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September 20, 2008

Melanoma and narcissism
Posted by Teresa at 08:27 AM *

Patrick, Jim, and Fragano say I’m doing it wrong, and that the long comment I posted in the thread following Jim Macdonald’s entry Obeying the Law Is for Wimps should have been a separate front-page post.

I can go along with that, though I’ll keep my original format. The first part of my essay, about John McCain’s melanoma, began as a response to Kelly McCullough (#24). The second half, about Sarah Palin’s personality disorder, was a response to Paula Helm Murray (#2). Jim Macdonald’s entry, the background to all this, is about a story on the McClatchy News website—Palin fires back in ‘troopergate,’ calls official insubordinate—and the descriptive chronology of Troopergate posted in the story’s comment thread by a reader who goes by “DobermanTracker.”

Just read. It’ll all come clear.

Kelly McCullough (#24): “I’ve got a third option. McCain and his vetting team are so incompetent he didn’t know (or understand) she was under serious investigation.
Kelly, I’ll take “Arrogance and Bad Vetting” for $600. Their vetting process seems to have only taken a few days, and to have been conducted from Washington and on Google. The centerpiece of it was a long questionnaire they went over with Palin in person.

I take their belief that Palin would self-report any problems as evidence that they didn’t know the woman. The same goes for expecting her to know what happened to Thomas Eagleton when he failed to report a lurking problem.

There are multiple reports from people in Alaska (big state, small community), and particularly people in the Alaskan government, who said they’d never been asked anything, and that they didn’t know anyone else who’d been asked either. In addition, one of the employees at the Wasilla newspaper (which is only partly available online) let drop that prior to Palin being named the Republican candidate for Vice President, no one had looked at the newspaper’s hardcopy archives in months

If you want to set yourself up for unpleasant surprises, that’s one way to do it.

For a different and grimmer take on McCain’s reasons for selecting Palin, check out Maggie Jochild’s John McCain: Dead Man Walking? at Group News Blog. She makes a good case for McCain having terminal cancer, an Après moi, le déluge attitude, and a deal with the Council for National Policy: the fundies give him their support, and he in turn accepts their hand-picked choice of his successor. A couple of quotes:

Last week, when I got the letter from Robert Greenwald talking about John McCain’s refusal to release his medical records to fair scrutiny, the fact that there are 1,000 pages of them (I create medical records for a living, 1,000 pages is EXTREME), and the news that he has had malignant melanoma, deep primaries with removal of lymph nodes, my immediate thought was “Then he’s dying.” If he were to be elected, he’d have an almost 2 out of 3 chance of having a recurrence if he doesn’t have one already. This is not the kind of cancer you count on escaping from. This is not Stage II, as it has been reported: Stage II by definition does not have lymph node involvement. By definition, it must be either Stage III or Stage IV.
At the beginning of this next section, Jochild is quoting an article by Kathy Geier:
“For years, releasing a candidate’s complete medical records has been standard practice for major party presidential candidates. The way the McCain has dealt with the medical records issue is highly unusual, to say the least. …[I]f the medical records really were unproblematic, they wouldn’t hesitate to release the whole enchilada to any reporter who asked, with no conditions and no strings attached.”
If he is in fact a Dead Man Walking, then the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President also becomes more than a Hail Mary pass intended to destroy any bounce from the wildly successful Democratic Convention. It becomes reckless in the extreme: Choosing an heir apparent who lies, engages in petty revenge, wants to know how to ban books, faithfully attends a church which believes dinosaurs were around 4000 years ago and Jews are punished by God for not believing in Jesus, has less foreign policy experience than a Delta flight attendant, doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is, and has less than two years experience governing a state with a population less than that of Wichita, Kansas or Raleigh, North Carolina.

We know that the secret cabal, the Council for National Policy, who hopes to replace American democracy with religious rule (THEIR religion, not yours), are the people who investigated Sarah Palin and “chose” her for McCain as his VP. Since he accepted their decision, fundamentalist organizations have thrown themselves behind his campaign in a way they had not before. It raises the question of a deal: What would a dying man have to offer power brokers in order to have their backing for the U.S. Presidency?

I posted a comment in their thread (as is only polite):
…[I]f McCain were as chock-full of pride, integrity, and truth as he pretends to be, he would never have spoken to Bush again after the South Carolina primaries in 2000. What Bush did there was utterly dishonorable. Instead, McCain sulked for a while, then did a 180 and became the good little toe-the-line Bush supporter he never was before the 2000 race. It’s an easy guess that Bush promised to back him for the 2008 race. At this very moment, McCain’s organization is full of Bush’s old people.
There’s always that temptation to refer to them as Bushpeople, but it would be unfair to the real ones.
(If I were really speculating, I’d say the reason the Republicans have had Joe Lieberman on a string all these years was because he was promised the Vice-Presidency under McCain.)

Eight years of going down on his knees for Bush, Cheney, and their cronies must have irked the hell out of McCain. Whatever the truth of the matter, he’d put a lot of work into cultivating the appearance of integrity. Bush spent his reputation as recklessly as he spent Tony Blair’s, Colin Powell’s, and all the others. I can imagine McCain laboring to suppress his gag reflex while silently repeating his mantra to himself: “Shut up, go along with it, and you’ll get to be president.”

Then, after all those years of lip service, he discovered he wasn’t going to live long enough to collect his payoff. Such irony! Did he accept the news with resignation? Of course not. Are you kidding? McCain’s a senator, he’s the son and grandson of admirals, and he’s married to Arizona’s answer to Meadow Soprano. He never takes a fall if he can make someone else take it for him. (In this case, I think it was Joe Lieberman.)

So there it is: McCain thinks he’s got the presidency coming to him, and he’s damned well going to see that he gets it—no matter how much ruination it brings on the country he claims to love.

I won’t claim I conveyed any great insights, beyond “McCain has turned into something you’d fish out of Dubya’s private office wastebasket.”
Paula Helm Murray (2): “Sounds like if they get elected, it will just be the same old same old. She sounds either dumber or more blindly self-centered than the Shrub. Or maybe both.
My instant reaction to the Troopergate chronology was that we’re looking at a clinical personality disorder, located somewhere in the immediate vicinity of narcissism. If I’m right, Palin is basically out of control, and unlikely to improve.

Have you ever dealt with a full-blown narcissist? “Self-centered” is too mild a description. They’ve got a weirdly information-deprived worldview; they can’t process criticism, failure, or noncompliance; and they have a constant need for external validation of their grandiose self-images. It can lead them to do amazingly stupid things.

What I immediately noticed was that Palin hasn’t bothered to keep track of the stories she tells. It’s not that she can’t; she’s not that stupid. Rather, it hasn’t occurred to her to do so. She isn’t thinking about other people’s reactions. That isn’t bad judgement, or an absence of judgement. It’s a pathological lack of interest in the subject.

Here are my comments on the Troopergate chronology that “DobermanTracker” posted at McClatchy:

* First she would not tell us (Anchorage, Alaska) why she fired Monegan
He was in a high-profile position; he’d already had a middlin’-distinguished career; Palin appointed him in the first place; when she fired him, she offered him another state job; and there just doesn’t seem to be much evidence of general dissatisfaction with his work, or of preexisting disagreements between Palin and Monegan that didn’t involve Wooten. It was bizarre of Palin to not realize she’d be expected to explain that, or that there might be repercussions. I’d expect a candidate for county dogcatcher to know better than that.
* Then, finally, she said she wanted to take the department in a new direction.
* Took forever (week at least) to get her to state what that direction was.
“Taking the department in a new direction” is not the same thing as “firing for cause.” It’s one of four unrelated issues Palin has cited as her reason for firing Monagan. She dropped the second one—that he was not adequately filling state trooper vacancies—after Monegan pointed out that the police academy was about to graduate its largest class ever. The third, that he wasn’t doing enough to fight alcohol abuse problems, is problematical in light of the fact that the state job she offered him at the time of his firing was Executive Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The fourth, that he “did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues,” could mean anything. (Subsequent, equally meaningless accusations—viz., “egregious insubordination,” “obstructionist conduct”—are irrelevant to this discussion, since they were cooked up by the legal attack dogs the McCain organization sicced on the case.)

Oh, and Palin also said, early and often, that it had nothing to do with repeatedly pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law, which she never did, and didn’t know about either.

Now, the thing about (1.) taking the department in a new direction, (2.) attracting more recruits, (3.) focusing more on alcohol abuse, and (4.) being a team player on budget issues, is that whether or not Monegan mishandled them (evidence: still not in evidence), they shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise to him when he first heard about them; i.e., after he was fired.

Those are all policy and structure issues. Any one of them would have required Palin to do a fair amount of talking and memo-exchanging with Monagan before she could even tell they were a problem, much less a problem on whose solution she and Monegan were irreconcilably opposed.

When you’ve got a guy who by all-but-one accounts was doing a good job, only you want him to take things in a different direction, the first thing you do is talk to him about taking it in a different direction. Firing him comes a lot later, after flurries of memos plus maybe a few F2F tiffs, tizzies, and scenes. By the time it finally happens, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Next point: what are the odds of anyone having four different large-scale administrative problems so serious that every one of them warrants firing him on zero notice, yet none of the problems are interrelated? It’s improbable, is what it is. Also, what are the odds that someone could be screwing up his job like that without pissing off an underling so badly that they’d be willing to talk about it to a friendly and understanding reporter? Should be news stories. Aren’t.

And one more bit about that “taking it in a new direction” thing. Palin replaced Monegan with Chuck Kopp, former police chief and acting city manager of Kenai. Whoops! Turns out Kopp had been suspended, investigated, and given a letter of reprimand by the City of Kenai for sexually harassing an underling. Kopp departed, clutching his $10,000 severance package. (Monegan got no severance.) Palin then appointed Joseph Masters, a former security director for a private petrochemical firm. Asked in an interview whether Gov. Palin had discussed her vision of the department with him before hiring him, Masters said “Gov. Palin didn’t give me any guidance or direction or mandates for the department.” It appears that Palin’s “new direction” is as unfindable as evidence of Monegan’s misdeeds.

Oh, who are we kidding? She didn’t fire him for cause. She ran out of patience one day with his continuing refusal to proceed illegally against her ex-brother-in-law, fired him, and only afterward realized that people would notice and have opinions about it. Even then, she didn’t realize that giving four or five different excuses would present a problem.

Every time I try to imagine Sarah Palin at work, what comes out of her mouth is Glory’s dialogue from Season Five of Buffy.

* Finally she said Monegan was not doing a good job of working on bootlegging in the villages and in recruiting new troopers—she forgot that 3 weeks prior to this announcement she had stated on TV news that he was doing a great job in both of these departments.
* She even stated she had offered him a job on the Alcohol Board (while firing him as commissioner) simply because he was doing such a good job in this area.
* Then, couple of days ago, she stated, he was not fired at all, that he quit.
“I did it in self-defense—and besides, I didn’t push him, he jumped. Furthermore, I can prove I was in another city when it happened.”

If you stack up too many stories, you eventually reach a point where they all fall over.

* Now, she is stating he was fired and it was because of “egregious insubordination.”
That’s one of the accusations cooked up by McCain’s people. If you don’t buttress it with details, all it means is “He didn’t do something I wanted.”
* She is asking the Personnel Board - 3 people appointed by Palin - to dismiss the ethics complaint which she filed against herself in order to get it before the Personnel Board - because some out-of-context e-mails sent to Monegan prior to his having been (fired/quit) “exonerate the Governor totally and completely, once and for all.”
The story gets complicated. I highly recommend the Wikipedia entry, Alaska Public Safety Commissioner dismissal: a first-rate piece of work that’s like a vision of what Wikipedia could be in a better world than this.

(Digression: an interesting subplot: If you read the whole entry, pay attention to how many of the charges and complaints made against Mike Wooten, the ex-brother-in-law, turned out to not amount to much; how few of them are based on testimony from people who aren’t close to Sarah Palin; and how much time passes between Wooten’s supposedly scary and threatening words and deeds, and the dates on which Sarah Palin and her sister Molly get around to mentioning them to anyone else. I’m not saying Mike Wooten is a suffering saint; I’m saying the case against him shrinks considerably when you examine it. Three under-reported facts: (1.) Part of the basis for Mike Wooten being made an Alaska State Trooper in 2000 was the fulsome character reference provided him by Sarah Palin. (2.) The Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) granted Molly McCann (Palin’s sister) at the time she filed for divorce was later quashed because McCann’s counsel was unable to produce any evidence of acts of physical or implied violence. In fact, McCann told police at the time of filing that Wooten had never physically abused her. Sarah Palin has since lied about the episode, saying the DVPO was lifted after Wooten’s supervisors intervened. Both Palin and the McCain campaign have subsequently cited the DVPO as evidence that Wooten was violent towards Molly McCann. (3.) At the McCann/Wooten divorce trial,

a representative for the Alaska State Trooper’s union testified that the union viewed the dozen complaints filed by McCann and her family against Wooten as “not job-related” and “harassment”. Judge Suddock repeatedly warned McCann and her family to stop “disparaging” Wooten’s reputation or risk the judge granting Wooten custody of the children. At a court hearing in October 2005, Judge Suddock said “disparaging will not be tolerated - it is a form of child abuse … relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives.”)
(Another interesting subplot: Keep an eye on Todd Palin. The guy isn’t a state employee, but he accesses confidential files, sits in on personnel meetings, and generally works Sarah Palin’s will. Just yesterday he announced that he was also going to ignore his subpoena. If you think Executive Privilege is a shaky theory, try Executive Privilege by Marriage.)

Back to the main thread: The only reason Troopergate isn’t a bigger mess is that McCain sent a legal team to Alaska in order to obstruct justice. Once they were up and running, Palin’s words and deeds got a lot less random, ditto candid. Still, the uncontaminated pre-legal-team sample of her behavior is enough to establish that her emotional reactions are way off normal.

I’m going to bring up a touchy subject: the early reports suggesting that Trigg Palin is the son of Bristol rather than Sarah Palin. That was a nasty episode. Whose fault is that? Sarah Palin’s, first to last. She didn’t give birth to Trigg all alone in a cave. There have to have been multiple witnesses to the labor and birth. None of them could step forward without violating patient privacy. All Sarah Palin had to do was give a couple of them permission to say they’d been there, and that she was the mother.

But she didn’t do that. Why not? IMO, because it made her look like an injured party (she obviously enjoyed that, and got loads of mileage out of it), and drew attention away from the rest of her problems. The other consequence of leaving the story in play was that seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin got dragged through a cubic mile of mud, then paraded in front of the RNC on primetime television as a Moral Example. It’s fatuous to claim it was Bristol’s choice. Even grown men who have the law on their side would think twice before crossing Glorificus Palin; and Bristol is her resourceless minor child.

* She filed this complaint against herself because she felt the legislative committee investigation (10 Republicans and 4Democrates) is politically motivated even though the investigation was started before McCain selected her.
* There is another ethics complaint filed against her for “demonizing” Trooper Wooten. A judge —in the child custody case—hard warned Palin’s family that their constant attacks on Wooten were becoming a form of child abuse.
* During all this, Monegan stated he was pressured to fire Wooten while Palin denied ANY pressure from ANYbody was put on him I.E SHE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANYONE CONTACTING MONEGAN ON THIS ISSUE
Yup! All those people on her immediate staff, plus her husband, independently took it upon themselves to try to pressure the Alaska Public Safety Commissioner into firing Palin’s former brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper. That was amazingly brave of them, considering that one of the accusations McCain’s legal team has cooked up against Monegan is that he failed to get Palin’s explicit permission to petition the feds for additional funds for law enforcement.

As of this August, months and months after Troopergate started, Palin finally got around to saying “Pressure could have been perceived to exist, although I have only now become aware of it.” So, which is it? Liar, or incapable of running her own staff, much less anything bigger?

* Palin repeats her campaign promises of “open and transparent” governing policy—-while Poll by TV station shows 87% no longer think she is open and transparent—so much for the supposed 80% approval rating!
* Palin states, “Hold me responsible.” Regarding the legislative investigation, “Bring it on!”
A person with a normal sense of potential consequences would be more prudent at every step of the way.
* Legislature hires independent investigator
I believe this is the investigation the majority-Republican voted unanimously to undertake, long before Palin became McCain’s running mate.
* Palin suddenly has Atty General ( who, it ends up also pressured Monegan) start investigating and immediately finds phone call from her staffer Frank Bailey to Troopers - Bailey claims it was his idea and govenor had no input. He is put on PAID leave and remains that way today.
And survives to this day with no worse blemish on his honor than being the recipient of Sarah Palin’s approval.
* Seems approximately 24 contacts were made with Monegan, from Todd Palin, Bailey, Attorney General, other staffers and PALIN HERSELF.
Consider the implications. Sarah Palin had already fired Monegan on zero notice, denied him severance, publicly traduced him, and hired substandard replacements to fill his position. He had absolutely no reason to cover for her. On top of that, he’d had many years of administrative experience, and he’d been aware for some time before he was fired that Palin and her staff were pressuring him to take improper action in re Mike Wooten. Of course he’d be keeping a record of these contacts.

I take it as further strong evidence of a grandiose and unrealistic worldview, and an abnormal absence of basic human empathy, that Palin didn’t expect this story would come out.

* Despite having previously denied anyone contacted Monegan ( Todd did so in the Governor’s office !) Palin states these contacts did NOT constitute pressure on Monegan.
If they weren’t intended as pressure, why were they made at all? If Palin and her staff are in the habit of taking completely ineffectual actions, she’s too incompetent a manager to hold important positions.
* Palin has done nothing but refuse to cooperate with legislative investigation and now states she will not submit to questioning, i.e. she is “totally and completely exonerated” by Monegan’s supposed “egregious insubordination.”
Nope. First, even if she (or rather McCain’s legal team) has come up with decisive evidence in her favor, everyone still has to observe the normal legal procedures. Having the evidence may curtail those procedures, but the system still has to establish (to variable levels of precision) what happened, who did what to whom, and which rules (if any) were violated. (Note: this is a very rough description.) Palin’s evidence can then be examined in that context. She doesn’t get to declare that her evidence is so good that it doesn’t have to be looked at. That’s like saying you’ve been dealt such a killer Bridge hand that you should just be awarded maximum points without playing out the round.

Second, as I’ve already pointed out, “egregious insubordination” is close to meaningless if you don’t establish what that insubordination consisted of, the state of understanding between Palin and Monegan, and whether his actions were in fact egregious. This is not going to be established without going through normal or near-normal procedures, and Palin is going to have to be involved.

If she’s so incapable of taking responsibility for her actions that she can’t even answer for herself at a state-level inquiry, she’s not fit for high office. Leaders take responsibility. It’s part of the basic spec.

* While Palin makes public the selected e-mails to Monegan, she illegally witholds other e-mails (there is legal action to obtain them) which may show her direct and intentional participation in the pressuring of Monegan to fire Wooten.
After all these successive instances of the story coming out, she still thinks the next part of the story won’t come out.

You can’t have it both ways. Either the woman is so stupid that Dan Quayle has to phone her long distance to tell her to come in out of the rain, or she’s wired wrong for assessing and predicting the consequences of her actions, and how others will react to them.

One more datum and I’ll quit for now. This is a parallel story, like Troopergate writ small:

Palin Fired Aide Who Dated Wife of Todd’s Friend

The Politico reported Friday that a longtime associate and former gubernatorial aide to Sarah Palin says he was asked to leave the governor’s office after the Palins discovered that he was dating the soon-to-be-ex wife of a close friend of Todd Palin.

Let’s get this straight. Todd Palin isn’t a government employee. He’s just the spouse. A buddy of his is being divorced by the buddy’s wife. A longtime aide of Sarah Palin’s was dating the soon-to-be-ex wife. I assume Todd Palin’s buddy felt bad about that. Result: the aide got fired.

This behavior wouldn’t pass muster in a junior high school student council.

John Bitney, who grew up in Wasilla with Palin, told the paper cum website:
I wanted to stay with the governor and support the governor—we’re talking about someone who’s been a friend for 30 years—but I understood it, and I have no ax to grind over the whole thing.”
He’s been her political ally and full-time aide. He’s been her friend for thirty years. Now he’s out in the cold, and unemployed, because he dated the former main squeeze of a friend of Todd Palin? Yeah, I’ll bet he has no hard feelings.

I think we should start keeping track of this kind of unnatural docility in people who’ve been screwed over by Sarah Palin. I think they’re afraid of her.

Today, the Wall Street Journal added more to the story, reporting that seven weeks after publicly praising Bitney, Palin fired him for what her spokeswoman now describes as “poor job performance.”
That’s not just mean-spirited, vindictive, and mendacious; it’s stupid. Any organization is going to generate a few disgruntled ex-employees—it’s inevitable—but you have to try to keep their number as low as possible, because they can be dangerous to your operation. It’s especially important to avoid publicly humiliating them and/or rendering them unemployable, because it leaves them with nothing to lose, and a lot of time to think about it.

When you make a habit of arbitrarily praising your employees one month and firing them another, you also screw up relations with the rest of your staff, because there’s no way for them to feel secure. Some will leave. The others will spend more time and energy worrying about where they stand with you than they do on their actual jobs.

During that time, Palin had found out from Scott Richter, a friend of Todd Palin’s, that Richter’s wife, Debbie, was having a relationship with Bitney.
And what does this have to do with the business of the State of Alaska? Absolutely nothing.
The Journal notes that Palin’s office seems to have had trouble keeping its story straight on the reason for Bitney’s departure.

At the time, the governor’s office cited “personal reasons” for Mr. Bitney’s “amicable” departure, according to contemporaneous news reports.

“He wanted to spend more time with his family” is the usual line.
Last week, Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for the governor’s office, said “John Bitney was dismissed because of his poor job performance.” She declined to provide further details.
Months into Troopergate, they still haven’t learned to keep their mouths shut.

If you go back to the original story on Politico, things get even weirder:

WASILLA, Alaska—While Sarah Palin’s supporters tout her personal warmth and openness, the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee can be brusque to allies, advisers and employees who fall from her favor.

Palin has unceremoniously ended relationships with an aide who was dating a family friend’s soon-to-be ex-wife, a campaign adviser whose mother-in-law fought Palin’s legislative agenda, a local political mentor who she felt represented the “old boys’ network,” a police chief who she said tried to intimidate her with “stern look[s]” and a state commissioner who refused to fire her sister’s ex-husband.

When she first became Mayor of Wasilla, she fired so many employees that she had trouble getting information on how things had been run:
After upsetting the three-term incumbent Wasilla mayor in 1996, Palin quickly eliminated the position of one city department director and asked five others for a letter of resignation, a résumé and a letter explaining why they should be retained.

Though five of the six department heads had supported her opponent, John Stein, Palin insisted the housecleaning was not politically motivated. Only two directors kept their jobs and one of them — city planner Duane Dvorak — left on his own eight months later.

“After all the excitement, I kind of felt like the ax could fall any time and just never felt like the situation warmed up,” said Dvorak, who had worked for Stein for more than two years and is now a planner for the far away Kodiak Island Borough.

Dvorak, who did not back either Stein or Palin, recounted being asked to brief the new mayor and her top aide on a wide variety of topics related to the city and state codes “that really didn’t have a whole lot to do with planning. But because they let everyone else go, they didn’t have anyone else to call on,” he said. “It’s one thing to take the city in a different direction and try to work with the staff that you have and maybe make a few key changes over time, but to just precipitously let people go and then restaff — it didn’t go over well.”

One of Palin’s biggest and most expensive snafus as mayor was building a hockey rink on land to which the town didn’t fully hold title. If she thought she didn’t need the people who knew how things were run, she was wrong.

What kind of crazy do you have to be to start your term as mayor by firing almost everyone who could help you do your job?

See also Albert Bernstein’s The Smartest, Most Talented, All-Around Best Person in the Universe Test, a.k.a. The Narcissistic Vampire Checklist, and Joanna M. Ashmun’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder website.

Comments on Melanoma and narcissism:
#1 ::: brr ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:04 AM:

I came on this post probably 5 minutes or so after Teresa posted it and it took me almost 20 minutes to get through the whole thing. And I couldn't stop reading it even when I realized how long it was taking.

Palin would have been a joke before Bush2, and is now being seriously considered for the presidency (if not because McCain dies, then because she'll run in 8 years). How did we get here?

Thanks for the great roundup of the issues. It will help me when I'm talking to McCain people who don't have much of a clue.

#2 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:11 AM:

Palin certainly qualifies as a narcissist; she exhibits all the symptoms and tendencies.

I don't think there's any plot to put her in as VP because everyone knows McCain is dying, though. Rather, I just think McCain went with his "gut decision" and decided to vet her only after he announced she would be his VP. That, or he was so stupid as to think all the dirt in her past wouldn't be brought out to see.

Either way he displays incompetence to be the President.

#3 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:29 AM:

Wait, whoa, what, who?

McCain is running for president, he may or may not have terminal cancer, and he isn't releasing his medical records?!

I know the West Wing was teevee and not real life, but can I possibly get a Toby Ziegler to go here?

Those people are going to be subpoenaed!

Or they damn well better be. Preferably before anyone votes. Doesn't matter if the running mate is Mahatma Gandhi (reincarnated, presumably); if he has a terminal illness he should not be running, and anyone in his party or his campaign who knew about it should be subject to investigation.

I tell you, if I hear the words "President McCain has been admitted to hospital with cancer" any time within the next four years, I had better hear soon afterwards of the dissolution of the Republican party and the arrest of its principal members. This goes beyond election-rigging.

#4 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:32 AM:

I lived with a narcissist for five years, and, yes, the Palin stuff pretty much screams 'narcissist': a total inability to differentiate between personal and professional is a good danger sign. It's no surprise you're comparing her with Glory: Glory's behaviour was profoundly narcissistic too. (It's slightly harder to spot when the narcissist is smart, but only slightly.)

#5 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:36 AM:

I think we should start keeping track of this kind of unnatural docility in people who’ve been screwed over by Sarah Palin. I think they’re afraid of her.

The unnatural docility of her screwees reminds me forcibly of Harry Whittington apologizing for being in Dick Cheney's line of fire.

#6 ::: Tracey S. Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:41 AM:

In May, some guys from the Mayo Clinic checked out McCain. His urination has been normal since 2001 *and* he takes a multi-vitamin! So it's all gotta be okay, right?

#7 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:44 AM:

This behavior wouldn’t pass muster in a junior high school student council.

This is what gets me about Palin. From that New York Times story:

The Wasilla High School yearbook archive now doubles as a veritable directory of state government.

It isn't just that she's a terrible administrator. It's part of the reason why she's a terrible administrator: I get the impression she stopped growing as a human being somewhere back in high school. The evidence suggests someone mentally stuck in her old clique, navigating her grown-up career just like she handled the eleventh grade.

Which explains why the BtVS metaphors seem so very, very appropriate.

#8 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:48 AM:

I know this issue has been dropped and it's unpopular to bring it up, but I still don't believe Sarah Palin is the mother of Trigg. The "rushing back to Alaska to give birth" story isn't convincing; flight attendants on the plane say she didn't look pregnant. We still haven't seen any evidence of her having given birth to Trigg. All we've seen is one undated photo of SP looking pregnant. That's evidence? Obviously Bristol Palin isn't Trigg's mother either. My guess is that Trigg is a baby the family agreed to take in and claim as their own while covering up the pregnancy. It's an old story. Who's the mother? Probably a very young girl; hence the cover-up. Who's the father? My guess is: Track Palin.

I think the family originally planned to claim that Bristol was Trigg's mother. Bristol transferred to a high school in Anchorage even though she had a boyfriend in Wasilla, and the principal has said he didn't know why. Bristol foiled the plan by getting pregnant herself, whereupon Sarah had to step up and claim to be 7 months pregnant. No one knew about the pregnancy before then, and people who worked around her say she didn't look pregnant.

#9 ::: Dave Lartigue ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:49 AM:

Why am I reading all this on a blog and not in the supposedly liberal media? Oh, that's right. It's because the people who have whined and complained about "Political Correctness" are now very concerned with how "lipstick on a pig" may hurt women's feelings. And because the media is only interested in a good show, not in any kind of actual dissemination of important information.

Thanks again, Making Light, for bringing something important to everyone's attention.

#10 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:53 AM:

I'm also thinking Borderline Personality Disorder, especially for the characteristic of turning on people whom she'd previously praised so highly and publicly.

Really, she's something of a compulsive liar -- consider the different stories she's told about whether her children knew in advance she was accepting the VP nomination and whether they consented -- not to mention all the different accounts of whether McCain et al knew that Bristol was pregnant.

She is a piece of work that should be kept away from the Presidency -- especially the Executive Privilege model which has ever-less Constitutional safeguards to curb its absolute-ish power -- as far as possible.

#11 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:56 AM:

Okay, now how do we get this essay into the New York Times and the Washington Post?

#12 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Well, Teresa could post this on Daily Kos and get a few hundred comments at the least ...

#13 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:24 AM:
Kelly, I’ll take “Arrogance and Bad Vetting” for $600.

Too generous. I think whoever cut the deal with McCain for Palin knew there was lots of dirt on her, and wanted to get it out early. Once she's through it, it's old news when the stakes raise.

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Mary: Teresa wants me to say that she really wants Making Light to stay away from hypotheses about the actual gynecological events. However interesting they may seem at the outset, they cannot end well, and must devolve into fractal re-examinations of inadequate data.

What we're discussing is the way the story was handled--a thing that's known and knowable.

Please don't feel squelched--this is a finickal policy for a difficult situation. (And I'm posting this comment from the passenger seat of a moving car.)

#15 ::: tavella ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:30 AM:

mary@8: The "rushing back to Alaska to give birth" story isn't convincing; flight attendants on the plane say she didn't look pregnant.

I think the last may be a case of misunderstanding; what the spokesman for the airline said was she showed no sign of "her condition", and people have been taking that as meaning, pregnant. But in context it appears he was talking about condition = being in labor.

And the whole "fly back to Alaska and endanger your child" thing finally made sense to me when it was revealed that her husband is a raving Alaska separatist. If you think the only important thing is being a citizen of *Alaska*, then being merely born a citizen of the United States isn't good enough, you have to be born in Alaska.

#16 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:31 AM:

Yeah, I did say it was unpopular to bring it up.

#17 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Any hope of Lieberman writing a tell-all book?

I'm betting that McCain chose Palin on impulse, but the fact that he found her a plausible choice speaks badly about him. I believe the current administration is chaotic evil, and what they want-- even more than power and money-- is the freedom to act on a large scale without thinking and get away with it.

Even if McCain's cancer is at a deadly level, do you folks think he'd accept the fact thoroughly enough to be planning for his death? I don't have enough of a model of his personality to guess.

#18 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:53 AM:

I don't give much credence to the cancer question any more than I do to the who's the real mother of Trigg.

I have this problem with flimsy evidence, and all of these questions are based on interpretation of scant circumstantial evidence by random people who's professional criteria in making these diagnoses is called into question by the fact that they would make a diagnosis based on such little evidence.

Really, it reminds me of the alleged psych profiles of G. W. Bush by people claiming that it was proof that he was a psychopath based on reading some recounting of his childhood.

You don't do that if you're a professional in the psychological profession. And you don't diagnose Palin as having not been someone's mother based on some photos and comments about a flight if you're a medical professional, because it's unprofessional to do so

While I resent the way that the past 8 years have made me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist, I recognize where these theories jump from nutbar into swift boat territory.

#19 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:04 AM:

Very OT, but: in German, Donald Duck's nephews are called Tick, Trick and Track. So, ever since finding out about Trigg and Track Palin, I've been regretting that there isn't a Tick Palin to go with them... (a Dick Palin would do, too, in a pinch.)

Less OT: Entries like this are the reason why Making Light is one of my prime sources on American politics. Thank you.

#20 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:13 AM:

In Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians (full text available), especially Chapter 5, he talks about "double-high authoritarians": social dominators who are also right-wing authoritarians. They're narcissists who are also big on hierarchical structures, deference to authority, and conventional standards.

That's Palin, and that's why she's dangerous, IMHO: it's not just the narcissism, it's the fact that she also taps into an ideology of authority. Because she's a woman, she can talk like she's constantly deferring to male authority -- but I think Christopher Hedges, who wrote that Common Dreams article , is being fooled. Her only use for male domination is to keep other women in their place -- I wouldn't expect anyone but her to be *really* calling the shots.

#21 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Without getting into McCain's health or possible deterioration of same: Almost everything I've read about Sarah Palin indicates that she would fit into one of those murder mysteries in which her [guilty] character is trying to throw the Great Detective off the scent, except both Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler would reject such a character as being too far-fetched.

This is not to imply Palin is guilty of murder or any other crime.

Good job, Teresa.

#22 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Re: Dead Man Walking. Isn't that post contradicted by this report (CNN/Mayo Clinic), which says that McCain's worst melanoma was Stage IIA?

#23 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:20 AM:

NPR had the author of Angler, the new tell-all type book about Cheney on the other night on "Fresh Air."

Among the many other things discussed: Cheney not only nominated himself, he also (big surprise) did not have himself vetted to the same degree as all the other "candidates." [Also interesting, the fact that Cheney knew he was the nominee before looking at candidates, so the vetting only served as a way for him to "prove" other candidates were unacceptable.] In particular, no one checked his medical records. He assured everyone he was fine, and when they wanted an "independent analysis," Cheney's doctor called the independent doctor and assured the "independent" medical expert Cheney was healthy. According to Gellman (the author), when he interviewed the "independent medical expert," said expert said he'd never met or spoken to Checey, and had never seen Cheney's medical records.

I remember hearing (here at Making Light, I think) that the swelling in McCain's jaw was a good indication he was having major medical issues, and that his cancer was more serious than he was letting on. I suspect he's trying to use the Cheney playbook to duck the news on that.

While I am not wishing ill on McCain (at least, not in the form of physical harm or death) does anyone know what happens, election-wise, if before the election he dies or even if the illness just worsens enough that he is unable to run? Does that make Palin the presidential candidate with no running mate? And would that make the ticket more or less popular?

And, as another speculation:
While I prefer Obama, I have no doubt Hillary would also have made a spectacular, and spectacularly competent, president. In the event the worst happens, and McCain is elected and doesn't finish out his term, I have grave doubts of Palin's ability to do the same. And in that event does anyone doubt that 2/3 of the country will then cite that idiocy as "proof" that women can't/shouldn't be President, because they can't do the job? Listen to the complaints about Palin and narcisism. Setting aside her right-wing pit-bull positives, do not most of the "complaints" against her sound like the stereo-typical fear-mongering complaints to "prove" why females shouldn't serve: emotional decisions, changing of opinion every three weeks, inability to think logically, taking things personally, temper tantrums, etc. We all know these are all excuses, not reasons, and are not true besides. But if the first woman to serve displays these traits, what are critics going to say?

#24 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:27 AM:

I think the reason so many people jumped on the Susan Slade scenario--

(Susan Slade was a 1961 movie with Connie Stevens as a teenage "good girl" who slips and has a shipboard romance/sex with a dashing young mountaineer who, a scene or two later, falls off a cliff and dies. Rather than admit their "good girl" has gotten knocked up, Susan Slade's parents move the family to Guatemala, informing all their family and friends that Susan's mother is having a late-life pregnancy. Hilarity does not ensue. Dead boyfriend, preggers teen, dying father, and a baby flambe'. Two-and-a-half hankies. Not available on DVD, surprisingly.)

--is that, bizarre and extreme as it was, the idea that Sarah Palin would fake a pregnancy made more sense that that she would endanger the health of an unborn child by taking a cross-country plane trip while in pre-labor.

People have had their children taken away by Child Protective Services for less.

We want our stories to make sense. Sarah Palin's cross-country plane trip doesn't make sense.

#25 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:35 AM:

Two sarcastic asides:

(1) Name a major-party — hell, I'll even include third parties! — candidate for president and/or vice-president in the media age (roughly 1960 and on) who did/does not display substantial elements of narcissistic personality disorder. I can't, and I've tried. And the sad thing is that, thanks to a military tour as Deputy Chief of Protocol at Andrews AFB, I've actually met a fair number of them... and stand by that assessment.

(2) I do, however, have to take issue with one thing that the Fabulous Teresa said:

I take their belief that Palin would self-report any problems as evidence that they didn’t know the woman. The same goes for expecting her to know what happened to Thomas Eagleton when he failed to report a lurking problem.
I simply can't agree with this assessment. For one thing, in 1972 there simply wasn't the same "access to medical records" meme that there is now. That, combined with the different attitude toward "hospitalization" for mental health issues at that time, means that McGovern's people should (and, in fact, were required by law to) have explicitly asked if there was any history of treatment for mental health issues... just like there is (and was) on the standard forms for security clearances.*

<sarcasm> Besides, if everyone involved has narcissistic personality disorder, shouldn't getting treatment be a plus? </sarcasm>

* N.B. I have far more experience with all of these issues in my family than I will explain in a public forum.

#26 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:52 AM:

C.E. Petit @ 25: I think maybe (re: the Eagleton reference) Teresa is talking about the McCain campaign's apparent belief that Palin would know and understand the Eagleton story as political history, not in terms of the differences in having access to mental health records then and now . . . what's in question is the McCain campaign's faith that what now appears to be a relative unknown woman would tell them anything that might be hidden in her past. Which seems fairly valid: not exactly whether or not there might be an Eagleton-like surprise in Palin's past, but whether or not we believe that the McCain campaign looked at her closely enough even to try to find out about her at that level of detail.

Or am I the one who is misunderstanding both of you?

#27 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:00 PM:

Bruce Arthur at #24: Sarah Palin's cross-country plane trip doesn't make sense.

This was over on MetaFilter:

Sarah Palin's Pregnancy Decision Map

And yes, there are plenty of other reasons to question her judgment, but Palin's status as "Mother of Five!" was the just about the first of her "qualifications" that they put forward for her.

And the story of her late-in-life pregnancy - as she herself tells it - just strikes me as, you know, batshit insane.

#28 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:05 PM:

#25, C.E.Petit -- one of the articles that Teresa links to at the end includes discussion of the difference between being narcissistic and having NPD. For instance, Muhammad Ali's famous "I'm the Greatest!" boast may be narcissistic but it wasn't, at the time, groundless.

I expect the candidates for high office to have healthy, extra-large egos, but I also expect that they should have quantifiable reason for pride in their achievements and confidence in their decisions.

#29 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:08 PM:

So, an amusing train of thought...
When Sarah Palin was poked in the side regarding the Bridge to Nowhere (mind you, there are hairs to split on that issue whereby she is not a liar) I thought to myself, "Well, this is the difference between somebody ready for National Politics and somebody who isn't." In that, she thought she could get away with lying. Then, maybe around this week or so I realized that she's exactly ready to fit with McCain's campaign.

Look them in the eye and lie to them.

Not to convince them, but because you don't care if you're lying, and maybe, just maybe, nobody else will either. It probably takes months of training to convince other politicians to "damn the torpedoes" but Palin was already all about it. Makes me wonder if torpedoes are outdated technology, or Palin should be scraping barnacles. Sadly, I won't know the answer to that question until November...

#30 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Let's talk about something other than Sarah Palin's gynecological history.

There are very good reasons for avoiding that subject, especially that a woman's mothering abilities are the least relevant thing I can think of about her qualities as a public servant.

That the Republicans spend their time dwelling on it just proves they're knuckle-draggers who think of women as mobile wombs. I'd rather not climb down in that mud pit with them.

Plus, it degrades our ability to point out that John McCain told this joke: "You know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is the father."

#31 ::: Jamie Hall ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:19 PM:

I'm glad this ended up as a real post and not buried in the comments. Often I don't have the time to read through all the comments here.

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:47 PM:

I've known one or two national political leaders in my time (granted, not US leaders). While they've had large egos, which is necessary if you're going into politics, what's struck me about the ones I've known is that in their private lives they've been quite shy and reserved. Nothing that I've read or seen about either McCain or Palin has indicated any personal reserve (although Palin has been at pains to claim a reserve for McCain that I hadn't noticed before).

#33 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:47 PM:

If he is in fact a Dead Man Walking, then the choice of Sarah Palin as Vice President also becomes more than a Hail Mary pass intended to destroy any bounce from the wildly successful Democratic Convention. It becomes reckless in the extreme

Actually, it makes me suspect that McCain secretly wants to throw the election to the Democrats. As it comes out that his health is so poor, and that Palin is so dreadfully underqualified to take over, fewer and fewer people will be willing to vote for him, and he must know it.

Side note: My sister, Melanie, worked in the Alaska State Governor's office until recently. At first she was afraid to speak out, for fear Palin would find a way to jeopardize her pension, but has since joined 'Women Against Palin.'

#34 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:56 PM:

When I read the title to the first of the two links at the end, I thought it'd be a story or joke about an actual narcissistic vampire, the actual get-dusted-by-Buffy kind. Still seems to me that that might make a very funny story in the right hands.

#35 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:12 PM:

Hear hear, John A Arkansawyer @ 30. It's become abundantly clear over the past weeks that Sarah Palin's major qualification for the Vice Presidency in the eyes of people who think she's qualified is, in fact, her motherhood (as a matter of fact, one of her early supporters explicitly said so on CBS News weeks before her nomination was announced). A strategy that fights a completely unqualified and scandal-plagued nominee on the only ground where she has any strength is a deeply unwise strategy, JMO.

Not to mention that there are an awful lot of mothers out there - pretty much all of them, in fact - who have personal experience of complete strangers who know little or nothing at all about us, our children, or our circumstances having detailed opinions about the job we're doing as mothers they're anxious to share, and we're not really very happy about it. That's not a vein of emotion a candidate trying to make his case with women really wants to tap into.

The funny thing is that motherhood didn't make her the huge celebrity she is today - what I believe really makes her attractive to her base and her principal is her pugnacity. Contempt for a system that doesn't do what she wants it to when run by the, you know, Rules and aggressive know-nothingism are pretty much what put George W. Bush into the White House twice.

That said, the mental image of John McCain on his knees suppressing his gag reflex may well have broken something in my psyche. Ew.

#36 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Petty-minded, vengeful, egotistic and not really all that savvy? Check. Former mayor? Check (pretty much). This refers not to Palin but to Vladimir Putin, as described in an article I'm currently reading in the October issue of Vanity Fair. Although he lacks the minor beauty queen glamor, this ex-KGB man and one-time vice mayor of St. Petersburg seems to be much the same kind of disaster for his would-be handlers and goldmine for his old cronies that Palin would likely become, given slightly more bureaucratic competence.

As for McCain, the latest Tom the Dancing Bug cartoon skewers him (and the lipsticked pig) quite thoroughly.

#37 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Laramie Sasseville @ 33 ...
Actually, it makes me suspect that McCain secretly wants to throw the election to the Democrats. As it comes out that his health is so poor, and that Palin is so dreadfully underqualified to take over, fewer and fewer people will be willing to vote for him, and he must know it.

What I see is a glass cliff scenario -- throw the completely fouled up, screwed up, guaranteed to make anybody look bad state-of-the-union to the Democrats; if they fail, you can say "Yeah, we knew they were going to", if they succeed, you say "Yup, we set things up so they'd succeed, and the Democrats are just taking advantage of all the hard work we'd already done".

#38 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:04 PM:

Xeger @37, I think you're correct.

#39 ::: Cynthia Wood ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Oh dear, the emotional vampire site is sort of deeply alarming. Though it does explain why some of my family relations are so very difficult to deal with.

Is it just me, or is McCain releasing his records for a limited time to a limited set of people while not allowing any photos or other recording seem more suspicious than simply sitting on them? It's the difference between a kid refusing to let his Mom into his room at all (which may be privacy issues), and standing outside the room and popping the door open for a split second - "See, the floor is clean and the bed is made." The second is much more likely to mean there's something in the room he specifically doesn't want Mom to see.

#40 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Debbie Notkin, #11: "Okay, now how do we get this essay into the New York Times and the Washington Post?"

The traditional way is to buy an ad. If we took up a contribution we might be able to do it, but does Teresa want to deal with that much stress?

One group of Palin's supporters I haven't seen discussed is the NRA/ILA (the NRA's PAC).

#41 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:48 PM:

That was a thing of beauty, Teresa! I feel enormously pleased to have had a tiny stake in generating it--I think I have some idea of how it feels to be a pebble at the beginning of an avalanche now.

#42 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Two points: first of all, I remember a thread -- hey, here it is -- called "The Mother Drive-By", in which it was roundly agreed that people randomly giving their two cents' worth on other people's (women's) parenting decisions is rude and offensive. I say, stick with that.

Second: Tavella@15:

And the whole "fly back to Alaska and endanger your child" thing finally made sense to me when it was revealed that her husband is a raving Alaska separatist. If you think the only important thing is being a citizen of *Alaska*, then being merely born a citizen of the United States isn't good enough, you have to be born in Alaska.

That highly-speculative idea (which I've seen around) assumes that the so-far-imaginary future Alaskan Republic would have a citizenship rule in which you have to be born in Alaska, no matter who your parents are, which seems like a stretch -- the USA rule isn't as restrictive, and the theoretical rule would eliminate Palin herself, who was born in Idaho.

#43 ::: Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:17 PM:

Great post. And welcome back.

#44 ::: C.E. Petit ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:30 PM:

Just a couple of follow-ups:

26 I read Teresa's comment as "they were wrong to expect Palin to tell them everything that might be in the closet," and my response was intended to be that "but if McGovern's handlers had been doing their jobs (and following the law), Eagleton's mental health history wouldn't have been a surprise."

28 I'm not a mental health professional. I was, however, a commanding officer for nearly a decade, of units ranging from about 75 (aircrew members) to about 1200 (an aircraft maintenance squadron). I'd like to think I understand the distinctions among "self-confident," "narcissistic traits and arrogance," and "NPD." I've actually met and interacted with enough president/vice-president candidates as a protocol officer to put the ones we've actually gotten into the NPD category.

29, 33, 37 I have a slightly different take on this: I don't think Palin is about the Presidential race; she's about the Senate. By having a right-wing fundamentalist nutcase on the top ticket, the Heffalumps think they'll get more of the "base" to the polls... and thereby, hopefully, keep the Jackasses from achieving a filibuster-proof Senate. It's also about the Heffalumps' inability to think of politics as anything other than a game for the in crowd (which, at least at the national level isn't that much different from the Jackasses).

#45 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:30 PM:

Peasant # 23 -

"..Setting aside her right-wing pit-bull positives, do not most of the "complaints" against her sound like the stereo-typical fear-mongering complaints to "prove" why females shouldn't serve: emotional decisions, changing of opinion every three weeks, inability to think logically, taking things personally, temper tantrums, etc. We all know these are all excuses, not reasons, and are not true besides. But if the first woman to serve displays these traits, what are critics going to say?.."

No,those are not "female traits," but the hallmark of the modern standard for GOP politicians. Or of people who abuse their life partners.

But yeah, that claim would certainly be made

DonBoy # 42 --

Remember, The U.S. Constitution made exceptions for the then-current generation who were not Born On These Shores

#46 ::: Max Kaehn ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:33 PM:

Sounds like Sarah Palin is eminently qualified to be the 43rd President of the United States.

Just not the 45th.

#47 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Faren @36: Beware of getting all your views from one source: Putin did not get to be a Colonel in the 1st Directorate of the KGB (not to mention picking up a degree in International Law along the way) by being wholely venal and incompetent, and I find it rather difficult to believe that someone as clueless as you suggest could run a great power for a decade and deliver 8-10% year-on-year GDP growth (after a decade of turmoil and implosion). Putin does indeed behave vindictively towards his opponents, but on the basis of his performance to date he seems to be the most competent Russian leader since Stalin.

Sarah Palin is no Vladimir Putin. I don't know what she is; Caligula, perhaps.

#48 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Max Blumenthal wrote an incisive article for The Nation on September 1, 2008, on how the Christian Right were the group that chose Palin to run with McCain as their payoff for supporting him. See it here.

As well, Limbaugh loves her and had been pushing her as a pick for months already.

This choice did NOT come from out of nowhere. Indeed, considering who chose her, she fits exactly their criteria.

This is their last chance to stage the theocratic coup they've been after for decades now.

Love, C.

#49 ::: Rob T. ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:03 PM:

Connie H.'s comment at #28 on Muhammed Ali's "I'm the greatest" boast reminds me of a story about Arnold Schoenberg. For those who don't know, Schoenberg was one of the foremost composers and music teachers of the last century; as an individual he was very bright and--when he wanted to be--very charming. He also had a gargantuan ego, a hair-trigger sensitivity to perceived slights, and a world-class capacity for carrying grudges. Put these together and you have the sort of person for whom most people may be divided into two types:

1) devoted cult followers, and

2) all those other people who are going "Dude, what is your problem?"

The story goes that some of Schoenberg's students had a graphologist analyze a sample of their teacher's handwriting. The graphologist's verdict: "At the very least, this man thinks he's the emperor of China." When the students gleefully reported this comment back to Schoenberg, he thought a moment then asked, "But did she say whether I was justified?"

#50 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:06 PM:

As I posted on the other topic about this subject, Elizabeth George wrote a novel about a politician who behaves so much like Palin, and who has narcissist personality disorder, back in 1997, In the Presence of the Enemy. Unless you do everything she says and wants and never ever question, you are her enemy. Even if you are not, and she will do everything to destroy you, even in the face of all rational evidence otherwise, that you are neither guilty of being an enemy and that the truth is being told.

As soon as I looked into Palin even a little, I thought of this novel. This was a type I'd never encountered previously when I read the novel back then. But by now, alas, yes.

Love, C.

#51 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Just now the NPR program, Speaking of Faith broadcast a show about Palin and pentecostals and the variety of their churches.

The concluding sentence by one of the ministers, at the end of the program was a gentle chide, "We believers do not put the same value on rational thought that you do."

This is the answer to how the last 8 years happened.

This is what will be the operating principle if these people take the Oval Office. After what they've gotten away with for the last 8 years, they no longer even need to pretend to hide or disguise what they're up to.

Love, C.

#52 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Stephen Frug @34: When I read the title to the first of the two links at the end, I thought it'd be a story or joke about an actual narcissistic vampire, the actual get-dusted-by-Buffy kind. Still seems to me that that might make a very funny story in the right hands.

Not my hands, I'm afraid, but here's an O.Henry notion:

He* sets out to become a vampire, in order to become immortal. Having achieved this, however, he is left bereft... he can no longer see his reflection in the mirror.

* I tried writing he/she, but it was too awkward. Substitute 'she' as desired.

#53 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:38 PM:

DonBoy@42 said: Two points: first of all, I remember a thread -- hey, here it is -- called "The Mother Drive-By", in which it was roundly agreed that people randomly giving their two cents' worth on other people's (women's) parenting decisions is rude and offensive. I say, stick with that.

Yes, I remember that thread. I commented on it myself, here and here.

I want to clear up a possible misunderstanding: when I posted my alternate theory regarding Trigg Palin's parentage, I didn't do it to slam Palin or her family. I am, in fact, rather sympathetic to the situation I described. Had my son gotten someone pregnant while I was still young enough to claim the child as my own I might have done the same thing. I'm pro-choice, but I wouldn't want my grandchild to be aborted.

I'm quite happy to drop the subject now; it's neither an argument for nor against Palin's qualifications. It's just a curiosity because of the downright weird handling of the situation by the McCain/Palin campaign. Sorry Patrick, Teresa.

#54 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:57 PM:

I said at the time, and still say: Tom Eagleton is the only person to ever have run for President or Vice President who was certified to be sane.

#55 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:05 PM:

Back when McCain let a small number of reporters take a brief look at his medical records, I figured there was something to hide.

That's the sort of thing one does in the sure, and certain, hope that things will be missed.

Esp. because it's much easier to leave things out, when you know the auditor can't establish a timeline for everything, nor detect lacunae.

Prima facie it's a sign of wanting to keep the complete picture from being told. It also lets him say, "I let reporters look at my records and the didn't find anything out of the ordinary".

Which makes further speculations not unreasonable; and extrapolations from known parallels not unfounded.

All he has to do to disprove them is actually release his records. He put the ball in play, so he can't really say it's unfair to want a real look at all the records. Better he had just said, "No. Those are private."

#56 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:15 PM:

Debbie Notkin #11: Okay, now how do we get this essay into the New York Times and the Washington Post?

It might be more practical to see if Teresa can be featured as a guest blogger on Daily Kos, for example.

#57 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:17 PM:

So Teresa is arguing that the republicans, having spent sixteen years scaring themselves that Hillary Clinton is a figure of primodial feminine evil, are now about to elect someone who actually is.

I suppose it makes as much sense as anything in American politics today.

#58 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:28 PM:

One tiny omission in the McCain's medical record. The depth of his most recent melanoma makes it Stage IIb, which decreases survival to 75%. Another omission is the lack of mention of the Clark's level, which is usually more used for prognostication.

I am also concerned that misstatements reportedly made by McCain are more worrisome than simple senior moments. Sunni/Shiite, Iran/Iraq substitutions might be inattention, but thinking that Spain is in Latin America is a bit more of a concern. I wish that his medical records had included a report of an MRI of the brain* and the results of a mental status exam.

I wouldn't certify that a 72-year-old man could drive a truck safely without a short portable mental status exam. I would hope Dr. Eckerd didn't attest to Mr. McCain's medical health without evaluating his mental status.

*The lack of a brain MRI is surprising, since the brain is a site of predilection for spread of melanoma. However, I doubt that any 72 year old would have a stone cold normal MRI of the brain, so the results might have been withheld to avoid having to explain that fact.

#59 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 05:56 PM:

pedantic peasant @23:
I must note that my immediate reaction to your description was "so, another GWB". I suspect this is common among liberal-minded folk.

(And, also responding to Andrew Brown @57: Palin joins Ann Coulter as possible evidence that the reason Republicans don't like women to be in charge is what happens when Republican women are in charge.)

Nancy Lebovitz @17:
I would suggest instead that McCain might have been in shock at the prognosis, and easily manipulated into accepting the evang-Hell-icals' hand-picked successor?

#60 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 06:20 PM:

Craig R @ 45:

I was not saying they were female traits, I said they were the traits misogynists use to "explain" why women aren't suited to office.

Much like Xeger's "glass cliff" analogy at #37, I am commenting on the likelihood that if Palin does serve, and does a poor job, those who are against women serving in office -- and who therefore lump Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin together as all being equivalent to each other -- would use her as an example of what "all women" would do.

geekosaur @ 59 I assume you mean that Palin rates as equivalent to GWB?

If so, I agree. I am just predicting the likely consequence if the situation of her actually reaching the Oval Office arises.

As far as the GWB analogy goes, I thought of that as soon as Jim posted the previous "Wimps" thread, and I thought at the time that it served as an excellent object example to answer Teresa's inquiries in the "That's how it goes / Everybody knows thread. Would Palin be so boldfaced in her contempt to all and sundry over the investigation if it hadn't been for the various claims of immunity and executive privelege from the White House? As someone else said there, IANAL, and IANA-Alaskan, but even if Alaskan state law allows for some variation of privelege as has been claimed elsewhere, I'd argue it probably has not previously been done in such a cavalier manner, nor accompanied by the verbal equivalent of a poke in the eye, and that this attitude is the direct result of the past and continued claims of President Bush and his Band of Favorites.

This is kind of an illustration of that claim that any law that isn't or can't be enforced weakens the strength of the rule of law.

Whatever the cause, whatever the reason,
Palin scares me and I hope the news starts to cover this stuff as the date approaches.

And that raises another question:

Is it better for this stuff to come out early, before they have more time to fabricate cover, or bury it in people's minds,
Or for it to come out later, when the more stubborn voters have "known" who they're voting for for weeks, and "have already made up their minds and won't be misled by the facts"?

#61 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 07:13 PM:

Pedantic Peasant @ 60: Is it better for this stuff to come out early [...] Or for it to come out later

Somehow I suspect that there will be no shortage of new/expanded reasons to not vote for McCain/Palin coming out over the coming weeks.

#62 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 07:44 PM:

Charlie @47 - nah, Dubya's already a good mapping to Caligula; famous father, dynastic, etc.

Mooselini is my favorite so far.

#63 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Y'know, it occurred to me that the Bush camp may have made its promises to support McCain in '08 -- and I think that happened during the '04 campaign, because he didn't become such a big Bush cheerleader before then -- knowing about the melanoma issue, and taking a chance that it was a promise they wouldn't have to deliver on. But McCain lived, and everyone else fell by the wayside, so here we are.

C.E. Petit at 44 has a good point about the Senate, but I don't see that as negating her value to the fundies in the fourth-branch slot. Both/and seems the right assessment.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 08:51 PM:

pedantic peasant, #23: Possibly more to the point -- what happens if McCain wins the election (whether by fair means or foul) and then dies, or becomes manifestly too ill to take office, before he can be sworn in? I would assume that there's some Constitutional mechanism to handle this situation, but IANACS.

DonBoy, #42: One presumes that people who are legally adult at the time the measure takes effect would be grandfathered in... or that Palin would make sure that she got a special exception.

pedantic peasant, #60: Yes, exactly. Just as no one will never convince me that the (mis)design of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin wasn't a deliberate attempt to make it fail, so that then when the subject came up again, the argument could be made that "We tried putting a woman's image on a coin, and people just wouldn't use it."

#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:01 PM:

(This is a shorter summary of something I posted on the other thread.)

The big question has to be why McCain chose Palin, why the vetting process didn't keep him from choosing her. My claim is that it was a terribly imprudent decision to choose her, given the ongoing ethics investigation and pregnant 17 year old daughter, because McCain and his handlers have to know that either or both of those could drag their campaign down, and could potentially even blow up in their faces and basically kill their campaign. It sounds like there are probably a lot of landmines lurking, waiting to be uncovered. Proper vetting should have caught some of them, right?

This is made harder, when you consider the number of people McCain had to choose from. He needed (say) a Republican evangelical woman, of at least Palin's qualifications. I suspect this is a reasonably large set[1]. It wasn't like Palin was the only woman he could have chosen.

The obvious guess here is that, as Teresa said, the vetting was incompetent. Alternatively, it may have been intentionally sabotaged, perhaps by people trying to help the Democrats, perhaps by Republicans who wanted to avoid the kind of shakeup in the party power structure that a McCain win might cause. Or (my favored guess), McCain may have done that loose cannon thing he's moderately famous for, and made a bad choice over the objections of his advisors. (If he's suffering from some age-related decline in mental function, this becomes more plausible.)

There are arguments about Palin's strengthening McCain's status with some of the base, but this is only a good reason for him to have chosen Palin if he couldn't have found other women who would do just as well.

[1] Contrast this with Clarence Thomas' nomination to the supreme court--Bush I nominated him to replace Thurgood Marshall, and it was pretty much required that the replacement be black. In that case, the Republicans simply had very few choices, because there weren't (aren't) many black Republicans. It's conceivable that they knew all about the sexual harassment complaints when they chose him, but simply had no better alternatives. That can't be the case here.

#66 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Lee #64:

But they tried again with Sacagawea dollar, which was rather better designed. (I always assumed they screwed up the SBA because they wanted vending machines to be able to keep the same maximum coin size, but having your dollar and quarter coins be indistinguishable except in good lighting is an obvious disaster, so maybe you're right.)

#67 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:24 PM:

abatross: As I understand it the decagon design was meant to avoid that confusion, but the vending machine companies said they couldn't accept those.

The mint then rounded them and the vending machine companies didn't actually support the design.

Which meant they were just a heavy, confusing, coin and no one used them.

#68 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:36 PM:

albatross: one of the interesting things I noticed when people started tallying the many experienced, highly-qualified Republican women was it turned out nearly all of them were pro-choice.

#69 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Dollar coins: when the Canadians introduced a dollar coin (because coin wore better than paper, it was more economical), they withdrew the paper bill from circulation. There was some grousing, but people quickly got used to it.

The coin had the queen on one side and a loon on the other; quickly nicknamed 'the loonie'.

When the $2 coin was introduced, with the queen on one side and a polar bear on the other, someone proposed 'the moonie' — the queen with a bear behind.*

*Yes, I have told this story before..

#70 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 10:35 PM:

Lee @ 64

Yes, once the ticket is elected, they're the candidates, so if McCain/Palin gets the nod, and anything happens to McCain, Palin becomes the #1, even if it's before the inaugural. And, based on West Wing (because IANACS either) at that point as I understand it, Palin could nominate a VP, but Congress must approve (25th amend).

My question is what happens if the issue occurs between convention nomination and election?

-If it's before the election, can someone just be appointed to the ticket as VP, since then it can be claimed the election itself confirms their approval?
-Does the VP naturally assume the presidential spot on the ticket, or is it necessary to re-nominate? (I suspect this may be a party regulation, as with the primary dates issue this year.)

I am reminded of (I believe) Ashcroft losing for Senator of Missouri to the deceased Carnahan. Would people who like the McCain/Palin ticket be more or less likely to vote a Palin/TBA ot Palin/hurried-nominee ticket?

C.E. Petit @ 44:
Interesting analysis of the Palin phenomenon. I don't know if you are right about that as the primary philosophy behind the nomination or not, but it certainly is possible -- even probable -- that it figures somewhere in their calculations.

As has been said in other threads, it is frustrating in the extreme to hear about liberal media bias, while the media seemingly ignores important issues like McCain's health, and runs with asinine stories like the lipstick issue.

And how is it liberals and Democrats get touted as whiners, but comments like "No one likes us. It's all that liberal media bias." get swallowed and accepted without being perceived as whining?

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:14 PM:

Reading this post and its comments, I have to ask a question that I haven't heard elsewhere. How come anyone running for high office in the US isn't given a full FBI background check? Every 2nd lieutenant and ensign in the military has to be cleared for Secret information, why isn't at least that much checking required for the Commander-in-Chief?

Anyone believe Sarah Palin would pass that check?

#72 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:10 AM:

That's an interesting question.

I suppose an obvious answer is that it might be a bad idea to give one Federal agency complete veto-power over who the American people could choose to be their President?

One wonders what J. Edgar Hoover would have had to say about George McGovern.

Debs ran for President from his prison cell, and all.

#73 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:05 AM:

Terry Karney, #67: Which meant [that dollar coins] were just a heavy, confusing, coin and no one used them.

As Rob Rusick (#69) implicitly pointed out, if the paper $1 bills are not concomitantly withdrawn, there really is no incentive for vending machine companies etc. to make the transition. Any number of other countries have switched to coins for small-denomination bills - the government just has to be willing to deal with the grumbling and costs associated with the transition. The idea of putting women on coins was just collateral damage.

And Rob, I personally was in favour of 'doubloon,' but that never caught on either. But 'toonie' is pretty good too.

#74 ::: BubbaDave ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:06 AM:


Requirements for an O1 or similar are fixed by statute. Requirements for President (and VP, Senator/Representative, etc) are fixed by the Constitution, so you'd need a Constitutional amendment to require that level of vetting.

And I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Imagine, for a moment, that J Edgar Hoover had held the legal power to reject any candidate for the Presidency. (OK, now stop screaming.) Hell, remember all the frothing right-wingers claiming that since Clinton's Moscow visit would have cost him a security clearance it should also disqualify him from being President?

So we leave the Sarah Palins of the world up to the voters, and we pray that this time around America can make the correct decision.

#75 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 02:01 AM:

Wow. I'm just... wow. Sounds like a perfect follow-up to Bush. (Excuse me. I think I'm gonna be sick.)

I sure hope 51% of the people don't do what they did last time. That might land me in the hospital!

#76 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:41 AM:

pedantic peasant @70:

This was a favorite trick question of my constitutional law professor.

I assume you mean if the candidate dies after the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. After the Certificates of Vote are signed by the electors on that day, then the Vice President-elect would automatically become the President-elect. (Whether that happens legally when the President-elect dies, or when they simply don't show up at the inauguration, is beyond me.) But if the winning candidate for President dies before that day, things get really interesting.

That is because twenty or so states still do not require electors to pledge a faithful vote for the candidate in whose name they were chosen. Every election or so, someone (sometimes by mistake) does not vote as expected, becoming thereby a faithless elector. This has happened 158 times, the last time in 2004, but has not yet affected the outcome of an election.

The most interesting case in relation to this discussion occurred in 1872 when 63 electors for Horace Greely changed their vote, as Greely had died before the Electoral College met. (Three voted for him anyway. Either way, Grant won.)

This leads to a number of interesting, if not frightening, scenarios. Just for argument, let's say that McCain-Palin ekes out a narrow win, a margin of just a few electoral votes. However, John McCain dies suddenly a few days later. Here is a non-exhaustive list of what could happen:

  • Everybody could vote for who they were elected to vote for, and Sarah Palin becomes President.
  • A few electors vote for Obama, and he becomes President.
  • McCain is elected president, but a couple of electors choose not to vote for Sarah Palin, voting for say, Ron Paul instead. This would prevent a majority, probably throwing the election into the Senate.
  • The same thing could happen in the presidential tally, and the election would be thrown into the House. (That is where the writers of the Constitution thought most Presidents would be elected -- I mean, who would have thought the Electoral College would somehow work most of the time?)
  • The Republican Party might try to take a Mulligan on the election and somehow pick a new candidate to sell to the electors.
  • The electors could contact each other and elect someone else entirely, probably sending the election to the House.
  • And so forth.
All of this would be accompanied by lots of lawsuits, and perhaps a riot or two. Jeff Greenfield wrote a comic novel a few years ago to highlight this problem in constitutional law, but nothing has changed.

#77 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:55 AM:

Debbie Notkin, #11, change the format and submit it to the WashPost as an op-ed.

#78 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:57 AM:

Dinosaurs and sodomy,
Melanoma narcissism,
Making Light's ahead of me
Identifying cataclysm.

#79 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 04:45 AM:

G D Townshende @ 75: I sure hope 51% of the people don't do what they did last time.

Were they the ones who didn't vote at all?

#80 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 06:56 AM:

Teresa, you're going to love this one from the LA Times: Alaskans angered that Palin is off-limits.

#81 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 08:59 AM:


The vetting does appear to have been botched.

However, I looked at lists of sitting Senators and Governors.

While there may be other women on those lists that the base would accept, there doesn't seem to be any other woman that the base would be enthusiastic about to anywhere near the same extent as with Palin.

#82 ::: dan robinson ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:40 AM:

I found your blog via Brad DeLong. Love it. Love the 'net for these kinds of discoveries. And your masthead is correct about your comments section.

Background checks are intended to find out of a person is trustworthy and/or in danger of being a target for blackmail. How likely is the President to be blackmailed for past acts? If the President has a gambling problem, like John McCain is rumored to have, does that preclude him from exercising the duties of the office of President? What about being an alcoholic? Does Bush have a team of handlers who keep him from drinking?

One of the structural defects of the American form of democracy is that we vote for people, not ideas, and that vote is easily swayed. It is nothing more than a popularity contest. Issues rarely decide an election. Elections are about public relations messages, and a candidate is right to take both sides of an issue, because if the candidate can appear friendly, they will remain popular and it won't matter.

The media should be pressing McCain for full disclosure of his medical conditions. They should know if the person for whom they are expected to vote is healthy enough to last the term in office. The media should be pressing Palin for full disclosure to see if she has any legal liabilities for her actions in Alaska.

Oh well.

#83 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:43 AM:

I do not accept the "the Family is Sacred and offlimits to criticism!" card when the game rules the candidate is playing with involve playing the "See what a wonderful Family Values Person I am!"

She brought Morals of the Family into play, she is liable under the rule of "Does this person live by the rules the person demands others live by?"

She's out campaigning with the Family Picture of preggers minor daughter holding Special Needs brother (Palin's son) and smiling family faces, and "I have a son serving in the military and going to the Middle East and his service shows me as a superpatriot vicariously."

Pointing out that the son is in the military not apparently from duty, honor, country, but more from "busted for booze, dope, vandalism, and general social delinquency, given the opportunity to save face and avoid consequences by skipping town enlisting in the French Foreign Legion military, he took the enlist-in-the-military-and-disappear-out-of-the-area option.

Palin's family situation is part and parcel of who and what she is. Her husband is an Alaskan separatist, her future son-in-law was convicted of and fined to taking salmon out of season (she attacked her ex-brother-in-law about him shooting moose out of season, her future son-in-law did the same thing with salmon, but she's not attacked her potential grandchild's father for illegal hunting/fishing... HYPOOCRITE!), her daugher not only failed all the abstinence teachings but chose to keep the baby rather than adoption (whatever happened to that "adoption not abortion!" slogan the anti-abortion lobby uses so much?! Aren't there hundreds of thousands of US citizens trying to find babies to adopt?!)

I don't identify with Palin--I've never been married, never had children, never had children who had the temerity to post pictures of themselves on MySpace surrounded by empties and part-empties of booze bottles, wasn't under a cloud when signing a contract with the US military, etc., and resent having the Family Picture Card shoved in my fact, and doubly resent being told it's offlimits to not look critically at Palin's Family as "is this person qualified to be President of the United States.

I am not offlimiting Biden, McCain, or Obama on "does this person live by the values for personal integrity and home life the person proclaims publically?

Biden's history as husband and parent include being tragically widowed and losing one or more children between the time he was elected and when he took office. Associates persuaded him to serve when he had major doubts: "Delaware voters can find another Senator, my children can't get another father." He commuted home every night from Capitol Hill, service above and beyond to his children, when many senators and representatives have long-distance family arrangements with spouse and children back in the home district.
Biden later remarried. There have been no sordid stories spread about his children being delinquent/alcohol-abusing/drug-abusing/engaging-in-sexual-promiscuity (as opposed to at least two of the Palin offspring--and Palin is an Abstinence-should-be-LAW type...). There have been no sordid rumors about Biden having extramarital sexual affairs (there is one about Sarah Palin, and may be ones about her husband).

Obama has two young daughters, and there are no rumors about their being deliquents. There are no rumors out about him as other than responsible husband and parent following his marriage. There are rumors that he was out and about before college and maybe during it partying it up--but not any rumors about him after having married.

McCain had a reputation as a promiscous booze-soaked party boy through college, after college, and during his first marriage when not locked up in the Hanoi Hilton. He dumped wife #1 for wife #2, marrying wife #2 when the ink on the divorce papers had had a drying time of a month. I haven't heard rumors of any of his offspring emulating Daddy's party boy behavior, so perhaps he has been a much better parent, that he was a son.

Palin admits to having been a marijuana user "when it was legal in Alaska." I'm not impressed... her cohorts are the reefer madness marijuana-is-EVIL crowd. Once again, Palin is a hypocrite... Her troubled-youth eldest, the one in the military, was born 8 months after the marriage certificate--doesn't sound like Palin waited until marriage to have sex, as opposed to what she deems ought to be law enforced on everyone except her own immediate family....

Do these people live by the code they demand others live by?

Palin obviously does not.

McCain--hard to say, what is his stance on booze and sex outside of marriage? If he is mouthing the fire and brimstone lines about sex outside of marriage, boom, he would be a hypocrite on that (as opposed to his hypocrisy about torture and moral reprehensibility caving in to the Executive Branch regarding torture).

Obama--seems to be in compliance with values he promotes.

Biden--lives up to the his values regarding family.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:04 AM:

#81 dan

The vetting wasn't botched, the vetting focused on "married, photogenic flag-waving family," on "is evangelizing Christian out spreading evangelical Chrisian" "applies for checkboxes to attract disaffected voters who might otherwise vote for Obama" etc.

In other words, the vetting criteria were ideological and surface appearance, not things of scientific method.

The issue of New Scientist at the Borders in Burlington, Massachusetts, has Obama and McCain on the cover as lead article, and the focus on the article starts off with the thesis that the current Executive Branch of US Government is anti-science.

The vetters for the Republican Vice Presidential candidate are part and parcel of the side on the war of religion versus science (for those who have the ideology that there is a conflict...) who take the side for religion and regard the scientific method as out of scope and inappropriate/inapplicable for their interests and ideology and lives.

As for who would find Palin offensive--most Jews other than the scumsucker slime like Abramoff and the other Republican Court Jews (Christians have Dobson and Haggerty etc., Jews have Abramoff....) offended by evangelizers weren't going to be voting Republican anyway. Single issue voters on reproductive rights who were pro-forced-motherhood were already going to be voting for McCain and those opposed to it voting for Obama. The swing voters, however.... the ones angry that Hillary Clinton got marginalized by the likes of John Kerry (a third of the people voting in the Democratic primary in MA voted for his opponent...) and other veteran Democrats who threw their support to Obama and in states such as Texas caucaused against Clinton, and who wanted a woman, there was further alienation when Obama picked a white male anti-abortion type as running male. Palin looked like a plus for the spite vote, for example.

Palin is a Washington outsider. She is the governor of Alaska. Eight years ago, the Repugs nominated the Governor of Texas... psychically the two states have very similar cultural myths of iconoclasm....

#85 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:07 AM:

Claude Muncey (76): The Jeff Greenfield novel is The People's Choice, and it is well worth reading. (If you hadn't mentioned it, I was going to.)

#86 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:18 AM:

Hmm compare and contrast the Schmuck of eight years ago, with Palin:

- dry drunk and reputed cocaine abuse in the past, versus admitted marijuana-when-it-was-legal use (and probably alchol..)
- party boy reputation before marriage versus how many colleges did Palin attend before getting a degree (she didn't have the option of a "Gentleman's C" legacy student at an Ivy League school which in exchange for money found a curriculum suitable for graduating legacy students whose families were financial benefactors).
- hunter who shoots endangered species versus hunter shooting from airplanes
- evangelizing born-again Christian versus Pentecostal evangelizing Christian
- married a librarian or schoolteacher who committed de facto vehicular homicide versus married an oil industry worker who drove drunk
- enriched by his buddies in the oil industry versus husband in the Alaskan oil industry
- involved in questionable ethics transactions eminent domaining land for baseball stadium and in part ownership of baseball franchise, at the expense of the original landowners and Texas taxpayers, versus at high expense to taxpayers had sports facility built on land that clear title was not obtained to....
- state with iconoclastic rugged individual frontier open range cowboy mythology versus state with iconoclastic rugged individual frontier wilderness hunter and fisherman mythology

Someone at the rally against Palin in Alaska held up a sign, "George Bush in a skirt"

#87 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:25 AM:


I missed a couple

- party girl underage boozing-it-up twin daughters being delinquent and committing socially irresponsible acts, versus party girl and boy two eldest children, boozing it up and being socially irresponsible especially when underage.
- failed to meet implied contractual requirements of National Guard unit which he got into from his Daddy's political pull when more highly qualified applicants got turned down; removed from flying status and records missing which may have detailed the reasons and may have detailed irregularities indicating unfitness for being President, versus Troopergate and obstructing the investigation into it....

#88 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:33 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 84:

Did you mean iconoclasm or iconography?

#89 ::: Dan S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:12 AM:

"She didn’t give birth to Trigg all alone in a cave."

Yes she did! While field dressing a moose. It's just that the liberal media refuses to report on it . . .

#90 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:17 AM:

John Tyler, Vice President to William H. Harrison, who died a month into his Presidency, established the precedent of succession when a POTUS dies in office. And without challenge. Therefore one can reasonably assume that any attempt to prevent sp from taking over from dead or obviously incapacitated mccain would be thwarted by the Usual Suspects quoting precedent.

John Tyler was the first VP to deal with a dead P while in office. There have been several since then, but he was the only one to have known before-hand, for a significant length of time that his sitting P was likely, if not surely, going to die. So he planned very carefully his takeover.

If I were in the Senate and House right now? I'd be reading like crazy how John Tyler did it.

BTW, he was a disaster as POTUS, and set up a whole string of disasters that brought about the Civil War. His philosophy was expansionism as the way to save the Union. He thought like this: The more new territorry into which to insitute slavery, the more the slave population in the older slave states would thin, and thus could come the gradual withering away of slavery in those older southern slaveholding state.

He ignored entirely that most of the economic base of these states, including his own, Virginia, came from selling 'overstock' slaves to new territory. Hypocrisy and lies, ladies and gentlemen? He was a seated Congressman in the Confederate gummit when he died in 1862.

Love, C.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:21 AM:

Bruce @ 71

Heck, I had to pass a background check for the necessary secret clearance at one job. They had trouble getting good fingerprints from me, which is one reason I remember it. (Grab Frisbie sometime at a con, and ask him about his adventures with the folks who issue clearances.) OTOH, my father had (occasionally) a compartmented clearance, which required checking his assorted siblings as well.

I doubt that Palin would pass that level of background check: they'd discover the AIP in her and her husband's past, and say 'no way'.

#92 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:08 PM:

#71-72: Then don't let the FBI make a recommendation one way or the other; make them publish their raw findings (either on a website, or in a form that anyone can mail in the cost of printing and shipping and have it mailed back to them, or both) and let the American people decide how much salt to take it with.

It'd be no worse than what we already get dragged through with Wright etc. (in fact, the FBI could probably put that sort of thing in perspective and show the difference between having some loudmouthed friends and genuinely dangerous activities), and it *might* be harder to control the FBI than the media (which you can simply buy, and the right has).

#65: I would point out that the sexual harassment scandal ultimately *helped* Clarence Thomas. It removed attention from the questions of "how qualified is Thomas?" (not very) and "what's Thomas's ideology?" (extreme radical right-wing verging on monarchist; he was and is clearly to the right of the previously farthest-right justice on the Court) and convinced a Democratic Senate to turn the confirmation process into a referendum on the sexual harassment issue.

When that unsurprisingly turned out to be muddled and without any clear-cut proof one way or the other, the Senate forgot about any other question and confirmed Thomas.

If the sexual harassment issue had never been raised they probably would have spent more time looking at his qualifications or his ideology, either of which would have shot him down in flames.

The parallels to Palin are rather obvious: talking about qualifications is deadly for her, so is talking about issues. Somebody raise an irrelevant and unresolvable smokescreen, quick! In her case some of the real scandals *are* provable, which makes it even more important to come up with shinier fake scandals.

Once you observe that, is it really that long a leap to postulate false-flag attacks intended to (a) distract attention from other, more dangerous issues and (b) make your opponents (to whom the attacks are likely to be attributed) look ridiculous and/or mean-spirited and/or dishonest?

#93 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:31 PM:

(Apologies for another sidetrack of the thread) Charlie Stross (#47): The VF article by Russian insider/Putin enemy Masha Gessen gives detailed info on his spy days (gung-ho but not terribly useful; given increasingly remote postings) and vice-mayorial time (more corrupt than outright incompetent), before going on to say that Putin is *very* good at tyranny. Biased portrait, I admit: no details on his handling of the Russian economy, while it goes on and on about the people he allegedly poisoned. But it fits nicely with the narcissism theme, and that of the (emotionally) "small" person with big power.

#94 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:42 PM:

From that LA Times story linked upthread: "The American Idol of politics." Wow. Yeah.

#95 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:50 PM:

#79 ::: Epacris :::
G D Townshende @ 75: I sure hope 51% of the people don't do what they did last time.

Were they the ones who didn't vote at all?

I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, unless it's a reference to Australia's law that everyone *must* show up at the polls or risk a fine or imprisonment. My mum is British, and as a consequence I've relatives (as well as friends) in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and elsewhere in Oz who long ago made me aware of this difference in how things work Down Under versus here. I have also been told that while everyone is legally required to show up at the polls, and that while Australia does actively enforce this law, once one has shown up one can also indicate that one wishes to abstain from voting.

I think you know what I meant, however. I would very much prefer that everyone registered to vote would exercise their right to do so. I'm not sure how well a "mandatory democracy" would go over here.

#96 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 12:52 PM:

Chris: How would you know it was all they found? I wouldn't trust Hoover to have released everything, on everyone.

No more would I trust anyone now.

#97 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:06 PM:

Lee @64: One presumes that people who are legally adult at the time the measure takes effect would be grandfathered in... or that Palin would make sure that she got a special exception.

My point is, now we need to add more complications, such as you suggest, to a non-existent rule that has not been made, in order to make plausible a theory that Palin was rushing back to have the baby born in Alaska -- a theory for which there is no evidence except that it popped into somebody's head a couple of weeks ago. In our adversaries, we recognize this as the "paranoid style". (That sounds harsher than I'd like, but it's the established name of that kind of argument.)

#98 ::: DonBoy ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:30 PM:

My #97 should say "...a theory that Palin was rushing back to have the baby born in Alaska so that the baby would be a native citizen in the event of Alaska seceding".

#99 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:52 PM:

Meanwhile, it turns out that Palin's story of Monegan's insubordination ... wasn't true. He had a signed travel voucher from her chief of staff to go to Washington.

ABC has the story: Exclusive: New Doubts Over Palin's Troopergate Claims

#100 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 03:54 PM:

I raised the issue of security clearance to highlight the fact that, investigative reporting* aside, we don't have a careful check of the nominees** that looks at least somewhat objectively at the fitness of the nominee. I know it's not a widely held attitude, but I consider alcoholism a strong counter-indicator of fitness, and that's not something that's checked at all because of the gentlecritters' agreement not to stir things up by talking about things "everybody does".

Giving the next version of J. Edgar Hoover a veto in the election process strikes me as a very bad idea too. The background check should just be made and the results publicized for everyone to see, and to judge the quality of the investigation.

* Is there really such a thing anymore? Reporting seems to consist largely of copying press releases into whatever word processor the reporter uses.

** Let's start small; we can worry about all the candidates when we've got a handle on the group we know to contain the next POTUS.

#101 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:55 PM:

Once McCain named Palin as his VP, it came out that she was given a 20 page questionnaire to answer that supposedly was her "vetting". Except, she was given that questionnaire to answer AFTER she was named, not prior to the announcement.

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 06:04 PM:

DonBoy, #97: You're right -- if I'd been seriously arguing in favor of that hypothesis. But I got distracted by the specific detail you raised, and just started thinking, "Well, how would that be handled?" I agree that the hypothesis itself is unlikely to the point of being ludicrous.

#103 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:04 PM:

Add this to the pile of revelations about Sarah Palin's lack of interest in keeping her stories straight.

The McCain-Palin campaign echoed the charge in a press release it distributed Monday, concurrent with Palin's legal filing. "Mr. Monegan persisted in planning to make the unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.," the release stated.

But the governor's staff authorized the trip, according to an internal travel document from the Department of Public Safety, released Friday in response to an open records request.

Justin Rood's story is packed full of little details that make Teresa's post even more interesting to review. Here's my favorite... the final paragraph:

Monegan said he didn't know why Palin's chief of staff approved a trip that confounded her other aides. "It sounds like it's a breakdown of communication internal to the governor's staff," he said.

Imagine that.

I had my first encounter last night with a GOP voter since the nomination of Sarah Palin at the RNC. He spent a lot of time trying to convince me that Americans are too racist to vote for Obama (mostly by demonstrating his own overt racism in his talking points). Interpolating between the lines, I got the strong feeling that he didn't dare to make an open admission of just how disturbing he, himself, finds the Palin nomination.

I suspect most of the non-SDO authoritarians in the GOP are more afraid of her than they're letting on.

#104 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:06 PM:

Crap. I just noticed that Yog found the story before I did. Alas.

#105 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Grump, grump, grump, I want Steven Jobs dead before he was born. I HATE HATE HATE!! Icon-mouse-pointers user interfaces, where a slip of finger wipes out what one was writing, irretrievably!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Destroyed a song I was just writing.

(It was an anti-Palin piece, starting off "Way up in the Northlands... was into the third eight line verse. Dammitdammitdammit....)

#106 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:54 PM:

I was thinking about doing something about "A Frightful Shade of Palin", but having read the lyrics for the original song, I haven't the slightest idea what it's supposed to be about. I recognize a number of phrases and literary allusions, but on the whole it just seems to be a nightmarish mishmash. Which would be appropriate for a song about Palin, but it's kind of hard to work with as a parody.

#107 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:10 PM:

G D Townshende @95, that was a genuine question; I found what you said very ambiguous. Sarcasm perhaps? Your entire post @75 was:

Wow. I'm just... wow. Sounds like a perfect follow-up to Bush. (Excuse me. I think I'm gonna be sick.)
I sure hope 51% of the people don't do what they did last time. That might land me in the hospital! (My emphasis.)
You wrote "people", not "voters".

I thought US turnout at one recent election was only about half. I wasn't sure if your 51% was people who voted for a Republican Presidential Administration — or Bush/Cheney, so often it's seen as a vote for a person, rather than government policies, a problem of imbalance in the system + genetics/psychology — or registered voters who couldn't or didn't want to face up to their (however restricted) part as a citizen.

Yes, I am a strong supporter of compulsory — & as convenient as possible — turnout, preferential voting, and the ability to cast a deliberately informal vote. You can't abstain visibly from voting here; you can put blank or deliberately 'spoiled' ballot paper/s into the box/es. (That's one thing I dislike about plans for electronic voting, and even some existing 'mechanical' methods.) But I've had many disagree, and we Aussies are in a minority.

I'm sorry if you found me ambiguous too. I think your reply implied you meant the abstainers?

#108 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 11:52 PM:


Is there any evidence one way or another about whether compulsory voting makes for better outcomes? I'll admit my first reaction is to assume this would bring more uninformed voters to the polls, and thus make 30 second attack ads and whispering campaigns more effective, relative to any kind of argument on ideas or beliefs. But I have no data to support this....

#109 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 12:37 AM:

Paula Lieberman@105: In the current version of Safari, windows that have text entered in them don't just close; you have to enter a confirmation in a dialog box. Maybe you should consider switching browsers.

#110 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Paula Lieberman 105, your pique is mis-aimed. Pillory Xerox PARC and its band of research revolutionaries, from whom Woz and Steve bought the existing technology.

Meself, I am careful with personal hygiene before writing; you know how it is when you've just washed your fingers and can't do a thing with them.

#111 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:29 AM:

#107 ::: Epacris that was a genuine question; I found what you said very ambiguous. Sarcasm perhaps? (...) You wrote "people", not "voters".

Fair enough, and good point, as well. I did mean to say 51% of those who voted. My mistake.

You are correct about voter turnout here in the US, though. A friend I was talking to recently about this cited some interesting information on the subject. I don't recall his sources, but he made a comment that there is a history that only about 16% of the US population (I think) choose who will be president. I should ask him again about this, and have him clarify it, so that I can be more certain about the figures and the context.

Yes, I am a strong supporter of compulsory — & as convenient as possible — turnout, preferential voting, and the ability to cast a deliberately informal vote. You can't abstain visibly from voting here; you can put blank or deliberately 'spoiled' ballot paper/s into the box/es.

I've heard that "informal votes"/"spoiled ballots" (that is, blank ballots) are also illegal, but since there is no way to prove who's submitted such ballots, that that's the one loop-hole in the system.

#108 ::: albatross Is there any evidence one way or another about whether compulsory voting makes for better outcomes? I'll admit my first reaction is to assume this would bring more uninformed voters to the polls, and thus make 30 second attack ads and whispering campaigns more effective, relative to any kind of argument on ideas or beliefs. But I have no data to support this....

Albatross, the basic idea behind it, obviously, is that the election more closely reflects the will of the people. One common criticism is not only that it brings to the polls more uneducated voters, but that such a policy tends to result in election results which favour candidates who cater to minorities. There's a halfway decent article at Wikipedia on the subject.

Generally speaking, they get about 95% voter turnout, with the other 5% being either people who didn't show up, and who will pay a fine, or folk who showed up and submitted "informal votes"/"spoiled ballots", or people who had legitimate excuses for not appearing at the polls (the law does allow for that). These count as "no shows" since no vote was actually submitted. So, it does make for increased voter turnout, but whether the outcome of an election is better or not is hard to say. Certainly, the outcome does more accurately represent who the majority of voters elected to office (barring any illegal manipulation of votes).

#112 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:38 AM:

An additional comment on the compulsory voting system ("mandatory democracy") found in Australia (please correct me, Epacris, if I'm wrong):

The fines tend to be fairly small, something like $20-$70AUD, as I recall. Also, a voter who continues to be absent at the polls will then find themselves in court, with the magistrate seeking to find out if there was a legitimate excuse for the absence. It's only after this process has been exhausted that a person can find themselves imprisoned for not voting. I'm not sure what the stipulations are as to how long one can be put in prison for this. Either none of my relatives or friends mentioned it, or if they did, then I've forgotten the details.

#113 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:46 AM:

EDIT: I wrote @111 - Certainly, the outcome does more accurately represent who the majority of voters elected to office (barring any illegal manipulation of votes).

Make that: Certainly, the outcome does more accurately represent who the majority of the people [meaning registered voters] want elected to office (barring any illegal manipulation of votes).

#114 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:15 AM:

One thing that has bothered me for years is the coverage given to candidates who are neither Republican nor Democrat. In this election, for example, there are no less than 14 candidates running for President who have their names on ballots in more than one State. Of these, six can potentially win the necessary 270 electoral votes to become President, and yet those who are neither Republican or Democrat are either completely ignored, or are barely given a footnote of a mention in any broadcast that I've seen on television. That comes across to me as rather manipulative on the part of the networks. Even if one subscribes to the idea that only a Republican or a Democrat stands a chance of winning the election, why does that justify the squelching of any information on the other candidates? (Certainly, information can be found on them on the Internet, but why not also provide it over the air?)

One list of candidates I've found is here, at Wikipedia. The Constitution Party, the Libertarians, the Republicans, the Green Party, the Independent Party, and the Democrats are all those who are capable of capturing the necessary 270 votes.

In the past, I've sometimes voted for candidates who were neither Republican nor Democrat, and some have derided me, saying that I "threw away" my vote. I hate that. I threw nothing away. I voted my conscience. I thought that that is what this is all about, and that it is not about "voting for the lesser of two evils". On that count, a co-worker recently said he plans to vote for McCain, and he qualified and justified it by saying that it's "not so much a vote for McCain as it is a vote against Obama." He's certainly free to do that, and I would never suggest that he's throwing his vote away, but to me that attitude seems to be missing the point.

I will never understand some people, regardless how intelligent they may be (and this co-worker is someone who is very much intelligent).

#115 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 04:36 AM:

@113: Belgium has compulsory voting as well, but the punishment for not showing up at the polls amounts to a slap on the wrist (small fines, starting at 25 EUR if I'm not mistaken, and rarely enforced).
Over here, compulsory voting does not necessarily mean a better reflection of the will of the majority, for a simple albeit ridiculous reason: there are no national parties! The French-speaking Walloons can only vote for candidates in Wallonia, the Flemish can only cast ballots for Flemish pols. This in a country with a population of under 11 million (whereas I come from a country where the capital city has a population of 12 million.)
So the entire political set-up dictates the relevance of the voter's voice. I still haven't made up my mind about the usefulness of compulsory voting, since the rest of the system pretty much renders it moot.

#116 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 05:08 AM:

In New Zealand, by law we are required to enrol, but we don't have to vote. Incidentally, the date for our next election was announced recently to be on November 8.

#117 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 05:26 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 47: "...I find it rather difficult to believe that someone as clueless as you suggest could run a great power for a decade and deliver 8-10% year-on-year GDP growth."

(Given the way the Georgia war has absolutely destroyed Russia's stock market, and the extent to which that war was clearly Putin's baby, it's hard to make an argument that Russia's economic growth is due to Putin. Besides, history is full of manifestly incompetent rulers whose countries nonetheless escaped annihilation, and sometimes even prospered. The link between leaders and GDP growth you suggest strikes me as tenuous at best--a lot more goes into determining economic results than whose butt is filling the executive's chair. Advisors do a great deal--often more in the case of an incompetent and/or disinterested ruler.

#118 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:03 AM:

#114: Voting can absolutely be about choosing the "lesser of two evils." At the end of the day, voting is an expression of whom you would, or wouldn't, want to see in office. Justifying why you vote the way you do is not part of the actual electoral process. (i.e., when you fill out the ballot, you don't have to complete the essay portion.)

You can be all proud of yourself for voting your conscience. Someone else can be all proud for being a strategic voter, forsaking his most favorite for someone he doesn't hate an is more likely to win. Yet another can be all proud for having kept that nasty so-and-so out of office. There are lots of ways people do this.

BTW, what's the difference between telling someone that they've thrown away their vote, and thinking that how they vote is missing the point? Well, in one case, you've kept it to yourself. Otherwise, they both seem like variants of, "Hey, you're doing it wrong!" to me.

#119 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:23 AM:

I'm going to post a comment with lots of links to information about compulsory voting in Australia. You could wander around in the sites to find out more about how the system works. Not thoughtful discussion, tho'. It'll go into moderation limbo.

GD (if I may be so informal <ahem>) @114: This is an annoyance to me, too. It's one reason for supporting preferential ("instant run-off") voting. That does, like compulsion, have disadvantages too, but I try to use it to "send a message", by voting for the person(s) whose policies I'd really like, then the major party which I most support, to try and encourage the major party to bend in that direction. It also helps to prevent "splitting the vote" between, e.g. two similar candidates so a third can win with less than a majority of votes cast, and so represents the wishes of the electorate better.

#120 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:25 AM:

At risk of veering ever more wildly off topic: Heresiarch, the picture with the Georgia war is a lot more complicated than you suggest. (Hint: you might want to dig into the identity of Saakashvili's backers in Washington DC, and the nature of the oil politics behind the Georgia/Russia spat; but from here -- the UK -- the war looks more like it was Saakashvili disastrously over-extending himself with encouragement from the Neocons in DC, and the Russian stock market taking a battering subsequently is part and parcel of the global financial storm now raging.)

#121 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:46 AM:

Here's a link to the Australian Electoral Commission's very brief summary page on Compulsory Voting. This links to more detailed PDF documents (1-short, 2-fuller. See also Informality. For excruciating detail see Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918). It covers the Federal law, the States have their own (NSW, see legislation: Parliamentary Electorates and Elections Act 1912 No 41, Div 13), and each also (fairly loosely) enforces it for local Council elections.

Most of the fines aren't too large, and the penalties don't seem to include gaol time. NSW is keen on removing driver's licences for non-payment of fines, tho'. If you don't know it's happened, driving without a licence is fairly serious, & can mean you're not insured, which could be very serious indeed.

Returning you to the main thread now :)

#122 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:49 AM:

But why rewrite the Lumberjack Song?

Oh, wrong Palin.

#123 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:57 AM:

Charlie #120:

Was I the only one who found the Cheney visit to Georgia after the war deeply chilling? I could think of nothing good that Cheney could be doing there, unless he could convince Putin to go hunting with him. Somehow, though, I was able to imagine all kinds of really bad things that he could be setting up, mostly involving either convincing the Georgians to fight Russia on our behalf with a false promise of our support, or with a true promise of our support. The first is bad, the second far worse.

#124 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Surely it's Incitatus you're thinking of?

Alternatively, perhaps this is McCain self-sabotaging; he realises now that he's got himself into something he doubts he can finish, so he's unconsciously trying to fuck it up.

#125 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:33 AM:

albatross @ 123 ... I suspect that Putin has better aim.

#126 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:03 AM:

The wipeout occurred with a slip of the thumb that threw the browser back twice... that is STRICTLY a WIMP-GUI behavior, that a single key or mouse action does that.

And it IS Jobs' fault--I used a Xerox 1186 running NoteCards and LIKED that user interface. Jobs stole the crappy parts of the Xerox UI and left OUT the Good Stuff, and put it on something with a miniscule display, a 16 kHz migraine-inducing dogwhistle, a scan rate that in fluorescent lighting induced migraines, a single button on the stupid mouse instead of two, NO cursor keys, single-tasking, single window... etc., monochrome display, sealed box with some models having a tendency to spontaneously combust... myriad were the sins. Some of them got mitigated over time, especially after Jobs got the boot....

Regarding Russia and Georgia--it eventually occurred to me that the leaders of the old USSR had a policy of Russianization in the regions surrounding Russia proper, of exporting Russian nationals to other countries within the USSR as colonists. I think that that happened with Georgia. So, when the USSR came unglued, there were large enclaves of colonizing Russians who didn't want a separation of Georgia from Mother Russia--and lots of Georgian nationals with decades of resentment and anger and suppressed nationalism who wanted self-rule and no more Russian dominion and priviliging.

#127 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 120: [I was going to ROT-13 this to protect the uninterested, but it looks like it's too late for that. Ah well.] I consider your read on the motives behind the Georgian war to be dead on, but nevertheless I believe it was the Georgian war that set off the stock market crash, not the US sub-prime mess. This article dates the trouble to slightly before the outbreak of the Georgian war*, and puts the big crash during it--well before US lenders started falling like dominoes. World markets have fallen an average of five percent due to the sub-prime problems; Russia's has fallen 64 percent since July. The fallout from the US mess is at most exacerbating a pre-existing lack of confidence.

*Specifically, when Putin accused a steel company of price-fixing. Model of responsible financial stewardship he is not.

Paula Lieberman @ 126: "Regarding Russia and Georgia--it eventually occurred to me that the leaders of the old USSR had a policy of Russianization in the regions surrounding Russia proper, of exporting Russian nationals to other countries within the USSR as colonists."

Stalin had a policy of displacing ethnic minorities within the USSR in order to avoid problems of nationalism and separatism--it was a lot harder to form your own separatist movement with your countrymen scattered from the Ukraine to Kamchatka. One of the weird results of this is that there is a pocket of ethnic Koreans in one of the 'stans; linguists go there to study their relatively pure dialect.

#128 ::: Selina ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Re compulsory voting, I vauely remember being offered the following theory in first-year Pol Sci at uni:

It drives politics toward the centre of the spectrum. The radicals and the special interest groups are outnumbered by the vast majority of average disninterested Joe Blows. Australian politicians spend all their time courting the average, the typical, the 'working families' as Kevin Rudd never stops saying. In America the Christian evangelists are so politically important because they can be counted upon to actually turn up on polling day. Candidates have to make people either love them madly or hate the other lot intensely in order to get them to care enough to vote. Australian politicans don't have to produce love or hate, so they can carry on their campaigning on a more reasoned level.

American voters: "I love Obama!" "Obama's unAmerican!"

Australian voters at our last election: "I reckon Howard's an alright bloke." "Kevin Rudd's got some new ideas."

Obviously I think the Australian system has more going for it. Don't get me started on the joys of proportional representation, the Hare-Clark system, independents, and minor parties. (Minor parties are fantastic! You don't know what you're missing out on!)

#129 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:38 AM:

#115 ::: Pendrift Yup, I'm aware of that, too, although I know far less about the Belgian system.

#116 ::: Soon Lee I'm aware of the Kiwi system, too, having learned quite a bit about it from a friend in Christchurch (although she's now in Moscow).

#118 ::: John Chu Good point.

#121 ::: Epacris Thanks for the links.

#130 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 12:51 PM:

#119 ::: Epacris GD (if I may be so informal ) @114: This is an annoyance to me, too.

I can understand not covering ALL of the candidates, but what I can't understand is why coverage isn't given to all of the candidates actually capable of winning the election. As I said, to me, when the major media outlets focus only on the Democrats and the Republicans, I think that smacks of manipulation of public opinion.

My opinion is the same when debates exclude all of those who are capable of winning the needed electoral votes, only in this instance the manipulation is more likely the part of the Democrats and the Republicans.

#131 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 01:22 PM:

GD Townsende: Is your argument the candidates have a real shot at winning? Or that, on paper, they are actually competing for the win?

Because there hasn't been a serious challenge to either party in ages (Perot, Nader, Anderson are the one's to get, and have some pretense of shot: Bobb Barr can't get play, and "Libertarianism" is a lot more mainstream than it was when Ron Paul popped up on my radar, almost 30 years ago). So I don't think it's fair to say they can win, just because they are qualified candidates in enough states to, in theory, get enough electoral votes to win the prize.

Should they get more play? Yes, I really think so. Do I think they have any real chance of winning? No.

Would them getting more coverage be a good thing? I don't know. Them getting more votes might be. If they get them by bringing more people to the polls, yes. If they just pull from the larger parties, maybe not.

I want the better candidate to win, if they pull from his pool and the lesser candidate wins, that's bad.

#132 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:14 PM:

We had a primary election on Saturday, and:

Only 35 percent of Hawai'i's registered voters participated in the primary, with nearly 46,000 fewer ballots cast on election day than in the 2006 primary. Absentee voting also dropped, by almost 20,000 ballots.

The elections were for mayors of the various counties, some state Senate and House seats and the Board of Ed. There wasn't a big reason to vote except on Oahu, where the Mayor's race was between the incumbent who's pushing steel-on-steel rail for mass transit, an opponent who wants rubber on concrete, and a third guy who said more HOV lanes on freeways. We're getting a runoff between the first two candidates in November.

Most experts think November turnout will be much higher; Barack is kinda-sorta a favorite son. But it's appalling that a $4B project like mass transit got so few people interested in voting for candidates with different views of it. It will appear on the ballot as a standalone charter amendment in November, though, so hopefully that will get people exercised.

#133 ::: Alex H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:16 PM:

One thing many people are forgetting is that John McCain is a famous Type A personality. His abrasive temper is all too well-known in Washington. These people are prone to heart attacks. All this country really needs is Sarah Palin as president. Think about this: If Palin becomes president and finds out she can't fulfill her duties and opts out (fat chance) the president of the Senate takes over. And who is that? Nancy Pelosi! We're in trouble.

#134 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Alex @ #133, you've got the person right but the office wrong. The Speaker of the House (Pelosi) takes over, not the President of the Senate. The Speaker was deemed closer to the will of the people when they changed the succession rules twenty or thirty years ago.

#135 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Alex H. @133: Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. Yes, she is next in the line of succesion after Cheney.

The current President Pro Tem of the Senate happens to be Senator Robert Byrd.

Pelosi, as a member of the House of Representatives has no authority or power over the Senate.

#136 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Oh, and Alex -- Pelosi is only Speaker for this session of Congress, if she loses her seat in the House (as she and every other Representative are up for re-election this year) then she won't be Speaker next January.

#137 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:13 PM:

"Pelosi is only Speaker for this session of Congress, if she loses her seat in the House..."

She's more likely to lose her reelection for the post as Speaker than she is to lose her seat in the Congress. Her district LOVES her.

#138 ::: steve buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:18 PM:

I won't question your dissection of Palin, as I agree with the majority of it (although sometimes what appears to be malicious intent is merely incompetence), and that she is a genuine, reconstituted, freeze-dried wack-a-loon. But I'm not seeing McCain's motivation here. He had the nomination wrapped up, so he'll be anointed no matter who he picks. But for such a deal with the devil (Council for National Policy) to really make sense, such a deal would have to have been struck sometime in May or June. At that point I would have expected to see some grooming of Palin to be ready to accept the nomination (behind the scenes and off everybody's radar to have it appear as last minute). Also, the social conservative whales would have started flowing money into the campaign and national party (as well as the interest groups). That doesn't appear to have happened.

And, again, what's McCain's motivation to accept the deal? If his game plan is, "grab the brass-ring, and screw the rest because I'll be dead," as a politico he had to know that he could have done better in the general election by selecting one of the other candidates. Lieberman would have peeled off some Democratic support for Obama and moved McCain back to the middle to gain the independent vote. Sure, firing up the socially conservative base has advantages, but none that he can really exploit at this late time (money, organization, etc). I have no doubt that the selection of Palin was done to energize the base and put the social conservatives back in play (as they were probably going to sit this one out). But then wouldn't Huckabee have been a better choice? Certainly wouldn't have been such a boat anchor to his campaign. And if he was in the "screw them when I'm dead" mind set, why not screw the very people who denied him the Presidency in 2000. Instead he embraces them, still. Why not with having the nomination in his pocket, knowing that he had a Senate seat for a few more years, use that to exact personal revenge by creating schism in his party (one of the possible early outcomes if he had been the republican nomination in 2000, and one he campaigned for).

It seems more probable that he was running out of options coming into the convention. That each of the front runners brought with them their own problems, and that without doing a full vetting, the campaign asked Palin if there was anything that could be a problem. With the narcissism she would have said "Nope." Down to the wire, with all the other options seemingly worse, Palin looked golden and got the nod without the McCain campaign having full knowledge of her. Occam's Razor.

#139 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:19 PM:

j h woodyatt @137: I've been hearing that Pelosi's constituents are not happy with her. Whether that will translate into a loss this November I don't know...

#140 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 03:23 PM:

When considering whether Palin was the best choice, remember that she may not have been the first choice, even among the Christian right.

One wonders who was asked before her, and said no.

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 04:58 PM:

I suspect that if voting becomes mandatory in this country, the model will have more in common with Zimbabwe than with Australia, and it will take place AFTER Palin establishes the Republic of Gilead and I flee for my life.

#142 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 05:04 PM:

#131 ::: Terry Karney Is your argument the candidates have a real shot at winning? Or that, on paper, they are actually competing for the win?

Something you said later in your comment comes close to what I mean: Should they get more play? Yes, I really think so. Do I think they have any real chance of winning? No.

Basically, my argument is that they've their names on enough State ballots so that on paper they could conceivably (have the capability to) win the necessary 270 electoral votes to take office. To me, that one qualification, that they could conceivably win 270 electoral votes, means they should be given more air-time. I'm not saying they'll give either McCain or Obama a run for their money, only that it's theoretically possible.

When networks like CNN tout themselves with slogans like "No Bias. No Bull." I can't help but think they're wrong on both counts. Their coverage is horribly biased towards the Reps and the Dems (I've not seen any coverage of any other candidates) and that alone makes the slogan chock full of bull.

I don't think that any of the other parties stand a chance of winning, but I'd certainly like to see more coverage given to them. At most, I'd expect that giving them more coverage might garner them a few more votes, but given that in most States electoral votes are awarded in "winner take all" fashion, I don't think it would do any real harm to the process. Rather, it would work to let the public know that there are other candidates out there before they go to the polls and at least give them a glimpse into where those candidates stand on the issues.

#143 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 05:29 PM:

The trouble, it seems to me, with all the revelations about the incompetence or venality of Sarah Pain - or, indeed, of John McCain - is that the Republican machine seems very competent at spinning round, or over, or through these stories, such that they will not influence a significant number of the foolsvoters who are going to vote for the McCain-Palin ticket. Somehow this is the wrong approach, but I don't know what the right one would be.

What does interest me about this race is, who is in charge on the Republican side? I don't see McCain as a leader - am I mistaken? I'm sure Palin isn't one. So who is running the show, and who is going to be the power behind the throne if McCain-Palin do get elected?

#144 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Brad Sherman's plan is here. At the end there's a link to Dodd's. Sherman's plan is sane.

#145 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 07:37 PM:

What I want to know is ...

Why did Joe Lieberman NOT get the VP ticket from McCain?

Are there some buried skeletons that we don't know about yet?

#146 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:35 PM:

#145 ::: Charlie Stross :::

Why are all you missing that the xtian radical rapturist right plus rush limbaugh plus the big bidness oil vetted ms palin and she passed with flying colors?

Lieberman, like mccain hisself own self was tainted with um, some reproductive rights for women.

And then mccain kneeled to big oil and finally got hisself some money. Rove hated Lieberman.

It is THE BASE of the reThugs -- sp is their great white goddess -- she hates contraception (look at her oldest daughter), she hates sex ed, she hates evolution, she loves drilling.

McCain got the money when he kneeled to Big Oil.

He got the money when he took palin and kneeled to the xtian crazy right end times rapturists.

Love, C

#147 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:37 PM:

Charlie: it's unclear Lieberman would have brought in enough new votes to matter; my guess (for what it's worth as a geek who doesn't guess people well) is that he couldn't move nearly the numbers a reactionary could, and he might have \lost/ some people. (There probably aren't as many conservatives not-already-sitting-out who wouldn't vote for a Jew as there are self-alleged moderates who won't vote for a Black, but I'd be surprised if there were none.)

Steve@122: Huckabee may have turned McCain down, or McCain may have thought that H (a) was a clown (playing a modern instrument in public is so Democratic?) and (b) might be too ambitious. (H is principled enough that he might not follow orders; Romney was talked of because he was pathetically eager to get closer to power.)

#148 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:40 PM:

G D Townsende: I don't know that being on 270 EVs worth of ballots counts as being in contention. I suspect that, for a couple of hundred thousand bucks, I could get myself on the ballot in that many states.

But the real chance of my getting the votes? Nil. I don't have the money to make physical apprearances, much less the ad buys (radio, newspaper, television) to get out in front of the voters.

Perot was in the debates. He got lots of press. He had the money. He didn't get the votes. Nader, well Nader had dedicated followers (esp. the first time around), he didn't get the mystical five percent he said was the point of his campaign.

Think about that. He was on the ballot in enough states to "win", and he couldn't get five percent.

I'd like to see "third" parties get more play, if for no other reason than to widen the debate/give people who aren't the Big Two a chance to talk about the issues facing the nation, and the policies being bandied.

But they aren't in any position to win.

#149 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:03 PM:

Lori Coulson: "I've been hearing that Pelosi's constituents are not happy with her. Whether that will translate into a loss this November I don't know..."

If my home were a few hundred meters east of where it is now, I'd be one of her constituents. I travel through the residential and commercial neighborhoods of her district all the time. If her reelection were in any kind of trouble, there would be campaign signs for both her and her opponent everywhere. There are effectively none.

Pelosi is not in trouble of losing her seat. Not at all.

#150 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:29 PM:

G D Townshende @114:

In the past, I've sometimes voted for candidates who were neither Republican nor Democrat, and some have derided me, saying that I "threw away" my vote. I hate that. I threw nothing away. I voted my conscience.
Yes; and if voting began and ended as a private transaction between you and your conscience, I'd think nothing of it.
I thought that that is what this is all about, and that it is not about "voting for the lesser of two evils."
Democracy isn't about perfect self-expression. It's about collectively finding ways for us all to live together. Voting for the lesser of two evils is as inevitable as compromise.

#151 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:29 PM:

Contance: We see you. Maybe they did. I don't know that Limbaugh's fondness is going to carry that much weight with McCain.

I think he was told der Leibermouse was a loser, and Obama would have a cakewalk. I think one of the selling points of Palin is the Dobson Vote.

I don't know that any of those are what made the decision for him. I suspect he made the choice himself (with probably some leading by those who think she's a good vote getter), to prove that he's in charge. Being told whom he can have isn't going to sit well with him.

He really want's to be the Deciderer.

#152 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:48 PM:

It probably didn't help that polls were showing that having Lieberman in the VP slot hurt the ticket in Florida. He even hurt the ticket in Connecticut (no surprise, I guess -- where are people more sick of Joe Lieberman than in Connecticut?)

#153 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:12 PM:

Teresa @ 150 On Nov 7th 2006 you put up a post called:

“Voting your conscience”

Which had this to say:

From Scraps DeSelby, in the “vote today” comment thread:

"If voting with your conscience means anything, it means voting with consideration toward other people, not just yourself. Your conscience isn’t the part of you that doesn’t compromise. That’s your pride. Your conscience is the part of you that wonders whether what you’re doing is making the world a better place.

If half the people who say they voted their conscience voted their decency and judgment first, their consciences wouldn’t have anything to worry about."

I thought it was apt then and I think its still apt today.

#154 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:56 PM:

Terry Karney # 148: Nader, well Nader had dedicated followers

I'm a little tired, and the first time through, I read that line as "Nader, well Nader had medicated followers" and was glad I wasn't drinking anything that could douse my keyboard. heh.

#155 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:25 PM:

Earl: Hee. That made me laugh too.

#156 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Chris @ 92 and others: I think you might be on to something. We have been wondering what went wrong with the vetting process that allowed the Republicans to pick Palin. But maybe it's deliberate. In a brilliantly cynical ploy, they nominate her in full knowledge of her tabloid-worthy scandals, hoping that it will distract us from substantive issues.

So it's not just the Cheney-Bush administration that I resent for making me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.

#157 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:42 PM:

G D Townshende @ 114 and others about voting your conscience:

I'm still of two minds about this. I'm determined to vote against McCain. The discussion here in the Fluorosphere is helping to bring me around to the idea that the best way to accomplish this is to vote for Obama.

(The Libertarian Party is also helping me to come to that conclusion, by their choice of nominee this year.)

#158 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:04 AM:

Charlie at 145, Lieberman didn't get the VP spot because McCain's campaign staff told him (and told him and told him) that if he chose Lieberman he would lose the right wing pro-life Christians. Lieberman is pro-choice; his NARAL score is 100%. They have been unhappy about McCain anyway. Palin is One of Them. It worked -- the religious right is supporting the Palin/McCain ticket.

#159 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:27 AM:

Teresa @ 150: I finally lost it today with some of the "Obama and McCain are both plutocrats so I'll vote for a third party candidate" types in another thread. I cannot think of a sillier thing to say if I tried for a month of Sundays. What part of "if McCain croaks we have President Sarah Palin" can't they understand? Do they understand the differences between the Obama and McCain health care plans? Or their tax plans? Do they care? Or is their pride more important than their judgment?

#160 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:53 AM:

Emma, #159: they are denying being marginalized. I am not sure I would exactly call that pride. It's basically what makes people form, join, and vote for third-party candidates in much of the USA--the people who do this are persuading themselves that they have some real power. Whereas, the US system is so heavily biased towards large majorities that many of us get shut out.

Sunday, I wrote both of my Senators and my Representative on the bailout. Today, one of my Senators replied with a form letter which said nothing about the bailout. This is a woman who, back in April, I sent a message saying, "Y'know, answers that show that you didn't read the message are a good way to make political enemies. Just sayin'" The truth of the matter, though, is, until she sees a realistic primary challenger, I might as well try to outshout the wind.

#161 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:28 AM:

#148 ::: Terry Karney I don't know that being on 270 EVs worth of ballots counts as being in contention. I suspect that, for a couple of hundred thousand bucks, I could get myself on the ballot in that many states.

That's not what I mean at all. Remember, I also said that I don't think anyone besides McCain or Obama can win, so I don't mean that I think the others are "in contention" because they're on "270 EVs worth of ballots." It's just my opinion that other candidates who have gained the potential (not that they necessarily have the ability) to win 270 electoral votes should be given air-time. I understand that anyone who can get enough people to sign a petition in a particular State can get their names on that State's ballot in a General Election, but I also think that those who have gained the aforementioned potential have the right to be heard when what's at stake is the office of President. They can certainly have an affect, perhaps even a profound affect, in shaping the discussion/debate being held in the public forum. That's why I see what's going on in the media as at least bordering on censorship, if I might be so bold. By focusing on only two of the candidates, the media has effectively eliminated the rest of the candidates from our field of view. To put it differently, all I'm saying is that I think those with the aforementioned potential ought to be included in the discussion/debate, and that that potential should be the qualifying factor. I think that's reasonable.

#150 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden True enough, Teresa. I'll admit that I don't like the idea of voting for the lesser of two evils, but I do understand that it does come down to that far more often than not. As you can readily see, though, I can sometimes demonstrate a(n) idealistic/perfectionist streak far too wide for my own good.

#153 ::: Kelly McCullough Thanks for sharing that quote, Kelly, and for the link to the post. When I speak about voting my conscience, I do mean that I'm voting for whom I believe will make the world a better place. That said, it certainly gives me reason to pause regarding what I said earlier about that co-worker.

#157 ::: Allan Beatty That's exactly where I'm coming from. I've lived in Georgia, so I've a damned good idea what Bob Barr is like, and I think his "libertarianism" is too superficial. He's still a Republican at heart, in my opinion. At the same time, I don't like McCain, for all sorts of reasons.

When it comes to third-party candidates, I've most often voted Libertarian. At the last election, I was firmly for Kerry. Now? I'm still trying to decide, but I'm definitely leaning towards Obama.

#162 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:59 AM:

G D Townshende, Terry Karney & others,

I'm following the US elections as an interested (and sometimes dismayed) outsider; what happens impacts the rest of the world. The elections at home have a more direct impact on my life. New Zealand went from a first-past-the-post to a proportional system (MMP) some years ago (in 1993). It's also a system where a small number of seats are reserved for indigenous Maori & voted for by those who identify themselves as Maori.

While MMP has resulted in a fairer & more 'democratic' system in that smaller parties (apart from the big two parties, Labour & National) get represented, it has not been without its problems. In general, governments have formed by coalition and while this has led to a more centrist, consensus governance, there have been instances of smaller parties finding themselves in the 'kingmaker' situation of holding the balance of power & thus having a disproportionately larger influence on matters.

I will vote in the upcoming election, but have not yet decided where that vote goes. Labour which has been in power for three terms look tired & lacking in ideas. Their main opposition, National, has the main selling point of being not-Labour & are similarly bereft of ideas: many of their policies are cut'n'paste of Labour's. The minor parties are in general, too radical for my tastes. Choosing the lesser of evils indeed.

#163 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:34 AM:

#162 ::: Soon Lee I'm following the US elections as an interested (and sometimes dismayed) outsider; what happens impacts the rest of the world.

I can certainly understand that. My girlfriend, who lives in Portugal, has said as much herself.

#164 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 04:27 AM:

#133 ::: Alex H.:

Afaik, they found that the part of Type A which correlates with heart attacks is the cynicism. I'm not sure whether explosive temper is quite the same thing.

Now that I'm thinking about it, there's also supposed to be a connection between depression and heart attacks, and I think that sort of "you can't trust anyone" cynicism might be a sort of depression.

In re the media and third parties: You'd think the third parties would be at least interesting, at worst as silly season and at best as novel and possibly useful angles on the issues. You'd also think that npr has proven that information junkies are a worthwhile niche market. You can pick your conspiracy theory at this point.

#165 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 07:38 AM:

G. D. Townsende @161: When I speak about voting my conscience, I do mean that I'm voting for whom I believe will make the world a better place.

Speaking as a foreigner with a similar dilemma, when the system is so FUBARed that you only have a choice between evils, it is necessary to hold one's nose and vote for the lesser evil lest the worse candidate get in. Trying to retain one's moral purity by not voting for evil is, alas, dangerous in the extreme.

Of course sooner or later you might get a situation where the candidates on offer are not merely evil but non-survivable, at which point it's time to take up arms and overthrow the system or die trying ... but the USA hasn't deteriorated to that point yet.

I fear that if Sarah Palin ends up in the White House, it will. Because from over here she makes George W. Bush look like a moderate ...

#166 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Another way of putting it: When you vote your conscience, the first thing your conscience needs to consider is the real-world consequence of your vote.

In the U.S. political system as it exists today, a third-party vote helps the major party whose platform bears the least resemblance to your own views. That's not how things should be, but improving the system is a long, hard, gradual job and we're going to have a lot more elections before it happens.

#167 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 165

I fear that if Sarah Palin ends up in the White House, it will. Because from over here she makes George W. Bush look like a moderate ...

An intelligent and engaged moderate at that. See, one of the main troubles we've had with Bush is that he's really not interested in doing the job, and he's very hard to motivate about any given issue to be dealt with. So, "terrorism isn't a high priority" only turned into "Terrorism is teh End of the World As We Know It\" because of 9/11 (Volume = 11), and "The Fundamentals of the Economy are Sound" only turned into "Oh SH*T!, the SKY IS FALLING! Give me the controls, quick!" when it became clear that OMG Capitalists were going to suffer (Volume - 15 or so, based on actual executive squealing).

Well, Palin is more consistent. She'll simply ignore anything she doesn't care about, which appears to be most things, occasionally making up some BS reason why she doesn't need to do anything. We've seen what Bush's approach can do to foreign policy, the economy, and the environment; I'm not interested in seeing what Palin's approach would do to Federal oversight of interstate commerce, military discipline, the maintenance of standards, and the parts of the Bill of Rights that Cheney hasn't yet shredded. Not mention what the Alars, Huns, and Goths will do to us while she's busy making the US a Xtian Republic.*

* History not only repeats, it burps up old situations just for fun.

#168 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Bruce @167:

Well, since Palin has already gone on record saying that she thinks the best way to improve the economy is to "get government out of the way and let the free market do what it does best", I'd say that every single regulatory agency employee would soon be either playing tic-tac-toe while at work or looking for another job.

Of course, that was before "the free market", in the guise of the financial industry, had a historic meltdown. No telling what she thinks of that; probably hasn't given it much thought at all.

#169 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:30 AM:

#152 Jen Roth:
It probably didn't help that polls were showing that having Lieberman in the VP slot hurt the ticket in Florida. He even hurt the ticket in Connecticut (no surprise, I guess -- where are people more sick of Joe Lieberman than in Connecticut?)

QFT. I was actually fervently hoping that McCain would pick the man of Lieber, because that would be the one thing that NO ONE in Connecticut would forgive.

Joe Lieberman cares about what's good for Joe Lieberman, full stop. If he'd been honest with us two years ago, we'd be talking about how Sen. Lamont has been fund-raising for Obama on the gold coast.

#170 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Wesley #166:

The universe doesn't end at the next election, so you need to consider the impact further ahead, too. It needs to be possible for the party that claims to represent my beliefs to lose my vote, so they have an incentive not to screw me over.

It may be that Mr X is even worse than Mr Y, and yet a vote for a third party instead of Mr Y has a beneficial effect, because it may serve to keep Mr Y's party honest in the future. Just to pick an example from thin air, if you claim to be the party of free markets, and then you propose to basically have the government take over a big chunk of the financial markets, it may be necessary for you to lose the pro-free-market vote.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Lizzy L @ 158
Joe Lieberman is pro-choice only when he can use it to get votes. (Google on Lieberman and 'short ride'.) We never have figured out what NARAL was seeing in him.

#172 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:58 AM:

Just as an aside, has anyone considered how different the world looked at the start of Bush's term, compared to what it looks like today? I was thinking about this as I was driving this morning. Eight years. One massively incompetent presidency. And it could do all this.

Not all the disasters are Bush's fault, of course. He didn't create Al Qaida, or invent terrorism. There really was a mess in Iraq when he came in, even if we've made it worse. Katrina would likely have done horrible things to New Orleans under a Democratic president as well. We'd been keeping the housing bubble inflating as a matter of policy for a hell of a long time before Bush came into office, even if it seemed to accelerate on Bush's watch, and that was the gasoline that has fueled the current clstrfck. The demographics of Social Security and Medicare were built into the system.

But still, the whole point of having an executive is that someone has to react to crises in a fast and effective and decisive way. Bush's reactions were pretty decisive, but they seem to have mostly been bad ones. And the damage has been enormous. In the last eight years, I feel like I've had at least half a dozen moments where I felt like "this can't be really happening in my country.[1]" This is the consequence of putting an utterly unsuitable person into the office[2].

[1] 9/11, the crazy fear atmosphere that led the media into ignoring or shouting down of all non-flag-waving comment, our open abandonment of the Geneva convention and open decision to use torture, the transition to more and more of a security state (think DHS, TSA, "watch for terrorists" propoganda posters, Patriot act, etc.), Katrina and the third-world-quality response to it, and the current financial meltdown and crazy-sounding responses. I'm surely leaving some out.

[2] Sarah Palin, I'm looking at you.

#173 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:39 AM:

#172 ::: albatross Just as an aside, has anyone considered how different the world looked at the start of Bush's term, compared to what it looks like today?

I have. Many times. And I've had very similar reactions, too.

#174 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Albatross@172: Just as an aside, has anyone considered how different the world looked at the start of Bush's term, compared to what it looks like today? With shock and horror, yes. And it's driven me to a lot of reexamining the pop and high-brow cultural influences around me, seeing what helped weaken the body politic and provide openings for this crew of freaks to exploit. (Also poking at ways to make more moral approaches to life suitably dramatic and fun for entertainment purposes.)

#175 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Albatross (#172): Sure, Katrina would still have whacked NOLA hard, but the response could have been a whole lot better.

FEMA had something called "Project Impact", started in 1997 by then-Director James Lee Witt. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Witt in 1996: "How did Witt turn FEMA around so quickly? Well, he is the first director of the agency to have emergency-management experience. He stopped the staffing of the agency by political patronage.")

The goal of Project Impact? To coordinate with local and state officials on disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts, on the grounds that doing work before something happens will lessen its effect more than trying to clean up afterwards. IndyWeek (2004):

In February 2001, for example, the Bush administration proposed eliminating Project Impact, a move approved by Congress later in the year. (On the very day the White House proposal was submitted, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake rocked Washington state, which was home to several communities where Project Impact had sponsored quake mitigation efforts.) Ending the project and trimming other FEMA programs, the White House argued, would save roughly $200 million. In its place, FEMA instituted a new program of mitigation grants that are awarded on a competitive basis.
Of course, Project Impact had a major effect on the results of the 2001 Nisqually quake.
Project Impact decommissioned very heavy and hazardous water tanks located in the attics of seven Seattle schools, and one of these schools was damaged significantly by the quake. Had the water tank been in use, the building would have suffered even more damage, and the ceilings above several classrooms most likely would have failed. The school program also included extensive nonstructural retrofitting. No losses were reported in participating schools, and, more importantly, evacuation was not impeded. Other schools were not so fortunate. [...] The Project Impact coordinator for the Seattle school district received the following comment by a school principal:
Just wanted to let you know the good news on how well the building did during the earthquake--and a big thanks for the retrofitting. We did not even have a single light cover come down, a computer fall over, a book come off a shelf. Now, ... how do we get more straps to do the new things we have installed since retrofitting was done here? Thank you. You made believers out of us!
Could New Orleans have had any mitigation measures ready before a hurricane hit, given four and a half years of Project Impact? I suspect so....

#176 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 01:25 PM:

albatross #172 : add Guantánamo, the whole point of which was that "this wasn't really happening in your country" because Bush's people thought that what they did there was outside US courts' jurisdiction.

#177 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:51 PM:

#151 ::: Terry Karney :::

The point is not seeing me but seeing that The Mav'rik had no money until he bent knee to Big Oil and to the xtian right.

Doing both he started to roll in contributions.

Love, C.

#178 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:59 PM:

By all accounts from people on the ground in Louisiana and Texas, fema is operating as feebly and pathetically as it ever did in response to the Katrina and Rita catastrophes.

So are all the institutional relief groups operating badly- with the exception of the Americorps and a couple of other orgs of their sort, so say friends who are there, and working relief in their own private capacities. They feel they must since fema and that other Great Big One are doing so poorly.

Love, C.

#179 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:04 PM:

albatross @ 172, oh, yes.

I still remember watching the Katrina news on TV, coming into the other room and saying to my boyfriend, in much the same shaking voice I remember coming out of my mouth on the morning of 9/11/01, "What is going on down there?"

So many moments of "What the hell is going on? Am I crazy? Everyone else acts like this is normal."

To merge with another current thread, it felt just like the crazymaking in an abusive relationship.

See also this thread.

#180 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:32 PM:

As far as Limbaugh goes? His influence?

Every day, he tells his audience stuff like this:


These polls on how one-third of blue-collar white Democrats won't vote for Obama because he's black, and -- but he's not black. Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He doesn't have any African -- that's why when they
asked whether he was authentic, whether he's down for the struggle. He's Arab. You know, he's from Africa. He's from Arab parts of Africa. He's not -- his father was -- he's not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American.
I guess that's splitting hairs, I don't -- it's just all these little things, everything seems upside-down today in this country.

You really believe this fellow who has the bully pulpit to broadcast this sort of guff every day, day-after-day, has no influence with the rnc's base? Or over the rnc's base?

Love, C.

#181 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:37 PM:

albatross @ #172 (& Bruce, Caroline, and others):

Not September 2001, but October-November 2001, was when I sunk into a deep depression that proved very hard to shake. I don't think it was the attack itself, it was seeing all the craziness happening to our country in the aftermath. I eventually got myself pulled part of the way out, but I'm still not fully out. And yeah, the feelings of learned helplessness are a big part of it.

#182 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:59 PM:

I propose a new measurement, similar to the Friedman Unit. Call it the Bush unit. It's a measure of how healthy your civilization is--how many terms of a Bush presidency it will take to lead your civilization to various kinds of disaster.

After the Clinton years, we were in decent shape, albeit with a fair number of issues that hadn't been dealt with, like our demographic Social Security/Medicare budgeting problems. Thus, we were about 1/2 Bush unit away from scary police state measures, a bit more than 1 Bush unit away from having third-world-quality disaster recovery services, and apparently just short of two Bush units away from a disastrous financial system meltdown.

So, how many Bush units were we, in 2000, from, say, a Zimbabwe style complete collapse of civil order and minimally functioning economy? Maybe four?

#183 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 04:07 PM:

Rush Limbaugh. A man with no shame who caters to listeners with no . . . brains? Judgement? Memory?

#184 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 06:10 PM:

Limbaugh and all his kind cater to the haters, who consciously choose to deny rationality, facts and reality, in favor of gut and god.

Of which this nation appears to have a surfeit.

Love, C.

#185 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 06:25 PM:


I wouldn't see the end result of four Bush terms (or even more) as Zimbabwe. More like Putin's Russia, except with the oligarchs retaining a lot of independent power instead of being just cogs in a political machine (and with a more diversified economy).

And I'd suspect that right now we're about one Bush unit away from Putinizing the country.

#186 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 07:40 PM:

albatross, #170:

The universe doesn't end at the next election, so you need to consider the impact further ahead, too. It needs to be possible for the party that claims to represent my beliefs to lose my vote, so they have an incentive not to screw me over.

IANA Political Scientist, but I believe this is the role of the primary.

Joe Lieberman believes it's the role of the primary, too.

The role of the general election is to determine which of the candidates on that ballot shall take office. Some ballots contain candidates that will not win even with your* support, making it necessary to apply a form of triage.

Assuming, of course, that you want to try to influence the outcome of the election. I believe that as a citizen of a democracy you have a responsibility to do so if you have reason to believe that one possible outcome would be significantly better than another, just as much as you have a responsibility to pay your taxes or not throw your garbage in the street. It's a responsibility that the subject of a monarch doesn't have, and one that takes some time and effort to meet; but if enough people hold their end up, the results are well worth it, IMO.

[*] This is the impersonal you, referring to a reader in general and not to any particular person. Each particular person will have to judge for himself or herself whether or not the sentiments expressed apply to him or her. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.** Your mileage may vary.

[**] I started to add this, realized that in this case it was not just a figure of speech, and decided to add it anyway. This sort of government-directing is indeed prohibited in some places. If you're* lucky enough not to live in one, you might want to try to keep it that way.

#187 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:34 PM:

Palin is a white Christian (or claimed to be.... as regards practicing the values promoted by John, Mark, Luke, Paul, etc., that's a quite different issue....)woman. The voters I expect she got picked for appeal to, are #1 white Christian women, who are a plurality of the voters if not a majority of them, and #2 to appeal to white Christian men.

Lieberman's not Christian, and not female....

#188 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:03 PM:

albatross@170: as a communication channel, votes run at <1e-8 baud; there's not much room there to express motives.

Nobody knows why votes shift; polls are weak enough at guessing the outcome and are much worse at collecting and quantifying motives. Plenty of people \claim/ to know, but why believe them? Have they suddenly turned into large-scale receptive telepaths?

The Democrats show little sign of having taken a lesson from Nader; why would the Republicans blame anything but marketing and bad luck if they lose this time?

#189 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 03:05 AM:

In reply to albatross at 108:

I don't know whether the Australian version of legally required turnout would work in a US context. Australia has a completely different electoral setup to the US, firstly because it's much more mediated by a public service which is explicitly apolitical (and is required to remain so)[1]. We have a central government agency which is responsible for the "meat and potatoes" aspect of all federal elections in this country: the Australian Electoral Commission. They're responsible for maintaining the electoral rolls, determining federal electorate boundaries[2], registering the candidates and parties, preparing the ballot papers, setting up the ballot boxes and polling stations, manning the polling stations, collecting the ballot boxes, and finally for counting the vote and determining which candidates were elected. We also have a pre-determined maximum length for an election campaign: six weeks[3].

The maximum campaign time helps, in that everyone knows for the six weeks after polling day is announced whatever a politician says is probably to get themselves re-elected. My theory is the legally required turnout means during those six weeks leading up to the election, more Australians are paying attention to politics than usual - if only because we're going to have to make a decision about things soon. However, the aim of the original legislation was to get all Australians participating in their democracy, rather than leaving things to someone else. It appears to have worked for that purpose.

(It's worth noting even uneducated voters in the US are going to be ruled by the government elected via the US system. Surely they should be able to have their say too?)

If I had to choose one alteration I'd make to the US political system as it stands, it would be the introduction of preferential voting, rather than legally required voter turnout. If most of your voters don't want to vote because it's a case of choosing between two different evils, making them do so will just result in more spoiled ballots. Rating by "least worst" (which is the way I make my voting choices, anyway) via preferences would probably raise the voter interest level at least a little.

[1] One of my major grumps (and not just mine, but that of a lot of other people) against John Howard's Prime Ministership was the way his successive governments extensively politicised the Australian public service - instead of being present to design and implement the best ideas for all Australians, the departments were expected to promote and expand the policies of the Liberal Party.
[2] The house I grew up in was near the federal borderline between a safe Liberal electorate, and a marginal seat. We could tell when the redistribution happened, because the amount of information about the local federal MP altered. If we were in the marginal seat, we were inundated with all kinds of stuff about the MP. In the safe seat, we didn't hear a peep until the election campaign started.
[3] The US election campaign of the last two years or so therefore makes me just about scream with impatience. How the hells does anyone in the government get anything *done* in the duration?

#190 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:30 PM:

#189 ::: Meg Thornton If I had to choose one alteration I'd make to the US political system as it stands, it would be the introduction of preferential voting,...

Meg, despite my limited familiarity with the Australian system (thanks to friends and family who live there), "preferential voting" is a term with which I'm not familiar, and one that's been used in this thread a few times. Can you shed more light on its meaning?

#192 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 03:18 PM:


So McCain's suspending the debates this weekend to "focus on the economic crisis." One wonders what his ulterior motives are.

Couldn't possibly be that he doesn't want to debate on the economy with Obama, is it?

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 03:43 PM:


@$^#$^%$ coward.

He'd get his, ah, fundament handed to him. Fried and stuffed with Keating.

#194 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:07 PM:

Stefan #193:

McCain is suspending the debate, and has also stopped taking questions from the press. There has to be a reason, because this makes him look bad. The obvious guess (but maybe I'm in love with my own hypothesis) is that he's having a hard time with quick verbal responses, forgetting his talking points, getting details confused, and generally suffering from his age and the rigors of the campaign.

Is there evidence available that contradicts this idea? Or is there some point before the campaign ends that will demonstrate it's wrong? I was previously thinking that the debate would be such a point--if you can hold your own in a debate for an hour, you're probably mentally sharp enough.

#195 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:07 PM:

Stefan #193:

McCain is suspending the debate, and has also stopped taking questions from the press. There has to be a reason, because this makes him look bad. The obvious guess (but maybe I'm in love with my own hypothesis) is that he's having a hard time with quick verbal responses, forgetting his talking points, getting details confused, and generally suffering from his age and the rigors of the campaign.

Is there evidence available that contradicts this idea? Or is there some point before the campaign ends that will demonstrate it's wrong? I was previously thinking that the debate would be such a point--if you can hold your own in a debate for an hour, you're probably mentally sharp enough.

#196 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Of course, double posting also is an indication of a decline in mental sharpness....

#197 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:19 PM:

I thought it might also be that he just doesn't want to debate the economy with Obama, because Obama shines in debates and McCain doesn't, really. McCain has championed many of the policies that have gotten us in this mess, also, which gives Obama a ripe opening to really put McCain on the spot.

Plus, Obama's simply the better orator. There's no comparison in style between the two. Obama's funny, charming, charismatic, and brilliant with the quick, quippy comeback. McCain at his best couldn't match him, and he knows it.

In a direct comparison, in a debate, the differences between the two will be really obvious.

#198 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:19 PM:

I thought it might also be that he just doesn't want to debate the economy with Obama, because Obama shines in debates and McCain doesn't, really. McCain has championed many of the policies that have gotten us in this mess, also, which gives Obama a ripe opening to really put McCain on the spot.

Plus, Obama's simply the better orator. There's no comparison in style between the two. Obama's funny, charming, charismatic, and brilliant with the quick, quippy comeback. McCain at his best couldn't match him, and he knows it.

In a direct comparison, in a debate, the differences between the two will be really obvious.

#199 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:28 PM:

(Hoping I don't catch the double-posting syndrome...)

Obvious solution for the McCain campaign! McCain can go party in DC for a week, and Palin can do the campaigning and the debating and stuff!

Seriously, push this. "Why can't Palin debate Obama on Friday? If McCain isn't willing to show up."

#200 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:44 PM:

From what I have heard, McCain is pretty good at a debate format -- as opposed to a speech -- and Obama, while a superb orator, is not particularly comfortable with a debate format. However, I have no doubt that in a debate about the economy, Obama will have the advantage of knowledge, intelligence, preparation, energy, grace, steadfastness, cool...

I'll stop now.

#201 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Suspend the debates, refuse press questions.

Next step - suspend elections.

Giuliani was very quick to suggest that as we were having an election for mayor then. In fact, the primary was happening during 9/11. But somehow, we managed to have a campaign and an election.

POTUSes need to be able to do more than one thing at a time. Crises don't happen alone. They happen all over the place, all the time.

We had campaigns and elections through every war, including the Civil War.

But in a lot of ways already, this has become a police state. The war on terror has been waged almost all at home upon us, it feels like.[

Tuesday, Naomi Wolf wrote an article titled "The Battle Plan II: Sarah "Evita" Palin, the Muse of the Coming Police State." She also brought up what has been mentioned here, the actuary probabilities of da mav'rik's cancer, and how this plays into the rovian plan.

Love, C.

#202 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 06:38 PM:

da mav'rick insists he's quit campaigning now. Pulled scheduled television ad and everything.

But Obama is still campaigning and practicing for the debate.

So now what? Is this a deadlock?

Love, C.

#203 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 06:51 PM:


It's basically another "Hail Mary" pass. He's convinced he's losing and needs to shake things up again.

Presumably he hopes the voters see it as being "Presidential" and "patriotic".

Plus if Obama went along with the ploy (he's already announced that he's not going to) it'd make McCain look tough and Obama look weak.

Leva Cygnet@198

Friday's debate is supposed to focus on foreign policy issues. Which means that McCain not wanting to debate about the economy probably isn't a factor in wanting to cancel Friday's debate. Not wanting the debate to be overshadowed by the current crisis could be a factor, although probably not the main one.

#204 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 06:54 PM:

According to the CBC radio news from 6 to 6:30 this evening, the debate's organizers say that it's going ahead.

Perhaps I'm missing something: why would McCain need to be so involved in dealing with the financial crisis that he wouldn't be able to prepare for and participate in the debate?

#205 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Joel Polowin@204; Nope, you're not missing a thing. It's a 'retreat under smoke' naval tactic.

#206 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Holy Crap . . .

Obama: "Presidents are going to have to do more than one thing at a time".


#207 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Sweet. Zombie. Jesus.


Wed Sep 24 2008 17:41:58 ET

David Letterman tells audience that McCain called him today to tell him he had to rush back to DC to deal with the economy.

Then in the middle of the taping Dave got word that McCain was, in fact just down the street being interviewed by Katie Couric. Dave even cut over to the live video of the interview, and said, "Hey Senator, can I give you a ride home?"

Earlier in the show, Dave kept saying, "You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."

"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she?"

"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"


What was the line? Something like: "This is like watching a piano fall out of an airplane, catch fire, and fall onto a puppy farm."

#208 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:10 PM:

So let me get this straight:

McCain stood up David Letterman.

He LIED about it, saying he had to go back to DC to work on the economy.

Then he gives a live interview to Couric at the time he was supposed to be on the show with Letterman, with Couric located just three blocks up the street.

And Letterman catches him in the lie, with a live feed from Couric's show.


Is it okay to be appalled and terrified this man might win, and amused and entertained watching the whole mess, at the same time?

(And in a choice between standing up Couric and standing up Letterman, I'd pick Letterman. Letterman snarks better, and if you're trying to win an election, you don't want to have Letterman snarking about you.)

#209 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:14 PM:

I'd like to ask Jim, and other medically-savvy members of the Making Light audience, to take a close look at the video -- released only in pre-recorded form -- of McCain's statement on the economy and the debates.

Watch the left side of his face, especially his left eyelid.

Should we be worried?

#210 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:21 PM:

Okay, none of you know me from Adam's housecat, but in following the link Constance included at 201, I realized something.

We've been living through real-life TACTICS OF MISTAKE.

Naomi Wolf describes the citizenry (and previous Democratic campaigns - hell, this one, too) under assault by determined pre-emptive opposing action. This is a fine journalistic description of what's known in the Marine Corps as 'The OODA Loop.'

Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action: an approach to battle management created by a USAF fighter pilot, the late Col. John Boyd, to control the available opportunities of the opposing force. With better observation and intelligence skills, and more rapid orientation, a combatant is able to decide more quickly and act more effectively than the opponent.

The Air Force didn't understand what he was teaching, but the USMC surely did. I would swear one of Boyd's Gyrene students has had a hand in managing the last eight years of battles.

#211 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:25 PM:

#209 George Smiley: I'd like to ask Jim, and other medically-savvy members of the Making Light audience

Alas, I can neither diagnose nor prescribe, and even if I could, I would not like to speculate about a patient I'd not seen in person.

#212 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Jim @ 211: That puts you way ahead of Bil Frist. But if you were watching this guy on surveillance video, would you call 911?

#213 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:31 PM:

#174 ::: Bruce Baugh:

I'm definitely interested in what you've got to say about pop culture influences which have contributed to the current mess. I've noticed the extent of torture by good guys--it goes back way before 9/11, but it wouldn't surprise me if there's plenty I've missed.

#214 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 08:52 PM:

George Smiley @212: No, I don't see anything that would make me call 911. In person, after an exam, there might be something else -- but he's the wrong species for me to examine.

#215 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Ginger, #214: I know what you meant -- but DAMN if that didn't give me a moment's doubletake, followed by some serious giggles!

#216 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 09:15 PM:

Lee @ 215: Ah, my work here is done.

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 10:02 PM:

What, Ginger, your vet training didn't include extraterrestrial lizards?

#218 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:16 PM:

this no debate thing is, I hope, going to get gloriously ugly. McCain seems to be eithe unable to address issues, or is cracking under the strain; and happily he set himself up for failure with the press.

Yes, they were giving him a huge pass, while he was giving them BBQ and pretending to be a straight shooter. But the, "You cant't follow us around," gores their ox.

I think, honestly McCain (and/or his team), think the Press really is in the tank for Obama, and they aren't going to be hurt by closing them out.

But the myth of the press is strong, and being closed out pushes buttons. They might have just rolled over and let him get away with a lot... if he let them play the game.

When he snubbed them... well the cool kids don't like being told they don't matter. That financial chickens are coming home to roost, he has a nut-job for a running mate (and when is someone other than Max Blumenthal going to get onto the nature of Palin's pastors?, the same way that Obama's pastor was held up to scrutiny? They way the religious figures supporting McCain were, briefly, held to scrutiny?), and no good way to divorce himself from Bush; who's not getting the high-speed happy-ending he asked for with the Bail out (and is anyone other than bloggers like me going to get serious about that, instead of vague euphimisms about "broad powers to the SecTreas?).

So he's got some serious problems, and nothing is going to help at debate; save that skipping it looks worse.

More popcorn please.

#219 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 04:41 AM:

Chris @ 186: Ooh, interreferential footnotes! Shiny.

CHip @ 188: "The Democrats show little sign of having taken a lesson from Nader; why would the Republicans blame anything but marketing and bad luck if they lose this time?"

Democrats learned from Dean; the centrality of healthcare in the current presidential race is largely a result of Edwards' influence. Would Obama be offering the plan he is if those few hadn't voted for Edwards in the early primaries?

You're right that voting is a low-information channel. (All too often, the lesson learned is "if we offer two really terrible candidates they'll all stay home!") But it isn't useless, and what information is communicated is communicated forcefully.

#220 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:47 AM:

Xopher @ 217: Extraterrestrial = nope; lizards = yes. I could make a stab at an ET-lizard, but I'd prefer to try the diplomatic route first.

#221 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 08:59 AM:

Ginger @ 220... I could make a stab at an ET-lizard

John Tesch?

#222 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:07 AM:

Serge @ 221: "John Tesch?"

I have volume control, so do your worst! Besides, I sing worse than he does.

Oh, you think he is an ET-lizard? I'm afraid he's just a terrestrial lounge lizard, a very common pest in the Western states. They like the desert territories.

#223 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:12 AM:

Ginger @ 222... I'm afraid he's just a terrestrial lounge lizard

On the other hand, he played a Klingon in ST-TNG.

#224 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:23 AM:

Serge, Ginger: what about Robert Englund? Of course you'd have to be sure you got the version of him that was an ET-lizard, and not the one that was Freddy Krueger.

#225 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:31 AM:

Rikibeth @ 224... Of course, Englund. And Andrew Prine. And Jane Badler.

And let's not forget Dan O'Herlihy. What? You never saw 1984's The Last Starfighter?

"Terrific. I'm about to get killed a million miles from nowhere with a gung-ho iguana who tells me to relax."
#226 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Serge, of COURSE I saw "The Last Starfighter." My family spent summers in Ogunquit, Maine, and by 1984 I was 14 and considered responsible enough to be in charge of the younger children as we all walked to one of the town's then-two movie theaters for an evening's entertainment. I distinctly remember seeing that one that summer. As I remember it, we were even allowed in to the occasional R-rated movie with a simple Note From Mom, because they knew our families well enough to know that we weren't trying to pull a fast one, and that our parents would rather have a few hours to themselves than sit through a movie that held no interest for them but that they didn't really think would do us any harm. (I can't remember which R-rated movie now, but it could have been Purple Rain...)

#227 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Rikibeth @ 226... I do hope that the impressionable 14-year-old that you were was spared one of 1984's lesser work of Cinema, Ice Pirates.

#228 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:15 AM:

Serge, if Ice Pirates made it to the summer theaters, I am sure we skipped it in favor of going to Perkins Cove and spending ungodly amounts of money at the penny candy store. Where, in 1984, there were still a few one cent items -- single pieces of Dubble Bubble, and individual small Swedish Fish. Many five and ten cent goodies, too.

The candy store is still there, but the prices have almost certainly gone up. I didn't make it up this summer to see.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 11:55 AM:

Rikibeth @ 228... Going to the candy store definitely was a better use of your pecuniary resources.

#230 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:13 PM:

#207 Stefan
And the "news media" is notably ignoring the issue. It's ain't getting air time in Peoria, other than maybe on David Letterman's show....

This whole thing makes Love Canal soil and strychnine look like health food.

Meanwhile, there's the Minerva list serve about women in the military, which I'm on, and S. M. Stirling is on... and there are assorted characters ranging from university professors to retired military (female especially) to Palin promoters... I called bullshit on one of the latter last night, irked by the person attacking "the Left" and "Ivy League metrosexuals" and claiming the Palin being the mother of a son in the military getting sent to the Middle East gives her Moral Authority as a candidate for national office....

(the posts are openly accessible over the Internet, I may provide links before the end of the week....)

#231 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 12:44 PM:

Ice Pirates was one of those movies I saw on late-night cable and was left to wonder later if perhaps I'd hallucinated the whole thing. Wha'?

#232 ::: Tim Bartik ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 01:19 PM:

The blogger Orac, at Science blogs, makes very compelling arguments against Maggie Jochild's hypothesis that John McCain has terminal cancer. His points are essentially: she is wrong about the stage of melanoma that McCain was diagnosed with, and given the treatment he received, and the lack of a recurrence in 8 years, her hypothesis is not an additional reason to be concerned about a McCain/Palin victory. Orac is a physician, and his refutation is detailed and quite convincing.

Of course, none of this is an argument FOR a McCain/Palin ticket. Nor does this mean that he shouldn't turn over his medical records for public inspection.

#233 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:17 PM:

A friend sent me this:

From: "Hank Paulson"
Date: September 24, 2008 1:23:58 AM EDT
Subject: From Henry M. Paulson - Urgent
From: Henry Paulson
Date: 9/23/2008
Subject: Urgent transaction - need your help

Bright Greetings Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent and important business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for a large transfer of funds of 700 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with renowned Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive you're information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Wonderful salutations to you cherish friend from Republic of America.

Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Treasury Paulson

P.S. If you wish to verify these important particulars, you will find all details at .

#234 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 02:59 PM:

#230: It is on MSNBC's website. And there's an AP story.

The blood is in the water.

#235 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 03:38 PM:


"Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? Allow them to spend more, and put more money into the economy, instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?"


"That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in. Where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh, it's got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and getting it back on the right track. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade -- we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as, uh, competitive, um, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation."


#236 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Yay! She remembered all the buzzwords from the flash cards!

#237 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 05:22 PM:

Paula Lieberman@126 wrote, "The wipeout occurred with a slip of the thumb that threw the browser back twice... that is STRICTLY a WIMP-GUI behavior, that a single key or mouse action does that."

I've never had the problems you describe in 22 years as a Mac user or 14 years as a Windows user. Prior training sometimes makes it harder to use new or different user interface structures (I intend no snark with that suggestion). And I've had two- or three-button mice with my Macs for twenty years.

We're going through something like this at my day job. One change management tool has been dropped, replaced with something different. I've noticed it's MUCH less intuitive for users whose first language reads from right to left or is not Indo-European. Early training shapes our response to interfaces.

Meanwhile, no one on MSNBC has even *mentioned* Gingrich or his list of demands. And McCain just ducked the entire press corps by exiting the White House by a side door.

What heroic accountability.

And I thought 'Slider' flew F-14s.

#238 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 05:49 PM:

#237 Tom
I was using a touchpad.
And while YOU may have superior hand-eye coordination, I don't. I have hated computer mice since the first time my hand touched a Lisa mouse, and through years of use of Macintoshes, and wiping out things with a keystroke in Word, a swipe of the mouse in the wrong direction, etc.

#239 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 06:10 PM:

I've had comments disappear in Windows - I'll hit the wrong key, and it will do ... something ... and whatever I was typing gets eaten. Sometimes it flips pages in the process, but I don't know what key I mis-hit to do that, and Windows doesn't tell me anything useful.

#240 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:40 PM:

heresiarch@219: the problem with that observation is that part of the RNC strategy is to get a lot of people to stay home. How can they tell when people stay home because the Republican candidate disgusts them? I don't say voting is useless; I was specifically attacking albatross's theory that ]his[ message could be conveyed by staying home.

I didn't follow Edwards closely enough to argue whether the Democrats concluded from him that health is a live-wire issue; this could have come just as well from reading the returns of those half-pound mailings that keep showing up in my mail slot.

several, re debates: at a fannish mailing last night, somebody suggested that the real reason for the debate shuffle was that everything would get postponed so far that Palin would never have to face Biden. Don't know whether this would work or whether some network's sense of citizenship would get them to carry debates closer together. (My opinion? I'm still pissed that Bentsen didn't carry you're-not-JFK far enough to call Quayle a draft dodger; I have no idea whether making mincemeat out of Palin would energize the reactionary base or pound sense into a few PUMAs.)

Other note: preferential voting is also called instant runoff voting by some of the people pushing for it in the U.S. (ConJose co-chair Kevin Standlee is one of these, IIRC.)

#241 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 09:53 PM:

P.J. That is why I love Firefox. It retains (by and large) comment windows. So if I happen to click the wrong button things aren't lost.

#242 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:55 PM:

I'm in agreement with the notion this is the endgame of a Long Con operation. We'll see Paraguay become the next Switzerland, I'd guess. Perhaps the Blackwaters will become a traditional Paraguayan warrior class. Future generations of Bushs will speak Spanish as their first language, and maintain a stranglehold on the world's water supply (Shrub was seen reading a history of salt -- long a government-controlled monopoly -- several years ago).

They are out-imagining us. We are equipped to do better.

Paula, 238, Yes, trackpads are problematic. No, my eye-hand coordination is anything but superior; I type and shoot fairly well, but musical instrument skills elude me because of an obscure vision disorder on top of big-time myopia.

It's almost impossible for me to see and count lines or points in close proximity to each other. My brain doesn't interpret quickly what my eyes see as a row of identicals. I feel spastic with many fine circuit board assembly and wiring tasks.

I've described this at some length because I wonder if you're suffering a similar problem.

#244 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 04:31 PM:

Settle petals, the spam is gone.

#246 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2008, 07:24 PM:

Stefan, it is a measure of my existential despair that I found it merely depressing.

#247 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2008, 02:39 AM:

A much-belated note on this. Look at these three pictures from different times in Sarah Palin's life. I wonder if she went to Jackson's Whole for the work?

#248 ::: Chris W. sees chopped pork shoulder meat ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2008, 11:56 AM:

Lovely Spam, wonderful Spam!

#249 ::: [perky spam deleted] ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2008, 12:23 AM:

[posted from]

#250 ::: Stefan Jones sees suspicious ... something ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2008, 12:32 AM:

The link is to ""

#252 ::: tye sees nasty spam at 255 ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Spam a lot

#253 ::: Spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 06:18 AM:

Spam from

#254 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 06:26 AM:

More spam. Why this thread?

#255 ::: Earl sees spam that violates the terms of service ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 06:42 AM:

"TinyURL was created as a free service to make posting long URLs easier, and may only be used for actual URLs. Using it for spamming or illegal purposes is forbidden and any such use will result in the TinyURL being disabled and you may be reported to all ISPs involved and to the proper governmental agencies. This service is provided without warranty of any kind." The Tinyurl contact address is

#256 ::: Spam Deleted ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 07:16 AM:

Spam from

#257 ::: Mark sees, uh, what's Russian for spam? ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 07:22 AM:

Popular thread that's been here for a while, I guess.

#258 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2008, 07:59 AM:

Mark at #261:

Um, maybe "спам?"

#260 ::: Spam Deleted ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2008, 08:23 PM:

Spam from

#261 ::: joann sees cyrillic spam @264 ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2008, 08:32 PM:

Complete with links (of sausage?)

#262 ::: Rob Rusick spots spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2008, 08:33 PM:

More Russian spam @264.

#263 ::: [уничтоженное спам] ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2008, 08:49 AM:

[posted from]

(yes, I used Babelfish for the commenter id)

#264 ::: Caroline spots spam @ 267 ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2008, 08:55 AM:

Yet more Cyrillic spam at comment 267.

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