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September 22, 2012

Election 2012
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:26 AM * 275 comments

With just eight weeks or so until the election, things are heating up on the poll front. New Hampshire is a Swing State, they say, and in play for its four electoral votes. Why’s this important? Because neither candidate has a lock on the state. The swing states could go either way, and with them the election. Everyone expects Texas will go for Romney and New York will go for Obama. No surprises. But the swing states, now:

When asked about the investment of man-hours and advertising dollars in a state with only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, advisers to both campaigns here point to the 2000 election. George W. Bush won the presidency after weeks of uncertainty and a Supreme Court decision — and after winning New Hampshire by a narrow margin. Democrats point to the fact that third-party candidate Ralph Nader received more than 22,000 votes that year in New Hampshire, more than three times Mr. Bush’s margin of victory in the state.

“All of a sudden, people started to realize those four electoral votes, in a very close election, can be the deciding four electorals,” said Jim Demers, a member of Mr. Obama’s New Hampshire steering committee and co-chairman of his 2008 campaign in the state. “That was the beginning. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Gore campaign had had an aggressive effort and targeted New Hampshire, most of those Ralph Nader votes would have gone to Al Gore, and it would have made the difference. He would have been the president.”

The tipping point states this time around, drawing from Nate Silver’s 538 blog, are:

  1. Ohio
  2. Va.
  3. Fla.
  4. Wis.
  5. Nev.
  6. Colo.
  7. Iowa
  8. N.H.
  9. Pa.
  10. Minn.
  11. N.C.
  12. Mich.
  13. N.M.
  14. Ore.
  15. N.J.

New Hampshire is half-way down the list of (swing/tipping point/battleground) states. We’re at #4 on the list for states where a single voter could make the biggest difference in the outcome of the election.

But this also means that we’re getting sometimes three or four telephone poll calls per day. “As you are aware, a presidential election will be held this November. How likely are you to vote in this election? Certainly won’t vote, probably won’t vote, may not vote, may vote, probably will vote, certainly will vote. If the election were held tomorrow, who would you vote for? The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, some other candidate? Did you vote in the 2008 Presidential Election?….”

Something else Silver notes: At about 1:30 on Wednesday afternoon, I tweeted in exasperation: “The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense.” I could have told him that: I’m the guy answering them.

Today’s mail brought two flyers from the Romney campaign. One shows a bunch of worried-looking white women, and a black-and-white photo of Mr. Obama (so you’ll know who they’re worried about). In large sans-serif type they say, “Some of what he said is what we wanted, but it’s not what we got.”

No mention of Republican obstructionism.

The other flyer shows Romney and Ryan in a side-by-side Tweedledum-and-Tweedledee pose (in full color), while on the other side, ripped from yesterday’s headlines, various sentence fragments about jobs (e.g. “Job Losses Persist For The Less Educated”). Romney and Ryan are identified as “America’s Comeback Team.”

But this is not the most bizarre thing to come in the mail lately. The bizarre thing is an actual paper-and- pencil poll from the Institute on Voter Attitude & Public Policy. The National Critical Issues Poll. This, they say, is “A Project of the Free Enterprise Institute.”

So, who are these clowns?

First, there’s darned little about the Free Enterprise Institute of Fairfax, Virginia, on the Web. They’ve been apparently mailing out these surveys since at least 2007. From the name you’d think they were some kind of right- wing/libertarian group but even the Ron Paul people don’t know who they are. They’ve allegedly been involved in telephone push-polling. Beyond that? They have assets of zero. Income of zero. Where their poll results are published is unknown. Who’s running the shop, who supports them, what they do when they aren’t sending polls around … all unknown.

Their poll isn’t very savvy. Take question 10: Compared to the services you receive, how is the level of taxes you pay to your state government in NEW HAMPSHIRE? Would you say they are:
Way too high?
Too high?
About right?
Too low?

Given that there’s no state income tax or sales tax in New Hampshire, I don’t know what they’re asking. (“New Hampshire” is in a different typeface from the rest of the document, BTW.)

They seem fascinated with gun control.

Even though they sent me a pre-paid return envelope and a sheet of peel-off return address stickers as a reward for taking their poll, I don’t think I’ll send it back.

Comments on Election 2012:
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 09:34 AM:

Just send them the reply-paid envelope, empty.

#2 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:05 AM:

The address, according to Google and Zillow, is a private home, and the location of M&H Enterprises.

#3 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:10 AM:

Better even than an empty envelope, put in a sheet of paper with a portrait of Bob Dobbs:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a3/Bobdobbs.png

(Am I the only one who remembers the Church of the SubGenius?)

#4 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Have you gotten your free copy of Dreams from my Real Father in the mail yet?

http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/media-bypass-dreams-from-my-real-father-mailed-to-1-million/

#5 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:33 AM:

Today's mail brings a two-color glossy anti-Obama flyer from the Romney people. Mitt's really upset about anything that'll raise his taxes: "ATTACK ON JOB CREATORS Now, instead of changing course, President Obama is calling for higher taxes, an attack on our business owners, New Hampshire's job creators. President Obama's policies haven't fixed the economy."

Not that Republican obstructionism has helped.

(The flyer says that it's "Paid for by Americans for Tax Reform," but we know who it really is: The flyer is the exact same paper, format, style, typeface, size, and layout as the last two that were labeled "Paid for by Romney for President Inc.")

#6 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:51 AM:

No copy of Dreams From My Real Father here yet. I'll let you know when it shows up. I did get Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West last time around, though. (Eight copies!) So I'm sure DFMRF will be in my mailbox shortly. (I'm one of those Highly Sought Creatures, the New Hampshire Likely-Voter Registered Independent.)

(Dreams From My Real Father apparently proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Obama's father was Frank Marshall Davis. Everyone knows this is ridiculous. It's already been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Obama's real father was Malcolm X. Take that, birthers! He really is a US citizen!)


#8 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:58 AM:

Fragano #7: I don't see anything from you being held in the moderation queue.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister hath been Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:59 AM:

Jim Macdonald #6: The argument of Dreams From My Real Father is pure undiluted Lamarckism. I thought those people objected to Evilution. Do they really have to double down and invest in the wrong bloody theory? Or are they so invested in Obama being a Sekrit Marxist that they've been taken over by the spirit of Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko?

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:00 AM:

Oops, my error. Sorry about that Jim.

#11 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:03 AM:

I'm in a swing state (MN) but haven't been called by any pollsters.

However, I got some hilarious mail from the Romney campaign last week. It included the line, "You are one of our Party's most prominent members" before hitting me up for the maximum $2,500 contribution.

If I'm one of the Republican party's most prominent members, they're in worse trouble than I thought. (I'm actually a registered Democrat, since you have to register in a party here to participate in the Caucuses.)

#12 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 11:42 AM:

Naomi Kritzer @11: I think the Romney campaign is casting the net wide. The white male in this registered-Democrat household got a letter this week. I did not. I was struck by the suggested contribution: $250 to $2,500. Isn't a low of $250 higher than usual? Alas, it did not have a postage-paid envelope. I like to stuff those full of the literature from the mail and other assorted junk mail, getting it over 1 ounce, and then send them back.

#13 ::: Lawrence ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:05 PM:

I feel so neglected. Maryland is a safely Democratic state, so I haven't seen anything but TV ads aimed at Virginia (some of which are infuriatingly misleading or full of flat-out lies).

I did get a phone call from a pollster the other day, and I was kind of looking forward to answering it, but it turned out to be a bait-and-switch thing -- the first few questions were about the election, but then it switched over to local sports teams, and in the end appeared to be a local radio station's attempt to determine whether they're better off broadcasting baseball or football on Sundays, and whether they should bother with Baltimore teams or stick to Washington.

#14 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:06 PM:

Seen ElseWeb:

Romney-Ryan, the ENRON ticket, this isn't a political campaign it's a hostile takeover bid...

#15 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:18 PM:

I can't believe NJ is even on the swing list at all. Despite its governor, this is a deep blue state as far as POTUS races go.

#16 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:22 PM:

Living in Texas, I am distinctly unimportant to the presidential campaign; my vote is meaningless, though I'll go cast it on principle. (And I do feel that there's a slim chance of my vote being marginally useful in some of the other races, and there are always local ordinances and the like to vote on...) But if being in a swing state means that much spam, maybe I should be grateful.

I did have someone stop by the house a few days ago to ask nicely if we were registered voters, if we intended to vote in the upcoming election, and if so, what party we usually voted for. I'm not sure what it says about local acrimony--or my own paranoia--that I was hesitant to answer the last one, in case the Wrong Answer would set us up for some sort of retribution, subtle or otherwise.

#17 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:33 PM:

It's nice being in Massachusetts. As we know Mitt here, the only voters he's getting are the 20% who would vote for a dead cat over Obama.

#18 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:41 PM:

I think nearly everyone has stopped sending out postage-paid envelopes, alas.

The gimme that arrived here had suggested contributions starting with $20. I'm pretty sure groups use an algorithm that spits out the minimum ask; a $200 minimum is really high unless they have some significant history with you.

#19 ::: Pyre ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:54 PM:

Ha-a-a-ppy BIRTHDAY, dear Bilbo-and-Frodo, happy birthday to yo-o-o-u!

And many more!

Now to go back and finish SECOND breakfast!

#20 ::: Melissa G. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 12:56 PM:

I'm in Iowa, and I've more or less given up on watching any TV, let alone the networks. Disney Channel seems fairly safe, so far, but I won't bet on that holding out for much longer. And, oh my, the amount of polling calls we've had ::sigh::

We got a fun phone call on the answering machine this week that I laughed over before deleting. It was a fairly aggressive message from the RNC with all the usual BS I've come to expect, imploring us to VOTE! OK, I'll make sure to do that (as early as this coming Thursday, when early voting starts). I don't think they're going to get the vote they want, as we're a registered Democratic household with strong liberal leanings :)

#21 ::: Carrie V. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:05 PM:

I'm in Colorado, #6 on the list, and registered Independent. I'm getting slammed.

I'm also answering most of the robocall polls in a vain attempt to appear so in favor of Obama that the Republicans will decide to stop spending money on campaigning in CO. Not likely, but I feel like I'm doing my bit.

#22 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:29 PM:

Carrie V @ 21... I feel like I'm doing my bit.

Every little bit helps, and bits add to bytes.

New Mexico is only #13. Then again it's not a very populous state. We haven't been getting any robocalls or humanocalls, for some reason. Plenty of junk mail from my Party, but that's OK. Thankfully, I mostly watch TCM, which means I don't often feel the urge to throw a shoe at our HD-TV whenever an ad for GOP's Heather Wilson pops up on regular TV.

#23 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:33 PM:

Jim Macdonald @ 6... His real father is Jor-El. Look up "Obama Krypton" on YouTube if you don't believe me.

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Rikibeth @ 3... You're not the only one.

#25 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 01:34 PM:

If it's a pre-printed, metered, postage page envelope, cut your name and address off the form and outer envelope, and stuff everything back in the return envelope. The organization doesn't get charged for their pre-paid postage unless it's used.

I don't live in a swing state, but I do remember my one polling call last election. It was from the RNC asking me if I was going to vote and for whom. "Yes, and it will go to whomever ticks me off the least, which at this point means neither a republican nor a democrat because both parties suck."

I adored the splutter followed by a dial tone. I note I've not got another call since. Which is really too bad. I actually enjoy getting the polling calls.

#26 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 02:21 PM:

"Paid for by Americans for Tax Reform"

That appears to be Grover Norquist's group:
www.atr.org

#27 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 02:51 PM:

If Captain Ahab ran for election and if his opponent were Moby Dick, his slogan would be "It taxed me!"

#28 ::: Alison ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 03:36 PM:

I live in Fairfax County and know the stretch of Prosperity Avenue that address is near. There are a bunch of large houses back in among the trees. I might swing by on my way home from church tomorrow and check it out.

Do you think you need a home occupation permit to be running that kind of operation out of your house? Or, if it's a political consultant working out of his/her home, there should be a county business license on file at that address.

You've got me curious now. I'll do some digging.

#29 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 04:43 PM:

re 13: The Maryland metaissue is the increasingly preposterous gerrymandering, so that one district's borders cross the Balto. beltway eight times, and the same district interlocks with two other districts in the middle of the state. I'm guessing that this isn't going to help, and that they're never going to get the eastern shore or western Maryland seats out of the Republicans' hands, but it's annoying that my house has been in three different districts since we've lived here.

#30 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 04:58 PM:

Has anyone run the numbers on the effect of voter and absentee voting suppression by the GOP in 30+ states if they succeed?

#31 ::: KB ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 05:19 PM:

Also in NH -- it's only 5pm and we've had four polls already today. The best way I've found to get off their list is to register with one of the parties, then they mostly ignore you. They only ever want to talk to my spouse, who is registered as unaffiliated.

Interestingly, almost all the polls are presidential and not about the governor, which I think in the end will effect us much more and directly.

#32 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Two poll calls so far today, both for the younger kids (all of the off at college or otherwise unavailable).

Both were live-interviewer types rather than robo-polls.

#33 ::: Eric Walker ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 07:51 PM:

Though 538 seems to get all the attention, a much better meta-analysis site is Dr Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium, which is slowly but surely starting to get due attention nationally. PEC currently (9/22) has Obama with 329 EV, the Senate 52D/I to 48R (with a 95% confidence band of 49-54 D/I seats and a probability of retained Democratic control at 88%). The House is obviously harder to reckon, but a 16-seat Democratic majority seems the likeliest based on current data.

Two other sites well worth examining are the very blue-leaning Electoral Vote and the very red-leaning Election Projection, which have surprisingly close results (Obama arounf 330 EV). Though each site has a definite POV, their number-crunching seems honest.

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 08:25 PM:

"Keep Judge Loveless"

Sign sighted here in Albuquerque today.

#35 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Wisconsin here, and we stopped answering our phone several months ago with the Walker recall attempt. Anyone who knows us and really needs to get hold of us will call, or email, or tweet, or facebook, or anything but the landline. We'd ditch it completely, but as a local politician I need to have something to put in the official county government phone book.

#36 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 02:42 PM:

Oregon may be a swing state, but we've gotten little from either national campaign. I'm registered Democrat and Eva is registered Independent, so we expected more than we've gotten. The local races are fairly well represented in snailmail, and even doorbell-ringing by real, physical people.

Email is another thing entirely. I've signed some petitions and given some money to both in-state and out-of-state Democratic campaigns (Wisconsin, in particular), so I get about 15 or 20 emails a day.

#37 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 02:45 PM:

My sister-in-law in Colorado is getting slammed, too. She posted in exasperation to Facebook "Okay, who gave Mitt Romney my name?" Her dad pointed out that if she was registered unaffiliated, that was probably why she was getting so much stuff.

I am glad we no longer have a landline here in NC. The Obama campaign and other progressive political groups are calling and/or texting daily, since we donated to Obama's campaign online where they require a phone number, and they apparently passed our cell numbers along. (I no longer answer any calls where the caller ID says "Unknown," since it's always fundraising.) But at least we're avoiding the robocalls and push polls that my parents are getting. It means we don't get counted in legit polls either, but that's part of why I take all phone poll results with several grains of salt. (I need to look up what Nate Silver thinks about the effect of cell-only households on polling.)

#38 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 05:58 PM:

Xopher@15

I think NJ gets included because you simply run out of states that aren't solidly Romney or Obama by the time you get to #15 on the list.

#39 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 07:53 PM:

Six friggin' poll calls today! And the evening isn't over.

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2012, 08:18 PM:

39
Maybe some of them are hoping for different results the second or third time around?

#41 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 06:58 AM:

"Keep Judge Loveless"
Sign sighted here in Albuquerque today.

Surely Tex-Cit, not Albuquerque? (Judge Loveless sounds like their kind of lawman, admittedly.)

Or maybe it's an adjective, not a surname? Which seems unfair. Judges need love too.

#42 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:47 AM:

What Nate Silver says, FWIW: there has been speculation for years that excluding cell phones from polls might bias the results (because cell-phone-only households might differ from landline households in some systematic way), and in the past that speculation has always been false, but there are some weak indications that it might finally be true this time. And perhaps it'll be increasingly true in future.

See http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/obamas-lead-looks-stronger-in-polls-that-include-cellphones/ for example.

#43 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 11:58 AM:

One thing I hope some polling companies do is ask, after the election, if there were people who wanted to vote but were turned away, and how they intended to vote. There are a lot of new voter ID laws which may turn away some people from the polls. It would be nice to get a handle on how big that problem actually is (or is not).

#44 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 11:58 AM:

One thing I hope some polling companies do is ask, after the election, if there were people who wanted to vote but were turned away, and how they intended to vote. There are a lot of new voter ID laws which may turn away some people from the polls. It would be nice to get a handle on how big that problem actually is (or is not).

#45 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:16 PM:

FiveThirtyEight looks into the predictivity of September poll results.

First, the polling by this time in the cycle has been reasonably good, especially when it comes to calling the winners and losers in the race. Of the 19 candidates who led in the polls at this stage since 1936, 18 won the popular vote (Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 is the exception), and 17 won the Electoral College (Al Gore lost it in 2000, along with Mr. Dewey).

#46 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Should one cite the fable of the tortoise and the hare at this point? It would be a mistake to slack off efforts to turn out the vote, etc. in the face of convincing polls. There's only one poll that really counts, after all.

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 01:11 PM:

ajay @ 41... The judge's name really is Loveless. My first thought when I saw that was whether or not his first name is Miguelito and if he had criminal geniuses among his ancestors in the days of the Wild Wild West.

#48 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 03:47 PM:

New Hampshire has been generally leaning toward Obama, but there were a couple of recent polls there in which Romney genuinely seemed to be closing the gap. One was from Rasmussen, which usually has a significant Republican-leaning house effect; the other wasn't, though. Could be an outlier. There hasn't been enough polling there.

Driving around the corner of the state near Salem, Plaistow and Pelham, it seems to me that I see a lot more Republican activity in the form of yard signs, road signs, etc. than Democratic. But that doesn't necessarily indicate much, and Nashua may well be a different story.

(Contrariwise, on the Massachusetts side of the line, the Democrats with signs are out in force in Haverhill, which was definitely not the case two years ago.)

#49 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 03:57 PM:

Henry Troup@46: I've been hearing a lot of Democrats worrying about complacency in the face of good news, and I think some of this is superstition, a pure worry that stating good news will jinx it.

Obviously the election hasn't happened yet and nobody can win without actual votes. But voters like winners. If you ask people after an election who they voted for, the winner always gets a bigger margin than in reality. I think GOTV is actually easier if people think their guy is a little bit ahead rather than a little bit behind.

Look at 2008: Obama had a clearer lead by the end of October 2008 than he does now, and everybody knew it. Democratic pessimists and Republican optimists were left spinning stories about the Bradley Effect. Turnout was tremendous. Obviously 2008 was pretty special and there are various things that could take it down a notch this year, but I don't think complacency is one of them.

#50 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Fade, #16: I wouldn't have answered that last question either; how I vote is none of their damned business. Isn't that what "secret ballots" are all about in the first place?

We recently got a landline package which includes incoming-number display, the first time I've ever had it. I don't answer anything which indicates that the incoming number is blocked, because that is going to be spam of some type or other. I'm very hesitant about answering incoming numbers that we haven't already put into the directory, for much the same reason. Between that and the TeleZapper, we're not getting many political calls at all.

#51 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 09:34 PM:

Is Romney's airplane window remark going to be like George H.W. Bush's supermarket scanner moment?

That is, widely believed but not actually what happened?

#52 ::: Henry Troup got Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 09:35 PM:

Since I have a cold, about all I can offer is sugar-free cough drops. Or maybe some ginger tea?

#53 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:15 PM:

"widely believed but not actually what happened"? Every source I've seen, including the one you quote, says that Romney said it. Do you have any information that says it's not what happened?

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:44 PM:

53
It's hard to believe that Romney is that clueless about airplane windows, given the amount of flying he's done.

#55 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 10:50 PM:

I'm going to follow Snopes on "not verified", for now. I'd so like it to be true - I'd love to claim that Romney's never flown commercial and never heard the safety talk/video.

#56 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 11:00 PM:

P J, I agree. My theory is that he's going after Dubya's old voters.

#57 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 11:15 PM:

55
There's this. Talking about it, apparently, at a fundraising dinner.

#58 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 12:39 AM:

#57 ::: P J Evans ::: And beyond the plane window quote (really???), there's the closing "the lurkers celebrities oppressed by the liberals support me in email private!" moment.

#59 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 11:55 AM:

James Fallows suggests that Romney is slightly flight-phobic (obviously not enough so to prevent him from flying, but enough to make him nervous), and was speaking while rattled by the thought of his wife being in danger on an airplane:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/the-romney-in-flight-fire-scare-cut-mitt-some-slack/262808/

So I think I'm with Fallows in cutting Romney some slack over what sounds like it was some kind of nervous joke.

What disturbs me far more is that he's now parroting the "just go to the emergency room" line about health care. Like the "47%" remark, it's conservative-movement boilerplate that he doesn't seem to realize won't work with a general American audience.

#60 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 07:06 PM:

@53: Romney now claims to have been joking, despite his non-joke-like demeanor (well, I guess that's a matter of interpretation) and a context that renders joking inappropriate.

So if you believe him, the idea that Romney was being sincere is not what happened, but might become the conventional wisdom anyway.

Although I would have used inventing the Internet as the ur-example of the invented gaffe.

#61 ::: Runeghost ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:21 AM:

(Long time lurker, first time poster here, as far as I can recall.)

Regarding the question of Mitt Romney and airplane windows, I tracked down a video of him making the remarks. If it was supposed to be a joke (which it very well might have been - someone in the audience sounds like they thought it was funny) all I can say is that his delivery needs work.

#62 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:06 AM:

Runeghost: thanks for the link, and welcome to posting! That speech shows none of the marks appropriate for it being a joke -- and also no non-verbal cues that he was actually concerned about his wife on the plane. I think his presentation has been so carefully scrubbed of real non-verbal cues that he can't put them in at all, at this point.

#63 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:40 AM:

After hearing the pool reporter say that Romney was clearly joking about the airplane windows, I decided the trouble with Romney is that he's said so many foolish things that it was quite easy to believe he could have said that.

#64 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 08:40 AM:

Romney: My ads have been 'spot on'

Vandalia, Ohio (CNN) – Mitt Romney defended his campaign's television ads Tuesday, saying they've been "absolutely spot on," including ads deemed false by independent fact checkers.

"Anytime there's been anything that's amiss we correct it or remove it," Romney told CNN.

Ads from Romney's campaign have hammered President Barack Obama for supposedly "gutting welfare" by removing the work requirement from the federal assistance program.

An independent and non-partisan fact-checking organization, PolitiFact, rated the ad's claim as "Pants on Fire." CNN also rated the ad 'false." And the Obama campaign, the White House and former President Bill Clinton, who signed the original legislation into law, all attacked the Romney spot, saying the claims were false and misleading.

The Pants-on-Fire report.

#65 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 08:45 AM:

Connor Friedersdorf succinctly describes why he (and I) won't be voting for Obama.

I understand why people come to different conclusions, but I can no more vote for Obama than I could vote for W, and for the same basic reasons.

#66 ::: Fox ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 10:17 AM:

I live in Maryland, but my cell number (my only phone) still has a Virginia area code, and "Unknown" called me the other night with a survey. May I speak to Ms. Fox; speaking. This is [whoever] with [some organization] - are you a registered voter in Virginia; no. Oh - are you registered in another state; yes. Thanks and have a good evening.

Pretty quick and painless, but now I'm here to tell you that they are indeed calling cell phones, which is apparently okay as they're not using machines to do it.

#67 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:28 AM:

Today's mail: A four-color glossy Romney flyer aimed at scared seniors: "BARACK OBAMA Cut $716 Billion from Medicare to Pay for Obamacare."

Which is flat untrue, but why spoil a good story?

#68 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:08 PM:

albatross, #65: Do you think Romney would do any better on the issues you care about, no matter how much worse he would be on civil rights for women and gays? Or do you just plan not to cast a vote in the Presidential race?

#69 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:29 PM:

Scott Brown needs to be educated on what 'condone' means. He's "not condoning" the racist behavior of his staff, but he doesn't appear to be firing them either.

#70 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:33 PM:

As ever with the "pox on both their houses" non-voters, my response to Friedersdorf's article is that it's a two party system.

The time to fight for a Libertarian on the Republican ticket or a leftie on the Democratic ticket is during the primaries. Once the candidates are chosen, you just pick the least objectionable.

It doesn't mean you luuurve Obama or endorse all his policies, and you don't get drone strike cooties on yourself, either.

#71 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:36 PM:

The entire Republican primary season looked to me like "anybody but Romney," as the flavor-of-the-week candidates stepped up to run in one race or another.

#72 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Some interesting infighting at the Washington Post:

1. March Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter, claims that Obama has been "skipping" most of his daily intel briefings. His article is then used in attack ads citing him as a source.

2. Glenn Kessler, who writes the WaPo Fact Checker column, investigates the claim. It turns out that each president has his own way of dealing with these briefings; some have preferred hardcopy reports, while others have asked for oral briefings. Kessler says, "Clearly, different presidents have structured their daily briefing from the CIA to fit their unique personal styles. Many did not have an oral briefing, while three — two of whom are named Bush — preferred to deal directly with a CIA official. Obama appears to have opted for a melding of the two approaches, in which he receives oral briefings, but not as frequently as his predecessor.

Ultimately, what matters is what a president does with the information he receives from the CIA. Republican critics may find fault with Obama’s handling of foreign policy. But this attack ad turns a question of process — how does the president handle his intelligence brief? — into a misguided attack because Obama has chosen to receive his information in a different manner than his predecessor.

As it turns out, no president does it the exact same way. Under the standards of this ad, Republican icon Ronald Reagan skipped his intelligence briefings 99 percent of the time."

3. Thiessen writes another article that claims Kessler shouldn't evaluate previous presidents' behaviors regarding the intel briefing. Why? Because 9/11. See, if you disqualify all the presidents in office before that date, the only one left to use as a comparison is George W. Bush, who preferred oral briefings.

Hilariously, Thiessen then attempts to use Kessler's Pinocchio fact-checking scale against him and awards him four Pinocchios.

4. In his second article, Thiessen reveals that the original study was done by a business partner at Thiessen's request. He also changes his description of the organization doing the study from a “conservative investigative research organization” to “nonpartisan.”

#73 ::: Persephone, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:09 PM:

It was probably the number of URLs. Alas, I am sick and have nothing much to offer. A little cough syrup, perhaps?

#74 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 02:58 PM:

72
There's so much 'ow' in Thiessen's stuff, there, that it's making my head cold feel worse.

#75 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Lee:

I don't see an obvious reason to think Romney will be better or worse on those issues than Obama. On other issues, I expect Romney will probably be a little worse than Obama, though I don't imagine I have any idea what his beliefs or plans really are.

There are lines that, once you cross, people ought not to vote for you. To pick a few examples out of thin air, if you shelter war criminals from consequences out of political calculation and cowardice, if you claim the power and right to kill anyone in the world anywhere in the world on your say-so alone, if you fight in court for the continued authority to detain citizens and noncitizens alike indefinitely on your say-so alone, then you don't get my vote. If you run an unprecedented nasty campaign of intimidation against whistleblowers, including mistreating a US soldier accused of leaking documents that embarrassed officials (but probably did no more harm than that) and then refusing the UN torture investigator access to him, you don't get my vote. If you run a massive campaign of blowing people up with flying killer robots all over the world, have your people leak stories and grant interviews about it that make you look strong on national security, but then tell courts that you cannot answer any questions on the program in court for national security reasons, you don't get my vote. If you go to war over the objections of Congress in violation of the constitution, the war powers act, and your own prior statements about how that law constrains the president's power, you lose my vote. If you expand federal actions trying to intimidate medical marijuana operations legal in the states where they reside, after promising to do the opposite, you lose my vote.

You lose my vote in those cases, even if the other guy you're running against is unlikely to be much better. You lose my vote even if the other guy is an empty suit mouthing whatever slogans the craziest part of his base demands next. This election looks like Iran vs Iraq to me--my only regret is that it's probably not possible for both sides to lose, as they so richly deserve.

Niall:

Yeah, a few years back there was this guy running for the Democratic nomination who had very similar positions to mine on civil liberties and the war on terror and executive power. I was happy and proud to cast my vote for him, and to support him vocally. I wonder what happened to him. I sure wish that guy was running this year. Oh, wait....

#76 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 03:39 PM:

Niall:

Would you have made the same argument to, say, a Republican in 2004, who would never vote for Kerry but who was having a hard time voting for Bush given the unprovoked attack on Iraq and the torture of captives?

#77 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 03:46 PM:

I understand that Stephen Colbert made a reference to "Flowers for Algernon", regarding Romney.

#78 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 09:44 PM:

Ultimately, voting is about priorities, not about endorsement. As things are set up now, you can decide it's more important to tip the odds a bit towards one of the viable candidates; or you can decide it's more important to register a protest via one of the non-viable candidates and let the rest of the electorate decide which viable candidate gets the job.

The calculation may vary depending on where you are. If I were in a state where the outcome of the Presidential race is a foregone conclusion, I'd be tempted to vote for Stein or Johnson this year. But I'm in Pennsylvania, where Obama does have a lead in the polls, but given the vote suppression efforts of the GOP here, I can't assume the actual election result will mirror the polls. So I'm more inclined to vote to keep the worse viable candidate out, even when there's a lot I don't like about the better viable candidate. I might not be able to save civilians in Pakistan either way, but at least I can hope there might be more civilians left alive in Iran, and fewer Americans dying prematurely for want of health care.

Furthermore, while voting in the general Presidential election is important, it's not the only thing I can do to change the political landscape. Some folks say they vote so that they have the right to complain; likewise, we have more leeway to complain about the choices we're offered in an election when we've worked to influence what those choices will be.

#79 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:10 PM:

We got a call yesterday which was identified as, "Elect Romney". I picked it up, said, "I don't think so" and hung up.

#80 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:36 AM:

albatross @ #76: Of course I would make the same argument for Dubya.

There is an argument that sane republicans should vote Obama, if you think the republican party has been hijacked by its right wing, and that Obama is closer to a sane Republican than Romney's latest fake position.

From the left, however, this doesn't work: if you argue that the Democratic party has been hijacked by its right wing so that Obama is closer to a sane Republican than he is to your position, that doesn't make voting Romney sensible, since he is way out to the right of Obama and the sane republicans.

#81 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:46 AM:

From a distance, a lot of the disappointment I hear about Obama seems overdone. Right from the 2004 convention speech, I heard a lot of war talk from him, a lot of talk about compromise with the Red Staters, a lot of centrist stuff. He has been true to all of that.

I also heard a lot of things he'd like to do, but felt he couldn't get past Congress. Well, those are reasons to help elect a Democratic House, not to help elect a Republican president.

#82 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 12:42 PM:

Today's Romney flyer (four-color, glossy) is the Worried Workman edition: "Believe in the America You Built. Believe We Can Build It Again."

Desaturated picture of Obama, vibrant color picture of Romney (who's wearing red, white, and blue). The text is merely misleading rather than being palpable lies.

Paid for by the New Hampshire Republican State Committee.

#83 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 01:20 PM:

Yesterday the neighborhood right next to mine (which is still within my zip code) sprouted Obama for America yard signs. My neighborhood has no signs at all, except my Obama bumper sticker and the life-size Obama cut-out which the folks down the block have sported in their window since 2008. This doesn't mean a thing: it's largely a blue-collar ethnically diverse neighborhood, and I would guess that 75% of the folks here will vote for Obama. I suspect we have some Tea Party adherents, folks who think Obama raised their taxes, that he's a socialist, that he's really a Muslim, that he was born in Kenyan and he wants to take away your freedom, but I can't be sure.

I want a yard sign.

#84 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Niall:

So, which of the things I listed above were forced on him by the GOP in Congress? And which were implied or stated in his campaign speeches? I'll admit, I must have missed the campaign speech where he declared he was going to nail whistleblowers to the wall, and the one where he explained the president's executive authority to kill US citizens with no external review, on his say-so alone. Maybe you can suggest a link to one of those speeches? Or to the one where he explained that the president didn't really have to obey the war powers act? Is that speech on Youtube?

#85 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 01:39 PM:

Perspephone:

I'm always amazed that anyone will listen to someone like Theisen. If the Devil started signing that guy's checks, he'd write op-eds about how hell was a luxury resort ("It's a dry heat") and selling your soul was a legitimate and prudent investment for your retirement.

#86 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:01 PM:

Someone in my area has been setting fire to Obama yard signs. Presumably the message is "vote for the KKK!"

#87 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:06 PM:

albatross at 84: we all have our Do Not Cross lines. I do not support some of Obama's decisions and I hate some of his policies. Nevertheless, I'm voting for him because I think the country will be worse off if Romney becomes President. I think President Romney would not change any of the policies Obama has instituted that I dislike, and that with a cooperative Congress, he could do serious damage. (Watch Don't Ask, Don't Tell come roaring back. Watch 4 more years of legislative gridlock from the Democratic side. Watch the Justice Department cease its push back against restrictive voting in Republican-controlled states. Watch bank oversight, such as it is -- which ain't much -- vanish. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, woo-hoo! Austerity rules!) And then there's that whole issue of replacing Supreme Court justices...

#88 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:08 PM:

albatross @85:

A little less snark, please. I know it's a tough crowd, but you're better than this.

#89 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 02:17 PM:

Re: Voting/Not voting for Obama:

I think the best conversation I've seen of this dilemma is the one ongoing at Lawyers, Guns & Money. All of the front-pagers are pretty clearly on the "vote for the candidate who's better, no matter how bad he might be" side, but I think they've done the best job I've seen of taking the arguments on both side seriously.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to what a vote is. Is it a moral endorsement? Or is it an extremely imperfect tool to affect public policy? The answer is, of course, that it's both, but when those two ideas point in different directions, you have to choose one.

Re: Theissen v. Kessler.

Not sure whether I should be amused or just disgusted to see the supremely loathsome Theissen wrestling with the only somewhat loathsome Kessler. Obviously Kessler is right in this case, but, IMNSHO it's the stopped clock sort of rightness.

#90 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:00 PM:

abi:

Fair enough. Let me try with a minimum of snark.

It's legitimate to decide Obama is the lesser evil in this election and vote for him. I understand and respect that, and I've done it myself.

It's not legitimate to pretend he didn't really change his position on a bunch of issues, when it's perfectly clear he did. I can go dig up links to speeches and campaign documents if necessary, but I don't think it is. It's also not legitimate to pretend all his flips on civil liberties and executive power and whistleblowers were imposed on him by Republicans in congress. That's just not the way it happened, and most of the stuff I listed above were entirely executive decisions with no congressional input at all. (In the case of Libya, he ignored the congressional input.) If you want to vote for him as the lesser evil, you should be able to do that without fuzzing out the bits of reality that make him look evil, too.

Isn't that what you'd expect of a person of good will who was making the lesser-evil choice in Romney's favor, instead? Don't pretend he's not in bed with neocons and bigots--maybe he's still the best choice, but don't fuzz out the bad stuff.

#91 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Chris W:

There's one more consideration that's worth some time in that weighing, involving the future: If everyone engages in lesser-evil voting, then there is no cost to selling out your base when that's politically convenient.

By contrast, if selling out certain ideas and policies means a bunch of your voters stay home or vote third party next election, then it does have a cost, and it will happen less often. How much is that worth, relative to getting someone you like marginally better in office? I don't know, but it's not zero.

#92 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Lila, #86: No, the message is "it could be your house next". This is domestic terrorism, pure and simple, and I hope somebody sets up a spycam and catches the shitwad in the act.

albatross, #91: I have no reason to believe that Romney would change any of the things you're upset about, and I have his own words about other things he plans to do which will definitely be worse for America. The time to cast a third-party "pressure" vote is when the cost of having the other major party take power is tolerable. This isn't a choice between good and bad, or even bad and less bad -- it's between bad and unthinkable, and I refuse to cast a "principle" vote that's likely to cost me and people I love their civil rights and possibly their lives. I can't help feeling that you're perfectly willing to throw me under the bus for the sake of your ideology, and that makes me cranky.


#93 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:48 PM:

If everyone engages in lesser-evil voting, then there is no cost to selling out your base when that's politically convenient.

I'd say it's even more than that.

As long as one party opposes something, it is much harder to do. If the parties are mixed, coalitions becoem possible. So it may be worth voting a pro-torture Republican over a pro-torture Democrat, just to ensure that there is an anti-torture party to highlight and complain about torture.

It's similar to the Club for Growth-they'd rather a Democrat win a seat than a "RINO"--it ensures that the issue stays on the table. It's my and a lot of other pro-lifers' position; I'll vote for a pro-choice Democrat over a pro-choice Republican, because I want to be very sure that the Republican Party is reliably pro-life.

#94 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:55 PM:

@93: Huh? No comprende.

#95 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 03:58 PM:

Jacque: "If you're wrong on my important issue, I will vote for your equally wrong opponent so that your party gets the idea that my important issue is the only important one."

#96 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:00 PM:

"My parts are mixed, my lady... good and bad."
-Davos Seaworth

I'm tired of the phrase "the lesser of two evils", especially the way it's currently being used - as if everyone involved is more on the side of evil than good. I'm unwilling to make that claim, and I don't see why everyone else is so eager to do so.

Yes, there is a lot to be angry about. Yes, there is a lot of bad, mixed with the good. I'll leave it up to the individual to look at the acts and statements and goals of individuals and add them up... but this isn't Kang and Kodos here. And I don't agree with Melissandre. People are not onions, a few patches of bad don't mean you have to toss the whole thing out.

Right now, the way the political atmosphere is, a single election worth of "they're insufficiently pure for me, I'll make 'em lose, that'll show 'em!" has serious potential to result in a crushing darkness. It would likely directly result in thousands of deaths and huge amounts of pain and suffering, with absolutely no certainty of actually moving the party further left. It's a gamble that looks unwise and irresponsible from where I'm standing.

This is especially true when you realize that we have other ways to move the party left that are less likely to be disastrous. Doing so through a concerted effort to pull congress left, including potentially forming a group that provides further-left primary challengers, is much less risky, and seems more likely to actually work.

I'm not joking or being histrionic about the death thing, either. I know five or six people who are significantly more likely to remain alive and functional if the health care bill is not repealed. Thousands of people die every year from a lack of insurance, and there is no way that a republican presidency would not do everything in its power to stand in the way of current plans to remedy that situation.

Then there's the Supreme Court Justice issue: there are three justices who will potentially be replaced in the next term or two. Just... think about that.

I just can't understand how anyone can look at what is currently at stake and say "sending a message that demands a push further left is more important than preventing this potential disaster."

And I can't understand how anyone would look at Obama and say "that's an evil man," rather than seeing him as a man like Davos.

#97 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Jacque @ 94

For an example, think about the amount of scrutiny and public condemnation that Guantanamo got when Bush was president; compare it to the amount of attention it gets now.

The difference, as I see it, was that when it was a Republican President in charge, there was a reason for the Democrats to hammer the issue. Now that it's a Democrat in charge, the Democrats mostly aren't hammering on the issue, and the Republicans didn't care then and don't care now.

And a lot of issues are like that; if you want them to get regular coverage in the news media, one of the parties needs to be willing to hammer on them. It is thus better, as a partisan, to have your opponents doing stuff you oppose than your allies, even if your allies are doing less of it. If it's your allies doing it, it's much harder to keep it controversial.

#98 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:05 PM:

Carrie S @95:
Or, perhaps, "so that your party understands how important my issue really is."


generally:

We suddenly find ourselves in contentious territory. Please write carefully, read generously, and remember that everyone in the thread is trying to build a better, juster, kinder world. Also, remember how easy it is to take a comment from an opponent more sharply than it was intended, and see the comment of an ally as less pointed than it feels from the other side.

In other words, please don't let this become a flamewar. Or I shall be Most Vexed.

#99 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:07 PM:

It would likely directly result in thousands of deaths and huge amounts of pain and suffering, with absolutely no certainty of actually moving the party further left.

More: "The right-wing won. If we want to have a chance next time we'll have to move farther to the right ourselves."

#100 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:32 PM:

The real answer to the problem of presidential politics is local politics.

That's the battle the Libertarians don't seem willing to wage; they don't like parties, and it's why the parties don't like them.

It's the battle the Republicans started fighting 30 years ago. It's mayors and school boards, and dog-catchers. It's the Reps, and the college clubs and the people who pester their Reps and their senators.

It's spending money, down-ticket; in off-years, to get challenges to incumbents. It's moving the base away from center.

The "left" has been doing a piss-poor job of it, which has allowed the "right" to radically move the center. Richard Nixon was left of Obama, on the subject of the social safety net. Reagan was left of Obama, in parts, and the Republican Party; as a whole.

Ponder that. The guy at the top doesn't do that alone. It's the Tom DeLays, and the Dick Armeys. It's the Governor Wilsons, and Christie (both of whom were/are leading, "blue" states), and the Mayors Guliani and Riordan, who shape the way the larger picture looks.

Change has to come from dedicated people at the bottom; it has to be a crusade, and most of us aren't willing to do it. It's the work of a lifetime.

It's a dedication to a future not our own.

#101 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:47 PM:

SamChevre @97: If it's your allies doing it, it's much harder to keep it controversial.

Okay, this makes sense.

#102 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 04:58 PM:

abi @98: remember that everyone in the thread is trying to build a better, juster, kinder world.

This is a notion I'm trying to model for my hyper-local political scene. I've had a couple of satisfying successes. But it's a fragile concept, and I fear that I may gone too far; I allowed one of the Opposition to join the discussion on the grounds that he's as much one of Us as he is one of Them, and that if we welcome him, his allegiance may be to our benefit. This, after booting the Big Kahuna Opposer out of the discussion because of his (lack of) manners. (Troll Bingo in one message? I was actually quite impressed.)

One of my chiefest allies freaked out. I explained my reasoning, but the jury's out on how this will go. I hope I haven't overreached.

#103 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Sam:

I think in general, political issues that both parties agree on end up being outside the Overton window. They're fringe or extreme issues, they get little coverage in the MSM and what coverage they get tends to be very unsympathetic, etc. And these issues reflect a kind of consensus view of the people at the top of government. So there is definitely a benefit to having issues you care about be areas of contention between the parties.

Sometimes, an issue gets pushed up from outside that consensus--I think gay marriage is an example. That wasn't an issue that most of the folks at the top of the Democratic party wanted to have be in play, but lawsuits and local activists pushed it. That was an issue that Democrats would generally be *more* favorable to than Republicans, but plenty of Democrats wanted nothing to do with it, for fear of losing votes or because of their own religious or other objections to it. I think immigration opposition has some of the same characteristics--it's pushed more from the bottom up, from the states and lower-status people in the Republican/conservative coalition. (In case it's not obvious, I'm not remotely equating these two issues morally, just pointing out that both seem to have come from outside the elite consensus from activist groups.)

#104 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 05:15 PM:

Jacque @102:

The "it's not your views, it's how you express them" distinction is complicated, many times, by the personality of the kind of person who's willing to be the only little-endian in a big-endian gathering. It's sadly frequent (though, as we in this community know, not inevitable) that that sort of person is also prone to an...unrepresentative style of discourse. Not because they're little-endians—many little-endians are perfectly easy to get along with—but because they're alone in a crowd of people who disagree with them.

Sometimes this can be eased by finding grounds on which they aren't alone in the crowd of people, but are partial allies. Sometimes it's eased by standing with them where you can. Sometimes it's made easier if you have to have a word with one of the big-endians about the same kind of trolling behavior you pruned a little-endian for.

It is hard. Inevitably. 'Member what I said about worthwhile things that time?

#105 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 05:38 PM:

Melissa:

One difference between us is that I don't think this election is as important as you do. The campaigns will always tell you it is the most important election in your lifetime (I think I've heard some phrase like this every election since I've been old enough to vote). The developments I see as actually leading the US to some kind of event horizon of disaster seem to be about as much supported, in practice if not in rhetoric, by both parties. I think the predictions of disaster about a Romney presidency are overblown. (And Romney/Ryan seems a much less worrying ticket, to me, that McCain/Palin was.)

Obviously, if I believed that Romney winning the election would end democratic elections, or turn us into a Handmaid's Tale type theocratic dystopia, I'd be fighting for Obama. But I don't see that at all--the rhetoric justifying that worldview from the left seems to me to have a lot in common with the rhetoric on the right saying the same stuff from the other direction. My sense is that the last four years are some strong evidence for this.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 05:48 PM:

albatross @105:

I think the place that I'd most strongly differ from you there is in the area of Supreme Court appointments. Given some of the recent rulings, and some of the matters that are going to come before the court in the near future, I'm not particularly comfortable with the idea of Romney (or other Republican politicians) choosing the next tranche of judges.

Also, I'd like to see the changes to the health care system better bedded in before we next elect a President dedicated to rooting them out. I know from experience in the UK that once people get that kind of access to health care, they don't give it up easily. But the politicians who want to undo Obamacare know it, too.

#107 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 06:01 PM:

abi @104: Oh my! Very useful tips, thank you!

Particularly the one about the "kind of person who's willing to be the only little-endian." That describes quite perfectly a couple of (otherwise very useful) personalities I'm dealing with.

It is hard. Inevitably.

Absolutely the only reason I'm willing to have a go at this* is having seen this kind of difficulty play out in detail here. I'm morally certain that it is very hard, but having saved up a large library of scripts, plus getting the kind-but-firm Moderator Voice into my ear, gave me some small confidence that I wouldn't immediately blow it all over the wall. And I didn't. But the year is young. ;-> And the alternative is, um, not better.

* Despite being pretty sure I don't have the bump for it.

#108 ::: Jacque, gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 06:01 PM:

Would the gnomes care for a fruit smoothy, perhaps?

#109 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 07:24 PM:

albatross @105

It's difficult and painful for me to see people claim that this election is not that important.

In the past few months, I've read articles where my generation has been called "lost," "cursed," and "doomed". Many of my generation are now entering their thirties, having had limited access to health care since leaving their parents' policies after college. I have a friend who finally has insurance after years of working jobs that didn't provide coverage. Still, she can barely afford the copays as she attempts to get treatment for a condition she has been aware of, but unable to pay to address, for nearly a decade. I am speaking entirely honestly when I say this: without continuous political movement toward better access to health care, yes, the kids born between 1977 and 1990 may be in extremely serious trouble.

I see absolutely no way that a Romney presidency would not result in an enormous step backward on the health care front. And any step backwards on that front is pretty much writing off a huge segment of my generation as collateral damage. This is why it boils my blood a bit when I see someone saying "oh, none of the major issues this election are that important."

So I want to ask some questions:

Do you think Romney would be unwilling or unable to actually follow up on his promise to weaken, dismantle, or obstruct the ACA?

Do you think that lack of access health care isn't that serious of a problem?

Do you think that the ACA is unlikely to help anyone who currently lacks access to insurance?

Are you not aware of the extent of the difficulties certain groups are having with obtaining access to health care?

Nobody in any of these discussions has ever actually responded to my concerns about my generation's sword of Damocles. And that just makes me feel very angry at them all the time, so I sometimes lash out a bit. I have insurance myself, but I'm worried about my friends. I've seen a young woman incapacitated by a chronic, treatable ailment, screaming in pain, begging not to be taken to the emergency room. I'm trying very hard to be calm about this. I'm trying... but... seeing things like that does something to you. It makes remaining polite a challenge.

You say you don't think this election is "that important." I think this election is directly related to advancements in access to health care. Right now, a significant number of my friends are on the razor's edge. A single serious illness for any of them would definitely be disastrous.

So, do you disagree that Obama losing this election would significantly harm progress towards access to health care? Or do you simply not think the issue is very important?

Or is there some other way of looking at this that I'm missing?

#110 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 07:36 PM:

albatross: One difference between us is that I don't think this election is as important as you do. The campaigns will always tell you it is the most important election in your lifetime (I think I've heard some phrase like this every election since I've been old enough to vote).

I actually didn't get that sense from the 2000 election. Bush, as presented in the campaign was a lot different from the man I saw in office.

So the idea that, "one election" isn't that important, doesn't really move me much anymore. I tend to think each one is crucial, because they are the elements of momentum.

When I look at how the bench (not just the Supremes) has been shaped by the Bush (both) and Reagan, appointments, and the likelihood that Thomas and Scalia are going to be leaving in the next 4 years (to look at the two I most want gone, whom I think likely to leave) and O'Connor's alleged comment when Bush II was named the winner, well I don't want a Romney/Ryan administration making those calls.

I sure as hell don't want Thomas choosing to step down because he knows the nominee will be at least as conservative as he is (Scalia, I think, is planning to die in harness; though Roberts seems to be tiring of him, so he might, if Romney were elected, decide to step down before he's marginalised at the "respect" level: but it would require him thinking someone as pig-headed and over-reactionary as he is might stand a chance of being nominated for him to do it... if a Democrat gets elected he'll plan to die in harness).

#111 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 08:23 PM:

#100 ::: Terry Karney

Speaking as a libertarian, I'd put it more strongly-- libertarianism is a political theory for people who don't like doing politics.

I've come to realize that there's a difference between people who like political theory and people who like (or at least are willing to do) politics. The latter are interested in the details of the process.

For all I know, there are politics geeks who just know the details but don't make a major effort to influence people. However, if you don't care about the details, there is no way you can do politics.

#112 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:34 PM:

Abi @98:

Please write carefully, read generously, and remember that everyone in the thread is trying to build a better, juster, kinder world.
Er. I always try to remember to do those things; but I don't always succeed, and I don't always remember. I'd hate to have anyone feel like they're obliged to pretend I'm behaving when I'm not.

(Naturally, if anyone tries to suggest that for other reasons, Lo! They shall be as one covered in tissue paper, and filled with individually wrapped candies.)

Also, I'm not going to undertake to assume good faith and kindly motives if I see no evidence of either. Sorry about that. In spite of all the years of work I've put into it, I've never gotten the knack of keeping my tone clear of my opinions.

#113 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 09:54 PM:

Teresa @ 112... I'd hate to have anyone feel like they're obliged to pretend I'm behaving when I'm not.

"I aim to misbehave."
- Captain Tightpants

#114 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 10:14 PM:

We actually had the Libertarians win a local election here. In Laconia, the Straight Arrow Party won.

They were pure libertarians. No taxes. You want streetlights burning on Main Street? There's a jar in Town Hall where you can put in what it's worth to you to have them.

They lasted until the next election, when every one of them was turned out.

Then there's the Free State Project. Someday I'll have to talk about that.

#115 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 10:21 PM:

Leah:

There is a difference between an election that matters (probably all of them) and an election where defeat is unthinkable. I do understand that healthcare reform matters to real people. I do not think that a return to the status quo of 2000 is crushing darkness or unthinkable disaster. Bad? Yes. Unthinkable? No.

It's not clear to me that the GOP will manage to overturn Obamacare even if they get into the white house, though I expect they'll try. I know that many people find it impossible to get health insurance they have any hope of affording, and that this can put them in really ugly situations where they either get to choose between medicine and other necessities, or skip needed preventative care for lack of money, or go broke because they got sick and got a bunch of huge bills right at the time they lost their job for missing too much work. I know Obamacare makes that better, by letting people stay on their parents' insurance longer and letting them get insurance despite preexisting conditions. I'm not disputing that, or the claim that Obama's supreme court nominees will be somewhat better than Romney's.

I am saying that the 2012 elections do not seem to me to be some fundamental turning point in US history, such that anything but full support for the Democrats is unthinkable or irresponsible. That apocalyptic sort of view of an election is common among partisans, but doesn't seem to me to track very closely with reality.

#116 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 10:27 PM:

Nancy:

Yes, that precisely catches the social phenomenon. A big fraction of libertarians are people who don't like politics, but do like abstract reasoning about political philosophy. (People who like neither get bored with politics; people who like both can actually govern, but tend to be much less ideologically pure because they also see the politics side of things and like horse trading and coalition building and such.).

#117 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 10:33 PM:

Leah Miller @96: And I can't understand how anyone would look at Obama and say "that's an evil man," rather than seeing him as a man like Davos.

I'm vaguely aware that there's a character with that name in that GRR Martin series I haven't read, but I still can't help thinking of the World Economic Forum instead.

Anyway, like I said, haven't read the books, haven't seen the TV show, don't know who that guy is. But I do know that the description "mixed, good and bad" applies to every single human being who's ever lived, and most likely to every one that ever will. Including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and GW Bush.

I've no problem with people who look both candidates over and decide to hold their noses and vote for the least-bad one. "Vote for the war criminal — it's important." Fine, no complaint with that. But I've got a great big problem with people who try to convince me that least-bad is actually good.

I started writing something here about how you can't count on evil people to display their evil in traditional cartoonish ways (something about opera capes, waxed mustaches, and tying girls to railroad tracks), but then I though a bit more about the Obama administration's drone campaign in Pakistan. Imagine you're reading this in a book: There's a leader of a major military power who has an army of flying killer robots that he uses to endlessly terrorize the civilians of a weaker, and nominally allied, nation. The robots not only kill civilians, but make follow-up attacks against people who attempt to aid those hurt in an attack, and later on make attacks against people attending the funerals of those killed. Sometimes they even attack weddings. The leader attempts to deflect criticism by lying about the number of civilians killed.

Isn't that leader the villain? I've read enough heroic fiction to know a villain when I see him. Obama's not Davos to me; he's Al Swearingen. (Romney's George Hearst in this metaphor. I guess that makes Biden EB Farnum, and Ryan is Cy Tolliver. The Democratic Party is a combination of Seth Bullock and a bunch of random hoopleheads. I've no idea who gets to be Calamity Jane.)

As far as Conor Friedersdorf's article goes, he's a Californian. His vote will have no effect on the presidential election; if he wants to spend it on a symbolic protest, that's a use no less effective in advancing his goals than voting for Obama would be. As a New Yorker, I'm in the same position. I'm planning to write in "Nobody", because who can be trusted with an army of unaccountable flying death robots?

#118 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Jim, #114: Ah yes, the soi-disant "Free State Project" -- aka carpetbagging in reverse.

albatross, #115: Just so you know, that really does sound like you telling Leah that you're willing to throw her and her friends (and me, and a lot of my friends) under the bus.

Ever since I started posting here, you've been steadily saying that the result of X event or action (unless it was something Obama did) couldn't possibly be that bad, and consistently it's turned out worse than the liberal contingent has been predicting. What is it going to take for you to realize that you're looking at everything thru the rose-tinted glasses of "assuming that anyone in the power positions of the Republican Party gives a flying fuck about anything but feathering their own nest, and demolishing the government in order to do so more easily"? How many times do you have to be wrong (about anything but Obama, that is) before you figure out that your predictive skills just aren't that good?

#119 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 11:10 PM:

Lee @118, it sounds to me not like anybody is talking about throwing anyone under any bus, but that albatross is getting tired (as I am) of apocalyptic election rhetoric. This is, by my count, the third consecutive Most Important Election In American History. I can't blame anyone who's tired of hearing it.

A friend of mine, a liberal political advocacy lawyer who's worked in DC for years, wrote a blog post a while back analyzing the long-term strategies of the Republicans and Democrats, and concluded that the left's apocalyptic we-can't-afford-to-lose-this-one approach is why we've been losing so much ground over the past few decades. I'll try to dig it up (assuming it's a public post; it was on LiveJournal and may have been friends-locked).

#120 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 11:42 PM:

My particular Do Not Cross line is torture. And on that, according to Charlie Savage via Charles Pierce, we have this:

"In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in the Army Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act - Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy. By contrast, Mr. Romney's advisers have privately urged him to "rescind and replace President Obama's executive order" and permit secret "enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives," according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum. While the memo is a policy proposal drafted by Mr. Romney's advisers in September 2011 — not a final decision by him — its detailed analysis dovetails with his rare and limited public comments about interrogation. "We'll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now," he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December."

I don't know how important this election is. I like to think that were Romney to win, he would still have to contend with a Democratic Senate. But I think if Romney were to win AND the Republicans were to carry both houses of Congress, many policies I have supported and indeed, fought for, would go away, and some which make my current life tolerable -- such as Medicare -- might very well change for the worse. I can tell you that Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare terrifies me. It's not merely Romney I mistrust, it's the thought of the people who surround him, to whom he might entrust the country.

And we haven't even spoken about climate change. While I don't see much hope that an Obama administration will be permitted to address the issue, I'm damn sure that a Romney administration will not even concede that there might be an issue to address.

Have I mentioned the Supreme Court?

#121 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2012, 11:58 PM:

albatross @115

For me, having one of my friends die or suffer or be ruined for the rest of their life is an unthinkable disaster. Seeing it happen dozens upon dozens of times to many friends and acquaintances would be crushing darkness.

If we do not continue to move forward on health care, I'd say that it is an actuarial near-certainty that I will experience both of those things.

I find it interesting that you cite the 2000 status quo, when the rates of employment and insurance were at their heights during the bubble. At that time, most of my generation was still in college or even high school. We've never known that level of employment security as the status quo, and I find it ridiculous to presume that that level of employment security is anywhere on the horizon in the future. Hell, at that point in time, private insurance was substantially less expensive. You still think in terms of a world like the world of 2000, while my generation has never known a landscape that even remotely resembled that kind of secure prosperity.

Note that this is not meant to disparage those who are over 35 and also struggling, or to suggest that we are "more screwed" or "more trampled" than you are. I'm just trying to convey the perspective of a particular demographic. Our entire adult life has been lived in a world of underemployment and uncertainty. Suggesting that a Romney presidency would somehow allow people to have the same kind of security a thirty-something would have had in 2000 is... so unbelievably out-of-touch that I have to laugh to keep from weeping.

Whether or not the 2012 election is a fundamental turning point in American History is up for debate. However, I think it is very likely to be a fundamental turning point for the economic well-being of my generation.

But you're still thinking of the "worst case scenario" as a return the economy and health care status quo from before I was old enough to drink, a time my generation sees as a pipe-dream level of prosperity that we will likely not see for decades in even the best-case scenario.

And this is why the youth of today are so full of anger and despair. Not only are we afraid, but most people on the conservative side don't seem care what happens to us. They don't understand the problems we face, and many show no interest in understanding them. They examine our struggles as if they took place in the same environment in which they came of age, when those environments are worlds apart.

#122 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:36 AM:

Here we go, two posts, from December 2010:

Now that I reread it, my friend's thesis is more about legislative and campaign strategy than about rhetoric. And he sees the Democrats' problem as always conceding in legislative battles because they see each clash as a stand-alone conflict in which they need to win something, while Republicans are willing to lose the occasional round to strengthen their overall position.

This means that, over time, Democrats start to resemble Republicans more and more. But their primary brand is "We're not Republicans; they're so much worse than we are!" Which means that, as they come to resemble Republicans more closely, they erode the value of being a Democrat. (Which we're seeing in this very conversation --- "There's so little difference between the two, why should I care, etc.")

Democrats could increase the value of their brand by conceding to Republicans less often, but this would mean losing more often.

#123 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:46 AM:

In re Obama and torture: Is there any word on how well the new policy is enforced?

#124 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:18 AM:

Obamacare, LGBT rights, and women's reproductive rights are very close to the bone for me. I don't think a Romney presidency would be any less violent in Afghanistan. I'm reading the polls and feeling hopeful, but the stories of voter suppression are very worrying. I can't debate the importance of defeating Romney in dispassionate terms, and will probably avoid threads like this to prevent misbehaving.

Too many "this election is critical" elections? When I imagine what the world might look like if 9/11 happened with Gore in the White House (or maybe didn't happen, if the President was paying attention to intelligence reports), and retaliation didn't include invading Iraq on a neo-con dream, and the economy wasn't trashed by spending billions on war while cutting taxes, I'd said that the 2000 election was pretty critical. Would a few less Bush appointees have prevented the Citizens United decision, for example?

#125 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:44 AM:

TNH @112:

Your site, your call, of course. But when I said everyone in the thread, I was trying to make it clear that I was talking about this string of comments, right here. And I've talked with everyone in it enough times that I'm willing to stand surety for their good faith.

The rest of the political discourse? The rest of the internet? Any other people who come parachuting into this community to have their rant? That's a different matter.

But your site, your call.

#126 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 03:21 AM:

janetl @124, the key thing about a hypothetical Gore presidency is that it's hypothetical. It's a fictional space into which we can project our wishes. The Obama presidency was a similar projection space four years ago.

The actually-existing Al Gore is the guy who (according to Richard Clarke) convinced Clinton to use extraordinary renditions back in 1993, despite knowing it to be a violation of international law. Clinton himself supported the 2003 Iraq invasion, and might've talked hypothetical-President Gore into it.

#127 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:08 AM:

Leah Miller: I'm early Gen X (1970), and I'm with you. In the areas where I'm disappointed with Obama, I have no doubt that Romney would be worse, and the idea of rolling back the gains we've seen under Obama -- health care, GLBT rights, what preservation of women's reproductive rights we've been able to hang on to -- horrifies me.

If there were a candidate I thought were better than Obama on the issues where I'm disappointed, who'd preserve the gains we've made... I might be considering voting otherwise. But not now. Not for his current opponent. Not with so much potential turnover in the Supreme Court. Not when my friends will unquestionably suffer if we lose what little we've got.

Perhaps it's not of the highest moral consciousness to put my friends' well-being ahead of the well-being of folks I've never met in countries I've never visited. But it's not as if I think their lot will improve under Romney... and I care about my friends.

#128 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:16 AM:

Rikibeth: In the areas where I'm disappointed with Obama, I have no doubt that Romney would be worse

This, exactly.

Given a choice between being screwed, and being both screwed and pissed on...well, I'm planning to vote for Obama. Because I'm not strong enough to do any good with a torch and pitchfork.

#129 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:18 AM:

David Lubar coins the term "Mitiotic".


Also: Lizzy L #87:

Given the experience under Shrub, I have no confidence that the Democrats would be able to maintain legislative gridlock against a Republican president. I think we'd lose everything we've gained since Clinton took office, never mind Obama. Not to mention the Supreme Court, methodical destruction of the educational system as well as the safety nets, and utter impoverishment of the Federal Government to tamp down the grave. I'd say at that point, we'd be looking at Galt/Scudder for 2020 or 2028. And yes, I'm being apocalyptic -- I think our political system really is already damaged to the point where it can break down entirely.

#130 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:34 AM:

127/128.
I'm past 60, and I'm with you on that. I have nieces and nephews, and some of them have kids, and heck if I want someone who's said they don't care about half the country in that office: the job is president of the whole country, not just the minority he thinks likes him.

#131 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:27 AM:

Lila @ 128... I'm not strong enough to do any good with a torch and pitchfork.

"What a filthy job."
"Could be worse."
"How?"
"Could be raining."
- from 'Young Frankenstein'

#132 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Ok -- first let me state that I'll be holding my nose and voting for Obama.

As a retired Federal employee I have to tell you that under Republican presidents ALL Federal agencies got increased budgets, and under some of those additional Cabinet level agencies were added to the stew.

Under Democratic presidents our budgets were cut and under the latest one we've had a 2 year pay freeze (which looks like it will continue for a third year). That pay "freeze" is actually a pay cut, because health insurance premiums under FEHB have continued to increase along with food, gas, and local taxes.

What most folks don't realize is that the Republicans (as well as Democrats) like to award their supporters those cushy Federal appointments. So don't expect the government to get smaller under the GOP. What they WILL cut is actual benefits like food stamps, unemployment insurance, WIC -- you know, things that actually HELP people.

For the record the presidents I worked for: Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama.

#133 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 11:33 AM:

Today's flyer is from Citizens for Tax Reform. It's full color, glossy. (Full color except for the photo of Mr. Obama. He's in black-and-white.)

The headline is "Under Obamacare Up To 20 Million Of Us Could LOSE EMPLOYEE HEALTHCARE"

It has four bullet-points inside, ranging from very misleading to outright lies.

#134 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 12:05 PM:

Rikibeth, #127: In the areas where I'm disappointed with Obama, I have no doubt that Romney would be worse

Yes, exactly. This is what I fundamentally don't get about albatross' argument. You don't like this stuff that Obama has done -- so you're going to vote for someone who (based on his stated positions) is going to be worse? The phrase "biting off your nose to spite your face" comes to mind. Given a choice between "I don't like Candidate X's positions on A, B, and C" and "I don't like Candidate Y's positions on A, B, C, D, E, and F"... that's not a hard decision to make.

#135 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:18 PM:

With Lizzy @120, I'm worried about climate change. The Democrats almost certainly will do too little too late, but the Republicans are absolutely committed to denying there's any problem whatsoever. And too little too late is still better than "what the heck, let's turn up the thermostat some more!" all fossil fuels all the time. You want apocalypse? Serious global climate change is a pretty good example of the genre.

#136 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:28 PM:

Reddit has an interesting Ask Me Anything thread featuring lawyers who are fighting the Obama administration over the National Defense Authorization Act in court right now. The whole thread is well worth reading, but I thought this bit by Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) was worth quoting here:

"Q. Given the tide of outrageous acts by the U.S. government, do you think change is even possible through existing public institutions?

"A: (He's laughing that that.)

I'm going to act for the rest of my life as if as it's possible. Since it's so necessary. When you say "through public institutions," obviously it will take enormous pressure by citizens on those institutions to change the way they operate. Every non-violent tactic that was used to put a lid on the Vietnam war and eventually shorten it is needed now, and that certainly includes massive civil disobedience, but it also includes the full range of public education, including organizing, lobbying, even letter-writing to congress and even (though many dispair of this), electoral activity and voting. The notion that it makes no difference who is in office is, in my opinion, mistaken. There's no question that that the two parties are both corrupt and imperialist. But, one is even worse than the other.

Virtually every public institution has failed us gravely. Not only the executive, but the courts, congress, most of the media and most of the churches. Radical reform is needed, even to the point of non-violent revolution. There was most recently - I mean, eleven years ago - what amounted to an executive coup against the constitution and this has had the complicity of both parties in congress and the media. The prospects of climate change and the continued of nuclear war actually bode ill for the survival of the human species, but as I said, I am going to act, and I hope that others will act, as if there is a possibility of averting our extinction."

#137 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom/Gnomes 2012 ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:31 PM:

It's the shorter way to reform!

#138 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 01:53 PM:

Lee:

Just to clarify, I am not voting for Romney, but rather for Gary Johnson. I like Romney no better than I like Obama.

#139 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:15 PM:

albatross, I feel compelled to ask: are you in a swing state?

#140 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:25 PM:

Without starting more fires, can I just recommend that everyone read the beginning of John's Reddit link? Some important points:

a. The NDAA authorizes indefinite detention of Americans on, as I understand it, the decision of the executive branch.

b. I remember watching a number of the current administration's supporters explaining that Obama didn't want these provisions, but had them forced on him by Congress.

c. The Obama administration is now fighting in court to keep those provisions, after a federal court overturned them. The administration claims that getting rid of those provisions would impose national security risks on the US.

Now, my choice not to vote for Obama may well be the wrong choice, and I certainly can respect people who make other choices. But these are real, critical, important issues. The direction our country is moving in is dangerous as hell. Maybe voting third party isn't the right thing to do here, but can we all at least agree that there's an honest-to-God problem, that needs to somehow be addressed, and that the current administration is part of that problem?

Think of how many small-government conservatives and libertarian-leaning Republicans sold their souls during the Bush years, and have not reclaimed them yet. It wasn't overnight. If you'd asked Republicans in 2001 whether we should torture captives, you would not have found a lot of support for that idea. What happened?

Each month, each year, there were new revelations of excesses. And these became political issues, and the Republicans found themselves justifying them, because after all, their guy might be flawed, but he was better than those damned liberals. And by iterating that process over years and years of justifications for increasingly awful stuff, we got where we are now, with a substantial number of Republicans self-identifying as torture supporters, with a bunch of "small-government" conservatives who think the president ought to have the unquestioned power of life and death over every human being on Earth. "Deficit hawks" who justified a war that was entirely voluntary and unnecessary, and whose likely cost was intentionally and massively understaated from the beginning. Guys who had "I love my country but I fear my government" on their pickup trucks during the Clinton years, and who were calling for the New York Times to be charged with treason for publishing (after the election, of course) a story about massive illegal wiretapping of Americans.

These are people who sold their souls on the installment plan. And maybe I'm too gloomy or being unfair, but it looks to me like that's happening on the left, now. I've watched people here and elsewhere try to justify stuff from the Obama administration that they were (rightly) decrying as unacceptable when the Bush administration did it, or sometimes did less scary stuff.

I knew people who started as self-labeled libertarians, super skeptical of government in all its guises, and who ended up as apologists for *everything* the administration did, from torture to secret prisons to invading Iraq to spying on US citizens. I have seen nothing to suggest that this is a disease that only the right is susceptible to.

#141 ::: albatross gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:27 PM:

Gnomed again. I have only coffee to offer.

#142 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:38 PM:

Rikibeth: No, but I would not vote for Obama, at this point, in this election, if I lived in Ohio or Florida. (But FWIW, I live in Maryland, which is not remotely in play.)

#143 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:38 PM:

re Torture: McCain made it legal.

I mean it. Under Bush McCain campaigned (loud and long... stridently) against torture; threatened to stop Shrub's legislation if it allowed it.

Then he went and "brokered a deal", which gave Bush more than he'd been asking for.

Bush wanted to legalise some torture: McCain gave him everything by allowing "anything in the interrogation FM" to be legal, per US Law.

All it takes is an amendment to the FM (which could be TS/SCI, good luck getting eyes on that), and it's legal.

Obama has maintained that. It looks good. It can even be used to make torture a crime with more laws against it (because we already have laws against torture; one of them a treaty Reagan got ratified, and one an set of changes to the War Crimes Act, in which the US asserted universal jurisdiction against US nationals [which is why Bush was lying when he said there was nothing to be done against Blackwater/Xe employees who committed crimes in Iraq), but it can also be used to make any sort of torture you can imagine legal.

#144 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:44 PM:

If you object to what your government does, especially something as profoundly immoral as torture or civilian drone strikes...

...if you think not voting makes you clean, you're wrong.

...if you think voting for someone who might do worse but at least hasn't done it yet makes you clean, you're wrong.

...if you think voting for a third-party candidate with no real chance of winning (even if that 3PC is upstanding, moral, and really will never ever do that terrible thing) makes you clean, you're wrong.

...and if you think voting for the guy who can win, and has been doing bad things, but probably not as bad as the other guy, and you won't throw away your vote by voting for a 3PC or just not voting makes you clean, you're wrong.

Our government is chosen, at least in theory, by us. When they do terrible things, we are all, diffusely, responsible. I didn't vote for Dubya and his gang of incompetent murderous clowns, but I bear some responsibility for the outrages at Abu Ghraib, because I'm an American, and those bastards did those things in the name of America.

That's why we have to stop them. That's why we have to make the best choices we can and live with the result. That's why we have to make sure we have the best democratic process possible, and influence our governments by speaking out as often as necessary to make the changes that are needed.

If you want to be morally clean of what your government does, you have to live in a totalitarian state where the people have no input, not even as vague and tenuous an input as we have here. And THEN you have a moral responsibility to oppose your government and overthrow it, and put in one that, yes, will taint you morally.

I'm so tired of people finding ways to pretend that they have no moral responsibility for the actions of the US at home and abroad. You cannot escape it; you have to shape it. It's your DUTY.

#145 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 02:51 PM:

McCain gave him everything by allowing "anything in the interrogation FM" to be legal, per US Law.

So, was McCain being evil, or just stupid? I've long since concluded that he has to be one or the other or both, and I just really can't figure out which.

#146 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Terry:

By deciding not to prosecute anyone for torture, and by deciding to help hide evidence of torture, the Obama administration has also made it safe for the next administration to resume torturing people. It is now bipartisan policy that torturing prisoners according to your orders is not something you get prosecuted for. Leaking embarrassing details of the torture done, by contrast, will get you nailed to the wall. That's also bipartisan consensus policy demonstrated by the Obama administration.

The same is true for illegally spying on the American people. It's bipartisan policy, ratified by the Democrats in power, that you do not go to jail if you illegally spy on US citizens. On the other hand, if you leak embarrassing details of that stuff, you get nailed to the wall. Again, that's been demonstrated in practice by this administration.

When there's a law against something, but nobody ever gets in trouble for it, it's kind of like there's no law against it.

#147 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Clay Shirky: how democracies can take a lesson from the Open Source movement

albatross @115: I do not think that a return to the status quo of 2000 is crushing darkness or unthinkable disaster.

#148 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 06:52 PM:

Anyone have theories about why Obama turned out to be so surprisingly bad about civil liberties?

A non-obvious character flaw? Pressures when elected that were hard to predict?

#149 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 08:08 PM:

I'm trying to think of a way to put this that doesn't just sound cynical and resigned, but I can't. Here are my thoughts on Obama's civil liberties record.

When I make the argument in conversation that torture doesn't work and we shouldn't torture, a lot of people look at me like I'm some kind of insanely naive, talking-points-clutching, carebear liberal. Even other liberals. This gets me the "you're just repeating the far-left party line" look more than pretty much any other single thing I regularly bring up in political debate (other than "national healthcare will save us money").

I'm not saying this to say we should give up, or not fight for it, but I honestly don't know if a candidate who strongly and publicly valued personal liberty over military strength could actually win and maintain power. If Obama had come in and immediately tried to push for warcrimes prosecution for the hundreds or thousands of people complicit in the torture, I think that would not have been taken well.

In this one recent article in the Atlantic about how Romney is losing because he's forced to repeat toxic right wing talking points, this was example the author gave of an something Obama could do that would be equally unpopular and damning:

"But Obama didn't then turnaround and make the focus of his campaign whatever DailyKos was mad about that week. We've yet to see some secretly-recorded footage of Obama telling lefty-blog-reading donors that his first priority, should he be reelected, is prosecuting Bush administration officials for war crimes."

During the Bush presidency, people talked about "avoiding the Clinton cycle," saying that if we tried to impeach Bush, every congress hostile to every future president would try to impeach them, and we'd be destroyed as a nation. A similar argument was brought up when Desmond Tutu was saying he thought Bush and Blair should stand trial for warcrimes: a fear that every US president would lose the ability to make vital war-time decisions without being tried for warcrimes. I'm not saying that these fears are valid, merely that they were widely held. These were opinions I saw everywhere, and the strength and vitriol of these opinions caused me to drop out of political discourse for a while at the time.

Now, I do think that the Bush administration should have been prosecuted for war crimes, but I'm also beginning to see how doing that would possibly lose the giant swath of people who just don't understand the real problems with torture, who see anti-torture activism as a soft liberal thing, or who would see such actions as nothing more than "partisan politics". I'm not saying this absolves Obama of any of the unethical stuff he's done or allowed to be done, but I think there's serious evidence that taking a strong public stance on this might have caused a huge poisonous backlash from the center. I mean Look at this poll from back then. Just look at it!

I have another little story that sheds some sad light on the current cultural gestalt regarding civil liberties. A year ago, I started playing a cheerful little fantasy game, where the key moral question is this: if a class of people is dangerous, is it OK to lock them up, torture them, and deny them civil rights to protect the greater good? Of course, being me, I immediately and violently reacted with revulsion against the side in the game who was saying "yes, it's OK to do these things to protect the greater good." When I went online, I expected that the majority of people would feel the same way - fantasy fans and nerds tending towards the more liberal side. I was horrified to find that a good 60-70% of people sided with the faction who ran these forced internment camps. Some argued that we should try to minimize the torture, but that it was still completely OK to deny them liberty, as long as we did it humanely. They argued that, even if we didn't manage to minimize the torture, it was still better to have them locked up than have them free, because it was a public safety issue. My heart hurts even thinking about it.

Now, part of the reason why a huge majority of players were in favor of forced internment may have been in part because the opposition group, the ones fighting to end the policy of forced internment for their minority group, were employing some serious guerrilla warfare tactics... stuff modern people associate with terrorism. These players' online reaction to this fictional analogue was a telling glimpse into the current national opinions about detention and torture, one that I found really damn depressing.

So my best guess as to why Obama turned out to be so terrible about civil liberties is this: he got to the seat, and a bunch of advisers basically said "look, if you go soft on this and then there's an attack, there won't be another democratic president for more than a decade. If you're pro-active about this, show that you're tough, then they won't have anything to hammer you on."

I think that, if Obama had been better on civil liberties, right now we'd be seeing his "terrorist sympathies" as a huge focus of the republican campaign. They're trying their best to push that narrative, but he just didn't give them a lot to work with.

People keep saying we have to use all the tools of social rebellion to fight the erosion of civil liberties... but sometimes I feel like there really aren't enough of us who actually care about that. We have to somehow get more people to care about it, if we have any hope of succeeding. We have to educate people. And we've got to make them understand in their hearts that you can't just throw people in jail and forget about them because you're afraid.

As much as Obama may have failed us on civil liberties stuff, he did sign that executive order banning torture on his first day in office... an executive order that Romney's advisers specifically want to rescind as quickly as possible. We're nowhere near the bottom, and there is a concerted faction of people who want to dig down as aggressively as possible.

I really think this is a fight where we have to make more progress on public opinion before we can expect a candidate who strongly embraces our views to have a snowball's chance.

#150 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 09:28 PM:

If anyone is thinking of staying home on election day because they can't support anyone for president, I hope they remember that they can also vote for a representative and (in two-thirds of the states) a senator, and depending on the schedule in their state, various state and local offices as well.

In particular, the state and local levels are not tainted with the drone attacks, torturing, and other war crimes, but they are on the forefront of the women's health issues (which are about more than brtn), marriage equality, infrastructure investment, and other important issues.

#151 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 09:40 PM:

133
Color printing used as a not-very-subtle dogwhistle?

#152 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:12 PM:

Leah Miller @149, I think you're probably right about the typical American's attitude about civil rights and torture. (Consider what American prisons are like.) But also consider the history of the civil rights movement.

The story goes that when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, he turned to an aide and said "We have lost the South for a generation." And regardless of whether he actually said it, it's true — the South promptly went Republican, and the balance of power in this country turned rightward, and we still haven't recovered. But also, millions of African-Americans gained the right to vote, and without that fact, we'd probably be talking right now about how to defeat President McCain (or re-elect President HR Clinton).

The only way these things are going to get better is if Democrats decide that the issues are important enough to be worth losing the abusive asshole vote for a generation. That's not going to happen if every election is The One We Can't Afford To Lose.

#153 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:15 PM:

#149 ::: Leah Miller

When the Abu Graib photos came out, a lot of Americans said, "We aren't like that". I took a look at police practice and popular art, and concluded that we are like that, we're exactly like that.

And when I say "we are like that", I don't mean that we're all guilty or even that we're all responsible, but that there's such a strong part of the culture in favor of abusing suspects and prisoners that such mistreatment isn't surprising.

I have no idea whether some version of "we're better than that" works to improve ideas and behavior, or if it just adds a layer of illusion to a very bad situation.

#154 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2012, 10:41 PM:

Leah @ 149

I think one conversation we really need to have in this country is the "We cannot make you perfectly safe. Is it really worth the lives and freedom of multiple innocents to ensure that all the bad guys get punished?"

Of course, I think we need to have that conversation around the problem of incarcerating 30% of Black American citizens, and the terrorism question, and the crime of having the illness "Drug Addiction," and, and, and...

(I agree that we need to push the war crimes charges, because is it worse if the American President is held accountable to international law or if he is not able to be held accountable by anyone at all, ever?)

#155 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 01:47 AM:

Avram @152

I'm aware of the history of the civil rights movement, but I don't think Johnson's bold move has any direct relevance to the reality of our current political situation with regards to widespread civil liberties legislation.

Johnson may have signed the Civil Rights Act, but it was an Act. It was a thing that made it through congress. Do you honestly believe that an act that would achieve your civil liberties agenda could pass even a majority vote in congress today? Do you believe it could pass cloture? How can you reasonably compare a hypothetical civil liberties bill with the Civil Rights Act, an act popular enough to win enough votes to break a filibuster, even though the opposition was willing to continue that filibuster for fifty-seven days?

To throw more water on the fire of any hypothetical civil liberties bill, look at the vote totals on the monkey-fightin' patriot act. It has passed with ease both times, with more than double the votes for it as against it. You're comparing an incredibly controversial issue with hugely widespread national support to one where nearly two thirds of congress happily voted for its gorram opposite. Can you see how this makes a difference in what we can reasonably expect politically?

We can't completely ignore potential issues of timing and public opinion. I wish we could, but we can't.

Let's look at a subject that is contentious in national politics but that I assume won't be very contentious here: gay rights. I think we can all agree that gay sex should not be criminalized. I think we can all agree that gay people should have access to the same legal rights as straight people. It's a pretty obvious civil rights no-brainer, in the same way that the Civil Rights Act was.

Now, let's say that, in 1964, Johnson had refused to sign the Civil Rights Act unless it also included decriminalization of gay sex and legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states.

Would pledging to end all discrimination against gays in 1964 have been the morally right stance? Without a doubt. But I think that if the Democrats had drawn that kind of bold line in a sand at a time when gay sex was illegal in 49 states, it would have hurt their ability to accomplish other things. So gay rights activists worked on public perception for decades, and now the President of the United States can publicly say he supports gay marriage.

Should the democratic party have been pushing harder for gay rights in the last twenty years? Yes, most definitely. But in 1964, nearly sixty years ago, when the cultural perception of that issue was so firmly, ignorantly negative, the Civil Rights act would likely not have passed if Johnson had demanded that it contain unilateral decriminalization of sodomy and an active endorsement of gay marriage.

Today, there is not a state in the union where protestors can't be dragged off the street for no reason and jailed for hours or days without any cause or reasonable recourse. This is the civil liberties version of a country where forty-nine out of fifty states have anti-sodomy laws. Right now, pushing for the kind of sweeping civil liberties reforms that everyone in this thread (including me!) supports is rhetorically identical to pushing for nationally recognized gay marriage in the 60s: a morally noble goal, an unquestionable social good, and a functional impossibility.

So what do we have to do to fix it? We have to have our protests and arrests. We have to start having parades and marches. We have to get the ground-level, easily identifiable civil liberties issues into the national dialogue. We have to tell stories about the horrible things that happen, and make sure that those stories stick. We've got to get significant civil liberties laws passed at the state level somewhere. We've got to metaphorically decriminalize sodomy in at least a few states before we can start working on the civil liberties equivalent of gay marriage.

But at the same time, we have to keep friggin working on actual literal gay marriage, the thing that is actually politically achievable right now. I'm of the opinion that we can get 50% of states in the next twelve years, and hopefully a supreme court case that is the equivalent of Loving vs. Virginia in the next twenty, given favorable supreme court appointments. But giving up on gay marriage and all the other progress we are currently making because we can't get the civil liberties bill we want right now would be like giving up on the Civil Rights Act because we couldn't get gay marriage in 1964.

The civil liberties community has to do the same grassroots, bottom-up campaigning and awareness-spreading that the LGBT community has been doing for the past half century to get their topic to a place where a sitting president can actively endorse it - just like the suffrage movements, and the civil rights movement, and now the LGBT rights movement. That totally sucks... it totally sucks that we haven't been working on that very much for the past 20 years, it totally sucks that the political will to do it is so low right now, but that's a reality.

And it's something we can't just expect the president to step in and defy the national will to remedy for us. We have to do the work, and we have to start at the bottom. I'm mad that Obama hasn't been a greater help in regards to this particular issue; I'm also mad that Clinton signed the disgusting aberration that is DOMA. But since I really don't think that Bernie Sanders could win a presidential election today, I've got to vote for the candidate I believe will achieve the most progress on the issues where the national discourse is ready to move forward, and who will take the smallest number of steps back on other issues.

The polls say that we need to take this civil liberties thing to the grass roots. We've got to be ready to fight that war of public opinion, and hope that this time it doesn't take half a century.

#156 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 03:45 AM:

Leah Miller @155, it looks like you found your non-cynical, not-resigned approach.

#157 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 12:01 PM:

Leah, that's a marvelous discourse. I'd love to link to it from my FB and Twitter accounts, but I won't do that unless you give me permission first.

#158 ::: Char ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Abi @125:

Did you just affirm to the SITE OWNER that she has your approbation to do as she please with her own site.... or did I completely mis-read that?

#159 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 12:59 PM:

Char, you misread that. That was abi giving her opinion, but stating her deferral to the wishes of the site (co-)owner. "Yet not my will, but thine be done."

#160 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 01:14 PM:

Also, this is your first post. Did you really come here just to post that? Seems like an odd reason to delurk, but hey, whatever works.

Do you write poetry?

#161 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 01:33 PM:

Char @158:

Would you suggest that I do otherwise?

(I do not promise to follow your suggestion; I'm forming my own views of the quality of your judgment.)

#162 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 02:20 PM:

Which is all fascinating, but rather off-topic for this thread.

Today's mail had, for a wonder, no political flyers, and, so far, today hasn't produced any pollsters calling on the phone.

Fox is struggling to maintain the fiction that Romney is in a dead heat with Obama. For the rest... I'm not seeing a whole lot of enthusiasm for Mr. Romney among Republicans. I think that, at this point, even Ron Paul would be looking better were he the candidate. (He's out there in cloud-cuckoo land, but at least you know where he is.)

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 02:23 PM:

Allan, #150: A very good point, and no one has to cast a vote in the Presidential race, and a vote not cast is still better than a vote cast for Romney.

One of the things we really need to do away with, nationwide, is the "straight party-line vote" button. I don't care if people want to vote the straight party line, but forghodsake make them do it vote by vote, not all in one fell swoop. The party-line button is about to put a raving Teahadist loon into the Senate from Texas; absent that, I don't think he'd be elected, but as it is, it'll take a miracle.

Leah, #155: In case you haven't heard about it, a Cook County judge has just declared the Occupy arrest in Chicago unconstitutional and dismissed the charges with prejudice. (The city plans to appeal.)

And that's another thing people need to be thinking about when they cast their votes -- the effect of either party on the judicial system as a whole, not just the Supreme Court. Right now we've still got a lot of judges who are willing to call municipalities on unconstitutional laws and actions, despite a concerted effort by Bush II to undermine the judicial system nationwide. I am fully convinced that most of the Republicans now running, at the Federal, state, and local levels, would be just fine with continuing what Bush tried to start -- because, as you point out, public opinion is mostly on their side and the judicial system is the only place they're getting any real pushback. The only thing standing in their way, as they see it.

#164 ::: Lee is having tea with the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 02:24 PM:

I have some nice shortbread cookies to go with the tea...

#165 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 03:14 PM:

163
AFAIK, in California 'one vote at a time' is the only way to do a party-line vote. (The only voting machines I've seen here were the touch-screen variety; otherwise I've only voted on paper, even when I lived in Texas.)

One of the things I've noticed in photos is that Romney doesn't seem to know how to hold babies so they won't start crying. He's shown holding them under the arms, with no support for their weight other than that. This is someone with five kids? Didn't he learn anything from that?

#166 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 03:55 PM:

P J Evans @#165: Parenthood has probably taught him that babies spew bodily fluids in every direction at all times (I say this as someone who adores babies). Often when someone holds a baby in a non-cuddly way, it's because they're trying to keep from getting germs or goo on them. Babies can usually manage to find a vector anyway.

#167 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 04:03 PM:

166
It was the arms' length one that was getting to me. That kid is not at all happy.

#168 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 04:10 PM:

P J Evans @#167: But if that kid barfs, it won't be on Mitt! Smart.

#169 ::: Adel ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 05:58 PM:

Leah @155 I second Xopher wholeheartedly in not only his praise for that cogent and, frankly, amazing political dissection, but the wish to share it far and wide!

Too many people I work with have told me with vehemence, if not pride, that they will not be voting this year, young and old alike, and frankly that scares me. Lacking the wonderful wordsmithing skills like yours and many others here, I beg them to vote if, for nothing else, the sake of the sanctity of my uterus. That at least gets their attention.

#170 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:08 PM:

Huh. No one I know has told me they're not going to vote, probably because my friends know how I feel about voting (I wish it could be compulsory, though I think making it so probably violates the First Amendment) and don't wish to see me go up like a rocket.

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:34 PM:

168
I keep comparing it to pictures like this one.

#172 ::: P J Evans has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:35 PM:

I have some bananas....

#173 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:47 PM:

Char did you not notice that this is a thread discussing politics? That a huge sub-thread is about passive acceptance of "the way things are", as opposed to active?

Did you not think that gentle comment about how things are done might be worthwhile? That the site owner might be making comment to someone whom she values in how she fails to meet a standard she values, and that there are places and times when one cannot live up to one's ideals?

For me..., if abi makes a statement about the sort of thing that statement was about (even when not directed at me), I will ponder it, because she is a lodestone of such things for me.

So, when she says such a thing, esp. if it were in a site I ran, I would address it; which would (she being herself) almost certainly engender an honest reply.

#175 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 09:51 PM:

albatross: The problem of executive inertia is huge. It goes back to Ford's pardon of Nixon, and Congress refusing to consider impeaching Bush for pardoning people who almost certainly knew inculpating information on him about Iran Contra.

It's not actually (IMO) Obama's fault. It's (as Xopher says) our fault. We've allowed (as a polity; I know I've done my bit to fight it, but I am one among tens of thousands, at best; if I am looking at political blogging), the idea that, "it would look like partisan politics" to rule.

And, for what it's worth, that's not a problem "The Right" has cared about. Give them half an excuse and they will spend millions to attack a Dem President.

Leaking... yep, every administration will fight it.

Apart from saying, "they both suck, and a pox on them all," what do you propose to do to fix it; other than excoriating those who say the lesser of two evils is to be preferred; and some of whom are working to make a good against a bad?


To address torture... from a purely political point of view... to prosecute is probably a losing battle; and losing in a big way.

I know the people who were prosecuted for killing Dilawar. It was buried by the press.

I've been fighting against torture*; travelling from one end of the country to the other to talk about it. For all the work being done the audiences are small; even in liberal enclaves. The biggest crowd I've gotten was in Monterey; where DLI and the Naval Post Graduate School are located; and the draw was me... because I was an Army Interrogator and they were coming to see if I was the same sort of semi-poser as the Air Force guy.

It's not, for all that I wish it were, the hill to die on, because it's like being the Brits at the Second Battle of Ypres... good money after bad, and small gains for huge losses.

Which, again, isn't redounding against Obama, the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.


*and indefinite internment. I made the effort to go to the audience and listen to the arguments in the District Court. I made a point of talking to the reporters who were there about it.

#176 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2012, 11:51 PM:

Lizzy L @170: my friends know how I feel about voting (I wish it could be compulsory, though I think making it so probably violates the First Amendment)

How do you figure? Given that you can just write in "None of the above" if you want, where does the First Amendment violation come in?

#177 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:20 AM:

An argument can be made that freedom of speech implies the freedom to choose not to speak.

#178 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:54 AM:

P J Evans @151: Color printing used as a not-very-subtle dogwhistle?

Not even. It's one of the oldest opinion-pushers in advertising.

#179 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:19 AM:

178
The picture I saw of one example was about as subtle as a sledge hammer: white text on black background for Obama, and photo (B&W) of him wearing a suit; black (or dark) text on white background for Romney, with a color photo of him in a light-colored shirt on a light background.

#180 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:11 AM:

Lizzy L @177, yes, the Supreme Court has ruled that speech cannot be compelled. But that doesn't establish that voting is speech.

If voting was First Amendment-protected speech, wouldn't court cases about voting rights invoke the First Amendment? As I understand it (and I'm not an expert, so maybe I'm wrong here), such cases are generally argued on Equal Protection grounds, invoking the Fourteenth Amendment.

On the other hand, this discussion presents an argument for a compulsory voting law. It would inevitably be attacked on First Amendment grounds as compelled speech. Either the Supreme Court would uphold it, giving us compulsory voting, or they'd overturn it, establishing an individual right to vote under the First Amendment, making it easier to strike down things like the recent spate of voter ID laws.

#181 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:28 AM:

Australia has (nominally) compulsory voting for State and Federal elections. There's a fine for not doing it. But it also has wide exceptions, and the elector is deemed to have complied if his or her name has been marked on the rolls as having received a ballot, or in the case of absentee voting, a ballot has been received by the Electoral Department. The elector is not actually required to mark the ballot.

It basically means that, unless you can claim an exemption, you either arrange for an absentee ballot, or show up at the polling place and receive the paper, or be prepared to pay the fine, from memory $100.

We get voter turnouts of around 85%-95%, generally. Political parties watch the informal and "donkey" vote counts very closely. (Donkey in this case means voting straight down the ticket from top to bottom, in our preferential or "instant runoff" system. It gives a rough measure of how many voters don't give a hoot who wins.)

Me, I think that the gains from having a high turnout are worth the losses from the unwelcome compulsion, given that the consequences of non-compliance are not severe, and the issue can simply be avoided by not casting a formal ballot.

#182 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 02:34 AM:

Terry @173:

Thanks for the backup, but I suspect Dash was a driveby, and is now busy correcting strangers' grammar on the bus somewhere.

#183 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:36 AM:

Abi @ 182

Do you mean "Char" was a driveby?

#184 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 03:41 AM:

KayTei @183:

Aak! Yes! Apologies to Dash, who is certainly not a driveby on the DF thread.

I blame the lack of coffee.

#185 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:28 AM:

Oddly, I don't think Char was a driveby. I think we're seeing a long-time lurker surfacing.

Which is still entirely off-topic for this thread.

#186 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 12:18 PM:

Terry @175

3rd Ypres may be the battle you're thinking of, also referenced as Passchendaele.

2nd Ypres was in 1915, was a German attack. and was the first use of gas. 3rd Ypres was the futile, wasteful, British attack in 1917.

As for torture, who trains the guys who run the SERE courses and other such resistance to interrogation stuff?

#187 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 01:24 PM:

Taking inspiration from Jim, rather than immediately throwing away today's political flyer I took a closer look at it. It's a bifold one addressed to my husband.

Full-color, glossy. Almost identical to what P J Evans describes -- white text on black background for Obama, and photo (B&W) of him wearing a suit; black (or dark) text on white background for Romney, with a color photo of him in a light-colored shirt on a light background -- but with both candidates in color. The photo of Obama is a candid from what was probably a speech or campaign event, slightly blurry, in a rather unflattering frown. Romney's photo is a studio headshot with a confident, fatherly smile.

Obama's name is presented twice in a sans-serif, almost urban- or tribal-looking font. Romney's is presented once, in Times New Roman or similar.

Obama's "you didn't build that" quote is placed next to his head in bold red** sans-serif text. It's quoted correctly, but without context, of course. The strikes given against Obama include failure to create millions of new jobs, a belief that the private sector is "doing fine," and "Barack Obama believes government builds businesses and creates jobs..." [italics from original].

On Romney's side of the page, we're told that "Beginning Day One, Mitt Romney will put job creation first." How will he do this? According to the flyer, he'll create more take-home pay and more jobs (12 million by the end of his first term), create energy independence by increasing access to domestic energy sources, ensuring great schools, quality teachers and job training programs, whapping China on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper*, reducing non-security deficit spending by five percent and capping federal spending below 20 percent of the economy, stopping new regulations, replacing Obamacare with "real health care reform," and finally, my favorite: reducing "taxes on job creation."

Paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia.

Oh, look! The stack of mail from earlier this week includes more. One is from Americans for Tax Reform, addressed to The Persephone Household or current resident. An 8.5 x 11 sheet, matte full-color. The president is featured, sitting in a chair with his hands apart as if gesturing while he talks, with a red "1.5 TRILLION TAX HIKE" Photoshopped between his hands.

This piece is all about how "higher taxes will make it even tougher to create jobs in Virginia." That quote is followed by a plaintive "Why would he raise our taxes now?" and a bulleted list that I found fairly interesting. All bolding is original:

- Obama's 2012 budget also includes nearly $1 trillion in deficit spending.
- Obama has to break his promise and raise taxes to pay for all of the spending.
- For you that could mean higher taxes, more job loss, and continued difficulty for our recovering economy.

I'm then instructed to call a phone number (the White House switchboard, on a quick Google) and "Tell him [the president] to help the economy by cutting government spending and reducing taxes, and urge him to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge."

Oh, this is very interesting. I don't want to give them Googlejuice, but this Taxpayer Protection Pledge has a page on Americans for Tax Reform's website and appears to be the no-new-taxes pledge that started with Reagan and has been so damaging. Do they really think they can pressure a sitting Democratic president to sign that pledge, or is that a way to get people to their website?

*I may be paraphrasing a bit.
**The only other red used in the flyer is in the "Romney for America" logo.

#188 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 07:07 PM:

Around here, I'm seeing different levels of on-the ground campaign activity in different parts of the Philadelphia area.

In the city itself, most of the activity I've seen is been making sure people are registered to vote, and are prepared for the voter ID requirements (which are also being challenged in court). What signs are out are Obama signs. But there aren't a lot of "vote for X" calls or mails I've seen. The city of Philadelphia weights overwhelmingly for Obama, so the big push is getting people to the polls. I expect there will be a *lot* of robocalls and "have you voted?" activity right before and during Election Day.

A musician friend of ours lives outside the city limits in Montgomery County, and there she reports people are getting *lots* of calls, so much so that she volunteered to take our phone numbers to put on the Obama campaign's "I've decided; you can stop calling me" lists. Montgomery County is a close, densely populated suburban county that's swinging between Republican and Democratic (going more D in 2008), and it sounds like there's a lot of effort from both campaigns to make voters in the county swing their way. You see lawn signs for both Obama and Romney out there.

This afternoon I went walking in farther-out Chester County, along a trail that's now closely hemmed in by new, large-lot high-end development. I saw a few campaign lawn signs on the walk, all of them for Romney, and someone had hung bags with flyers on many of the mailbox posts, inviting people to volunteer with the Romney campaign. (The outermost paper said "You can do a lot to help Romney and Ryan" or some-such).

So there's a lot of different political climates in this one metropolitan area: The urban zone is getting Democratic turnout attention, the well-off exurban zone is getting Republican volunteer recruitment efforts, and the middle zone is getting lots of calls to try to win people over to one side or another. This is a state that's leaning Democratic in the polls so far, but isn't a foregone conclusion, and has a lot of electoral votes to offer. If the race here were as close as it is in New Hampshire or some of the other states, I suspect we'd see a lot more frantic activity.

#189 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:12 PM:

I'm in blue California, so the activity is mostly local, and my Representative -- George Miller -- is not going to lose this time, either. Hell, he may be running unopposed. All my OfA e-mail is about donations, calling out of state, and generally keeping up the enthusiasm. Have I mentioned money?

Avram, I'm for compulsory voting, but it's not in American tradition or practice, and I would bet that no Supreme Court is going to let it pass, even if we could persuade Congress to legislate it. Don't think that's going to happen either, not in my lifetime, anyway, and I don't see a push for it anywhere. The push seems to all be going the other way, in fact, to restricting voting -- now there's an abomination!

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 08:35 PM:

187
"Americans for Tax Reform".
That's Norquist's organization.

#191 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2012, 10:51 PM:

Aaand I just made another donation to OfA.

2008's campaign was very emotionally charged, but also, as it became clear that Obama could actually win, strangely joyous. This just feels grim. Vital, also.

albatross, I respect you, and I know you have not made your decision lightly -- but when you say you don't think this election is "critical;" consider, what if you're wrong?

#192 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 12:32 PM:

Down here in NC I've not gotten many campaign ads yet, but the TV ads are coming hot and heavy. The latest one from Romney (or his supporting PAC's) is the jogging mom with the baby carriage, worried that her husband has been laid off twice in the last 3 years.

Then the old "I voted for hope and change, but it was just a slogan" comment, followed by "the economy is getting worse, we're headed for a new recession". Really? Honestly, I've not seen it.

Followed by a "the future is getting worse" next to Obama's image at the end of the ad. The GOP apparently believes lies in their ads this late in the campaign is perfectly acceptable. If they lose, no one will care, if they win, well, no one will care then either.

#193 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 12:41 PM:

John L:

My old (now semiretired) boss, a lifelong Republican, likes to repeat this old sarcastic comment on politics: "They told me if I voted for Goldwater, I'd end up carrying a rifle in Southeast Asia, and damned if they weren't right."

I feel a little that way about Obama, though I did vote for him. But the stuff we've seen under Obama is the sort of thing I would have worried about happening under McCain, and it's one reason I *wouldn't* have voted for McCain in 2008.

#194 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 07:53 PM:

Dave Bell: No, I meant 2nd Ypres: I am re-reading Lyn MacDonald's, "1915", so that is quite fresh in my mind.

As for torture, who trains the guys who run the SERE courses and other such resistance to interrogation stuff?

Could you expand the question?

#195 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 07:59 PM:

As to the problem of torture... Alan West.

He was cashiered from the Army (sadly, without prejudice... I think he ought to have been court-martialed, and given a Dishonorable) for engaging in torture. I wrote about it at the time, and the NY Times article on it is a textbook example of how torture fails to work but he's running for re-election.

That's why it's as much (if not more) our fault than it is this president's. Does it disgust me that he's left the Bush Loophole in the law? Yes. If I'd been lucky enough to get one of those, "meet me for dinner" slots, he'd have gotten an earful from me on that subject.

But he's got a lot of groundlevel resistance to it.

#196 ::: Terry Karney's been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 08:01 PM:

I'd guess for using a shortlink. Sorry, I was trying to get around the NY Times' firewall issues.

#197 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 08:54 PM:

My feeling is that if McCain had been elected in 2008, he'd be dead already and we'd have been dealing with Palin until Congress decided to impeach her (for a variety of reasons).

#198 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:37 PM:

we'd have been dealing with Palin until Congress decided to impeach her (for a variety of reasons).

Out of all the reasons that might be available, I bet they wouldn't have used the most important ones.

#199 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:39 PM:

Lizzy L at # 191: when you say you don't think this election is "critical;" consider, what if you're wrong?

I am pretty much sympathetic with Albatross's point of view, but your question reminds me that I didn't think 2000 was critical, and I was wrong about that. So it looks like every election is critical.

#200 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 09:41 PM:

Here's a slogan I might be able to get behind: More like Sotomayor and Kagan in 2012.

#201 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 10:10 PM:

I live in a red state, so there are absolutely no calls, mailers, broadcast ads, billboards, or yard signs for the presidential candidates. Instead I have to hear over and over how many times Bob Kerrey raised taxes or Deb Fischer got tax breaks for her ranch.

#202 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2012, 11:48 PM:

Allan, #201: There's a good case to be made that every election is critical as long as one of the parties has the stated goal of demolishing government (except for the parts that keep women, gays, non-Christians, and minorities in their place) and ushering in the kleptocracy.

#203 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 03:06 AM:

We're deeply blue in Hawai'i, but we have an open Senate seat as well as the House one, and we also have a former Democratic Governor running for mayor on an anti-rail platform, while the previous-but-one mayor is for the project (which is funded for quite a while and partly under construction). Thus we are seeing lots and lots of ads.

The US Chamber of Commerce is trying to persuade us that a different former Governor was the most pro-education Republican in the history of the state and would continue to be as Senator. This despite our memories of her cutting teachers to the point of having to institute what was called Furlough Fridays here -- 17 Fridays without school for some school years during her terms in office. The Chamber is also telling us she's the world's most bipartisan of souls, again trusting we'll have forgotten that she and the Democratic legislature fought like crazy.

#204 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 06:37 AM:

#195 ::: Terry Karney

A lot to notice in that article-- was that complaint that information from prisoners wasn't saved and organized ever followed up? What about the soldiers who beat the prisoner? One of the minor ill effects of how interrogation is portrayed in popular art is that people get the impression its unskilled work.

#205 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 09:12 AM:

The chances of tie in the Electoral College have doubled!

From 0.03% to 0.06%....

#206 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 09:56 AM:

Re: Leah @155: The general willingness to ignore civil liberties when threatened by danger, real or imagined, is not a new thing in the US--look at the Red Scare right after World War I*, Justice Holmes's observations in Schenck v. United States, HUAC, J. Edgar Hoover and his general obliviousness to the Bill of Rights, Senator McCarthy, and the history of the Civil Rights Movement, labor organization, and the protests against war in Vietnam. You can, in fact, go all the way back to John Adams' Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 and see the same sort of thought at work there. For a people that loves Liberty, we're very willing to trade it away if it will keep the Scary People away. We've always been willing to tell ourselves that we needed someone to check under our beds and in our closets to make sure there weren't any monsters lurking, and to pay someone to whack them with a poker when they found them, whether they were monsters or not. We've done this willingly and repeatedly, without giving much thought to the greater consequences; the idea that this knife can cut both ways is one which is regularly resisted.


Not only has the existence of the ACLU been necessary since its inception, the existence of the ACLU has been threatened regularly, as it has been one of the few organizations that has been willing to not only say "That ain't right" but go to court to fight over civil liberties, often in the face of outright public hostility, let alone public indifference.

ObRef post topic: We were canvassed recently by a local Democratic Party rep for money, and are receiving local (but not national) mailers. Whether that's because of the general redness of most of Tennessee or not I can't say for sure. I've seen plenty of bumper stickers for Obama/Biden, and about as many for Johnson as for Romney, but my usual routes aren't going to take me into the more Republican precincts of Nashville. Not having a home phone, we are spared at least that indignity, but there are the commercials, the endless, relentless commercials. I've seen yard signs for Jim Cooper, our blue dog US rep, but nothing about the Senate race--after the Harold Ford JR campaign, the Tennessee Democratic Party appears to have given up hope on Senate races, although the man in charge, Chip Forrester, may be part of the problem. I have heard him described, to paraphrase Montgomery Ward Snopes, as a weasel's weasel.


I've posted links to these on Twitter already, and I'll repeat them here: the Tennessee Secretary of State's webpage information about Voter ID, with links to other election-related information, including registration, and the Tennessee Department of Safety's webpage about getting a photo ID. In addition, here's Can I Vote, a website set up by some secretaries of state to share voting information.

If you are interested in doing some good, without reference to party affiliation or preference, check in with your local efforts to help people get these things sorted out--even aiming them at the right places to ask questions and get correct answers is a help. Every state attorney general should have the correct information about election times, registration and other requirements on their site. So should every county election commission.

I believe the ID laws are pernicious, but while we fight against them, we should also be prepared to follow the letter of such laws, and help others to do so as well. The best way to subvert such legislation is to keep it from doing what its framers intended--disenfranchise our fellow citizens.

*Wikipedia links used for convenience; more details available elseweb, or in your local library.

#207 ::: Shadytail ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 10:20 AM:

Delurking to ask: How do you get up to speed on local politics in a new town? Actually it's worse-for the first time as an adult I've moved states (to Arkansas) as well, and I really feel the lack of background. It doesn't help that I'm in grad school and haven't made time to read the papers.

It feels wrong to cast an uniformed ballot. Fortunately I've decided that parties matter (thanks in part to discussions and Particles etc. here), so I can bring myself to vote straight ticket Dem., but I'd still like to read up a little on the current major controversies and their history.

Would emailing the state and local parties be likely to net me good blog recs or links other good guides? What I really want is the state and local politics version of this SG-1 (media) fandom overview, but I suspect it doesn't exist.

I can google the candidates and read their websites but that's not much use without context to help tell the pressures on them and to know which parts of their platform are contentious vs local consensus.

By the way, thanks to Leah @109 for giving me a reason to vote for Obama and not just against Romney. I hadn't put two and two together, but yeah, if the ACA survives the coming administration, it'll be a fait accompli. Not that I don't expect the GOP to try for a repeal, but once it goes fully into effect it'll be much harder. I'm also in the 1977-1990 cohort, and have had years of patchy to nonexistent coverage. (Not coincidentally, they were very bad years in general.) My parents are struggling with affording health insurance right now.

#208 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 10:36 AM:

Shadytail (207): Try the League of Women Voters. Their very informative voting-information website can, among other things, generate a personalized ballot with information about all the candidates and ballot issues. Also, my local League puts out a voting information booklet shortly before the election, with background on all the candidates. I rely heavily on that booklet, which I pick up at my local library.

I'm not sure how much information Project VoteSmart has on local races, but they're certainly very helpful for state and national elections.

#209 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 10:36 AM:

Shadytail @ 207... thanks to Leah @109 for giving me a reason to vote for Obama

He also watches "Mythbusters" with his daughters, and even appeared in one episode where he challenged them to revisit Archimedes's death ray. Yes, I *have* been blinded by Science (Science!). Why do you ask? :-)

#210 ::: Mary Aileen has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 10:37 AM:

Only two links, with election info for Shadytail.

Would the gnomes like some oatmeal-raisin cookies?

#211 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 10:56 AM:

Shadytail @207: How do you get up to speed on local politics in a new town? Actually it's worse-for the first time as an adult I've moved states (to Arkansas) as well, and I really feel the lack of background. It doesn't help that I'm in grad school and haven't made time to read the papers.

The cheap and dirty way is to pick whichever newspaper seems most closely aligned to your own politics, and then grab their election guide the week or so before the election. Here in Austin, I use The Chronicle, which is the free weekly paper that actually reports on local events and does investigative journalism, instead of just reprinting AP articles. The sorts of newspapers and community newsletters available for free in local coffee shops are often a good place to start.

Beyond that, I defer to those with more political experience. But if you have anything that does pre-election coverage like that paper--which tends to explain the issues, give their opinion, explain their opinion, and then also offer an opposing opinion if staffers disagreed--it's a great cheat sheet for catching up on the basics.

#212 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 11:03 AM:

Lee:

Similarly, every election is critical as long as one party is dedicated to betraying us to Muslims and imposing Sharia law.

Fortunately, we don't have any big political parties dedicated to imposing Sharia law or dismantling the government. It's easy to see this by their actions in power. Republicans in power don't cut the size of government, or the size of the deficit, or abolish any large departments of the government. Democrats don't surrender to any Muslims or impose Sharia law on anyone.

These two lines of attack are, to my mind, about equally disconnected with reality. Talking about the Republicans as the party of smaller government is as ironic as talking about Democrats as the party of opposition to war.

#213 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 11:28 AM:

Shadytail @ 207

Aside from looking up the local independent newspaper endorsements, another option is to see if there's a blog dedicated to your sort of local politics.

I just searched for democratic blogs arkansas and found Blue Arkansas. It looks like they don't get down as far as local politics, but they might well link to more local blogs.

#214 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 01:18 PM:

Shadytail, #207: I'm on the mailing list for the local GLBT political group's endorsement flyer. In the races I don't know much about, I figure that anyone they're willing to endorse won't do something I'd consider heinous.

albatross, #212: You are joking, right? Or have you just not been paying attention to the Republicans for the last 10 years? They have gutted all the parts of government that actually benefit the American people (mostly regulatory and safety agencies, but also public education) and rely on bloating the parts relating to defense and surveillance to keep you from noticing.

#215 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 03:39 PM:

@Xopher and Adel, et al

Thank you for the kind words about my post upthread. If you think it's still relevant, feel free to quote and link (even though I'm not as proud of some of my other posts in this thread). I'm sorry it's taken me so long to check back in, but writing that post completely used up all my "posting seriously and responsibly on the internet" spoons for the week.

Albatross @212

I won't argue that a party is dismantling government, as that means many things to many people.

Instead, I'll say this: every election is critical when one party seems strongly devoted to preventing people from voting and preventing accurate recounts. (Voter ID laws, registered voter roll purges, limited voting hours, and electronic voting machines with no paper trail are almost exclusively pushed by one party.)

This is something I'm almost hyper-aware of, because the first election I was legally allowed to vote in was one where judges - all of whom were appointed by a single party - decided that in certain circumstances it was not important to actually make sure that votes were accurately counted in an election. This same party has been working tirelessly to limit the ability of citizens to vote for this entire election cycle, and if you don't think preserving access to voting for all citizens is critical to preserving this country, I don't know what is.

Even if limiting the right to vote is not the stated goal of the Republican party, when a man can stand up in public and say "this law we passed that will limit the ability to vote is going to win my state for my party," I think one must sit up and pay attention.

If you hope, in the future, to vote for a candidate who is better on civil liberties, I would assume that you want to make sure that all eligible citizens will be able to vote when that election comes, and that the vote you cast during that election will be counted accurately. I think it's pretty important to consider each party's stance on preservation of the right to vote and access to accurate vote counts.

#216 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Shadytail @ #207, Google Arkansas Political Blogs and you'll get a wide array. If you lean left, the search could be modified to the one Naomi tried in #213.

Another thing: once you've found one you like, click on the news/blogs sites in its blogroll. That's the easiest way to find relevant sites I can think of.

#217 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 08:03 PM:

Albatross, how do you feel about the fact that one of the parties refuses to even consider the possibility that global climate change might be happening?

#218 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Can we get rid of the effing Electoral Collagen?

#219 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 12:17 AM:

Serge @218: Electoral Collagen is holding my bones together, so No.

#220 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 02:02 AM:

Interesting article from an extremely conservative source. Even they are starting to notice that the 1% don't care about them either.

#221 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 10:54 AM:

D Potter @ 219... :-)

#222 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 01:17 PM:

Lee @220:

Thanks for that link. I've Parheliated it.

I'm sure I wouldn't agree with Lofgren's solutions, but I'm glad to see a conservative who can see the problem. If we were opposed by more conservatives like that, we could actually get somewhere interesting as a nation.

#223 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 02:02 PM:

A Mormon told me this morning, "Romney's campaign is so dead, that the Mormons have decided to baptize it." I guess that's a joke that's going around, but I'd not heard it before. It made me chuckle, anyway.

#224 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2012, 02:41 PM:

It was restful to see a conservative blaming the financial crisis on fraud in the financial industry rather than on regulations which required bankers to be too generous to poor people.

#225 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 12:55 PM:

I may have been oversensitive to context in the debate. When Mitt Romney said "I've got five boys and so I'm used to people saying things that aren't always true..." the first thing that hit me was "He called the President a liar" and the second thing was "... was that edging up to calling the president 'boy'?"

Upon closer examination, I don't think so. But it's still him saying "Let the grown-ups run things".

#226 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Love the graphic at ABC News: A head shot of Romney with the label "Mostly Fiction."

Did anyone (besides me) wince when Romney told Lehrer that he wanted to fire him AND Big Bird?

#227 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:35 PM:

Lori Coulsson @ 226... I understand that puppeteer (and former SFWA veep) Mary Robinette Kowal wasn't too happy about his intentions for Big Bird. She said nothing about Lehrer. I think many would bemoan BB's departure more than the latter's.

#228 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Shadytail, one way would be to ask an Arkansawyer. Trust me, this works (if his mail isn't bouncing).

As to not voting or voting third-party, I'm still glad I voted Nader in 2000. It was part of a serious effort to move the Green Party up a notch. I don't see any such effort this year.

#229 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Random language question about that "Revolt of the Rich" link: What is the history of the cliched "handmaiden", as in
'The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens ...' ?

It's an Orwellian "everyone says it, nobody thinks about it" plug-in word, but I don't know where it originates. Nobody's had a literal handmaiden for a few hundred years, so why do people keep talking about them?

#230 ::: Sandy B. is gnomed AGAIN ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 01:59 PM:

I'm terribly sorry to have troubled the gnomes twice in a row. Tea?

#232 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 02:59 PM:

My first reaction to the debate last night, as I posted it on Facebook:

I've spent too much time on the Internet. When Mitt Romney said to Barack Obama "Probably the most romantic place you could imagine celebrating [your anniversary], here with me" all I could think was "Oh Lord, the fanfiction."

And relevant animated gif is relevant.

#233 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 03:07 PM:

Lee/abi/Nancy:

There is a fair bit of skepticism about bankers/wall street, and about our wars, on the right. But not in the mainstream part of the right that appears on TV very often.

#234 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Caroline @ 232... As long as it doesn't include Carl Rove dressed like a Mexican wrestler...

#235 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 06:00 PM:

Sandy B. #225: Ironic, considering that Obama is very much the "grownup in the room" compared to most of the Repubs and a good many of the Democrats.

#236 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 06:05 PM:

Sandy B @229 -- my bet says it's someone showing off their Latin by translating "ancillary" to make it more understandable.

#237 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 07:58 PM:

Sandy B @ 229, Tom Whitmore @ 236: I'd guess it comes from the account of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke, King James Version: "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." "Handmaid(en)" is thus established as meaning "someone submissive and obedient that someone more powerful uses to carry out a purpose."

#238 ::: Caroline is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 08:00 PM:

And iDevice, no matter how many times you try to autocorrect me, I am not "gnomes."

#239 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2012, 08:53 PM:

#229 "Handmaiden" appears in the Bible, right? That's a perpetual source of the word.

#240 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2012, 03:06 PM:

An interesting article on principle and compromise in politics. Full disclosure -- I'm talking in another online community with one of the authors, and I think he's both intelligent and thoughtful. Even when we disagree.

#241 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 02:33 PM:

Tom:

I suspect the main driver for the "never compromise on principles" meme is the desire of voters and donors and volunteers to decrease the ability of their politicians to mouth whatever slogans are useful for getting elected, and then turn around and do whatever they please once in office.

I can't possibly monitor every action of my congressmen. Even looking up their votes takes time and effort (if I want to know what the votes actually meant, a lot of time and effort). It's hard to judge whether they're really advocating for my side of issues I care about in a lot of ways--whether that's lower taxes or gay rights or whatever.

One way to make that simpler is to make a very clear line, like "I will never vote for a tax increase." That costs the congressmen a huge amount of flexibility--they may very well be able to get more fiscal responsibility by agreeing to vote for a tax increase sometimes. But "I bargained hard for our side and finally came to an unappetizing compromise that was the best I could do" is a lot harder to prove or check than "I never voted for a tax increase."

#242 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2012, 03:29 PM:

albatross @241: I agree that that's one mechanism by how this works, and it's similar to the mechanism of "party discipline" that the Republicans have been so successful with. And it's nowhere near the best way to have a politician act, if our goal is actually to get the best result in a complex situation. Which, almost all the time, running a country this size actually is. It's the legislative equivalence of "zero tolerance" policies at other levels: easy to point to, hard to make work sensibly.

#244 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 04:38 PM:

From an outsider (Canadian) point of view, the "obvious" way to "fix" the US Electoral College is to (somehow) mandate that all states allow splitting the electoral college votes proportionately. Aside from selling this to people who won under the old system (the problem with electoral reform in general), what's actually wrong with the idea that isn't visible from the north?

#245 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 05:29 PM:

Henry, just off the top of my head, it would make campaigns even more expensive then they are now (an inappropriate diversion of important resources IMO), because the campaigns would have to pound on every state they way they only do in swing states now.

And it would increase the disproportionate-influence problem (for example, a vote in Montana counts for much more than a vote in New Jersey, because Montana has 3 electoral votes and fewer than a million people (about 3 EV/million population), whereas New Jersey has 14 EVs and nearly 9 million people (about 1.6 EV/million population), so a single vote in Montana counts almost twice as much as one in New Jersey).

#246 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 07:20 PM:

Henry: The only way you can require all states to award electoral votes proportionally is with a constitutional amendment, which requires a 2/3 vote of both houses and consent of 3/4 of the states. You could do it in theory, but it would be very difficult to pass, and a more popular alternative seems to be to elect the presidency on via straight popular vote.

That alternative, moreover, can either be achieved by a constitutional amendment, *or* by having a group of states that control at least half the electoral votes agree to award them based on the national popular vote. (That agreement requires fewer states than a constitutional amendment would.) There's already a drive to do this once enough states agree; accoring to the linked web site, states with a total of 132 electoral votes have signed on. (270, or just over half the 538 total electoral votes, are needed for the agreement to take effect.)

#247 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 08:50 PM:

Xopher @#245

Ah! And three is the minumum number of electoral votes for a state.

I see it would move the disproportion around, and tend to make it more permanent. (Populations change more slowly than opinions, in general.)

#248 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2012, 09:19 PM:

Right, so Wyoming (the least populous state, with a population about 1/5 that of Brooklyn, NY) still has 3 Electoral Votes. Nobody bothers with Wyoming right now, because it's deep red and if Romney gets 50.001% of the vote he gets all 3 EVs. If Wyoming could split, he'd have to get more than 66.66...% (I think, someone correct my math) of the vote in order to get all three.

That would mean he'd have to do ad spending there. And individual votes in WY would count even more than they do now.

#249 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2012, 11:36 AM:

It's been a while since I've updated this.

Today's loadout in the mail:

  • Flyer from Jeff Woodburn (Democrat for State Senate). Attacks Debi Warner.
  • Postcard from Romeny/Ryan reminding me to vote.
  • Sixteen-page 8-1/2x11" stapled full-color glossy magazine from Obama, "A Plan for Jobs & Middle-class Security."
  • Non-partisan flyer, "Thousands of your friends and neighbors will be voting on Election Day November 6. Join Them. VOTE."
  • Four-page flyer, anti-Romney. "As CEO, Mitt Romney made millions putting himself and other millionaire first. What will he do for us as President?"

Yesterday:

  • Cornerstone 2012 Families First Voter Guide and Sample Ballot (showing all Republicans filled in). Two copies.
  • Anti-Charlie Bass (Republican Congressional candidate from District 2) "Charlie Bass' influence peddling is not a pretty picture."
  • 8-1/2x11" full color glossy flyer for Jeff Woodburn. "The politicians' radical agenda in Concord... is leaving Granite State families out on a limb."
  • Full-color glossy flyer for Obama. "Vote Nov. 6 to Move ALL of us forward."

Last two weeks:

  • Anti-Romney.
  • Four-page anti-Obama.
  • A different four-page anti-Obama.
  • Pro Jeff Woodburn.
  • Another pro Jeff Woodburn.
  • Yet another pro Jeff Woodburn.
  • Anti-Ovide Lamontagne (Republican candidate for governor).
  • Anti-Charlie Bass.
  • Pro-Obama.
  • Four-page anti-Romney ("When Mitt Romney says, "Not Everybody is Going to Go to College, of Course," He's Talking About YOUR Kids.")
  • Anti-Charlie Bass (Rubber stamp typeface: "MOST CORRUPT.")
  • Anti-Ovide Lamontagne.
  • Anti-Obama.
  • Anti-Charlie Bass ("Charlie Bass: Another politician who's not on our side.")
  • Non-partisan remember to vote.
  • Anti-Democrats-in-general "We can't afford four more years."
  • Pro-Romney/Ryan "From Day One, Mitt Romney Will Put Job Creation First."
  • Pro-Duffy Daugherty and Larry Rappaport (Republicans for State representative). Four copies.
  • Pro-Republicans-in-general: "Don't be a day late and a dollar short ... Vote Republican on Tuesday, November 6th"
  • A different pro-Jeff Woodburn.
  • Yet another different pro-Jeff Woodburn.
  • Anti-Charlie Bass ("Your story doesn't matter to Charlie Bass")
  • Different anti-Charlie Bass. ("Follow the money and you will see Bass takes care of himself at our expense.")
  • Pro-Romney/Ryan "America's Come-back Team."
  • A different anti-Chalie Bass: "Charlie Bass received $358,725 from insurance companies and voted to allow them to charge women higher premiums."
  • Yet another anti-Charlie Bass: "She's a mom, a daughter, and a cancer survivor ... but to Charlie Bass, she's just a pre-existing condition."
  • Four-page anti-Romney: "It wasn't just our jobs that Romney let leave the country...."
  • Anti-Obama: "Will America be Forever Indebted by Barack Obama?"
#250 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2012, 12:13 PM:

It's reached the point where I hit the "mute" button for every commercial cycle on TV. The local campaigns must have gotten the word that the entire household has voted absentee and our ballots are in the hands of the county election board. The mail stream is dwindling.

Just read an article in the Dispatch that says the election board scans the absentee ballots as they are received and totals them on Election Day. THOSE are the totals that are reported first on the news in the evening. I always wondered how they got those figures so quickly.

#251 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2012, 06:21 PM:

Election campaign ends with chess match in swing states

Concluding a race expected to cost more than $6 billion overall, Obama and Romney and their running mates will hit all the battleground states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. The campaigns also are unloading a blast of television ads and mailings that threaten to overwhelm voters already saturated with politicking.

More mailings? "Already saturated"?

Gee, ya think?

Unfortunately, thick-stock glossy campaign flyers make lousy kindling.

#252 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Today's haul:

In the State Senate race:


  • Anti-Debi Warner ("Debi Warner: Wrong priorities") Two copies.
  • Pro-Jeff Woodburn ("Your State Senator Makes Important Decisions about Local Schools")
  • Pro-Debi Warner ("We need to restore our infrastructure")

Looks like Jeff is outspending Debi three to one. And given that this is the first flyer that Debi's sent me this election....

Governor's race:


  • Pro-Maggie Hassan ("On Tuesday, November 6, you choose: Commonsense leader Maggie Hassan OR Radical politician Ovide Lamontagne" (Full color photo of smiling Maggie and black-and-white photo of scowling Ovide).)


In the congressional election:


  • Anti-Charlie Bass ("Charlie Bass' Influence Peddling Game")
  • Anti-Charlie Bass ("Congressman Charlie Bass used his influence to get special treatment for his nephew's business.")

In the national election:


  • Pro-Obama ("Vote to move all of us forward")
  • Pro-Obama letter, sealed in an envelope. ("An important message from President Barack Obama"). Two copies.

General:


  • Vote Republican flyer. ("When will the Democrats' runaway spending end?")

#253 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2012, 05:35 PM:

Jim Macdonald @ 252: Oh, my. I suppose you feel much like the little girl in that video crying about campaign commercials?

Here in my solidly blue state, in a solidly blue city, I am also blessed with vote-by-mail. I return my ballot right away, and campaigns can see who has already voted, so they quit spending money hitting you with mail and phone calls (assuming that they were bothering in the first place). All that leaves is TV, and I can fast-forward over commercials.

#254 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2012, 10:55 PM:

Yesterday, ten pieces of electioneering mail. Today, seventeen.

Plus three phone calls. One robocall for Jeff Woodburn, informing me that Jeff supports marriage equality, while his opponent, Debi, wants to re-outlaw gay marriage.

One robo-poll.

One live-person call for Romney/Ryan. Caller: "Romney and Ryan have a plan to save American business...." Me: "I know what the Romney/Ryan plan is!" Caller: "You do?" Me: "Yes! Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are both planning to vote for Obama! Bye!"

Anyway, today's haul:

State races:

House of Representatives:


  • Pro-Duffy Daugherty and Larry Rappaport ("Improving New Hampshire's Economy. Helping Our Businesses Create Jobs.") Two copies.

Governor:

  • Anti-Maggie Hassan ("Maggie Hassan's 33 Tax & Fee Increases Are Hurting Our Families.")
  • Anti-Maggie Hassan ("Career Politician Maggie Hassan Wants To Pick Our Pockets With Higher Taxes.")
  • Anti-Maggie Hassan ("Maggie Hassan Pays No Property Taxes Herself, But Has Pushed For Higher Taxes and Fees for the Rest of Us.")

(Ms. Hassan is the Democratic candidate, opposing Ovide "So Far Right the Tea Party Ran a Guy Against Him in the Republican Primary Because They Thought He Was Too Extreme" Lamontagne.)

Congress:


  • Pro-Annie Kuster ("Annie Kuster Will Bring A Fresh New Approach To Change Congress.")
  • Pro-Charlie Bass ("A Proven Advocate for Women and Families.")
  • Anti-Annie Kuster ("The Taxes & Regulations Anne Kuster Supports Would Cost the Average New Hampshire Family $3,600 MORE a year?") Two copies.
  • Pro-Charlie Bass ("Focused on Solutions and Working Across Party Lines to GET THINGS DONE!") Two copies.
  • Anti-Charlie Bass ("Bass voted to end Medicare as we know it.")
  • Pro-Charlie Bass ("Proven leadership.") Two copies.

National:

  • Anti-Romney ("Where in the world did all our jobs go?")
  • Pro-Obama ("We gotta keep moving forward. Gotta vote.")
  • Pro-Obama ("With President Obama, More People Can Afford To Get the Right Skills.")

#255 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 10:56 AM:

Yesterday two polls and one live-person for Jeff Woodburn.

Today in the mail only two flyers:

  • Anti-Rappaport and Daugherty ("Tea Party Politicians LARRY RAPPAPORT and DUFFY DAUGHERTY are taking New Hampshire in the wrong direction...") (Which is odd, since these guys aren't Tea Partiers; they're Ron Paul Libertarians.)
  • Pro-Maggie Hassan ("Maggie Hassan for Governor Will Put New Hampshire's Working Families First") I guess this balances out yesterday's front-page editorial in the Union Leader which was anti-Maggie Hassan.
#256 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 11:28 AM:

We on the other hand are getting buried in Question 7 (gambling) fliers and ads. My youngest plays on-line games and is getting dozens of them; over half our mail is fliers. Pro- is out ad-ing anti- by at least a five to one ratio. Particularly insidious is the message that if we don't authorize casino gambling, all our money is going to go to West Virginia.

#257 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 12:22 PM:

Earlier today the incredible Hulk sent me an e-mail asking me as a fellow Democrat to make a donation for the campaign of Wisconsin's Rob Zerban.

#258 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 12:23 PM:

Good news -- the number of catalogs received in today's mail outnumber the political flyers.

I feel sorry for the mailman -- the catalogs are much heavier than the flyers. And every catalog company in business seems to have our address.

#259 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 12:30 PM:

Both Romney and Obama (backed by Bill Clinton) were in-state yesterday. Romney will be back tonight for a late-night rally.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to go.

#260 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 12:55 PM:

My plan was to vote for Obama if Pennsylvania if Pennsylvania is in play, and for Johnson Pennsylvania solidly glued rather than swinging.

So now it looks as though Pennsylvania *might* be a swing state.

#261 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 08:46 PM:

I get bombed by fliers for the two congressional candidates in my district (both allegedly Democrats, both supporters of Israel, but one was cheering Israel's boarding of the Gaza fleet last year and the other has been endorsed by three Republican Senators). Also I get a lot of 'slate' mailers with recommendations that I'm pretty sure are all paid for by the recommendees.

My sample ballot is marked and ready to use.

#262 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 09:32 PM:

P J Evans: here in CA, the paid recommendations are allegedly required to be marked with an asterisk; I assume the other recommendations are chosen to make the "slate" look legitimate and sympathetic.

#263 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 09:46 PM:

262
Oh, they are marked, as far as the candidates. Propositions, not so much.
Several of them came with a 'yes on 33' box, which got them tossed first. (Actually, I tossed all of them. Recycling is good. And there is no way I'm voting for 33.)

#264 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 10:27 PM:

P J Evans:

Pardon my parochialism, but what's 33?

Me, I'm voting against a state constitutional amendment to screw public employees out of their pensions. It's worded prettier than that, but that's the intent.

#265 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 11:17 PM:

Prop 33, in California, is designed to charge people who don't have a solid car insurance record more money. Of course it isn't worded like that. (Paid for by the boss of a major car insurance company. He lost last time he tried it.)

#266 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 11:19 PM:

Nate Silver is predicting 314 electoral votes for Obama, and a 90 percent chance of winning.
It may not be a landslide, but it's close enough, I think.

#267 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2012, 11:37 PM:

For those of you planning to vote third party because you can't support either of the budget-busting warmongers, I hope you are able to explain your reasons on Facebook and yard signs and op-ed pages, not just within the secrecy of the voting booth. If you intend to vote for Obama expecting better Supreme Court appointees, I hope it works out that way. And if you plan to vote for Romney hoping that he will shrink the size of the government and spend more prudently than Obama, well... good luck with that.

#268 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 12:42 PM:

No flyers today. Done with that for another three-and-a-half years.

So far:
One live call for Annie Kuster.
One robo-call for Charlie Bass.

#269 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 02:19 PM:

Jim Macdonald @268: they haven't figured out that you already voted? That's just not paying attention. Dixville Notch voters should be free of calls on election day!

#270 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 03:23 PM:

A lovely live-person phone call last night, and the guy had a wonderful phone voice.

He was delighted when I told him all persons in the household had voted straight Democratic ticket.

He was even more touched when I thanked him for calling anyway.

#271 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 08:59 PM:

I'm not a Dixville Notch voter -- Dixville is one town to the east of me.

We went out to vote, then stayed out 'til after the polls closed just to avoid calls.

At this hour, two hours after the polls closed, there are still reportedly 200 in line in Londonderry.

And, based on the early returns, even people who voted for Romney still couldn't bring themselves to vote for Lamontagne.

---------------

Breaking. AP has called the governor's race for Maggie Hassan over Ovide "Too Crazy Even for Republicans" Lamontagne.

He'd lost three out of three races up to today; now it looks like four-for-four.

#272 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 09:08 PM:

271
I saw a photo of the Dixville Notch voters - or nine of them anyway, standing in their voting booths.

Got home from work-plus-voting about ten minutes ago. There was about a fifteen minute line when I got there - not as long as four years ago, when it was out the door at the same hour.

#273 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 09:37 PM:

Jim Macdonald

But did you have waffles? HMMMM?

#274 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 09:42 PM:

Nope. I had liver-and-onions up at Happy Corner.

#275 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2012, 09:51 PM:

I guess that means you're not part of the Great Dixville Notch Conspiracy.

Their "melt" sandwiches look very tasty indeed.

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