July 28, 2004

What if Kerry Wins?

Dean Esmay has an important question for conservatives to think long and hard about.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 02:13 PM

Don't blame me.

Posted by: HA at July 28, 2004 02:31 PM

With respect to conduct of a war, I will pledge that politics stops at the water's edge. If, for example, Kerry were to enact a stupid trade policy, however, I believe there is no such obligation to refrain from politics.

Posted by: Ben at July 28, 2004 02:48 PM

I think back to the Clinton days, and the war to take down Slobodan Milosovich. Many conservatives were against this. Others, like me, were ambivalent about it. We did not breathlessly politicize the effort of try to undercut it.

I am comfortable with the way I acted then. I will pledge to act similarly in the future. If I think a policy is misguided, I will say so. But I won't run around comparing Kerry to Stalin.

Unless, of course, he turns into Stalin, which I don't think any President has ever come close to doing.

I thought that the plan crafted by Carter and agreed to by Clinton to coddle the North Koreans was reckless, and I "howled" as much as I could about it. I think that is appropriate.

If Kerry wins, and we have to go to war with Iran, or North Korea, for example, I won't be acting anything like the Democrats right now, although I will be castigating the Democrats as hypocrits whenever they don't live up to the standard they tried to enforce on the current administration.

That's my pledge. I think it is fair.

Posted by: Gerry at July 28, 2004 03:28 PM

I don't think Kerry is some kind of Manchurian Candidate controlled by the Ketchup Kartel. I don't think any and every action he takes will be "about the tomatoes!" I don't think he'll make up stories about Weapons of Mass Condiments.

I do believe that whatever he does, he will do it in the sincere belief that what he's doing is in the best interest of the country as a whole.

On the other hand, when he's being stupid, I'll call him on it, domestic policy or foreign. If I think his action will empower, or even embolden, our enemies, I will try to be articulate and respectful in pointing out the problems I perceive.

I promise not to make things up.

And if he surprises me and runs things well, I promise to give him credit where it's due.

So no, I'm not going to turn into Michael Moore if Kerry is elected. But neither will I be part of the hallelujah chorus, any more than I have been for Bush.

Posted by: Mark Poling at July 28, 2004 03:43 PM

As long as we have troops in the field I will not publicly criticize Kerry regarding military affairs.

We should be a monolith when facing the enemy.

Posted by: spc67 at July 28, 2004 04:47 PM

I've accepted the challenge, but only if Kerry acts like a President and not a Political Commisar.

Posted by: Mike at July 28, 2004 04:50 PM


I think it's fine to criticize Kerry, just as it's fine to criticize Bush. It's the "Bush=Hitler," "Bush is a Jewish sock puppet," "Bush lied people died" kind of nonsense that needs to stop and not be responded to in kind from the right. In my opinion.

Oh, and the "appease Milosovic now" demands from the right over Kosovo should not be repeated as well if Kerry embarks on a military venture the Republicans think is unwise.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 04:56 PM

This is a difficult question and essentially involves putting the good of the nation over what might be a perfectly justifiable right to be as destructive as the left has been over the last 3 years.Unfortunately only one side seems to be required to behave 'well',while the other has carte blanche to run completely amok.
I am sorry to say that unless the 'left'takes its own garbage out and SOON,any call for a one-sided hudna in the culture wars is a non-starter.
Live by the sword;die by the sword.That's just the way things are and ALWAYS have been,and that's the way it will be if Kerry wins.

Posted by: dougf at July 28, 2004 05:02 PM

I can't imagine the right acting as irresponsibly as the left has over the past 12-18 months. If I ever see the leadership of the Republican party personally attacking a military intervention by Kerry or a future Democrat, or comparing them to Nazis, I will excoriate them to the fullest degree. The Democrats absolutely deserve every attack they get, but the country and military needs to be supported in the time of war, barring the rise of a fascist state in America. But then again, Al Gore and the rest of the leadership of the Democrats claim that Bush is the leader of a fascist state. This is why the party who walked out of congress to go watch F911 needs to get its ass kicked in November.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at July 28, 2004 05:22 PM

I should be fair. Only some of the leadership of the Democrats have accused Bush of being a fascist. I haven't actually heard Kerry or Edwards talk that way, just Pelosi, Gore and Kennedy.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at July 28, 2004 05:24 PM

Oh, this is an easy one.

I'll do exactly what I did when Clinton was elected.

Twice, even.

I don't know if I can stand to get any more politically aware, though.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 28, 2004 05:26 PM


What did you do when Clinton was elected?

My father in law is very conservative, and also extremely intelligent. He has a PhD in optical physics from Stanford. He invents all kinds of spiffy military hardware in his garage and sells the stuff to the US military. Makes a good living at it, and I'm impressed he can do this all by himself from his house. Anyway, you can imagine that he spends a great deal of time on the phone with US government people. When Clinton was president he became so enraged that for a certain stretch it was no longer possible for him to describe the president in polite language. So for a while there he had to have his wife, my mother in law and a registered Democrat, make phone calls for him.

I find this astonishing. He's one of the nicest and gentlest people I've ever met. He makes a great father in law. But he just could not control himself on the subject of Clinton, not even when his income depended on it. Weird, I say. And a waste of emotion.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 05:37 PM

As a side note, I hated Bush myself before 9/11. It wasn't pathological or anything, I just found him repulsive.

After the towers fell I got a sense of perspective and felt like an ass for getting so worked up over a guy who never caused me any harm. It also felt dangerous to me to hate the president in a time of peril. That's why, no matter that I still don't care for him today except on a few specific points, you won't see me calling him "chimpy" of anything else like that. I won't call Kerry "horse face" or "Lurch" either, if I don't vote for him but he wins anyway.

I imagine that if Kerry wins despite my vote I'll do whatever I can to defend him from the inevitable nasty attacks that will follow, just like I have with the current president. I will not put up with Kerry=Hitler no matter what the man does. It's offensive, period.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 05:45 PM

When I voted for Gore in 2000, I did so because I feared Bush would not be up to the job. I was delighted to find out I was wrong. I think Kerry will be a disaster for the war on terror. If he wins I will root for him and ask God to bless America and pray again that I am wrong.

Posted by: Doug at July 28, 2004 06:32 PM

I've actually been thinking about this very question for awhile now. The conclusion I finally came to was that initially I'll give Kerry and the Democrats the benefit of the doubt. I'll take them at their word (their recent ones where they say they will stay in Iraq as long as it takes, won't ask approval from the UN-NATO-EU, will be strong on defense, etc.). But, if and when they betray these promises, then I'll start writing my congressmen demanding that they obstruct Kerry at every opportunity. Suffice it to say that I'll have a very low threshold for any backsliding on their part.

Posted by: MB at July 28, 2004 06:52 PM

I think the more important question is what will Dems do when Bush is re-elected?
I can see republicans closing ranks for the good of the country but I am not sure the other side is willing to do the same.

Posted by: Starhawk at July 28, 2004 06:54 PM

Starhawk: I can see republicans closing ranks for the good of the country but I am not sure the other side is willing to do the same.

I have my doubts, personally. The conservatives who read my blog don't seem typical. Michael Savage has millions of listeners, and his fans are not going to be nice.

But who knows, maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time, and I'll be pleasantly surprised if that turns out to be the case.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 07:00 PM


The only way the US has ever been beaten in a war was when the political climate at home effectively drove our soldiers from the field. That political division is what our enemies seek. I won't contribute to it if Kerry is elected.

If I did? I'd be strengthening the morale of our enemies. As Napoleon said "Morale to materiele as is three to one." Better enemy morale means more American dead. I won't contribute to it.

Posted by: spc67 at July 28, 2004 07:17 PM

MJT --

Michael Savage is hardly representative of the Right. I consider myself to be a conservative (actually, an evil neo-conservative), and I don't think much of him. While I agree with a certain amount of what he says, I find his positions to be far too radical, and I don't approve of his tone or his tactics. Most of my conservative friends agree with me; in fact, I only know one person who is a devoted Michael Savage follower, and I have doubts about his conservative bona fides (he is a Pat Buchanan-style populist). I think you elevate Savage by ascribing to him the status of a spokesman for the conservative movement.

Posted by: Ben at July 28, 2004 09:06 PM

Michael Moore has millions of viewers-- I hope you don't consider him to be representative of the Left.

If Kerry is elected I plan on behaving much as I did when Clinton was in office. In other words, to answer Deans question, "Yes."

Posted by: Rob at July 28, 2004 09:27 PM

Re: Savage and Moore. Yes, I know there are plenty of liberals and conservatives who are onto those two frauds and that they are not representative. My point, though, is that even if Dean Esmay and I convinced every single person who reads our blogs to agree to be civil toward the president of the other party that we'll be outgunned, so to speak, by people who are a lot more popular and a lot less reasonable. I do what I can, even so.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 28, 2004 09:51 PM


The Clinton election forced me to broaden my reading on current events. I just posted a hugeous post touching on that subject on the "Joementum" post at the top of Roger L. Simon's blog.

What would I do....? Nothing grossly different than I've ever done. Whoever wins the election is the president. I believe that losing an election means just that - the ideas I supported came in second and we'll have to see what transpires. I actually believe that the constitutional process works, remember? Not perfectly, but survivably, and most often much better than that. If Kerry should win he'd have to perform to earn my respect, but if he delivered he would get credit where credit is due. There is no longer any buffer for the office itself, though. Clinton took that marker off the table after constantly abusing it for eight years. It's going to take a long time for that damage to be repaired. If that is possible.

That took a lot of work on his part, not mine. It wasn't Lewinsky or Whitewater that did it, either. It was using the FBI to destroy Billy Dale. Everything else was just salt in the wound.

I am bemused but not surprised by the short-range historical treatment Clinton has gotten regarding the effect his administration had on the institution of the presidency. It seems that Nixon is held up as the most damaging occupant of the last century but I think a much better case could be made for Clinton to hold that honor.

Until Carter and Clinton decided their legacies were at stake it was unprecedented for a former president to critique sitting presidents during time of war...or anytime else, actually. The precedent has been set so I guess we'll just see how it plays out.

I won't be burying guns in the desert, if that's what you were thinking.

Oh...and since your father-in-law is obviously smarter than the both of us he probably twigged to what had happened to the country pretty early on. Knowing that something is broken is bad enough; knowing exactly how badly it's screwed up and being powerless to do anything about it is sometimes worse.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 12:16 AM

I would like to think that if the country was in mortal danger, as I believe it was on 9/11 and may still be, and certainly was during WW2, that partisanship would indeed end at the water's edge.

Would Republicans close ranks with Kerry on foreign policy ? I do not know, but I think one important point has been missed here. It is a sad fact that for the past 30 years or so, the Democrats have not been trustworthy on national defense. The Vietnam War really poisoned the Democrat Party, and it still has not recovered. After Vietnam, many Democrats began to believe American power needed to be "tamed", rather than understanding that our ideas are a great force for good. It is one thing to criticize the TACTICS of another party on foreign policy, but quite another to question the ultimate GOALS of foreign policy, especially AMERICAN foreign policy. The bottom line is this : If we believe Americans have inalienable individual rights to pursue self-actualization (in other words, that the individual is sovereign ), then we MUST believe that right belongs to ALL people on earth, or else it is not a right. So there cannot be any ambiguity about the utlimate goal of American foreign policy : global individual liberty.

Unfortunately, since the Vietnam War, elements of the Democrat Party have come to believe that America is arrogant, imperialist, consuming too many of the world's "resources", etc. Never mind the fact that if American was not so rich, the rest of the world would be FAR poorer than it already is. (Incidently, this attitude also explains why so many on the Left do not understand capitalism, but that is another matter ). This attitude that developed in the 1960s was a FUNDAMENTAL departure from the American creed. It is one thing to be isolationist, but some of these Democrats are downright anti-American ( see Michael Moore, the big fat stupid white man ). Also, just look around the faculties of your major universities, and witness the anti-American, anti-intellectual bile that is incessantly spewed forth.

Until this attitude becomes TRULY marginalized, or fades away completely, I think it is justifiable to have doubts about the Democrats' commitment to American security, particularly their willingness to use our power ALONE if needed.

I am afraid the burden of proof in this regard is still on the Democrats. It has been that way for over 30 years. And it shows no sign of ending, in spite of the clever drag show in Boston this week.

Posted by: freeguy at July 29, 2004 01:19 AM

In Dean's comments, Mark Noonan (about 55 in?), suggests that if Kerry wins, there will be more talk, less action ... until the terrorists regroup and succeed in another spectacular attack.

I've long been afraid of: Iran gets nukes; then terrorists get nukes; then a Western City gets nuked. Before 2008. Tel Aviv, Mumbai, Kabul, Moscow; Miami, Istanbul?

And then (rephrasing Mark), we'll get less nuanced again and, more simply, fight to win.

Also, there and here, I object to the double standard -- the more moral Reps/ conservatives are supposed to pledge to NOT do what the Dems are now doing. The question itself correctly assumes that the Dems are doing "something wrong": spreading & repeating lies (Clarke, Wilson, Berger) to hurt Bush's efforts at establishing Iraqi Freedom, and maybe more freedom elsewhere.

And, yes, if it's wrong for the Dems to do it, like NOT approving fed. judges, it will be wrong when the Reps do it. But if the Reps do it "less", it will be less wrong.

In any case, the main guilty parties are the Leftist press, and so if Kerry is elected, I fully expect the press to be much, much nicer to him. If Bush is re-elected I expect the press to continue being this negative, and continue to be less trusted by the voters. [I claim this is the only significant reason to vote Kerry – and I think he might win from it.]

Let me repeat Dean's pledge question: "I disagree with many of his policy directions, I do not think he is conducting our foreign policy in the right way, but I will do my best to get behind him and support him until elections come around next time?"

Actually, it's clear my answer is NO. It's unfair to expect me to 'get behind' and 'support' Kerry when he's wrong. That is NOT what 'loyal opposition' means, which is the core of the question. I pledge to be an honorable loyal opposition critic, opposing bad policies with honest comparisons of his results, or expected results, with alternative policies and expected alternative results.

Today, the Dems are NOT a loyal opposition; and if Bush wins I don't expect the press, nor most rich elites, to change.

Posted by: Tom Grey at July 29, 2004 02:20 AM

I really wish I could make my points without being so boring. Remember jibjab.com!
From "liberal wieners", to "right-wing nu-uh-ut jobs", This Land, belongs to you and me.

(Oh, and Dick Cheney, too.)

Posted by: Tom Grey at July 29, 2004 02:27 AM

"The conservatives who read my blog don't seem typical. Michael Savage has millions of listeners, and his fans are not going to be nice."

Good point. But while Savage does have millions of listeners, he does not have the same appeal among conservatives as many others who are more in line with the conservatives who reply on your blog, like me. Remember, before he got fired from MSNBC, his ratings were not very good at all.

There are jerks on both the left and the right. The jerks on the left are more numerous, I think, although that is arguable. What is not more arguable is that due to the influence of MoveOn and Michael Moore, the jerks on the left have become accepted by mainstream Democrats.

Posted by: Gerry at July 29, 2004 04:41 AM

Where, in any of the founding documents does "Loyal Opposition" or "Partisanship Ends at The Waters Edge" appear?

Its a fine ideology, its a good way to look at politics, but its not a requirement for Americans.

I personally don't believe that we live in a world of polite politics anymore. The Left and Right have thrown common courtesy to the wind, even the sanctity of the Senate floor needs reviewed by censors these days. (I wonder if they've installed the bleep system on CSPAN yet).

Why should any American support someone they believe to be wrong? So we'll look good on the world stage? Hate to break it to you, but we already look like bullies and buffoons to most of the rest of the world. Besides, why care what the rest of the world thinks?

If you think that Bush is an jerk, a poor president and a bad leader, then you should say something, and you should keep saying that same something until either, the country, or you changes. If you think that Kerry is a bad President (though you might want to give him 6 months to prove himself), then say something, protest, use your Freedom of Speech for what it was intended.

Remember, a democracy is judged by how it treats is dissidents, not how it treats its assimilated conformists.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of the ChaoAcorn
Chatterer of the Word of Eris

POEE of the Great Googlie Mooglie Cabal

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 06:53 AM

Tosk --

I suggest that you begin with The Federalist Papers and Democracy in America. A good foundation in Locke, Montaine and Adam Smith would also be helpful, leavened with an understanding of Burke and Paine.

Posted by: Ben at July 29, 2004 08:37 AM

"I personally don't believe that we live in a world of polite politics anymore."

I want to address this, but I am going to preface what I say now with this disclaimer: "This is not my idea of the way things should be. It is just a statement of facts."

The whole idea that there was some sort of world of polite politics in the days of the founding of the country is nothing but a myth.

If anything, we are much more polite now and believe it or not, less demagoguic than we were back in the 1700s and 1800s.

Again, that does not imply I think it is right or how it should be.

Posted by: Gerry at July 29, 2004 09:01 AM

I'd have to say if kerry wins I'll just lose interest in politics (I've only voted twice so it won't be hard). I'll just ignore the fact he was elected.

I was cool with Clinton, but I'll never be with Kerry because of his vietnam 'service'. The first medal he put himself in for is bogus; therefore the others are bogus as well. His 3 month combat tour may be the best documented in history. His service was an extreme example of the entitlement felt by a liberal fancy boy having to 'slum', having to simulate middle-class, hetero, christian behaviour. How many men served in vietnam and won 3 purple hearts without a scar or any hospitalization? Just one.

I'll tell you a story.

In desert storm I was a 20yo sgt. At one point I had to help repair a track on a vehicle using this huge friggin wrench. I accidently hit one of my guys in the balls with one end of it. I DID NOT put myself in for a bronze or silver star, nor the other guy for a purple heart. Things happen in combat that don't require a medal, things more substantial than anything Kerry did in vietnam.

Kerry is dishonorable, period, I'll never get past it.

On the other hand he did manage to marry two rich (but mentally ill) women despite a rotten personality and goofy, penis-headed physique. My current old lady bums money off me all the time; there may be some things I can learn from him.

Posted by: Raymond at July 29, 2004 09:04 AM

TmjUtah: I won't be burying guns in the desert, if that's what you were thinking.

Ha ha, no, that's not what I was thinking. I wasn't thinking anything in particular, actually. I haven't yet seen you in action as the opposition. I notice that you are polite to those who disagree with you, though, and did assume that would still be the case with a Dem in the White House.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at July 29, 2004 09:04 AM

I agree

Polite politics well, at least the veneer of polite politics existed for many decades. Hamilton and Burr are a great example of a polite veneer with some crappy politics under it.

Maybe duels for politicans should be reinstated.

"Vote Yes on Issue 42 - Let politicans off each other!"


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 09:27 AM

Michael -

Representative democracy depends on prinicipled debate aimed at common cause. There is almost always more than one way to skin a cat...almost always, I should say. But if the parties to an argument have conflicting objectives the solutions aren't going to make a lot of sense.

It is my considered opinion that the power portion of what is called the Democrat party has come to consciously regard the Constitution as an obstacle when they would be served a lot better by remembering the oath that accompanies election to office. No, the Republicans aren't pure either but their rank and file is overwhelmingly more supportive of limited government and literal interpetation of the Constitution than the other side even pretends to be.

Even with these stark differences the system still works. I've spoken before of the necessity to instill restraint, if not formal reform, on the power of the judicial. It is the single branch immune from popular electoral oversight (for very good reason) but it has come to be the go-to mechanism for getting laws passed that fail of popular support. I would rather see restraint in the form of represenative judicial appointements - i.e., appointments that reflect the composition of the Senate, which by extension will more accurately represent the will of the people. That's asking a lot, I know, especially when the minority party is as badly battered as is the situation now.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

That's the job they sign up for. The priority is pretty clear to a simple guy like me. I don't see any mandate for income redistribution or abortion on demand or who should be responsible for teaching Johnny how not to read or the proper political perspective of history.

Polite is not the same as pliant. Just another pop truism that all too often translates into shattered misconceptions and sometimes into broken furniture. Remember the shock when the Florida Republicans had the termity to mob the entrance to the Florida election commission spaces when it became clear that the board was embarked on a conscious attempt to recount the votes any way it took to win for Gore? Republicans? Protesting? The nerve. The media and the election commission acted like a mugger digesting the appearance of a pistol in the hands of a victim.

We weren't on script. Republicans flooding the streets? The nerve.

That's the kind of political activism I might participate in if push came to shove. That act caused the courts to expedite action in order to prevent a breakdown in public confidence in the system. The system worked...but it was a close-run thing.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 09:37 AM


I agree wholeheartedly with the ideas in your post. This country is supposed to be a group of democratic states, with a small federal republic as their guide in Interstate activity and the rights of citizens.

I don't think that the federal government is the place for most of the laws we have today. Assult Weapon Bans should belong to the States, Abortion bans should belong to the States, Marijuana bans should belong to the States. The only time the federal government should be involved is when someone traffics material into a State where said material is illegal. If Nevada legalizes Pot, and Colorado does not, then trafficing pot from Nevada to Colorado is the domain of the Feds.

Our federal government was meant (in a nutshell) to focus on one main issue, the Life, Liberty and Persuit of Happiness for all of its citizens.

If the federal government returned to these ideals, we would have smaller federal government, there would be a much smaller Justice Dept, smaller DEA, smaller ATF, Federal Taxes would be minimal and State taxes would depend on what the electorate of that State chose... you want pot to be illegal, you pay the taxes to enforce it. You want guns to be illegal, you pay for the taxes to see it enforced.

Alas, neither Bush, nor Kerry seem to understand these basic principles.

Hell, most of the Supreme Courts decisions would become null and void if we returned to the initial ideas that founded our country.

It saddens me that I must question if this solution would actually work though. After all, would the Right Wing Anti-Abortion groups be happy if all abortions were legal in Oklahoma, even if all abortions were illegal in Utah? Would the Left be ok with all assult guns being banned in California, while Arizona sells them by the dozen? The political activists are not interested in (what I call) The Fifty Flavors of Freedom. They want only the freedoms that they agree with, and they want those freedoms to be the same for everyone. There is no respect for anothers freedoms in this world of activists and lobby groups.

It would require an independant libretarian, with groundswell support from the electorate to even begin to nudge our Ship of State back onto course. With the power sitting in the hands of the Two Party System, there's not much chance of that happening.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 09:58 AM

Ratatosk -

" The political activists are not interested in (what I call) The Fifty Flavors of Freedom. They want only the freedoms that they agree with, and they want those freedoms to be the same for everyone. There is no respect for anothers freedoms in this world of activists and lobby groups."

I agree.

The strategy that has evolved is one of disdain. Instead of making a rational case for an issue it seems the go-to public relations effort is aimed at delegitimizing the opposition...not in supporting the issue.

I disagree with your stated equivalence between Bush and Kerry on understanding or adhering the issues at stake. Whatever Bush's political agenda was before 9/11, he's dead on script with the first line of his oath today. Everything else is secondary.

As far as states being able to chart their own course where contentious subjects are concerned I have to bring up the courts again. Equal treatment has become the scalpel for excising the constitutional limits on federal power. You don't have to sell an agenda to the nation. Just get one corner of one state to jump on board and then head for Federal Court.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 10:10 AM

Tmj & Tosk --

I agree too. Unfortunately, there would need to be a fundamental shift in the law to accomplish it. The most abused provision of the Constitution is the Commerce Clause (which permits the federal gov't to regulate interstate commerce and which is the stated basis for the vast majority of federal law). The courts have shown no interest in reigning in the Commerce Clause, and until they do, no change will occur.

Posted by: Ben at July 29, 2004 11:06 AM


W00t More agreement!

The courts absolutely bear quite a bit of responsibiltiy in the current lack of State's Rights. The federal court seems to have the right to rule on civil rights issues (such as the equal treatment of a minority group, re: Slavery, segregation etc...) because these directly affect the Life, Liberty and Persuit of Happiness of some citizens. I do not see Gay marriage as a Civil Rights issue, its an issue of what a State chooses to allow in their defination of marriage, hell in some states first cousins can marry, we don't see "First Cousins Rights" being brought to the federal bench. ;-)

However, Bush too fails to support the right of States to choose. A Federal`ly backed Constitutional Admendment defining marriage is not in line with States rights, a federal law reserving the right for each State to define marriage is. In fact, a federal law stating that States must recognize Common Law marriages (and that common law marriages could apply to Gays based on the States choice) would easily solve the problem.

Citizens of nine states have voted to allow Medical Marijuana to be used by people in their states, grown by people in their states. Bush's administration has harassed, arrested and prosecuted citizens of these states, for doing something that their state allows. This flys directly in the face of small federal government, with most responsibility resting with the State. remember, none of the marijuana is crossing state borders and it's not being sold for profit (no tax evasion issues).

It seems that Bush relents to the State when its an issue he likes, and controls at the federal level when its an issue he doesn't like. Getting rid of the federal ban on assult weapons is a good "small federal government" issue.... but pro-gun is a traditional Republican view, sothanks, but no big surprise there. Of course, Kerry will likely do the opposite, he'll stop federal medleing in Gay marriage and medical marijuana, but he'll start banning assult weapons and poke at any religious involvement in schools, jails, etc. (even though a completely Theocratic State is not against any constitutional law).

The Dems and Repubs are just two sides of the same coin.

Alas, shall we never se the grand experiment our forefather began to completion?


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 11:16 AM

Ok, so we have a group of people who are politically at odds with one another (Ben, TmjUtah, Me, probably others here), yet all seem to support the same basic system of government... the one outlined in the Constitution. How many others are in a similar situation? If there was truly a party that pressed for Small Government, States Rights and focused the Federal system on the protection of Life, Liberty and The Persuit of Happiness, could it become the force that changes our political landscape?

Surely a party like that would have supported the Afgan invasion, it would likely have been split over Iraq, but in the end would have concured based on the intelligence at hand.

A party like that would work hard to press for the education of the populace. Remember, the Supreme Court is not the final say in the United States. In fact, the final say lies with a jury and a little known and rarely spoken term "Jury Nullification". Yes, a jury can say "No, this man is not guilty, because the law he is being tried under is not a good law". They can do this at any time and effectivly strike down any Law.

A party like that might move the American experiment to its next evolution, a stage when citizens were more free than ever before. Where they had the choice of living in a State where guns were legal, pot was illegal, gay marriage was legal and abortion was restricted to emergencies only. Or, they could live in a state where Gay marriage was legal only as Common Law, Pot was legal, some guns were legal and most abortions were legal. On and on we could go, each state tailored to the desires of its citizens.



Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 11:26 AM

"If there was truly a party that pressed for Small Government, States Rights and focused the Federal system on the protection of Life, Liberty and The Persuit of Happiness, could it become the force that changes our political landscape?"

If there was truly a party that did that, it would be attacked unmercifully by the Democrats as racist and using code words like "States Rights" at the first indication that this fledgling party was doing more damage to the Democrats' than the Republicans' chances of being elected.

Count on it.

Posted by: Gerry at July 29, 2004 12:19 PM

Ratatosk -

You find the fact we agree on something to be remarkable?

Try this on for size. I support legalization of marijuana, methamphetimine, crack, heroin, powder cocaine, rum-marianated banana leaves, and private possession and breeding of poison dart frogs.

No restrictions on use, distribution, nothing. Grow poppies by the acre and set up a "Fixes 'R Us" franchise network if you want to. Go for glory.

I just demand a few simple policy changes and they can sell bongs on the Home Shopping Channel:

1. The use of Federal funds for rehabilitation programs would be ended...or would be paid for exclusively by taxes levied on drug sales. Not one dime more from general revenue.

2. Crimes like burglary and DUI would need to be subject to a mandatory five year sentence. At a minimum. Most burgalars and DUI drivers offend scores of times for every incident they are caught; the spike in incidents of both after legalization must be addressed as an issue of public safety.

3. Judges would be required to test spouses/parents appearing before them regarding divorce/custody/neglect/abuse cases to establish levels of drug use for statistic gathering purposes.

4. Of course, employers (to include government) would have an ironclad shield to establish their own drug policies re employment, retention, promotion, or dismissal. It goes without saying that they could institute any regime of testing the wanted to. The Village Voice would build the Hunter S. Thompson Memorial Journalism Lounge. Not much would change at National Review.

My argument with the legalization crowd is one of utilization of resources. The legalization crowd never seems to get past the 'non-violent/victimless crime' rhetoric. I guess they have no argument for dead families, crack slums, and the existence of a rehab industry measured by billions of dollars of business even after the efforts of enforcing the existing drug laws.

Freedom is a wonderful thing. I have no idea what the numbers would be between social users vs. addicts in a laissez faire environment but if we are to enable the privelige to use, we must insist that the responsibility for abuse is placed squarely on the users. Drug laws were not the product of mere prudishness - they were not intended to merely restrict the choices of individuals, they were intended to shield the society at large from the perceived costs of sustaining a culture of drug use in the population.

I don't see any policy like that in the works, of course. The legislative critter that even hints at responsibility concommitant with an entitlement is about as rare as a white buffalo.

My wife calls me a literal libertarian from time to time. I don't think that is accurate because I believe that government should have a conscious program to emphasize the need for individual responsibility as a civic duty vice the bread and circusses crap that has become the norm whenever I open a letter from my representatives.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 01:02 PM


Nah, I'm not really surprised... it was feigned surprise ;-)

As for your points, I agree with most of them.

The only ones that I disagree with at all center on the employer. An employer should have every right to say what sort of drugs you can or cannot have while on the job (or right before going to work). They have every right to expect that their employees come to work with a clear head and full mental faculties. However, I do not think they have any right to dictate what goes on when you are not at work.

I would recommend, for both DUI and Work tests a breathalyzer test. That will pick up THC for about 4 hours after smoking (plenty of time for the buzz to wear off first), it will pick up alcohol and thats probably the best we can expect. Since some drugs can't be tested, at that point the employer should base their decisions on the actions of the employee. After all, I know people who do their job stoned, almost everyday and they have no problems... but a guy on LSD, behind the wheel of a forklift should be easily spotted and fired.

Some of the Drug laws were the result of concern about society. Some of them were for the same reason Alcohol was outlawed, which had a lot more to do with extremist viewpoints than science or health.

I think that the most important thing is personal responsibility. The majority of Marijuana smokers (some government estimates put it near 40%) are responsible users, most LSD users are responsible, same for DMT, shrooms etc. Psychedelics are difficult to abuse and are generally used responsibly (certianly this is not true for every case.. Hunter S. being a good example). Anyone who uses any chemical irresponsibly should face stiff consequences, any who use it responsibly, should be left alone to live their life. I think we probably agree on that as well. ;-)

I have to say that you and I agree on a lot, including the idea that the federal government should stress personal responsibility.


Posted by: Ratatosk at July 29, 2004 02:01 PM

'Tosk -

When we go to the barricades, by all means bring some brownies. I'll just stick to my coffee, thanks.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 29, 2004 03:27 PM

Tosk & TmjUtah --

I have to say that I have come down in favor of prohibition for pragmatic, rather than philosophical, reasons. There is absolutely no chance in the current political climate that responsibility can be enforced. Conceptually, I have no problem with legalization -- BUT I have a big problem with having to bear the costs for other people's irresponsible use of drugs. TmjUtah itemized some of those costs, and I think it is extremely unlikely that politicians would allow those costs to be placed where they belong. Since I see no practical way to avoid being stuck with paying for the problems associated with drug use, I oppose legalization on pragmatic grounds.

Posted by: Ben at July 29, 2004 06:48 PM

As an aside to my last comment, if I have confidence that drug users would be the only persons who would bear the costs of their drug use, I would support legalization.

Posted by: Ben at July 29, 2004 06:54 PM

Yes there are crazies on both sides of the political spectrum.
The difference that I have seen in the recent past is that those of us on the right are quite willing to be critical of those who share our views when they go over the line while those on the left are more likely to try and defend behavior that should not be defended.

Posted by: Starhawk at July 29, 2004 09:05 PM


If you're interested there was an interesting study on USe/Abuse in Amsterdam vs. San Francisco:


We are one of the few industrialized nations that still considers marijuana use a criminal offense. The study does a nice job of comparing the numbers.

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 30, 2004 10:34 AM

I will make the pledge but I expect the democrats to pledge the same.

If Bush wins re election, politics end at the water's edge. Democrats will return to civil discussion.

No more stupid, a village in Texas is missing it's idiot, or chimpy for a guy who graduated Harvard Business School and got 1200 on the SAT. He may not be Steven Hawking but he's certainly not Homer Simpson.

No more lies, and lies, and lies. Admit that the intelligence at the time indicated that there was a risk from Saddam. The intelligence at the time (and now) showed Saddam was interested in purchasing Uranium from Africa.

No more stolen election. Admit that the recounts showed that he very narrowly won in 2000. Admit that the civil rights commission could not find a million disenfranchised voters.

Never again with the Nazis, brown shirts, fascists. Read a little history and find out what this really means. (Unless of course he rounds you up and puts you into camps.)

Lighten up on the incompetence stick unless you can identify a specific issue. And then it better be something discovered and not corrected. And even then, it has to be correctable by a real solution not by wishing for a better result. The only plans that work are the plans for something that has been done before. Say building a doghouse, or making dinner. Plans involving an active opponent will always need to be modified. Yelling incompetent, he f**ked it up, and the like is not constructive criticism, it is carping. Offer solutions, not complaints.

Admit that what was done in Afghanistan and Iraq was good for the cause of liberty.

You can still call him a cowboy. I’d like our enemies to be scared that he is a little crazy. It makes them think twice.

Is it a deal?

Posted by: OldManRick at July 30, 2004 03:24 PM

I pledge to be honest.

Praise where it is earned.
Criticism where it is due.
Harsh criticism where that is due.
Mockery where that is due, too.

But I will not make claims without evidence, or contrary to the evidence. Nor will I ignore the mistakes of those on "my" side.

And if I get something wrong, I will apologise and correct it.

But if Bush wins, I fully expect a tidal wave of insanity from the left. In fact, that's the second strongest reason I have for supporting him: the meltdown that follows might clear the way for a reform of the Democrats.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 30, 2004 06:37 PM
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