's hard not to see misogyny and a desire to control woman at work. As Ursula L said at @439, the potential-child's life is being given a value far higher than the woman's life.

Besides, as I said earlier (@269), whatever people's professed motives, the facts/numbers show that making abortion illegal doesn't stop abortions, it just stops safe abortions.

#479 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Doesn't it ever strike you as odd that so many millions of people hold a view (wanting abortion to be always or sometimes illegal) that you attribute to the most evil motives imaginable? Is it really possible that the only reasons anyone disagrees with you on this issue is a desire to enslave all women, punish them for having sex, and maybe impose some Southern Baptist version of Sharia law?

Whatever their motives are, the goal is evil.

It is quite easy for someone with an evil goal to justify themselves, coming up with excuses for why what they want is really good.

But when you're ignoring health while making health care law, there is no justification. When you're making someone a slave of another, bodily tied to service of this other for months, there is no justification. When you're making laws denying a group of people the basic physical autonomy the law protects for everyone else, there is no justification.

This isn't an abstract principle where people can agree to disagree. This is people organizing to force me to let them use my body for their ends.

If the forced-pregnacy crowd were willing to "agree to disagree" to take the possiblity of laws forcing their beliefs on others off the table, then I could agree to disagree, because what they do with their bodies is their business.

But any "compromise" they offer isn't "agreeing to disagree" it is a demand for capitulation, allowing them to control the bodies of others.

#480 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:49 PM:

#477: I'm not arguing with anonymous cowards.

#481 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 03:53 PM:

I'm not saying that Liberals don't care about the life of the child

The problem is that this is a line of thought that is pushed, hard, by one side of the so-called debate. (BTW, how can it be called a debate, when one side gets most of the publicity, and the other gets told they're always wrong and now-go-away-don't-come-back?) It isn't that liberals (in whatever form, real or stereotypical) don't value the life of the child. It's that they don't value the life of the child above that of the mother. In particular, the life of the unborn child is not put above that of the mother: it's a potential human at best, since it may never be born even with the best of care available.

#482 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Jon @480
#477: I'm not arguing with anonymous cowards.

Presuming you mean albatross, that is out of line. He has a long enough posting record on this site that he is effectively not anonymous. And continuing to discuss his point of view in this thread is hardly cowardice.

If you don't want to discuss the matter, or discuss it with him, don't. But leave the namecalling at the door.

#483 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 04:15 PM:

<troimode>I sense...great hostility...</troimode>

This has been an admirably civilised discussion of this topic, one which I had never expected to see on the internet, even on Making Light. Kudos in particular to the participants in the CosmicDog conversation.

But the tension levels are clearly building. Please remember that we are a community, even when we disagree. Please also remember that no one on any side is answerable for the ancillary opinions of anyone who agrees with him/her, only for herself/himself. The "people who share this view with you also believe..." tactic can be poison. I see it creeping in here, and it'll trash the discussion.

Please, everyone, stop and read your comments on preview, and be sure you're really addressing the point given, with the person you're writing to. We're at risk of spiraling out of control here.

Shorter abi: play nice or I'm telling Mom.

#484 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 04:37 PM:

Shorter abi: play nice or I'm telling Mom.

Either that or Nightmare Abi will start swinging her bowling ball.

I suggested a timeout earlier today. May I suggest one again, ladies and gents? This isn't doing anything good to anybody. Remember what happened in the sky-is-evil thread? I do, and I'd rather not have a repeat of something like it.

#485 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 04:52 PM:

ANNOUNCEMENT:

We are NOT going to have an acrimonious blow-up about abortion. If necessary, I will suspend comment posting in this thread in order to stop it.

Furthermore:

1. The reductio ad absurdum argument is hereby banned in this thread for the entire next week.

2. A Special Indulgence will be granted to commenters who continue to engage with opposing arguments, use persuasive language, and discuss abortion in its larger historical, economic, and political context. Cosmic Dog already has one and is working on a second.

3. This thread has been remarkably civil and substantial, given the subject. My thanks to everyone who's contributed to that state of affairs. Let's not blow it now.

#486 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 04:57 PM:

4. And if you're at a loss and are wondering which set of social cues to follow, watch Abi, Fragano, and Serge.

#487 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 06:16 PM:

Jon Meltzer (480) wrote -
#477: I'm not arguing with anonymous cowards.

ummm....

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
-- Ralph von Wau Wau.

Not arguing with anonymous cowards on the internet mean, basically, not arguing with anyone you haven't actually met in person and confirmed pen names with - possibly not even then.

For example, although I've been active on the internet since... well, I'm not a Great Old One, but I remember the time before the Great Renaming (if barely), and my first net.address was a bang path. Nonetheless, both here and on rassf, the number of people who could identify me out of a lineup - let alone a crowd - probably numbers in the (very) low double digits, and even on rpg.net, that number would only rise into the (very) low triple digits. Nonetheless, I doubt those familiar with me would hesitate to vouch that I am whom I say I am.

Albatross chooses not to use his (or her?) truename and net.address on this board. Given some of the conversations that take place here, the subject matters and the directions they sometimes turn, I can't say I blame hir/hem - I should probably blank my name, stick with my netname as well (although it's likely too late, now). They have 85 page downs (and that's on my glorious 22" widescreen) worth of postings on this board, dating back to 6/2006. If Albatross is an anonymous troll, they are an incredibly dedicated one - or a very well coordinated group of them.

#488 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 06:35 PM:

Hi, Teresa!
Have the raspberries taken over your neighbor's yard yet?

#489 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 08:54 PM:

Hi Teresa, it's nice of you visit our interesting little discussion.

I agree, it's time to take a break.

I am impressed how civilised this conversation has been so far. Even though I've felt like I was being backed into a corner a few times, the ad hominem attacks and invectives I was dreading didn't happen. I'm so used to that happening, as I've said, there is no safe place in my 'real life' to discuss these issues, as emotionally charged as they are. But, like Abi said, tensions are building. While I believe that all sides of this issue (because there's clearly more than two) could benefit from more discussion and understanding, I am exhausted. I am so ready to talk about lighter topics.

As to point two in your announcement: I am honored and moved that you see my behavior that way. It's so easy to think that I am being open-minded and responsive to others, only to find that I'm actually being a jerk. This has happened more than once in my life, let me admit. The fact that someone I respect so much appreciates how I'm handling myself in such an important discussion really means a lot.

And thanks to you all. It's forums like these that are the real strength of the Internet. I have been a little gun-shy about commenting, even though I've been a reader of the site for years, simply because of abuses I've faced in the past. I was it was going to go there and it didn't. So, awesome, thanks. For good or bad, I will definitely be posting and engaging more often.

Have a great weekend!

#490 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 08:56 PM:

PJ: No, but right now I'm getting about a cup of berries off them every few days -- that rhyme is right about their behavior in their third year. My raspberry vinaigrette bottle is gorgeous.

Also, today Patrick and I put new shelves in the kitchen and reconfigured everything.

Did I mention that I didn't mean to kill the discussion entirely? I was just trying to gently convey the impression that if the thread collapsed into fireworks and slogans, the responsible parties would be deep-fried, covered with ketchup, and served as hors d'oeuvres to giant fangy monsters.

#491 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 08:59 PM:

**I was it was going to go there and it didn't**
Should be:
I was worried that it was going to go there and it didn't.

Darn these tired, lcd-looking-at-all-day, eyes.

#492 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 09:47 PM:

Teresa, I wish my (required) debate class in college had been this much fun. I might have done better (but probably not, since I go totally brain-blank when I'm standing in front of a group). Trying to keep from degenerating into screaming does require killing a lot of what I write before I hit preview, but on the other hand, I haven't killed any of the people I work with, where there's at least as much provocation.

Garden: I took a mint stem and stuck in it a pot a month back. The stem promptly died, but there's little green mint leaves poking up since last week - no small thing, given that the pot gets full sun and the high's been at a temperature my boss describes as '157 degrees'.

#493 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:41 PM:

PJ Evans #492: That's no small thing given how much mint likes shade.

#494 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 10:57 PM:

Fragano, there's a reason why this mint is in a pot. The problem is keeping it from getting loose. Surrounding it with three or four feet of concrete, all around, works. So does a pot with either a saucer or concrete underneath. It's drought and sun tolerant, and the only time I've managed to kill it was when I put snailbait on it. It doesn't actually like more than partial shade or a lot of water. (My parents planted it in west Texas, where some of it was growing in full sun and with no extra watering; the runners were about eight inches down in the ground, but it was running happily.)

#495 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:00 PM:

Teresa 490: I daresay that after being deep-fried, the condiments served with me would not matter terribly, much less the exact type of monsters to which my crispy corpse were to be fed.

#496 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:40 PM:

To be honest, I don't mind the abortion debate much— though, it's probably best that I stay out of it, given that my views on the subject were honed to a very sharp cutting edge while doing volunteer clinic-defense work in the years before President Clinton signed FACE into law. After what I've seen— and found myself needed to do— it's very difficult for me to find charitable and refined thoughts about the other side of that particular shield wall.

#497 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:40 PM:

I usually think of "anonymous coward" as just a Slashdot reference.

#498 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2007, 11:49 PM:

PJ, I wouldn't count on it. I planted lemon balm (a mint variant) in a ''enclosed in concrete" planter in front of the house, divided from the lawn by concrete walk a bit more than three feet wide. It, and the oregano, made it to the lawn. Made mowing very fragrant...

I will never, EVER let something like that run 'free' again.

#499 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:00 AM:

Scott@458: What you are telling us is "your opinions don't matter. Your beliefs don't matter. Shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and vote for my party, because the other guys are worse."*

Oh grow up. I never said any such thing.

to use an analogy, say you wake up to find the apartment building you're in is on fire, but rather than call the local volunteer fire department, you put a call into the mayor's office saying that your town needs a full-time, paid staff, fire department with fancy new equipment, you make no mention of the fact that your building is on fricken fire, then you hang up, and then all the phone lines go dead.

I don't care what your opinion is about the local fire department, I don't care what your beliefs are about how it could be improved. You dial 911 and do the best with what you've got. Any other call gets a lot of people killed.

vote for my party.

I've also had it up to here with all you self-righteous ******* who think your the only one who can smell the shit on a main party candidate, and that the rest of us are mindless party-line followers who think the Democrats are just perfect or something.

The fck. Kerry pissed me off about some things, but it was either him or Bush, and I was willing to suck it up and hold my nose and do what was best for my country by voting for him rather than engaging in some mastabatory exercise whereby I get to claim the "high ground" and vote for the "best" candidate, and view all those who voted on the main party lines as stooges, while the country burns down around me.

You think you're the only one who can smell the stink? Get over yourself. It's "my" party only so much as it's "my" fire department. I know it isn't perfect. I know it's got problems. But I'm willing to suck it up, hold my nose, and do what's best with what I've got.

You want to redesign and restructure the fire department to try and make it better, don't do it when the country is on fire.


#500 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:08 AM:

Well, the mint was escaping slowly when it had only asphalt to get past. The concrete at another place slowed it down more, but I think it was a layer at least four inches thick. (I still prefer a pot with a saucer under it.)

#501 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:17 AM:

albatross@476: Is it really possible that the only reasons anyone disagrees with you on this issue is a desire to enslave all women, punish them for having sex, and maybe impose some Southern Baptist version of Sharia law?

Motives do not override effect.

I don't care why someone supports the death penalty, the effect of the death penalty is that a lot of innocent people are executed, and that even if all convicts were guilty, the distribution shows a rampantly racist bias.

Whatever motive you might have for supporting capital punishment does not change this effect, which means if you support capital punishment, you support this effect.

Supporting any abortion law that disregards the life of the mother has a certain effect as well. Whatever your motive might be for supporting such a law, the effect of the law is still the same, therefore, if you support such a law, you support the effect, whether you are aware of the effect or not.

How you feel about it does not change the effect of what such a thing does.

#502 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:37 AM:

Greg: You want to redesign and restructure the fire department to try and make it better, don't do it when the country is on fire.

T-shirt! T-shirt! T-shirt!

#503 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 01:20 AM:

Paula Helm Murray, Lemon Balm, Melissa officianalis, produces small light seeds which germinate easily; it's the third fastest spreading herbacious plant with which I am cursed, after Claridge Druce geranium and Oregano. It's a bit easier to just pull up and rid oneself of it, though, and it's also a grand plant for drying in the house to cure the midsummer musties.

(The fourth worst spreader is Southernwood, the fifth is Motherwort, the sixth Anemone praetens, the seventh Geranium praetens; below thatrating, the things that spread are blessings, with the proviso that I will reassign things from the "blessing" to "curse" on a moment's notice).

#504 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 01:35 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 496

I've been staying out of the abortion debate for similar reasons. It's not a subject I find it easy to discuss without emotion; I admire the way this thread has been handled and I was not at all sure that I could hold up the standard if I entered into it. Sometimes the best contribution is silence.

#505 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 01:46 AM:

Greg London at 499. You are absolutely right. If you support a given position, you support its necessary implications also.

Now, can you understand why one might object to voting for a party with objectionable policies, on the grounds that the other party has more objectionable policies still?

And as for "grow up", I pull an abi, and call that out of line.

#506 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 01:47 AM:

JESR @ 503

Lemon Balm inadvertently became a revenge for the morning glory inflicted on my previous house. It got loose and filled a corner of the lot, then made a break for the adjacent lots. But like most things there was a bright side. The neighborhood cats loved it. They used to roll in it almost as if it were catnip.

#507 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 02:22 AM:

On the one side, the politics of third parties with a side order of abortion; on the other side, lemon balm and mint. I think the juxtaposition is breaking my brain.

#508 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 02:44 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 507

This is the koan of making light. If you can hold it in your mind a little while longer, you may attain satori.

#509 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 03:22 AM:

j h @ 496 and Bruce @ 504

I appreciate that you recognize that, at this point, you are not sure that you could contribute constructively to this conversation. I hope that someday you will be able to join in. Not necessarily to this thread, but to the national conversation. Your opinions need to heard, not by people that already agree with you, but by those that don't.

The need for a law like FACE is exactly why abortion supporters and abortion opposers need to talk to each other.

It is a tragedy that people needed the government to tell them that it is wrong to attack, threaten, and intimidate women that have made or are considering the difficult and often painful choice of abortion, and their doctors. I mean, people, even Christian Fundamentalists, should know that it's always wrong to treat other people that way, right? The problem is that they have been allowed to de-humanize others that they disagree with.

(Since it's so easy misread intent on a blog comment, let be clear: FACE is a good law, I totally support it, without reservation. I'm upset that people showed that they could not be trusted to do the right thing, or, at least, not do the wrong thing, and thus needed a law to stop them from abusing others.)

To (over)simplify, for sake of illustration:
Position A- "abortion is horrible and barbaric, those people are monsters!"
Position B - "anti-abortionists neither care for the health or lives of women nor their rights, those people are monsters!"

Since both sides regard the other as monstrous, and therefore less than human, they feel no need to consider the other's point of view. They are disregarded and civil, thought provoking conversations, like this one, don't happen.

Misconceptions and false information spring up and are not corrected. People get worked up. And those begins the slippery slope of hate. Then, all of the sudden, they find themselves doing horrible things that they never ever thought they would do. Like getting in the face of a young girl, screaming about God's will and Hell, and acting directly in opposition to their beliefs. The girl has been changed in their minds from a human person with feelings and rights into a symbol of everything that is wrong with this world. They have, for all intents and purposes, gone insane, yet they are still responsible for their actions.

It's an over simplification, to be sure. However, it is my contention that all group hatred is based on a lack of information and/or an abundance of false information. Members of Group A may not feel that they hate Group B or vice versa, but, via their actions, that is what's happening. Hatred of a group has never had a positive outcome, in my opinion. Abortion clinic bombings are fueled by group hatred; FACE had to be to made law because of group hatred.

Communication and understanding, I believe, is the only way out of this mess.

Pro-choice advocates need to understand that many Pro-lifers feel that by supporting abortion rights, they are encouraging women to have abortions. Since they view the fetus as a life that must be protected, this is unacceptable.

Pro-life advocates need to understand that women are not, for the most part, going to get abortions simply because it's legal and convenient. It's a difficult choice, whether it's 'elective' or medically necessary.

I believe that it's true that if a woman chooses to have an abortion, she is probably going to do it, regardless of the law. The availability of free and safe abortions really is the issue, and is not simply rhetoric as many pro-lifers are taught.

I don't like abortion and, yet, I support abortion rights. I don't think I am the only one that feels that way. I came to this position by trying to keep my emotions in check, keeping an open mind, and listening to what people have to say. I wasn't always that way. I took people willing to be patient and respectful, and yet persistent in informing me of their point of view.


Wow, I thought I was done talking about this for a while, but when j h brought up FACE, it brought back all these powerful emotions I felt in the late 80s and 90s when I discovered what was going on. As a Christian, I was horrified at what my brothers and sisters were doing. It still stings, although I never did anything like that, I still feel some responsibility for what happened.

#510 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Teresa @ 490

Er, what rhyme about raspberries? (We just planted blueberries)

Others on the mint/lemon balm discussion:

Yes, it all escapes. I grew up in one of the big commercial mint growing regions and one year on vacation in the UK my brother and I were in one of Britain's famous gardens where we noticed the pot the mint was in had cracked.

"Well," said my brother, "Take a good look now - 'cause this garden won't be here next year."

#511 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Teresa @ 490

Er, what rhyme about raspberries? (We just planted blueberries)

Others on the mint/lemon balm discussion:

Yes, it all escapes. I grew up in one of the big commercial mint growing regions and one year on vacation in the UK my brother and I were in one of Britain's famous gardens where we noticed the pot the mint was in had cracked.

"Well," said my brother, "Take a good look now - 'cause this garden won't be here next year."

#512 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 05:30 AM:

Dave Luckett @505
And as for "grow up", I pull an abi, and call that out of line.

Completely peripheral to the content of the comment*, you might be interested to know that doing an Abi in my household is code for any act of stunning and dramatic gracelessness.

----
* I do feel that "grow up" is so often out of line in these discussions. It's belittling, and rarely gets used in the face of real juvenalia. It's just a way of building yourself a scaffold and declaring it high ground.

#513 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 06:08 AM:

Margaret Organ-Kean @510:
what rhyme about raspberries?

From this comment in the Open Thread.

#514 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 06:34 AM:

Cosmic Dog @509:
Well said.

You're going to have to build a separate shelf in your living room for your collection of Special Indulgences. They're big, you know, and smell of Old World roses and arum lilies.

#515 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:30 AM:

PJ Evans #494: In my youth, we had mint growing under the verandah, but it never spread much. Nor, curiously, did the camomile (which grew wild).

#516 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:34 AM:

David Goldfarb #507: Lemon balm and mint win every time.

#517 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:47 AM:

We had non-spreading lemon balm, too, but I think that was because we weren't watering it. It was growing next to a big, old walnut tree (former orchard, seventy year old tree, neighbor next door watered a lot). It did smell nice, though.

#518 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:47 AM:

Greg London #501: I think you have effect and consequence conflated.

The effect of the death penalty is to make me a killer, whether I will or nil, simply because it is carried out by a public agency acting on my behalf. This does more than make me uncomfortable, it places me in a position that I find morally untenable. If something is done on my behalf, by an agency speaking for me, it does not seem to me to be morally different from my carrying out the act myself. What makes this morally problematic is that I get no choice in the matter, if the proper hoops are jumped through I must kill. And yet I have not judged, and I do not know that I have the right to kill, nor what all the consequences of killing a person sentenced to death might be.

The death of innocent persons (at any rate, innocent of the crime for which they are charged) is a consequence of the death penalty, just as other punishments of the innocent are a consequence of the fact that we require laws in order to be able to live together (and since we are not beings or grace and light our implementation of said laws is liable to be flawed). I believe that it is possible to minimise such negative consequences, but that is a different issue from the death penalty effectively making me into a killer.

#519 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Dave@505: You are absolutely right. If you support a given position, you support its necessary implications also. Now, can you understand why one might object to voting for a party with objectionable policies, on the grounds that the other party has more objectionable policies still?

let me quote something you seemed to miss: How you feel about it does not change the effect of what such a thing does.

If you voted third party in 2004, then regardless of what you FEEL that vote did, it helped Bush's reelection. So, while you might FEEL your vote for a third party was driven by your inability to completely and totally endorse everything about Kerry, you voted in a system where "Majority-Vote-Wins", which means the EFFECT of your vote was to support BUSH's reelection, and therefore, the EFFECT is that you support all the implications of BUSH's policies.

The FEELINGS behind your vote does not change the mathematical tally of whom your vote supports. You vote for anyone other than the main contenders in a majority-vote-wins election, and you support whoever wins the election.

You cannot use your FEELINGS about voting third party to negate the EFFECT that such a vote supports the winner, and all their implications.

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:08 AM:

#516 Fragano:

"And you're completely wrong, and evil, and....say, what's that wonderful smell?"

#521 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Lemon balm. I love this. I accept it's not exactly native to the UK (native further south in Europe), and it does spread - but it's so much nicer than most invasives (in my opinion). Herbs are my exception in heading towards a "native species only" garden.

Regarding abortion. Abi & Teresa's reminders made me stop, take a deep breath, think. As dispassionately as I can put it: I'm pro-choice. I'm not "pro-abortion"; I think it would be great if abortion was never wanted or needed. That would require, however, that no woman got pregnant without wanting the pregnancy, no woman suffered medical complications of pregnancy which seriously threatened their life or health, and no fetus was severely abnormal but just about viable at least while still in utero. Not going to happen in this world in any timescale I can think of. It's the woman's body and in my opinion it has to be her choice whether or not to risk her life or health (including emotional/mental) to carry a pregnancy to term.

Yes, I care about the potential life of the fetus which could one day be a human being. But it's a potential life, and there is a current life to consider. My hackles rise (and I recognise that they do - it's hard to stay unemotional about such things) because, in my experience, the pro-life groups lay claim to the moral high ground for "protecting the life of the un-born child", without appearing (in my experience) to care about either the life and health of the mother or the life that child will have after it is born. Or perhaps they do care but they put the life of the fetus first. Why is the living, breathing, thinking, woman's life not at least as important as the potential life she carries?

CosmicDog @ 509 "Pro-choice advocates need to understand that many Pro-lifers feel that by supporting abortion rights, they are encouraging women to have abortions." I find this interesting. I can sort of see that point: "it isn't illegal so it must be a good thing to do so I'll do it."? However, in general (please correct me if I'm wrong, and I know this won't be correct about all pro-lifers), pro-lifers (at least the vocal ones) do not spend much time in encouraging use of and education about effective contraception, or (and I think I remember hearing of one or two exceptions to this) financially supporting poor women who feel they will not be able to cope with raising their children if they go through with their present unwanted/unplanned pregnancy. I find the combination illogical. I understand where the same religious beliefs can lead to promoting abstinence-only and an abortion ban, but (a) it always pains me to see the absence of joined-up thinking about life-as-it-is versus people-as-you-want-them-to-behave; (b) I consider that quality of life is relevant in the debate. Any suggestions to help me understand these contradictions better?

#522 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:57 AM:

dcb, I'm on that puzzled side to. Here in Kansas City, often the number of anti-abortion bumper stickers = amount of small children loose and climbing around in the car's cabin.

In the mothers body = sacred and inviolable. Once out they're on their own for everything. These people don't even care about efforts to improve maternal health.

no sense to me.

#523 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:14 AM:

#519 Greg:

My point is that it's not right to attribute evil motives to people because their ideas lead to some bad outcomes as well as (in their minds, at least) good ones. Sometimes, those outcomes are unintended--nobody wants criminal gangs to get rich from the drug war, but that's an unintended consequence of fighting it. Sometimes, the outcomes are part of a tradeoff that's accepted by the people advocating for some policy--many people wanting to seal off the border just accept that this will make all kinds of stuff more expensive, and think it's worth the cost. In neither case are they *wanting* the bad outcomes, but in the second case, they're *accepting* them. In most cases, though, bad outcomes aren't forseen by most advocates of the policy.

In both cases, one way they might react to the bad outcomes is to try to tweak their proposed policies to handle them--for example, allowing abortions for health reasons while banning them otherwise. Another is to change their goals somewhat, even to the point of dropping some goal that can't be achieved without terrible costs--for example, ceasing to support the death penalty because, however morally sound it might seem to you, you can't see how to get the error rate low enough to avoid executing a lot of innocent people.

#524 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Fragano @ 518
" If something is done on my behalf, by an agency speaking for me, it does not seem to me to be morally different from my carrying out the act myself."

I can appreciate how you feel, even I don't necessarily agree. I believe, as Americans, by speaking out against the actions of the State, we separate ourselves from responsibility for those actions. Because of the diversity of this nation, which is it's foundation and strength, no law or act will please everyone. For our representative democracy, most choices we make as a nation will are based on 'more people said yes than no'. What's great about our system, is that allows for laws to change. Women's Suffrage, the Civil Rights movement, etc. are examples of how the will of the people changed and our laws and government changed as a result.

So, you don't have to think of yourself as a killer, if you are doing your part to effect change. It's those that disagree, yet remain silent, that may need to share to burden of guilt for actions of the State that they find untenable.

I'm with you, though. I would rather a million guilty people than one innocent person be put to death. In my religious perspective, 2000 years ago an innocent man allowed himself to be put to death so that it would never have to happen again.

Greg @ 519

The effect of not voting your conscience is that your values will not be represented. "I didn't vote for Kerry, I voted against Bush" is not, in my opinion, a responsible position to hold. In 1992, I felt that Ross Perot cost George Bush (I) the Presidency (which probably isn't true, it's just how I saw it). The effect of his candidacy and the number of votes that he received can be perceived as this: a general move by Republicans and Democrats to the center. Before that election, very few, if any, Republicans dared take a 'pro-choice' stand. Now, its fairly common. Another example would be welfare reform. In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Work and Responsibility Act and President Clinton signed it into law. This may not have happened, if Clinton had received the overwhelming majority vote.

The effect of not voting for a third party that you support is being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of choosing what's best for this country.

I know that you feel that changing how votes are made and counted would fix this, but if the straight-forward approach of counting individual votes is open to fraud and abuse, how much more so for a more complicated method.

#525 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:44 AM:

Albatross @ 520: "And you're completely wrong, and evil, and....say, what's that wonderful smell?"

Agatha's coffee?

#526 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:51 AM:

#521 dcb:

As one example, the Catholic Church has a pretty comprehensive set of social teachings, which oppose abortion and birth control, support both welfare programs and charity for single mothers and unwanted kids, etc. I think other groups in that huge coalition have other ideas and beliefs, but I don't know as much about them.

This seems like it's always true for political coalitions, right? Look at the antiwar movement, which includes the far-left, pacifists, libertarians, paleoconservatives, and military experts who think it's doomed to failute. Wesley Clark != Ramsay Clark, Harry Browne != Barrack Obama, etc.

One result of this is that there's not a monolithic antiwar or anti-abortion position; instead, there are many, many people and groups who've come to similar conclusions about policy for different reasons. Harry Browne opposed the Iraq war for completely different reasons than Dennis Kucinich. This makes inconsistencies in broad movements like these easy to find, and also makes it easy to find ways to try to break a coalition up by smearing everyone with the beliefs of some fringe member of the coalition. Some of the immigration debate has looked like that--since some of the people arguing for closing the border are overt racists, it's fun to smear everyone with that label. The first few years of the Iraq invasion also looked that way, with anyone calling the success of the invasion into question being smeared as a "defeatacrat" or part of the "blame America first" crowd.

#527 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Albatross #520: More like "You're totally evil for disagreeing with me, but have some of this nice, relaxing tea..."

#528 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Cosmic Dog #524: Following John Locke, it is enough for me to be present in the country for me to be part of the social contract creating the state. That given, just because I disagree with an act carried out with an authority that derives from me does not make me any less responsible for that act. As long as I am part of the political order that carries out the act, it is as if it were carried out by me. And therein lies the problem: it's not a matter of belief, it's a matter of the relationship of civis to civitas. (Though that may be a more Hobbesian than Lockean take on things.)

#529 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 12:39 PM:

BruceCohen, Lemon Balm has many compensations- one smells wonderful after weeding it out- and owning it is an inevitable consequence of buying plants from specialty nurseries or getting plants from friends. Most of the things on my self-seeding invaders list just showed up one day in the soil from something else.

(I will say, however, that I bought Claridge Druce; it was, however, two years before Anne Lovejoy labeled it a thug among thugs).

#530 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Fragano: If I, having moral agency, specifically deny and repudiate the idea that an agency of the State is acting on my behalf or by my will when it executes a felon, or goes to war, or does anything else that I consider morally and ethically repugnant, is that sufficient to avoid guilt? Or, if I do not follow up by working actively for the downfall of such a State, is it no more than Pilate calling for the handbasin?

#531 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Dave Luckett #530: If you continue to live under the rule of the State, accepting its protection and the authority of its laws, then it continues to be your agent. You either have to remove yourself from the State or rise up and overthrow it (note that a Lockean would have no trouble with either of these, while a Hobbesian would have trouble with the latter).

#532 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 04:01 PM:

P J Evans @ 517

We had non-spreading lemon balm, too, but I think that was because we weren't watering it

Precisely why you can't have non-spreading Lemon Balm here in Portland. You don't get to not water it; the climate does that for you, will-he, nill-he.

#533 ::: Ema ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 05:07 PM:

When I moved into my house a year ago, the only (non large bushes and trees) plants that were thriving were lemon balm and catmint (after neglect and drought). I don't water either, where they leap up between pavers and along the edges of paths, but they look nice in a predominantly brown garden (which is green now, thanks to the recent rains).

#534 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 05:34 PM:

Only on "Making Light" could such an acrimonious debate be diverted by lemon balm (or at least so it seems to me, with my limited experience of other blogs).

Yesterday I fled from this thread to the Open one, but now that the latest Open Thread is at or past 800 comments I'm starting to think of that discussion as Making Light on Zanzibar -- crowded! -- so I'm back, for one random question: Did anyone else here see the drastically edited network version of the LiveEarth concerts? I was sometimes intrigued but mostly underwhelmed, and finally quite irritated by the intrusions on the Police doing "Message in a Bottle". (I came to them only as they were breaking up, but am now a true Policeaholic.)

Well, I'd better get offline -- there's thunder rumbling to the east.

#535 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 06:03 PM:

Fragano @ 531
"When any one, or more, shall take upon them to make laws whom the people have not appointed so to do, they make laws without authority, which the people are not therefore bound to obey; by which means they come again to be out of subjection, and may constitute to themselves a new legislative, as they think best, being in full liberty to resist the force of those who, without authority, would impose anything upon them." John Locke

In my view, it looks like Locke only advocated revolution when the government violated the social contract with the governed by acting against the will and consent of the people, not simply because an individual or group disagrees with the actions of the government.

Accepting the authority of the State in exchange for the protection offered by the State does not imply passive acceptance that all actions taken by the State are righteous. I don't believe that Locke's social contract equals implied consent.

The political history of our nation has shown that governmental authority is responsive, if sometimes slow, to the will of the people.

In our system we can revolt against a law, instead of the State, dissolve the law and put into place another, aka Democracy. We can also dismiss and replace officers of the State, as well.

Personally, I think Locke would be proud of the nation we the people have formed.

Which is to say, if your moral sense tells you that you should feel guilty for the actions of the State, that is your perogative. I just hope that you are not passing judgement against those that don't share that view.

#536 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 07:47 PM:

CosmicDog #535: Locke says that you accept the authority of the state by the mere act of walking down its roads.

Whether or not Locke would admire the United States

(there's a limerick that runs:

The United States' Constitution
owed a great deal to his contribution;
this came as a shock
in Heaven, to Locke,
and he offered to make restitution)

the issue remains that the state is the agent of those who form it and who accede to its authority.

This is not simply a matter of guilt, it is a matter of the State, acting on my behalf, implicating me in actions that violate my moral sense (there is a clear difference between the State doing a thing, such as sentencing a person to death and executing the sentence, and other people, acting with the liberty afforded them under the protection of the state doing something of which I disapprove; one is done by me, through my representatives, the other is the individual act of other people). If the state acts in a way that violates my moral sense, it implicates me in the crime. I do not feel happy at being forced to be a criminal.

It does not matter whether the state, in the long or the short run, responds to my moral concerns or not. As long as it functions as my agent, its acts are my acts. When a condemned criminal is placed on the gurney and the needle is jabbed in, it is I, through the state, who do this. When a wedding party in Afghanistan is bombed into oblivion it is I who have both authorised the act and provided (through my taxes) the means. This is as plain and obvious as the nose on my face. That the state can change is fine, that it doesn't is the problem.

#537 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Fragano @ 536

I guess this is one of those times we must agree to disagree. It's unlikely that you would be able to persuade me to your point of view, or vice versa, regardless of the strength of the arguments presented, as this is a purely philosophical matter. Which is to say, it is not being tested in any meaningful way, except in the court of opinion.

It's plain and obvious to me that if the State commits actions on my behalf, yet against my wishes, and I oppose such acts, I am innocent of those actions and my conscience is clear. I reject any implication of guilt via the actions of the State, having opposed those actions.

I understand how you could see it differently, but that is a choice you can make only for yourself. I guess the real question is, since you feel this way, what are you going to do about it?

#538 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:05 PM:

Fragano, I just visited your blog and I have an urgent, pressing concern:

Just what the heck is antihyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianism?

:)

#539 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:09 PM:

"Personally, I think Locke would be proud of the nation we the people have formed."

I retract my statement.

#540 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:26 PM:

Cosmic Dog #537: The state is not an entity distinct and separate with which you have a relationship, the state is an emanation of your agreement to accept law and government, even if you do not actively participate.

A republic, such as this one, belongs to its citizens, and its acts are those of its citizens. This is a principle that goes back a little way (why do you think that the Roman Army's insignia included the letters 'SPQR' -- Senatus Populusque Romanorum -- unless it was pretty clear to all those Horatiuses and Scævolas and Cæsars and Claudiuses &c. that the Roman polity was the agent of the Senate and People?). To say that you bear no responsibility for acts of state with which you disagree is to say that you are not part of the people. I very strongly doubt that you are making this claim.

#541 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:29 PM:

Cosmic Dog #538: Antipolyhypersesquipedalianism is opposition to the excessive use of very long words.

#542 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Drat, that should have been 'antihyperpolysyllabicsesquipedalianism is opposition to the excessive use of long words'. Its getting perilously close to my bedtime.

#543 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:00 PM:

Fragano @ 540
"To say that you bear no responsibility for acts of state with which you disagree is to say that you are not part of the people. I very strongly doubt that you are making this claim."

No, I'm not making that claim. I am disagreeing with the argument that an individual can be held personally responsible for the actions of the collective or its representative and agents, even if said individual has no say in the matter, or if said person's objections are ignored or overruled.

#544 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Fragano @ 541 and 542

At last, something we can agree upon!

Have a good night, it's been fun talking with you.

#545 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:17 PM:

CosmicDog #543: That's just plain wrong. You enjoy the benefits of the state, you also share in the blame for its acts. Unless you leave it, renounce its protection, or rise in revolt against it you are part of it.

#546 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:32 PM:

PRV: [the Secret Service] men serve the office, not Bush per se, and would cheerily show Bush the door (or a paddy wagon) if he tried to stay in office illegally.

The Secret Service is taught one thing: protect the officeholder. Some of them might be confused, but a lot of them would stand against anyone trying to arrest Bush if he called off the inauguration. I have seen no evidence that the moral agent character of An American President actually exists.
And wrt your other points, read What's the Matter with Kansas and digest it before you make any claims about the nature of the next POTUS.
As for the next 18 months flying by -- what happens if Stephens croaks? Terry@432 mentions Breyer, but right now the sanest SCOTUS judge is also the oldest (by 13 years), and the most vigorous in defense of the individual is the 2nd oldest; the Congress has already shown its spinelessness when Shrub proposes a right-winger.

Scott Taylor @ 458: you're talking about the first century or less in the life of the U.S., when the political system was less settled. Arguing that people should keep trying something that stopped working ~140 years ago is not plausible. I'd find it less implausible if you were able to get state-level candidates of a 3rd party elected in just two states (cf #470, and noting #472 on what would happen to a 3rd-party President with no substance in Congress); to me your insistence on starting at the top strengthens my view that you're praying for a miracle while ignoring the boats and the helicopter.

albatross@526: when the Catholic church starts putting out voting guides making clear the lack of charity of many anti-choice candidates, and Catholic preachers start threatening excommunication against the uncharitable, I shall take seriously the balance you see in their position. Until then, their encouragement of charity is a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal next to their threats against pro-choice politicians.
And that's just talking about charity; the opposition to contraception, gay rights, et cetera ad nauseam, leaves them no position IMO. What sort of God do they worship, who made us capable of such pleasure and then demands such a price for it? Twain understated the case.

#547 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:36 PM:

Or, as one person put it (I think it's Kingsbury in The Moon Goddess and the Son), the Constitution is a contract which includes everyone in the US, and the people who wrote and signed and ratified it were standing in for us, acting as our agents, when they did so.

#548 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 10:37 PM:

#540 Fragano:

I understand this has an intellectual pedigree behind it, but it doesn't seem to bear much resemblance to questions of morality or guilt as I understand them, or to offer any useful guidance to moral action.

For example, consider the question of whether I should attempt to overthrow the government. By engaging in the attempt, I can enormously improve my moral standing, since I'm instantly free of the guilt of the state. But in practice, most ways this government could be overthrown would almost certainly lead to a much worse government coming to power. (I always used to argue this among libertarian/anarchist types--revolution in the US doesn't mean libertarians win, it means we get to find out whether the resulting state will be a religious police state or a secular one.)

Finally, this seems to justify all kinds of collective punishment. All those Iraqis dead since we invaded *deserved* to die by this theory, because they didn't overthow Saddam.

Once your moral status is outside your control, it seems like morality becomes meaningless. Once the only pathway to morality is effective suicide, morality stops being a meaningful part of life.

#549 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:16 PM:

Fragano, it appears to me that the logic - Locke's logic, as you give it - is unimpeachable. (Unlike certain persons, har har.) It does follow from his premises regarding the nature of the State. Therefore the only method of attacking the position is to question the premises, and I think this is necessary, for the outcome you express seems to me to be unreasonably burdensome.

For example, what of the argument that responsibility for an act, and hence guilt, can only be a consequence of the power to commission or to prevent it? Merely to be a citizen does not confer such a power, still less does merely being present.

Therefore, no matter if I walk on the State's roads or not, if I cannot commission or prevent the State's acts, I cannot be held responsible for them. That implies that my approval or disapproval of those acts is actually immaterial. One would hope that one would approve the good and actually work against the evil; but no more than this can be required. (Stipulated: in extreme cases "work against" includes "take up arms in revolt".)

Hence, no matter if the State executes convicts, or goes to war, or does anything else that one finds immoral or unethical, the individual citizen bears no responsibility. Those who have the actual power to prevent such acts bear the responsibility for them, with those who actually ordered and committed them. They can refuse to bear that responsibility. The hangman, or the general, or the functionary, may resign. The case of the private soldier is more difficult, true, but even he may refuse to shoot anyone. (Nuremburg largely destroyed the abdication of responsibility on the grounds that the agent of the State was "only following orders", but it also made clear that the less power, the less responsibility for the crimes of a State. Soldiers - even generals - engaged in an aggressive war were not tried for that, though the surviving leaders of Nazi Germany were. This, of course, does not expunge individual guilt for individual crimes, but even there, a plea that obedience was enforced may mitigate. How much less responsibility, then, accrues to the individual German whose sole role was to work, to walk on the roads, and to be bombed to blazes?)

I realise that this does call into question the idea that the State is only the expression of the will of the people, and the result of a social contract between them. It seems manifest to me that that is not an accurate description of the State. As you say, the latter is not immediately or even quickly responsive to the will of its people, though, agreed, it does change slowly to track it, generally, and derives its legitimacy from that source, ultimately. But only ultimately, and distantly, and with effect over time. Demanding that the citizen bear the responsibility immediately and instantaneously appears to me to be perverse.

#550 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Albatross, #548: "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it."--Rabbi Tarfon, 2nd century CE.

#551 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:06 AM:

I'd like to talk about issue of Presidential pardons for a moment, if I may.

I love the US Constitution. I find it to be one of the most remarkable documents ever created. The freedoms and rights protected therein are worth dying for. And yet...

What were the framers thinking by giving the Executive so much uncontrollable, unilateral authority vis-à-vis Pardons. “and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Was this merely an oversight on behalf of the Founding Fathers? Or was there a specific intent? It just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the document, i.e. limitation government, check and balances, etc. I am aware of the Dept of Justice's guidelines regarding Pardons (thanks, PJ) but they are in no way binding for the President.

I'd be interested to hear any insights y'all might have on the matter.

Also, can someone tell me what this means:
“The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.” Is this in regards to Senate vacancies or just offices within the Executive Branch, or something else entirely?

I don't want to seem ignorant, but well... I would appreciate it if you would help me get rid of some of this ignorance I carry around.

#552 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:27 AM:

@Fragano Ledgister:

Interesting double-bind there... if one's personal moral goes against the state that spawned one, one can:
- Bear the guilt of an act commited against one's will (i.e renounce the value of one's existence as individual and separate from the rest of the community that composes the state)
- Renounce to one's existence inside the state (i.e renounce to most up to everything that defines and sustained one's existence).

My lame and cowardly easy cop-out ?
I always thought the thing you share as part of a state is the burden, not the guilt.

As a French citizen, I do not think I can be held guilty of my State's latest nuclear tests. I never endorsed them and did all very litlle I could against them at the time.
I fully expect to be held accountable for them.

#553 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:24 AM:

CosmicDog@551 writes: Was this merely an oversight on behalf of the Founding Fathers?

No. It was a matter of quite heated debate. I'm too busy to dig out my copies of The Federalist Papers and The Anti-federalist Papers and look for references to cite. Instead, I did a quick Google search and found this article from 2001 in The International Herald Tribune which seems to have the most relevant cites.

I think it's a pity that the anti-federalists didn't have more of their shizzle together when they were bringing it to the federalists during the debate over ratification. If they could have foreseen how the modern conservative movement would come to exploit the power of the executive, instead of getting bogged down in their fears about zombie British monarchical tyranny arising from the grave of revolutionary New England and terrorizing the former colonies, then they might have been able to marshall better arguments for constraining the presidential power to pardon.

#554 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:26 AM:

CD #509

[side note, it didn't feel like a Real Arisia with Teresa and Patrick and some others not present]

I mean, people, even Christian Fundamentalists, should know that it's always wrong to treat other people that way, right? The problem is that they have been allowed to de-humanize others that they disagree with.

Elizabeth Moon in the SF series she wrote prior to the current one, had a group with the name "The New Texas Militia" which had colonized a planet it resided on. The author based the group on the attitudes and values of some of the more extreme religious professing-to-be-Christian groups in contemporary Texas.

#555 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:33 AM:

Following up on my earlier post, I found an interesting passage in Anti-federalist No. 67 by George Clinton:

[...] Though the president, during the sitting of the legislature, is assisted by the senate, yet he is without a constitutional council in their recess. He will therefore be unsupported by proper information and advice, and will generally be directed by minions and favorites, or a council of state will grow out of the principal officers of the great departments, the most dangerous council in a free country. . . . The language and the manners of this court will be what distinguishes them from the rest of the community, not what assimilates them to it; and in being remarked for a behavior that shows they are not meanly born, and in adulation to people of fortune and power.

The establishment of a vice-president is as unnecessary as it is dangerous. This officer, for want of other employment, is made president of the senate, thereby blending the executive and legislative powers, besides always giving to some one state, from which he is to come, an unjust pre-eminence. [...]

It's eerie. I was just thinking the same thing.

#556 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:21 AM:

CosmicDog @ 551: "The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate"

A recess appointment for VP if Cheney resigns or if Bush resigns and Cheney doesn't resign, while Congress is in recess? Oh, jeez. Ok, we're going to need at least 1 member each of the House and Senate to be on continuous duty twenty-four hours a day (they can rotate in shifts), every day of the week, to avoid Congress ever being in recess until the current Constitutional crisis is resolved.

#557 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:26 AM:

One of the unfortunate consequences of professing to have an open mind, and not wanting to be a hypocrite, is that one develops an intimate familiarity with the taste of crow.

I want to go back to my original post in this thread, # 233, and say “Cosmic Dog, your thoughts are uninformed and reckless. By way of casual disregard of the policies and actions of the Bush administration, you are implicitly supporting them and therefore bear the responsibility of their consequences. Please, for God's sake, wake up and pay attention to what's going on and what people are saying, and reconsider your position.” This statement was made, by way of abridgment and paraphrase, “you have your head up your ass.” So I apologize for the insensitivity of my statement and resolve to try to avoid such crapulence in the future.

So, that being said, I would like to revise my response to Jim's question “Can we Impeach the stupid SOB now?”

Well, no, we can't. You see, I think that we have misunderstimated the smartness of President Bush's mental thinking. By commuting Libby's sentence, Bush has used a legal action (unrestricted pardon) to cover up a host of illegal actions. He is capitalizing on the farce that was the Clinton impeachment. Congress will be even more wary of having impeachment hearings for Bush/Cheney, for fear that it would be seen as trying to exact some kind of revenge. Which is certainly how it would be painted by the Republican Party come election time. There's a real chance that that would work (unfortunately), which could lead another four years of reckless policies and practice. I doubt that many Democrats in Congress that are willing to take that chance. By forcing our attention on a controversial, yet legal, decision he has effectively laundered his misdeeds. It's the same kind of shell game that he has been playing this whole time.

Yeah, we will get through it. The brief history of our Republic shows that we, as a Nation, are strong enough to endure any crisis. Civil War, The Depression, Vietnam, Watergate...we continue to press on. Yet, not without bruises and scars. Each crisis has influenced and molded the character of our Union. Some for the better, some for the worst.

I still believe that it's possible, even likely, that harm that this administration has done was not necessarily done out of malicious or deceitful intent. I'm fully prepared to accept that they thought they were doing the right thing. However, regardless of motive, the damage is done and we have to deal with it.

One positive outcome of this current crisis is the renewed call to vigilance and to question authority. That's a Good Thing.

PS: Thank you, Paula, for your sensitivity in post # 554 for using the term “professing-to-be-Christian groups”. True Christian values leave no room for cruelty, hate, intolerance, abuse, and domination. It's possible take statements in the Bible out of context and use it to support whatever position one may have, no matter how evil or selfish or otherwise wrong, and say that it's the will of God.

#558 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 06:52 AM:

CHip wrote -
Scott Taylor @ 458: you're talking about the first century or less in the life of the U.S., when the political system was less settled. Arguing that people should keep trying something that stopped working ~140 years ago is not plausible. I'd find it less implausible if you were able to get state-level candidates of a 3rd party elected in just two states (cf #470, and noting #472 on what would happen to a 3rd-party President with no substance in Congress); to me your insistence on starting at the top strengthens my view that you're praying for a miracle while ignoring the boats and the helicopter.

Oh for fuck's sake.

Over 600 members of the Libertarian party hold elected or appointed position (taken from their website). (approximately) 230 Green Party members are in elected positions - despite the Greens only being on the ballots in a relative handful of states (19 as of April 2007) (wikipedia). There have been Libertarian candidates at the State level in the past (starting in 1978, in Alaska - three years after the party was formed). Vermont currently has six members of the Progressive party sitting on their state legislature. Hell - Ron Paul typifies the RINO label, and ran as a Libertarian for President.

3rd party candidates are running at every level - and winning, at least occasionally - in most states. There are - and have been - members of 3rd parties elected to state-level positions. You rarely hear about them, but they are. Yes, they are a drop in the bucket - but if the Green Party were a young adult, they'd still be getting carded in bars (and with good reason - two years ago, they weren't legal), and the Libertarian party is still a decade or so away from their mid-life crisis. And when the Democrats and Republicans can afford to spend a Third of a billion dollars on presidential election campaigns - each - well, it's pretty obvious where the media buy-in goes.

Why pay any attention to Federal elections at all? Why not work strictly from the bottom up? Because Federal elections are the ones people pay attention to. Voter turnout in off-year elections is lower than presidential election years. Voter turnout for non-Federal elections is lower than off-year elections. This is the reality. If your goal is to get permanently on the ballots in a state, you frequently have to pay attention to Federal and State level elections - because those are the ones that determine ballot status. Federal elections are the ones that get people fired up - to the extent they get fired up, rather than burnt out, any more.

At the same time, the percentage of those polled who do not consider themselves affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican parties has reached an all time high - 32.9% of those polled. There are more unaffiliated than there are Republicans, by those numbers. But if you play the "vote Democrat or Republican - or don't vote at all, because you're throwing it away" game, all of those votes either go to people they don't really support - or they really do go to waste, because the voters stayed home (and realistically, how many of the approximately 50% of people who didn't vote in the last elections didn't because they looked at the Democrats, saw nothing they liked, looked at the Republicans, didn't see anything they liked, and stayed the fuck home instead?)

Part of the problem, I think, is everyone looks at "election" and sees "Bush", which distorts the picture. Not every Republican candidate is George Bush. And it should be obvious - to anyone who has any fucking reading comprehension skills whatsoever, which certainly ought to mean everyone on Making Light, I would think... - that I'm not opposed to tactical voting when, in fact, it means the difference between, say, the Devil and Machiavelli - I held my nose and voted for Kerry in 2004, and my opinions on the 2006 elections were linked to in #458.

But I'm getting sick and tired of "support my candidate, or you're throwing your vote away. Oh, and smile about it motherfucker, because you're supporting a winner." Get a candidate I can support in good faith, and I'll cheerfully smile as I walk into the polling booth - otherwise piss off.

When I've got no choice, I'll vote tactically. But stop fucking telling me to smile about it, and stop telling me that I'm wasting my vote if, when I don't need to, I choose to vote my conscience, try to send a message, and save myself the agony of voting for someone who makes me a little nauseous at the thought of casting a ballot for them.

#559 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 09:50 AM:

Paula @ #554:
it didn't feel like a Real Arisia with Teresa and Patrick and some others not present

From the perspective of the committee and an overwhelmingly majority of the attendees, it not feeling like Arisia was probably just as well.

#560 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:07 AM:

albatross @ 526

"As one example, the Catholic Church has a pretty comprehensive set of social teachings, which oppose abortion and birth control, support both welfare programs and charity for single mothers and unwanted kids, etc."

Yes, I've heard about the Catholic church assisting poor mothers and I applaud them for that - but it doesn't get to the root of the harm caused (in my opinion) by the Catholic church's stance against contraception, which has gone so far as to lie to people about the role condoms can play in helping to stop HIV transmission - telling them that condoms don't help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and even that they help to spread the virus.

Part of the problem here is that "religious belief" and "moral/ethical belief" do not always equate to one another - and what's moral to one person isn't the same as what's moral to another person.

Two opinions I've had relayed to me from Catholic women regarding contraception/abortion:
1) "Fuck the Pope. He's a man. What does he know about it?" - from a Catholic woman using contraception.
2) "The Catholic Church teaches me that it's a sin to use contraception and it's a sin to have an abortion. So it's better not to use contraception, and get an abortion if I get pregnant - that way it's only one sin instead of being many sins."

The second of these is a logical arithmetical path, I suppose, but not (in my opinion) a moral one.

As sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, however much the Catholic church, or other religious bodies, promote abstinence, people are going to have sex. Equally certain therefore is that women are going to get pregnant. Some of those pregnancies are going to be unwanted, or will put the mother's life or health at risk. Some of those pregnancies are going to be aborted. Given these facts, the Catholic church's (ond certain other religious bodies) insistence on placing such an emphasis on chastity as the only acceptable form of birth control seems to me to be not only naive but immoral.

Similarly, to me it appears that the recent abortion ban, even on only a certain type of abortion, but not allowing any exceptions for the health of the woman, is immoral.

#561 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:38 AM:

Kagro X posted this as a comment last night at Tne Next Hurrah (the thread there is past 75 comments, which for them is long):

Article 1

Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies.

This conduct has included one or more of the following:

He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, authorized and permitted to be maintained a secret, warrantless domestic surveillance operation directed from within the office of the President, which unlawfully utilized the resources of the National Security Agency, engaged in covert and unlawful activities, and attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial.

He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavored to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities concerning said warrantless domestic surveillance program, and the internal Department of Justice authorization thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities including the exposure of the covert Central Intelligence Agency assets, and the improper dismissal of United States Attorneys.

In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the United States Attorneys, the Civil Rights Division, and the Voting Rights Section, of the Department of Justice, and the National Security Agency, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
In all of this, George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore George W. Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Article 2

In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, George W. Bush, contrary to his oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on June 13, 2007, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. The subpoenaed papers and things were deemed necessary by the Committee in order to resolve by direct evidence fundamental, factual questions relating to Presidential direction, knowledge or approval of actions demonstrated by other evidence to be substantial grounds for impeachment of the President. In refusing to produce these papers and things George W. Bush, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, George W. Bush, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

#562 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:42 AM:

[I lose track of Making Light threads during ReaderCon because there just isn't the time. So I apologize if this is really stupid...]
#556: Can't you just have the Senate not adjourn its session? i.e., I'm pretty sure that before they go on recess, they have to formally close the session (e.g., bang the gavel). Wouldn't it be simpler if, when everyone returns to their home districts, they just forget to do that?

#551: I believe governors appoint people to fill Senate vacancies for their state which lasts until the next election (which may be a special election).

#563 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:55 AM:

dcb 560:

Most American Catholics ignore the Church teachings on birth control, as far as I can tell. I was simply pointing out that the Church position on various social issues was not just "protect them while they're fetuses, then leave them to the wolves." This is an example of a part of the anti-abortion coalition that doesn't do that.

Moral beliefs are inevitably very much like religious beliefs in the sense that they're unprovable--philosophers have been trying to get to ought from is for a long time, without success. It seems to me that it takes exactly the same leap of faith to declare murder or rape immoral as to declare abortion or blasphemy immoral, because in all cases, you have "ought" statements which can only be asserted, never proven. (Yes, you can get consensus on murder being wrong now. But you could have had consensus on slavery being okay 200 years ago, too.)

#564 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Albatross #548: I could approach the issue from a republican rather than a liberal perspective: the state belongs to you as a citizen. Its acts are your acts, carried out on a scale beyond what you as an individual could do, but they are still your acts because you by virtue of your citizenship have authorised them.

This requires, however, an active citizenship. Such a thing did not exist in Iraq under Saddam. It could be -- indeed should be -- argued that although Iraq under Saddam had the form of a republic* it lacked the substance thereof.**

* I would include all constitutional democracies -- including monarchies -- under the rubric of 'republic'.

** Now, if you were to consult Hobbes, he'd tell you that you had an obligation to sustain the government, no matter how cruel it was, because the alternative -- the state of nature -- was worse.

#565 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:05 AM:

Susan #559, myself #554...
It didn't feel like a real Readercon...

Malapropism at work, thinking one convention and typing the name of a different one....

#566 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Dave Luckett #549: That argument only works if the state does not, in fact, function as your agent. Insofar as you, as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia, get to share in the choosing of who runs the state, you get to share in the responsibility for the acts of the state, for they are your acts.

It isn't simply that you, as a taxpayer in the Commonwealth, sustain, say, the armed forces of the Commonwealth, but that you as a citizen of the Commonwealth, participating in the benefits of citizenship also get to share in the responsibilities of citizenship. By remaining in Australia, you have agreed to abide by the rules (and if you moved anywhere else you would be agreeing to abide by the rules there).

Now I am not saying that you bear the full responsibility for whatever acts the Commonwealth of Australia carries out, just your equal share as a citizen, but you have to understand that, inasmuch as the Commonwealth of Australia is an emanation of you, Dave Luckett, its acts are your acts. That's not perverse, it follows from either a social contract theory or a republican theory of government (that we end up getting to the same place whether we start from Hobbes, or Locke, or Rousseau, or from Aristotle, Polybius, Livy, and Machiavelli should tell us something).

#567 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Scott@588:But I'm getting sick and tired of "support my candidate, or you're throwing your vote away. Oh, and smile about it motherfucker, because you're supporting a winner." .

I'll say it again: Grow up.

Hypothetical circumstance: Doctor says you have cancer. Gives you two options: radiation or chemotherapy. You've chosen to stay home and pray for a miracle.

It's a behaviour that's called "magical thinking" or "wishful thinking", and it's a young person's attitude that if they just wish hard enough then tinkerbell will come back to life, they won't have cancer, and they'll have good presidential candidates to choose from.

In an effort to try and explain that you're exercising nothing more than magical thinking, you've now thrown a temper tantrum. "Mother fucker". "Piss off". With the core of your post boiling down to "I don't want to and you can't make me." With a side order of whining about the lack of a perfect candidate. Grow up.

Given the choice in 2004 between (1) Bush and (2) Kerry, if you voted for (3) anybody else, then your vote is the equivalent of praying for a miracle cure to your cancer and you helped Bush get elected. Your inability to choose contributed to Bush's re-election.

You can whine all you want about how unfair life is, politics is, cancer is. But you cannot change the fact that if you voted third party in 2004, you helped Bush get reelected. Which means your claim to the moral high ground ended up helping the worst possible candidate get reelected.

This is where the final bit of childish thinking shows up: a lack of responsibility for one's actions. You're like the parents who force their child to use prayer to treat their cancer. Your wishing for different circumstances doesn't change the circumstances, which means the consequences of your inability to choose is ultimately your responsibility. But rather than take responsibility for not using radiation or chemotherapy to treat their child's cancer, when the child ends up dying of cancer, the parents blame the cancer rather than their inability to choose.

Exactly the way you blame your circumstances:

Get a candidate I can support in good faith, and I'll cheerfully smile as I walk into the polling booth - otherwise piss off

Grow up. Life throws circumstances at you. Adults deal with the circumstances and choose between whatever limited choices those circumstances give them. Children, and childish adults, blame their circumstances, whine about their circumstances, wish for different circumstances, and refuse to take responsibility for their choices (or lack of choosing) in the face of their circumstances.

We have a set of political circumstances. We use majority-vote-wins counting for elections, which reinforces a two-party system. during an election, you're presented with two main party candidates who are usually the two most likely to win candidates. If in such an election you vote third party, you helped which ever candidate won the election. If there is any qualitative difference between those two main candidates, you either vote for the better of those two main candiates, or you throw your vote away wishing for a different world, and possibly help the worst candidate get into office.

You want to do all that, fine. go for it. Just don't try to pass it off as anything other than wishful thinking. It isn't the moral high ground you claim, you're failing to make the hard choice between two lousy choices, instead you're praying for a cure for cancer. Mathematically, you're no different than the people who don't vote at all. You have no effect on the outcome, you're wishing for different circumstances and avoiding making a choice.

That isn't the moral high ground, it's childish thinking, magical thinking, wishful thinking. An adult would call it irresponsible.

#568 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:11 AM:

that was Scott@558

#569 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:15 AM:

Cosmic Dog #557

The Occupant of the White House claims "Commander-in-Chief" military status. There is a catchall, "conduct unbecoming an officer," which is a chargeable offense for courtmartial and grounds for dishonorable discharge. That applies to the Occupant, his commutation of Libby's sentence, among all sorts of other things, is dishonorable conduct and unbecoming of a Commander in Chief and President of the United States of America. As others have pointed out, he lied under oath, the oath being to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and committed high crimes and misdemeanors in the obstruction of justice by commuting Libby's sentence, blocking Congress from access to information suspected of showing deliberate lawbreaking and intention to cover up lawbreaking....

#570 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:16 AM:

And I'm pretty sure no one has said "smile about it motherfucker" regarding tactical voting.

#571 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:21 AM:

MD² #552: My point is simply that by carrying out acts that violate your moral sense the state, inasmuch as it is your agent and an emanation of your will (and the Rousseauan foundations of the French Republic make clear that at its base is the idea that the state is the agent of the general will, which is the collective will of the citizens turned to public matters), is authorised by you to carry out those acts.

Now, I cannot see a moral difference between authorising that something be done and doing it myself. And therein lies the problem.

#572 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:22 AM:

CosmicDog@524: The effect of not voting for a third party that you support is being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils instead of choosing what's best for this country.

Who do you think was the worst candidate for 2004?

Bush
Kerry
third party

If you said Bush, then a vote for third party helped the worst candidate become president. You'll have to commit quite a bit of magical thinking to explain that away.

I think I asked CRV who was the worst between Bush and Kerry, and I'm pretty sure he never answered me, either.

#573 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Greg London #567: I think that 'grow up' was ultra vires.

#574 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Paula: The UCMJ does not apply to the President.

And if it did, who could try him?

#575 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:49 AM:

Fragano@573: I think that 'grow up' was ultra vires.

I thought (#558) "smile about it motherfucker" and "piss off", combined with (#458) "We get to just keep eating the shit you're shoveling?" were sufficiently un-adult. Perhaps if I had simply told him that those comments were "ultra vires" that would have been more appropriate than to say why.

#576 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:01 PM:

Greg London #575: I think it probably would have been better.

#577 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ #576

It certainly would be more likely to earn him a response...

#578 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Greg London @567

It's interesting looking at this from the outside, with a slightly different set-up.

We too have first-past-the-post. We have three major parties, but in many constituencies the voting on Polling Day is clearly going to come down to a choice between two candidates, neither of which you like. What to vote? I think that if I was in a constituency in which my preferred candidate had no chance, and where there was a serious chance that the party I really didn't want would get in I would vote tactically for the other party. In all other circumstances I would vote for my preferred party.

I got extremely frustrated two or three General Elections ago here in the UK, when the Lib Dems did badly, because the votes counted indicated e.g. 23% support, but nearly 40% of people (my percentages may be off, I haven't got them to hand) said they would have voted Lib Dem if they'd thought they had a chance of winning. If course, if all those people had voted Lib Dem, the Lib Dems would have had a real chance of, if not winning, then sharing power.

I'd sort of like a reverse of the STV, in which you ticked for the candidate you liked least to get kicked off the ballot - then whoever won would be the one least disliked - it would tend to remove the extremists (I know, it would never work, but I can dream).

#579 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Earl 556: As long as they don't VOTE to go into recess, they don't have to physically be there, do they?

#580 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:26 PM:

dcb

I fantasize about a ballot with two boxes for each candidate, 'for' and 'against' (mark one only per candidate). For votes are plus-one, and against votes are minus-one, when counting. Whoever has the least-negative number wins. That way, even if you think your favorite will lose, you can still vote in a way to give them a chance at winning.

#581 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Fragano, I also can see no difference between authorising something to be done, and doing it myself. In the case of what I regard as wrongful acts by my State, that would bother me very much indeed, were it not for the fact that I have not authorised, nor commissioned, nor approved of them.

I think it a false premise that I have done so simply and solely because of my citizenship, or residence, which implies that I have obtained benefits from the State. Citizen or no, elector or no, the State may act (or fail to act) in defiance of my will, in spite of my wishes, against my instructions, and entirely contrary to my interests. It seems to me self-evident that the instant it does so, it is manifestly no longer any emanation of mine, nor is it acting as my agent, and therefore I bear no responsibility for those acts.

It is my responsibility to check and to correct the State to the extent that I can; and this extends to bearing my part in making amends for its wrongdoing. But more than this I will not accept. The burden is too great.

I am much disturbed and nonplussed by what you say, (and of course I accept your learned opinion on the point) that the united opinion of many eminent authorities is to the contrary. I cannot account for that, and admit that I am shaken to read that. Nevertheless, I reject such a theory, which appears to me to be in defiance of observed reality, no matter how eminent they are.

#582 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:36 PM:

Scott # 558
Over 600 members of the Libertarian party hold elected or appointed position (taken from their website). (approximately) 230 Green Party members are in elected positions

And this is what proprotion of the whole? Most of them, I suspect, are local level positions, because that's where their only strength is.

The Greens and the Libertarians are minor parties. I don't see this changing soon, because they're still too much single-issue advocacy groups. (Before you tell me I don't know from minor parties, I know people who are Greens. One of them is former Peace and Freedom.)

#583 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 12:37 PM:

dcb at 560: eventually -- no bets on when -- the hierarchy of the Catholic Church will catch up with its people. In the US, Europe, and other "first world" countries, most (not all) Catholics ignore the prohibition against birth control. This is largely true also in Mexico, and in Central and South America. The problem in those countries is men refusing to wear condoms, women being unable to refuse to engage in condom-free sex, and absence of good medical care including other forms of reproductive care -- having more to do with economics than Catholic doctrine. (Indeed, where there is good medical care, pre-natal care, etc; it's often provided by Catholic hospitals and clinics.) In Africa the problem is way complex. I have heard -- this is anecdotal information, therefore unreliable -- of priests and nuns who run AIDS clinics (30% of the AIDS clinics in African countries are run by priests and nuns) handing out condoms in order to stop the spread of AIDS.

Serious conversation about AIDS, condoms, etc. has been going on at the highest levels in Rome for quite some time. Re-forming a policy like this is extremely slow and delicate (changing the course of the Catholic Church is like turning a battleship -- you've probably heard that before) and this Pope may not do it. But it will happen. However, it is really a mistake to think that the faithful are all marching in lockstep to the teachings of the Vatican. It just ain't so. As a Catholic, I am hungry for those teachings to evolve, because they matter immensely to me; but I know very well it may take decades yet.

#584 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:24 PM:

Scott@577: It certainly would be more likely to earn him a response...

Fragano, you tell Scott that if he wants to reduce this conversation to moral high ground comments to third parties that he'll get no such satisfaction from me...

(/s)

#585 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:33 PM:

dcb@578: 23% support, but nearly 40% of people said they would have voted Lib Dem if they'd thought they had a chance of winning.

That's a problem when you don't actually have some sort of condercet voting method in place. Here, with only two main parties, it's usually easy to figure out the two main contenders.

I don't know if condercet is the perfect voting system or not, there are probably other ways it could be done that would be at least as good, perhaps better. I just know that a majority-vote-wins election is not the time to push for election reform, or a shift in party politics.

We now get to look forward to decades of Supreme Court decisions turning the clock back on real reforms. Anyone who wants to tell me that Kerry would have been equally as bad needs to get a grip on reality.


#586 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Sigh...

#587 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Fragano @ 545:

The issue of slavery in the U.S., I think, refutes your/Locke's view of the individual's complicity in the actions of the State.

In ancient cultures, such as Rome, slavery was a fairly common practice and generally accepted. If after a slave was freed and he chose to become a Citizen thereby voluntarily accepting the authority of the State, it can be argued that he impicitly condoned slavery and therefore must accept the consequences of the State's actions as his own.

The same argument cannot be applied towards American slavery. It is beyond reason that the choice of a freed African slave to remain in the US and accept Citizenship can at all be held responsible for the actions and policies of the State in regards to the injustice of slavery.

This is absolutely clear in my mind. Since this exception exists to the responsibility of the citizen with regards to the actions of state: Can it not be applied to the Abolishionists? Is it right for one to bear the guilt of actions of the State that one has opposed and actively resisted, simply because one has chosen to correct the injustice rather than leave the State or attempt to overthrow it? To me, that seems unreasonable to the extreme.

Therefore, I hold: An individual's complicity in an act of injustice or crime is limited to the indiviual's actions in regards to said injustice or crime.
- Did you agree and actively support such actions? If so, the guilt of those actions belongs to you.
- Did you morally oppose such actions and yet did nothing to prevent or stop them? If so, the guilt of those actions belongs to you.
- Did you try to prevent or stop such actions? If so, your are innocent of those actions.

I agree that a Citizenship of the State agrees to bear the consequences of the actions of the State, but they, by no means, agree to bear the guilt.

Locke may disagree, but Locke would be wrong (in my eyes anyway).

#588 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 01:58 PM:

#585: There is no perfect voting system. (cf. Arrow's Theorem. I think the Condorcet system is fine. But I prefer the system used by the Hugos (and figure skating up until about 1997). I think it's probably on par with Condorcet. It generates the consensus winner, and, IMHO, it's easier to explain. (Interestingly figure skating switched to Condorcet around 1998 before switching to its current points based system.)

Obviously, for a general election, like figure skating, we would not have a "No Award."

However, people would need to rank all candidates. If there are more than 2 or 3, that just seems unlikely. (The same is true of Condorcet though.)

#589 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:04 PM:

JC @ 588

It's a pain counting Hugo-type votes, though. Someone always does something like giving two nominees the same rank, not to mention that votes below 'no award' really shouldn't count (although they are usually counted in spite of that).

('minor rat' here)

#590 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:06 PM:

Dave Luckett #581: What is the state? It's not an alien entity imposed on you, it's an entity that has its existence for you.* And it is for you, precisely because it is you and all your fellow citizens transformed into a single acting entity. I fail to see how that doesn't accord with reality.

The fact that the state does things with which you do not agree does not mean that by so doing the state has ceased to emanate from you, it means that your individual will and desire has not prevailed. Your duty as a citizen is to accept this, unless you feel that the burden so imposed is such that it has indeed dissolved the bonds that hold civil society together in which case (as Locke says) you have the right to revolt. Hobbes, of course, would say that you have to accept whatever is done in your name because the alternative is going to be worse, but I find that problematic.

Put in other words, your citizenship gives you one citizen's share in the responsibility for acts of state, whether or not you agree with them. That, it seems to me, is exactly congruent with reality as I observe it. Theory, after all, is about reality.

*Tyrannies obviously excepted.

#591 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:11 PM:

George Phillies who was a member of the MIT Science Fiction Society when studying there, was the Libertarian Party candidate for Senator for Masssachusetts some years ago. The share of the vote he received was insignificant.

Will Shetterly ran for Governor of Minnesota, I thnk it was, as a 3rd party candidate. Not being a rich fellow with name recognition as e.g. an wrestling entertainer, his share of the vote was miniscule.

#592 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:16 PM:

Greg London,

Out of curiosity, are you trying to persuade someone who doesn't share your views of a different perspective, or are you trying to demonstrate, to yourself or some other audience, that your views are correct?

Knowing that you prefer to keep an eye on the consequences of your actions, I might recommend that you consider your style of (if I may call it such in this case) persuasive writing. There is an interesting argument to be made in this matter, but honestly, I don't think you're making it at present.

#593 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:21 PM:

CosmicDog #587: Locke had no trouble whatsoever with slavery. He defines it as 'a state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive'. Slaves are property, not citizens.

The situation in the United States since 1865 is that all persons born or naturalised in the United States are citizens. Plain and simple. It's not a matter of choice, unless you actively want to renounce citizenship. All former slaves automatically received citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment, and full rights to vote under the Fifteenth.

It seems to me that your argument fails. Mere disagreement with acts of state does not remove from you either the benefits or the obligations of citizenship, which is a two-sided coin. If you refuse the obligations you must also refuse the benefits? Have you done so?

#594 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:29 PM:

CosmicDog and others... I don't give a hoot what Locke had to say about slavery, and I find the casual treatment of the subject rather unsuitable and unsavory.

#595 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:36 PM:

#583 ::: Lizzy L

I know that many Catholics ignore the prohibition against birth control, and I am extremely pleased to hear that some priests and nuns running AIDS clinics are ignoring the prohibition on providing condoms. I found some very interesting websites and information while researching around this topic. Several bishops and cardinals have stated they think that e.g. someone who knows they are HIV-positive should wear a condom, to avoid the sin of transmistting a potentially fatal virus, or that a woman whose husband is HIV-positive should be allowed to use condoms since she will generally be unable to say no when her husband wants sex, and therefore refusing her the use of the condom is effectively condemning her to death.

One website I found is called "Catholics for a Free Choice" with a campaign to promote condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. I found it fascinating that their "about us" bit started "Catholics for a Free Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being, and respect and affirms the moral capacity of women and men to make sound decisions about their lives." : this obviously reflects what they think the Catholic Church's present ethics presently are not based on.

Yes, I know that changing the course of the Catholic Church is likely to be a very slow task. I just get fed up of the argument that says "we're right and our choice is the moral one because that's what our Church says." (I'm not trying to produce a straw-man here, honest, just to paraphrase what some (not all, quite possibly even not most, and perhaps just the most vociferous) Catholics on the "abortion is bad, contraception is bad" platform state).

I'm more of a pragmatist: preach "be good" as the ideal if you like, but add "but if you can't be good, be careful."

Some Catholics also advocate this pragmatic approach. Some also advocate use of contraception rather than producing unwanted pregnancies.

albatross @ 563

Some parts of the catholic Church "don't do that". But others do (as in telling women who cannot reject their HIV-positive husband's sexual advances that they cannot use a condom to protect themselves from a fatal infection because that's "wrong" - that is failure to respect the woman's right to life - the respect they would say is paramount to give to the fetus). And, as I indicated in my previous post, advocating celibacy as the only acceptable form of contraception WILL lead to more unwanted pregnancies and therefore more abortions. And if abortion is illegal, that will lead to more illegal abortions, more danger to the woman, more undue burden on the poorest members of society. So I find that Catholic stance "of no contraception, no condoms, no abortion" (not accepted by all Catholics) problematic.

Re. moral beliefs, well most cultures, for most of history, have had some variation on "thou shalt not murder" - it's pretty much a universal. To me, there is a vast difference between concluding that murder and rape are immoral and concluding that blasphemy is immoral. For one thing, which religion's "blasphemy" are you talking about? I see a vast difference between religious beliefs and morals, despite both being intangibles; you don't: we're probably just going to have to agree to disagree.

Regarding abortion, I think it morally reprehensible for women to casually use abortion as "retroactive contraception" (as in, don't bother with contraception, just abort if you get pregnant), but it is her body so it is her decision to make, not mine, whatever I may think about it. However, most abortions are decisions taken not lightly but after considerable thought, for a whole range of reasons, including the woman's health (physical or mental) and the well-being of her family (consideration for quality of life), following failure of contraception, or due to medical problems, or severe fetal abnormality. In these cases I think it is, depending on the circumstances, something ranging from a good (save one life) to at least a "lesser of two evils".

#596 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:40 PM:

P J Evans @580

Nice fantasy. *sigh*

#597 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:43 PM:

Serge #594: I'm not treating it casually, simply as a historical fact (you should see me teaching Locke and dealing with the problem of liberalism at its heart containing a justification for slavery). I can understand your discomfort. It's not a pleasant subject.

#598 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Fragano @ 597... Goodness. I wasn't saying that you were treating the subject casually. I knew after I posted this that the 'and others' part would be misinterpreted.

#599 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:50 PM:

I agree with Fragano. I believe I bear some of the guilt for the deaths of people executed by the state (especially but not only the innocent ones). I believe I bear partial guilt for the deaths of the Iraqis killed in the war. I also believe I bear partial guilt for the deaths of our people there, though not in the way or for the reasons the right would claim I do.

This is why that issue becomes so emotional for me. The state is killing people in my name, though not at my behest, and that outrages me. That's why I was hoping an ethical will would make some difference in the (I hope) unlikely event that I'm murdered; having someone killed because s/he killed me is the only way I can think of to acquire additional guilt after death.

If I work to oppose the bad actions of my state, be they execution, slavery, or aggressive war, that mitigates my guilt somewhat, but I still bear the guilt. Even if they stop, I bear the guilt for what they did before they stopped.

You know, this might be one of those right-left things. The right (at least in this country) believes they aren't to blame for anything, no matter how personally they act, though curiously they appear to believe that they own everything. No wonder they're fundamentally opposed to accountability.

(Btw, I don't mean conservatives when I say "the right." I mean Bushistas and their ilk.)

#600 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 02:51 PM:

@Fragano Ledgister:
In my personal experience, citizenship to most is not an expression of the will but a byproduct of passivity and circumstances.
You're born in a country, you speak that country's language, your standard culture is of that country, you use that country's currency: you're a citizen of that country.
No social contract signed, ever (n'en déplaise à Rousseau). And that never signed contract is still binding from the very moment of your coming into being.

As I see it, the state is not an expression of our will, it's a consequence of our collective existence. The fact that "Au nom du peuple français" is writen before every judgement passed doesn't mean I condone every last one of them. It doesn't mean I can be held responsible for them (I cannot even know all of them). It just means I should be held accountable for them. Accountable as in I should contribute repairing broken things when and however I can according to my means.

You'll notice I never mentioned what would be the third proposition to a complete proper batesonian double-bind... :)

What is the state? It's not an alien entity imposed on you, it's an entity that has its existence for you.

I would agree with one word change (one you actually did later on): it's not an alien entity imposed on you, it's an entity that has its existence from you.
Just because you can benefit from it doesn't mean it's acting for you.

From reading that thread, I'd like to ask: what generally is the status of blank ballot in the USA (I mean, the social perception of it, not its place in the voting system) ?

Edit after preview:
Fragano, I think Cosmic Dog's point isn't about what happens to slaves as much as what do you make of those citizens that opposed slavery before it was abolished: as citizens, they share the legal obligations, but on purely moral grounds, do you think they share the guilt of their fellow citizens ?
That is if you even think that it matters (:? not trying to imply you're uncaring, just trying to see if you think that kind of moral argument have its place in the debate).

#601 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Dave Lucket #581:

A huge number of thinkers also came to believe, through the years, in the rightness and moral acceptability of slavery. It was almost a unanimous opinion for centuries and centuries. The fact that many smart people convinced themselves and others of statement X is pretty weak evidence for X, unless they're doing the convincing in a realm that allows for proof or strong evidence or refutation of incorrect statements. None of those things seem to be true of moral philosophy, which makes the conclusions of brilliant people through the years much less valuable there that it is, for example, in mathematics. (Though still better than in most science, where geniuses in 1000 AD simply didn't have the tools to build things of lasting value.)

Euclid had the tools to prove things that we can always go back and verify, and thus can use. There really, really are an infinite number of primes, and he could prove that in a way that we can still follow.

Aristotle did some science, but it's all basically crap now. He didn't have the right tools to build something we can still use, or even to build our foundations.

On the other hand, Aristotle did philosophy that we can still use, because we still don't have those enormously powerful tools that allow us to advance in that area, as proofs and postulates do in math, or as experiments and falsifiable hypotheses do in science.

All IMO. I'm surely out of my philosophical depth here, but the large number of eminent thinkers who believed X seems to me to be very little evidence indeed for X, in this circumstance.

#602 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Fragano@593: Mere disagreement with acts of state does not remove from you either the benefits or the obligations of citizenship, which is a two-sided coin. If you refuse the obligations you must also refuse the benefits? Have you done so?

What? What exactly are you trying to establish between the state and any individual citizen?

Complicity? Complicity means you know something wrong is going to be done and you don't do anything about it. If you operate within the political system to try and stop it, and fail, you are not complicit. You called the police, but they never showed up, or showed up too little, too late.

Responsibility? Responsibility means you take on that you are at cause in what happens. That has nothing to do with state/citizen relationships. That's simply a matter of whether you are the sort to take responsibility for there being starving people in Africa or not.

Accountability? At what point am I accountable for my country's actions? When Saddam was in charge of Iraq, were all Iraqis to be held accountable for the crimes that Saddam committed? Did the actions of Saddam justify the wiping off of the map of the entire population of that country? That would be holding the poeple accountable for their leader or government.

The rules of war say that you can't kill wontonly kill civlians of a country. Civilians aren't accountable the same way military people are, or the same way government people are.

The thing that seems to be the actual topic of conversation is "shame", as in "do you feel ashamed of the fact that your country has capital punishment?" (or replace "capital punishment" with some equally shameful practice.) That's a personal and subjective question, which means it has no universally correct answer.

Do you feel ashamed that people are starving in Africa? There's no universal answer to that.

#603 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:11 PM:

#588 JC:

One big issue with a more mathematically nice voting system is that voting systems have to work for nearly all citizens. A system that requires an IQ of 100 to use and an IQ of 130 and a math degree to really understand cuts an awful lot of voters out of the loop.

I'm only being a little facetious here. If the voting system makes it easy for me to vote strategically, and hard for my neighbor the carpenter to do so, we haven't accomplished anything good. If I can understand how the counting is done and why Smith beat Jones, but most other citizens see this as some kind of hopelessly complicated back-room operation, similarly, we haven't accomplished anything good.

#604 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:14 PM:

JC @ 588

Obviously, for a general election, like figure skating, we would not have a "No Award."

It's not obvious to me that "No Award" (I like to call it "None of the Above", and abbreviate it "NA") is a bad idea in general elections. It could be handled in a number of ways:

1. If "NA" wins, the incumbent stays on until a new election is called (perhaps a special election would be mandated within some standard time).

2. If "NA" wins, a caretaker is picked (by deterministic and well-defined means) to hold office until a new election is called.

3. (Libertarian fantasy) If "NA" wins the office is abolished.

4. If the plurality winner doesn't get a majority, and the second-place is "NA", the first and third places enter a runoff automatically.

#605 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:24 PM:

albatross @ 603

It's easier to explain how Hugo ballots are counted than it is to predict the winner. (Sometimes the winner is pretty obvious, just from looking at the ballots. But mostly not.) That's one reason I like the 'for/against' voting fantasy: it's easy to explain, and easy to understand the counting process.

#606 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:33 PM:

#599 Xopher:

I suspect this is a split in politics, but perhaps not as simple as a left/right split. Some anti-abortion people appear to me to feel the guilt of millions of dead babies permitted by legal abortions. Some liberals appear to me to feel the guilt of millions of poor kids getting rotten educations, living in rough condiditons, etc. This motivates a certain kind of political activism, which can be good or bad depending on how it's channeled.

I don't feel this way. The government is an organization of people, which does some good things and some bad things--I do not see it as having a unique moral status that, say, Starbucks or Microsoft or the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts don't have. It is an organization that appears to me to do much more good than harm, and that does some stuff that absolutely needs to be done, but it's just people. I think this isn't so much a philosophical position as an emotional one--I just flat don't feel that reaction.

Now, it also seems to me that guilt that is practically independent of my actions wouldn't lead to anything good, and would kind of make a mockery of what I think of as morality. But I'll admit I may simply be backfilling from the conclusion I reach emotionally to a plausible explanation for it.

I suspect this makes me unusual, because a belief in collective guilt seems to me very common. It's obvious in all kinds of politics in the US--racial politics and poverty programs being among the most obvious.

#607 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Greg London @

you can't kill wontonly kill civlians of a country

I mean no disrespect, but some typos really must be pointed out and chortled at. Would "to kill wontonly" mean death by soup, or death by potsticker sauce?

#608 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:42 PM:

filled with pork and deep fried.

#609 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:49 PM:

#564 Fragano:

I oppose the war on drugs. As far as I can tell, I have a probability of changing US policy in this area that is very close the the probability that an average educated person in Iraq had to change the nastier policies of the regime of Saddam. I probably won't be killed for trying, but that doesn't change the fact that there is likely nothing I can do to change this stupid, evil policy. Why is it that I'm responsible for it, but the Iraqi isn't responsible for Saddam's evils? For that matter, why wasn't the guy screaming his life out in some KGB torture chamber responsible for the excesses of the USSR?

It can't just be the words, or the formality of elections, because Iraq and the USSR had both of those. Is the moral difference just that it is possible in principle for mine to be the deciding vote, maybe with a one in a million probability throughout all my life if I vote in every election?

#610 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 03:53 PM:

#607:

And I thought what Teresa was threatening for instigating an abortion flamewar was harsh! (Will the wontons be fed to big fangy monsters with a side of rice, and eaten with chopsticks?)

#611 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:00 PM:

#603: I believe I indicated that I didn't think any of the voting systems where the voter has to rank all the candidates in order are likely to see use.

However, I agree with P J @605 about the Hugo system. (i.e., easy to explain the count, less easy to explain the result.)

Also, the way you use all of those systems is to say, "Rank the candidates you like in order from the one you like most to the one you like least." (Then you need some good design to make sure people do it in the correct order.) None of these systems are hard to use. However, they all have edge cases where it's hard to explain the winner. But it's no harder than trying to explain the electoral college.

If the voting system makes it easy for me to vote strategically, and hard for my neighbor the carpenter to do so, we haven't accomplished anything good.

Are you honestly suggesting that your neighbor the carpenter doesn't engage in any strategic voting now, or understand how that works? In any case, the whole point of these sorts of systems is that they are more robust against strategic voting. The result should be that we see a reduction in the influence of strategic voting.

If I can understand how the counting is done and why Smith beat Jones, but most other citizens see this as some kind of hopelessly complicated back-room operation, similarly, we haven't accomplished anything good.

You mean like the electoral college? The Hugo system is no more complicated to explain and makes a lot more sense. Whoever get a majority of the first place votes wins. If no one does, then it's the person with the majority of first and second place votes, and so on until someone has a majority.

The counting is simple. It may take a little song and dance to explain the result though if, for example, the person who ends is the person that was everyone's second choice but no one's first choice. But this is not the common case. An interesting case did show up last year where "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" won the Hugo in part because the voters liked the various Doctor Who episodes overall more than they liked the various BSG episodes overall.

I have to say that I'm a bit stunned by the whiff of "Well, *I* understand this, but I'm afraid the poor unwashed masses don't stand a chance."

Lots of people follow complicated serial dramas with no problem. Maybe the same people aren't really motivated to understand whatever voting system gets used. But if they see you merciless manipulating the results against them, they might get motivation. (Although, honestly, the way you use all of those voting systems really is to say "Rank the candidates in order, the one you like the most on top, the one you like the least on the bottom." Now you can willfully misunderstand this, but I don't feel responsible for that.)

#604: Ok. I was just thinking that the idea was to have someone elected to an office at the end of an election. But if you can hold an election and leave the position unfilled at the end of it, but there are all sorts of possibilities.

#612 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:02 PM:

#607: Isn't "to kill wontonly" like subjecting someone to the comfy chair?

#613 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Greg 608: Especially for a Moslem nation, I think forcing them to eat their fill of haram meat would clearly violate the Geneva Conventions, even if you don't then boil them in oil afterwards.

#614 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:06 PM:

albatross@606: a belief in collective guilt

Ah, is that what this subthread is about?

I may simply be backfilling from the conclusion I reach emotionally to a plausible explanation for it.

I'm pretty sure that most people have a fairness detector that exists at the subconscious level. (capuchin monkeys can detect fairness, according to experiment.)

We then put this subconscious filter into a conscious model, put words to it, explain it, analyze it, etc. But it seems to be a part of our hardwiring first, a part of our rational understanding second.

(I think our ability to use language is similarly a function of brain hardwiring first, and then we come up with grammar to explain it, sentence diagrams, and such, but that's a different thread)

How "fair/unfair" manifests itself would be an interesting question. I'd guess that fair feels good and unfair evokes feelings of anger, guilt, or shame. Anger if it's someone else. Guilt if its youself, or some group you identify with as belonging to. "belonging" is another subconscious function of the brain, as is "othering", so one might experience feelings of guilt for the actions of another if the person self-identified with the person doing the misdeed.

My experience is that conscious thoughts can push down into the subconscious so that what was once experienced as guilt might be experienced in a less debilitating way. or so that the gut reaction to anger might be shifted to an understanding of differences.

The thing is to uncover and deal with your feelings to the point that you can act in whatever way is empowering to you.

Collective responsibility isn't that.

#615 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Fragano, I think that defining the State as an entity with a rigid definition like "the extension of the will of all acceptors of a given social contract" is problematic. One problem with it is that all citizens don't necessarily agree even on what the social contract is, or what or who determines its tenets. Another problem is the binary notion of inclusion in the contract: a citizen either adheres to the contract* and may reap its benefits or does not and is beyond the pale. It's a clean and simple theory, but I don't think it fits the way social contracts are actually conceived of outside philosophy texts.

Compare the way contracts are negotiated and enforced in civil law in various polities with the way the social contract is managed. Should the social contract be any different in concept from contracts between or among groups of citizens? In many polities, the US among them, a general principle of contract law is that violation of one clause does not automatically invalidate the entire contract on all sides, but that violation by one party may reasonably be expected to have consequences in terms of compliance by others.

In sum, I think your position only follows forcibly if you start from the assumption that both Locke and Hobbes did: that there is something special and unique about the nature of the State vis a vis other relationships among people. The State is often practically a large enough gorilla to insist on special status from all other parties; this doesn't necessarily force the shape of a theory or philosophy of civic relations.


* and what does this mean? Does an infraction against a minor regulation mean abrogration of the contract? In some places, it does (littering in Singapore, for instance). Other places, not so much.

#616 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:08 PM:

*Reads 607, 608, 610, 612*

*Adds "Potstickers--K&S Market" to grocery list*

#617 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Notice that selection of voting system is a form of strategic voting - C.L. Dodgson was able to determine elections in his College by arguing successively for different voting systems such that the outcome matched his personal preference. Dictator by Arrow's rules perhaps? but nobody really thought so; more of an Academic exercise?

#618 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:31 PM:

Clark E. Myers @ 617

Any system can be gamed by manipulating its meta-system (and so on recursively until your head hurts enough to want to stop). That's why the only way to build a stable system is to incorporate a way to detect gaming and modify the meta-system to nullify it. And the stability you get is, of course, dynamic stability, and there's no way to prove (and usually a lot of reason not to believe) that a given dynamic system is stable against all (or often even some particular) perturbations*.

We're at a point in the history of the US polity where a massive gaming exploit has been used to manipulate the system, and we are all aware that we need to make modifications to nullify that exploit and make future use of it ineffective. But one part of the exploit seems to be an attack on the mechanisms that allow for meta-change by simultaneously infecting all three branches of the federal goverment with a nasty virus. So how do we modify the system to prevent that? And who gets to control the modifications?


* I'm deliberating mixing notions of physical systems and social ones here; one of the problems I see with current political science is that it has not attempted to enhance its theory with modern physical and mathematical concepts and tools. Similarly with economics; it's astounding how few economists have every studied control systems theory.

#619 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:41 PM:

JC @ 611
Well, the phrase I've heard - and used myself - is that 'we could just do without for another n years.' (Some officeholders are so useless that doing without is approximately equivalent.)
---
Shrimp wontons? With special sauce (five-second delay on the hot)?

#620 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 04:53 PM:

#618 Bruce:

ISTM that the biggest form of gaming the system we see right now is gerrymandering, which allows the party in control of a state to draw its voting boundaries to create safe seats for itself, and to eliminate the seats of the other party. Both parties have enthusiastically used this, along with ever-better computer tools for doing it, to effectively disenfranchise lots of voters. (Your vote is still counted, but you're in a 75% Democratic district, so you may as well stay home.) We could in principle eliminate this, and go with some kind of neutral set of district drawing rules. But that's hard to get accepted in most states, because the party in control in each state has a huge incentive to keep the ability to draw districts, as an aid to keeping control.


#621 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Serge # 594

I'm sorry, I didn't intend to treat the issue of slavery casually. I will not bring it up again in this context, as a defense of a philosophical perspective. I can see how that is casual and irresponsible. Sorry.

#622 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 05:28 PM:

#594 Serge:

It's an unsavory (and very long, and not yet over) part of history. My point in bringing it up is that when a certain mechanism for deciding what's true about morality tells you that slavery is moral, it ought to make you doubt the mechanism.

#623 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 05:44 PM:

albatross @ 620

Gerrymandering is an important exploit, but not the one I was talking about. The primary exploit we've seen depends on using control of 2 branches of government (legislative and executive in this case) to gain control of the 3rd over time (since it takes time to gain a majority on SCOTUS). At the same time, the constitutional separation and control of powers is tampered with, allowing more and faster change of the system, since the executive, being hierarchical, can move faster than Congress, which is by definition a debating society.

Once you've got control of SCOTUS, of course, things can go a lot faster, because you've made yourself effectively immune to legal challenge. Maintaining and expanding power at this point doesn't even require retention of both the other branches; you can use Congress or the Presidensity alternatively to whipsaw your opposition as long as you've got the courts to backstop you. And how far you can go depends largely on how much you're willing to trash the system.

Worse, as you've pointed out, the gaming isn't done just by one party. As soon as one does it, the other will respond in kind, creating an arms race. That's why I'm pessimistic about restoring the damage the Repulicans (sic) have done; I'm not convinced enough Democrats will want to.

#624 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Xopher @ 599

For me, loathing the idea of the death penalty, its a combination of "not in my name are you going to kill people", "it's too late if you find out someone was innocent", and "I don't like what carrying out such a penalty does to those who carry it out/ratify it.

I think a lot of these things probably have multiple strands - my pro-choice stance on abortion is "it's the woman's body, she has the right to choose" and also "what about the (lack of) quality of life for unwanted children/severely malformed babies/ spouses and other children if the woman dies etc. etc. and "making abortion illegal won't stop abortions, just make people have unsafe abortions - which is worse".

Although in both cases, any one of those arguments in and of itself is sufficient for me, all of them probably played a role in my coming to these conclusions/viewpoints in the first place.

#625 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 05:54 PM:

MD² #600: 'From' is perfectly acceptable. I would want to say with Rousseau that the state is a product of the collective general will, even though we get it as a given and don't think through what citizenship means. It regularises lives and obligations. And we want that regularity -- we want laws, we want order, we want to be secure in our relations with our fellow human beings. Along with that, however, we have to take the consequences of pooling our powers into a single collectivity which we, as indidividuals, cannot direct: our powers are used in ways that we cannot as moral persons approve.

It stinks, but the alternatives stink even more.

Yes, abolitionists bore part of the responsibility for a state that authorised slavery, and their opposition to slavery did not lessen that responsibility (however much it may have relieved their feelings of guilt).* They were able to change the state, whether in Britain, or the US, or France (deux fois!), but that does not relieve them of their responsibility for what it was (find the white South African above 40 who supported apartheid before 1990, they all seem to have vanished for some reason).


* In 1840, William Lloyd Garrison publicly burned a copy of the United States Constitution as a statement of his personal moral rejection of a document that endorsed slavery, and put his life and liberty in peril by so doing. Yet he did not abandon the country nor renounce his citizenship.

#626 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 06:33 PM:

Fragano@625: Along with that, however, we have to take the consequences of pooling our powers into a single collectivity which we, as indidividuals, cannot direct:

What, exactly, do you mean by "take the consequences"?

Yes, abolitionists bore part of the responsibility for a state that authorised slavery

What, exactly, do you mean by "responsibility"?

Because, as far as I can tell, there's nothing measurable in the way you use these words other than that they boil down to you wanting people to feel badly about themselves.

William Lloyd Garrison ... did not abandon the country nor renounce his citizenship.

Have you? Is that the definition of "responsible" behaviour for someone who lives in an imperfect nation? Are you saying it's acceptable to leave a nation and allow slavery to continue in your absence? But it's not acceptable to live in that country while trying unsuccessfully to abolish slavery? Because to live in such a nation is to take benefit from slavery?

Am I the only one who sees a bit of a problem with this logic?

your citizenship gives you one citizen's share in the responsibility for acts of state, whether or not you agree with them.

Marin Luther King Jr. was a citizen. How does he take "responsibility" for a country founded on a history of slavery and existing in an environment of legally enforced racism?

Because I seriously have no idea what you mean by "responsibility" in any meaningful, objective way.

Is he excluded "responsibility" because he was black? Because he fought the system? What if he had opposed racisim but failed? And yet stayed in the country? Is he still "responsible" for any benefits he gets from the history of slavery that this nation is founded upon? Is he still responsible for capital punishment because he didn't change that?

What I gather is that by "responsibility" you mean some sort of inescapable, all encompassing, sense of universal guilt. Because apparently, my actions and my intentions have nothing to do with whatever you make "responsibility" mean.

#627 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 06:52 PM:

Greg London... Did you read Abi's comment @ 592?

#628 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 07:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #615: Well, what else is the state? It's a lot more than any social relationship or set of relationships, and we are more dependent on it than on almost every other human construct.

It has to come from us, to respond to our needs, and to be our agent. This isn't just a matter of the seventeenth and eighteenth century social contract theorists, this is a perception that goes back a very long way.

Infractions of the rules by individuals aren't abrogations of the contract -- the nature of civic membership is that we agree to be punished if we break the rules because the punishment is imposed by ourselves -- Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau seem agreed on the point. When someone gets flogged for littering in Singapore, that's an emanation of his /her will to have an orderly state (or accepted by entering Singapore and thus tacitly agreeing to be bound by its rules).

Mencius* is, as far as I can make out, the first thinker to see the state as our agent serving our needs, since he argues that if a ruler does not serve his people they have the right to overthrow him and replace him with another. Aristotle, of course, defined the polis as an association to promote the common good of its members. But the polis is not the only kind of polity, and I read Mencius as making the social contract argument in embryo.

I see the weight of political thought over the past couple of millenia as defining the polity (or the state in more recent times) as the agent of the people who make it up. It is, thus, an emanation of their wills and needs and, in consequence, they are responsible for it just as it is responsible to them.

The issue is not that the social contract is abrogated by a wrongful act, it is that the social contract means that all citizens share in the responsibility for public acts. When the Oval One (to quote Gore Vidal) sends men and women into danger he is doing so as the representative of the collective will of every citizen of the United States -- if not, where does he get his power from?


* Some might read Mozi as making the argument first, but I can't see it.

#629 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Greg London #602: I'm not trying to establish anything between the state and the citizen. Where do you think the state obtains its power? It comes from the citizens, not from the gods, Santa Claus, or the personal will of the head of state. When the state acts, it does so because it is empowered to do so by its citizens; that means that the citizens bear responsibility for the acts of the state.

Shorter answer: What are the first three words of the United States Constitution?

#630 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 07:34 PM:

Albatross #609: I just look to see if the government is effectively chosen by the people. That is, fake republics, like, say, Syria, are obviously impositions on their people (although, the consensus in the discipline of political science is that a regime requires at the least tacit acceptance by a majority to survive).

On the other hand, a state in which the claim to be based on the will of the people is verifiable, where there is general agreement that the power of the government is that of the people, is an emanation of its citizens.

#631 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Greg London #626:

By 'consequences' I mean whatever consequences may ensue from an act of state.

By 'responsibility' I mean that they form(ed) part of the entity which imposed particular laws, carried out particular acts &c, and thus had a moral share in those acts, laws &c.

I'm saying that any act of state imposes a moral burden on citizens. They may seek to change the state in order to end the acts, repeal the laws, or whatever, but that does not mean that they don't bear the moral burden.

Martin Luther King Jr sought a place as an equal citizen, that means that he looked beneath the history to what he saw as a set of principles that he believed formed the moral foundation of the United States. Malcolm X, on the other hand, saw things otherwise -- he saw black people in America as 'victims of Americanism' rather than as Americans. I happen to side with King, but that does not mean that I don't believe that I have a responsibility for wrongful acts committed by the state of which I am a citizen. As a citizen, I have the right, and as a moral person the duty, to oppose those acts, done in my name, but the fact that they are done in my name remains.

#632 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:02 PM:

Fragano@629: that means that the citizens bear responsibility for the acts of the state.

I think I need some measurable example that shows me how you mean "responsibility" in some way that doesn't come down to "the feeling of guilt". Feelings and actions are independent axis as far as I'm concerned.

I was born in America, which according to you makes me "responsible" for everything the American government does. What does that mean? Do I need to do anything? Can anyone do anything to me because of something irresponsible my country does?

If I think the US is waging an immoral war, what am I supposed to do to be a "responsible" citizen? If I cannot stop that immoral action, must I leave the country to be a "responsible" human being? If I stay, can innocent civilians harmed in an immoral war waged by my country come into my house and take my stuff as compensation? Am I responsible to that degree? If not, to what degree am I responsible?

You keep using that word, but I have no idea what you are trying to make it mean.

#633 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:14 PM:

Fragano @ 628, 631

I agree that a citizen may have a moral burden imposed by acts of the State that the citizen objects to; what I don't agree with is that all citizens necessarily have such a burden. The key phrase is "representative of the collective will of every citizen". This need not be true for any given act of the State. What does "collective will" mean in the context of a democracy?* Is it in fact the will of people who opposed the act beforehand? Does a conscientious objector who goes to jail so as not to serve in the military on moral grounds bear the burden of the acts committed by the military just because he or she does not renounce citizenship? My point is that these relationships and actions are not binary; there are shades of gray.

* Let's ignore for a moment the finer distinction between representative and plebiscite systems.

#634 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:22 PM:

Greg London #632: See my #631.

#635 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:25 PM:

a moral burden

er....

Well, that's a bit of a linguistic cunnundrum. Maybe even a tautology. At a minimum, it comes down to nothing more than a subjective feeling of some kind, what, exactly, I'm not sure. At a maximum, I'm still quite unclear what limits, if any, apply to how this burden plays out into actions. If I am unavoidably morally burdened simply by being born under an even marginally representational government, it doesn't really set any limits on what's expected of me to do, or at what point those expectations would be satisfied, if ever. According to some of your posts, there doesn't appear to be any limits to what I must do as a result of what you call "responsibility".

There doesn't seem to be any sense of what I would call "choice" in your concept of "responsibility". I've spent some of the last few years getting training to become a life coach and spent quite a bit of time on the concept of responsibility, and the school of thought where I got my training, which I wholeheartedly agree with, is that there must be some sense of choice to be responsible. You can't be responsible for the country you were born into because you had no choice. You can't be responsible for your country's history because you have no choice in the matter.

#636 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #633: I could just point to the Lockean argument for tacit consent. But I'll not do that.

The key issue is simple: where does the state come from? When, for example, we consult the United States Constitution we notice that it is ordained and established by 'We the People'; this is no more than the conventional (small r) republican view, going all the way back to Aristotle, that the state is an association of its citizens. that being so, the acts of the state are the acts of its citizens concentrated into a single agent.

If we take the road of social contract theory, we draw the conclusion that the state is created in order to get us out of a natural anarchy because we find such a condition at the least inconvenient and at the maximum positively dangerous. We form a civil society for our own good, and create the state as the agency to promote that good -- its powers emanating from us. It follows, then, that the acts of the state are our acts (people with such different viewpoints as Thomas Hobbes and Thomas Jefferson are agreed about that point), whether we will or nil. Hobbes, of course, says that we have to accept that, Locke and Jefferson contend that if we find the actions of the state oppressive we can seek to overthrow it.

The problem, of course, falls in the big middle -- acts which are unjust and oppressive but not such as would drive people to take up arms against their government. As far as I can see, even if we oppose such acts we cannot escape our share of responsibility for them.

I recognise that this puts a lot of people into a morally difficult position.* I can seek to change things, but what if I fail to do so? I can't see any way to say 'but it's not my fault' unless I renounce the benefits of citizenship.


* Consider the position of a member of the Ku Klux Klan in June 1967, when the Constitution was read as permitting interracial marriage. As a citizen s/he is in the position of being the basis for a guarantee of rights to people that s/he doesn't want to guarantee those rights to. That's as much a moral difficulty as objecting to the death penalty being carried out in one's name or to the obscenity that the Shrub and his poodle Tony have created in Iraq.

#637 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Fragano #630:

What I think you're saying is that when the people as a whole could change the government, the people as a whole bear responsibility for what the government does. Is that a reasonable first cut?

If this is right, it certainly does seem that it applies as much to Iraq or Syria or the old USSR as to the US or Switzerland or France. If the whole people of Syria were to decide, en masse, to stop having a police state, there wouldn't be a police state anymore. If the whole people in North Korea, Switzerland, or the US decided to radically change their states, they could do it.

The problem I see is with the relationship between personal responsibility for decisions (I drive drunk, kill someone, and go to jail) and collective responsibility for group decisions (I am held responsible in some sense because some members of my group drive drunk and kill people). It seems to me that these are very different ideas, hardly related at all.

Once you accept collective responsibility for group decisions in this way, it seems to me you get nonsensical moral conclusions. If non-Christian religions are banned, anyone wanting to continue to practice them seems to be obliged, by this moral theory, to either rebel (and be crushed by overwhelming numbers) or to find some kind of Galt's Gulch or desert island to escape. The same is true for homosexuality, recreational drug use, reading forbidden books, etc. Even if the punishment for these things is boiling in oil, you deserve it, by this theory, so long as you don't rebel or become a hermit.

Now, when a theory leads me to nonsensical answers, I suspect it's not very useful as a guide. Because I'll be honest--if I were gay, and the law made gay sex illegal and the penalty crucifixion, I'd be really careful not to get caught, but I wouldn't spend a nanosecond worrying about the moral issues of violating that law. I can't imagine myself acting in accordance with this moral theory as I understand it (which may just mean I don't get it), and it's hard for me to see many other people acting in accordance with it, either.

I hope I'm not coming off as too sharp in this comment--I'll admit that I feel very strongly about the underlying moral issues here.

#638 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 08:56 PM:

Greg London #635: It's not a matter of a subjective feeling. It's a matter of whether or not you or I are part of a political community that governs itself in the interest of its members.

As for choice, I don't recall choosing to be born, or to become an adult, yet I find that both things have happened to me and that there are responsibilities consequent upon them that I must meet. There are a host of facts about our lives that we don't choose, and yet we find that these impose burdens upon us that are rather hard to avoid.

Citizenship is a particular case because we generally don't choose it, it's a given of our lives. We enter a political community and are expected to abide by its rules; in return it provides us with benefits. Those don't come for free.

Put another way: we want those who threaten or harm us punished. We create an agency -- the state -- that does this among other things, and that derives its capacity to do so from us. We have no problem about the formula 'the People versus X' including us when a burglar is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, we generally acknowledge freely that the power that sent him/her there comes from us. Why, then, is there a problem when it's not a matter of a term of imprisonment but a sentence of death? Suddenly, the state that imposes the sentence becomes a completely alien entity of which we aren't a part? Or when the state of which we are citizens drops bombs on revellers at a wedding feast? Suddenly, we aren't responsible? This just won't wash.

#639 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 09:10 PM:

Albatross #637: I simply look to see if the state in question is effectively run for and on behalf of its people.* It's one thing to talk about a case where citizens are given no real choice, and another where citizens choose their leaders freely and those leaders run the state on the citizens' behalf.**

In the latter case, the state is nothing more than the sum of the wills of the citizens, agreed that they need order, safety, justice and agencies to produce these. It is when those agencies impose ideas of order, safety, justice and so on that the problem begins. Once the principle is established that what a majority of citizens want they get, then you run into the problem that the majority may force a minority to accede to things that minority finds distasteful, immoral or inhuman.

A gay citizen caught breaking a law prohibiting gay sex is going to be prosecuted and punished by a state that draws its power in part from himself. At the same time, that citizen, if not caught (or if managing to be celibate) is burgled, s/he would expect the agencies of the state to seek out and punish the burglar as an emanation (the state, that is, not the burglar) of the citizen's power and will. I'm saying that if you want the one thing, you will get the other and find yourself facing a moral conundrum.

*Bearing in mind that, in one sense, the purpose of the state is always to serve the people.

** Which includes the citizens accepting that the laws apply to them. And are applied to them on their own behalf.

#640 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Fragano, this may seem a tad odd, but I was wondering if you could tell me what you do for a living. If you'd rather keep it private, I apologize for the intrusion.

We have no problem about the formula 'the People versus X' including us when a burglar is sentenced to a term of imprisonment,

"we have no problem" with "the people versus smith" because no one is trying to saddle us with some form of "responsibilty" regarding the wording on a docket so they can extend it to being responsible for everything all the time.

we generally acknowledge freely that the power that sent him/her there comes from us.

The hell we do. You might. I don't. I can't just walk into the Sherriff's office and tell him to release someone because I think the person is innocent. I do NOT have that power. My sole influence is voting in the election for sherriff and those in the political chain of command above him. If I want to change that, I've got to convince a large majority of my countrymen to ammend a constitution at some political level.

If they refuse to go along, then I do not have the power to cause the change. If some gross injustice is being done, I could resort to force of arms, but it would have to meet the moral requirements of war. Anything less than that and I've run out of options.

This is actually part of the design. To restrict the power of individuals so that the constitutions don't change on a daily basis, to vest that power in a distributed system of checks and balances so that it minimizes the abuses of a bad individual getting into the system and misusing their power.

Why, then, is there a problem when it's not a matter of a term of imprisonment but a sentence of death? Suddenly, the state that imposes the sentence becomes a completely alien entity of which we aren't a part?

Look, when I was on jury duty for a murder trial, I got that I was completely responsible for whatever decision the jury handed down. In that particular case, no one else had that power. The judge made sure the rules were followed. The prosecuter made his arguments and presented his evidence. The defense attorney may his arguments and presented his evidence. And when they were done, we the jury went into a room for a long, long time until we came out with our decision. Not your decision, not the judge's decision, not the attorney's decisions. The decision of me and my fellow 11 jury mates. And I dreaded every moment of that burden.

You had no power or responsibility in that case, in that moment.

Or when the state of which we are citizens drops bombs on revellers at a wedding feast? Suddenly, we aren't responsible? This just won't wash.

You're not in the position to make the drop/no drop decision on a tactical battlefield. You have no power over the situation, no authority, nothing. You have no choice in the matter. You are not responsible for something like that.

Depending on where you live, you may have some power to influence the American government via elections, or indirectly through public opinion which might affect future elections, but that is the extent of your authority. The whole point is to diffuse your power so that you cannot be commander in chief, judge, jury, and executioner of whatever you want. Your choices are limited therefore your responsibility is limited to the things you can effect.

Which doesn't mean you don't feel injustice is being done because the president is waging a terrible war, or that you don't do everything in your power to stop it. It's just that the whole idea of representational government is that you're not the government, you're represented by the government. As soon as you implement any sort of trusted third party system, you need to implement limitations on power, separations of power, and other restrictions to try and keep the third party fair.

You have neither the power nor authority to arrest someone, charge them with a crime, try them, convict them, sentence them, imprison them, or create the laws that made their actions illegal in the first place. Each one of those powers is meant to be divided up among the various parts of government. Not you.

#641 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 09:41 PM:

For once, we find ourselves in a position where some flavor of firebreathing social anarchist would be just the thing to add some vril to the discussion about Hobbes and Locke and Rousseau (oh my!), and where are they? Damn dirty hippie slackers...

#642 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 09:49 PM:

Scott@558: I was not sufficiently precise; I was thinking statewide/federal office (e.g., don't show me Sanders because he's in a party by himself). And wrt your closing, feel free to provide citation of anyone in this conversation telling you to smile while voting.

PJ@589: Why not count the votes below NA? IMO, the fact that I rarely find all of the nominees Hugo-worthy does not mean that my preference between >1 of the unworthy should be ignored.

#643 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:12 PM:

j h woodyatt @ 641... the discussion about Hobbes

What about Calvin? And Suzie?

#644 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Greg London #640: I'm a political scientist, or, at any rate, I think I am; I've been making my living at that for a little while.

Who do you think 'the People of the State/Commonwealth of X' are? Are they an alien entity that does not include you?

Do you possess a right to vote? Are you aware of possessing that right whether or not you vote? If so, you are acknowledging that you are part of that entity called the people from whom all the powers of government flow.

Why do you think that you get to be on a jury? Because it is part of your obligation as a citizen, as part of the people. And that obligation falls on all citizens, so that any of them could find themselves facing the obligation of making life or death decisions. Underlying that obligation is the fact that in so doing you, or any other juror, is exercising judgment on behalf of the entire citizen body and that the power to make that decision comes from the entire citizen body. When an act is carried out by an agency that derives its capacity to carry out that act from me, I too am carrying out that act. My hand turns the key to the cell, my hand plunges the needle/flips the switch/pulls the trigger, and so on even if the actual physical hand is somebody else's, because the power to do so comes from me and from all other citizens (including the one who is the subject of the sentence).

You may not be the commander on the battlefield, or the commander in chief in the Oval Office, but those people derive their power, their authority from the entire citizen body, and that includes you. The entire citizen body is thus implicated in their acts, and that includes you. Unless of course, the United States, or the United Kingdom, or the French Republic or any other free state is not the assemblage of its citizens but something else. The weight of the evidence seems to indicate, though, that they are what they appear to be.

#645 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:27 PM:

j h woodyatt #641: Vril? I want Bovril!

#646 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 10:29 PM:

Fragano,

I think I need to see some examples of a practical application of this political/philosophical thought. As it now stands, it seems to be a flawed ideal that just doesn't work.

Going back to one of your earlier examples, if an innocent man is executed by the State, all Citizens of the State are guilty of a criminal act because we authorized the actions of the State by accepting the authority and protection of the State. We have therefore been forced to become criminals by the State (# 536). (Of course, we haven't been forced, if the State is an emanation of the will of the people, we have willfully committed the criminal act.)

So, what is to be done about it? How is justice to be served? How do we carry out our responsibility? To whom do we give account?

Is the innocent man executed by the State to blame for his own death by virtue of his citizenship? If so, was an injustice committed, since that man authorized his own death? Did he not effectively kill himself? It cannot be accepted that he had broken the social contract, for he is innocent. It cannot be accepted that the State had broken the social contract with the man, because it followed the will of the people to execute this man, with which he agreed by virtue of his citizenship.

Locke may agree that he is responsible for his own death, but that just illustrates that this social contract theory, while useful in some parts, in fundamentally flawed. That this line of thinking can be traced back through generations and cultures, shows that human ideals throughout time, while useful in some parts, are fundamentally flawed.

Since I am not going to renounce my citizenship or overthrow the government, what is my penalty for thousands and thousands of murders, thefts, and other crimes that I have committed by virtue of my citizenship? If there is blame then there must be consequences. What are they? Who is judging me?

#647 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:08 PM:

CosmicDog #646:

You want a practical example? Try the United States. Take a look at its Constitution. Or you could take a look at the Declaration of Independence, and the reasons why the signatories pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honours to rebel against their king.

If the state executes a sentence of imprisonment or death upon an innocent person, btw, it has broken the social contract. The source of the contract is the will of the people, but the body of the contract is the purpose for which that will is brought into being namely the protection of the citizens from being endangered by each other, by other states, or even by the state itself (which is why there is a system of courts).

If the state kills a person with colour of law, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the person, it does so with a power that emanates from the citizens and thus makes all the citizens complicit with that act. If I don't want people killed in my name I can work to change the law, but if I fail to do so I continue to bear my share of the responsibility unless I actively renounce it by renouncing my citizenship -- which, of course, has consequences of its own.

As for the consequences of acts of state. The most significant of these is the survival of the state itself. If a sufficiently large number of people find that they can no longer accept acts committed in their name that violate their moral understandings, they can revolt.

#648 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2007, 11:14 PM:

CHip, I have no problem counting the votes below NA - after all, that's how it's done (and with a computer, it's much the easiest way to do it, along with figuring all the places; I think of it as 'running to completion').
It's just that all the instructions I've seen (and can remember) say that stuff ranked below it doesn't really count. I've certainly voted NA above stuff myself. I think most people do.

Note to future Hugo committee members: if you decide to use mark-sense scanning, don't get your ballot printed in black unless you have really good scanners. And watch out for the people who never read the instructions: tell them #2 pencil, and you'll get stuff in blue ballpoint and black India ink also. With cross-outs and corrections.)

#649 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:30 AM:

Lizzy L @ 583

eventually -- no bets on when -- the hierarchy of the Catholic Church will catch up with its people.

I'd say there's a good bit of evidence that the current hierarchy is trying to stack the deck to prevent having to catch up. At least to me, an outside observer, they seem to be attempting to bring in large numbers of 3rd world citizens to the Church, and to bring up priests from those countries into the bishopric and the College of Cardinals, in the hope that these people will be strongly fundamentalist in their doctrine, and outweigh the opinions of Europeans and Americans.

#650 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:34 AM:

Fragano: "What is the state? It's not an alien entity imposed on you, it's an entity that has its existence for you.*"

With respect, I think not so. It is precisely an alien entity imposed on me. As Hobbes says, and you imply, it does not exist in a state of nature. And it is plainly imposed on me, since I had no part in its formation, am subject to its demands simply by being alive, and have negligible power to alter its nature.

It is at best a compromise erected by communities to ameliorate conflict between individuals, for which it substitutes conflict with other such entities - larger, more destructive, but usually less all-pervasive. It may act in my interest. It may not. I owe it reasonable support to the precise degree that it does the former, or at the very least refrains from doing the latter.

That, at least, is the intellectual position I am prepared to defend, at first approximation. Yet I am forced to sigh, and admit it is inadequate, precisely because it is an intellectual position.

For I must confess to loving my own community, the ways I am used to, the customs I know and can emulate, the kindly sound of my mother-tongue. And more. I am addicted to the light and the air and the skies of my own land. When overseas, I longed for them. The first time I boarded a plane to come back from Britain, it was an Australian aircraft, and it happened to be early in the morning of April 25th. There had been black ice (black ice!) on the runway at Heathrow earlier, and the flight had been delayed. The chief cabin attendant came on the PA, as they do, and his first words were "G'dye, lidies and gennulmun, as it's Anzac Day, and we're late, the drinks are on us." It didn't require the pilot to come on, after we had got above the clouds, to recite the old words again, as the sun rose, glorious: "They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old...", or for every Australian and New Zealander aboard (the majority) to join in the last line, as tradition requires. I was already in tears.

It is plain, then, that I cannot entirely escape responsibility for the acts of my State, for I am what I am. I can only plead that this still does not amount to personal guilt for each and every such act, no matter how much the State may claim to act as my agent or by my leave.

#651 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:36 AM:

Fragano@644: I'm a political scientist

Ah. I was curious.

The entire citizen body is thus implicated in their acts, and that includes you.

"implicated" is a meaningless word here, at least in any objective sense that I can see. You can't make any kind of actionable decision based on whether you are "implicated". It has no manifestly unique traits to distinguish it from "broo haa haa" or anything else.

Hm....

OK, so, here's the wager:

I want you to try something for the next few days: imagine that by default no one is responsible for anything. i.e. there are no linguistic proofs that show that man is not an island, no arguments of logic that conclude I must be my brother's keeper, no sequence of phrases that implicate me in the actions of anyone else, no words that make me responsible fore anyone else at all.

What you have is a rather elaborate exercise which concludes that man must be responsible, because of this and that and that and this. And to make it stick a little harder, you quote Locke and Jefferson and Hobbes and who knows who else.

But what I want is for you to choose that for yourself. You've proven it to yourself to the point that you've removed your own choice in the matter. This is the way it must be.

So, I'm asking you to entertain the idea for a few days that it isn't so. So that maybe you can choose it rather than prove it.

See what shows up.

#652 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:15 AM:

Fragano @ 647

What I'm looking for is examples of what it means for an individual to bear the responsibility of the actions of the State.

If I am complicit in the wrongful death of an innocent human being, what is the just and right penalty for my action? If I had committed the act by my own hand and volition, I would be subject to the justice of the State and whatsoever penalties are pronounced. By what means would justice be determined if the act was committed by the State acting as my agent, and by whose authority?

#653 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:36 AM:

Fragano,

I think I understand why you're presenting the burden of the State's actions in such absolute terms. It's not so much that I bear guilt for the actions of the State as that the State gets the power to commit them from me.

Not that what you're saying is wrong, or that I disagree with it, but I think the reason so many of us are having trouble accepting it is that we're thinking in terms of the responsibility flowing in to the individual from the State; and I, for one, immediately ask why I must accept that responsibility. But if you think of it as power flowing from individuals to the State, then it becomes clear why each of us is in part the source of the power that the State uses. The acts committed may be immoral, and may even be illegal according to the State's own laws, the power still comes from all of us.

On this view, even if we object, and oppose actions within the system we still provide the power for those acts. I think this is made clearer if we don't use the terms "guilt", "responsibility", or "moral burden", but instead talk about the flow of power and its use.

#654 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:38 AM:

CosmicDog (which always sounds to me like the name of a hot dog vendor): What I'm looking for is examples of what it means for an individual to bear the responsibility of the actions of the State.

I don't want to sound too snarky, but the phrase 'collateral damage' comes to mind here. The civilian residents of Dresden in 1945 are often mentioned as examples of individuals whose death and dismemberment was an accounting for their responsibility in the actions of their state. Either that, or it was a British and American war crime. You pick.

#655 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:24 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 654

If those are the choices, I pick war crime.

#656 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:28 AM:

Greg @ 572

The point isn't about choosing the best candidate out of two. It's about voting for the candidate that best represents my interests and values. If my interests are in the minority, so be it. I've exercised my right and duty to vote my conscience. I do not feel that surrendering my vote to a party that does not represent me for simply because I fear that another party may have too much support is being a responsible citizen. It's a fantasy to believe that I can bring down the two party system, but I cannot in good conscience support it.

If everybody would vote their conscience, we would have a more true representative democracy. As it stands now, hardly anyone's values are represented by the government. Our policies are determined by vocal minorities rather than by a true mandate from the masses. Of course, getting to that ideal would require people to think for themselves as well as doing away with the electoral college.

#657 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:28 AM:

Greg @ 572

The point isn't about choosing the best candidate out of two. It's about voting for the candidate that best represents my interests and values. If my interests are in the minority, so be it. I've exercised my right and duty to vote my conscience. I do not feel that surrendering my vote to a party that does not represent me for simply because I fear that another party may have too much support is being a responsible citizen. It's a fantasy to believe that I can bring down the two party system, but I cannot in good conscience support it.

If everybody would vote their conscience, we would have a more true representative democracy. As it stands now, hardly anyone's values are represented by the government. Our policies are determined by vocal minorities rather than by a true mandate from the masses. Of course, getting to that ideal would require people to think for themselves as well as doing away with the electoral college.

#658 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:59 AM:

With respect, I think it was neither a war crime, nor the consequence of the responsibility of the citizens of Dresden for the actions of their State.

Their responsibility appears to me to be attenuated by their inability to influence the actions of their State, to the point where it is exiguous. And while what was done to them might have been immoral, it was not a crime, and therefore was not a war crime.

It was not a crime, because a crime is an act defined as such by the laws of a State, and prosecuted by it. No State has attempted to prosecute the allied bomber crews that wrought that slaughter, nor their commanders, nor the leaders of their States. To my knowledge, no such prosecution was ever contemplated by any State, though it is conceivable that private individuals might have attempted it. If so, it is immaterial. States pass laws, not individuals, and it is only by those laws that crime is defined, charged, prosecuted and punished.

#659 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:18 AM:

CosmicDog @ 656

If everybody would vote their conscience, we would have a more true representative democracy.

The vote is a means of controlling and manipulating the power of the State for particular ends. For most people this has nothing to do with conscience, and everything to do with the outcome of the election and the direction of the power thus obtained. I don't see how that could change; the power is there, and few will be willing to forswear it on principle.

Given that, how can I morally justify a vote for principle which I know or have good reason to believe will result in immoral or exceptionally stupid use of the power my vote allows?

I could invoke Godwin's Law here, but instead I'll talk about my own experience. The first election I was eligible to vote in was 1968, when there was a clear choice between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey, with some potential spoiler Peace and Freedom candidates. I could have voted my conscience, voted specifically for a candidate dedicated to ending the war immediately, and against the Democratic candidate who was probably a little better than his predecessor, the man who'd gotten us into the quagmire in Vietnam. Remember that Johnson had steadfastly promised not to make the war bigger, and to end it quickly, and had done exactly the opposite. But I realized that Nixon, based on his record, would be a really terrible president, one who would attempt to curtail civil liberties and would not take the needs of the country seriously, so I voted for Humphrey, hoping to stop Nixon. There were not enough of us who did that. Nixon won, and proved to be as bad as we had feared.

Would principle be enough to console me for Nizon's election? No, not even without the hindsight that recognizes that much of the mess we are in today resulted from the outcome of that election.

#660 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:20 AM:

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that sometime in the future the U.S. was ordered by the U.N. to pay reparations to the people of Iraq, and the U.S. goverment complied. (Whether this itself is right or justified doesn't matter for my purposes.)

I didn't vote for Bush, and I marched in an anti-war rally. Would I therefore be justified in arguing that the reparations shouldn't come out of my tax dollars, and that instead they should be funded by levies on war supporters, assuming such could be reliably identified?

I think not, although I would have a hard time articulating exactly why.

#661 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:26 AM:

Dave @ 658

I agree. I picked 'war crime' because the argument only presented two options. I tend to place the burden of responsiblity for an action on the one performing the action, rather than one receiving the action.

#662 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:33 AM:

Tim @ 660

Aaaah. Just the kind of example I was looking for. I now have cause to re-evaluate my position. Thanks.

#663 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 03:49 AM:

I want to thank those who, in the abortion debate on this thread, have encouraged me to do a bit of research and read more of the different views e.g. within Catholicism. It has helped me to avoid the mistake which CosmicDog noted @ 509, of thinking of "the other side" of the debate as a faceless mob of monsters (I don't think I was, but I wasn't sufficiently aware of the gradation of views). I suppose the extremes tend to get the most publicity - generally, moderate suggestions are not "newsworthy".

Now I need to read the few dozen posts written since I went to sleep - they look interesting at a quick glance!

#664 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 09:01 AM:

CosmicDog: If everybody would vote their conscience, we would have a more true representative democracy.

No, we wouldn't. It's still a Majority-Vote-Wins election system.

Our policies are determined by vocal minorities rather than by a true mandate from the masses.

It's a nice fantasy to entertain the notion that the ills of the government are controlled by a minority, but the fact is that the overwhelming majority of the votes from the last presidential election went to either a Republican or Democrat. The fantasy is to pretend that somehow you're not only morally better by voting third party, but somehow you're views are secretly supported by the majority of the population.

You might as well say that the lurkers support you in email. It just isn't so.

If you thought that Kerry was even marginally better than Bush in 04 and you voted Perot, then you took your vote from Kerry, gave it to Perot, and helped Bush win the election.

You helped Bush win the election.

No, really, you did.

Seriously, that was the effect of your vote.

You cannot change the overall effect of your vote simply because you had a different intent. You wanted to vote for the candidate you supported most. Great. That's your intent. The effect is that you helped Bush win the election.

It's an unbelievably simple concept, yet people keep messing it up. Your feelings don't make any difference about the effect of your actions.

And yet people continue to talk about their conscience as if it changes the effect.

I have a simple request, really. If you want to talk about your feelings, fine, go for it, tell the world about your conscience vote if you voted third party in 2004.

But acknowledge the simple basic math that you helped Bush get elected.

Your conscience and your feelings and your intent don't change the actual effect of your vote.

Something like:

"I voted for the candidate I supported the most, and I was willing to do that even knowing that it helped Bush get reelected once the votes were tallied. I traded having any input on the short term election results in exchange for trying to influence the party boundaries in the long term."

You want to talk about your conscience and feelings and intentions, fine. Go for it. Just be straight about the effect your vote had on the election results. Anything else is just using wishful thinking to block out the reality of your actions.

#665 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 09:15 AM:

#649 BC(S2M): At least to me, an outside observer, they seem to be attempting to bring in large numbers of 3rd world citizens to the Church, and to bring up priests from those countries into the bishopric and the College of Cardinals, in the hope that these people will be strongly fundamentalist in their doctrine, and outweigh the opinions of Europeans and Americans.

As an insider observer, that behavior looks more to me as though it's geared towards ameliorating the shortage of priests w/o opening the priesthood to women and allowing priests to marry [1]. In the six or so years that I've been at my current parish, we've had one Filipino diocesan priest out of six--but we've also had another Filipino and a Nigerian staying at our parish while they worked on their doctorates, and one of the six diocesans is a former Lutheran minister and is married. (Two of the others are second-career priests--former farmers.) My father-in-law's parish in central Wisconsin had a 50% share in an East Indian priest, and otherwise wouldn't have had a priest at all. In the US, the ordination rate independent of imports is below replacement, so the Church pretty-much has to go elsewhere if it wants to maintain the integrity of its Peculiar Institution priesthood as it's been.


[1] And God says, "What were you waiting for? I sent you all these married men & women!"

#666 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 09:19 AM:

Greg London @ 664... You helped Bush win the election.

Not if he/she lives in California.

#667 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Tim@660: the U.S. was ordered by the U.N. to pay reparations to the people of Iraq

That's more than a little different than saying "I pulled the trigger" or "I dropped the bomb".

Even if the US launched a war and the other country countered by invading New York, civilians would still be restricted targets. Fragano was talking about literally being totally responsible in every way. "I pulled the trigger" would mean I personally could be brought up on war crimes for the actions of some idiot in the US military. Or I become a valid military target simply because the military of the country I am a citizen of attacked some country.

It's not a realistic assessment of where power or responsibility sits in different people in different ways. I do not have the power to levy taxes. Congress does. I do not have the power to wage war, the president does. I do not have the power to interpret law. THe courts do.

While Fragano's argument might be useful to inspire people to take a more active role in their government, it overstates the case of total responsibility.

Even in the example of the US being told to make reparations to Iraqi civilians, if I decided I didn't want to pay, I could leave the US and go to a different country, and avoid paying taxes on any part of those reparations. If I were truly responsible, then it would follow me no matter where I went, no matter what country I hid in, no matter what. But it doesn't.

Some guard of a WW2 nazi concentration camp could run and hide his identity for decades, change his name, change countries, change everything, but his personal responsibility for his actions could still catch up with him.

it doesn't work that way simply because you're a citizen.

#668 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 09:29 AM:

You helped Bush win the election.

Serge: Not if he/she lives in California.

I don't know what state cosmicdog lives in. If she voted Perot, she took the chance that enough people voted for Bush that her vote wouldn't affect the immediate outcome for her state. Given how much is at stake and how much the republicans have made miscounting votes an industrial process, I think the less the result is neck and neck the better.

Hindsight is easy to look back on the results and figure which way the results were going.

But, most importantly, I haven't seen her mention any of this in her argument to date. She's so far argued based on her feelings, her conscience, her intentions, and completely ignored any hard data, any real world effects. If it turns out she lives in Cali, then her argument is completely emotionally-based, but her vote didn't do any effective damage. Lucky me. Hope she doesn't move to a battleground state while I'm alive.

#669 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Dave Luckett #650: The state exists for human purposes, to serve human beings. Somehow, I don't think you'd call the family an alien entity imposed on you, even though when you're born into one you have no choice about it.

The fact that you get to share in the choice of who your rulers are -- and, I note, in Oz this is an obligation -- should be sufficient indication that it isn't an alien imposition.

Communities don't bring themselves into existence, they are brought into existence by people who find they have a need for them. We find them, of course, not as new creations in which we take part but as givens. It might be better, though, to think of them as continuously being created as new members enter and as others leave. The fact that you are part of a social or political community, btw, changes it since it becomes an entity different from when you were not a part of it. All flows, nothing stands still.

#670 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Greg London @ 668

Maybe I missed it in the welter of posts on this thread in the last couple of days, but I don't remember seeing CosmicDog announce ser gender. If se did not, I would think it polite not to use a gendered pronoun to describe sim. That may be an over-nice sentiment, but given the flame-worthiness of the topics we're discussing, I think a little attention to punctilio might prevent dispute over extraneous issues. Please correct me if CosmicDog has announced femaleness.

#671 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:27 AM:

in Oz this is an obligation

There is no obligation.
There is no responsibility.

Except what you choose.

What you describe are far more accurately
labeled with the simple term of "circumstances".

You do not choose the family you are born into.
They are circumstances beyond your control.

#672 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:35 AM:

Greg London #651: I don't take wagers. I'll be spending the next few days at a conference where I'll be thinking about, and talking about, a rather obscure (to most people these days) nineteenth century thinker, whom I abhor.

#673 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:37 AM:

'Voting your conscience' can be a painful exercise. You try to do it every time, but sometimes all you can do is toss a coin and hope.

#674 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Bruce Cohen #653: For me the problem lies in the fact that most acts of state have some moral significance, and since the power of the state comes from the citizens, those acts are their acts.

I forget who said that power without responsibility was the prerogative of the harlot, but I find that point pretty acute. When someone/something is my agent, it is not just doing things for me, it is doing things as me (Hobbes spends a long time on the subject of representation, but the issue of the purpose of the state goes back a long, long way). That, of course, includes things done to me.

#675 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 10:52 AM:

CosmicDog #652: Let us suppose that an agency of government is found guilty of an offence (racial discrimination, say) and is obliged to pay a sum of money as compensation. Where do you think the money comes from? Obviously, it comes from the taxpayers, and it must be diverted from some other public purpose which has an effect as well on those taxpayers.

#676 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Fragano @ 674

The sticking point for a lot of people in this discussion is that acts done by the State which the individual finds objectionable, even abhorrent, aren't in the same category as acts which may not be totally consonant with the individual's wishes but are acceptably within the State's prerogatives. For instance, acts which are compromises to obtain consensus.

There is no difference in terms of power and responsibility between acts in the two categories, but there is a difference between them in terms of guilt and causation. The model must contain some way to distinguish acts whose nature was not known to the individual before commission, and who therefore had no chance to approve or reject. Ethical and legal systems often distinguish between acts intended and acts caused but unintended; I think we need that in discussing the relationship between the citizen and the State.

#677 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:08 AM:

Greg, just to be clear, CosmicDog is a man.

I do live in California, but that doesn't really matter for the purposes of this argument.

My vote is my vote. I choose to use it to support my values and interests. I will not vote for a candidate I do not like over a candidate I like less, simply because I assume that most people are going to pick one or another. The effect of which is that sometimes the worst candidate wins. So be it, that's our system. Sometimes the worst candidate wins anyway. I can't suppose what other people are going to do and try to choose which mob makes me less uncomfortable than the other. I suppose that a system in which I could vote for more than one choice could fix that, but, hey, you elect leaders with the system you have, not the system you wish you had or will have later.

I turned 18 in 1992 and have voted in every national election since. Here is my vote for each Presidential election and the result, just because I feel like sharing it.

1992 - voted for Bush, Clinton won
1996 - voted for Perot, Clinton won
2000 - voted for Bush, Bush won
2004 - voted for Kerry, Bush won

Make of it what you will.

#678 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:15 AM:

power without responsibility was the prerogative of the harlot

Fragano, I assumed you worked in some sort of field that was language intensive. You place a premium on the value of words. The thing is that language is only one of at least four other distinctions that make up life. Words are not the thing itself. But you relate to words as if they prove reality. They don't. If theory and nature do not match, nature wins.

You talk about your responsibility for the actions of your government as if you were "pulling the trigger" yourself. But have you ever fired a shot in anger? Or even gone hunting? Been in the military? Been on jury duty where someone's life is on the line? Made a life and death decision regarding someone else's life?Anything like that?

If you haven't, it might be easy to talk about these things as if (1) doing the thing and (2) voting in an election that got someone into office who passed a law that caused the police to arrest someone and a jury to convict them, are identical moral burdens.

If you have, you might see that the words ring somewhat hollow.

Or maybe you have been in that kind of circumstance. And we have seriously different uses of language. I don't know.

#679 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Greg London #671: You will pardon me when I say that I find such statements to be a less-than-fascinating combination of the irrational and the immoral. The fact that as human beings we relate to each other and to the institutions we create imposes obligations on us. You may not like that fact, but it is there.

In Australia, btw, voting is an obligation of citizenship, enforced with a fine.

#680 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:26 AM:

CosmicDog is a man.

Dude!

I suppose that a system in which I could vote for more than one choice could fix that, but, hey, you elect leaders with the system you have,

I always liked the scene in the intro to The Simpsons where Marge is driving the car and Maggie is driving a toy wheel. I imagine Maggie thinks she has some influence on the car too.


1992 - voted for Bush, Clinton won
1996 - voted for Perot, Clinton won
2000 - voted for Bush, Bush won
2004 - voted for Kerry, Bush won

Make of it what you will.

bttr nt, 'd prbbl ls m vwls...

#681 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 11:32 AM:

The fact that as human beings we relate to each other and to the institutions we create imposes obligations on us. You may not like that fact, but it is there.

You could have answered my questions in #678 with a simple "No, I have not", but I'm pretty sure this translates to the same thing.

#682 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Bruce Cohen #676: I really don't see the problem. All acts of the state of which I am a citizen ultimately derive from me as a citizen. I accept the benefits (security, law, liberty and so on), so I have to accept the costs (the commission of acts that may be unjust, abhorrent, or criminal). The problem, then, is how I deal with them.

I oppose the death penalty precisely because it makes me a murderer. I can't find any other moral position to take.

#683 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:11 PM:

Please forgive me if I'm misunderstanding the argument here, because I'm sure I'm missing parts of it. But it sounds like someone is saying:

My parents build a house, which I am born in, and then live in. When I'm seven years old, my father burns down the neighbor's house. I am responsible for the fire, because I lived in the house where I was born, accepted the food that was bought with my father's wages, and occasionally did chores my parents requested. If I don't immediately run away, I continue to be responsible for any further atrocities my parents commit.

This country does many things and claims they're on my behalf: I consider this claim to be about as valid as an abusive parent who claims he's beating his children because he loves them. So, no, I do not believe I should feel this theoretical vague sense of guilt for what's done in my name any more than I feel I should owe someone for debts incurred by another person using my name without my permission.

#684 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:17 PM:

Greg London #678: I don't find my position hollow (no surprise). I don't, however, feel an obligation to discuss the details of my life, nor the nature of the morally difficult decisions I may or may not have had to make over the course of my life, in order to justify philosophical positions which are the result of considerable thought.

And #681: *Sigh* Please don't put words in my mouth.

#685 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Fragano: What, if any, were Hobbes and Locke's views on a loyal opposition?

I get the impression, following this thread, that political science is much like economic science - the classical models are internally consistent, but do not match up with the real world all that well.

#686 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Fade Manley #683:

Your father is not your agent (however much he might have felt that way when you were seven). That's a very bad analogy.

Suppose I hire someone to clear my fields for, say, grazing, and tell him 'just get rid of the weeds'. That person is my agent and his task is authorised by me. Correct?

Now, suppose he gets rid of the weeds by setting fire to them, the fire spreads, and my neighbour's house burns down, all the results of acts authorised by me. Do I or do I not bear responsibility?

#687 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:37 PM:

Jakob #685:

Theory always simplifies the world, otherwise the world would be incomprehensible.

Hobbes believed that once a government was in place it should be obeyed, since the alternative was truly horrible, although if it were directly oppressing an individual that individual might resist as an individual.

Locke believed that government was constituted to protect property, by which he meant 'lives, liberties, and estates', and could be constituted on such terms as the people thought best to achieve the end of protecting property. That could certainly include a loyal opposition.

#688 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Fragano @686:

But as far as I'm concerned, the government isn't my agent either. I've been in it as its subject since I was born, and did not suddenly acquire responsibility I hadn't had before when it decided I was allowed to pretend I had a voice in what it did when I turned 18. I have exactly as much choice in my government as I have in my family, and would have to go through significantly more effort to remove myself from it than I would to remove myself from my family.

I put in a bid to hire someone I wanted, and got overruled by other people, and then the man they chose went and burnt down something. It's the dweebs who hired the idiot who get to feel some responsibility for what happened, not me. And if there were no non-pyromaniac agents available for hire, and so I chose not to hire anyone at all, how am I still responsible for other people deciding they must hire some arsonist idiot? If I'm overruled, I'm not going to feel guilty for what other people forced on me.

#689 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:06 PM:

Fade @ 688: I admit that I don't quite understand Fragano's position, but I think that feeling guilty isn't the issue. Responsibility isn't about how you feel, it's about what you do.

If my company made an engineering decision that I thought was wrong, and I turned out to be right and some customers had problems, I wouldn't feel guilty. I would, however, feel responsible for fixing the problems, if I were the employee best suited for doing so. That's part of being on a team--people cover for each other's inevitable mistakes. A company whose employees were more concerned with fixing blame than with doing what needed to be done would be in big trouble.

#690 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Fade Manley #688: Whence does your government obtain its power if not from you and your fellow citizens? If it comes from you, it's yours. Unless you live in a state ruled by an absolute monarch or a theocracy, claiming to be a 'subject' is nothing but an evasion.

If you're the boss, and your subordinates, in the course of their duties for and authorised by you, burn down my house, how on earth do you disclaim responsibility?

#691 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:23 PM:

in order to justify philosophical positions which are the result of considerable thought.

But it's not an a priori world. You cannot cogito ergo sum your way to satori, no matter how much considerable thought you put into it. You've got to experience it. Which is why I asked what you do for a living, and the questions about having to exercise life and death choices. Philosophical positions, words, logic, symbols, and such are of a category called representational language. It is a fraction of the whole world, and the world does not succumb to philosophical positions, philosophical positions must succumb to the world. As far as I can tell, you've put the cart before the horse, the conclusion before the premise, the theory before the evidence. And I was asking to see if there was some sort of life experience behind your positions about what you call the "moral burden", of this thing I can only describe as universal, inescapable, guilt.

If you wish to take on this universal responsibility towards the world for yourself, as your own personal choice, that's perfectly fine with me. If you decide to be at cause in the affairs of every single man, that's your choice to take on.

But presenting this "moral burden" as obligatory, unavoidable, and logically proven to be so, is mixing the field of representation language with areas where it has no authority. Words do not have that kind of power.

Incanting the word "responsibility" in some logical argument does not bring it into existence. Even if Satre himself proclaims that freedom entails total responsibility, and that people use self-deception to avoid responsibility for what they do, even that is nothing more than a big hubabaloo until you've experienced it, until you've lived it.

If you wish to present this notion of universal responsibility as if it were a concept that can be proven a priori without any physical evidence, without any experience, then I protest.

To quote the great John Constantine, "It's not always like in the books".

#692 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:49 PM:

Fragano at #690,

I didn't authorize them. I didn't elect them. I'm not sure that my attempts to vote had any effect whatsoever on the numbers they claimed occurred. The government keeps telling me I authorized them, but them saying it repeatedly does not make it so.

The government of the country I inhabit obtains its power from having large quantities of weapons and money and people who will eventually come drag me off to jail if I resist paying taxes long enough. It's an abusive relationship that I don't have the courage to leave, because every other option I can see is as bad as worse. I'll admit that I am a coward, but I still don't consider myself guilty.

You keep telling me that I am supposed to feel responsible, because this country I'm in wants to pretend I had any effect on anything that it does. I have not had any effect on anything that's happened, despite the theoretical value of my vote. I do not accept responsibility. And I'm getting tired of people telling me that I should pay the debts incurred via identity theft because, look, there's my name on the credit card!

#693 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:55 PM:

Fragano@686:Suppose I hire someone to clear my fields for, say, grazing, and tell him 'just get rid of the weeds'. That person is my agent and his task is authorised by me. Correct? Now, suppose he gets rid of the weeds by setting fire to them, the fire spreads, and my neighbour's house burns down, all the results of acts authorised by me. Do I or do I not bear responsibility?

Ah, a simple, yes/no question. The answer is "no". To achieve the condition of this answer, you would simply need to make sure that the person you hired is incorporated, heavily insured, and your contract with them states they are responsible for any accidents they cause.

The concept of "corporation" limits liability of investors to the amount of money they invested in the stock. Insurance means the neighbors will likely go after the deeper pockets. And a contract of responsibility means they isolate you from their mistakes. My wife has owned her own business for years, and you pick up on some of these things.

The particular legalities are something you might want to consult an attorny about, but the gist of it is that responsibility can be contained, it can be limited, it can be taken on by a contract or agreement by people who work as your agent but for whatever reason have agreed to absolve you of any responsibility for their actions. It is the entire premise for "limited liability corporations" (LLC's) or full corporations. Responsibility is not universal in any measurable sense that you portray it.

#694 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Greg London #691: Why do you keep talking about guilt? If you think that responsibility and guilt are identical, then you're committing a category mistake.

I'm talking about agency, and how that involves responsibility. That's not a matter of personal choice -- that's a matter of the actual conditions of life (if my taxes are used to kill somebody, then I have participated in killing them just as much as if my hand had been directly present in the act). Words describe this and they are the principal tools I have to communicate my understanding of the world.

I am not the cause of everything that happens to everyone, nor am I claiming this, nor have I claimed this in any way shape or form. When, however, acts are carried out by my agents, they are my acts, and I bear responsibility for their commission. That is the extent of what I have been saying. The state, inasmuch as it owes its powers to me, is my agent; its acts are thus my acts.

My philosophical position, let me be clear, is the result of my experience and understanding of the world. It is not a priori, I am not claiming any particular deep enlightenment, nor am I presenting a position of universal responsibility for everything, as you have stated. If you're going to fight straw men, be my guest, just be clear that they are straw men.

I feel no obligation to discuss my life experiences with you in detail, and most certainly not in public, it is the conclusions that I have drawn that I am presenting and it is those conclusions that I am happy to defend and explain.

#695 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:04 PM:

Fragano,

I understand "responsibility for a wrong action" to mean "consequently, guilt for the action." In my moral code, to not feel guilt for some wrong action I was responsible for means I'm being a bad person. My argument has been "I shouldn't feel guilty for this, because I'm not responsible, and I'm not a bad person either." And it feels like you're trying to tell me, repeatedly, that I am indeed a bad person, because I have been responsible for things that went wrong, and not felt guilty for them.

But if I can be responsible for something that has gone wrong without needing to feel guilty about it, I really don't understand what definition of "responsibility" you're using.

Could you please explain what you do mean by "responsibility"? Because it sounds like I'm arguing against something you don't actually mean.

#696 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:07 PM:

Greg London #693: Exxon, to pull one example out of the air, will be happy to hear that it bore no responsibility for the Valdez incident, and its shareholders will no doubt be glad that their liability did not exist because it was limited.

To say, as you do, that the answer is 'no' because of additional factors that you have introduced in order to change the question, is nothing more than an evasion.

#697 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:07 PM:

I'm talking about agency, and how that involves responsibility. That's not a matter of personal choice -- that's a matter of the actual conditions of life

Your basic example, hiring someone to clear the weeds in your lawn, is already flawed. You portray the person as your agent and therefore makes you responsible, but basic reality of how businesses works show that responsibility and liability can be contained within the corporate veil. The idea of corporation is a basic notion that goes back centuries and its main point is to limit liability of investors to the amount of money they invest so as to encourage investors to invest their money. WIthout that concept, an investor owning one share of stock in a company could end up losing his whole estate because of some bad decisino the company made.

Responsiblity can be contained, has been contained, for centuries. Corporations do it. Governments do it. citizens do it. You ignore this most basic fact in your arguments, and instead argue for total responsiblity no matter how distantly removed you are from the act.

#698 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:17 PM:

Fade Manley #690:

If the action emanates from you, you do it, even if your hand is not the one doing the deed. It seems straightforward enough.

You are mistaking the tools of a state's power for the source of its power. That's a mistake.

The state's power comes from its citizens. It's only a pretense if the processes by which citizens are consulted do not in fact consult them (if, in other words, when you vote you don't truly have a choice, or your vote is not going ever to be counted). I've no idea where you live, but unless you live in some place like Syria or Turkmenistan, to claim that the state is pretending to represent you seems to me nothing more than a statement of personal alienation.

I am making no judgment about you as a person. Why on earth would you assume that I am?

#699 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Exxon,

The point is simply that responsibility can be contained. It is contained. You ignore this basic point and instead act as if I made some strawman of complete absolution of any responsibility for any act no matter how heinous.

That is a strawman.

You refuse to acknowledge the basic premise of corporate law for the last few centuries, and instead give me emotive pleas to the tune of "Enron! Enron!".

You call it "additional factors", I call it the real world data that shows your logical arugment fails.

Responsibility can be contained. Corporate law is one example. This can be and is extended to the actions of government. I cannot be tried for war crimes for the actions of some soldier in the field. That responsibility is limited.

You refuse to acknowledge any such restrictions because it violates the conclusion you want, namely that of total, universal, responsibility. If a war crime was committed, then you pulled the trigger, I pulled the trigger, and everyone in this country pulled the trigger.

No. you cannot force responsibility to extend to that level.

Just like corporations limit liability of investors, governments limit the responsibility that burdens its citizens.

#700 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Exxon, to pull one example out of the air, will be happy to hear that it bore no responsibility for the Valdez incident, and its shareholders will no doubt be glad that their liability did not exist because it was limited.

Oh, if I didn't point this out earlier, THIS does not qualify as a philosophical position. It's an emotive plea, a type of logical fallacy. If you refuse to base your point off of any real world experience, and instead insist on holding to nothing more than logical argument, you really need to make sure it's logical, not emotive.

#701 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2007, 02:37 PM:

Fragano,

If I am responsible for what the United States does, and it does bad things, I am a bad person. I am responsible for bad things happening. People who are responsible for bad things are bad people, or at the very best good people who have made terrible mistakes they must immediately correct. This seems pretty straightforward to me.

You have repeatedly told me that I'm responsible for what the country that claims me does. If that's the case, then one of these has to be true:

1) The country is not doing bad things;
2) I am a bad person, or have made a terrible mistake.

I don't believe either of these is true. Therefore, I don't believe I'm responsible. Or it might be more accurate to say, "I don't believe I am responsible, therefore I don't believe I'm a bad person or someone who has made a terrible mistake."

This seems perfectly straightforward to me. If it doesn't to you, I can only assume you mean "responsible" in some way I am not able to understand.

#702 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) :::