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January 30, 2008

Republicans In Trouble
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:46 PM * 457 comments

How much trouble are they in?

They’re thinking of running Ralph Nader again.

Ralph Nader Flirts with Presidential Bid
With Harsh Words for Current Field, Nader Says Candidacy as Urgent as Ever
Ralph Nader has formed a presidential exploratory committee, and said in an interview Wednesday that he will launch another presidential bid if he’s convinced he can raise enough money to appear on the vast majority of state ballots this fall.

Nader, who ran as an independent candidate in each of the past three presidential elections, told ABCNews.com that he will run in 2008 if he is convinced over the next month that he would be able to raise $10 million over the course of the campaign — and attract enough lawyers willing to work free of charge to get his name on state ballots.


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Comments on Republicans In Trouble:
#1 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:22 PM:

I feel like a bowl of petunias plummeting towards the earth.

Surely, this time around, everyone will recognize that there are differences that matter between the Democrats and the Republicans? (i.e., maybe Nader's message won't play this time around.)

I'm reminded of an extremely intelligent friend of mine. He's progressive. Unfortunately, he also votes as if Condorcet's method (which he supports) were in effect. This means, in close elections, given current election rules, he's more likely to help his last place choice than someone he can live with. *sigh*

(For the record, I want us conduct elections as if they were the Hugo Awards, but without "No Award." However, since those aren't the rules in play, I'm not going to vote as if they were.)

#2 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Yep, the Rethuglicans think it's going to be close again, and they need a "liberal" spoiler. Nader is a right-wing mole. I hope he trips on his shoelace, falls down a manhole, and is eaten by rats.

#3 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:34 PM:

Robo-Rats!

#4 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:42 PM:

So, if Nader had not run in 2000, would we be in a war with Iraq? Anyone? Anyone?

#5 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:45 PM:

No.

#6 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:45 PM:
Surely, this time around, everyone will recognize that there are differences that matter between the Democrats and the Republicans?

Yes, they disagree about the best way to screw us over. The fact that one party might possibly maybe screw us over less than the other isn't a compelling reason to vote for them.

Now the fact that the Republicans look to be nominating someone who isn't a complete wingnut could tempt me to vote for McCain, but if it's Romney vs Clinton or Obama, I'll choose a raving loon like Nader.

#7 ::: James Goodman ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:48 PM:

Wow, they must really be getting desperate and perhaps a bit delusional if they think anything they do at this point will distract from the mess they've put the country in already.

#8 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:51 PM:

So, there's no difference between:

Roe V Wade being upheld, and Roe V Wade being overturned

Invading Iraq, and not invading Iraq

National health care of some sort and no national health care of any sort

Support for civil at least unions and an amendment to the constitution banning same sex marriage nation wide.

and so on.

A lot of the more far left blogs I read have a large number of Nader supporters. I have no problem with wanting Nader as a candidate because his goals align closely with yours. But it's a lie to say that there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats.

#9 ::: Dave O'Neill ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 04:56 PM:

Steve@4: I'd like to think no.

I'd prefer to think we'd spent some sensible time locking down Bin laden and turning Afghanistan into a real country.

I'm weird that way though.

#10 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:01 PM:

#2 Xopher - I was going to say something about cruelty to rats, but really, the guy's some kind of vegetarian, he's probably as aware as anybody of the various toxic whoosits... yes, Nader would make fine and nutritious rat chow.

As for whoever is still saying "there's no difference between the parties:" You're hopeless. If you haven't noticed the last seven years of warfare, torture, civil rights violations, and wholesale looting of the treasury, I can't think of anything that you *would* notice.

#11 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:06 PM:

Any other time, I might be swayed by a Nader run, But not now. If that ...Man is too dim or egotistical to see what's at stake here than... by golly I 'm trying to watch my language. Diddly.


AHHH!

#12 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:06 PM:

# 6 Sean O'Hara-

Now the fact that the Republicans look to be nominating someone who isn't a complete wingnut could tempt me to vote for McCain

"Bomb bomb Iran" McCain? Wingnut.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:13 PM:

What is scaring the Republicans is that they are drawing fewer primary voters than the Democrats. If this holds up, and the Democrats do not commit seppuku, then the next president of the United States will either be a member of the Luo ethnic group, or a woman. There will be a larger Democratic majority in the House, and a larger Democratic majority in the Senate. To cap it all, the Republican party will find itself engaged in a bout of self-blame and self-mutilation which will make the Democrats' past brannigans look amateurish (I am beginning to think of bidding for the popcorn franchise).

That's their fear, and they will do anything to prevent it and have the Democrats be the ones looking on from the sidelines on the Wednesday after the first Monday in November.

#14 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:15 PM:

mjfgates@#10: As for whoever is still saying "there's no difference between the parties:" You're hopeless. If you haven't noticed the last seven years of warfare, torture, civil rights violations, and wholesale looting of the treasury, I can't think of anything that you *would* notice.

The first time around, I thought that those people were clueless, or that they had allowed their political enthusiasms to blind them to the consequences of their actions.

But to do the same thing all over again, after everything that has happened since . . . this time, I can only believe that they are actively acquiescing to evil.

#15 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:16 PM:

I have coworkers who say that they're willing to consider McCain because he's not a wingnut.

They tend to be the coworkers who don't follow politics, and I've had to send a few to Google because they're sure I'm making [McCain's record] up, because a reasonable guy like McCain wouldn't [...]

#16 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:27 PM:

I just read somebody's blog (ah, Shakespeare's Sister's) making the point that if Nader worked for his goals between elections rather than just popping up every four years to make trouble he'd get a lot more respect.

Ralph, you killed the Corvair and did a lot of other good things, but your ego is about to destroy you and your legacy if it hasn't already. Go home.

#17 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:29 PM:
"Bomb bomb Iran" McCain? Wingnut.

I don't see that as significantly different from Reagan joking, "The bombing starts in five minutes." Now, if you want to tell me Reagan was a wingnut, go ahead, but don't expect me to take you seriously.

#18 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:32 PM:

# 15 Julia

Yeah, we have one in my office. He sees McCain as "strong on defense".

I've explained to him that McCain is likely to invade Iran, to which he responds "Well, we can't let them have nuclear weapons". To which I respond "Nor can any sane nation let us create a worldwide economic crisis that stands a good chance of precipitating WWIII, and sill indubitably end in more terrorist attacks on the US. Iraq had no allies and an incompetent military. Iran is not the same place. If we attack Iran, we loose Iraq, and stand a good chance of starting a world war"

Perhaps I'm being too complicated for him.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:33 PM:

Sean, #6: I was going to say that there aren't words to describe how wrong you are, but it occurs to me that there is indeed such a word: "privileged". You don't seem to have the misfortune to belong to any of the unprivileged groups who see the difference very clearly; none of those things affect YOU, so of course there's no difference. Furthermore, you're willing to sell the birthrights of your fellow citizens for a mess of ideology. Ptui.

Julia, #15: Good for you. You're a hero, and an example of what we all need to be doing -- getting genuine information out to the people who think they're getting the whole story from the evening news.

#20 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:46 PM:

Ack. I hope Nader doesn't run.

You know, that he's even willing to consider running again proves to me that he doesn't have the political savvy necessary to be the President of the United States. If he can't recognize that his presidential bid would do harm than good he could never be a truly effective President.

Does anyone else remember Michael Moore and Bill Maher on their knees begging him not to run again?

#21 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:47 PM:

I don't see the Democrats as anything more than slightly less completely awful than the alternative, but at this juncture that's enough to make me really pissed at what Nader's doing.

#22 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:48 PM:

Sean : "McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song," the Georgetown Times reports.

"'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,' he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann," the paper notes.

McCain then added, "Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel."

The paper notes that McCain stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran."

Later, McCain campaign spokesman Kevin McLaughlin told ABC News that the senator "was just trying to add a little humor to the event."

ABC's report adds, "On a more serious note, however, McCain has long been an advocate of dealing with rogue states aggressively. Back in 2000 when then-Gov. George W. Bush was wary of nation building and talking about a foreign policy based on humility and restraint, McCain was advocating a policy of 'rogue-state rollback,' which he described in a 1999 speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies as a '21st century interpretation of the Reagan doctrine.'"

Warmongering wingnut. Same as Bush.

#23 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Ethan -


I don't see the Democrats as anything more than slightly less completely awful than the alternative

We're one supreme court judge away from Roe V Wade begin overturned. Do you have a uterus? Does anyone you care about have one?

#24 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:52 PM:

Sean O'Hara #17: Now, if you want to tell me Reagan was a wingnut, go ahead, but don't expect me to take you seriously.

Feel free to never, ever take anything I say seriously ever again.

#25 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:53 PM:

John Chu at #1 writes:

> Unfortunately, he also votes as if Condorcet's method (which he supports) were in effect.

Would this be Australian style proportional voting? It's something I'm very grateful for - I get to vote Green and end up helping Labour (second preference) instead of the Liberals (just-before-the-crazy-people preference).

> (For the record, I want us conduct elections as if they were the Hugo Awards, but without "No Award."

I know "no award" wouldn't be practical, but it has a certain emotional appeal.

#26 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Josh Jasper #23: That's one of the slightlies. And please, no one suspect that I don't care extremely deeply about abortion rights, because I fracking do. I just also care about, you know, mass murder, for instance. Which both "sides" commit gleefully.

#27 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:58 PM:

This is a joke, right?

*checks calendar. Still January. Not April. Not a joke.*

Aaaaargh!!!!

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 05:59 PM:

John Chu @ 1... conduct elections as if they were the Hugo Awards

Let's see. Neil Gaiman emceed the Hugos in 2004. I wonder if he'd be available.

#29 ::: Gavin Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:06 PM:

All the good that Nader did in the public sphere is far outweighed by his decision to throw the 2000 election Bush's way.

And if you harbored some doubt on whether that decision was deliberate:

Later I was introduced to Nader's closest adviser, his handsome, piercingly intelligent 30-year-old nephew, Tarek Milleron. Although Milleron argued that environmentalists and other activists would find fundraising easier under Bush, he acknowledged that a Bush presidency would be worse for poor and working-class people, for blacks, for most Americans. As Moore had, he claimed that Nader's campaign would encourage Web-based vote-swapping between progressives in safe and contested states. But when I suggested that Nader could gain substantial influence in a Democratic administration by focusing his campaign on the 40 safe states and encouraging his supporters elsewhere to vote Gore, Milleron leaned coolly toward me with extra steel in his voice and body. He did not disagree. He simply said, "We're not going to do that."

"Why not?" I said.

With just a flicker of smile, he answered, "Because we want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them."

(From a 2004 Village Voice article, still worth reading.)

#30 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:11 PM:

Yeah, uh, I suggest to anyone who thinks McCain might be "okay" that they read THE NINE: INSIDE THE SECRET WORLD OF THE SUPREME COURT by Jeffrey Toobin. It's a relatively dispassionate account of what sort of disaster we are (a) already in, or (b) headed for if we get another 8 years of conservative Republican control of the Supreme Court Justice nominating process.

Randomly, variously...

I'm not at all convinced that the Democrats are going to roll into the White House in November.

Anybody who votes for Nader in November is beyond help. Okay, it doesn't matter what you personally think of the two parties. If we don't get some leftish balance on the Court in the next 8 years, you are going to get everything you ever wanted w/r/t the collapse of the American political system. I'll shake your hand on the enormity of your, um, accomplishment.

What the hell is it with NOW and this picture of the purported snub of Clinton by Obama on the floor of the Senate? Maybe he did snub her, but you can't tell anything like that from the infamous "turning away" pic. Clinton is holding Kennedy's hand. She is looking into Kennedy's eyes.

And she says: "I reached out my hand in unity and friendship".

Um, based on the picture, my favorite Senator from my great State of New York is making herself look like a lying, manipulative shit. If she has a pic or better yet footage of things happening that way, then let's see it, at which point I'll eat my (very small, appropriately seasoned) hat. And when I'm done, I won't particularly care that he snubbed her. They are in a knock-down, drag-out battle with each other. I wouldn't expect them to be best friends at the moment.

I would love to be able to vote for Senator Clinton. Why won't she let me?

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Sean 6: Now the fact that the Republicans look to be nominating someone who isn't a complete wingnut could tempt me to vote for McCain, but if it's Romney vs Clinton or Obama, I'll choose a raving loon like Nader.

Hmm, this is clearly a really stupid strategy, but since it's taking your vote away from Romney, not from Clinton or Obama, I guess I encourage you to do so. I generally object to people uselessly discarding their votes, but since yours is clearly a Republican vote, my heart isn't in telling you not to.

___ 17: Now, if you want to tell me Reagan was a wingnut, go ahead, but don't expect me to take you seriously.

Well, Reagan was the asshole loser President of his generation, of course, but for sheer wingnuttery he can't compare to today's crop of gaudily deranged monstrosities, in politics and out, so I guess he wasn't a wingnut as the term is used today.

He is, however, one of the people who occasionally make me wish I believed in Hell so that they could burn in it, and I do hope he spends 1000 lifetimes as a person born with AIDS and addicted to crack, and when he died I was torn between happiness that the world had become a better place with him gone, and regret that his suffering was over.

A bad President? Absolutely. A monster? Yep. A mass murderer (2nd degree, depraved indifference)? You bet. But I guess he wasn't strictly a wingnut.

#32 ::: VCarlson ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:14 PM:

I lost all respect for Nader when I heard his line about "no real difference" between the Ds and Rs (and also that he really didn't like Gore, personally). Now I will freely admit to quite a bit of despair, anger, and frustration with the way the D's have been allowing the Constitution and ordinary folk be torn to shreds (the R's, too, but my expectations are lower) by the Bush/Cheney Administration, but to say that Gore and Bush were about the same? Nuh-uh. I knew there was a big difference in 2000, so he should have too. That said to me that Nader was incapable of putting the good of the country ahead of his personal foibles (at the very least), and he would be a very poor President.

His continued runs since then have caused me to change my opinion. He's an arrogant jackass, who likes the attention.

#33 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:24 PM:

If Nader runs, he'll have the effect of making my write-in for Edwards into a vote for the Dems.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:29 PM:

I will vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever that turns out to be, because the worst possible Democrat is miles and miles better than the best possible Rethuglican, and that would be true even if Rahm Emmanuel were running on the Dem side...and I can't think of a "good" Rethuglican to put on the other side. Surely there used to be some that weren't so bad, and simply had the intelligence not to run for POTUS, but I can't call any to mind right now.

#35 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:37 PM:
I was going to say that there aren't words to describe how wrong you are, but it occurs to me that there is indeed such a word: "privileged". You don't seem to have the misfortune to belong to any of the unprivileged groups who see the difference very clearly; none of those things affect YOU, so of course there's no difference.

I would greatly appreciate it if you ceased putting words in my mouth. Nowhere have I ever said that there's no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. They are quite different. And they're both equally wrong, and their policies have the effect of screwing people over, even if in completely different ways. I'm willing to give McCain a chance because I think he'll screw people over within acceptable tolerances.

Furthermore, you're willing to sell the birthrights of your fellow citizens for a mess of ideology. Ptui.

Yes, I'm a horrible person for not supporting your candidate. That argument is really going to win me to your side.

#36 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 06:50 PM:

Imagine me clutching my head and muttering about being rid of this turbulent -- uh -- whatever.

MKK

#37 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:07 PM:

Jim, I think you're way too optimistic to think the Reps are in a lot of trouble. In the latest polls, McCain has a really big lead over both Hillary and Obama. (Though many Republicans would probably see a choice between McCain and a Democrat as enough trouble in it's own right.)

I don't see that as significantly different from Reagan joking, "The bombing starts in five minutes." Now, if you want to tell me Reagan was a wingnut, go ahead, but don't expect me to take you seriously.

So, err, do I get this right- - - -you say that Reagan wasn't a wingnut- and at the same time- you talk about how, under certain circumstances, you won't take other people seriously?

Wow.

#38 ::: eyelessgame ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:14 PM:

This election has the potential for a whole slew of vanity candidates -- Nader, Bloomberg, R*n Pa*l, hey, maybe we can get Roy Moore to run since the wacky evangelicals need to vote for somebody. Don't just limit yourself to Nader. The opportunities for throwing your vote away on some delusional egomaniac will be plentiful.

#39 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:15 PM:
Hmm, this is clearly a really stupid strategy, but since it's taking your vote away from Romney, not from Clinton or Obama, I guess I encourage you to do so. I generally object to people uselessly discarding their votes, but since yours is clearly a Republican vote, my heart isn't in telling you not to.

Don't jump to conclusions. I'm philosophically a libertarian and not registered with any political party. I've never voted for a Republican in a Presidential election (I did vote McCain in the 2000 primary, and Dean in 2004).

And the claim that people are throwing away their vote if they go for a third party candidate is pure sophistry. Unless you live in a swing state, your vote doesn't make a bit of difference anyway. By your logic, I'd be throwing away my vote even if I went for Clinton or Obama because there's no chance either of them will win Virginia.

#40 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:25 PM:

Nowhere have I ever said that there's no difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

And yet your purported future vote treats them that way.

Yes, I'm a horrible person for not supporting your candidate.

No, you're a horrible person for supporting the collective and demonstrated incompetence, greed, ignorance, viciousness, and arguable evilness that makes up the current controlling political party, the Republicans. The rhetorical fallacies are only a bonus.

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:26 PM:

Can a thread go downhill?
Can a thread go downhill very fast?
Nah.

#42 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:36 PM:

#41 Serge: Can a thread go downhill very fast?

At least we haven't stooped to punning yet.

Oh, sorry. Actually, it's a free country and people who want to pun should clearly be free to do so and enjoy themselves while they do.

It's just that I have the same sort of reaction to them that, as I understand it, autistic children have to being touched.

So, you know, "going downhill" is a matter of perspective, of course.

#43 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:37 PM:

Sean O'Hara @ 35

I'm willing to give McCain a chance because I think he'll screw people over within acceptable tolerances.

Senator McCain yesterday

He begins by remarking about Justice Alito — "I supported him, I thought he was a magnificent choice, I spoke on his behalf from the floor of the Senate... I've said several times that I'd like to find clones for Justices Roberts and Alito. Of course, that opens up raises other issues, so I ahven't used that phrase anymore... It was a tough fight. He only got 57 views. If you ask Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, or anyone on that committee, they'll say that I was a supporter... I was astonished that my record — I just wanted to make clear my record of supporting Justice Alito."

Justices Alito and Roberts are confidently expected to provide the margin of victory for requiring federal ID in order to vote, effectively disenfranchising not a few people, disproportionately old and minority, in response to a "threat" of fraudulent voting which the government has conceded hasn't resulted in any actual fraudulent voting.

In other words, it is no longer necessary to balance the remedy with the need, so we're bringing back the poll tax. Buhbye, voting rights act.

If you're reasonably certain that three or four more Alito clones won't be able to damage anything you care about in the forty years or so they'll probably be sitting on the bench, then I suspect that McCain isn't much of a stretch for you.

#44 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:47 PM:
And yet your purported future vote treats them that way.

I don't shop at Wal-Mart because the merchandise is shoddy. I don't shop at Best Buy because the merchandise is overpriced. Are you saying that I'm treating them as though there's no difference between them?

No, you're a horrible person for supporting the collective and demonstrated incompetence, greed, ignorance, viciousness, and arguable evilness that makes up the current controlling political party, the Republicans.

Yes, saying that I'll consider voting for a Republican who is broadly disliked by the conservative base of the party is an endoresment of the party.

#45 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Sean #39: The John McCain you voted for in 2000 probably doesn't exist any more. He has spent 7+ years sucking up to the Republican powers-that-be in the hope of being chosen as their anointed successor to Bush. I think his original plan might have been to hang on however he could until he got a chance to wrench the Republican party back to sanity. If true, that was a laudable aim... but a bad plan.

Unfortunately, 7+ years of saying one thing while originally believing another creates a massive case of cognitive dissonance, which is pretty much guaranteed to be resolved in favour of coming to believe what one has been saying. We're talking human psychology 101; only fictional characters with the firm support of an author or scriptwriter get to ignore this. Politicians never do.

I don't know that McCain ever was the independent maverick he was presented as in 2000. But he certainly isn't one now.

#46 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:55 PM:
Justices Alito and Roberts are confidently expected to provide the margin of victory for requiring federal ID in order to vote, effectively disenfranchising not a few people, disproportionately old and minority, in response to a "threat" of fraudulent voting which the government has conceded hasn't resulted in any actual fraudulent voting.

You mean the case brought by a woman registered to vote in two states?

Also, how does requiring an ID inconvenience minorities?

#47 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:56 PM:

#44 Sean O'Hara: Yes, saying that I'll consider voting for a Republican who is broadly disliked by the conservative base of the party is an endoresment of the party.

Let me just say first of all that I think attacking you for saying you would vote for McCain is a pretty stupid idea.

But I would like to ask you... do you have any concerns about McCain being able to, over the next eight years, appoint Supreme Court Justices along the lines of Alito and Roberts? If you don't, I beg you to look further into the matter.

#48 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 07:57 PM:

I find my voice echoes distractingly when I have political conversations under bridges.

#49 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Obama taught Constitutional Law. What are the odds President Obama expands the Supreme Court to 11 Justices?

I could see that as one of his first honeymoon moves, taking a lesson from the last eight years and stacking all three branches asap.

#50 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:07 PM:

Sean #46: So, to refute the point that "threat" of fraudulent voting hasn't resulted in any actual fraudulent voting, you cite a link about a (72 year old) woman who apparently filled out a Florida registration form by mistake, but... golly, only ever voted in Indiana, never in Florida, and thus didn't cast any fraudulent votes.

Hmm.

#51 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:10 PM:

#49 Lance Weber: What are the odds President Obama expands the Supreme Court to 11 Justices?

I've always loved the fact that this option is always available and that most people don't know that it is. Most people think 9 is some sort of holy number.

However, it's not all that easy to pull off. FDR tried it and couldn't get it to happen.

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Sean, he's a Republican and will do Republican things. He's "broadly disliked" is a SO FUCKING WHAT when it comes to the GOP. They always vote at their party's call and they never think of thinking for themselves at all. The Rethuglicans in the House and Senate will vote with a Rethuglican POTUS almost all the time.

Moreover, the President of the Senate will be a Rethuglican if the POTUS is, and with a closely-divided Senate that could be important.

Still more...the POTUS runs the entire Executive Branch, which includes the EPA (talked to any Ground Zero workers lately?) the Justice Department (Alberto Gonzalez, anyone?) and the various internal and external spy agencies that make up the Department of VaterHomeland Security. He will appoint Republicans with Republican ideas (such as they are).

And remember, McCain is on record as thinking we should be in Iraq for the next hundred years. If that's what you want...well, that's evil, and people who want evil are evil themselves.

#53 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:21 PM:

I just checked with Vegas, the over/under on number of threads to reach Godwin's Law is 83.

I put a dime on the under.

#54 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:22 PM:

"Surely, this time around, everyone will recognize that there are differences that matter between the Democrats and the Republicans?"

The Democratic candidates are conservative and the Republican candidate is a right wing loon?

#55 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:40 PM:

Randolph@#54: The Democratic candidates are conservative and the Republican candidate is a right wing loon?

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the above assertion is true in all respects, it should still be patently obvious that between the two possibilities there is, as the saying goes, a great gulf fixed.

#56 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 08:56 PM:

#46: Because historically, "ballot security" has meant one thing: keeping the "wrong" people from voting. Requiring ID, apart from being a poll tax on people who have to pay to get an ID, will certainly result in certain groups having their ID found insufficient.

#57 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:12 PM:
But I would like to ask you... do you have any concerns about McCain being able to, over the next eight years, appoint Supreme Court Justices along the lines of Alito and Roberts?

No, actually I don't. The Dems are almost certainly going to expand their control of the Senate this year to the point that anyone McCain appoints will have to be a compromise candidate. They'll have that margin for at least two years, and all the way to the next Presidential election if they don't screw up royally. If the liberal justices resign within that period, the court shouldn't shift significantly to the right, and if Scalia resigns in that time, it could even move closer to the center.

@Xopher: If you want me to take your arguments seriously, stop using childish phrases like "Rethuglican". It makes you sound like Rush Limbaugh.

#58 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Sean, I think you are highly optimistic if you think that: a) the Democrats will hold 60 seats in the Senate throughout the next Presidential term or two and b) they will have the spine to filibuster nominees even if they *do* have 60 seats.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Puns? We laugh at your puns?


We see the choice, it's obvious and plain
to anyone of decency and sense;
no need to claim you're sitting on the fence,
or say that both sides carry the same stain.
Be reasonable, come in out of the rain,
you're not a jerk, don't be so bloody dense.
One side is all lies, vanity, pretense
and propping up what's left of John McCain.
The other guys have got rid of the mange,
have brought on competence and human reach,
the smarter woman, and the better man.
The larger vision, and the chance of change,
return of open and of decent speech,
and bringing torment once more under ban.

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Jen 58: It takes 60 votes to end a filibuster, not to maintain one.

#61 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Reagan, a wingnut?

Hmmm. Let's think back to some of the things he's said...

cue harp music:

"It's silly talking about how many years we will have to spend in the jungles of Vietnam when we could pave the whole country and put parking stripes on it and still be home by Christmas."

"I have a feeling that we are doing better in the war [in Vietnam] than the people have been told."

"Because Vietnam was not a declared war, the veterans are not even eligible for the G. I. Bill of Rights with respect to education or anything."

"If there has to be a bloodbath then let's get it over with." (referring to how he would deal with student protesters)

cue harp music:

Nope! Can't see any wingnuttery there!

As for Nader acting as spoiler for the Dems, I would be more upset if the Democrats had spent the last 8 years fighting rather than compromising and capitulating. Pro-war, pro-deficit "centrists" have enabled the Bush administration run this country into the ground.

Maybe if they'd spoken up the way the loyal opposition speaks up in other governments, I'd feel something valuable was being threatened.

I'll still vote Democrat--please, God, put the Permanent Majority farther behind us--but I'd much rather be supporting active, vigorous, effective advocates for progressive policies than the people who stood well back while the right wing destroyed itself like Brittany Spears at an open bar.

#62 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:35 PM:

Xopher: um, yes. ::slaps forehead::

Sorry about that.

The point about the spine still stands, though, as far as I'm concerned.

#63 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:36 PM:

#57 Sean O'Hara: The Dems are almost certainly going to expand their control of the Senate this year...

I have no such confidence. At least not enough confidence compared to what is at stake.

...to the point that anyone McCain appoints will have to be a compromise candidate.

But a compromise candidate is not sufficient. This is what people don't seem to understand. The Supreme Court is not a panel of Politically Unifying Good Guys. It's a struggle over what Americans want to be. Or, at least, what they shouldn't have to wrestle to the ground in order to live their limited lives not under the thumbs of their "betters".

You don't reach balance by appointing "moderates" or "compromise candidates". Reaching balance means appointing persons who are capable of taking principled stands and pressing for them, with sufficient vigor and skill to direct a majority of the court in a direction that increases the chances the mythical American Ideal will be someday achieved. This is what right-wing conservatives have understood for over 20 years. It's what "moderates" delude themselves into disbelieving. It's what leftists know but cannot seem to get their shit together enough to do anything about. The conservatives have had their go. It really will be a fatal mistake if the country doesn't call time on them.

If the liberal justices resign within that period...

They will. No "if".

...the court shouldn't shift significantly to the right

I'm sorry but this "should" is not sufficient.

...and if Scalia resigns in that time, it could even move closer to the center.

Surprisingly, perhaps, Scalia is nearly irrelevant at the moment. He doesn't have the respect of his fellow justices. Very far from it. Most of them think, like the rest of us, that he is a clown. He convinces none of his fellow justices. He puts on shows. When he is replaced, by McCain in your scenario, his replacement will be much more dangerous than Scalia (at this point) could ever be.

But I fear you are not serious about considering the consequences of your "McCain is okay enough" stance. So, you know, vote as you will. There's nothing any of us can do about it. Or so it seems to me.

#64 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:37 PM:

(I just want to mention that it's not possible for anyone in this thread to hate Ralph Nader and his cronies more than Xopher and I do.)(Unless Dave Howell is lurking here.)

#65 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Sorry, Jim, but I gotta make my usual objection: So long as the Democrats do nothing about the Electoral College, whining about Nader just looks pathetic.

#66 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:41 PM:

Sean O'Hara - getting a proper ID requires three things: 1) proper papers (such as a birth certificate), which disproportionately disenfranchises the elderly, who in rural areas are very likely to have never had one; 2)Money, not much money, but some, which will disproportionately disenfranchise the poor, who are dispoportionately minority; 3) Access, which will again disproportionately affect the poor, who are far more likely to not have a car, or other reliable transportation.

#67 ::: JLundell ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 09:42 PM:

Amen. If only Nader hadn't run in 2000, so the Dems could have had at least 41 votes in the Senate, to block the war authorization. If only he hadn't run in 2006, so the Dems could have taken over Congress and stopped funding the war.

Damn him.

#68 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Frankly, I find it a bit counterintuitive that someone who has the strained right-wing talking point on the voter identification case at their fingertips isn't fully aware of what the arguments are on the other side.

#69 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:06 PM:

Cynthia @66: Also, the usual default form of official ID is a driver's license, which people who don't own cars are rather less likely to have. Such people tend to be disproportionately located in densely-populated urban areas where they can get by on a day-to-day basis with a combination of walking range, public transportation, and taxi service.

#70 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:07 PM:

#67: I'm confused. Did anyone suggest that the Democrats handled impeccably the mess Nader's antics in 2000 got the country into?

#71 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:19 PM:
Frankly, I find it a bit counterintuitive that someone who has the strained right-wing talking point on the voter identification case at their fingertips isn't fully aware of what the arguments are on the other side.

Unresponsive. I repeat: How do voter-ID laws disenfranchise minorities. The poor I can understand, but poor=/=minority.

#72 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:20 PM:

#17, 57: You cannot possibly imagine our sheer abject terror at the prospect of not being taken seriously by you.

...Get a new rhetorical gimmick.

We don't need compromise candidates. We need Brennan and Marshall back, dammit. And we're not going to get them or anything like them from a McCain Administration.

The present Court doesn't even *have* a liberal wing. It has the center, the right, and the far right. "Compromise candidates" chosen by a Republican aren't going to fix this problem - even if they are genuine compromise candidates and not "I'll appoint whoever I want, now do as I say before I call you all traitors and obstructionists" candidates. I don't know if you noticed, but the Senate that blocked Bork isn't exactly around anymore.

#73 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:36 PM:

No difference between Democrats and Republicans? It all depends on which Democrats and which Republicans you're comparing. Kucinich and Brownback? Loads of difference. Clinton and Giuliani? Not so much.

There's a difference. There's just not enough difference. For once I'd like a presidential candidate I can wholeheartedly support, not just someone who is only half as evil as Huck McRomney.

#74 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:39 PM:

In re Sean O'Hara:

To quote Julia, one's voice tends to echo strangely when conducting conversations underneath bridges. The way I'd put it is that there aren't nearly enough vitamins and minerals (not to mention small colorful paper-wrapped candies) in an argument with Sean for him to be worth our while.

He doesn't know enough plain garden-variety facts about the world. That means he can't extend his arguments beyond simple statements, which means you can't have a real exchange with him. All we can do with him is volley away like two tennis players who hit serve after serve at each other but never return each other's shots.

Ol' Sean there thinks it's not only possible but actually the case that Democrats and Republicans are bad in completely different ways, and yet do exactly the same amount of damage. He thinks this in spite of the Republican dominance of national politics for the last seven years, their astonishing corruption, their unprecedented disregard for the Constitution, and their obvious incompetence.

More to the point, he thinks it's possible for this to be true of any two parties. He thinks it's not only possible in theory, not only literally true now, but ascertainable.

It doesn't even occur to him to wonder how this perfect balance was measured and calculated, which to me is clear proof that he is not and has never been any kind of critical thinker.

He's just too, too special for real everyday politics.

Why try to convince him of anything? Nader is his perfect candidate: incompetent, unrealistic, blindly egotistical, contemptuous of mere fact, willing to see incalculable amounts of human suffering come to pass as long as it gets him the particular gratification he desires, and on some level serenely certain that he will always have enough privilege to shield him from the consequences of his folly.

Also, on a practical note, I think it will take Sean O'Hara far too long to figure out that this forum is never going to give him the kind of ego strokes he's looking for. We will get bored.

#75 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Sean, #35: You're a lost cause already. Why should I make sweet to you? That's the mistake we've been making all along -- trying to make nice with people whose idea of "compromise" is to throw us to the wolves.

How do voter-ID laws disenfranchise minorities. The poor I can understand, but poor=/=minority.

Already answered, see #66. The people most likely to be disenfranchised by a poll tax are HEAVILY disproportionately members of minority groups. It's politically-correct racism in action, and you're falling for a transparent screen of "plausible deniability". This does not give anyone a good impression of your intellectual capacity.

#76 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Sean @71: On the off chance that this was a serious question, I refer you to this page at the US Census Bureau's website, especially the breakdowns of poverty rate by race/ethnicity.

If we assume that all people living under the poverty threshold are equally disenfranchised by an ID requirement (and thus ignore rural/urban considerations), then this would affect ~8% of non-Hispanic whites, ~20 of Hispanics, and ~24% of blacks.

If you genuinely had no previous knowledge of these statistics, then it's about time you found out.

Sheesh.

#77 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Lee, he isn't making an argument. He genuinely doesn't know why it should work that way.

He is small, and has pinfeathers, and will grow up to be a member of an unattractive species.

#78 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:00 PM:

Lets see.

Nader isn't all that bad.

He's better than either of the main options.

Reagan wasn't a wingnut.

John, "I'll pretend to take a stand against torture and then make a compromise which gives the president more than he asks for and hold it up as my principled objection to torture" McCain isn't a wingnut either.

All of these things resident in the same person's thinking.

Wow. That's a lot of ignorance, or cognittive dissonance, or wilful pot-stirring to live with.

How to the voter ID laws disenfrancise minorities... non-responsive.

The real issue is the people whom this affects, by and large, tend to be urban, poor, and so prone to voting Democratic. It's, esp. when the rationale for it is known to be false, a patent attempt to game the system. It's as wrong as Clinton trying to get the delegates from Michigan and Fla. seated.

But I think you know that. I think (note, I am not putting words in your mouth; I am telling you the conclusions I've come to from the words of your mouth, which I take to be based on the meditations of your heart. Which meditations you took the time and effort to make here, in an apparent attempt to persuade people of the correctness of your point of view; some of which I paraphrased above) you actually want the republicans to win.

I think you are, in fact, a wingnut; of the stripe that refuses to own up to what he truly believes, cloaking it in a mask of libertarian independence. You voted for Dean and Dole in the Primaries, big deal.

Who did you vote for in the general, that's where the rubber meets the road. This time around you say it's going to be the greater evil (based on the track record of the past 8-14 years; depending on when you measure the Republican takeover).

If the Repubs run someone you don't like, you'll vote for Nader, or some other third party. If they run someone you do (i.e. McCain) who has said he will continue, in spades, the present course of insanity, you'll vote for him.

That's what you said.

That makes you a wingnut. A raving loon, someone who can't see the harm which has been done, and thinks the lesser of the evils is the greater.

So, the back of my hand to you. Get thee behind me and if I never see your words again it will not bother me in the least.

(Teresa, while I may not have the same visceral loathing of Nader that you and Xopher do, my housemate makes your dislike of Nader seem as mere annoyance, but he doesn't post here. His dislike of Nader may be as great as my loathing od McCain, for whom I still had some tattered shreds of respect prior to his "stand" on torture; after that, well words fail me. Hatred isn't right, that requires me to think some shreds of human decency remain, and I can't. For him to have abandoned that principle... as I said, words fail me)

#79 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Besides which, even if the numbers for poor minorities weren't disproportionate - who says that it's okay to disenfranchise the poor? When did not having money come to mean you weren't supposed to have the right to vote?

#80 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:07 PM:

eyelessgame #38: Yes, but only two of the delusional egomaniacs will have a chance of winning. Select wisely.

#81 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:12 PM:

Sorry, I got lost, it wasn't Dole, it was McCain.

#82 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:13 PM:

I'm running! I'm running!

/radio club joke (from 2000 election)

#83 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:13 PM:

I don't know why you guys are arguing with Sean about minorities when it's already been done all over the stfnal newsgroups.

#84 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:15 PM:

albatross @ 79

When I read that I got an image of the grave ancient crusader knight in the last Indiana Jones movie saying "Choose... wisely" (the scene they used in the Burger King ad)

Made me smile.

#85 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:16 PM:

Marilee: I can't speak to the rest, but I do it because silence would mean the casual lurker/reader might think he wasn't getting response because he was right.

So, tedious as it is, I, at least, am doing it pro bono publico

#86 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:17 PM:

I vote for deliberate pot-stirring. And I am already bored with whatshisname.

Letting out the dinosaur in the basement... now.

#87 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:21 PM:

Terry: For a while, I was willing to hypothesize that GWB & Co. are better at torture than the North Vietnamese. But then I said "no," and returned to the first opinion I ever rendered of McCain. I'd just come back from visiting my clan in Arizona, and someone asked me what I thought of him. I said that no one I knew owed him a favor, or was owed a favor by him; which, considering the extent of my clan and other acquaintance, was a significant thing.

What I'd know to add today is that politicians always owe and are owed favors. If you can't see them, they're happening behind closed doors.

Maybe McCain was a different person in 2000. But then, weren't we all?

#88 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:21 PM:

When did not having money come to mean you weren't supposed to have the right to vote?

I heard Rush Limbaugh say that very thing on election night, 2004: that only those who have "a stake in the system," those whose income is high enough to be taxed, should be able to vote.

#89 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:22 PM:

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I'm about ready to make a sizable contribution to Ron Paul's campaign.

We've just made 2 trips across the Southeast this month, and you would not believe the number of Ron Paul campaign signs all across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. That's a good chunk of the Republican stronghold; a good boost for Paul there might well destabilize the Republicans in the same way that they want to destabilize us by funding Nader.

#90 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:24 PM:

Marilee, you smart memorious thing you. He's had every chance in the world.

Lizzy: Loosing dinosaur, aye. What follows after that, only Sean and the dinosaur know for sure.

#91 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:25 PM:

Julie L #76: I understand the issues here with disenfranchisement, but there is also an issue with not identifying voters, and there are known (easy) attacks that exploit them. The whole "ID requirements are unreasonable because nobody can prove they're necessary" argument strikes me as very close to the argument I've been hearing for many years now, which says that "paper isn't necessary for DREs because nobody can prove there's been an attack on the software inside DREs."

There are surely other procedural defenses against trucking in voters from out of state (or just out of town). Maybe one of those would be better. But I keep seeing people (essentially only Democrats) arguing that ID requirements are evil and some kind of plot to disenfranchise minorities, without any acknowledgement that there might be a reason behind wanting ID requirements.

#92 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Teresa: I was a very different person in 2000. I can lay much of the change at the feet of the present occupant of the Oval Office.

Much of it is, I think for the better, but those parts are only tangientally his doing. The ways in which I am less tolerant, quicker to anger and not as willing to brook inanity or suffer fools, well he did that.

I am worried about the fate of this great experiment, in ways I wasn't eight years ago, and McCain is a large part of the reason why.

McCain owes me something, but it's not a favor, and it's not something I think I'll ever get.

He owes me an explanation, and if he can do that, he'd sure as hell better be able to follow it up with an apology.

#93 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Xopher @ #34

...and I can't think of a "good" Rethuglican to put on the other side.

Joe Lieberman?

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:31 PM:

I brought a tube of PteroGlide!

#95 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:32 PM:

John @70, everyone who blames Nader instead of the Democratic failure to address the Republican manipulation of the system is excusing the Democrats.

Remember that the Republicans have shafted the Democrats three times with the Electoral College in presidential races, and still the Democrats support it.

Sometimes I wonder if the Democrats simply like to lose. This year, for example, thanks to the super-delegates, we're down to the DLC-approved candidates. And since the super-delegates favor Clinton, she'll probably be the candidate. Never mind that in the national polls, the strongest candidate against any Republican is Edwards--Edwards' talk about class made the DLC uncomfortable, so he was edged out.

I will vote for the DLC candidate that I'm offered. But I will not pretend that having some choice in the representative of corporate America will guarantee anything. I'm old enough to remember '64, when my father and his friends were delighted that the peace candidate won. And then the escalation in Vietnam truly began.

#96 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:38 PM:

Edwards pulling out saddened me. Not least because he was the candidate of my lifetime I like the most (I was for Dodd, srongly, but that's because I think we have some very specific problems he was going to address. Problems I think more important, right now than the class issues Edwards was addressing. I also knew Dodd had not much more chance than I of getting the nomination).

He also managed to get the hurt, confused and angry conservatives I know to support him.

It's a gladdening thing to see them looking at class, and disparity, issues and coming up with the answer I like. It's depressing as all hell that the Dem. Party doesn't see the same things.

#97 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:39 PM:

julia @ #48:

I find my voice echoes distractingly when I have political conversations under bridges.

It's about time you learned that being homeless removes you from the political conversation.

#98 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:40 PM:

LMB 92: Naw, I mean someone who's a good person who's just wrong about things. Joe Lieberman is a cross between a slug and a turnip, and he makes my flesh crawl.

#99 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Julia #15:

The thing is, among normal human beings you would interact with by choice, McCain and Romney come off as smarmy, unprincipled, corrupt, and expressing unsettlingly beligerent ideas about what we should be doing in the world. Put them on a stage with Guiliani and Huckabee, and they come off as calm, stable, sensible guys.

ethan #21: That's where I am, too. I don't much like the Democrats' ideas. Some Republican ideas sound better to me, some sound worse, and then there are the bone-chillingly batsh-t nutty ideas.

And along with that, I want to see that weeping and gnashing of teeth Fragano talks about on the Republican side. They've let a bunch of ideologically blinded fools and frauds take over their party, and they've seriously hurt the country. They maintained party discipline when it was clear we were heading off a cliff, they abandoned their principles wholesale when those principles became inconvenient, they protected their own from facing the consequences of crimes and horrible misjudgements. If that were done by a person, you'd want them fired or sued or beaten up. Parties respond to different incentives. If their corruption, blind obedience to bad leadership, and abandonment of their good ideas (like some kind of distrust for unlimited state power, or fiscal discipline) doesn't cost them a lot, as a party, then they will continue it. I think getting their clocks cleaned in the next couple elections will bring the kind of pain to the party that might offer the chance for them to get better. That's important, because we need two parties; that's (as Patrick said in another thread) a pretty much inevitable result of the way our political system works. Having one of those two parties taken over by crazies will send the country off a cliff, either directly (when the crazies get power back) or indirectly (when the unchecked craziness on the other side gets power).

#100 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:42 PM:

Xopher #97: I like neither slugs nor turnips, and I think you're being unfair to both.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:43 PM:

Will Shetterly, don't even start. Don't do it. You have no idea how often I've looked at the latest Republican abomination and forcibly restrained myself from sending you a note saying, "But of course, there's nothing to choose between the two parties."

#102 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Julia is an astute political analyst. Never doubt it.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:51 PM:

albatross # 90

It's not so much requiring ID, it's that they require one photo ID, which generally requires producing a birth certificate, which the federal and state laws are making more expensive and harder to get, because they're trying, so they say, to protect us against identity theft. (I have yet to hear of any case of identity theft in the last decade or so that was done for the purpose of fraudulent voting.)

I've heard that in some states getting a birth certificate costs fifty dollars - if you're well off, that's not much, but if you're in a minimum-wage job, or unemployed, that's a lot of money.

Plus, if you have to go to the county courthouse or someplace similar, you'll have to take time off work (and lose more money, because you probably don't get any paid time off for this, either). If you're lucky, you'll only have to make one trip.

All this because they're worried about someone voting who might not be legally entitled to vote: they'd rather take the vote away from thousands who are entitled. That's a pretty fair description of this administration right there: afraid that someone somewhere might get something they shouldn't, so they'll take that stuff away from others who should get it.

#104 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:51 PM:

Will #65 -- There are 278 days to go until Election Day. Do you really think it's plausible that the Electoral College could somehow be overturned within that span of time? Seriously?

If at all, given that doing so would require the active consent of states whose obvious best interests require opposing such a change?

Even the National Popular Vote movement has only gotten two states to pass the law so far, with a total of 25 electoral votes. That's less than 10% of the way to getting their law to actually take effect. Do you think they're likely to get the remaining 245 votes worth of states to sign on before November 4th? (Or maybe December 15th?)

#105 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2008, 11:58 PM:

...and I just had the dubious pleasure of seeing someone on a different bulletin board declare with great personal conviction that McCain is demonstrably a Democrat at heart.

Sigh. Is it time yet to have a nationwide intervention to try to reclaim what "Democrat" means? Because I don't think most people out there use it to mean the same things I do.

#106 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:02 AM:

Will, you know something, there's being bravely principled, and then there's being fucking stupid. And when you decide it's ever so smart to try to argue on behalf of Ralph Nader, the man whose organization shut down the production of pemoline, in Teresa Nielsen Hayden's weblog, you know something, you're just demonstrating to the world that you're fucking stupid.

You're a great guy, you're a good writer, I appreciate all sorts of things about you, and you're fucking stupid.

Don't explain yourself. Don't get all defensive. Don't tell us that you didn't mean to defend Ralph Nader. Just. Stop. Being. Fucking. Stupid.

#107 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:06 AM:

...and attract enough lawyers willing to work free of charge ...

Maybe there's some hope ... maybe even Ralphie-boy can't find any such lawyers.

#108 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Teresa @100, we live in the nation the Democrats and Republicans made together. I'm looking at the Pelosi-Reid record, and I'm not impressed.

Avram @103, I understand the Dems not addressing the Electoral College in the 19th century, the first two times they were shafted. But around '92, there was serious discussion of how we could end up with undemocratically elected presidents. Still, I realize that most people fight battles of the past, not the future, so I don't hold that against them.

But in 2000, it was clear the system was broken. Their reaction? Gore told the members of the Black Caucus to sit down and accept what the system gave us. It's nearly eight years later. If you can point to a major effort by Democrats to amend the Constitution, I'll be very, very grateful.

I like the National Popular Vote, of course. But it's an end run solution, because the Republicans and the Democrats prefer two-party politics.

#109 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:14 AM:

Xopher was taking Pemoline too. So was Dave Howell. It was our year-in-year-out maintenance drug. Also taking it were people I'd never heard of before, who found me on Google and wrote to me, asking desperately whether I knew of a way they could get some.

The reasons given for discontinuing Pemoline were bullshit, and we all knew it. It had been covered as an Orphan Drug. There wasn't another drug like it in the pharmacopoeia. Occasionally it ate someone's liver, but we've never seen stats on that. We just know it was rare. We also know that Tylenol eats people's livers all the time, and it's still over the counter.

And so we were pitched into the waiting hands of the American pharmaceutical industry, which wanted nothing more than to sell us wildly expensive Provigil every month of every year forevermore, amen.

We've lived with the consequences every bleeping day since then. It's not just the loss of high-end functionality, me bucko, though you try losing that and see what it's like. Xopher and I both have serious medical problems with the alternate drugs. What will become of us when we can't take them any longer? Good question.

And finally, though it pains me to say so, this is a trifle compared to some of the other things he-and-his have done.

Nader is a scumbag. Don't even start.

#110 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:19 AM:

Patrick @105, I am just fucking stupid. I look at the world the fucking smart people made, and I've decided it's much better to be fucking stupid.

But I love Teresa, so I'll stop talking about Nader, the Electoral College, and the Democrats in Making Light now.

#111 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:24 AM:

albatross@90:

there are known (easy) attacks that exploit them

I doubt that they exist, and even if they exist I doubt they're easy. If they were, Canadian elections would be rife with fraud. To vote in Canada, you need to show up at your designated polling station with:

1. A photo ID, utility bill or bank statement with your name and address on it, matching the entry on the voter's list, or
2. A friend on the voter's list who'll vouch for your identity, or
3. The willingness to swear an oath that you are who you say you are, or
4. Any of the above, even if you're not on the voter's list for that polling station.

Now, note that #4. You don't even need to be enumerated to show up at the polls and get a ballot just as good as anyone else's, and you will never be required to show a photo ID, and you might not even need that bank statement. It's like they handed off the entire system design to Eighteen Vans Full Of Dead Chicagoans LLC. And yet, do you know how many people think that Canadian elections have been subject to the easy exploits you propose?

As close to none as makes no odds.

And I don't just mean that this is not a mainstream view. I mean that this does not even show up in the nutbarsphere. The Canadian political extremes can entertain theories from "proportional representation is a CIA plot" to "Jean Chretien had people murdered, regularly, and possibly for kicks". There's even a racist, Islamophobic segment who go into apoplexy that the four-item list I mentioned above says nothing about forcing Islamic women who wear the niqab to reveal their faces.

And yet not even the kooks think there's a problem. You can find 9/11 truthers and NAFTA superhighway freaks under any rock, but even if they think that the Canadian people are hypnotized sheeple who are voting for reptilian kitten-eaters from another planet they still believe those votes are being counted properly. Even the Islamophobes don't think that any vote fraud has actually happened -- take their claims at (ahem) face value and you're still looking at people who say that the election system is fine now and always has been, but we are facing a future full of, uh, demographic threats, and let's do something about it today just in case.

So yeah, the sort of ID requirements that would be imposed by the sort of people who talk about "vote fraud" are unnecessary. In much the same way that a unicorn tied up in your backyard would prove the existence of unicorns, Elections Canada operating in America's backyard proves that you can run a fair election on nothing more than phone bills, friendly neighbors, and a little bit of trust.

#112 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:31 AM:

Hey, but why should Will Shetterly give a shit about something as tiny and specific as Teresa's and Xopher's lives? Compared to the importance of Will Shetterly getting to enact and perform his superiority to those silly, foolish Democrats?

What Teresa and Xopher don't understand is that things have to get worse before they can get better. And that Will Shetterly, and his hero Ralph Nader, are the appropriate tribunes of exactly how much worse things should be allowed to get, and exactly how much better we should be allowed to expect to ever see.

What Teresa and Xopher don't understand is that Will Shetterly is a superior fellow, a member of the vanguard, empowered to sacrifice their trivial lives in favor of the important cause of breaking down the two-party system. What we don't grasp is that we should be thankful to Will for his brave willingness to sacrifice our lives.

And as for Will's #109: If you are so appalled by the world as it is, why don't you start addressing it. Instead of pretending that your performance of virtue is going to do crap for the people you claim to love.

#113 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:35 AM:

TNH @ #101: Not even for a nanosecond.

And while I've got the chalk, thanks for putting the end to all the earnest attempts at arguing with that trolling jackass. Anyone who claims that Ronnie RayGun was a great leader, and wasn't around (or old enough) to remember just what a doddering fool he was, shows me he got all his history lessons from folks with names like Newt and Rush. That and some of his other claims in this thread are enough to prove to me that he's a tool. If he wants to play, let him go play with himself.

#114 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:38 AM:

I'm actually on Concerta, which is Schedule II, so I have to go every single month in person to pick up a new PAPER prescription, because as you know it's much easier to fake a doctor's voice on the phone to a pharmacy that's known both her and me for years than to forge her signature on the little blue sheet, and bring it to the pharmacy. No refills allowed; can't have a backup supply (but ve haff vays), or an emergency go-bag supply etc.

But you know, I'm not as bad off as Teresa. Probably in a go-bag scenario ADHD might even be an advantage...though if I have to sit still to avoid being caught by the Huckabee Hackers with their machetes I will certainly die.

Also, it's fucking up my heart. And speeding up my heart, and if I went on a higher dose of my heart-slowing medication it would be hard for me to stand without fainting, since it lowers my BP, which was not high to begin with. And that, as every man here probably knows, has other side effects...and the medication for that gives me headaches (and sometimes things look a little blue).

And do you know why Ralph got rid of the Corvair? He'd short-sold the company stock just before his book came out. He did this many times; it's how he made his fortune. Sure sounds like insider trading to me, but IA so very NAL.

He's a GREEDY, SELFISH scumbag. And greedy, selfish people (especially the ones who actually get rich) are naturally drawn to the GOP, which is the party of greedy selfishness. OF COURSE they wanted to hurt the Democrats! THEY'RE REPUBLICANS.

#115 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:39 AM:

Teresa, according to the Wikipedia entry, Pemoline was linked to 21 cases of liver failure between its approval in 1975 and its banning in 2005. That's less than one case per year on average.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol), on the other hand, is cited as the leading cause of liver failure in the US and UK. I can't find overall numbers, though.

#116 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:40 AM:

Patrick @111, Teresa and I cross-posted; had I read #108, #109 would have been different.

#117 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:41 AM:

One can rail against the two-party system all they want, but there is absolutely no way to prove that the fix is a third party, because once you open that door, it's a fourth party around the corner and fifth party down the road aways. I'm convinced that down that road lies division and pure gridlock. Italian politics will not work here.

#118 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:56 AM:

Patrick @111, continuing from #115 (which I posted as quickly as possible to try to keep the flow of information straight): I do what I can. I wish I could do more.

Oh, I think I can say this without breaking the promise I made @109: I despise vanguard politics, and I'm pretty sure I always have.

Hmm. Okay, slightly breaking the promise: in 2004, I both worked for and voted for Kerry. This year, as I said before, I'll be voting for the DLC Democrat who gets the nomination. I was supporting Edwards until he dropped out. My politics are hardly idealistic.

#119 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:00 AM:

I have to confess, either there's something that will said somewhere else that I don't know about, he's being abused as a proxy for Nader. And you may hate Nader all you wish, as far as I'm concerned; to a Marylander, he's the Robin Ficker of national politics, a one-note loudmouth overly impressed with himself. I wouldn't vote for him for dogcatcher.

But I don't understand hanging Nader around will's neck when will questions the ability of the Dems to deal with eccentrics like Nader.

#120 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:02 AM:

But I keep seeing people (essentially only Democrats) arguing that ID requirements are evil and some kind of plot to disenfranchise minorities, without any acknowledgement that there might be a reason behind wanting ID requirements.

It's not as though no one has ever done a study or six to determine if there's widespread fraud of this type: a person tries to vote using someone else's identity.

You don't hear much about those studies because the Republicans commissioned them to justify voter ID laws. The findings were, simply, that it doesn't happen often enough to cause concern, which is why the release was delayed and the study was labeled "controversial." More here.

And really, if you were planning to fix a vote for county dog catcher, bussing in your brother-in-law's softball team might have some effect, but it would be a useless tactic in most elections.

Of course voter fraud accusations are still made all the time. A voter in my state wrote "return to sender" on some Republican literature (she was a diehard Democrat). On the basis of that, her eligibility to vote was challenged and she nearly lost her vote. She wasn't the only one.

Even more here.

#121 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:07 AM:

I'm convinced that down that road lies division and pure gridlock.

Fittingly enough, there actually are more options on order than "two-party system" and "pure gridlock". For example, going strictly by electability the United Kingdom is currently running an eleven-party system (boring old Canada has to settle for members of four parties serving). So the magic point of breakdown is at least twelve.

The problem with Ralph Nader is not that he is a third party. It's that he's going for the brass ring every single time, and he's abandoned any pretense at building a third-party system. I mean, whether you think his goal is "hurt the Democrats no matter how badly it screws over the country" or "genuinely help make America a better place", his energy would have been so much better spent getting Green Party candidates into races for city councils, state legislatures, and governor's offices. He would have displaced a few Democrats, elected a few Greens, and built genuine grassroots motion toward credible runs at Congress... and at the White House.

Stephen Harper he ain't.

#122 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Terry Karney's comment up above about what the Bush years have cost him rings really true with me. I'm more brittle, quicker to anger, less interested in negotiating or finding common ground, with a whole lot of attitudes I used to be able to work with. I feel more despair, more fear. I worry a lot about what the world will be like for the years Mom has left to share with us.

Democratic cowardice at the top is a constant source of anger and grief for me. But at least on the Democratic side there are significant challenges to the leadership, and the challengers are managing to win some victories and to learn from their losses. There's the prospect of someday actually having a Democratic Party that does a decent job of representing the center to left part of the country in a decent kind of way. There is nothing comparable on the Republican side - people who question the Republican Party in the way that (say) Glenn Greenwald or David Niewert question the Democrats are simply pushed out.

This is a real difference, too.

#123 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:11 AM:

Oops. In my #119 post, I meant to refer to albatross post at #90, as per the local custom. Sorry about that.

#124 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:12 AM:

Anticorium: Right on. The time to begin dealing seriously with reform of the two-party system is shortly after an election. That gives one time to have an organization built up and to have been seeding the conversation generally, so that challenges to the existing order emerge as one of those things people have been talking about for a while now. If someone were to set up such an organization with what looked to me like basically competent management, I'd donate to it.

Busting into elections in progress and demanding systemic reform right now or you're going to help the worse candidates win again is not reform.

#125 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:16 AM:

Side note: I notice I'm using "decent" a lot in my desiderata. What I mean is an attitude of self-aware skepticism and humility: aware of one's fallibility, willing to look at objections (though not to endlessly suffer them again and again once there are valid answers at hand), concerned about individual experiences here, now, today, tomorrow, and so on, always willing to bracket generalizations about the state of any whole by looking at the fate of its components, temperate at the outset, passionate as need be in the defense of charity, community, law, competence, and the like. I think all of that's entirely compatible with convictions about sexual and other self-determination, opposition to bigotry and discrimination, and other radical-y dreams for the future. "Decency" is in this sense about means, and implicitly about the ends they rule out, like gratuitous cruelty, the glorification of incompetence, and the like.

#126 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:25 AM:

Curiously, while I was half-listening to NPR in the background last night, Bay Buchanan (Pat's sister) came on a-punditing about John McCain's multitudinous failures as a True Conservative, compared to stalwart paragons such as Rick Santorum. Considering the two men's current political careers, I found this statement... odd, in terms of cui bono; I don't recall hearing her endorse any of the other candidates by name, but it may have gone right by me.

#127 ::: Jeff Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:26 AM:

Anticorium @120: Stephen Harper he ain't.

I'm afraid I'm not getting the point of comparison here. If you're referring to the Reform Party's success at building up a grassroots movement into a legitimate political contender, surely it's Preston Manning who deserves the blame credit?

Bruce @123: The time to begin dealing seriously with reform of the two-party system is shortly after an election. [...] If someone were to set up such an organization with what looked to me like basically competent management, I'd donate to it.

It never ceases to amaze me that no such organization exists. The two-party system is so obviously a problem, and yet as far as I can tell there's no significant movement to reform it (aside from a few folks who want to abolish the Electoral College). Why is that?

#128 ::: Anticorium ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:41 AM:

surely it's Preston Manning

No, I think Preston's overrated. Manning spent a lot of time electioneering, and got to spend a lot of time in Stornoway as a result. Harper is the guy who spent all his time doing the exact opposite of electioneering - he was working for the NCC, writing position papers on federal-provincial relations, advising other people who wanted to run for office. All the sort of scutwork that Nader thinks is beneath him.

It was only after he'd helped build a national apparatus that he decided (quite reluctantly, if the biographies I've read so far are credible) to try to lead it. Manning's a lot of things, but at core he's a loser, because he didn't spend anywhere near as much time as Harper did making it possible for a non-Liberal leader to win.

#129 ::: Sean O'Hara ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:46 AM:
I don't know why you guys are arguing with Sean about minorities when it's already been done all over the stfnal newsgroups.

"All over"? I've been posting to Usenet for eleven years, and your link shows a grand total of ten posts:

-Two discussing whether Star Wars was racist (I said yes)

-One response to James Nicoll lamenting the state of Canadian politics, in which I jokingly compare it to Zimbabwe.

-One in which I correct James' claim that the black lady on "Lost" has mystical powers.

-One music discussion in which I criticize RATM for their Free Mumia stance.

-One in which I say I'm against the death penalty because it's applied disproportionately against minorities.

-One about a news story involving suburban parents not wanting to name a school after Martin Luther King because they think only inner-city schools are named after him.

-A debate about Iraq.

-One discussion of affirmative action in the Star Trek universe where I point out US immigration policy (under Clinton, mind you) was more liberal than in the 19th Century.

-A post in which I explain to someone that the FBI used to consider involvement in the civil rights movements subversive.

@Teresa: Please, explain to me how the Democrats are a good party -- not merely better than the Republicans, but actively good. If you think I'm too stupid to understand, please, feel free to use little words.

#130 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:02 AM:

Me, #54: The Democratic candidates are conservative and the Republican candidate is a right wing loon?

Debra Doyle, #55: Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the above assertion is true in all respects, it should still be patently obvious that between the two possibilities there is, as the saying goes, a great gulf fixed.

Ya got my point, ya did. Yet almost exactly four years ago in EL, I wrote: "The next moderate president is going to face terrible challenges--they will have to either raise taxes or cut SS/Medicare, they will have to face down the big corps, they may have to reinstate a draft. And this doesn't even touch the enormous foreign policy, economic, and environmental issues facing the world. And--someone who won't take positions is probably not going to do the job." True again, thinks I.

And even though it would probably take an act of god to keep me from voting Democratic this year, the Democrats are not my party. Work for electoral reform. Support progressive positions when you can. Don't trust the DLC.

#131 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:16 AM:

I'm a little puzzled by the demands for the Democratic Party to abolish the Electoral College.

No, I don't have any great love for the Electoral College. But given that amending the US constitution is tremendously hard (for those who have forgotten: 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress, followed by approval of 3/4 of the states), and that abolishing the Electoral College without making any other changes in the electoral system would have the effect of decreasing the political power of well over 1/4 of the states, I see no prospect that such an amendment will ever happen. And given that the Electoral College is only one of the ways in which the US electoral system is flawed, I don't see any reason to expect any politicians to waste time arguing for an impossible amendment when there are plenty of other things to do that are possible and at least as important.

There are lots of good reasons for being disappointed in the Democratic Party. The fact that they don't bang their heads against this particular brick wall is not one of them.

#132 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:17 AM:

Michael Weholt #42: Unless you intended it in a very different tone than I'm reading it, which is entirely possible because I'm pretty tired right now, that was entirely uncalled for.

#133 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:32 AM:

Idealism has taken a real beating in the US in the last seven years. I've been working (and as much as made sense voting) progressive since I was old enough to walk a picket line*, and even I was a little optimistic in the early 90's that maybe we were starting to put the bad old days behind us. But no, we've gone backwards quite a bit from the centrist position Clinton pulled us to, and discovered just how far we weren't from the same old imperialist, social-darwinist, monopoly-capitalist nonsense we've been hauling ourselves out of for more than a century.

These next few years are not about cleaning up the living room after a rowdy party, they're about extirpating some extremely dangerous tinkering done to the way this country works, that the batch of pols currrently trying to get elected is making admiring noises about. If we want our country back we need to make changes in the very near future; jacking off to the "I want a perfect candidate" mantra may, best case, just make us slip down the slope a hair slower than we are now; it won't get us back up.

And recognize that whomever you choose to vote for in the general election, and whoever actually wins, there's a distinct possibility that it will be a pyrrhic victory for the side that wins. If either Clinton or Obama runs for POTUS, as seems extremely likely, this is going to be the dirtiest, most divisive election in the last century, and whoever wins may end up with a divided Congress and people**, and (if it's Obama) an open racial confrontation unlike anything we've seen in forty years. Which means the progressives can't leave the electing to the party-faithful and the Silent Majority.

This election is not a shoo-in for whatever Democrat wants to take a victory lap, and it's not in any way guaranteed to undo the damage that the Republicans have done in the last seven years. Congresscritters vote for things they think are politically safe, which usually means in herds***. Even if there had been 41 Democratic Senators in 2003, I don't think they would have stopped the war; look at how few voted against it even when it was clear what a sham all the justifications were. The only way a new Democratic President and Congress are going to really get down and undo this mess we're in is if they are elected (as shown by the polls they're always taking) by people who want those things done.

* 13, the week after my birthday
** Just now, the people seem to be united behind the idea that the President and Congress have pretty much screwed an entire kennel full of pooches. Not united about what to do about that, of course.
*** or whatever the collective noun for lemmings is.

#134 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:56 AM:

I'm not going to bother engaging directly with Sean, life's too short, but I will take the opportunity to drag out one of the few insights I've had about politics that I think actually matters and may be useful to others.

The key word for thinking about electoral choices should be vectors. The country's always going someplace. The people with power will push it toward their favored destinations; various kinds of challenge will tug the country as a whole (and various pieces of it) in other directions. As individuals and as members of groups with potential influence, we face two questions:

1. Where do we really want to go?

2. Of the available options (including the ones that don't exist right now but it seems likely we can make, and the ones that we can shift to varying degrees), which point closest to that?

I won't say it's impossible that two institutions as large and lumpy as the Democratic and Republican Parties can end up with vectors identically far removed from my goals, or yours. If I did that, circumstances would conspire to prove me wrong. It's awfully darned unlikely, though. In practice, we always have a choice that does in fact matter in terms of getting from where we are to where we'd like to be.

Note that this is not an argument that we always have a good choice - someone we can support happily, feeling that they're likely to give us more good and less evil, however we may define it. It's an argument that we pretty much always have a meaningful choice. If the good is at 12 o'clock, the difference between a fast vector to 6 o'clock and a much slower one to 4 o'clock is meaningful. Supporting the latter this election will help keep some good from being destroyed that would otherwise be lost.

It's good to promote the good, to do what we can to help wise and brave people get the authority and resources they need to help build a better world. But impairing the triumph of evil is important, too. It's better to slow the bad than wave it on.

#135 ::: me ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:57 AM:

I get so frustrated with comments that Democrats and Republicans are the same. Yes, I'd like Democrats to fight harder on a lot of issues, but at the EPA the change since the Dems took control of Congress is very refreshing. Henry Waxman is my hero because he is doing a kick-ass job of actual oversight. Barbara Boxer has been on the attack in her hearings on denial of the California request for a waiver to address greenhouse gases. Even the much-insulted Reid has the EPA coal company sluts running scared. The Dems can't stop the horrid republican policies that are spewing in all directions but they are exposing the cockroaches to the sunlight. Getting the EPA to be a positive force requires a Democrat in the white house.

McCain or Romney would both be really bad for the environment. Romney is advised by Jeff Holmstead who is very good at quiet dismantling of the regulatory apparatus necessary for effective environmental protection (and dismantling the MEASURES so the damage isn't tracked). In my office, a lot of folks cheered when Barbara Boxer in her oversight hearings told EPA employees to hang on and don't quit.(yes, I work for EPA but of course am posting this at home as a private citizen). I'm hoping for an administration that believes in actually protecting public health and the environment instead of doublespeak and "voluntary" initiatives that do NOTHING. And there is a huge difference in the devilish details between even the most wishy-washy Democrat and "moderate" or "straight-talking" republican. A Democrat President will do more to make government work so you have cleaner air to breath, less toxics attacking you via pesticides and seepage from superfund sites and it will take a Democrat to take real action on CO2 emissions instead of stonewalling that puts dirty coal companies ahead of the American people. McCain will talk the talk (Just like George Bush did in 2000 -- remember him saying he would regulate CO2? HAH!) but McCain will not walk the walk and the price will be public health.

Sorry for delurking for such a rant but anyone saying that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans pays no attention to the detailed policy fights that happen in the agencies.

#136 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:06 AM:

Yet surely Harper is the architect of the Conservative Party of Canada, rather than the Reform Party (which was Manning). Manning started the movement, and splintered the old Progressive Conservative Party in the process (helping turn us from a three-party sytem into a five party system), and Harper's the man who fused the PCs and Reform back together again (leaving us with four, which suggests, gentle readers, that numbers of parties do not iunevitably increase). They're from different eras, different movements, with different aims. Apples and Oranges, surely. (Granted, both are edible fruit found on trees, but still...)

#137 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:13 AM:

Bruce Cohen: But no, we've gone backwards quite a bit from the centrist position Clinton pulled us to, and discovered just how far we weren't from the same old imperialist, social-darwinist, monopoly-capitalist nonsense we've been hauling ourselves out of for more than a century. This. Yes. I have to admit: in 2000 I genuinely did not believe that there was a substantial fraction of the nation's wealthiest families (and a scattering of intellectuals and power brokers in other classes) who really did treasure a dream of undoing the 20th century. I thought, and said, that the boss classes had in general learned a useful lesson, that living with something less with all of the pie would be profitable for them too.

I was wrong.

And I really hate being wrong about this kind of thing. It's immensely self-destructive to their own interests, or at least not as lucrative and vastly more complicated than the alternatives, and justifying it requires getting into needs for domination, an active pleasure in the misery of would-be rivals, and other crap out of the dregs of our biological ancestry. It's ugly, cruel, stupid stuff. I would much prefer dealing with Dr. Doom, if I had to deal with a self-consciously malevolent would-be overlord.

#138 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:13 AM:

Many people are frustrated by the Democratic Party's refusal to do anything about the Electoral College. After all, it says right there in the Constitution that the Democratic Party is responsible for conducting all our elections, just like the Republican Party is responsible for starting wars. The Republicans have been hard at work, so when are the Democrats going to do their job? The Democrats has vast powerz, and if they won't use them, they must be punished.

Meanwhile, I look at the world the fucking smart people made, and I think wow, that's some pretty good science fiction. Too bad it's not the world we have to live in.

#139 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:34 AM:

Nader got, what, 0.36% of the vote last time around? It wasn't enough to make a difference anywhere, as I recall. And I haven't seen a convincing argument he'd do any better this time-- fringe candidates tend to have their moment in the sun and then steadily decline, and Nader already had his peak in 2000.

The only third-party candidate I can see with the potential to seriously disrupt the presidential race at this point is Bloomberg, if the Democrats manage to run him. Don't know how likely that is, though.

Barring that, I'd say I'd say the Republicans don't look like they're in as much trouble on the presidential race as some here might hope. If you look at the latest head to head polls reported at

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh08gen.htm

you'll see the the strongest R candidate, McCain, beats or comes quite close to the leading D candidates in many of the polls. (Obama seems to do a bit better than Clinton against McCain, but I'm not sure whether the difference at this point is statistically signficant.)

#140 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:50 AM:

Lizzy L @ 85... I vote for deliberate pot-stirring

Wasn't Ross Perot's slogan "A dinosaur in every pot" ?

#141 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:55 AM:

Teresa @108, as I told Patrick, if I had read that, I would not have written #109. Here's what I think I would've written instead:

I hate the situation you're in with Pemoline. I have an abstract hatred for it: the government should make sure people are fully informed, and then let them decide. And I have a very personal hatred for it: I have always been in awe of you, and I will always want you to be happy.

#142 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:23 AM:

Teresa @108, continued: The other thing reading #108 before posting #109 would have affected: I would have promised never to utter the N-word on Making Light, but I would have left it at that. I gather your objection to him does not include an unwillingness to discuss the Electoral College or the Democrats, so I'll talk about them some more. If I'm wrong, say so, and I'll stay quiet about those things here.

TomB @137, the Republicans have never been shafted by the Electoral College, so there's no reason to expect them to want to end it. But the Democrats had the most votes for a president three times, yet lost to the Electoral College. Also, the Democrats' name says they care about democracy, while the Republicans' name says they do not.

But names are only names. Expecting the Biparty to end the two-party system is like expecting kings to depose themselves, or capitalists to seek to narrow the gap between the bosses and the workers.

#143 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:05 AM:

#125 Julie L.: ...Bay Buchanan... I don't recall hearing her endorse any of the other candidates by name, but it may have gone right by me.

Baying Bay Buchanan is an active member of the Romney campaign.

#144 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:08 AM:

#138:In the electoral college system, the national poll results are irrelevant. The 2000 election was an object lesson in that.

The interesting question is not how Nader polled nationally, but how he polled state by state. Given the "winner take all" nature of the electoral college system, in a close election, a 3rd party candidate leeching off a few votes may be enough to swing all of a state's electors from one candidate to his or her leading opponent.

I remember, at the time, a NH friend of mine grousing that this was exactly why NH went to Bush in 2000. (Note that it went to Kerry in 2004.)

#94: Will, can't one disapprove of both Nader and the Democrats? My puzzlement was with how #76 appeared to let Nader off the hook. There's plenty of blame to go around here. Nader should get his fair share along with everyone else.

(Incidentally, I don't see why it's specifically the Democrats' job to get rid of the electoral college either. Of course, 9 months is not enough time to pass any Constitutional amendment in any case. In an election year, it would also be dismissed, validly or not, as so-called electioneering.)

#25: Condorcet voting is a multi-voting scheme. (i.e., one where you place candidates in order of preference.) But it's not the same one Australia uses. Australia picks its winners the way WorldCon voters pick Hugo winners (minus "No Award"). Condorcet voting is more or less how the ISU ranked figure skaters in competition from about 1998-2004.

#145 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:15 AM:

Bruce Baugh: in my utopian dream America, you would be President.

#146 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:20 AM:

#131 ethan: Michael Weholt #42: Unless you intended it in a very different tone than I'm reading it, which is entirely possible because I'm pretty tired right now, that was entirely uncalled for.

Well, maybe it was generally uncalled for but I don't think it was entirely uncalled for. I think vigorous political debate is important, especially now. I don't think a thread going in that direction means it is "going downhill". In fact I feel a low-level irritation at the course of this thread (up to #42) being characterized as such.

Plus, even though I think people should be able to make puns to their heart's content, I can't stand them. I know this makes me something of an Avant-Garde Pariah, but fortunately this is America the Beautiful and I believe even people like me who hold Lynden-LaRoche-Type Loon Opinions along the lines of "I hate puns" can express such opinions without fear of being taken too seriously.

#147 ::: Donald Delny ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:20 AM:

#82, Marilee,

I don't know why you guys are arguing with Sean about minorities when it's already been done all over the stfnal newsgroups.

One of the reasons I come to Making Light's political discussions is the ability of the guests and hosts to summarize an anti-talking-point in a clever and succinct way. So, I appreciate the effort expended arguing with Sean, it saves me countless hours dealing with my smart but wingnutty friends.

#148 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:41 AM:

Jo, I'd abdicate in favor of my cat. :)

#149 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Patrick #105 (echoing Xopher later in the thread):

My sense is that a lot of Nader's work has provided the same kind of unhelpful help[1]. It's way, way easier to argue for banning something because it's "unsafe" than to analyze the costs and benefits and decide to leave things alone. Just like it's way, way easier to argue for draconian anti-terrorist measure X than to analyze the costs and benefits and decide not to bother with it.

Honestly, I think Nader's had as much effect as he's going to have on US politics.

[1] I'm stealing this phrase from someone, but I have no idea where it comes from.

#150 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:49 AM:

Darph Nader: [points to Destruct-O-Vision screen while spouting muffled jibberish]
Princess Anne-Droid: I don't understand what you're saying! I *can't* understand you! Are you talkin' to *me*?

#151 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:56 AM:

Serge #149:

"Noooo! Basketball is a peaceful planet!"

#152 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:11 AM:

Lis @ 150...

"Hardware Wars"! A spectacle light years ahead of its time! Starring: Fluke Starbucker, intergalactic boy wonder. Augie "Ben" Doggie, venerable member of the Redeye Knights. Princess Anne-Droid, interstellar damsel in distress. Ham Salad, ace mercenary pilot and intergalactic wise guy. Darph Nader, villain.

Me, I want to play Artie-Deco. Or maybe the Wookie Monster.

#153 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Anticorum #110:

That kind of nation-to-nation comparison usually doesn't make much sense, especially given the quite different ways the elections work in the two countries. Indeed, that's an argument against one-size-fits-all election rules across the whole US, since different states/counties have different histories.

At any rate, there is no evidence so far of paperless DREs being hacked to tamper with the outcome of a US election[1]. Is that a good reason not to require paper trails?

There is a fair history of vote fraud involving having votes cast on behalf of dead people, and trucking homeless people around to vote for pay. People I've talked to with some reason to know about these things were pretty convinced that they were still going on from time to time. (My sense, though this is my interpretation rather than what I've heard, is that this kind of fraud is important at a local level, much more than at a national level.)

The issue under consideration in the court is whether ID requirements are unconstitutional. Now, in an ideal world, the relevant question would be about the constitution and prior decisions, and I don't know how that would be decided. In reality, this is a partisan issue[2], and I expect the justices to decide that the Constitution demands just what their political party finds to be in its interests[4].

But as a matter of the security of the election system, I haven't seen an argument that justifies why paper trails must be added to DREs to mitigate a threat that has never been shown and doesn't appear to have had any effect on an election, and also that ID requirements must not be added to elections to mitigate a threat that has been shown, but doesn't appear to have had any effect on an election anytime recently.

An argument against ID requirements is that they may cost more than they're worth. I'm not sure whether that's right or not, but it might make sense. But absence of evidence for an attack you're not checking for is definitely not evidence of absence, and absence of an attack today does not mean it's a bad idea to defend against the attack occurring tomorrow.

[1] There are lots of laboratory descriptions of attacks, but not evidence that real attacks have happened. Of course, without the paper trail, it's not too obvious how you'd prove the attack happened.

[2] It's hard to express how bad it looks that anti-election-fraud measures are consistently partisan issues, in which committees, judges, and legislatures divide up along party lines.

[3] Most election officials of either party *hate* paper, at least in my experience.

[4] I expect to see the Democrats and Republicans unashamedly switch positions on the evils/goods of "activist judges legislating from the bench" in the next ten years, especially if we get another Republican president.

#154 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:14 AM:

Is this where I point out, once again, that the 2000 election wasn't lost by Gore, but stolen by Bush and blaming Nader for that is counterproductive?

#155 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:29 AM:

John @143, saying that anyone should "share blame" for running for what they believe strikes me as odd. People seem to forget that the Democrats are not the victims of the system; they are co-creators of the system. If they don't like what the Electoral College does, they should change it. In polls, there's overwhelming support for electing the president by popular vote. It should be easy for the Democratic Party to support democracy, but that's not a natural idea to a party that has super delegates and that has worked for decades to minimize third-parties by opposing reforms like fusion voting.

#156 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:32 AM:

Of course, this thread will just go through the usual convulsions of any "Nader is to blame for Bush, no the Democrats are, no Bush is" with nobody ever convincing the other side that it isn't silly to vote for a third party candidate/Democratic as the least of two evils, but wotthehell.

There are two political realities colliding here, I've realised.

The mainstream one is the view that voting for a third party candidate is pointless because they'll never win, but will hurt the party closest to their own views. The Ross Perot effect, so to speak.

But there's also the reality that sees that as long as the Democratic Party can portray itself as the only alternative to the unspeakable horrors of the Republicans, where every election is a crisis, the party never has an incentive to move from being the best of two evils into something that's actually progressive.

So you'll get a party that probably won't invade Iran on its own initiative, but which will go along with it under Republican leadership, that's good on abortion rights but almost helpless to prevent the gradual chipping away of these rights, a party that might migate the worst of the Republican agenda, but which almost never will put forth an equally strong progressive agenda.

For most progressives the answer to this is to work through the Democratic party itself, to drag it to the left, but as we've seen this so far has not had much succes. Despite winning back Congress last year the party has for the most part not even pretended to fight Bush's continuing rightwing agenda, while the more progressive candidates are being frozen out of the party's power structure (Lamont v Lieberman was instructive in this regard).

For other progressives therefore the solution is to build a new, progressive third party to "hurt the Democrats" and either take over its position as the leftwing party, or force it to become more leftwing itself. This is of course also a longterm, slow process with so far little succes. But if you're committed to this, appeals that doing so will put a Republican in the White House again are not convincing, because having a Democrat instead is not good enough.

For myself, the problem I have with Nader is not his presidental campaigns, but that he does not seem to provide leadership in between elections, though I'm also wondering how much attention he gets inbetween elections anyway.

#157 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:34 AM:

By the way, note to moderators, will there be an extra-special thread opened up this coming Super Tuesday so we can all thrash about wildly on the ongoing events of that day?

There a lot of places I could go for that sort of thing, of course, but I'd rather do it here.

#158 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:05 AM:

#143: I agree that state head-to-head polls, particularly in swing states, are more relevant than national polls. Unfortunately, the state polls I can find at present date from before Iowa and New Hampshire, so it's not clear how indicative they are now. But McCain seems to have done pretty well in late 2007 swing state polls, especially considering the shape of his campaign at the time, and his national head-to-head numbers against the leading Democrats, which are more recent, should be cause of worry to the Democrats.

I expect Nader to be no more than a distraction this time around, if he decides to run. He barely beat the *Libertarian* candidate last time (465k to 397k votes), and the latter presumably drew more votes from the right than from the left. (And both the Libertarian and Constitution party candidates outpolled the Green presidential nominee.)

I consider it quite likely that a libertarian candidate would get more votes this time than Nader would. For "libertarian", read either the LP candidate or Ron Paul, if he decides to do a John Anderson eventually. I hadn't thought of Paul as a third-party candidate in my previous comment, but come to think of it, *he* might be the most promising person for the Dems to try to "run". I could see him getting persuaded to do it, and he'd probably pull more voters from the right wing than the average Libertarian and Constitution party candidates.

More seriously, to win this, the Democrats need to focus on winning over the swing and occasional voters, which are much bigger potential voting blocs. (Given the turnouts I've seen on the primaries, they're doing fairly well at turning out Democratic voters for the primaries; it remains to be seen whether this will carry over into the general election.) Nader's a sideshow at best.

#159 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:07 AM:

What amazes me is that the further left potential candidates have left the field because they weren't getting enough support, and therefore!! Nader thinks it might make sense for him to run.

Any theories about how many votes he's likely to take away from the Democratic candidate? My assumption is that anyone who'd vote for him would otherwise have been very likely to vote for another third party candidate or stay home.

I wonder how many people trusted Nader because he hates corporations so much. I also wonder whether part of Bush's appeal in 2000 was that he exercised a lot.

As for how the Bush administration has affected me, I didn't used to be as interested in politics. I had a mild libertarian-subculture preference for the Republicans, but I didn't see a lot of difference. I can remember when having a strong preference for a party felt like insanity, but I'm used to it now.

I can remember being low-grade suicidal (no plans, just a background feeling that suicide wasn't a bad idea -- and don't panic, I haven't felt like that for quite a while) over Abu Graib. And feeling as though punishment was going to come down out of the sky on such a country. That one went away when I remembered how long the Roman Empire lasted.

Hearing about Abu Graib finished a process that started when I heard about My Lai. My first thought was "Americans don't do that sort of thing", and my second thought was "well, they did".

The depression seemed to be shame-based.

I'm still chewing on the question (possibly koan) of how to deal with being American. At least for the forseeable future, it's not just a legal fact, it's part of my identity. And it's hard to figure out how to feel about such a mixed history of excellence and atrocity.

I have trouble parsing statements like "We aren't that sort of people". If group identity is a meaningful concept, we *are* that sort of people. Not all of us, not all the time, and some of us vigorously oppose torture, but there's also a wide, smug pro-torture streak in the culture that was in place long before 9/11. It shows up in our popular art and in our policies about interrogation and treatment of prisoners.

Maybe saying "we aren't that sort of people" has a useful inspirational effect. I have no idea how to check on how well it works, or whether it would be better to use something more truthful like "that sort of behavior is tempting but detestable, it's possible to stop it, and we'll do the work to root it out".

#160 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Martin #155:

One other factor here. Sometimes, there is no compromise possible for a party or politician that doesn't lose votes. Suppose the leftmost 10% of the Democrats join a progressive third party, and will only come back if the Democrats move substantially left. Also suppose that moving left far enough to regain those 10% of voters will lose them 12% of moderate voters. They just lose lots of elections.

I'm not sure how to make parties accountable. I don't think there's anything wrong with third parties, or anything magical or inherently good about two party dominance, but I am not sure how to get to a better place. (I'm not convinced our system will support multiple strong parties for long, but maybe I'm missing something.)

#161 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:18 AM:

In re ID: Is anyone working to make the process of getting ID easier in general and cheaper for poor people? This seems like a public service, and I haven't seen the suggestion anywhere in discussions of voter ID.

So far as changing the political landscape is concerned, it does look as though the public hasn't been convinced that drastic change is a good idea. Maybe you need to convince some percentage of people (or maybe some percentage of the highly energetic people) before political change is possible.

#162 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:26 AM:

Nancy @158, the leftists in the Democratic Party weren't getting support from the party--at a time when Edwards was their strongest candidate against McCain. (See The Polls You Won’t Hear Much About.) This year, I think progressives will be content with symbolic progress in the form of a black or a female corporatist.

Albatross @159, about half of the population doesn't bother to vote. Whether that's because they feel the Electoral College makes their vote irrelevant or because they feel the Biparty does not give them a choice or because they're content with the Biparty is anyone's guess. But, in theory, moving to the left or the right should get you voters who wouldn't have voted otherwise. That's why it's always hard to evaluate whether a third party candidate was truly a spoiler.

#163 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:30 AM:

#158 Nancy:

I can identify with the Abu Girab effect. I remember sitting in a cafe in Switzerland, reading a Spanish newspaper covering it, and thinking I was going to throw up. Yep, here I am, I'm an American, ain't I proud. I think the MSM in the US soft-pedaled this a bit, and didn't publish some of the pictures (though you could find them on the net). Certainly, the tone of the coverage was quite different from the sort of deference to "legitimate security interests" and equal time for pro-torture ends-justify-the-mens types we got in the US.

9/11 didn't create the disease that has infected us. It didn't make neocons want to go invade the world and build an American empire, it didn't make Americans think torture was good if done by the good guys, it didn't spread the poisonous idea that rules and laws and ethical boundaries are for the weak, and aren't safe to apply to strong people you hope will protect you. It didn't create an alphabet soup of federal agencies that wanted to have all-but-unlimited powers of wiretapping and other spying, demanding everyone carry papers at all times. It didn't create a people who wanted safety so much they were willing to throw out anything that got in its way. All those seeds were lying around, waiting for 9/11 or something similar to happen.

I don't expect the Democrats to reverse this, because they've shown no inclination to do so, even when they didn't get the added power of controlling the internal security apparatus, or the added patronage of handing out rich contracts for homeland security equipment, jobs, etc. They're not as bad as the Republicans, and I'd say that's about what they've got going for them on this issue.

#164 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:35 AM:

#154: Will, I guess the difference in our views is that I view Nader more cynically than you do. My view is that Nader understood the role of 3rd parties in American politics, and the likely effects of his candidacy on a close election before he started running. Certainly, I think he does now.

Or maybe I'm just more cynical, period. Like I said, a have a really smart friend who always votes as if elections always selected the Condorcet winner. I admire his idealism, but I don't share it.

#159: albatross, that realization finally hit me this morning. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:36 AM:

The impression I have of Nader is that he'd do things 'because it's for your own good', without ever finding out if it really is. (Power for the sake of ... something, but not anything I want in office.)
I'd vote for McCain or Romney before I'd vote for Nader.
(I'll vote for Clinton or Obama before I'll vote for any of the GOP wannabes, just so you know where I stand.)

#166 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Minor footnote regarding IDs: Arizona is currently running loud, obnoxious ads where two louts (one with an "eye" drawing, one with a "D") show up in various places screaming their respective word/letter at the top of their lungs. This is followed by an announcement that voters must come to the polling place with either a driver's license photo ID or at least two pieces of alternative evidence. I'm hoping that my non-driver's photo ID (with a picture of a considerably younger me) will do the trick. Otherwise, I'll have to make a long hike back from the church down the hill to get additional evidence before I can vote in next week's primary.

#167 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Martin Wisse @ 155

Like many posters here, I sympathize with your view, but in some ways I think it's emblematic of what I see as a systematic error in analyzing the situation we're in, and what means we need to use to get out of it. I'm afraid that a lot of the discussion of who to vote for has seriously confused tactics and strategy. We have a long-term strategical need to remake this country to something closer to what we see as its true nature, replacing the checks, balances, and accountabilities whose removal has so damaged the US. The means we use to achieve the strategic objectives may or may not include the mainstream Democratic Party, or some more progressive third party created or molded from existing parties to do the job. Think of it as emergency treatment using field expedients, and remember that we don't need to reuse the same dressing after surgery. In the same way we can use the Democratic Party now, and perhaps replace it with something better later.

Yes, we need to start creating that replacement as soon as possible, but, as in most emergency situations, triage is necessary; effort expended for future treatment that leaves the patient dead or seriously crippled needs to be replaced by immediate effort to stabilize the patient, allowing survival for future treatment.

We also have a short-term tactical need that's a lot like the tactical objectives Jim Macdonald talks about in keeping an accident victim alive and in condition for other, longer term medical procedures. We need to stop the loss of more civil rights and more government/corporation accountability, so the situation won't get worse. We need to undo as much immediate damage as possible by repealing laws and regulations that have undone Constitutional rights (eg, the new FISA). And we need to restore public confidence in the agencies and bureaus (and in Congress as well) that the current administration has corrupted and weakened. None of those tactical objectives can wait for a new party or new political alliance to be developed; that will take years, and we must at least stop the continuing slide downwards as soon as possible. That means using existing organizations, like the Democratic Party.

#168 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:01 AM:

John Chu, #143: The interesting question is not how Nader polled nationally, but how he polled state by state.

Exactly. I don't have the Google-fu to back this up, but I remember hearing, in the days after the 2000 election, that if 2/3 of the people who voted for Nader nationwide had gone with Gore instead, it would have tipped crucial balance points in enough states that the Florida shenanigans wouldn't have mattered.

albatross, #148: Weren't we using "helpiness" for that concept a while back?

And at #152: The thing that really bothers me about the whole "activist judges" thing is the way the phrase has been blackwhited. A judge that doesn't rule according to the demands of the RRR, but instead pays attention to the body of case law, is derided as an "activist" who's pushing his or her own political agenda. It's like the people who say that scientific evidence for evolution is "only belief", while they KNOW that God exists.

Nancy, #158: I find it more useful to say that we're not supposed to be that sort of people. Of course, that's a shame-based argument, and we've had ample proof that shame (loss of honor, etc.) is no longer a viable force in American politics. Now it's "the ends justify the means."

#169 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:04 AM:

John @163, any third-party candidate understands that. It's why the Democrats support the Electoral College: it forces leftists to decide whether their issues are worth the risk of being a spoiler. The two-party state is an infinitely more clever way to control the populace than a one-party state, but one-party states look like hypocrites if they only add a loyal opposition party. Fortunately for the Hamiltonians in the US ruling class, this country's founders established the Electoral College before the demand for democracy grew strong.

#170 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:06 AM:

John @163, any third-party candidate understands that. It's why the Democrats support the Electoral College: it forces leftists to decide whether their issues are worth the risk of being spoilers. The two-party state is an infinitely more clever way to control the populace than a one-party state, but one-party states look like hypocrites if they only add a loyal opposition party. Fortunately for the Hamiltonians in the US ruling class, this country's founders established the Electoral College before the demand for democracy grew strong.

#171 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:07 AM:

Nancy@#160: In re ID: Is anyone working to make the process of getting ID easier in general and cheaper for poor people? This seems like a public service, and I haven't seen the suggestion anywhere in discussions of voter ID.

No kidding. You'd think it would be intuitively obvious that if the government is going to make it a requirement that all citizens must have ID, then the government should provide that ID for its citizens instead of making them pay through the nose for the dubious privilege.

But then, the logic of governments is not as the logic of us ordinary earthbound creatures, so what do I know?

#172 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:09 AM:

Sorry! Firefox gave me the spinning wheel of connectivity failure, so I didn't realize the first version (#168) had posted.

#173 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Debra Doyle, way back at #14: The first time around, I thought that those people were clueless, or that they had allowed their political enthusiasms to blind them to the consequences of their actions. But to do the same thing all over again, after everything that has happened since . . . this time, I can only believe that they are actively acquiescing to evil.

And just this morning, a friend of mine who's been furiously railing about torture, civil rights, and rule of law for the last 5 years said that he would consider 4 more years of Republican rule preferable to Hillary Clinton, and will vote Republican if she gets the Democratic nomination. Not because of her gender, but because she's too liberal for him.

*headdesk*

#174 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Serge #151: Unfortunately, you have been cast as Yoghourt, master of the Sauce.

#175 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:22 AM:

Lee @ 172

I'm flabbersmacked. How in the name of all that's unholy can anyone believe that Clinton is liberal? Unless liberal is the new conservative, so we get to blame the "liberals" for everything the Bushites have done in the last 7 years. After all, Clinton voted for the Iraq war, and continues to support most of the acts of Constitutional gang-rape performed by the various security-theater acting troupes in the administration. On which mixed and unpleasant metaphor I will stop, for fear of getting even more upset.

#176 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:26 AM:

The New Republic's online archives are all bloggered up; otherwise, I'd point directly to Jonathan Chait's March 2004 article, "Make You Ralph," which is about what a prick Nader's been from the beginning. Key quotes:

"Nor, for that matter, did Ralph Nader go wrong after decades of doing good. The qualities that liberals have observed in him of late--the monomania, the vindictiveness, the rage against pragmatic liberalism--have been present all along. Indeed, an un-blinkered look at Nader's public life shows that his presidential campaigns represent not a betrayal of his earlier career but its apotheosis."

"In 1971, Nader pressured one of his associates, Lowell Dodge, to sex up his study 'Small on Safety: The Designed-in Dangers of the Volkswagen.'"

"The final defeat [of a bill to establish a Consumer Protection Agency, analogous to the EPA, which Nader had called his highest legislative priority] came in 1978. Again, Nader's strategy was to impugn every Democrat who harbored any reservations at all about the bill. He maligned Washington Representative Tom Foley as 'a broker for agribusiness'--despite the fact that Foley had bucked agribusiness to pass a bill regulating meatpackers. He attacked Colorado liberal Pat Schroeder, who had supported earlier versions of the CPA but had minor reservations this time, as a 'mushy liberal' selling her vote to corporate contributors. He so alienated Democrats that, as the measure went down to defeat, one reportedly said as he voted no, 'This one's for you, Ralph.' House Speaker Tip O'Neill told The Washington Post, 'I know of about eight guys who would have voted for us if it were not for Nader.'"

"As Nader addressed a gathering of supporters in 1981, according to The Washington Post, 'Reagan is going to breed the biggest resurgence in nonpartisan citizen activism in history.'" [We all remember that surge, right?]

"In his 2002 memoir, Crashing the Party, Nader alleges that Bill Clinton leaked the Gennifer Flowers adultery revelations himself to avoid having to address Nader's agenda."

And in closing:
"Nader is not a heroic figure tragically overcome by his own flaws; he is a selfish, destructive maniac who, for a brief historical period, happened upon a useful role."

#177 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:27 AM:

mfgates @ 10: As for whoever is still saying "there's no difference between the parties:" You're hopeless. If you haven't noticed the last seven years of warfare, torture, civil rights violations, and wholesale looting of the treasury, I can't think of anything that you *would* notice.

Of course, once the Democrats won a majority in Congress, they expressed the full fury of their outrage over the President's warrantless wiretapping program by...er, voting to make it legal.

That said, I suspect that under another President in 2000 (perhaps Nader, or Pat Buchanan...does no one remember it was actually Buchanan who threw the election?), we might have had a President a little less reluctant to acknowledge the evidence for global warming, that we would not have started wars on the basis of a bunch of prefabricated evidence, and if we had, our Commander in Chief wouldn't drag his feet for four or five years before finally sending in almost as many troops as everyone told him would have secured it in the first place.

Oh, and while I'm at it: My Open Letter Today to Michael Mukasey

PJ Evans @ 102: It's not so much requiring ID, it's that they require one photo ID, which generally requires producing a birth certificate, which the federal and state laws are making more expensive and harder to get, because they're trying, so they say, to protect us against identity theft. (I have yet to hear of any case of identity theft in the last decade or so that was done for the purpose of fraudulent voting.)

See Why Banks Suck for my example of what it would be like if you had to go to the TSA to withdraw your own money. I'm sure every policy I ran into, from the one-day withdrawal limit to the one-attempt-only rule, is "there for my protection."

Similarly, when someone stole my Diamond Shamrock card and used it to buy stuff in one of their stores, giving them a signature not only totally unlike my own but not even using my name, when I called for a replacement card, the associate helpfully suggested I voluntarily prohibit myself from using my card at the pump and require myself to go in and sign for all gas purchases. I reminded her of the aforementioned incident and asked how that would accomplish anything except inconveniencing myself while letting crooks continue to run rampant with stolen cards?

It's as if the same people are running TSA and Homeland Security: sham theatrics everywhere I turn.

Patrick @ 111: What Teresa and Xopher don't understand is that things have to get worse before they can get better.

A part of me wants to chime in with "Oh come now, things can't possibly be worse than W in the White House," but if I ever do, you have my permission to tell me how fucking stupid I just was.

Every time I think of W in the simple terms of "Worst. President. Ever," a still small voice sends a chill down my spine by whispering two simple words in my ear: "So. Far."

I will do my part by attending my local precinct caucus, I suppose, but since the only candidate who was addressing the last 30 years' dismantling of the middle class has dropped out of the race before I get a chance to speak, I feel my contribution will be kind of... perfunctory.

#178 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:31 AM:

#172, 174

Clinton is as liberal now as Goldwater was in 1964, AFAICT. Which tells you how far things have moved to the right: he was a mainstream GOP candidate, and she's considered by some to be a 'moderate' Democrat. (I consider her to be a moderate Republican running as a Democrat, or a conservative Democrat, but I'm in the left wing of the Democratic party, the group that's been Democrats since the 60s and is now considered to be the 'radical left' by the corporate media.)

#179 ::: Fade ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:40 AM:

What's hilarious is that with two strong Dems and a lot of really weak Repubs- Nader could walk away with a LOT of Republican votes.

#180 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:45 AM:

But Bruce CStM, Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and all the people at CNN and Fox, plus the New York Times and the Washington Post and, and, everybody in the media says she is! Would Maureen Dowd make something like that up, just because Bill wouldn't hit on her? Surely not!

Hillary must be a liberal--she wears pantsuits!
And she went to law school!

Please don't suggest you think all those really smart people are mistaken. If we can't trust the reporters and the pundits and all the rest of the news media, who can we trust?

*staggers over to fainting couch*
*wrings hands*
*weeps*


/sarcastic bitch mode

People believe this because they've been told she is. When asked to name positions of HRC's that demonstrate that she's a liberal, they have trouble coming up with really good examples. But they still believe it, because they've been trained to, by twelve years of careful, patient effort.

#181 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:07 PM:

albatross @152:

But as a matter of the security of the election system, I haven't seen an argument that justifies why paper trails must be added to DREs to mitigate a threat that has never been shown and doesn't appear to have had any effect on an election, and also that ID requirements must not be added to elections to mitigate a threat that has been shown, but doesn't appear to have had any effect on an election anytime recently.

You answered part of the question with your footnote #1: it's entirely possible that an election could be compromised with the paperless DREs and we'd have no way of knowing.

But the crux of the issue is that requiring a paper trail doesn't keep anyone from exercising their right to vote. Requiring photo ID does, if not everyone has one and it's hard for some people to get.

It's like the difference between vaccination and quarantining when faced with a potential threat of disease. One is a relatively harmless* safety precaution, the other is a civil liberties violation that would require a serious, imminent, demonstrable threat to justify.

If the people who proposed ID requirements were also proposing making IDs free and convenient to get, then they'd be on much firmer ground.

* Not really looking to get into a vaccination argument with anyone.

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:08 PM:

fidelio @ 179... What? No holding a silken hankie to your chest?

#183 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:11 PM:

I'm still boggled that anyone is attacking the Democratic Party over, of all things, refusal to abolish the Electoral College. It's s little bit like attacking the Democratic Party because it selfishly refuses to blow up the moon and push the Earth into a better orbit. What kinds of powers do you think the Democratic Party has?

Getting 2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of state legislators to agree to abolish the Electoral College just isn't going to happen. The Electoral College is a historical aberration that was the result of some weird compromise between factions that haven't existed for centuries, and it's indefensible, and it isn't going away.

On the other hand, the National Popular Vote movement might just have a small chance of success since it doesn't require a Constitutional amendment. If it succeeds then the Electoral College will continue to exist, but will be irrelevant. If you really think this is the most pressing issue facing America (I don't; I'd probably put it on my top 100 list, but not my top 10), then I'd suggest that you get involved in that movement.

#184 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:11 PM:

#177 P J Evans: ...Goldwater... was a mainstream GOP candidate...

Well, he was certainly the GOP candidate in 1964 and certainly he had to win the GOP nomination to be that. I'm not sure "mainstream GOP candidate" quite captures it, though. I think, at the time, a lot of the mainstream GOP didn't care for him at all as their candidate.

It was Goldwater's crushing defeat that drove the hard-right conservatives into the wilderness where they, you know, hung around in dark caves and ate scorpions and put together the strategies that eventually led to their take-over of the GOP.

But I won't say a word against the man these days. If only the rest of the GOP would adopt many of the attitudes AuH20 expressed near the end of his life. If they did, for one thing the religionist wing of the GOP would have been thrown out on its ear sometime ago.

#185 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:12 PM:

fidelio #179: No, no. The reason Hillary must be a liberal is that she hasn't divorced Bill.

#186 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:15 PM:

No, Serge, I'm too busy clutching my pearls.

Frangano, if she did divorce Bill she'd be a liberal. It's Catch-22!

#187 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:20 PM:

>The two-party system is so obviously a problem, and yet as far as I can tell there's no significant movement to reform it (aside from a few folks who want to abolish the Electoral College). Why is that?

Because any problem sufficiently large to raise a third-party ruckus big enough to look like it's fracturing one of the two main parties, is also big enough to get one (or both) of the main parties looking real hard for ways to address the problem. At this point, people who are actually interested in solving problems will peel off the third party movement and join whichever of the two main parties looks more like fixing the problem, whereas people who are interested only in ideological purity (or their own self-importance) will stick with the third party and ride it downward into oblivion.

In shorter terms: The two-party system is a kook filter.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Fragano @ 173... master of the Sauce

"Fluuuuke... Goose the sauce... er, that doesn't sound right."

#189 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Matt @182, Polls Show 70% Support for a Nationwide Vote for President. It would have been very easy for Democrats to lead a campaign to change the Electoral College. It has bipartisan support with the public. Those Americans who opposed democracy would've looked very, very bad to the majority of the people. But the leadership of both parties is happy with the Electoral College. Hillary Clinton briefly spoke about the issue, but dropped it when her DLC instincts reminded her where self-interest lay.

#190 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:40 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @ 186 -

Good point.

Another reason that two-party system is important is that so much of Congress is built around it. The majority party determines who gets the best offices, the plum committee roles, the committee chairs - in short, how congress works.

Even if a third party prez gets elected, how effective can he be? Where's his team?

#191 ::: Dean ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Sean O'Hara :::

Now, if you want to tell me Reagan was a wingnut, go ahead, but don't expect me to take you seriously.

Yes, Ronnie was a wingnut.
Unintentionally I'm sure. I don't think he was smart enough to know what the word means.
Oh, and don't take me seriously either. From the few posts of yours I've read so far you're not up on a list I take seriously either.

#192 ::: Dean ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:46 PM:

Spherical Time:
Ack. I hope Nader doesn't run.
You know, that he's even willing to consider running again proves to me that he doesn't have the political savvy necessary to be the President of the United States.

I don't think it's a matter of "political savvy". It's a matter of ego being stroked and money rolling in. Nader is part and parcel of the Republican machine.

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Tony, #186: I'd agree with your analysis except for one thing. Why, then, hasn't there been more of a threatened schism in the current Republican party, if (as we are assured is happening) so many Traditional Conservatives feel disenfranchised by the Dominionist takeover there? If popular wisdom is to be believed, that issue is actually driving people over to the Democrats, which to me sure looks like a problem large enough to splinter the party.

I cynically suspect that the answer is "follow the money". As long as the fundies are a strong, reliable source of funding (which they would not be for a Traditional Conservative Party, but can be counted on as long as it's only God's Party against the Demon Democrats), no one is willing to jump ship.

#194 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 12:54 PM:

I think Nader liked Edwards (he called him the most progressive candidate in years) so maybe he's just making threatening noises, because Edwards suspended his campaign. But maybe he won't run, just make the noises. (Is Bloomberg running or not?)

I'm really shocked that Edwards "stepped aside" so abruptly -- at Susburban Guerrilla is a link to notes on a conf call with him yesterday. At least one of the reasons Edwards is dropping out seems to be because McCain looks to have locked in the GOP nom. He probably think the Dems can't afford to be at each other's throats until convention and wants a nominee now. I guess he's the anti-Nader -- he'd rather fall on his sword than contribute to a Dem loss in Nov.

But I'm worried about Hillary or Obama's chances against McCain. Really bummed that Edwards is out.

#196 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:01 PM:

Ay caramba. Suburban Guerrilla, not Susburban Guerrila. Sorry.

#197 ::: Dean ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Sean O'Hara:

Also, how does requiring an ID inconvenience minorities?

There's No need for voter ID

I think Sean is what's known on many sites as a troll(disrupt & distract). Since he's hopefully not going to take me seriously anymore anyway, I think I'll start ignoring his posts since they're of the(shall we say) "wingnut" variety.

#198 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:11 PM:

fidelio #185: Indeed so. Hillary-hatred is irrational, like all other forms of misogyny.

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#200 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:13 PM:

Serge #187: Clearly, the Sauce is not with you. I find your lack of spice... disturbing.

#202 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:17 PM:

If anyone's looking for a cause to get involved in that might, just, fix some of the issues mentioned upthread, I highly recommend http://www.fairvote.org/irv/, the group that's working on getting Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) more widely used in America (otherwise known as Australian rules voting, or Nebula rules voting[g]).

I pretty much have stopped working on/with/for the Greens, and put most of my political time into IRV -- because I think once an area has IRV, then getting people to vote Green (or your 3rd party here) will be a much easier issue.

If the people (or, well, idiots, generally, but well meaning ones on the whole) who voted for Nader, could have then 2nd place voted for Gore, the problem would have been solved. If you can vote 3rd party without aiding and abetting the 'enemy', it becomes much easier.

#203 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:21 PM:

re: fidelo@178: People believe this because they've been told she is.

Yup.

One reason I've heard people cite for voting Republican is that feel the Democratic party is dominated by intellectuals who harbor a barely-disguised contempt for anyone who isn't adequately intellectual. While that's probably true, I think that the real problem is that the contempt doesn't go deep enough. If we persist in arguing with Republican voters as if they are capable of understanding abstract issues like the environment or corporate welfare, we will continue getting our asses handed to us every four years.

Anyone who isn't (at least) a millionaire but who nonetheless votes Republican is simply too dumb to know where their own best interest lies. Republicans have made efficient use of this fact for decades now, while Democrats (c.f. Kerry 2004) seem to have a real problem grasping the degree of dumb with which they are dealing. Subtle arguments about foreign policy simply are not going to penetrate.

In the current political climate, the surest--maybe the only--path to victory is to concoct some sort of hysterical slogan that one of these domesticated-animals-in-shoes can understand and repeat it until it begins to resonate with one of the more emotional prejudices. Actually, thinking up commercials that might accomplish this is kinda fun.

For 2004, my campaign was "Torture Bad," accompanied by some Abu Ghraib photos. Gradually superimpose a sad-looking Jesus gazing down at Lynndie England. Perhaps Our Saviour should also weep a bitter tear.

For 2008, I'd suggest opening with a close-up of a still image Christmas photo of some sparkly family with at least two button-cute kids. Then cut to another still photo, maybe of little Timmy's birthday party in the backyard of some tidy-but-modest suburban home. Then--plop--a tear falls on the photo. Pull back to reveal that the whole family is now living under a bridge. Next cut to an image of smiling G.I.s passing out toys and candy to suspiciously ethnic looking children in a far-off land. Caption: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?

It is my sincere belief that by thusly exploting racism, economic terror, religious prejudice the Democratic party can reclaim the Presidency and lead America back to the moral high ground. God bless America.

#204 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:21 PM:

mayakda @193 -- Nader aside, it wouldn't surprise me if Edwards is positioning himself for a VP running-mate spot. It will be interesting to see how he aligns himself, and with whom, in the next few weeks.

#205 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Debbie @203.
I've been speculating that there's some kind of deal going on. Maybe it's wishful thinking, because I want my UHC.

#206 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:38 PM:

John Mark Ockerboom @138 points to a poll which asserts McCain can beat all the D candidates.

Let me point to polls by the same people, not six months ago, which indicated Rudolph Guiliani was a shoe-in for the Republican nomination. All we know is that this is how people feel before the campaign has started.

And anyway, does McCain look tired to you? (Who)

#207 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:49 PM:

>Why, then, hasn't there been more of a threatened schism in the current Republican party, if (as we are assured is happening) so many Traditional Conservatives feel disenfranchised by the Dominionist takeover there?

You haven't been reading enough Republican blogs ;) There's a lot of anger about McCain not being a true conservative.

(There is, of course, the alternative explanation that just perhaps most Republicans don't think the party is in any danger of being taken over by theocrats, any more than most Democrats think their party is in danger of being taken over by loony liberals.)

Seriously, neither party is, or has ever been, monolithic. Both of them are conglomerations of large numbers of interests, which sometimes move over to the other tent (in 1900, for instance, blacks and environmentalists voted Republican; in 1960 the guys not wanting to get involved in land wars in Asia were Republicans and the ones doing it were Democrats...)

#208 ::: Paul Lalonde ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 01:52 PM:

Albatross @ #152 - The reason for the paper trails on direct recording electronic machines is because those machines are *not* fully (and I'll argue can never be) transparent. Paper ballots counted at the polling station by multi-partisan councils with observers present are fully transparent. In order to corrupt an election on hand-counted paper ballots you have to enact wide-spread individual corruption. But with DREs you only have to corrupt the machines themselves, which can be done on a wide scale because they come from so few manufacturers. The only solution to this problem is to provide for and perform audits, which cannot be done from the recorded bits.

Some will argue that various cryptography tools could allow DREs to be auditable, but that brings up a second problem: not only must the elections be fair and accurate, they must *appear* fair and accurate. A counting system as simple as paper ballots does that; a high-tech solution adds nothing except marginally faster reporting of the results.


#209 ::: Jeff Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Tony @186: The two-party system is a kook filter.

This interpretation only works if you assume that any problem can be solved by either a center-right (Democratic) or far-right (Republican) response.

Steve @189: Another reason that two-party system is important is that so much of Congress is built around it.

Yes, well, that's part of the problem that an electoral reform movement would have to try and fix.

Please note: I'm not asking why there isn't a significant third party in the US. I'm wondering why there isn't more of a movement to change the system so that third parties can be viable -- something like the group mentioned by sherrold in #201, which I hadn't heard of before (so I'm assuming it's pretty marginal at this point).

#210 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Albatross #152:

But absence of evidence for an attack you're not checking for is definitely not evidence of absence, and absence of an attack today does not mean it's a bad idea to defend against the attack occurring tomorrow.

They have been checking for them, as I referenced in my post #119

#211 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Jeff @208: I didn't claim it was a perfect kook filter. But I think frequently it's more important to have a workable-if-imperfect solution than to either go into gridlock because nobody will accept compromises, or to hand things over to the first miracle-claimer who comes along.

#212 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:08 PM:

"There isn't really a place for the white male to find a candidate between [Obama and Clinton]. All you have to do is look at them and see that they're not like white men."

- Dan Payne, described as a "Democratic strategist," on NPR's "All Things Considered," Wednesday 01/30/08. Hear the whole interview here.

Why does this guy still have a job?

Bruce, #174: In fairness to my friend, I seem to have misinterpreted his original comment. His response to my response indicates that his reason for voting Republican over Clinton is that he is convinced she will follow exactly along the course Bush has been setting, but without Bush's stunning lack of competence. (And another Republican wouldn't???)

Now, that's either a tremendously backhanded compliment or "there's no difference between the two parties" in fancier clothing. But it's also notable that he says he'd vote for Obama.

Scott, #202: One reason I've heard people cite for voting Republican is that feel the Democratic party is dominated by intellectuals who harbor a barely-disguised contempt for anyone who isn't adequately intellectual.

That goes the other way, too. It's fairly obvious, when you listen to rank-and-file Republicans, that their party is dominated by anti-intellectuals who harbor a not-at-all-disguised contempt for anyone who is adequately intellectual. Even their pundits are intellectuals who make a living pretending to despise intellectuals, much like Phyllis Schlafly flying around the country telling other women to stay home and take care of their husbands.

That said, I don't think that emulating them (as you did in the rest of your post, unless my sarcasm detector is on the blink again) is necessarily a smart idea. OTOH, I do agree with you that we've allowed their closeted intellectuals to dominate the discourse for far too long, and need to come up with our own sound bites to counter theirs.

"American independence from Arab oil!"
"Living wages make stronger families."
"Dude, where's my JOB?"
... next?

#213 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Debbie @ 203

The Obama camp started floating him for AG the night before he dropped out

#214 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:15 PM:

212: The Obama camp started floating him for AG the night before he dropped out

Really? Interesting. I would rather have him still in the race, but I could get behind this idea. Very easily.

#215 ::: Gavin Edwards ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:44 PM:

I too was taken by the National Popular Vote proposal, but I've concluded that it's primary virtue (doing an end-run around the Constitution to produce a more democratic result) is too fraught with problems, such as electors in a close election ignoring the national popular vote, or a state legislature reneging on the deal at the last minute--there's a lot of ways it could get very messy, and its extra-Constitutional nature makes it difficult to enforce.

The way to go is to amend the Constitution, but the smaller states will never go along with it, so that's a non-starter. I think we have to live with the flawed system, and while I don't like it, I agree that it doesn't even come close to topping the list of problems with our elections. (Screwed-up electronic voting! Wholesale disenfranchisement of voters! Blatant gerrymandering to produce as many "safe" congressional seats as possible! Extremely wacky and hidebound primary system!)

#216 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Lee at 211, I like your idea of progressive sound bites to counter Republican claptrap.

How about:

No More Katrinas!
Torture is UnAmerican
Human beings breathe, sleep, eat, and love. Corporations -- not so much.

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:52 PM:

I have a proposal to fix the gerrymandering problem at least partially. Make a new federal law (Constitutional Amendment would be better, of course, but...) mandating that each district boundary be a polygon with no more than ten sides, each side to be a straight line. (Yes, that's redundant, but not to a politician.)

This would be easy to implement but impossible to pass. Too much at stake on both sides for it to be anything but laughed out of committee.

#218 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:54 PM:

re 208; A third really-liberal/progressive party is viable only as far as the people who would form it have the nerve to pull out of the Dems and not worry about whether this is going to put the Republicans in power. As long as keeping them out of power is the immediate goal, a third party is a poor option.

#219 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Come to think of it, aside from the fact that amending the Constitution to abolish the Electoral College would be impossible, I think I was too generous in saying that the Electoral College would make my top-100 list of problems that need fixing in the US. It probably doesn't even make my top-10 list of things that need fixing in the US electoral system. It does make my top-10 list of things that need fixing in the way that the US elects Presidents, but it's not at the top of that list.

Things about the US Presidential election that are more important to fix than the Electoral College (and probably easier to fix):
- Primary campaigns take too long. In a related note, Presidential campaigns cost too much money.
- There's no good reason for the long gap between the election and the inauguration.
- The fallback system that gets used when the Electoral College doesn't produce a majority is even worse than the Electoral College itself.
- There's no good reason for the restriction that a President must be "native born". (And the use of such a vague phrase is an invitation to mischief.)
- Our patchwork of primaries and caucuses, with a tradition that a certain tiny and unrepresentative group has enormously disproportionate power, is completely bizarre.

I'm just restricting myself to the way we run Presidential elections in this country, mind you. I don't claim that these are the most important problems with the US election system as a whole.

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Xopher #216: Wouldn't it be much simpler to elect representatives from each state by list proportional representation? No gerrymandering then, and old Eldridge could rest quietly in his grave.

#221 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Gavin @214, the 70% supporting direct vote are not all in large states. Many of the smaller states are ignored because their EC votes are tiny. Small state voters are not idiots. The media focuses on the high-ranking Republicans in small states, so it's understandable that one might think so. But small-state believers in democracy will vote to end the Electoral College if the Biparty will ever give them the chance.

#222 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:08 PM:

re 216: It would never be passed because in practice it cannot be implemented except maybe on the great plains. Straight line borders are painfully difficult to plot here in piedmont Maryland, where the county lines for the most part follow the rivers or the ridges. Where they are straight lines, as between PG and Montgomery counties, there are issues. Montgomery has county liquor; PG does not. There's a diner near Laurel which changed hands a few years back, and the new owners found that they couldn't get a new liquor license because it was discovered that the county line ran through the restaurant. They actually had to put a referendum through and give those two people a special ballot so they could vote themselves into PG county.

Now, it's possible you could put through a standard that the circumference/area ration had to fall within limits. It wouldn't pass in Maryland, because of all the gerrymandering for the Democrats, but hey....

#223 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:15 PM:

Matt @218, do you care that the candidate who got the most votes lost in 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000? Do you think we benefit in some way from periodically having presidents who, in a more reasonable system, would have lost?

#224 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Lee @ 211: That said, I don't think that emulating them (as you did in the rest of your post, unless my sarcasm detector is on the blink again) is necessarily a smart idea.

Why not emulate them? Seriously. It's got to be better than waiting around for them to screw up so we can--maybe--get lucky for a term or two. Yeah, every so often the rank-and-file Republican gets disgusted enough to abstain from voting, but the threshold of revulsion gets viler every year. 2006 was not a turning point. We are not winning.

Just to clarify, there was a certain amount of sarcasm in my previous post. However, I actually do think that it's a good strategy. Possibly it's the only viable strategy--I certainly can't think of anything more effective. Rational discourse simply will not work with people who won't vote for Obama because they don't want a Muslim president.[1]

Conceivably at some point in the distant past it was possible to shape the electoral process with sober and intelligent argument. I'm reasonably sure that was what the founding fathers envisioned or at least hoped for. But that was before Madison Avenue. These days advertising is so effective that the vast majority of people really do believe exactly what they're told to believe. No amount of rational counterargument or factual rebuttal is ever going to be able to penetrate two decades of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I've tried, as I'm sure you have. You might as well discuss calculus with your dog.

I think that we're getting our asses kicked because we refuse to recognize and exploit the average voter's ignorance, prejudice, religious zealotry, greed, sloth, superstition and lust. If we're going to get anything accomplished we need to identify a candidate with a gift for shoveling sleaze and hose him or her down with money. Right after the inauguration we can commission a nice statue commemorating the martyrdom of our new President's conscience somewhere on the Washington mall, and console ourselves with the knowledge that it's better than another Bush. Which it would be.

[1] I hear this a lot. Want others? I got em.

#225 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 04:23 PM:

According to Andrew Sullivan, nativist denmother Michelle Malkin has announced that she won't vote for McCain, even if he's running against Hillary, because of the immigration bill.

#226 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:00 PM:

Will that turkey turd go do something USEFUL, such as remove its revolting self to some factory in the Marianas and replace one of the underpaid foreign workers and start campaigning for a de-corrupt-Republicrap congress?! [that is, it's time for a big purge of Buddies and Beneficiaries of Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, etc.]

#227 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:09 PM:

#223

I think it's time for Creative Revision....
Modern computer tech makes all sorts of things possible-- the -best- political commercial I've seen was the one last primary gubernatorial election time in Massachusetts, I think it was, I had to watch more than once before I really believed what I was seeing was a commercial on TV--it showed a bunch of recto-cranial politicians running around, when asked about The Big Dig, they all stuck their heads up their asses....

Anyhow, parody is SUPPOSED to be protected in the Constitution.... how about showing Repugnicrap candidates excreted out of Rove and Cheney and the Schmuck....

Lots of buddy-buddy pictures showing them at their worst... one of the most effective ways to discredit someone is to make them a target of deprecatory humor....

After the so-called Swift Boat smears, and Roves smear campaigns, the spectable of the Office of the Vice President of the USA effecting "Exceptionally frave Damage" to the security of the USA and SKATING, with not ONE person tossed in jail for high crimes and misdemeanors.... it's time to call for open seaons on the perpetrators and their supporters.

What would Thomas Jefferson do?...

#228 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:12 PM:

Re: my 82 comment, Sean emailed me saying my characterization of those posts was wrong. I disagree. However, he did say that he thought you guys would just believe me and not actually go read the posts. I doubt that, I always go read, but there is a chance that some of you didn't, so please do that before making decisions. (Boy, you guys wrote a lot after I went to bed, and I'm not going to get back here for a few hours!)

#229 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:13 PM:

Matt 218: There's no good reason for the long gap between the election and the inauguration.

It might not have to be as long as it is, but some gap is needed for transition. The P-E has to interview and select appointees, and the outgoing POTUS has to have time to sabotage move out of the White House. (Remember that it's possible the POTUS may not know until after the election whether s/he is moving out of the WH or not.)

Hey, anyone else remember Nancy Reagan asking the Carters to move out early so she could decorate? Set the tone for her entire First Ladyship.

Still, it might be possible for the transition to be shorter. But how much shorter? How would you decide how much time is needed? Wouldn't it change rather a lot depending on many factors?

Fragano 219: I was trying to lessen the effect of gerrymandering, not overhaul our entire system of government. Whether THAT's a good idea has IMO been adequately discussed elsewhere.

will 220: I think you're mistaken about the effect of the direct popular vote. In such a system the candidates would simply campaign in the high-population centers, making perfunctory appearances elsewhere. While it would be nice to have my vote count as much as the vote of a person from Wyoming (which it doesn't), the voter from Wyoming probably wouldn't like the change as much.

Since the population of this country is concentrated on the coasts, the inland states would be neglected. The most bang for the buck would be in California and New York media markets; no one would care what Iowa did.

I've been over and over this before (not here). While the EC is a ridiculous relic, there are too many people getting too much benefit from the current system. The EC could be made more fair: give the state with the smallest population one electoral vote, and let each state get a number of electoral votes consisting of their population divided by that number, rounding down.

That would be fairer. But there are enough people benefitting from the unfairness of the current system to stop any such reform.

C. 221: I like the idea of the ratio of the perimeter measurement to the enclosed area being the standard. That's better than my polygonal approach. It also has the added advantage that people would be forced to realize that the area enclosed by a curve cannot be calculated from a simple perimeter measurement! This fact is obvious if you, say, show them a loop of string, but you'd be amazed and appalled by the number of people who never think of it at all.

#230 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:14 PM:

#226

I was looking at a billboard a while back, one of those inspirational ones. This one was 'From Homeless to Harvard - Ambition: Pass It Along'.

Reaction billboard idea:
'From White House to Jailhouse - Greed: Kick It Out'.

As always, YMMV.

#231 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:18 PM:

218:
The inauguration used to be March 4. That changed in the 30s, IIRC, when reasonably fast transportation (airplanes) arrived. January is as soon as it can reasonably be held, as Xopher says.

#232 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:43 PM:

C. Wingate, #217: And the same applies in reverse to the Republicans... which probably answers my question upthread. The traditional conservatives don't want to split the party for fear that doing so would put the Democrats in power, and living with the religious loonies is better than that.

I suspect they're wrong. A true Conservative Party would attract moderates from both the Republicans and the Democrats -- largely because so many formerly-conservative positions are now on the liberal end of the scale.

Xopher, #228: Thirty days. That's how much time Joe Average gets to move from one place to another, and most J.A.'s can't afford to hire specialized moving companies to do their packing for them. If you don't like the idea of having the Inauguration in the election year, let it happen on January 3 instead; that actually provides closer to 60 days for the transition, which is quite generous.

#233 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:46 PM:

#229 P. J.
Around here most of the billboards are owned by Clear Channel, a Texass rightwing etc etc. company. My feelings about their billboards are that turning them to ash and gone is WAY too kind a fate....

#234 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 05:53 PM:

Lee 231: I don't think 30 days is enough time for a transition that huge. Most JAs don't have to put together a Cabinet! Not to mention all the other tasks. It's not just a matter of packing up and moving.

As for January 3, is that such a huge improvement over January 20? I don't think that's enough of a benefit to justify the loss of tradition, or the trouble and expense of amending the Constitution. But that's just me.

#235 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:13 PM:

The verse daemon just got restless...

You don't look like me
I detest your candidacy
You don't look like me.

Your church isn't my church,
My church has the Word,
You may be an atheist,
Your beliefs are absurd.

I live in the One True Way
All other ways are wrong,
Gender directs destiny,
I tell you move along!

You don't look like me
I detest your candidacy
You don't look like me.

Your behavior is quite vile
Not following my creed,
Women's place subservience
Alpha males are lead!

I believe in these things:
The nuclear family
Wife stays home and husband works
The only way to be!

My church has the Word,
You may be an atheist,
Your beliefs are absurd.

Discipline the child
Spare the rod and spoilage comes,
No divorce must be allowed,
Except for mine that one's kept mum

Fam'ly planning is a sin
The childless an offense therein
A fetus more important is
Than any woman's life.

You don't look like me
I detest your candidacy
You don't look like me.


You do what I say,
There can be no other way
Where you go and what you do
These I make up all the rules

I am lord of my survey,
You are peons to whom I say
I your life own all the day
You exist for my play.

You don't look like me
I detest your candidacy
You don't look like me.

#236 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:16 PM:

Paula @226, Thomas Jefferson would tell the truth in fine, clear English, then get drunk on French wine and have sex with a slave.

Xopher @228, under the current system, campaigns focus on states where the Electoral College result is in doubt; everyone else gets ignored. If the system was changed, candidates would still go to small states for the photo op. It really will be a while before we have a president who is proud of his close ties to everyday Americans in World of Warcraft.

#237 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Side issue: what is meant by describing a person as "an intellectual?"

For instance, am I an intellectual?

I've always felt that the boundaries were quite fuzzy, when "intellectual" is used as a noun.

(Triggered by #202 and #211, but actually an itch I've wanted to scratch for years.)

#238 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:30 PM:

In Britain the Prime Minister usually resigns within 24 hours of the election results, and the new PM is asked to form a government immediately. (The last time this happened was 1997, when John Major resigned around noon on the 2nd of May after elections on the 1st.)

Owing to the completely dysfunctional American election system, it'd probably take a few more days here to get all the results in, but there's still no reason for such a long delay.

#239 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:34 PM:

scott h@223 I'd be willing to sell my soul to get a true progressive into the WH (and some non-BlueDogs into Congress) -- it's just that I don't think it works that way. You can't scare people into equality, for example. You can't scare people into taking care of each other. We might be able to scare people into re-taking the EPA if we have another couple of drought years, but I suspect most of the rest of our/my agenda just can't be created out of their tactics. (And be clear, I have mixed emotions about this.)

#240 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:39 PM:

#237 -- I tried to compare the number of patronage jobs that are filled when a new President comes in, compared to the number a new PM gets to fill, and was unable to find *either* number. I feel certain the US number is higher, but my certainty and a quarter won't get you much these days.

#241 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 06:45 PM:

Jacob @ 237 -

Parliamentary governments are different from a constitutional republic; thousands of people are appointed by the incoming administration, and the high-end slots must be confirmed by Congress. I'm no expert, but I don't think the UK or other parliamentary govts deal with that magnitude of staffing.

Appointments

#242 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:16 PM:

#216:
No district may contain parts of more than two counties that it does not contain in their entirety.

Not as elegant as geometry, perhaps, but county boundaries have inertia; they're hard or impossible to tinker with.

#243 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:45 PM:

Xopher #228: The Constitution says nothing about electoral districts, it merely says that representatives must be allocated to the states on the basis of population. It would take a simple act of Congress to permit individual states to send their representatives to the House by PR if they so chose. That would end the politicking about redistricting that poisons state politics every decade. And it would produce cleaner, more honest, and more representative politics.

#244 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:56 PM:

Jeff Davis (#126): The problem is that building such a party takes time. I’ve said for decades that the Libertarians are in a good place to build one. They need to work at it. Give up the presidency (which is where I first heard of Ron Paul, back in ’80. I was ever the precocious follower of politics), and chase local offices (they got the mayorship of San Diego, he wasn’t a very good mayor, but he was a Libertarian).

Use the local offices to get State offices (San Diego, the year after the Mayor was elected was probably good odds for that). Use the State offices to get House seats, and move on to the Senate.

If you can get 10 State Senators (using Calif. a model) you have a very visible bloc, which can affect legislation.

But it takes time, and money, and dedication. It takes, also, a bit of a national view; and the rhetorical skills to sell the vision to people, and convince them to toil in the wilderness for ages.

This applies to your question at (#155) Martin: Dragging any party requires time, effort and a willingness to get into the trenches and win the little battles, so one can move up to bigger policy decisions. Changing a party is akin to making a new one, in lots of ways.

The present crop of Republicans couldn’t have swept into office in 1980, it took decades of work to make it what it is today.

Re Ron Paul and 3rd party spoilers: I think it likely he’s been planning an outside the party run from the beginning. He’s collected a lot of money, and spent damn near none of it. He’s not built any campaign apparatus (which takes money) and he’s run from the outside before.

I can ascribe all sorts of motives to this; some inane, some unbelievably altruistic (e.g. he is afraid of what will happen if the Republicans retain the White House, and doesn’t think pulling a Dodd, and running just long enough to raise the issue is enough; so he plans to run and pull votes from the Right-ish fringe, thus intentionally throwing the race to the Dems, for the greater good), but regardless, shan’t be surprised if he declares an independent run.

Nancy Lebovitz: The Feds are actively working to make it harder for everyone to get ID (The REAL ID Act).

John Chu/Lee: Re tipping states. Nader made it a point to spend the last few weeks of the 2000 election campaigning in close run states. States like Florida, where Gore was just ahead of Bush. He did this despite people pleading with him to go to places like NY and Calif., where he could get more votes (and so put the Greens in the money he said his campaign was all about getting them) and not risk tossing the election to Bush.

He may not be to blame, completely, for Bush getting into office, but it doesn’t seem to have been for lack of trying.

Lee (#211) Now that Edwards has dropped out, I’m for Obama. I’m for Obama because I don’t really trust Clinton to repeal the police state aspects (esp. the Executive Privilege claims) because of her/Bill’s treatment at the hands of a hostile congress last time around.

I’ll vote for Hillary before any of the republicans (they could nominate pretty much anyone and I’d vote for them before any of the republicans) but that’s the General, in the primary, I can hope to put someone I have more faith in.


#245 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Will's arguing with the wrong guy. No, I don't think the Electoral College is a good idea. It's one of many bad ideas in the US Constitution, and like most of the others, it's nearly impossible to fix. It's by no means the worst idea in the US Constitution (I've got a little list...), and it's also one of the less fixable ones.

Mostly I think it's silly to aim vitriol at the Democratic Party for failing to do something that's (a) impossible, and (b) not near the top of our list of problems. If you're gonna blame the Democratic Party for failing to do something impossible, you ought to at least choose a goal that's impossible and cool.

#246 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Lee@192

Because the Dominionists HAVEN'T taken control of the GOP. The plutocrat wing of the party are still the Senior Partners. They pay lip service to the theocrat's goals and toss them occasional trinkets in return for the theocrats serving as loyal political cannon fodder.

(Which is one reason I don't think Huckabee will be offered the VP spot. That would make him heir apparent, and the Senior Partners won't want that.)

#247 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 08:21 PM:

I see a slim (but widest in my lifetime) window of opportunity for the third party concept in 2009. The trick to success here is creating and promoting two parties simultaneously.

A McCain ticket could be leveraged to encourage religious zealots social conservatives to form a third party. I won't give them any search juju by naming them here, you know who they are. With any luck they call it the Scudder party.

A Clinton ticket would be the perfect opening for a progressive party, ideally led by Gore, Edwards and perhaps Obama. While Obama would have the most to lose, if he really believes what he says, he'd have to at least be tempted.

Convincing the marginalized on both sides that now is the perfect opportunity would definitely take some major MSM manipulation, but I'd love to see it happen, no matter how unlikely it is.

#248 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:24 PM:

Debbie @203

I remember hearing an interview in the last month or so (well before his withdrawal) in which Edwards stated he wouldn't accept a VP spot if offered. Been there; done that.

#249 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 09:36 PM:

Terry @243, history says you can only create a new party if you have a major catastrophe and another party screws up big time. Otherwise, you keep getting hardly any points in the Electoral College, and people conclude you're a total loser. Consider Ross Perot, a total loser who did get 19% of the popular vote and 0 electoral votes. (Yes, there are more reasons than that for why Perot failed to build a viable party, but that's high on the list.)

Matt @244, I often argue with the wrong guy. Part of being stupid enough to believe things like, oh, if 70% of the population supports a direct vote, it would not be impossible to change the Constitution. We do manage to do that every now and then.

And if the Democratic leadership truly decided that they were tired of being shafted by the Electoral College but they couldn't overcome the Republicans, the Democrats could come out in support of National Popular Vote. Having 70% of the country behind you on an issue would seem like a good thing to me.

#250 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:27 PM:

Albatross (#152): There's the strange case of the undervote in FL-13.

Statistically, it looks very suspicious that the undervote ballots tended to favor Democrats in other races on that ballot.

Here's the problem: we can't prove it was rigged. We also can't prove it was fair. We don't have paper to go back to.

#251 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 10:54 PM:

Nancy, #160, Debra Doyle, #170: Improving access to the ballot has been a long-term goal of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, among other organizations. "Motor Voter" is their great success. But new ID requirements promise to put some states back to 1950s levels of turnout, and there's very little to be done about it; it takes the resources of a government, or a very large business. Personally, I would like to see voting made a duty of citizenship as it is in the UK and Australia, which would require the gummint to seriously work to make sure that everyone votes.

will, #248: as electoral problems go, the Electoral College is one of the most minor of the US system, and one of the hardest to change, and I would rather see more effort go into raising turnout and improving voting systems; those changes would make spoiler candidates much less of a problem. In a system where, basically, the candidates pick a noticeable percentage of the voters and where spoilers tip perhaps 10% of elections (Poundstone's figure), the EC is a rather small horse, and I wish you'd get off it.

BTW, for people interested in voting systems, I like William Poundstone's Mother Jones article.

#252 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:02 PM:

Will, I'm not being contrary for its own sake to note that sometimes 70% of the country wants something it shouldn't have. There was a time like that not many years ago with regard to Iraq, for instance, and many civil rights measures have faced that much opposition at some point in their run. It's entirely possible that there are problems with abolishing the electoral college that haven't occurred to more than 30% of the public. (I'm not sure about this, I just have an uneasy feeling that it would end up in practical terms disenfranchising even more of the country.)

#253 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:33 PM:

Randolph @250, maybe you like having Republican presidents who didn't win the popular vote, but I hope you can see why people on the left might find your opposition to democracy a bit troubling.

Bruce @250, Hamilton also thought the people could not be trusted. For all his flaws, Jefferson disagreed, and I agree with him on this.

#254 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Nader is the political equivalent of Colloidal Silver.

And his supporters are like the people, steadily turning blue due to argyria, who still swear by colloidal silver's health benefits.

#255 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Hey, while we're proposing Constitutional amendments relating to presidential elections, could we pass one establishing an individual right to vote in presidential elections?

#256 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:45 PM:

"The Obama camp started floating him for AG the night before he dropped out"

I don't get why Edwards would want AG and not head of HHS.

HHS would seem more in line with his focus on poverty.

#257 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:46 PM:

Will, #252: Your continuing shrill insistence on painting everyone who doesn't immediately fall 100% into line with you about the EC as "opposed to democracy" isn't helping your cause one bit. It makes you sound like Ann Coulter a one-trick pony.

#258 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:48 PM:

Xopher @ #216: So, after we nearly destroy the Rio Grande Valley by building a giant wall through the wetlands, we finish the job by CHANNELING THE COURSE OF THE RIVER INTO STRAIGHT LINES. Delightful. I'll send in your recommendation for the position of Humongous Boss, Level II, Public Policy Division to the Department of Homeland Surveillance tonight. I'm sure Tom DeLay will give a hearty reference.

#259 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:48 PM:

"Hey, while we're proposing Constitutional amendments relating to presidential elections, could we pass one establishing an individual right to vote in presidential elections?"

I'd like an omnibus anti-Bush/anti-Addington/anti-Yoo amendment, to slam shut all the loopholes they've invented and quash all the bizarre legal arguments the Bushies have made.


#260 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: January 31, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Personally, I would like to see voting made a duty of citizenship as it is in the UK and Australia

Not in the UK, unless they've craftily sneaked it in in the three years I've been out of the country. ISTR that the Swiss have ways of making you vote.

#261 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:13 AM:

In re: decennial redistricting, I was impressed by and still like Arnie's proposal--let a non-aligned panel of academicians determine the districts, according to population and demographics. And (again, since I'm still smarting from DeLay's mid-decade workover of Texas) that redistricting shall be completed in time for the following congressional election, with a reasonable time between release of census figures and deadline, and shall not again be done until the following census.

#262 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:15 AM:

#157:"I expect Nader to be no more than a distraction this time around"

These are American voters we're talking about. We already have more distractions than we can afford.

#263 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:18 AM:

Avram @250, good point! Too many people forget that the Electoral College was created as an alternative to democracy, in order to please the Hamilonians and to give slaveowners a greater say in our government (the 3/5 of a human rule can only work through the mechanism of the Electoral College).

Lee @256, explain to me how giving the presidency to the person who got fewer votes is democracy, and I'll happily retreat from my notion that democracy refers to the rule of the people.

#264 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:19 AM:

#260: "let a non-aligned panel of academicians determine the districts, according to population and demographics. "

I have little confidence in the ability of such a panel to remain untainted by supposedly-independent GOP hacks.

#265 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:27 AM:

will: Historically, damn near nobody has been willing to do the work required to build a party. The last time anyone was coming close (Debs, and the socialists) the ideals were co-opted, and people moved back to the Dems.

As stated, Nader, Perot, Paul, et alia, aren't willing to knuckle down and accept that they need to labor in the hinterlands.

No, they grab for the brass ring, and; in some years, the people who like them screw the party they are most in line with, but they don't spend the time afterwards building a new organisation.

Lee: I appreciate that will is annoying you, that you don't like being painted as anti-democratic, but Ann Coulter strikes me as a bit over the top.

Rush Limbaugh, ok, even Michelle Malkin, but Coulter... ?

#266 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:34 AM:

Jon H @ #263: Tainted, maybe, but with a 50/50 balance, and still no congressmen or party staffers, the result would still be preferable to the spaghetti-strand nightmare in some states right now.

#267 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:48 AM:

You know, back when I was still pretending to be a Christian, I did the district-making for the deacons (spiritual advisors). All the districts were solid blobs with equal church population within five people. I still had complaints because the guys didn't get districts near where they lived. I recommended they move further out because I wasn't giving everybody a small blob near the church and a bigger blob further out. I don't see why uninterested parties couldn't do that for political districts.

#268 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Terry @264, that's just how a two-party system works: the Biparty ignores what it can and co-opts the rest. The only way you can hope to edge in is to do what the Republicans did: elect a president to establish your party for all to see.

Hmm. Wonder if anyone in 1860 said Lincoln shouldn't run because he might be a spoiler?

#269 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:17 AM:

Will, #252, was it better to have Reagan elected in a landslide in 1980, or Bush II elected by a squeak in 2000? And are you so sure that Bush II would have lost without an EC? For the rest, browbeating people who disagree with you is a profoundly anti-democratic behavior.

Lee, #256: thank you.

Adrian Smith, #259: You are right & I was wrong. Sorry, I was relying on hearsay.

Scott H, #202: see George F. Kennan, passim. The role of an intellectual in an anti-intellectual society is a difficult one. Kennan, who was one of the people who formulated the policies that probably saved the USA after World War II, seems to have had a profound and well-informed disgust with US anti-intellectualism, so he ended up saving a great many people who (if the were aware of him at all) held him in great contempt, and he knew this.

#270 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:39 AM:

I came across a few interesting links regarding redistricting:

http://bolson.org/dist/

http://gking.harvard.edu/judgeit/

http://www.redistrictinggame.com/index.php

#271 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:48 AM:

Not true that the 3/5 rule has anything to do with the electoral college. It was most relevant for apportionment of House seats.

This is yet another illustration of the fact that the Electoral College is (a) impossible to change, and (b) not terribly important. It's a bad idea, but fairly minor as far as bad ideas in the US Constitution go.

I have a sense that you're using the Electoral College as a sort of symbol for everything you dislike about the US political system. Symbolism is all very well, but it's important to distinguish between symbol and reality. Changing this one minor bad idea wouldn't change anything else. Building models of control towers might make your island prettier, but it won't bring back the cargo.

#272 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:57 AM:

Randolph @268, thanks to the Electoral College, Reagan appeared to have a landslide (489 to 49), but only 50.7% of the voters voted for him (43,903,230 voters). More significantly, the turnout of the voting-age population was 52.6%. So 3/4 of the possible voters did not vote for Reagan, either because they were content with the two-party system regardless of the winner or because they felt disenfranchised by that system.

I don't understand your point about Bush in 2000. He was only "elected by a squeak" because of the Electoral College. In the popular vote, he lost decisively.

#273 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:07 AM:

Matt @270, in the Electoral College, each state gets as many votes (electors) as it has senators (2 per state) and representatives (based on the state's population). Those three-fifths per slave gave southern states a huge advantage in the Electoral College. It's not a coincidence that there were many Virginian presidents before the Civil War.

#274 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:57 AM:

My intuition is that no alternative to the electoral college would be substantially more democratic in practice, and might well be less so, as long as we continue to have states and urban areas. If there's a single national tally, then it's obviously advantageous from a min-maxing point of view to focus on enough high-density population clusters to win and ignore the rest of the country altogether.

I could be wrong about that. It wouldn't surprise me if I am, really. But I know that my youthful enthusiasm for abolishing the electoral college has really withered in the face of various challenges, most particularly the urban-areas strategy one. It may well be possible that the US is too big a fundamental entity to actually have any really democratic electoral system. but it is in any event far from clear to me that we can do really drastically better than we are.

And it seems clear to me that the major threats to representation would all still be at work even if the electoral college were abolished. The media/corporate establishment, the entrenched War Party, the amoral zeal of the Republican machine and the cowardice of its Democratic counterpart, the difficulties in getting honest vote counting...the presence or absence of the electoral college wouldn't affect any of them, unless I'm really missing something.

#275 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:39 AM:

Let's see. We all know that Nader campaigned aggressively in Florida, even though the race between Bush and Gore was extremely close, and despite his friends begging him to go elsewhere and focus on party building. Gore won the national popular vote, but his lead in Florida was so narrow that Bush is able to call it into question and steal the presidency.

So the idea is that, if only the Democrats had reformed the Electoral College away from winner-takes-all, they would not have lost the 2000 election. To me this seems like simple denial. Never mind that reforming the Electoral College is a Herculean task. Never mind that Nader knew full well how the Electoral College worked, and how his campaign could tip the race. It's not his fault. It's the system's fault for letting him do it.

The argument also fails to extrapolate. A major political change such as reforming or abolishing the Electoral College is likely to involve many factions, painful compromises, and unintended consequences. The chances are good that the alternate historical Nader would be motivated and able to spoil the alternate historical electoral system.

I am easily amused by political theater, but this Electoral College reform theater doesn't cut it.

#276 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:13 AM:

211: just keep running and running the footage of Bush holding hands with the king of Saudi Arabia. Ticks the OMG TEH ARABS and OMG TEH GAY boxes.

#277 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:03 AM:

Adrian Smith, #259: You are right & I was wrong. Sorry, I was relying on hearsay.

Hell, if it wasn't for hearsay I probably wouldn't have any opinions at all.

#278 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:10 AM:

Michael Weholt @ 42 and 145...

I'm sorry that you don't like puns. You may not have noticed it, but the last couple of weeks show a decrease in such activity on my part. As for what came across as an attempt to stifle vigorous debate, such was not my intention. I've posting on ML for less than 3 years, but I have noticed, perhaps erroneously, a trend which my words @ 42 were trying to keep from happening even though I am not an ML moderator. I shall refrain from such attempts from now on. Still, Jane Austen might have said:

"It is a truth universally acknowedleged that the tone of a convivial blog soon turns acrimonious, should Mister Nader be mentionned in a discussion."
#279 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:31 AM:

Serge @277:
You are as welcome to make puns as Michael is to say that he dislikes them, which is to say, entirely. Many of us like them.

Personally, I find myself easily tired by political debates, but that doesn't mean I expect them to stop. Some people I really like seem to enjoy them. More power to them.

The important line that we draw, as a community, is between discussion and trollery. Every community has its own line, of course. You, like everyone who hangs out here, are perfectly entitled to voice your opinion about how close we are to ours. I think you were right that things were getting acrimonious -- the thread subsequently spawned 11 uses of the word "fuck"*, for instance, and some real annoyance among the participants.

In short, don't stop punning, and don't stop pointing out when tempers are in danger of getting lost. But also, don't be discouraged when people disagree with you. It's all part of the package.

-----
* 12 uses of the word "fuck"† now
† 13. Shit.
‡ And one use of the word "shit"**
** etc

#280 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:05 AM:

Abi @ 278... Doesn't anybody say 'fudge' anymore? If it was good enough for Dudley Dooright, it's good enough for me.

#281 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Serge #279: Must be one of those Canadian things.

#282 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:17 AM:

Fragano @ 280... I blame Moose and Squirrel, and all others who reside near Lake Veronica.

#283 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Bruce @273, eliminating the Electoral College would only create a fair system. Finding a way to keep wealth from being used unfairly in that fair system would be the second step.

TomB @274, in 2000, these were the numbers (and now I'm wishing I hadn't promised not to say the N-word!):

Democratic: 51,003,926
Republican: 50,460,110
Green: 2,883,105
Reform: 449,225
Libertarian: 384,516
Constitution: 98,022
Natural Law: 83,702
Other: 54,652

Without the Electoral College, Gore wins with half a million votes.

Any of those "others" could be called the spoilers of 2000 given the way the Electoral College works, and the way Jeb Bush corrupted the system. (Remember the Buchanan votes in predominantly Democratic precincts?)

I do agree that without the Electoral College, the Republicans would have looked for another way to game the system. That's why the system should be simple and fair.

Are you a Republican? If so, I understand why you like the current system.

#284 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:29 AM:

Will @282, make that "fairer system," not "fair system".

But fairer is better. Only conservative contrarians insist on perfection or the status quo.

#285 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Will Shetterly -
Are you a Republican? If so, I understand why you like the current system.

...

ummmm....

"Ye might want ta... rephrase that, laddie."

#286 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Will: The last line of #282, it seems to me, is unworthy of you.

No available interpretation of TomB's comments could lead any competent reader to a conclusion that he wants the Republicans to win. You are a competent reader -- highly competent -- so I cannot believe you are putting that suggestion forward in good faith.

(By the way... is anybody else besides me getting flashbacks, here?)

#287 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Will S@282

The Buchanan votes in predominantly Democratic precincts are actually one thing that can't be blamed on Jeb Bush.

(There are other things that can be blamed on Jeb, just not this particular one.)

Basically, they were the result of one (heavily Democratic) county deciding to use a rather badly designed ballot.

#288 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Sylvia Li... Flashbacks?

"...Good evening. Tonight on 'It's the Mind', we examine the phenomenon of deja vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we've lived through something before, that what is happening now has already happened. Tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of deja vu, that strange feeling we sometimes get that we've ... (looks puzzled for a moment) Anyway, tonight on 'It's the Mind' we examine the phenomenon of deja vu, that strange...?

#289 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:47 AM:

So an electoral system which caters almost exclusively to the interests of nine states' populations is better than one that caters to eleven (and pays at least some lip service to the rest)?

Because that's what you're talking about - it takes the population of only nine states to secure a first-past-the-post majority popular election in the US (ten - fifteen if you're feeling insecure in your chances of securing the majority of the population in those states).

What you're basically saying, at the very least, is that the populations of North Dakota, and the other ten least-populated states are utterly irrelevant to the electoral process - because they will be completely sidelined in the entire thing, even moreso than now.

#290 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:51 AM:

Serge #281: 'Squirrel' is one word of English that my mother, who has been speaking English for more than 52 years, cannot get right. She always says 'squarrel'.

#291 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Fragano @ 289... That's no worse than what our current Commander-in-chief does to the English language.

#292 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:00 AM:

will, #271: The EC is not responsible for the common cold. It also is not responsible for low voter turnouts. 1/2 of 1% (Gore's margin over Bush in 2000) is a tiny margin. That these are typical US elections results (and that 10% is landslide) seems likely to be a result of the self-selection of voters; I think often the candidates stir up just enough voters to win the election.

#293 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Scott, #223: Sorry, I expressed myself poorly. What I meant was, I don't think it's smart to overtly despise them. Will Shetterly is currently providing an excellent illustration of why.

I do agree with you, absolutely, that it's time for our side to adopt some of the same tactics being used by the wingnuts to manipulate the anti-intellectual element. We'll have to be a bit more careful about phrasing, since of course the wingnuts would scream to high heaven if we were as open about it as they are. Things like "American independence from Arab oil" combine subtle appeals to jingoism and racism with a genuinely advantageous economic goal, and would be hard for the wingnuts to refute.

Will, #262: Ohforghodsake. You're palming cards here; I haven't heard anyone say that they don't think there are problems with the EC system. What I am hearing people say is that FIXING IT IS NOT A MAGIC CURE-ALL. We've got many worse problems to deal with right now, and you sound like Eugene McCarthy railing about "How can you worry about things like wars when there are Communists right here in America?"

Yes, it's your #1 priority. It's not everyone's, nor is there any requirement that it should be, nor does that make people for whom it isn't their #1 priority into Enemies Of Democracy. Get over yourself.

Bruce, #273: Yes. That. (And Matt @270, your Cargo Cult analogy made me spew tea all over my keyboard!)

Serge, #279: I occasionally borrow "fleep", which a friend of mine uses as an all-purpose cussword.

#294 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:10 PM:

will in #282: We all agree that Gore won the national popular vote. Presenting the national popular vote numbers in the face of that agreement seems to me like argument by misdirection. But so is this whole Electoral College thing. It's a great topic to argue about endlessly with no chance of anything ever being practically done, and we can stay safely away from the inconvenient truth that Nader was and is a spoiler.

Since you asked, I am a great admirer of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, but not of their party, especially not now that the old Southern Democrats are in it. That "BiParty" you mention does seem interesting, but I might be reading too much into the name.

#295 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Lee@292: Things like "American independence from Arab oil" combine subtle appeals to jingoism and racism with a genuinely advantageous economic goal, and would be hard for the wingnuts to refute.

I don't think that many of them would try, unless you tried to take the money for an "Apollo program for energy" or whatever you have in mind out of the military budget.

Also, actually doing without imported oil might require people to adjust their lifestyles, and nobody ever votes for that AFAICT.

#296 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:18 PM:

Lee at 292: Eugene McCarthy was a good guy. See "Clean for Gene," etc.

Joseph McCarthy was the guy who tore American society apart in the 50s looking for Communists.

#297 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:19 PM:

Lizzy L @ 295... And there's Charlie McCarthy.

#298 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:28 PM:

Serge #296: Wasn't he a bit wooden?

#299 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Fragano @ #297: I think he was a member of his own splinter group.

#300 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:47 PM:

Fragano @ 297... But he came without any strings attached. And his campaign had Señor Wencès for Vice-president.

#301 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Scott @284 and Sylvia @285, apologies if I'm wrong, but I can't understand why any American who is not a Republican would like the idea that Democrats keep losing and third parties keep getting marginalized thanks to the EC.

Michael @286, wasn't Katherine Harris the person in charge of the Florida elections? I figured that since she was answerable to Jeb Bush, it was simpler to pass her responsibility on to him. Democrats.com has a nice post about Floridagate. In the charges against her, they mention the design of a sample ballot.

Randolph @291, under the EC, if you're in a "safe" red or blue state, there is no reason for you to vote.

Lee @292, if you can tell me where I said getting rid of the EC would solve all our problems, I would be grateful. And, honest, you're free to ignore me. Too many people choose to answer anyone who disagrees with them with "Get over yourself." But issues are not about the people who support them.

#302 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 12:57 PM:

third parties keep getting marginalized thanks to the EC

I don't think the EC is responsible for that. Third parties are almost always marginal in the US, right back to the beginning.

The EC is the least of our current problems. Changing it won't fix the presidential power-grabs, or the bootlickers that have been appointed to various jobs, or the wingnuts that are holding others, and it won't get Congress to do its job, either.

#303 ::: Jan Vaněk jr. ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Abi #278: Actually, there have been 3 shits and one bullshit above your comment.

#304 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:26 PM:

PJ @301, Okay, prob'ly time to let this drop, 'cause I can't think of anything new just now. So I'll just say that the EC created a huge problem in 2000, and until it is fixed, it will create more problems. You can hope that the Republicans will suffer next time, but I'm not as optimistic. The Democratic position is usually more popular than the Republican one (see the polls on almost any issue), so it continues to be more likely that the Dems will continue to be shafted. And then, instead of acknowledging the problem with the system, they'll complain about someone who dared run on issues other than theirs.

Well, I'll help elect Obama or Clinton this year, and I'll pray the EC doesn't screw up the result.

#305 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Lizzy, #295: Ack! Thanks for the catch. (I'm just as bad with actors; the random-association circuit will pull up, say, Tom Cruise when I mean Tom Hanks.)

Will, #300: I can't understand why any American who is not a Republican would like the idea that Democrats keep losing and third parties keep getting marginalized thanks to the EC.

Palming cards again. No one has said that they LIKE it. (I checked.) What people are saying is that they don't hate it as badly as you do, and that they don't think it should be our top priority when so many other things in the system are badly broken.

Furthermore, this is a square on the Authoritarian Bingo card in disguise: "Only drug dealers dislike drug laws, so if you don't like drug laws you must be a drug dealer." At best, it's a disingenuous argument; when applied to people who have not actually said what you accuse them of saying, it puts you on the level of Rick Santorum.

I actually agree with some of what you say; however, the way you're presenting it is full of shit and alienating your potential allies. The last I heard, honest differences of opinion were still okay between Americans. As you are not arguing in good faith, I am withdrawing from this part of the conversation.

#306 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 01:30 PM:

LMB 257: What on Earth are you talking about? I was talking about district boundaries, not altering geography. And naturally the border of a state (or the country) won't cooperate with my straight-lines idea. I'd modify it to accommodate that fact, had I not already backed off it (bottom of that post).

#307 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:43 PM:

will: Scott @284 and Sylvia @285, apologies if I'm wrong, but I can't understand why any American who is not a Republican would like the idea that Democrats keep losing and third parties keep getting marginalized thanks to the EC.

Apology accepted (and I am not trying to be snarky). I don't like the EC. I'm pretty sure I said words to that effect. But I don't see any practical way to change it. The interests of too many groups are tied up in what it does, and in what it's purported to do (the whole, "keep the large populations from ignoring the interests, and needs, of the small; it's not that I think this happenes, but it's one of the things the EC is supposed to promote).

How much political capital have I got? The answer is, "only so much". How shall I spend it? I could dedicate my life to tilting at the windmill of something impossible, in the hope that will change one thing, hoping that change will make a huge difference, or I can work on something doable.

Me... I'd like to see an opposition which opposes. I haven't seen that since Clinton left office. I, sadly, don't see that happening if the EC gets changed (as I said, I don't know how to fix it. It's not that we are too large a body politic to do it; India manages. It's rather that we have very different understandings of what makes for fair, and what compromises we accept to get them).

If the Dems were willing to make the Republicans work for it, then I'd be happier. The, "you don't have to filibuster your filibusters" bullshit of Harry Reid infuriates me more than the EC.

Maybe it's because of the intimate nature of the parties. Mabybe it's because the Dems figure they'll never see the White House again. Maybe it's because we put too much stock in the "Big Daddy" aspects of the Presidency (which one would think Nixon killed, but good old "unca Ronnie" convinced a lot of people that the Pres is the Big Dog, and the Legislature not so much.

The constant refrain that, "the President deserves to get his way" worries me more than the EC. Working to fix that is where I am going to aim that windmill tliting lance I've got in the closet.

I just don't have time to try and fix all the evils of the world. That doesn't make me a Republican, nor even a a RepubSymp. It just makes me a person with only so much time, and so much effort. I can't do it all. I can't. I'm not the ruler of the world, with the satellite death-ray.

I'm John Q. Public, with only so much money; a small pulpit, and one vote. I do what I can. It will never be enough, but I do what I can.

#308 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 02:47 PM:

In other political news, look for Bill O'Reilly to attempt to squirm out of another Fox pas: Bill O'Reilly's missing vets out in force.

#309 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Lee @304, you're inferring things I did not mean to imply, but that happens online.

Terry @307, I think everything wrong with the DNC lies with the DLC. Okay, the superdelegates were created before the DLC, but I strongly suspect the people who supported superdelegates also supported the DLC.

#310 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:46 PM:

Xopher @#305:

LMB 257: What on Earth are you talking about? I was talking about district boundaries, not altering geography.

Oh, fine. Some supervillian you make.

#311 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Supervillian, of course, being the extreme form of Vaudevillian.

Sigh. Poofreading.

#312 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Mary 310: Who you callin' a poof?!?!?!

#313 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:14 PM:

Xopher @ 311
I was waiting for you to say something like that ....

#314 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 05:57 PM:

will, #300: "under the EC, if you're in a "safe" red or blue state, there is no reason for you to vote."

Do you believe, then, that the only political office in the mind of much of the public is President? That people don't turn out to vote for Senators or Mayors? Hmmm... Certainly the office gets disproportionate attention. Are you saying, then, that the symbolism of abolishing the EC would have a political effect beyond the EC itself?

#315 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Xopher @311:

I have to admit that while I know what the term "means," (1) it didn't occur to me that I was invoking it and (2) I don't know how offensive it is, so I'll refrain from answering you with a joke.

I was just reminiscing about the moment in my life when I realized I wasn't meant to be a copyeditor.

#316 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Mary Dell, in this context at least it's not offensive at all. And OF COURSE you didn't realize you were invoking it; that was MY pun off your innocent (and funny) post.

Besides, I really want to know what joke you refrained from answering me with.

#317 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 06:55 PM:

I thought this thread had already reached its Nader.

#318 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Bruce Baugh @121:

What about people who dissent from the Democratic party line as Bob Casey did?


Various posters re: pemoline:

I'm not the libertarian I was when I was in high school and college, but libertarian drug policy (w.r.t. both "therapeutic" and "recreational" drugs) is one position I still strongly agree with. If we can't or don't want to get rid of the FDA entirely, let's at least take away its power to forbid the sale of a drug because it doesn't think the drug safe or effective enough; let it publish recommendations and warnings, or even let it require manufacturers to put warning labels on, as they do with tobacco at present, but don't let it suppress drugs that might be useful even if only to a few people.


Various posters re: the electoral college:

Would it be any more politically feasible to pass an amendment requiring states to allocate their electoral votes proportionally, either relative to the statewide vote or by the winner in each congressional district?


Xopher @216, re: gerrymandering:

My understanding is that the Civil Rights Act actually *requires* a certain amount of gerrymandering in order to produce some districts that have a majority black population. At least in some states, including Georgia -- or that was the explanation I heard for the ridiculous shapes of some districts after our last redistricting. (They were later revised to be slightly less ridiculous.) Of course, over and above the required gerrymandering there's a lot of partisanly motivated gerrymandering as well.

Also, requiring districts to be polygons is a bad idea, because most counties and many precincts, at least around here, are not polygonal. It's best (in terms of simplifying the way elections are conducted) if each precinct lies entirely within one congressional/state senate/state house/school board... district, so fewer distinct ballots have to be printed and distributing the right ballots to the right precinct polling places and then giving them to the right voters is simpler and less likely to go wrong.

#319 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 07:18 PM:

Will S@300

Katherine (and ultimately) Jeb were responsible for a lot of things that happened with the 2000 Florida elections.

They were NOT, however, responsible for the glitch that caused the substantial number of Buchanan votes (among other things) in heavily Democratic Palm Beach county. That was the responsibility of the county officials in that county who decided to use a very bad design for their county's ballot.

(There are general guidelines for Florida ballots which are set by state law, but individual counties decide on specific details within those guidelines. It was the specific details that were the problem in Palm Beach.)

#320 ::: Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:43 PM:

If we're wishing for impossible changes to the Constitution, here's mine: Abolish the office of the President (and Vice-President, obviously). Executive power rests with the Cabinet, each member of which must run for office on their own ticket. (I would expect the parties to put up slates, but the system could and should be designed so that no party had all of the seats.) Each member has authority solely over that department of the executive, and there may not be any executive agency that does not ultimately report to a single member. All the powers of the President that can't be divvied up like that — appointments, vetoes, pardons, etc — are exercised by a simple majority vote of the members.

There may need to be a mediator and/or figurehead head of state. If so, those positions shall be civil service, not appointed.

I'm not sure what to do with the presidency of the Senate.

#321 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Compact and cohesive districts have a tendency to create partisan ghettos. It's because people with similar views tend to move into the same areas. Drawing a district line around a group of voters with very similar view creates a very safe seat for their representative, but it seriously disenfranchises the minority who don't share those views. It also means we get more ultra-liberal representatives from urban safe seats and more ultra-conservative representatives from the outer suburb safe seats. That trend has done a lot to increase political polarization. It's actually better to have districts that cut across multiple socio-economic areas. It requires voters and their candidates to understand multiple views and build broad coalitions.

Everyone has ideas for drawing better district boundaries, and they can be very elegant in the abstract, but in practice they are almost all very easily gamed and we're back to polarization city. The only factor I can think of that might be okay is to maximize the value of the votes of all the citizens across all the districts. This is a big number crunching job, but I don't think it would be that hard in practice, because the major parties already have codes for maximizing the voting power of their own members. We'd just have to run them with everyone in the "plus" set and nobody in the "minus" set.

#322 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Fragano, #289, at our house, I say "quirrel!" and the cats dash to look.

#323 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:34 PM:

If I had my wishes, there are some simple things we could do to improve the fairness of elections.

1) Strengthen the Voting Rights Act and really enforce it. The principle that should be used in all elections, especially disputed elections, is that the intent of the voter is paramount. Nobody's right to vote should ever be compromised by technicalities. This includes user error. And if the ballot is too mangled or marked up to discern the voter's intent, I say call them in to vote again.

2) Restore the voting rights of citizens who were unfairly and illegally disenfranchised. The notorious Florida purges of minority voters from the rolls should be reversed, and a federal civil rights lawsuit and restitution would be in order too. It is important to keep in mind that by far the most widespread and flagrant cases of voter fraud have been frauds perpetrated to disenfranchise legitimate voters.

3) Shorten the election campaigns. It would make campaigns less expensive. Maybe, I don't know but maybe, shorter campaigns would improve media coverage, because the reporters would not be so bored and cynical, and because they'd have less time to try to define the candidates.

4) Campaign finance reform that includes free air time for candidates. The candidates should not have to pay vast sums of money for access to the airwaves that the public owns. It would be easier to make this happen with shorter campaigns, so the broadcasters are not out so much. Then again, if the writer's strike continues, the broadcasters may be desperate for more free content.

5) Restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, and a return to the local media ownership requirements that were in effect through the '70s.

None of this requires amending the Constitution.

There are some other things I'd like to see that are local (such as disallowing paid signature gathering for initiatives here in California).

#324 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Marilee @ 321... My cat is too mellow to care much about hunting, but my three dogs go crazy if I say 'squirrel' or 'bunnywabbit'.

#325 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Mary @309, I laughed! And when you pointed out the typo, I thought it just heightened the comicbookery.

Randolph @313, the turnout is always highest when the campaign is for president, and, yep, I do think the symbolism would have a huge effect. It says quite simply that every vote matters.

Jim @317, tweaking the Electoral College decreases the odds of it failing again, but the possibility remains in every scenario I've seen. It's a simple consequence of rounding numbers. (The best versions take away the two electors that states get from their Senate representation, but even those plans could fail.)

Michael @318, good to know!

TomB @322, I do agree with all of those. I'd also like people to be able to register to vote on voting day if they're not already registered. It works for Minnesota, and probably for other states as well.

And I'd like voting day to be a national holiday.

I don't like penalizing people for not voting; true democracy has to allow people to opt out. But maybe giving them a reward would be nice, like a $20 check that they could use to celebrate being in a democracy.

#326 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 09:56 PM:

TomB, #322: To your list I'd like to add: revise (and curtail) the list of felonies conviction of which permanently disqualify a person from voting, and restore the voting rights of those who have only the newly-exempted convictions on their record. Oh, and establish a time limit (for example, 3 years) within which a felony charge must be brought to trial, with automatic dismissal/clearing of record at the end of that period.

Yes, this is about the abuse of the War On Some Drugs to systematically disenfranchise poor and minority citizens.

#327 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:15 PM:

Mary Dell @ 309... Why would the power to alter geography make Xopher a supervillain? I thoguht that changing the course of mightly rivers was what Captain Marvel does.

#328 ::: Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Sherrold@239 There are approximately 7000 positions that are filled by the President.

You can find them in the "Plum Book"
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plumbook/index.html

#329 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Forgive me if I sound like an utter naif, but:

Is there anywhere on line where I could look up a candidate's voting record in an encapsulated form suitable for somebody who needs translations from politician-ese? What about a candidate's record of behaving ungraciously, unprofessionally, unethically, or just plain badly--with as little bias toward or against anyone as possible? Or what a candidate has actually said when presented with an unscripted question?

I think I know who I want to vote for, but I want to make sure I didn't miss anything.

#330 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:56 PM:

Jim Henry: Would it be any more politically feasible to pass an amendment requiring states to allocate their electoral votes proportionally, either relative to the statewide vote or by the winner in each congressional district?

Bad Idea. It's being tried in Calif. Why? Because the Repubs want to take away some of the 55 votes Calif. gets. It looks good, on paper, but it makes the problem of disproportionate value of the larger states (I'm worth one tenth of a citizen of Wyoming) even greater.

Further, it would alow the individual states to suffer from the minority vote getter being the majority EC winner problem.

Reforms I'd like to see. Make Voting Day a real holiday. All businesses to be closed; at most a half day. Right to vote is presumptive; the state has to show that one isn't eligible. Nothing (barring perhaps treason) is a permanent revocation of voting rights.

Show up on voting day, and you can register. That days new voters get tallied, and duplicates get prosecuted (misdemeanor, pay a fine, spend X days in jail, lose your right to vote for as many elections as one duplicately voted, or some such).

Make voting a big deal. Make it something people get a positive feeling about. Make it something, which from childhood, they see people doing.

#331 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Lee at #325: I totally agree with you about the cynical use of the War on Some Drugs. I would go farther in that I feel that no conviction should disqualify someone from voting, even temporarily. In practice the death penalty does, but I'm not in favor of that either. Another example would be a sentence that strips someone of citizenship, but I don't know if the U.S. imposes such sentences, and I would not be for it if they did.

#332 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:26 PM:

I'm wondering which Republican I should vote for, Romney or Huckabee.

It's worth noting that I live in Washington state, where the Democratic delegates are all determined by caucus, but the primary is open.

This means that I could vote in the Democratic primary, where my vote would have no impact (and I'm equally supportive of both Clinton and Obama anyway), or I could vote in the GOP primary and help them choose a candidate that best reveals their true colors.

So, is it Romney or Huckabee? Huckabee or Romney? Or maybe Ron Paul.

What sayeth the Fluorosphere?

#333 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:45 PM:

Jim Henry #317, Terry Karney #329: Way upthread, I linked to the site for the National Popular Vote movement. They're going around to various governors and state legislators, trying to get a law passed along these lines:

Each state that signs the compact promises to allocate its electors among presidential candidates in the same proportion as the national popular vote. But! this doesn't kick in until a number of states have signed on whose electoral votes equal or exceed 270 (the number needed to elect a president). This (they're hoping) will prevent the outcome Terry's worried about, where the big states go proportional and the Republicans win everything forever.

So far they've got two states, New Jersey and Maryland (total electoral votes: 25), that have signed the bill into law. In Illinois and Hawaii (another 25 votes) the law's passed both houses of the state legislature, but hasn't been signed by the governor. In California, Colorado, Arkansas, and North Carolina (85 more votes), it's passed one house. If all six of those states pass the law, we'll be halfway there.

#334 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:49 PM:

#329 ::: Terry, one of my wackier notions that I still like, but wouldn't argue for: on Election Day, you can't buy alcohol unless you have an "I voted" sticker.

#331 ::: Larry, I propose Ron Paul, who doesn't have a chance in hell. The polls suggest I'm wrong about this, but I keep thinking Huckabee's conservative Christian quasi-socialism could play stronger than we like to think.

#335 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:54 PM:

Avram: I worry that a scheming party might manage to change the law at the last minute. The problem is the failure for that would be... what?

If the state reneged, what do the other states do?

#336 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2008, 11:56 PM:

Larry: Ron Paul. The more votes he gets, the more likely he is to make an outside party run.

#337 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Xopher @ #275: Just my heavy-handed way of suggesting you rethink your polygony theory. Besides, Tom Delay or even I could come up with a district that is technically a polygon (many-sided object), but looks like a snake on paper.

Now, wanting regular polygons, or insisting on Cthulhian geometry, would get me right on board.

#338 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Woops, I meant #305.

#339 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:13 AM:

LMB 336: You missed the limited number of sides part. And one way of rethinking it would be to make only the boundary between districts in the same state have to be made up of straight lines (say, no more than three).

But my idea is a non-starter for too many reasons. I therefore withdraw and offer my full support to the idea of limiting the ratio between the perimeter measurement of the district and its area. That would limit the snakeification, without the problems of the polygonal rule.

#340 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:07 AM:

LMB MacAlister @ 337... insisting on Cthulhian geometry

Elect Mr.Tyndalos for dog-catcher!

#341 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Wait, my description of the proposed National Popular Vote law is wrong. What it would actually do is all of the signatory states would give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who gets a plurality of the popular vote.

Terry, here are some details from the 8-page PDF handout available at the site:

To prevent partisan mischief between the November voting by the people and the mid-December meeting of the Electoral College, the compact contains a six-month blackout period if any state ever wishes to withdraw from the compact. The blackout period starts on July 20 of each presidential election year and runs through the January 20 inauguration. Interstate compacts are contracts. It is settled compact law and settled constitutional law that withdrawal restrictions -- very common in interstate compacts -- are enforceable because the U.S. Constitution prohibits a state from impairing any obligation of contract.
#342 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:36 AM:

Xopher @#315:

"Ralph Nader"

The offense would be double in that case because it uses "poof" as a generic insult equivalent to, say, "asshole," and it also suggests that you and RN are members of the same segment of society, which would suck. So it's a good thing I didn't say that.

I also was thinking of a way of saying that poofreading is merely another word for gaydar, but I couldn't quite get it to take shape. As you see.

#343 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Avram: And the Supremes won't discover a novel, and non precidential, application of Equal Protection because...

I think it's a great idea. I probably support it, but I do have reservations.

Mostly because I no longer trust the Right to play by any rules.

#344 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:40 AM:

Larry @ 331

But that's only half the fun! Why not caucus with the Republicans and see what you can do about introducing a balanced budget plank or a no torture plank or - the mind boggles.

Better yet, for years after that the party will spend money sending you mail urging you to donate money - a net loss for them. Enough people do this and they could waste a lot of money.

Better than that, if lots of people did it - maybe we could run the Republican party as social liberals and fiscal conservatives.

Takes a lot of people - but you gotta start somewhere.

#345 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:46 AM:

Serge @#326

Why would the power to alter geography make Xopher a supervillain?

Why wouldn't it? Look at Lex Luthor and the San Andreas fault. Absolute geographic power absolutely corrupts geography. And geometry, for that matter; just look how readily Xopher is abandoning the solid* principles he introduced upthread.

*platonic

#346 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:08 AM:

Margaret @ 343: Alas, I'm traveling on caucus day, so there's no opportunity to create such mischief. Besides, I don't think I'd want to be in a room with such people for any length of time.

#347 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:50 AM:

abi@278: Your first footnote is incorrect, inasmuch as at that point there were 11 uses of the word "fuck" and one mention thereof.

#348 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 05:33 AM:

Jenny Islander @328 -- what's wrong about wanting to get better informed? (Compared to the folks discussing on this thread, I am woefully ill-informed myself.) Anyway, I like this site --

http://www.vote-smart.org/index.htm

although I'm not sure it will address all your points.

#349 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 06:33 AM:

David Goldfarb @346: Your first footnote is incorrect, inasmuch as at that point there were 11 uses of the word "fuck" and one mention thereof.

Someone (not me, my code sucks) could write a little script and we could have a war-pr0n style count-the-cusswords rating system for ML threads.

#350 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 07:09 AM:

Randolph Fritz@250: Thanks for the information.

In re low voter turnout: If more people voted, it's not a guarantee against close elections, nor does it mean the outcome will be more to your tastes. Afaik, part of the current mess is that fundamentalists decided that politics wasn't too dirty for them to get involved with.

In re ending dependence on Arab oil: Supposing that it's feasible, would that impoverish those countries? If so, what's the likely outcome of that, especially considering that they'll know it wasn't some accident of the market?

#320 ::: TomB:
So would you recommend election at large? (I think that's what it's called.) I'm charmed by the idea of people choosing their interest group, whether it's geographic, professional, temperamental, biochemical, or whatever, but I expect such a system has its own failure modes. What might they be?

#324 ::: will shetterly: Would it be unfeasible for voting to be held on more than one day? Having it cover Saturday and Sunday would mean that the vast majority have at least one day it's relatively easy to vote on?

#330 ::: TomB: I agree-- no disenfranchisement of anyone, and I'd extend that to include people who are in prison.

I came to that conclusion partly by contemplating Starship Troopers (I supposed it would unfranchisement there), and partly by reading something by a gay man written in the bad old days when sodomy was a felony. He pointed out that if he got caught, he'd lose an important capacity for working against those laws.

If you've got so many murderers that they're an important block, you've got other problems than your voting system.

How about no age requirement? Teenagers don't have much in the way of rights, and I believe that's a problem.

#351 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 07:21 AM:

Mary Dell @ 344... Look at Lex Luthor and the San Andreas fault

Which would make him rather unpopular, should he come back to the West Coast. Hmm... I thought that Xopher's reasons for not going to LAcon in 2006 were rather dubious - something about how you have to drive to get anywhere. Maybe he was afraid that he couldn't help himself and, next thing you know, Anaheim's convention center was going to be next to a beach.

#352 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 08:13 AM:

David Goldfarb @346:
Your first footnote is incorrect, inasmuch as at that point there were 11 uses of the word "fuck" and one mention thereof.

If we are going to create a distinction between use and mention, I would argue that the first three times will typed the word "fuck"* were not, strictly speaking, uses. The essence of his post was a repetition of, and a comment on, Patrick's previous usage; therefore, the words included therein count as mentions rather than uses.

But is there really a reason to get so finicky? What's the point of such a distinction anyway? I was just trying to get everyone to lighten the fuck† up.

-----
* or one of its variants
† oh, shit‡. I did it again.
drat.

#354 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:02 AM:

Bruce @352:

Oh, no, thank you.

I had forgotten that one existed...until now!

#355 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:06 AM:

Terry #329:

Do you have any idea why election day is not a federal holiday? I've heard this proposed for years, it would be relatively easy to do (we added MLK day in my lifetime), and it would probably make voting easier for a fair number of people. I'm not clear on the argument against it.

#356 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:21 AM:

Nancy@349: In re ending dependence on Arab oil: Supposing that it's feasible, would that impoverish those countries? If so, what's the likely outcome of that, especially considering that they'll know it wasn't some accident of the market?

They could hardly claim finding a substitute was an act of malice, that's what markets are supposed to do when the price of something goes up. Wingnuts I've trolled attempted to discuss this with seem prone to paroxysms of anticipatory schadenfreude at the prospect of Muslim populations starving in multitudes as right-thinking Americans drive happily around in hydrogen-powered SUVs, but it's unlikely to work out that way - if the world economy continues to expand the oil will probably be just as valuable as chemical feedstock. If it *contracts* there could be big problems, of course.

#357 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:46 AM:

Nancy Leibovitz (#349): How about no age requirement?

Do we really want Hannah Montana for president? (Better than the current Commander in Chief, but still....)

#358 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:52 AM:

will shetterly @324:

Yes, I know it wouldn't be as ideal as getting rid of the electoral college altogether, from the viewpoint of pure majoritarian democracy. What I was asking the fluoresphere at large was whether my tentative proposal was more politically feasible (more likely to get passsed by 3/4 of the state legislatures) than your less politically feasible proposal.

But I reckon I like the National Popular Vote idea better.

Various re: voting day as a holiday, and making campaign season shorter:

Why not move voting day up to Columbus Day, Labor Day, or even Independence Day? Yes, more people would be travelling at those times and there would be more absentee voting, but the same would probably happen if we establish a new holiday on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Add one flexible vacation day and presto, four-day weekend.

Or to keep the campaign season about the same length, or just keep its endpoint at about the same time, move to Veterans' Day.

#359 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 10:11 AM:

#356 ::: Faren Miller:

Teenagers are a small part of the population, and they don't agree with each other. Giving them voting rights is extremely unlikely to let them put a frivolous choice of candidate into office.

I would bet a small amount of money, say $3, that jokes about ridiculous candidates winning were standard early responses to the idea of women's suffrage.

By the way, my last name is Lebovitz.

#360 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 10:26 AM:

Nancy@#349: Afaik, part of the current mess is that fundamentalists decided that politics wasn't too dirty for them to get involved with.

One of the things I really dislike about the current administration is that it causes me to periodically mutter elitist things like, "This is what comes of letting the wrong sort of people make enough money to go into politics."

There was a time when nobody cared what the whackoid premillienial dispensationalist fundamentalists believed about anything, because they were most of them living in tarpaper shacks and having their revival meetings in tents on the outskirts of town. Anybody from that group who wanted to go into politics pretty much had to leave home, scrub at least two layers of regionalisms out of his accent, and either become a Methodist or marry one (had to pull a Bill Clinton, more or less; and people wonder why voters from that demographic disliked the guy so much.) But several consecutive decades of Cold War era prosperity lifted a whole bunch of people from that group several rungs up the socioeconomic ladder at the same time, so they felt no need to accomodate and blend in with the larger society -- they brought their own subculture right up the ladder along with them. The mainstreaming of whackoiditude, as it were.

And then the devil came along in a Brooks Brothers suit, and took them up to the top of a mountain and showed them the kingdoms of the world and the glory thereof, and they said, "Thank you, Brother Satan, I do believe I'll have me some."

#361 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 10:58 AM:

TomB@322:

Actually, it might take a Constitutional Amendment to get the Fairness Doctrine back -- the reason they got rid of it in the first place was that it kept being challenged on First Amendment grounds. Plus, can't you see the IDiots psuhing to get creationism on the Discovery channel under the Fairness Doctrine? :-)

I would like to see the media ownership laws reestablished -- hell, I'd like to see a major strengthening of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (and its enforcement) in general, that would have a larger effect than almost any other political idea mentioned in this thread so far.

#362 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:11 AM:

#343 ::: Margaret, not a balanced budget amendment, please. That's been a dream of the right for decades, because it's an easy way to justify cuts in social services.

#349 ::: Nancy, in general, conservatives make it harder for people to vote and liberals make it easier because the people who will most be affected are most likely to vote for liberals.

Having voting week is an excellent idea.

#351 ::: abi, bless you! But I do feel a little bad about having left in the adjectives.

#354 ::: albatross, because conservatives don't want to make it easier for people to vote. Seriously. Every proposal to do so is met with opposition from people who want us to be working 80 hours a week or dying homeless.

#357 ::: Jim, that's why I've been supporting NPV also. It's not perfect, and it'll undoubtedly have court challenges, and it'll probably lead to a constitutional amendment, but if that's the only way to get there, great.

There's a concern that if you make it too easy for people to holiday instead of vote, they won't vote. The solution might be to go with voting week and Election Day, so people will be able and willing to do it, so long as they feel they have candidates that represent them and each vote matters.

#358 ::: Nancy, as a rule, teenagers are better informed than adults. The worst of them are no more ignorant than adults.

#359 ::: Debra, I think that's an argument for better public education--and part of the reason the rich don't support better public education.

#363 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:13 AM:

Avram

'National Popular Vote' - their pet law should only take effect when all the states pass it; otherwise it isn't either national or popular.

Also, if they're serious about allotting electors to the winner of the popular vote, having it winner-take-all for the electors of each state isn't going to cut it either. What kind of 'popular vote' is that?

#364 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:18 AM:

will @361:
But I do feel a little bad about having left in the adjectives.

Oh, the adjectives* are innocuous enough; I wouldn't worry about that. Some people might have quibbled with the adverbs modifying them. ;)

-----
* "smart" and "stupid"

#365 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:27 AM:

#362 ::: P J Evans, supporting the popular vote is popular--70% of the people support it. Waiting for every state controlled by plutocrats to let the people vote is not popular.

#363 ::: abi, busted! Does anyone know whether most languages distinguish between words that modify verbs and words that modify nouns?

#366 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:31 AM:

will @364:
Does anyone know whether most languages distinguish between words that modify verbs and words that modify nouns?

I know that Dutch doesn't, which makes it a difficult distinction to learn. My colleagues regularly use the adjectival form adverbially in English. It's one of the subtler markings of the non-native English speaker here.

#367 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:43 AM:

Nancy Leibovitz, #349: "If more people voted, it's not a guarantee against close elections, nor does it mean the outcome will be more to your tastes."

It would be more democratic regardless of my tastes and I think perhaps it would be more to my tastes as well. At the very least, the voters are a self-selected sample. We would not accept that in a simple opinion poll--I think we'd be best off rejecting it in a poll that actually elects officials as well. In addition, the US public is more liberal than its federal legislature.

Part of the reason for close results seems to be that getting people to show up at the polls (or keeping them away) is a more important part of campaigning than persuading people to make any particular vote, so a universal vote might change that too.

The second part of that solution would be a better voting system, so that, having managed to get a true poll of the public, their opinions could be given real force. I want to read Poundstone's book if it's not too dense.

#368 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:53 AM:

Will, if you're going to be making statements like "Waiting for every state controlled by plutocrats to let the people vote is not popular" you ought to, y'know, provide some backing for them, like some kind of evidence that states actually are controlled by plutocrats, rather than just the corporate media, or that the 'popular vote' movement really is popular.

Just sayin'.

#369 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:58 AM:

Will, 364: English, French, and Latin use adverbs to modify both verbs and adjectives.

#370 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Nancy, #349: "In re ending dependence on Arab oil: Supposing that it's feasible, would that impoverish those countries? If so, what's the likely outcome of that, especially considering that they'll know it wasn't some accident of the market?"

It is of course possible. Moreover, it will be done one way or another, because we will not be burning fossil petroleum as fuel by the end of this century. Hard to say, really. The Arab/Islamic regions of Asia, though they have fallen on hard times, were once a great intellectual center; they might become so again. They've got a lot of desert that could be used to gather solar energy; it might be they could sell solar-generated electricity to Europe, Asia, and Africa. An equally interesting question is what happens in the rest of the world. Heavy use of petroleum only began about 60 years ago, and it has reshaped our lives. Whole industries will be swept into irrelevance, and new industries rise in their place. Interesting times.

#371 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:02 PM:

#354: " . . . and it would probably make voting easier for a fair number of people."

[channeling GOP operative]
Yeah, the wrong kind of people.
[/channeling GOP operative]

#372 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:25 PM:

Avram, #340: Wait, my description of the proposed National Popular Vote law is wrong. What it would actually do is all of the signatory states would give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who gets a plurality of the popular vote.

And this is an improvement over the current, also winner-takes-all, system exactly how? Make it proportional distribution of electoral votes according to the popular vote percentages, and I'd be considerably more interested.

Terry, #342: Avram: And the Supremes won't discover a novel, and non precidential, application of Equal Protection because...

...over half of them are Bush appointees and will rule in accordance with the Republican party line? We're already seeing a fair amount of that; the much-ballyhooed "Candidate X may surprise Bush once he's actually appointed" effect has signally failed to materialize.

albatross, #354: The main argument against introducing any more federal holidays is that they cost employers money, because employees have to be paid even though they're not working. Now, it should be pointed out that there is no federal mandate for private employers to give any of the federal holidays as paid days off -- but that's still the argument that's going to be made. Also, slightly more cogent, that it wastes tax dollars because federal employees do have to get the day off. I'd address that by swapping out Columbus Day in election years, but I think there would have to be specific legislation to do it.

There are currently 11 federal holidays (I think Wikipedia is reliable on this, and hey! I didn't know that Inauguration Day was a federal holiday!), and a lot of private companies already make employees choose between getting MLK Day or Presidents' Day off, or getting Columbus Day or Veterans' Day off. I can easily see Election Day being shoved in with the latter group.

A couple of related trivia items:
1) Federal holidays are sometimes called "legal holidays" because courts are not in session on those days; therefore, they are holidays for the legal system.

2) Prior to WWI and the rise of unions, there were almost no nationwide holidays; Christmas was about it, although some companies gave Sunday mornings off (but if they took that time off, they had damn well better be in church!). It was because of the union movement that we now have the 5-day standard work week and most of the holidays that we think of as nationwide. Even though private employers are not required to grant federal holidays, many adopted the same schedule the unions were pushing specifically in order to prevent the unions from getting a foothold in their company.

Somebody upthread asked why campaign seasons ran so long, but now I can't find the post. It's for the same reason that you now see Christmas stuff in the stores as early as September -- everybody wants to have the advantage of being the first one, and it multiplies.

#373 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:48 PM:

albatross: There are federal holidays, and there are Federal Holidays.

If you aren't in the federal employ, you don't get most of them. Most employers only give five, of the 11.25 (inauguration of the president only happens once every four years).

Law firms (which benefit from the courts being closed on federal holidays) don't take a break for most of them.

Even schools (which, when I was a kid, gave you both Washington, and Lincoln's birthdays, to go with Columbus Day) no longer give them all.

So getting employers to pony up and give people the day off (paid) when lots of those people are going to vote, so the employer thinks, against the employer's interest... not so likely.

I have worked at places where voting got one a half-day paid. Amazingly not all the employees took it, which may say more than all the rest.

will: Russian uses adverbs, and adjectives.

abi: I didn't know that about Dutch. Maybe it explains the present tendency/trend in English users to use adj. when an adv. would be proper.

me: A post where all the people I am speaking to use a lower-case nom de net.

#374 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 12:52 PM:

#367 ::: P J, that 70% of the population wants the person who gets the most votes to be president was linked to @188, so I didn't repeat it. As for "evidence that states actually are controlled by plutocrats, rather than just the corporate media," the corporate media is, by definition, owned by plutocrats.

Abi and TexAnne, thanks!

#375 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:12 PM:

Terry Karney @ 372... it explains the present tendency/trend in English users to use adj. when an adv. would be proper.

Can you give an example? I can't think of one right now, maybe due to today's lack of caffeine.

#376 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:18 PM:

Serge: "Good-paying jobs." "I did that so bad/good!" Or you could just watch your local TV news.

#377 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:20 PM:

Will@somewhere up there^

Advocating a balanced budget is not the same as advocating a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. I think in most years the budget should be balanced; I recognize that there are times when it is inadvisable or unpractical. (I would have really loved to watch someone tell GWB, "But we can't go to war in Iraq - there isn't any money!")

Government social services make me squirrely. I know we need them; some things can only be done by a community acting together.

But I worry that too many people (myself included all too often) allow that to be all that they do towards caring for other people. I think personal involvement is important on many levels, including that it makes it harder to dehumanize the people involved and that it makes it easier to understand why some problems require the community acting through the government, respond - and then vote appropriately.

#378 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:34 PM:

TexAnne @ 375... "Good-paying jobs"

Yuch.

Say, what do people call it when a job title made of more than one word becomes a verb? We used to have "Robert Hack, executive producer of The Martian Love Boat". Now we get "Robert Hack, who executive-produced The Martian Love Boat". (Mind you, I wouldn't mind watching such a movie, provided that Bruce Campbell is in its cast.)

#379 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 01:39 PM:

Serge: That also ties into my comment about adj. substutions. I'd like to see well paying jobs.

But verbing wierds nouns (see comments in Open Thread C on ROT-13 being verbed in Latin).

#380 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Terry Karney (372): I think it's a New York state law that employees who are required to work on Election Day must get (up to) two hours off to go vote. I don't get that any more, because where I work Election Day is an "earned holiday,"* swapped out for Lincoln's Birthday**.

*if I work it, I get paid time and a half, plus a comp day, which is a good deal, but I no longer get the two hours off, because I'm not required to work that day
**which means we lost two hours off every year

#381 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 02:54 PM:

Ahhh, holidays vs days off. Where I work, the 'represented' (meaning non-management, because many are union-members) get Veterans' Day as a day off, but 'non-represented' (management at whatever level) are expected to show up. It makes life really interesting some times. (Even more interesting, because the lowest levels of management are also considered non-exempt (in some ways) by HR, so we have to use the same timesheet as the union folks and give them actual times for coming in, leaving, and lunch.)

#382 ::: Fungi From Yuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Jenny Islander @ #328 wrote:

Is there anywhere on line where I could look up a candidate's voting record in an encapsulated form suitable for somebody who needs translations from politician-ese?

Sorta. A number of groups do have scorecards, reflecting the voting record on a number of issues of interest to that group. That scorecard is only as reliable as the group, though - NARAL's been letting politicians like Lieberman game their system recently, which is frustrating to me. (Voting for cloture was OK, as long as he voted against the candidate - Alito? - when it didn't matter. And he checked first, too.)

Perhaps people can post suggested resources; I'll start with the ACLU scorecard.

#383 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Mary Aileen: It's a federal law, but employers don't have to make a big deal of it. Post it on the "Don't Read It" board, along with stuff like breaks and overtime.

I once worked for a company which insisted on hewing to the federal OT provisions (which aren't in accord with Calif.). They took advantage of confusion around some back and forthing where the more woker friendly were repealed (pretty much by gubernatorial fiat) and then replaced.

That we were working a non-standard (four tens; with pretty much mandatory OT on Fridays) work week was used to further confuse the issue (because a non-standard week allows for non-payment of OT for work more than eight in a day; by makeing a new minimum. They were refusing to pay OT when the work day went past ten hours).

But I digress.

#384 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:27 PM:

Terry Karney (382): Federal was my first thought, but I don't recall hearing of it until I moved to New York (early in my working career).

#385 ::: Fred A Levy Haskell ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Interesting discussion. Thanks all. And interesting synchronicity: just yesterday afternoon, before I'd read any of this thread, I made this comment in my LiveJournal:

Thinking back about various world events over the last seven years, one almost has to admire the good people of Kenya for taking to the streets in protest over an obviously-rigged election for chief executive.

In related matters, I'll throw in my 25¢* to a query from Steve C. way back at #4 since I only saw one rather cursory reply: So, if N— had not run in 2000, would we be in a war with Iraq? Anyone? Anyone?

I'm rather more inclined to blame election fraud in Florida† than I am to focus on either N— or the EC, but over the years I have indeed come to believe rather firmly that if the guy who the country‡ actually elected in 2000 were to have taken office, no, we would not have gone to war with Iraq. Not because I believe some wild conspiracy theory that posits that, as with Roosevelt and WWII, the President either Knew and Didn't Act or was perhaps an Active Participant [Pooh emphasis added]; rather, becuase I believe a fact-based administration, especially one which would have had a lot of carry-over of and continuity from the previous crew of mostly sharp, involved advisors, would have continued to pay attention to their previous observations and misgivings about Al Qaeda. Further, that administration would not have adopted the rather bizarre illusion which was prevailing in the administration in place at that time—that All Evil In The (Arab) World Comes From And Only From Iraq. They therefore would not have ignored, dismissed, and/or quashed any and all intelligence rumblings concerning other countries and/or organizations that may have been [were] putting together strange, outlandish, and unusual plots that just might [did] work if sufficiently ignored for long enough.
__________
* Inflation, don'tchaknow.
† As I've said before elsewhere, it may be true that Daley and the Democrats stole Illinois and the election for JFK, but at least they tried to be discreet about it. I think the thing that may bug me the most about J.Bush & K.Harris and the Republicans stealing Florida for W* is they were so gosh-darned brazen about it.
‡ Note that I'm not joining friend Will in restricing that to "The People."
* Other than their success at it, of course.

#386 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Lee #371: And this is an improvement over the current, also winner-takes-all, system exactly how? Make it proportional distribution of electoral votes according to the popular vote percentages, and I'd be considerably more interested.

It's an improvement because it eliminates loser-takes-all outcomes like the 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000 elections by guaranteeing that whoever wins the popular vote will also win a majority of the electoral votes. So this way, we're still stuck with the Electoral College, but we bypass it to create the effect of a national popular vote.

With your suggestion, a possible outcome is the winning candidate getting only a plurality, rather than a majority, of the electoral vote, which then tosses the election to the House of Representatives.

#387 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 04:41 PM:

Terry @ 372: If I got the half-day paid for voting, I might not take it all the time, depending on what the workload looked like and my mood. I would vote, certainly--but with or without that half day off, I'd vote in the morning. Usually, I get up as usual, walk two blocks, vote, and continue to the subway. Exceptions have been when I was out of work, and one time when I had been laid off effective the end of the month, was feeling slightly ill, and had no incentive whatsoever not to use my sick leave.

#388 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 05:02 PM:

Avram @ 385

I hope that 2000 was an aberration, because I personally think that there was something going on behind the scenes in that one that will eventually come out and blow a lot of people's biographies into the fiction section of the shelves (including, most especially, W, Dick, and the Supremes). The 19th century elections - well, they weren't run the way we're used to: for one thing, there was no assumption that a vote was secret, or even unpaid for (go look up 'election cake' for one of the more subtle forms of vote-buying). Also, the electorate was much more limited, what with being males only, and pretty much white males only, if not white male property-owners (women could and did own property in their own names, but voting was still out).
ISTR that Hayes is pretty much considered to be a classic thrown Presidential election, too, the kind that leaves you shaking your head and mumbling about what they were thinking when the electoral college was set up.

(I don't know that we'd do it that way in a second try, because it is a real kludge of a system, but the world isn't the same now as it was then: they were dealing with slow travel, slow communications, and a lot of space that people could move into and do their own organizing of.)

#389 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 05:35 PM:

#376 ::: Margaret, I can't remember where I read this, but I've seen at least one study claiming government social services are far more efficient than private ones. It makes sense to me: the people in the greatest need don't have wealthy friends to rely on. That's especially true as our communities become increasingly divided by class.

#387 ::: P J, if you do the math, you'll see that under the EC, the occasional failure of the system is inevitable, even if everyone is perfectly honest. The Republicans in 2000 simply took a bad situation and made it worse.

#390 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 08:05 PM:

Fungi #381:

Didn't that also at least use to be the main thing the League of Women Voters did?

#391 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 08:49 PM:

Fungi @381, thanks for that link! Obama scores better (80%) than Clinton (67%), which is nice to know about candidates who are overall so very similar.

#392 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 08:57 PM:

Will@388

Wouldn't surprise me at all that some (at least) or even most government social services are more efficient.

Efficency is important - social services rarely have more than enough resources and often, not that.

But personal involvement is important too - that's what causes people to vote so that the government will spend money on those important social services.

There was a very nasty incident in Seattle; a young woman from Africa, a student at the UW was viciously attacked with a hammer and wound up in intensive care. She was in engineering and had been studying a building's construction last summer at one of the local hospitals. When she was there, she usually talked to one of the union guys who ran the construction elevator for about a minute or two - the length of the elevator ride.

When he realized who had been hurt, this guy started a pass-the-hat at a union meeting with a $100 and a promise of a bottle of Crown Royale to anyone who matched him. Several people did, and the meeting raised $3000 to help her.

Only a bit towards her medical bills, of course. But it didn't take much of a connection to raise that bit - and I'd like to think it's possible that everyone involved moved towards a more inclusive version of community than they had had.

In case you think I'm repeating urban legends - a link.

#393 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 09:20 PM:

will @ 388

I don't expect any system of voting to work 100 percent of the time; there's almost always a way to game it, or a way in which it doesn't work the way we think it should. (It's pretty much been proven that there is no perfect voting system. I sure wouldn't want to be the person who tries Hugo-type voting with any number of ballots over a couple of thousand, because I don't think that one scales easily.)

70 percent of the people are ready to try something else than the EC? Which 70 percent, where, what's their background, and what was the question they were asked? Because I don't hear anyone talking about it in my daily life - politics, yes, but not the EC, so the people I'm hearing (some of them very aware of politics: one of them even likes the talking-head shows) either aren't representative or the 70 percent figure isn't a representative group.

#394 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2008, 11:17 PM:

Some of the biggest objections to going to a popular vote election instead of an EC determination would probably come from the candidates themselves. The EC enables candidates to concentrate on swing states, writing off the states that polling tells them they will lose, and putting modest efforts to states they feel certain to win.

A popular vote election would probably mean much more expensive elections, and the concommitant issues of that much more money being thrown into the campaign.

#395 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:10 AM:

#391 ::: Margaret, agreed that the personal is important.

#392 ::: P J, I suspect the poll asked the question with a little information attached, something like, "Do you think the person who gets the most votes in a fair election should become the president?" I have run into people who defend the EC, but they tend to be fans of Rush Limbaugh.

#393 ::: Steve, if so, I would consider that a feature, not a bug: the current model of expensive campaigning is insane, so if they have to change it for the sake of true democracy, you won't hear me complain.

#396 ::: Fungi From Yuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:21 AM:

joann #389 - I thought the League of Women Voters has their own scorecard, but I couldn't find one on their site before I went to post. I have polled the locally available brains and the consensus is: "Didn't they used to do that?" Hm. They did run the Presidential debates for a while, and some people want miss them terribly.

will shetterley #390 - I'm pleased to have been of service.

Tangenting in the direction of several other threads, the LWV article on wikipedia still bears the scars of an epic struggle with a wikipedia contributor who firmly believes that no pro-gun control group can be 'nonpartisan'...

#397 ::: Fungi From Yuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:30 AM:

Naturally, immediately after posting I find a 2008 Presidential Primary Guide (PDF) via the Michigan League of Women voters website. Apparently I should have been looking for vote411.org.

It seems to be a basic biography plus stances on a few different issues, which is better than nothing but not the breadth of coverage that Jenny Islander was looking for.

#398 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:28 AM:

Someone mentioned Project Vote Smart way above. One of the things they have is a compilation of the scores for all major elected officials from many, many special interest groups, so you can see how candidates have voted on different topics. I've been a supporter of PVS since almost the beginning, so I definitely suggest you check out their site.

They also send out their own questionaires, which politicians often ignore (often at the insistence of their handlers), but which make for fascinating reading when they are answered.

#399 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:32 AM:

#395: yes, the League of Women Voters got shouldered aside from running the Presidential debates. The debates are now organized by the two major parties themselves - so now only they get to decide who's a Serious Candidate.

What I find even scarier - and looking into the matter IMMEDIATELY takes you into tinfoil-hat country - is how the 2000 election also broke exit polling in this country.

We've already got worries about electronic voting; but simultaneously, something very odd has been going on with exit polling.

An organization called Voter News Service had been doing exit polling since the '60s, and provided their results to the networks. In 2000, they called Florida for Gore. Which was apparently the correct call, although the Supreme Court put a stop to the vote count in Florida, so we may never know for certain.

After 2000, VNS then hired Battelle(!) to revamp their computer systems.

After Battelle rewrote their code, VNS's exiting polling then failed completely in 2002. (Recall that this had been an entirely solved problem before they called in the major defense contractor to 'solve' it for them. And exit polling had been done for years before it depended upon software.)

As a result of their catastrophic failure, VNS died; and the networks then organized something called the "National Election Pool" to give them the "correct" exit polling for the 2004 election.

The coincidence of timing makes the hair on my neck stand up. We have the neutral LWV pushed out of the presidential-debate business; we have legislation pushing us to black-box voting; and at the same time, we have exit polling being reorganized after it reports inconveient disparities. It looks a lot like American elections are systematically being made less transparent.

(So amending the constitution to eliminate the EC might be further down our list of priorities.)

#400 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 04:04 AM:

will @364: Does anyone know whether most languages distinguish between words that modify verbs and words that modify nouns?

To the very limited extent of my knowledge, Japanese usually has separate forms for noun modifiers and verb modifiers, but the noun modifiers aren't "really" adjectives in the same sense that most of us are used to-- they're split into two subcategories which behave either like mutant nouns (which inflect with a modified copula) or mutant verbs (which inflect nearly the same way as normal verbs); each subcategory goes adverbial in its own distinct way.

#401 ::: Fred A Levy Haskell ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:35 AM:

Being the alert and on-top-of-it guy that I am, I forgot the crucial part of my post/statement @384, which is: I've come to believe that had we not allowed the Republicans to steal the 2000 Presidential election, the World Trade Center towers would be standing today.

#402 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:49 AM:

#399 Julie, mutant verbs and nouns! Excellent!

#440 Fred, I dunno about your conclusion. I agreed for the sake of the story back when I wrote What if George W. Bush had been elected president? But Clinton and Gore have both benefited enormously from the Camelot effect. I think 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq are less likely under Gore, but none are impossible. Look at how the Dems voted on Iraq.

But I completely agree about the theft, and that it was allowed. The Republicans told their people to go into the streets. The Democrats told theirs to stay home. That may have marked the end of democracy in the US. 2008 is going to be interesting in all the wrong ways.

#403 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Will Shetterly @ 401... Look at how the Dems voted on Iraq.

I was going to point out that they've voted the way they did because, thanks to GOP-owned newsmedia, anything that they did that wasn't in lockstep with Dubya's wishes would have been perceived by the country as weak. Then I thought, well, even with Gore in the White House, the newsmedia would still be owned by the GOP and they'd still be dictating the definitions of weak and strong. So, yes, maybe there'd still be a war, but maybe only in Afghanistan, and it'd probably have been run competently if not over by now. And Osama bin Laden might actually have been caught because Gore wouldn't have been obsessed with going to war in Iraq. I think.

#404 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:42 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz (#358): Please pardon the name typo and the cheap joke. Up too early and not enough coffee probably doesn't serve as an excuse, so: Sorry!

#405 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 12:42 PM:

402, Serge, in the comments here, someone points out that the Dems "could have and should have gone to the wall to shut down this war a year ago." But the Dems just don't go to the wall.

So I fear that in the Goreverse, that would still be true. Remember that Clinton bombed Baghdad in 1998, forcing the inspectors to leave. Gore had a part in the build-up to the attack in 2003.

#406 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 02:28 PM:

I'll believe in "end of democracy" when we stop voting. Right now, it seems excessive.

As I said earlier, 9/11 would have happened no matter who was elected. It had already been set into motion, and the factors that made it possible were independent of party politics. The Afghan incursion? Hard to say. Iraq? I don't think Gore would have been interested. The TSA mess? I think there's a fair chance we would still be stuck with it. Gore undoubtedly would have avoided the more blatant violations of civil liberties, but it's very hard politically to say, "we aren't going to change anything because the problem has taken care of itself."

In theory, 2008 may well be a repeat of 2000, except for the context. But all of the flapping about the electoral congress conceals the larger issue (for the dems) that if they had stronger candidates, they wouldn't have to worry about the EC. Here I look at the superdelegates and see that they look rather like the theory that they can repeat the 2000 election and win this time.

#407 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:09 PM:

C. Wingate: Not to be tendentious, but you think the Soviet Union was Democratic? They voted.

The mere act of going to the polls isn't democracy, it's not even representative; if the polls aren't honest.

There are a lot of hurdles to getting elected, and I, for one, would like to see some of them reduced, if not removed; so that more people could actively participate. That might make more of the issues that need to be adressed more likely to come up.

But we don't have that, and that seems; at present, to be harder to manage than a simple thing like getting the guy we vote for into office.

#408 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:37 PM:

will shetterly @ 404... All true and yet I can't agree that things would have been the same. For one thing, I doubt that Gore would have taken advantage of the situation to plunder the Treasury for the sake of his buddies, or that he would have gutted environmental protection, or that he'd have made it clear that he was more interested in scientific conclusions that agree with the decisions he had already made. Or that he would have endorsed torture. Maybe I'm hopefully naif about my Party.

#409 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 03:49 PM:

#403 ::: Faren Miller:
It's ok.

As for hope and the election....I'd settle for a president who isn't likely to create new disasters. Obama seems like a good bet.

If it's McCain vs. Clinton, it'll be a hard choice.

#410 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:10 PM:

407, Serge, I do think the Dems are almost always better than the Repubs.

408, Nancy, the more you get to know about McCain, the easier the choice will be. Avedon Carol and I both thought Edwards was the best of the three leading Dems, and now she's favoring Clinton and I'm favoring Obama, but I must admit the practical difference is very, very tiny. If either is elected, what'll really matter is the Congress we get. I think the symbolic change is greater with Obama, but after Super Tuesday, I'll just say, "Okay, let's get on with it," no matter who the choice is.

#411 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:20 PM:

will shetterly @ 409... I hope I didn't give the impression that I thought you were feeling otherwise. That being said, wouldn't it be great to have someone in the Oval Office who is intelligent and who isn't a social darwinist?

#412 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 05:56 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz: Quite apart from my sense that no Republican can be allowed; with the present direction of the Party, near any levers of national power, McCain shouldn't be hard to vote against.

He gave Bush the keys to torture, and pretended it was a restriction.

He, having been savaged by Bush in SC, got on board. When Kerry was being attacked by the Swift Boat Boys, he stood mute.

In 2004, he was in the position to play kingmaker. He could have endorsed Kerry (which might have given him the win).

He might have stood mute, which still might have let Kerry win, because silence would have been a mild rebuke.

But he was looking at the 2008 election. He wanted to be the nominee, so he went to the Convention and kissed Bush. He endorsed Bush, and a whole lot of people, who like McCain, they voted for Bush.

It was after that he started pulling the sham-resister, who made a show of "standing up to Bush" and then went to the White House; and arranged to make "compromises" all of which ended up with Bush getting more than he wanted.

He's a fake. He thinks we need to stay in Iraq for 100 years. He strategised the Surge. If it didn't happen, he could say no one listened to him. If it did work, he can claim the credit. If it tanked, he could blame Bush for not doing enough, pulling out before the deed was done.

He's sold out all the things he said he stands for.

That's without looking at the more distant past.

#413 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Terry Karney @ 411... He strategised the Surge...

...and I didn't even get a dinner date out of this. By the way, isn't FakeBoy in poor health? I'm surprised that it's not an issue for the GOP, at least as far as the public is concerned, especially if the VP is a loony.

#414 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 06:45 PM:

When Gore visited the White House shortly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, ISTR hearing as a news item that Bush had jovially remarked that if the 2000 election had gone differently, the two men might be having the same conversation only with their positions reversed. But I can't find any record of that now except as joke materal and Snopes doesn't have it listed, so that may be specious after all.

However, I definitely do remember another factor in 2000's Florida fracas beyond the butterfly ballot, the "Banana Republican" mob, and Katherine Harris: when Fox News was the first to call the state for Bush, one of their political consultants instrumental to that decision was a certain John Prescott Ellis, nephew to Bush 41 and partial namesake of then-governor "Jeb" Bush (whose nickname comes from his initials: John Ellis Bush), who had also been covertly sharing incoming data with his uncle and cousins throughout election day.

And I continue to be amazed at McCain's capacity to forgive the 2000 primaries push-poll that described his adoption of an orphan from Bangladesh as his having "fathered a black love child".

#415 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:08 PM:

Serge @410, it's just that some folks read too fast, and others think that if you criticize someone, you don't support 'em, so I wanted to reassure 'em. 2000 made one thing clear for me: you can't get around voting for the lesser evil in a two-party system. So I'll support the lesser evil and work to change the system.

#416 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:28 PM:

will shetterly @ 414... Understood. There is always that risk with blogs. Anyway, what was that joke about a Presidential race between Dick Cheney and Cthulhu, and the voters choosing the lesser of two evils?

#417 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 07:45 PM:

Serge #415: That would be Cthulhu?

#418 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 08:09 PM:

Fragano @ 416...Yes, except that Cthlhu can't run for President as he wasn't spawned in America.

#419 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 08:36 PM:

Like Larry @ 331, I'm thinking about voting in the Republican primary because I want to mess with them, and I have no preference between Clinton and Obama.

But the idea of voting for Ron Paul leaves me nauseated. I just don't think I can do it, even in fun.

#420 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:20 PM:

If Dubya hadn't been chosen President in 2000, he might have been tapped as Commissioner of Baseball and successfully swept the current steroid abuse scandal under the rug, and Cheney's Halliburton stock options might not have risen thousands of percents in value.

#421 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Laurence: Don't do it for fun, do it out of duty. :)

#422 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:37 PM:

Terry: you're right. I'll just keep telling myself that I have only one lunch to lose for my country.

#423 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Laurence: Thinking about it some more, Huckabee might be the better choice. If Paul makes a run, it's possible his rascist ties might not come out, and his, "I hate the war, didn't vote for it, and will have all the troops home by Feb. 1, might cause people who don't like the centrist stripe of the Dem Candidate to vote for him.

He'd be a strange spoiler.

#424 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 09:53 PM:

Laurence, #421: AKA "close your eyes and think of America."

#425 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 10:36 PM:

Will: With you on So I'll support the lesser evil and work to change the system. And it's not like I'd actually mind a reform that improves representation in elections. :)

My guess is that if real democratic reform of American politics is possible any time in the next couple decades (a thing I'm doubtful of and hoping I'm wrong in my analysis about), likely a bunch of overlapping things will become feasible at once - more like the New Deal or the Progressive heyday than the more recent precedents of omnibus legislation happening basically in isolation. I could be wrong about this part, too, of course.

#426 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:04 PM:

re 406: Well, yes, that was tendentious. And I was exaggerating, but only a little. The big problem of the system, as I see it, is that it is turning out lackluster candidates. It is telling that most of the commentary is about whether the Republicans are completely awful or pretty darn bad. I don't see the great praise of the Democrats. Again, I say: the electoral college, the voting in Florida-- they wouldn't matter if the votes were enough.

#427 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2008, 11:31 PM:

#425 ::: C., pretend for a moment that the Florida results were honest, and Florida's electoral votes legitimately went to Bush. Gore has half a million more votes, but he loses.

The electoral college is based on a simple, undemocratic proposition: states matter more than citizens. That made sense when states were worried that they would be forced to let poor people vote (Massachusetts held out for a long time on that) or end slavery. It doesn't make sense today. The winner should win.

#428 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:07 AM:

In case you were wondering why I was that dubious about Hillary, here's why.

#429 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:27 AM:

Nancy @427:

Your link is toast, so I'm still wondering.

Remember to put the URL in double quotes or Movable Type eats it. And remember to close your quotes;I often forget.

#430 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:39 AM:

I've been watching the recent Barack Obama campaign video, and thinking about my reaction to it.

In policy, I'd rate Obama no higher than about a B-. He's okay on the war. Good on human rights. Mediocre at best on women's issues, including abortion. And so forth and so on. I am not excited about many of his proposals, if any.

And yet.

If you look back at the campaign ads of the last several election cycles, you may find them - at least I found them, so I'll be first-person about this - I found them massive, heavy, ponderous, full of fear and anger. They're about dark clouds and strong walls. There is martial ardor and grim resolve and the fierce joy of whatever struggle it may be. But there's not much happiness. There isn't the goofy grin of discovery and self-discovery, of seeing a solution to a thing you wrestle with right now and stepping toward it. There's smugness, but not much satisfaction.

This, I think, is why I may need to support Obama. Well, this and his demonstrated ability to get more people voting - and not those Republican-in-drag "swing voters" the War Party consultants all love as rationale to get Democrats to abandon Democratic stands, but people who really weren't participating before. We need more people to believe that they can and should get involved, and that they can and should expect that officials will pay attention to them. A roused public is the basis of all reform, and in fact is likely to go places that, say, Obama's managers would prefer they didn't. But I want to be around more people saying "yes I can", smiling, and getting to it.

#431 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 08:43 AM:

Bruce Baugh #429: My hope is that Obama will get people all whipped up for positive change, and then if (I'm guessing when) they don't get it, there'll be a whole bunch of people willing to demand it.

#432 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 09:05 AM:

abi, thanks for letting me know about the bad link.

Here's a good one.

#433 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:29 AM:

#431: Most of those points are true regardless of whom the Democrats nominate for President.

I think the Democrats need to get away from "Let's find someone whom the Republicans can't smear." It's always been the case that no matter whom the Democrats nominate, the Republicans will smear (historically) him. If the Democrats nominated Grover Norquist, the Republicans won't miss a beat in calling him a "big government, tax and spend liberal." I think the hardcore Republican base will unite to vote against whom ever the Democrats nominate. To them, anyone the Republicans nominate will be better than anyone the Democrats nominate.

(I mean, is there anyone who could have gotten the Democrats united and voting in droves more than George W. Bush? However, like it or not, Bush won the popular vote in 2004.)

Likewise, I think the Democrats need to get away from "Let's do the Republicans job for them by smearing our own candidates." Granted, the Republicans are suffering from some self-inflicted injuries of their own this time around. However, that doesn't mean self-inflicted injuries are a good thing.

Now, I haven't exactly outlined any reasons to vote for Hillary Clinton. My point is nominating someone whom the Republicans will accept (since they won't accept Hillary) doesn't strike me as a winning strategy.

(BTW, I'm not thrilled with the MA health care law. I would have preferred a single payer plan. However, it's hardly the case that, for example, Mit rammed it through an unfriendly Democratic legislature. Although Mit's currently taking credit for it, MA Democrats should get as much credit, or blame, for it.)

#434 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:35 AM:

Inauguration Day = Federal Holiday only if you are a Federal Employee who works in Washington, DC.

If you are a Fed working anywhere else in the country, you go to work that day. I am a Federal employee and a timekeeper, and in over 30 years neither I nor any of the people I keep time for have had that day off!

#435 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:47 AM:

The Republicans have spent most of the last sixteen years poisoning the well on Hillary. You know all those "pass-this-to-everyone-in-your-addressbook" anonymous letters? Them.

I'm worried that a lot of independents, lukewarm Democrats, disgusted (but not _that_ disgusted) Republicans, and folks who haven't been paying much attention will, faced with a choice between McCain and Clinton, say "I was going to vote Democratic, but what about Vince Foster?" hold their nose, and vote for Straightalk McSurge.

#436 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 10:49 AM:

#426
The electoral college is based on a simple, undemocratic proposition: states matter more than citizens. That made sense when states were worried that they would be forced to let poor people vote (Massachusetts held out for a long time on that) or end slavery. It doesn't make sense today. The winner should win.

It was about giving small states enough of a say to keep them in the government we had at the time. (At the time there were three 'big' states.)

The winner is as likely to win today as two hundred years ago - we're a work in progress. The EC is, as I said before, way down the list of things that need fixing. For most of us, it's on page two of a list printed in 8-point type; far more urgent things are on it, starting with presidents who claim the laws shouldn't apply to them solely because they're president.

#437 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 01:23 PM:

The link Nancy Lebovitz provided in #431 is an entertaining rant, but it has some factual mistakes that should be corrected if it is going to be used as an example. (For example, the Keating Five were not all Republicans. Unless you can't tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, but I digress.) More importantly, the arguments are flimsy and self-contradictory.

I think there is such a thing as an all-purpose rant. Facts about the subject are like the vermouth in a martini. Too much would detract from the main ingredient, which is the bile.

#438 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 05:22 PM:

Michael I @ 286: The Buchanan votes in predominantly Democratic precincts are actually one thing that can't be blamed on Jeb Bush.

(There are other things that can be blamed on Jeb, just not this particular one.)

Basically, they were the result of one (heavily Democratic) county deciding to use a rather badly designed ballot.

And, as it happens, a ballot design which it was illegal to use under Florida election law. But, as the Supreme Court would say, who's counting?

will shetterly @ 300: Michael @286, wasn't Katherine Harris the person in charge of the Florida elections? I figured that since she was answerable to Jeb Bush, it was simpler to pass her responsibility on to him. Democrats.com has a nice post about Floridagate. In the charges against her, they mention the design of a sample ballot.

More importantly, Katherine Harris was co-chair of Bush's election campaign in Florida. Let me repeat that for everyone: The Secretary of State for Florida, whose job was to certify the results of the presidential election in Florida, was running George W. Bush's campaign in that state.

Fred A Levy-Haskell @ 400: Being the alert and on-top-of-it guy that I am, I forgot the crucial part of my post/statement @384, which is: I've come to believe that had we not allowed the Republicans to steal the 2000 Presidential election, the World Trade Center towers would be standing today.

I'm a lot less confident of that. The big problem there is FBI bureaucrats in D.C. refusing their field operatives' earnest pleas to place an Arabic-speaking undercover agent in the cell next to Zacarias Moussaoui, a 9/11 plotter whom they already had in custody, to see if he could ferret any information out of him, or to at least to be able to examine the hard drive of Moussaoui's computer, which they had in their possession. I don't think those bureaucrats would have been replaced in Gore/Nader/Buchanan's first year in power. (And if any of them haven't hanged themselves by now, I can't imagine why not.)

#439 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:04 PM:

More importantly, Katherine Harris was co-chair of Bush's election campaign in Florida. Let me repeat that for everyone: The Secretary of State for Florida, whose job was to certify the results of the presidential election in Florida, was running George W. Bush's campaign in that state.

Just as Blackwell did in Ohio, in 2004.

#440 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 06:23 PM:

#437 ::: Richard, you could argue that a little FBI distraction was inevitable, because the bureau was being turned over from Freeh to Pickard to Mueller (interestingly, five days before 9/11). On the other hand, those changes at the top shouldn't have affected on-going investigations.

And, so far as this affects the Goreverse, I doubt Freeh would have stayed on under Gore. Freeh's resignation came because he was blamed for a number of FBI mistakes during the Clinton years.

#441 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:06 PM:

Nancy (#427 and #431), I'm just four paragraphs into that anti-Hillary post, and I've hit something that sets off my bullshit detector: "Hicks" is repeating the anti-Clinton lie that Hillary concealed the billing records from the Rose Law firm.

The billing records in question, supposedly so secret that Vince Foster had to be killed to cover them up, were used to answer questions asked by NY Times reporter Jeff Gerth in March 1992. They were then misplaced when the Clintons moved to DC. When they were eventually found, it turned out that they backed up Hillary Clinton's claims about her activities.

And he should be ashamed of himself for his comments about her career, how she's just been cashing in on Bill's reputation.

The real Bill Hicks spent his career talking truth to power. This pretender is just erecting an edgy, counter-cultural facade and then using it to rebroadcast old Republican talking points.

#442 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2008, 07:07 PM:

Arg, strike that last paragraph. I misread "brad" as "bill".

#443 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Avram:

I've known Brad Hicks in meatspace for some years, though not recently. That's his name, and he looks like the photograph he uses for an icon.

#444 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 08:28 PM:

Ah, I ran into Lj user bradhicks a couple years ago... Linked to some previous rant, poked around, found he was a Hellenic Reconstructionist, read his stuff, found that he stated that it was right and good for men and women to have separate spheres and women belonged in the house which was totally equal in power to the rest of the world and even maybe better, and that his religion demanded this. Wrote him off as the classic whiny geek male in search of a cross to bear.

Anyway, came back to this thread to post a thought: seems like this primary is a taste of "electoral college" versus "electoral college blended with popular vote." On the Republican side, I believe most states are winner-take-all-delegates. On the Democratic side, it looks like most states allot delegates proportionally. Which is better? Perhaps we will see interesting effects.

#445 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 09:05 PM:

What would be better is a system where superdelegates can't cancel hundreds of thousands of votes by regular people.

Who are these superdelegates anyway? How many superdelegates does Big Oil have? Or Big Pharma?

I could use some reassurance here.

#446 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2008, 04:43 PM:

From The Politico via TPM. I gotta say, this made me really happy...

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), a certified public accountant, had pushed for months for an internal audit of the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to GOP members, but the committee’s treasurer at the time was reluctant.

Finally, at a recent meeting, the now former NRCC treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, relented, giving Conaway what was supposed to be an official internal audit from 2006. That document was a fake, the GOP members said. Even the letterhead on which it was sent was a forgery.

Revelations about the falsified document touched off an unfolding scandal that has rocked the NRCC and spurred a criminal investigation by the FBI into the committee’s accounting procedures.

Fearing the fallout from the discovery, the NRCC informed its principle lender, Wachovia, of potential accounting problems. Wachovia, which declined comment Thursday, had lent the committee $9 million in 2006, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Knowing the bank was required by law to notify federal investigators of any “suspicious activity,” the NRCC also alerted the FBI, Republican insiders confirmed.

At the same time, NRCC officials notified the FEC that the committee may have filed inaccurate disclosure statements.

#447 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 08:27 AM:

Richard Brandt @ 437

I don't think those bureaucrats would have been replaced in Gore/Nader/Buchanan's first year in power. (And if any of them haven't hanged themselves by now, I can't imagine why not.)

I would guess, then, you haven't met many bureaucrats. The very concepts of guilt and responsibility don't exist in that world. As Yoda might say, "There is no do, only doodoo."

It is true, bureaucrats are hard to imagine.

#448 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 11:11 AM:

Then there's Dick's speech to the CPAC (the organized wingnut GOP), which is something out of Wonderland: they don't torture, they believe in small government and less taxation, etc. hunter's comments on it yesterday at Daily Kos made it clear just how strange their view of the universe is.

#449 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 11:15 AM:

P J Evans @ 447.... how strange their view of the universe is

You should hear what they say about us when they forget we're but a couple of cubicles away.

#450 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 11:33 AM:

Serge, at least we're connected to the real world by something other than a funhouse mirror. (I hear the milder stuff on my commute: some of my fellow commuters probably haven't updated their worldviews since Nixon was president. Some of my workmates aren't really connected, either.)

BTW, here's the link to hunter's piece.

#451 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 11:45 AM:

P J... I think that's pretty much the same with my co-workers. This makes me wonder if they know I'm a Democrat. I certainly don't fit their view of what a D is, ergo I probably am not a D. Besides, I have a tiny flag in my office and the famous Iwo Jima photo in plain view and we all know that Ds hate America.

#452 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2008, 01:36 PM:

Madeline @ #443.

You hit the nail on the head. The individual you saw on LJ is a tedious geek-boy. "I can say anything I want and you can't tell me I'm wrong because I have Aspergers and have no control." Made me want to smack him. I occasionally see him at regional conventions. I make sure to put as much distance between us as possible.

He creeps me out.

#453 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2008, 08:50 PM:

Paula (# 451) -- Using Asperger's as an excuse is not credible.

I have a son who has been so diagnosed, and he is certainly *not* under the impression that he is not going to be held accountable.

Hell, it's likely that *I* have undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome and don't get to use it as an excuse.

#454 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Lizzy L @445: "the NRCC informed its principle lender, Wachovia"

he, he. I like it. There's truth in it too — "I'll just need the standard loan-package of principles up until election day"

#455 ::: Debbie sees a wannabe ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2011, 07:55 AM:

I'll skip the autograph, thanks.

#456 ::: fidelio sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2011, 09:38 AM:

So will I, Debbie, so will I.

#457 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2012, 07:34 PM:

Halsey's comment and a couple more than arrived in other threads just before all say the same thing (more or less off-topic) with a link to the same URL. Spam.

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