September 16, 2004

Honesty = Disloyalty

I'm enjoying the new blog by Eric the Unread, a disgruntled lefty type who lives somewhere in Britain and moved to the center like I did. (Hey, Eric. The Tories are useless, so at least you can stick with the Labor Party. I'm homeless. Can we have Tony Blair when you're finished with him?)

In an entry titled What's wrong with the left Eric points to this post at the Washington Monthly by Kevin Drum, formerly of Calpundit fame.

Last Friday I said that I was skeptical that the Killian memos were genuine, and boy did I hear from y'all about that. My inbox is still creaking under the weight of charges of liberal disloyalty.
Sorry about that, Kevin. At least now you know how Eric the Unread and I feel all the time.

Tim Blair published a list of those charges of disloyalty, culled from Kevin's comments box. It's pathetic stuff, really, and there is only so long a person can put up with this crap before saying to heck with it.

If you haven't checked out Eric's blog yet, treat yourself. It's good.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 04:40 PM
Comments

Apparently you didn't hold liberal principles too dear if you're so willing to chuck them on account of a handful of assholes.

I mean, you don't hear someone like, say, George Will saying "I moved to the center 'cause Grover Norquist is such a prick."

Posted by: kc at September 16, 2004 04:50 PM

KC,

I don't call myself a liberal anymore. Know why? Because I heard "you're not a liberal" every single day for months.

Last I checked, the likes of Grover Norquist don't scream at George Will every day and say he isn't conservative.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 04:55 PM

Oh, and by the way, KC. I have not chucked any principles. I moved to the center over national security. Militant anti-fascism was always a liberal principle.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 04:56 PM

For fuck's sake, you don't think Andrew Sullivan gets hate mail every time he veers towards apostasy? Has anyone read the loathsame outpourings of hatred in Jeff Jarvis' comments box any time he says something sympathetic to Kerry, or dubious of the latest GOP outrage de jour?

Anyone who suggests that the camp-followers of either side of politics are better or worse than the other is, ipso facto, an idiot.

But I guess you only get paid to be skeptical of the left, Michael.

Posted by: Mork at September 16, 2004 05:00 PM

Mork,

I have defended Andrew Sullivan on this site for the exact same reason I'm defending Kevin Drum right now. I still link and quote Sullivan, and people in my own comments section give me hell for it. That does not stop me from linking and quoting him.

Excuse me for offending your sensibilities by defending a liberal. (By the way, no one paid me to do it. I did it because it needed to be done.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 05:20 PM

By the way, Mork, if you think Drum's critics are wrong, why can't you just say I'm right instead of giving me a bunch of crap for being right?

If you think Drum's critics are right, then you are part of the left's problem and are no different from the people who take a blowtorch to Andrew Sullivan for moving away from George W.

Which is it?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 05:37 PM

Excuse me for offending your sensibilities by defending a liberal.

You didn't offend anything, and nor were you "defending" Kevin Drum - you were taking yet another opportunity to play to the peanut gallery by displaying your rather tired "reformed liberal who can't believe I used to be one of them" act.

All that I was pointing out is that you spend post after post whining about how various inconsequential individuals on the left are illogical, uncivil, unpatriotic or otherwise unworthy to count you among their ranks, without ever stopping to consider that the real story is that incivility and extremism of political dialogue in general ... ie, what you observe on the left is perfectly mirrored on the right, if ever your cared to look.

If one were foolish enough to base your political opinions on the behavior of other people who profess adherence to the same position, well, you'd probably have no politics at all.

Posted by: Mork at September 16, 2004 05:43 PM

By the way, Mork, if you think Drum's critics are wrong, why can't you just say I'm right instead of giving me a bunch of crap for being right?

If you think Drum's critics are right, then you are part of the left's problem and are no different from the people who take a blowtorch to Andrew Sullivan for moving away from George W.

Which is it?

Well, obviously Drum is right and his critics are wrong. It takes no particular insight or moral fortitude to recognize that.

Perhaps I could illustrate my point like this: if someone were a blogger who writes post after post quoting what the yahoos on Free Republic or Lucianne.com or LGF say and holding up those comments as a conclusive indictment of everybody who thinks that George Bush ought to be re-elected, then they might well be perfectly correct in their criticism of each of the individual quotes they select, but their work would add up to a moronic nonsense.

There is a thread in your work, Michael, that is not that different to what I have just described.

Posted by: Mork at September 16, 2004 05:52 PM

Mork!

Relax.

Last night I turned in my next column to Tech Central Station. The title is "The Hawkish Case for Kerry." You may or may not like it, but the fact that I wrote it is, I'd say, a wee bit of evidence that I'm not pointing at jerks in Kevin Drum's comments box as a reason to vote for George Bush.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 05:58 PM

Mork,

Please read this post of mine before continuing this discussion. Thanks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 06:01 PM

Hilarious comments. Lefties are still holding the mutually exclusive view that the memos are real, AND that Karl Rove planted the forgeries to make Kerry look bad, simultaneously. Poor dimwits. It's going to be fun to see them implode when Bush wins another term. Definitely something to look forward to.

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 06:23 PM

MT,

You are much more patient with Mork than I'd be in your situation.

Anyway, I thought that constantly checking one's assumptions and acknowledging reality were requirements of quality and honest thinking. Accepting or choosing political labels aren't. Good for Drum and good for you.

With me, if arguing that the death penalty is wrong, that gay rights should be repected or that drugs should be legalized means I'm not a conservative? Then, ok, I'm not a conservative. The label doesn't mean much. If folks of any political stripe are going to argue that one must deny reality in the name of ideology or must not vary in ideology in any manner in order to be included in a given group? Then pass on being a member of that particular group.

Posted by: spc67 at September 16, 2004 06:23 PM

David, you're what's wrong with the right. Taking the beliefs of a few liberals and calling them all "poor dimwits". One guy on one blog says he doesn't think the docs are real, and the right is all like "Yeah! they're fakes, there's no way they could be real! I'm not a document expert, but I know fraud when I see it!" Not taking into consideration that the documents aren't really bombshells whether they're real or not. Everyone knows Bush was an irresponsible young guy. He even admits it himself. The memo, whether real or not, isn't real clear with the details and shouldn't be used as basis for a point of debate anyway. And that's coming from a liberal dimwit.

It's like the left calling conservatives "sheep" for voting for Bush. Totally inappropriate and not true.

Posted by: Greg at September 16, 2004 06:52 PM

>>>"David, you're what's wrong with the right. Taking the beliefs of a few liberals and calling them all "poor dimwits".

Greg,

I read a whole string of those comments, and they all ranged from silly to dimwitted. What am I supposed to think? That Libs are as intellectually superior as they claim to be? That's a myth I've watched them debunk on their very own for the last 3 years.

I've lost all respect for Lib thinking; it's emotionally driven and irrational. And just when they had a chance to redeem themselves with Rathergate, because it was such a no-brainer, what do they do? They go out and confirm why we rightwingers think you're such wild-eyed morons.

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 07:00 PM

'For fuck's sake,...Anyone who suggests that the camp-followers of either side of politics are better or worse than the other is, ipso facto, an idiot.But I guess you only get paid to be skeptical of the left, Michael.' -- MORK

This posting and those of 'KC',probably do more to demonstate MJT's point than anything else.True believers of the LEFT are just sad especially when there is no there,there in which to believe any longer.How can one be apostate from NOTHING?
On a related issue,it is posts such as this which probably make EVERYONE on Roger's site extremely glad that Mork no longer graces that site with his presense.Is there any chance that he will hit the virtual road and hie himself off from this site as well?

Posted by: dougf at September 16, 2004 07:14 PM

Michael, I've been in something like your political bind for the past year and a half (and as an academic!), so I know how you feel. But most of what's going on here has nothing to do with any left/right political issue. It has to do with the relation between a blogger and his or her 'commentership.'

Now your commenters are more civil than the norm, but Kevin's have grown nearly as uncivil and stupid as Atrios's. Both sets of commenters have a stretch to go before they're as bad as the ravers at certain well-known right-wing sites, but the trend is clear: right or left, popular blogs with comments attract the ever more partisanly crazed.

So I don't think you're pointing to a problem specifically with the 'left.' It's a problem with blog 'comments.'

Posted by: Ted H. at September 16, 2004 07:22 PM

Ted,

civility isn't the issue. Rationality is. Grasp of reality is. Intellectual honesty is.

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 07:23 PM

David, I did mention stupidity as well. But I think a better term is intellectual and moral laziness. Blog comments on the especially popular blogs are not anything like real discussions. They're mere occasions for the like-minded to sound off. I have no idea if the people producing the comments are stupid, but what they produce is almost uniformly stupid.

Posted by: Ted H. at September 16, 2004 07:34 PM

"I read a whole string of those comments, and they all ranged from silly to dimwitted. What am I supposed to think? "

Duh,,,that you are reading a carefully selected list of silly and dimwitted opinions of 12 or so people, out of approximatly what, 20-40 million who would self-identify as liberals?

"I've lost all respect for Lib thinking"

Here is a hint for improving your own thinking. Take individual people's opinions for the individual opinions that they are.

Posted by: Tano at September 16, 2004 07:34 PM

David -- "It's going to be fun to see them implode when Bush wins another term. Definitely something to look forward to."

I've got news for you. As a liberal Democrat, my first hope is a squeaker Kerry victory (I'm particularly hoping for a Bush popular vote win --the one thing that might build support to finally do away with the EC).

If that's not in the cards, I'm hoping for a Bush landslide -- so we can clean house, kick out the incompetents who run our party, and come to stand for something again.

Democrats suck at politics. The ONLY thing that we have going for us is that when today's Republican policies (neo-con foreign policy, free market fundamentalism, social conservativism) actually get implemented, people start to get pissed at the results.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 16, 2004 08:43 PM

Greg writes: "Not taking into consideration that the documents aren't really bombshells whether they're real or not."

But that's just the thing.

If the docs are real, it's not a bombshell.

But if the docs are forgeries (which by all appearences and almost all accounts, they are), it is quite the bombshell - just of a very different variety.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 16, 2004 08:59 PM

Ted H.: I don't think you're pointing to a problem specifically with the 'left.' It's a problem with blog 'comments.'

Yes, that's a part of it, too. And I know what you mean about the horrible comments at certain right-wing sites. (Shudder.) If I were a conservative I would probably be more likely to point them out. But I'm less interested in the right than I am the left. That's just because of who I am and where I've been.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 09:19 PM

I think the creators of South Park once claimed to be Republicans because although they hate conservatives, they really hate liberals. That's pretty much how I've been feeling for a while now.

I recently read an article about a play in L.A. featuring Bill Maher, Andy Richter and others. The play was a spoof of some popular Christian evangelical morality play that has been making the rounds in the bible belt and other places, warning about AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, hell the Devil and other weird evangelical stuff. In the spoof, Bill Maher plays the Devil. Here is one version of the story. There was another article in the NYT but you have to pay for that.

Anyway, the original play sounds pretty terrible, and if it came to a discussion of any of the issues in the play, my own personal beliefs would be closer or identical to the Hollywood folks involved in the spoof. I do not agree with any of the fundamentalist beliefs of the pastor who wrote the original. However, I found myself growing disgusted at the smugness of the whole Hollywood production. By the end, my sympathies had shifted away from the people who shared my world view. Of course, I haven't seen it but the articles and the interviews gave the strong impression that the whole thing was an excersize in trying to ridicule evangelicals and equate them with Hitler/the Taliban. It was an enterprise aimed merely at reiforcing the elitist disdain for the knuckle dragging, God-fearing rubes in the heartland and the L.A. audience's own sense of moral and intellectual superiority. I kept thinking, why are these people staging a spoof in L.A. where the 99.9% of the audience already agrees with them and the chance of any evangelical actually seeing the play, much less being convnced to re-think their homophobia or other socially conservative beliefs is vanishingly small? Why couldn't the producers put together a production arguing the case against the evangelical morality play and try to take it on the road to the same places that original had been staged? Spoofing someone else's beliefs is so easy but arguing for your own is tougher and requires that people sometimes give up their addiction to irony and cynicism. For the 10,000th time, I came to feel that the open-mindedness of self-described liberals was more of a pose than a deep-felt conviction.

One article describes the events on the night that the Pastor/playwright flew to L.A. to attend the play. He came off more open-minded than the actors and the audience since he was willing to fly to L.A. meet with the production and agree to disagree in a respectful non-sneering tone. I'm an atheist born and raised in Manhattan. But I cannot abide by the way that the Left has tried to demonize all non-liberal ideas and people and brand all disagreement as taboo.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at September 16, 2004 09:26 PM

From tomorrow's NYTimes:

Familiar Roles for Rather and His Critics
Internally and externally, pressure on Mr. Rather is mounting, with some of his longtime colleagues and journalism ethicists saying that he and the network refused to take the questions seriously for too long. A longtime CBS News correspondent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said "I can't understand why '60 Minutes' Wednesday didn't exercise more caution in checking the story out, and why they don't seem to have been the least bit skeptical of the documents."

So I guess those posters in question at Kevin D's site are going to turn on the New York Times too, if they haven't already. And some of the best reporting on this story has been done by the WaPo and ABC News.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at September 16, 2004 09:30 PM

But I'm less interested in the right than I am the left. That's just because of who I am and where I've been.

Fair enough, Michael. I get the "But you only criticize the left" line a lot too, and what you say is a perfectly legitimate response.

I meant, though, to be gesturing at a completely non-partisan issue: what on earth do these partisan crazies think they're doing, and why do people like Kevin Drum encourage them to do it?

Perhaps it's in Kevin contract with the WM that the blog must have comments, but I think it really undermines Kevin's effectiveness in political argument. I've had extended and quite satisfying email correspondence with the guy. He makes much better arguments when he doesn't have to worry about getting slammed by his commenters.

And that's just one instance of what is clearly a much wider problem.

(Yes, it's an odd point to try to make in a blog comment. But this blog is not an instance of the problem -- and why it isn't is another question worth pondering.)

Posted by: Ted H. at September 16, 2004 09:37 PM

Michael -

Michael Moore has been invited to speak at Utah Valley State College.

I think I may have to mosey down there (five minutes from my house) in order to see the fun.

We live in unbelievably interesting times.

There are rumors that Sean Hannity will come out for travel expenses and a tray of green jello with marshmallows (local joke) and debate him. I don't see that happening - Moore won't agree.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 16, 2004 09:51 PM

Who was it that came up with the clock analogy? I think it was Dennis Miller:

On a clock, you've got your centrists at 12:00. Your normal, every day folks.

As your politics head more and more left, you go to 11, 10, 9, etc.

As your politics head more and more right, you go to 1, 2, 3, etc.

But no matter how you get there, by the time you get to 6 o'clock, you're an asshole.

;)

--

the one thing that might build support to finally do away with the EC

Yes, I think it's a wonderful idea to let New York, Los Angeles and Chicago decide the fate of the entire United States!

/sarcasm

Sorry, I happen to disagree with the idea of wanting to get rid of the EC. I'd argue that Pure Democracy doesn't work. Once people can vote themselves bread and circuses paid for by someone else ...

Posted by: bkw at September 16, 2004 10:11 PM

The idea that doing away with the electoral college would give disproportionate power to big metro areas is a myth. It'll still be one man one vote, and candidates will try to find their supporters and make sure they go to the polls. That means people living in the 'sticks will be courted by Repubs, or libertarians, or whomever. (It's also cheaper to pay for advertising away from the big metro ad markets)

What doing away with the EC will do is make the votes of the people who make up the plurality (difference between winner and loser) count. With the EC, they are absolutely irrelevant.

Posted by: Markus Rose at September 16, 2004 10:34 PM

bkw -

Funny the EC is heating up as a topic; I listened to the premier political pollster in Utah address the state convention of the Utah League of Cities and Towns. My observations are on my blog.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 16, 2004 10:36 PM

Bravo John in Tokyo. A very astute observation about the "tolerant" Left, especially considering you're more or less on their side. NPR did a whole segment on Fresh Air I think, and it was all laughs and backslapping condescension. Disgusting.

Posted by: David at September 16, 2004 10:49 PM

Ted H.:But this blog is not an instance of the problem -- and why it isn't is another question worth pondering

For a coupla reasons. I don't want my blog comments to look like those at Atrios, Little Green Footballs, Daily Kos, and Lucianne Goldberg. I would shut down the comments feature long before it got that bad.

If someone argues with me using a reasonable tone, I will reciprocate. I have and will continue to defend commenters I don't agree with if they are abused by those I do agree with. And I ban people from posting who don't know how to behave themselves.

If I had 50000 readers a day instead of the 2000 I have, it would probably be impossible to babysit the comments. But, as it is, I can. And I do it because I think it's worth the effort. I don't usually have to do anything. Only occasionally do I have to break out the big stick.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 11:37 PM

TmjUtah,

I understand why you don't want nine coastal cities to elect the president. When you put it that way, it sounds so undemocratic.

But what about letting the majority of the American people elect the president?

"One man, one vote" works a lot better for me than "One acre, one vote." And I suspect an overwhelming majority will agree if Bush wins the popular vote this November yet Kerry moves into the White House.

Sure, I'm biased. I live in a coastal city, the 17th largest in the country. But you're biased, too. You live in Utah. If I lived there, perhaps I would see it your way. And if you lived here, well, you know...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 16, 2004 11:45 PM

MJT,

"one acre one vote" wouldn't work for anyone. I hope that's not what you think the EC is...

The EC isn't "one acre one vote." It's not "one ANYTHING one vote." It's a mechanism that forces FEDERAL politics to remain focused on the needs of ALL socioeconomic entities in the country. Although this was more pertinent during the days of yore, it's still absolutely necessary today.

"But what about letting the majority of the American people elect the president?"

That an oversimplification. If 60% of Americans lived in California, all you'd have to do when running for President is appeal to California politics. Both candidates would do this, and the entire rest of the nation (40% of America) would be second priority in every election. Would this be fair?

This is, of course, a dramatic illustration, but it shows why you can't assume the majority of America can decide what's best for America.

For individual states, the popular vote works fine. But the U.S. is too big and diverse...

Posted by: $lick at September 17, 2004 12:49 AM

$lick: you can't assume the majority of America can decide what's best for America.

It sure beats the minority of America deciding what's best for America.

I'm not trying to be obtuse. I do see your point. Do you see mine?

(I realize this is one of those things we can argue about forever and ever.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 01:48 AM

John Kerry's supporters are filthy disgusting bastards:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040916/480/wvrs10309162250

Posted by: HA at September 17, 2004 02:31 AM

Of course, the Kevin's problems are a microcosm of the problem sensible Democrats have. They have ended up playing to the anti-war gallery. Unfortunately, their choice of candidate (I'm a Lieberman fan personally) was effected by this. Howard Dean has a lot to answer for. Kerry's flipping about on Iraq is a symptom of this.

Pointless though it is, I suspect if Gore had been good enough to win the election in 2000, the Democrats would still have made many of the same decisions, and mistakes, that Bush has made, and would not have melted down in this way.

The benefit the Labour Party in Britain has over the Democrats, is that it was in power when 911 happened. I suspect that without the responsibilities of office, it would have had similar problems to the Democrat party. When out of power in the latter days of the Cold war, the Labour Party had a completely reckless attitude and idiotic policies on defense.

The same problem is seen in the UK Conservative party. Historically very pro-American and militaristic in nature, their leadership has cynically undermined the non-partisan stance on the Iraq war in recent months and tried to portray itself as a "candid friend" to America. Although, there has always been a parochial paleoconservative (as you would term it) streak in the UK right, in power they would have backed the US in Iraq unreservedly. Out of power, they can't stop themselves from being opportunists.

Posted by: Eric at September 17, 2004 02:34 AM

And if anyone thinks the incident depicted in the link above is an isolated one, think again. Time after time, Bush or Republican supporters are getting assaulted by organized left-wing goons. I personally have been on the receiving end of these bastards. The only thing that makes this incident different is that even the presence of a 3 year old child didn't deter these fascist thugs from acting out their violent impulses.

There is an authentic embryonic fascism brewing in this country. And it is rising on the left where it always comes from. But few can see it coming because most people in this country have been conditioned by the left-wing intelligentsia that fascism is a right-wing phenomenon. This country is heading for serious trouble as fascism sneaks up behind us while we look wrong way.

Posted by: HA at September 17, 2004 02:56 AM

Bush-hate has long been irrational; see my post from a year about (quoting J. Chait, who hates W's walk, talk, look ...)
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1069182789#173964
http://tomgrey.motime.com/1064611776#149231

And Bush-hate blinded the Dems from the tough job of choosing what to be FOR, in their primaries.

I recall the Iranian communists, among others at Stanford, protesting against the Shah in the late 70s. They helped get rid of the shah ... and got the mullahs, fascist commie-killers, instead.

Most Americans understand that it's good to be against bad stuff, but you can only vote FOR something.

Kerry is stuck with a majority of Americans thinking that booting Saddam was GOOD, but too many Dems unwilling to accept Bush doing something so big, so hard, and calling it good. Leftists usually don't admit to preferring Saddam, but in objecting to Bush, they do.

Too bad Rather didn't put on the Swifties in Feb. (as wintersoldier.com started0, so that the Dems could have chosen Edwards to try.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 17, 2004 03:08 AM

Tom Grey,

Too bad Rather didn't put on the Swifties in Feb. (as wintersoldier.com started0, so that the Dems could have chosen Edwards to try.

Excluding true nutjobs like Kucinich or Sharpton, the Democrats picked the exact worst candidate from their field. Why would they do that?

First, Gephardt and Lieberman didn't have a chance because they supported the war. Plus, Lieberman is Jewish and there is no way Buchananite-lefists will elect a Jew. Dean in the end didn't have a chance because his anti-war position was extreme and OVERT. This made him unelectable in the general election. That left Kerry and Edwards. With these two, you have two candidates who voted for the war and against funding it. Which to choose and why?

To answer that question you have to understand WHY Kerry and Edwards voted as they did. Obviously, either the pro-war vote or the anti-funding vote had to be done out of the political necessities of the election. So the primary voters had too choose between the candidate who was anti-war but voted for it in order to maintain political viablility for the general election (i.e. Kerry), or the pro-war candidate who voted against funding it in order to maintain political viability for the primary electin (i.e. Edwards).

Nobody can deny that the base of the Democratic party wants to cut-and-run from Iraq. So which candidate will give them what they want? John Kerry will. Deep down, the extreme left knows that John Kerry is one of them. He is a Founding Father of the extreme left. The VVAW makes ANSWER look like a moderate group. And every night, an extreme leftists like Te-RAY-za will be whispering in his ear.

So the Democrats nominated Kerry because the extreme left judged that his pro-war vote was a cover for his anti-war position. The swift vet controversey would have made no difference in this calculation. It only affirms what the extreme left already knows about Kerry. Kerry would have won the nomination regardless of the timing of the swift vet stories. That is because the extreme left knows that the charges raised by the swift vets are TRUE. For the exteme left, the truthfullness of the swift vet charges is a reason to SUPPORT Kerry, not oppose him.

Posted by: HA at September 17, 2004 04:03 AM

MJT,

I absolutely see your point. The minority of Americans deciding what's best for America could be many things- including communism. My take would be that neither argument is correct- but that the EC is the "fairest" way to go about it. It USUALLY results with the majority of Americans getting their way, but when it doesn't happen that way, it's gonna be pretty darn close every time. If 20% of America votes for the winning president, THEN we have a problem. You're right about your last point- we could argue this forever. I've been arguing it with my little brother (a self-proclaimed "long-haired hippie liberal freak" who happens to be my best friend) since 2000. I'm thinking if Kerry loses the majority vote, but wins the EC, my bro will join my side of this debate- he's just pissed about Gore's loss. But I won't take his side if the reverse happens- I'll just be sick to my stomach for the next 4 (8?) years...

Posted by: $lick at September 17, 2004 04:17 AM

I just read my last post, and I can't understand it. Must be bedtime...

Posted by: $lick at September 17, 2004 04:20 AM

Yawwwn,

so you've moved to the center Michael and there some nutcases on the left. Amazing how one can make a journalistic career out of this.

Posted by: novakant at September 17, 2004 04:20 AM

that should read: "there are some..."

Posted by: novakant at September 17, 2004 04:22 AM

Tom Grey,

Here is confirmation of my analysis from none other than Howard Zinn:

http://www.newsday.com/news/opinion/ny-vpzin173974495sep17,0,219579.story?coll=ny-viewpoints-headlines

And Charles Krauthammer says the same thing I do:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27549-2004Sep16.html

John Kerry will be a disaster for this country. The extreme left knows it. That is why they nominated him.

Posted by: HA at September 17, 2004 04:30 AM

Ha,

I like this one:

"When Kerry went off windsurfing during the Republican convention, Jay Leno noted that even Kerry's hobbies depend on wind direction."

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 04:51 AM

Hey the first two coments say nobody left the right because of Grover Norquist? Norquist never screamed at anyone for not being conservative enough?

Kos today has Norquist screaming...

"We have to hold Ohio. OK? We have an idiot, stupid, corrupt, dumb, rotten, Republican governor in the state, who's been busy looting the state, and raising taxes, and lying to gun owners.
...It's not helpful. He should be taken out and horsewhipped."

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/9/17/22239/0986

Posted by: Undertoad at September 17, 2004 07:03 AM

MJT -

I support the EC for a very simple reason. It works.

The EC grew out of the need for states' interests to be represented in electing a national executive. Without the EC, areas of high population density would be the only areas candidates for president need pay any attention to.

We don't live in a democracy. We live in a democratic republic.

Right now some states practice proportional award of their electoral votes; to my knowledge, no large states do. I would rather see each state have an equal number of electors (Maybe ten - certainly no more than twenty per state), to be distributed to the candidates equal to the election results within the state, than any simple national majority.

The quickest way to kill participation of an electorate and remove accountability from elected officials is to adopt electoral mechanisms that amputate the people concerned from having any influence on the candidate, which is exactly what simple national majority voting would do.

It's not a perfect world. The wider the interests a candidate must convince of his suitability for office, the better it is for everyone.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 07:06 AM

Not surprising to see an extreme conservative from a small state defending the EC. Pure power lust. THe EC functions to thwart the will of the majority and to bring to power candidates and interests that are NOT supported by the majority.

The notion that the EC functions to give voice to ALL socioeconimic groups is ludicrous. It gives disproportionate voice to a very few socioeconomic groups - namely rural and small town citizens. Tmj wants to go even further - surprise surpirse. Lets have each state with an equal amount of electors. Lets weight the votes of Utah citizens to be 15 times the vote of Californians. Becuase of course, Utahans are 15 times better, more moral, more wise, more entitled, more important than Californians. God himself, dispenser of these inalienable rights of freedom and political equality has actually deemed that Utahans are 15 times MORE politically equal than Californians.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 07:52 AM

John Kerry's supporters are filthy disgusting bastards:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040916/480/wvrs10309162250

Fitting that in a thread discussing nuts on either side of the aisle, HA should come along.

Before anyone else gets too worked up about the poor widdle girl, I'd suggest they read this.

Bear in mind, that link comes via Jonah Goldberg (who I think is more fair than he gets credit for).

Posted by: Kurt at September 17, 2004 08:00 AM

Oh, and I think the EC is a good idea, even though my vote wil never ever ever count (as a DC resident).

Posted by: Kurt at September 17, 2004 08:04 AM

Well, thats the problem with labels.

Michael Totten is obviously not like Michael Moore, though they may share similar views on some things. I am not like Tano or Mork, though occasionally, I am more closely aligned with their thinking than, say, David's.

Yet, we all get called Liberal.

Michael, say it with me "I am not a Liberal, I am not a Conservative, I am an American, and that is enough for anyone to be!"

I get called Liberal on here a lot (Who cares if I'm glad to see the assult weapon ban fall, or that I am against most of the 'social' programs of the Democrats?), apparently what makes one Liberal is not being full of Nationalistic Fervor.

Just as what apparently makes one a conservative is not supporting the Looney Left in Everything they do.

As an aside, one of my old rapier instructors will be leaving on Oct 3, her reserve unit has been activated and I guess they'll be in Iraq.

All I've got to say is I feel sorry for any bastard that tries to tangle with Natalia!

When she told me though, I can honestly say that it was the first time since 9/11 that I had tears in my eyes over this shit.

Oddly, I know two people right now (one in Iraq, the other soon to be) and they're both women, and they're both fighting.

That's cool.

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at September 17, 2004 08:07 AM

The greatest gift the Democrats have ever given the Republicans is allowing the Republicans and the media to portray Hollywood and some radical academics as representative of "liberals." I've lived in New Hampshire, Washington and Massachusetts, I've attended elite colleges and public schools and currently work in the business world. Based on my personal experience the proposition that liberals are somehow more intolerant than conservatives seems absurd. The liberals I've met over the years tend to be thoughtful people who have actually engaged with the issues. Conservatives, especially in New Hampshire and most "red" states I've been to, are generally closed-minded greedy xenophobes, almost always admittedly racist once you get to know them and always pissed-off about something. Conservatives in the business world have basically one issue - taxes and don't typically spend any time digging any deeper than what Fox News tells them. I find liberals in general much more fun to be around and more interesting. I'll qualify that by saying that conservatives in liberal states like Massachusetts and California are often very intelligent and likeable. It may well be that intelligent people like to distinguish themselves from the herd. If I had grown up in Ann-Arbor instead of Laconia,NH I'd probably be a Republican today. But while there is a real element of left-wing fascism in places like Berkeley and Cambridge those types almost never have any real economic or social power.

Posted by: Vanya at September 17, 2004 08:22 AM

Well, I'll weigh in on the EC. I think it needs repair, but the idea is sound.

We are (as TMJ pointed out) a democratic republic. However, in a true democratic republic, the federal government would be focused on Interstate Commerce and Defense, the only time it would be involved in the affairs of a State, would be if the Constitution is being abused. For example, if the Constitution requires equality among races and sexes, then discrimination (not stopped by local or state governments) could be reviewed and adjudged by the Federal government. The Federal governement would have to respect the laws passed in 12 states that legalize marijuana in those states (13 now including Alaska). It would also have to respect state bans on various types of abortions, or states preference to not legislate abortion. They would have to respect state gun laws, be they restrictive or permissive (as long as they did not outlaw all arms, thus breaking the constituional right to bear arms).

In this situation, the decisions that MOST affect the citizen are determined by democratic process, directly. The citizens vote on how they want their state to function. The EC is then valuable, because federal elections are most focused on Defense and Interstate management. It's pretty easy to seperate cannidates based on those issues and even if the EC slightly underrepresents State X in the election... the citizens are less affected by the outcome (since the issues they deal with daily are solidly in their own hands).

The EC works, if the State's independence is respected. If the federal government tries to micromanage the State, then the EC begins to fail, since local isues are decided by representation, instead of democratic process.

Of course, if either party were really smart, they would have seeded the opposition with Double Agents years ago... it would only take a few republican EC members changing their vote to Kerry at the last minute to steal the election. And that is perfectly legal... how bizzare.

Tree Rat

Posted by: ratatosk at September 17, 2004 08:30 AM

HA: John Kerry's supporters are filthy disgusting bastards

My wife is a reluctant Kerry supporter, so try to keep the nastiness to a minimum, willya please?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 08:41 AM

HA: There is an authentic embryonic fascism brewing in this country. And it is rising on the left where it always comes from. But few can see it coming because most people in this country have been conditioned by the left-wing intelligentsia that fascism is a right-wing phenomenon.

Wow, talk about conditioning. Ever get into an argument with a neo-Nazi skinhead? I have. My part of the country used to be infested with them. They were all rightists, every last one of them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 08:44 AM

>>>"Ever get into an argument with a neo-Nazi skinhead? I have."

Wow Michael. That's scary. How many of them are running for office? A rising threat for sure.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 09:06 AM

>>>>"John Kerry's supporters are filthy disgusting bastards."

LOL! how do you really feel about them?

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 09:07 AM

Tmj and 'tosk are right about the EC.

You know what? The EC is a compromise, and it was necessary to strike a balance between states rights and national interests.

It's both ironic and amusing that at least one of the lefty commenters now chooses to focus on suppression of the majority as some sort of plot. It's not that you're exactly wrong, it's just that it's not a plot, just an old compromise. Given that historically the left has embraced arguments talking about the necessity of protecting various minorities from majority oppression, I'm ROTFL.

Any large change to the electoral college system is very unlikely, since it would require too many states to vote to decrease their power in favor of other more populous states. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN. Get over it! Fortunately, this is probably a good thing. Too many ahole 6oclockers take our union for granted. The EC compromise was needed to create and/or sustain our union, and if some sort of change privileging pure majority election were rammed through, what's stopping the states from Idaho to the Dakotas down on into Oklahoma from telling the rest of the US "take a flying f%&k at a rolling donut, we're forming our own country, and taking all our cheap real estate and natural resources with us?"

Posted by: bk(not bkw) at September 17, 2004 09:30 AM

bk,

Well said. Now if we could just get the Federal Government to mind its own business ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 09:33 AM

David,

HA likes to take all the bad people and put them on the left while putting all the good people on the right. That way, he doesn't have to think this stuff through any more.

I would be curious, though, to see if he can make the case the General Franco was a leftist and that the Spanish Civil War was left-on-left action.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 09:33 AM

bk,
Get up off the floor. Protecting minority rights from the oppression of the majority is a completely different issue than giving certain minorities the right to majority power.

The one deals with the extent to which majority-passed laws can encroach on the constitutionally protected rights of individuals. The other deals with whether laws and elections are decided by an accurate representation of the people or a distorted one.

Obviously it was a compromise given the political realities of the 1780's. So what.
The answer to your final question is the same as the last time that stunt was tried.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 09:39 AM

Michael,

One huge problem with a national popular vote election is vote fraud.

Right now there is no incentive for vote fraud to rig the presidential election in most states, which are not battleground states. If every vote were added nationally, there would be a much larger incentive for fraud everywhere, including the places it tends to occur often (places with a political "machine"). The EC reduces the potential damage from such chicanry.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at September 17, 2004 10:45 AM

Michael,

Skinheads are conservatives....?

Tano -

You go ahead and bark up that tree. Loudly. Vanya, you can join Tano.

"Not surprising to see an extreme conservative from a small state defending the EC."

Extreme? Are you spying on me while I paint my plaster of paris eagle statue gold down in my Nazi Grotto? (Apologies to Henry Gibson)

My chief problem with the party labeled "Democrat" goes a long, long way beyond philosophical differences. I can pleasantly disagree with anybody over a cup of coffee, or on a forum like this. Problem is that at some point points of view end up becoming policy; that's where those people calling themselves Democrats or self-identifying as liberals have eliminated themselves from my consideration for elected office. I do not want a group that embraces victimization, exploitation, moral relativism, and farcical equalization of outcomes anywhere near halls of power.

I am not voting against opinions. I have lived through enough progressive-inspired social engineering, race politics, class warfare, income redistribution, and ineffective foreign policy to have decided that it doesn't work. Do I think that all Democrats are acting on an agenda aimed at totalitarian government? No..but they are clearly clueless when it comes to recognising failure and the necessity of discriminating between good intentions and the actual results of their actions. I think that too many of the progressive folks have more time and liesure on their hands than they have been able to handle. It's nice to think that we can MAKE a perfect world happen...but people are imperfect, the world is a complicated place, and the more you attempt to force an idealized template onto real populations the less effective the attempt becomes.

I am voting for minimal government interference in individual citizens' lives, minimal taxation at all levels, a color/sex/ethnic blind beauracracy, and a domestic and foreign policy based on the principles that individuals are responsible for their actions and that foreign threats will be confronted and defeated.

Do I get everything I want by voting for Republicans or conservatives? No. But I get closer to what I want, and that's what elections are about: the free competition of ideas and individuals for support that results in decision by majority vote.

Representatives and senators are directly elected because the constituencies they represent are likely to share enough common interests that the election will result in the office holder feeling accountable to enough constituents to act in good faith on their behalf to be effective. The EC was included in the constitution precisely because the simple majority model of elections would not be effective in weighting regional issues in regard to national executive power. The interests of people in large states A and E almost certainly bear scant relation to those in small states B, C, and D...but to adhere blindly to nationwide simple majority decision out of an urge to exercise ideal democracy (which is NOT the case - Democrats' last bastions are dense urban populations; tossing the EC is a tactical, not ideological, move) can only lead to election of individuals who recognise no accountability beyond the demographic whose population is great enough to see them elected.

We folk - we who argue these subjects and fine points across the weeks, months, and years - we are not the people who elect presidents. The big lump of votes that will tip the balance will be cast by people who look no further than their immediate life situation as the measuring stick they will hold up against the candidates. The EC means that means that candidate A can't arbitrarily pander to a few select regions and coast to victory.

Food, shelter, and security trumps utopia everytime - especially when a party is so clearly superior in nailing them again and again. Enough people have thought so over the last thirty years to bring us to today, the swan song of a once great political party.

I don't want to MAKE anything work. I want to LET it it work...which on balance has been the most successful practice of American government.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 10:48 AM

bk -

What you said. It helps if you view the states as individuals attempting to preserve their ability to influence debate and decision where their local interests are at stake.

Tano -

Minority does not equal oppressed. And the political realities of the 1780's that you refer to are unchanged today where justification of the EC is concerned.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 10:55 AM

Tmj,
Try to focus on the issues at hand. But I'll make one observation about your propensity to speechifying - you certainly give yourself enough rope to hang.

Part of your manifesto seems to be an aversion to the politics of "victimization...and farcical equalization of outcomes...". Yet you then go on to give a classical victimization defense for the distortion of basic political equality - that the big evil city-dwellers are not going to tend to the concerns of the rural folk, and so those rural folk are entitled to extra protection and advancement. The mechanism is one that will establish an equalization of outcome for voices that would not win equal outcomes in a purely democratic system. A political quota system for one class of minority - not the poor, or the historically repressed, but rather for the one minority that you happen to be a member of.

You seem to adhere to some principals: "that's what elections are about: the free competition of ideas and individuals for support that results in decision by majority vote." in the midst of an arguement for why those decisions should be allowed to be made by minorities. If elections are about what you say that they are about, then Al Gore would be president today.

You correctly point out that the EC was established to balance regional interests (driven by political practicalities rather than principal, I would add). This was done at a time when the voting population was relatively homogenous, with the only real socio-economic divisions being roughly correlated with region. Today we have a very different world. If you want to jigger a democratic system in order to protect or artificially advance the interests of certain minorities, then by what justification would you focus only on regional minorities? If Western ranchers should get an artifical boost so that their voice is louder than their numbers justify, then why not inner-city blacks? Or coastal fishermen? Or blue-collar workers? Or amputees?

The EC system was the result of interest politics played out in the 1780s. Its legacy results in the over-franchisement of certain groups of people who, by any reading of our founding principals, are entitled to no larger voice than anyone else. Attempts to defend that system are nothing more than efforts to defend unwarranted priveledges.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 11:19 AM

TmjUtah,

I am voting for minimal government interference in individual citizens' lives, minimal taxation at all levels, a color/sex/ethnic blind beauracracy, and a domestic and foreign policy based on the principles that individuals are responsible for their actions and that foreign threats will be confronted and defeated.

Damn TMJ, which party are you voting for? I'd love to find one that met that description.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 11:19 AM

>>>"I would be curious, though, to see if he can make the case the General Franco was a leftist and that the Spanish Civil War was left-on-left action."

Michael,

once again your kneejerk desire to be neutral in the Left/Right thing produces an unfair result.

I don't disagree about Franco. My father was born in exile because he persecuted my family; he killed some of my blood relatives. And as you know, I have no love lost for Pinochet either, having lived under his regime, or any righwing dictator. It's why I grew up a Liberal.

But what in the heck does that have to do with today? Those aren't the choices now. Times have changed, and so should we. The choices are neo-stalinists and internationalists trying to destroy our sovereignty and undermine our constitution on the one hand, and conservatives on the other protecting those things. The choices are Leftists undermining our war efforts in Iraq in hope that we are defeated, and conservatives trying to make democracy stick in the hellhole of a region. Yes, HA's language is maximalist, but I think the locus of evil is currently on the other side of the aisle, just as he is saying.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 11:33 AM

ps. I guess my language is pretty maximalist too, LOL.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 11:41 AM

Tano, you've just got me rolling more, I CAN'T get up. Majority oppression, minority oppression, it's all oppression if you don't get your way I guess. If you want to make a distinction between the two cases that allows you to think they are not directly related to balancing minority and majority opinion, rave on.

Different states have different interests and they have a legal as well as legitimate right to represent these interests. And if someone tries to renege on a formative balance-providing compromise like the EC, the aforementioned states may well take their balls and go home. (As they should, IMO, who would sit still for such a screwing?)

I don't think anyone is pretending that the current system is perfect, but it's a longstanding and agreed upon compromise that makes us what we are as a country, one that's echoed in the way Congress is put together. And I don't think it's at all fair to pretend that absolute fealty to "one man, one vote" is in any way perfect.

But the overarching point is that you need the serenity to accept something that you can't change. The EC is about as locked in as you can get!! I've got about 60-something reliably predictable votes in the 2-senator per-state Senate as evidence. So even if you can get 100% of the people in the 17-20 blue states (minus me, I live in Masachusetts and have voted for exactly one republican in my 22 years of adult voting) to agree with you, you're still dead in the water. Have fun 'splainin' the merits of a popular vote system to the people of Wyoming and Nebraska. I'd pay a dollar to see that.

"Now lemme get this straight? Yew think it'd be more EK-witable if New York City and Los Angeles had as much say as Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, and Kansas put TOGETHER? Why I believe somebuddy needs a good @ss-kickin, don't you Verne?

Posted by: bk at September 17, 2004 11:41 AM

bk,
Your points are a bit off the mark. We have been having a theoretical discussion as to the principals and fundamental nature of the EC system. I can assure you that I am not spending any minutes of my precious life working to change that system, for I agree with you that the system is stacked in such a way that the priviledged can effectivly and permanently protect that privilege.

Your initial remarks, I dont follow at all. You have made an error by conflating two different issues. It doesnt matter how much floor-rolling or hand-waving you do, the issues are separate.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 11:53 AM

David,

I think that the Left and Right are as they have always been. I think that the fringe on both sides just happens to be much louder right now.

Most republicans I know, wish they had a better option to vote for, most democrats I know wish they had a better option to vote for. I don't think the nexus of evil sits anywhere, except in the minds of Americans who can no longer discuss differences of political opinion, without accusing the other side of being spawned by the Devil.

"Mankind will begin to solve their problems when they stop taking themselves so seriously" - P.D.

Posted by: Ratatosk at September 17, 2004 12:04 PM

Conflating? That's the last straw. Verne, do yew wanna git him or should I?

Tano your faux reasonable declarations don't make the issues that I "conflated" unrelated or even separate. In all instances where minority and majority rights intersect with voting, one may either maintain that a pure one-person, one-vote system is the ultimate yardstick, or else you are concerned enough with minority views to come to a balance that makes treading on the minority harder.

You are simply trying to invalidate my point by declaring that they are separate, when in fact they are somewhat different, but still related by an overarching principle.

Perhaps ypou can remedy what you see as a catastrophic injustice by convincing more people from LA and NY that it's in the country's best interests to move to Montana. Oh wait, the rich ones already are. Maybe they'll bring some poor folk with them. Let's pass a law to put 500 units of low income housing next to the ranch of every hollywood movie star in Montana and Wyoming.

Posted by: bk at September 17, 2004 12:08 PM

TmjUtah: Skinheads are conservatives....?

No, they are far-rightists. They certainly aren't liberals or leftists. Ask one sometime what he thinks of left-wing politics.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 12:18 PM

David: But what in the heck does that have to do with today?

General Franco has nothing to do with what is happening today. I just threw his name out there because HA has read enough right-wing propagandistic bullshit that he thinks fascism is exclusively a left-liberal phenomenon. He uses this cheap falsification of history to bludgeon a mainstream political party. It's asinine, it's the right-wing equivalent of "Bush=Hitler," and it shows his serious gaps in his knowledge of history.

Noam Chomsky likes to say Stalin was a right-winger. He does this for the exact same reason.

Someone should tell HA that "Fascism Means War" is an old left slogan hurled at isolationist and pro-fascist right-wingers in the 30s.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 12:29 PM

bk,

The reason the two issues are conflated in your mind is that you fail to see the distinciton, in practice and in principal between them.

One issue is the SCOPE of the law. The extent to which laws can limit the freedom of individuals. Can a majority decree that Catholic churches be closed on Sundays? No. Can 99% of the people, through their representatives, decree that atheist lesbian eskimos must marry men in a church in Las Vegas or else go to jail? No. The protection against such over-extensions of the scope of the laws are enscribed in the Constitution, and enforced by the judiciary.

The other issue is whether the legitimate laws that are passed shall be passed by an expression of majority opinion or minority opinion.

There is absolutely no contradiction in claiming that laws must be passed by the expression of majority opinion, and then also claiming that the scope of those laws cannot violate the constituional rights of minorities.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 12:33 PM

Tano -

"Try to focus..."

Liberals tend to patronize, too; it's reflexive, and they don't have any idea how offensive it is.
I'd respond to you, but since you seem to frame all my arguments as coming from good v. evil pulpit, or merely ignorance, I don't see what good it would do.

"Today we have a very different world."

Not nearly as different as you think (and here's another of those utopic moments again), and especially where the need to maximize accountability to the greatest interest possible is concerned. In a perfect world I suppose the national electorate could be broken down into some sort of district system for presidential elections - with census data being used to make sure that each district represented the same proportion of Lef/Right/Industrial/Enviro/Evangelical/Militant Athiest/Vegan/Ethnic, ad absurdum mix as the country as a whole THEN assigning an electoral vote value to each district...

Imagine an NFL season played by teams forced to build their rosters to conform to an approved ethnic template. Same thing.

I do make judgements, Tano. There is good and evil. You just seem too quick to think that I judge EVERYTHING in that light. I don't.

Where we bump heads is over what works, and what doesn't.

A pleasure, as always. BTW, I cleaned up my original post and put it up on my blog as Friday's post.

Nothing like a little shameless link whoring on a Friday afternoon now, is there?

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 12:40 PM

Tmj,

"In a perfect world I suppose the national electorate could be broken down into some sort of district system for presidential elections -"

I would agree with you that going down this road is absurd. That is why my position is the opposite - simple standard - one person, one vote - and your position is to support taking (or having taken) one step down the road to jiggering the system. To your advantage, no doubt.

Consider the state of Texas. Vast areas of sparsly populated agricultural and ranching lands. Much like the rest of the West. But also coastal areas with all the economic activity that implies, including lots of foreign trade activity. Big cities with manufacturing and service economies, including poor inner city areas, but also rich corporate areas. And vast seas of suburbia. IOW, a microcosm of America, and with a population far larger than the original 13 colonies.

Has anyone ever noticed that the exercise of freedom and democracy in Texas is fatally inhibited by the fact that their governor is elected by popular vote? Has anyone ever proposed an electoral system by which, for example, each county would have one electoral vote and the governor would be elected by a majority of electoral votes? Has there ever been a need for that? If someone were to propose it, I think everyone would see the issue for what it is. A power grab by one particular class, against the interests of the rest, and against the principal of democracy.

Sorry if I can be condescending at times. Being called clueless or having to much time and leisure on my hands, or being lectured to about the compelx nature of the world, or to have my positions and those of liberals in general blatently misrepresnted, all that can seem pretty condescending as well.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 01:00 PM

Michael

there is only so long a person can put up with this crap before saying to heck with it.

Please, please, please stop calling yourself a liberal and join the other lot.

I am sure liberals and conservatives alike will unite in calling for you to leave the liberal fold.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 01:38 PM

TmjUtah

Liberals tend to patronize, too; it's reflexive, and they don't have any idea how offensive it is.

One thing I know for damn sure is that whomever I am debating with, whether it be the Cruise Missile Left, Liberals, Conservatives, or any other persuasion, religion, or indeed any race, creed colour, tint or hue it bears no relation to whether they gonna be patronising or not.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 01:53 PM

"I don't want ot MAKE anything work, I want to LET it work"

Nicely put, tmjUtah. The differences between parties (circa 2004) in a nutshell.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at September 17, 2004 01:56 PM

Michael

there is only so long a person can put up with this crap before saying to heck with it.

Please, please, please stop calling yourself a liberal and join the other lot.

No Michael, tell both parties to fuck off and choose to be American, instead of Republican or Democrat. Americans use their brains to vote on issues the way that they feel is best, not the way that their party feels is best. Americans have the rare privledge of thinking for themselves. They're allowed to be Pro-Gun, Pro-Pot, Pro-War, Pro-Gay Marriage, Pro-tax cuts and Pro-National Healthcare... or they can be anti-gun/pot/war/gay marriage/tax cuts/nat'l healthcare... OR they can pick and choose exactly how they feel on each of those subjects without THE GREAT AND KNOWING PARTY telling them what to think.

Michael, you have far too sensible head on your shoulders to jump from the Liberal Tar Pit into the Conservative Quicksand.

Ratatosk member of SNSPP

Squirrels for Non-Sinking Political Platforms

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 02:07 PM

I do understand where the pro-EC folks are coming from. But, just for the record, I pretty much agree with Tano's points here.

Ben,

I already left the left. That doesn't mean I think the left is always wrong or that the right is always right. Hardly. But I will no longer vote straight-Democratic like I have in the past, and I think it's pretty obvious that I don't toe any liberal party line here.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 02:08 PM

But I will no longer vote straight-Democratic like I have in the past

Isn't it nice when people suddenly realize that they can use their own brains to determine what they think... instead of punching the chads straight through the Party Line?

Yay Michael

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 02:10 PM

The US Presidential election should be quite simple. One person, one vote, abolish the electoral college. It's an historical relic.

One person one vote direct elections will galvanise the parties too.

There are a lot more democratic reforms that need to be undertaken too.

Right now the US system is becoming an ossified, uncompetitive, increasingly undemocratic system, corrupted by corporate interests.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 02:10 PM

Michael Totten

Fair enough. Thanks for your reply.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 02:12 PM

Right now the US system is becoming an ossified, uncompetitive, increasingly undemocratic system, corrupted by corporate interests.

Can I get an Amen!

Amen!

The question is, how do we force the powers that be to modify the system, that would, in effect, make them less powerful (or at least make their corporate buddies less powerful)?

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 02:15 PM

Another point on the EC:

TmjUtah is concerned that Utah will be ignored if the EC is abolished. I understand.

But Utah already gets ignored by presidential candidates. Why? Because it is reliably Republican and there is no point even thinking about Utah's needs. Republicans take Utah for granted. Democrats campaign as though Utah doesn't exist.

The people who will decide the election are swing voters in Florida. Not swing voters in Utah. Not swing voters in California.

These campaigns are pitched to a narrow range of people as it is. Neither Bush nor Kerry care what people in Orem or Manhatten think about anything.

I prefer campaigns that are pitched to the center of America rather than campaigns that are pitched to the center of Florida. I hope that makes sense.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 02:27 PM

Michael Totten is right about Utah. Plus, it's only got 5 EC votes anyway.

If the EC was abolished, and the vote was a simple one person one vote tally, politicians would campaign for EVERY vote, not simply for a few states, while having others states in the bag.

Democrats in a strongly Republican state, or Republicans in a strongly Democratic state won't have their votes wasted.

EVERY vote will count.

That, combined with other reforms could improve the system.

(Sure politicians will concentrate on larger higher density population centres, but that happens anyway.)

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 02:38 PM

Okay, I given the game away. I spell 'centre' like that - denoting that I am English!

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 02:39 PM

Ratatosk

The question is, how do we force the powers that be to modify the system, that would, in effect, make them less powerful (or at least make their corporate buddies less powerful)?

Good question. I am working on it, dude, from across the pond!

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 02:43 PM

>>>"Isn't it nice when people suddenly realize that they can use their own brains to determine what they think... instead of punching the chads straight through the Party Line?"

Are you saying that voting the party ticket can't be a thoughtful decision? I would beg to disagree.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 03:12 PM

David: Are you saying that voting the party ticket can't be a thoughtful decision?

It can be. Certainly. As long as you don't do it out of sheer habit and for no other reason.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 04:01 PM

Well, I have a confession to make.

I'm a Brit, and I used to vote for the Labour Party out of habit (almost), some time ago.

Not anymore.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 04:31 PM

Ben,

What drove you away from Labour? If I lived there I would belong to that party. I wouldn't have anywhere else to go.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 04:54 PM

Michael

Well, I did not support the Iraq war, for one thing. I know you did, that's fair enough, and I although I think you may be wrong, I can respect your stated intentions.

Apart from that, although I recognise that Labour has improved some things - for example, some very welcome improvements to the National Health Service (a great British institution) - I suspect some of their policies may ne authoritarian.

I do not agree with the planned introduction of ID cards, for example. I am not keen on their penchant for privatisation. They need to be more radical in tackling child poverty, and their environmental record is very patchy - and that is a very crucial area. Their record on international development is patchy, and their record on international arms control is appalling.

My voting intention is wavering between the Liberal Democrats, Greens or a Socialist party.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 05:21 PM

Michael

Another reason - I support proportional representation as an electoral system, not our awful present first past the post system.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 05:23 PM

Ben,

I would love a proportional representation system. Our two rotten parties need some competition.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 05:35 PM

Michael

Well, some Democrats are advocting the abolition of the EC, which is a good thing.

What I think is also needed (in the US system) is an independent boundary commission. At the moment, boundaries (between various electoral districts) are decided by negotiation between the two parties - resulting in horse trading that keeps safe districts for each parties. This increases wasted votes, and reduces competition.

In the UK we have an independent boundary commission that eliminates such horse trading.

Also more finance reform is needed.

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 05:44 PM

Ben: In the UK we have an independent boundary commission that eliminates such horse trading.

Can we borrow it?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 17, 2004 05:54 PM

Michael

Sure.

I will throw in Blair too.

You give me your Constitution, Freedom of Information, and that will be a fine swap ;-)

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 06:04 PM

Tano -

I don't buy your Texas analogy, sorry. The range of issues or constituencies facing a governor (even of a border state) are as nothing to the ones facing a president of a continental power.

The exercise of executive power in a large state is good training, though, for a president. Legislators spend the bulk of their time recruiting support for their ideas. Presidents have that task on the front burner a lot of the time, too, but the base fuctions of the executive are making sure that laws and regulations are obeyed and that the nation is secure.

Leadership and the quality of character to make correct, even if unpopular, decisions, are rare qualities. They have become so rare, in fact, that George Bush's three-bags-full of such stuff is exactly what makes some sectors of the body politic collapse in skin-crawling loathing. The mere act of publicly stating that we were going to hunt down and kill the perpetrators and supporters of 9/11 probably sold more depends in one day than a Prune Surprise cookoff.

I get bored and frustrated with the interminable campaign process that has come to exist in this country. Tough. I know it shows through in too much of what I write. The steeplechase/thermonuclear colonoscopy we subject candidates does serve to strip out the unfit, so it must be worthwhile. If we have to listen to their pitches for over a year before we actually vote for them, the trade off is that we have a fair idea of who to take seriously or not.

I haven't changed how I participate in politics for thirty years. Oh, I talk about it a lot more and I'm vastly better informed on just about all levels of the discussion...but I still slap on a bumper sticker about three months before the election, volunteer to canvass in the final weeks, and make myself available to give rides to our polling place. That last is a non-partisan undertaking; I won't pull my bumper sticker off but I don't talk politics with anyone while doing shuttles. I don't do shelters; just homes and apartments. No cigarettes, either. That's been the rule since Texas, when I started the custom. Since then I've shuttled in Midland, North County San Diego, the Bay Area, Sant Fe Springs (LA) and lately here in Happy Valley. My dad got me started doing that.

See...I might be wrong about who to vote for. Not much chance of that given the choices for this particualar go around, but I reckon that if a whole lot of people vote the best candidate for the job will float to the top. I believe people vote on what they need more than what they want.

That's called democracy, and I believe it works.

We'll just have to disagree on some of the finer points for now. I look forward to see just what face the party will have that rises to replace the Democrats. And whether or not they will recognise that their interest lies in participating in government instead of gaming it.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 06:07 PM

See - there's some of that pique showing through again...

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 06:10 PM

Nader allowed to run in Florida

Posted by: Ben at September 17, 2004 06:18 PM

David asks: Are you saying that voting the party ticket can't be a thoughtful decision? I would beg to disagree.

In my completely personal, not in any way guarnteed to be true, opinion... Yes! I am saying that if you spend your entire voting career voting along a strictly Democratic, Republican, Green or INSERT PARTY HERE ticket, you are not making thoughtful decisions.

Why do I take such a heretical position?

Simply because I refuse to believe that any number of humans can agree on everything. I firmly believe that every one of us are individuals with personal events that have shaped our view of reality. Each of us are "at least" slightly different.

If you do not find ANY issue where you disagree with your party, I have to think you are deluding yourself.

Again, this is completely my opinion.

Rat In A Tree

Posted by: Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord at September 17, 2004 06:51 PM

Well tmj,
Thats pretty brave talk when you consider that this vaunted democratic system has not seen fit to mount even a plurality in favor of a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. Maybe this will be the year, but even if so, I think the obituary for the opposition is a tad premature.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 07:24 PM

hey Rat,
Why do you equate voting for one party, all the time, with agreeing with everything that party believes?
I have voted for a few Republicans in my life, but it has been so rare that one might as well consider me a straight democratic voter. But that doesnt mean that I agree with them on everything. I happen to agree with the general principles of the paty, disagree with those of the Republicans, and usually find my self anywhere from 65-90% in agreement with the democratic positions. So I listen to the other side, they just have never put together a package that comes close to tipping the balance.

Posted by: Tano at September 17, 2004 07:30 PM

>>>>"If you do not find ANY issue where you disagree with your party, I have to think you are deluding yourself."

There are plenty of issues I disagree with. But I have 2-3 most important issues, and I pick the party that agrees with them. It's impossible for both parties to both agree on those 2-3 issues, so I have to vote party ticket everytime. I have no choice.

On a rare occassion a Zell Miller might show up, in which case I'd vote for him. But that's rare, and that's why I vote the party ticket.

Posted by: David at September 17, 2004 08:14 PM

Tano -

I don't.

If the national Democrats don't stoop to actually defending this nation and its institutions, they will find themselves fighting over teaching positions in a dwindling number of schools, campaign consultant contracts in losing campaigns (already a growth industry), pundit slots, and column inches in the Nation.

You win by a safety or you win by twenty, the game still goes in the win column. Bill Clinton never broke fifty either, and seemed to get sworn in without much problem.

Who do you trust to protect your family? The guy who wants to hire more (union)firemen to put out the fires, or the candidate who intends to get them before they get us?

See you in November.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 17, 2004 11:13 PM

Kurt,

Before anyone else gets too worked up about the poor widdle girl, I'd suggest they read this.

If Parlock staged this act, and the guy in the union shirt turns out to have been his son, then he is a scumbag and he should be repudiated by any decent human being. However, I find it difficult to believe that if the guy in the union shirt is Parlock's son and not a union member, that the union would have issued an apology:

http://www.ibpat.org/news/WVa.html

The fact that Parlock appears to have been assaulted at three different does not mean anything. It is more likely that this is a result of a pattern of harrassment, intimidation and violence by Democratic and/or union thugs. This pattern includes firing gun shots at Republican offices in West Virginia:

http://www.herald-dispatch.com/2004/September/08/LNtop1.htm

Bottom line: if the guy in the union shirt is Parlock's son, then this specific incident was staged, and Parlock is scum. But even if this turns out to be the case, it in no way diminishes from the PATTERN of intimidation adopted by union and/or activist thugs on behalf of the Democratic party.

Posted by: HA at September 18, 2004 04:35 AM

MJT,

General Franco has nothing to do with what is happening today. I just threw his name out there because HA has read enough right-wing propagandistic bullshit that he thinks fascism is exclusively a left-liberal phenomenon. He uses this cheap falsification of history to bludgeon a mainstream political party. It's asinine, it's the right-wing equivalent of "Bush=Hitler," and it shows his serious gaps in his knowledge of history.

This is a profoundly ignorant comment that I can only assume was made of anger. If you understood history and politcal ideology at even the most basic level, you would know that Franco was a MONARCHIST, not a FASCIST.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Franco

The fascist ideology originated with Mussolini and was a natural progression from his origins as a socialist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mussolini

Any support of Franco by fascists was due to the fact that communism in the 1930's was viewed as a greater ideological threat to fascism than monarchy.

Even Hitler never even characterized himself as a fascist. He always characterized himself and his movement as a socialist movement.

The simple fact is that communism and fascism were rival strains of socialism. That is why Hitler and Stalin were allies before they were enemies, and the Soviet Union was the largest supplier to raw materials to Nazi Germany prior to Operation Barbarossa.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa

That is why a socialist like Gandhi (yes, THAT Gandhi) actually made the following comment after Hitler conquered France:

"Germans of future generations will honour Herr Hitler as genius, as a brave man, a matchless organizer and much more."

The information on Gandhi and Soviet support of Nazi Germany prior to Operation Barbarossa can be found in Len Deighton's book Blod, Tears and Folly:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0785811141/qid=1095508546/sr=8-6/ref=pd_ka_6/002-4645778-2992047?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

Len Deighton is a widely respected historian. His not a purveyor of "right-wing propagandistic bullshit" as you would like to believe.

During the 1930's fascism was widely recognized and accepted as the new model of government throughout continental Europe because of the evident failures of the Soviet Communist model. It wasn't until Operation Barbarossa that most European socialists turned against Hitler because they had to choose the ideologically pure socialism of the Soviets and the bastardized sociaism of the Nazis.

These are the facts that won't get taught to you in our Marxist dominated education system and universities.

Michael, your politcal origins are in the left. And you are blind to the authoritarian streak that is arising from the left. You need to remove the blinders.

Posted by: HA at September 18, 2004 05:08 AM

One point I missed. The Soviets and Nazi's were allies because the greatest ideolgical threat to both fascism and communism was the liberalism of Great Britain, America and to a lesser extent France.

By the time Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, Great Britain was on the brink of defeat. Furthermore, he had good reason to believe that America would NOT enter the war on Britian's behalf due to our tradition of isolationism and opposition by the likes of Joe Kennedy.

Socialism and its fascist and communist variants were allies against liberalism. It is only after liberalism appeared to be defeated that Hitler was able to turn on the Soviets.

Michael, it is you who suffers "gaps" in knowledge of history, not me.

Posted by: HA at September 18, 2004 05:18 AM

HA: Michael, your politcal origins are in the left. And you are blind to the authoritarian streak that is arising from the left. You need to remove the blinders.

Oh, please. I have no such blinders, and I never have. I am not old enough to have been roped into supporting left-wing totalitarianism. The Soviet Union imploded at the time I began paying attention to politics.

Look. If you want to use "fascist" to describe only the Mussolini regime in Italy, and not use it to describe Hitler and Franco, then you can't use it to describe Saddam or Osama bin Laden.

I don't want to get into a semantic argument with you about this. When I use the word "fascist" I use it to refer to right-wing totalitarianism in general. When I refer to left-wing totalitarianism in general, I use "Stalinist."

This is standard usage of the terms these days. I linked to military historian Victor Davis Hanson in the post above this one. He uses the word "fascist" the same way I do.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 18, 2004 10:41 AM

By the way, HA, Italian fascism is not left-wing.

Here is the wikipedia entry on fascism, including a long quote from Mussolini himself. Pay close attention, please.

-----------------

Fascism developed in opposition to socialism and communism, although some early Fascists were themselves former Marxists. In 1923, Mussolini declared in The Doctrine of Fascism:

Fascism [is] the complete opposite of... Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of the history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production....
Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society....
... "The maxim that society exists only for the well-being and freedom of the individuals composing it does not seem to be in conformity with nature's plans.... If classical liberalism spells individualism," Mussolini continued, "Fascism spells government."

While certain types of socialism may superficially appear to be similar to fascism, it should be noted that the two ideologies clash violently on many issues. The role of the state, for example: socialism considers the state to be merely a "tool of the people," sometimes calling it a "necessary evil," which exists to serve the interests of the people and to protect the common good. (Certain forms of libertarian socialism reject the state altogether.) Meanwhile, fascism holds the state to be an end in of itself, which the people should obey and serve, rather than the other way around.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 18, 2004 10:47 AM

MJT,

Oh, please. I have no such blinders, and I never have.

I've always given you credit for being honest about the behavior of so many left-wing extremists. It is this honesty that drives dishonest lefties like Oliver Willis to keep trashing you. However, you still want to believe that these people are a fringe element rather than a vanguard for the corruption of the Democratic party.

Look. If you want to use "fascist" to describe only the Mussolini regime in Italy, and not use it to describe Hitler and Franco, then you can't use it to describe Saddam or Osama bin Laden.

I don't describe Bin Laden as a fascist. He is an Islamic fundamentalist.

Saddam, on the other hand could either be described as a fascist or a Stalinist. Pick one. There isn't much difference. He was certainly an Arab nationalist which would probably push him more towards the fascist camp than the Stalinist camp. Bin Laden describes him as a socialist.

While certain types of socialism may superficially appear to be similar to fascism, it should be noted that the two ideologies clash violently on many issues.

I agree that there are distinctions that fascists and communists use to distinguish themselves from another. But in the final analysis, they are both populist, statist, authoritarian ideologies. They are distinctions without a difference, and there is nothing to be gained by bothering with them.

You seem to think the SIMILARITIES between communism and fascism are superficial. I think the DIFFERENCES are superficial. To trivialize things as much as possible, as far as I'm concerned fascism and communism are like Coke and Pepsi. Socialism is just plain cola. And just like Coke and Pepsi, both fascists and socialists have reason to market themselves differently. These days, socialists tend to label anybody who disagress with them as fascists.

The definitive argument on the CONCRETE similarites between fascism and communism, along with the socialist roots of both were made by Hayek in the Road to Serfdom. I have read Hayek and I agree with his arguments. I don't know if you have or not, but if you haven't read Hayek I suggest you do so and then reconsider your views.

The three books of his that are MUST reads are the Road to Serdom, The Constitution of Liberty and The Fatal Conceit.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=F.%252520A.%252520Hayek/002-4645778-2992047

BTW, here's another examle of Democratic thuggery, this time in Florida where the Democrats fantasize about assasinating Rumsfeld:

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040918/LOCAL/40918010/1078

http://www.asmallvictory.net/archives/006470.html

Posted by: HA at September 19, 2004 05:31 AM

Ha,

thanks for those last two posts. I thought Michael had you with his response, but I think your counter to his has more than buttressed your original thesis, which I found enlightening. I will look into Hayek myself.

Posted by: David at September 19, 2004 09:39 AM

Ah, fascism versus communism etc. This is mostly a historical distinction. They were socialists if they aliied with socialists and fascists if they allied with other rascists. The philosophical details aren't so important.

I want to suggest that maybe the central issue is bureaucracy. When there's a big bureaucracy that tells people what they have to do, it's statist. When there's less of that, it's less statist. The subtle details about why they're proud of their bureaucracy are less important.

The USA is very far down that path. If I have a question about my phone bill it takes 9 levels of phone tree before I can talk to a human being. The electric company similarly. If I need medical care a bureaucrat in chicago decides whether I can get it. (I can pay for it directly, and then the hospital bureaucracy charges me 250%; they give the insurance company a 60% discount.) If I hire someone I face a regulatory maze, the traditional rule of thumb is that with 3 employees I need a fourth to handle the records. There is an entire bureaucracy set up to help my employees sue me for their civil rights.

Say I want to get away from it all, I buy a plot of land way out in the woods and I want to build a cabin there. Another maze of regulations.

You might figure I shouldn't be complaining about bureaucracies run by private companies, they aren't part of the government. Why the hell shouldn't I complain about them? The government has outsourced those bureaucracies, and the result is there's even less accountability.

If I sign up for medical care I have to fill out a privacy form. Basically this says that people who have reason to look at my records can do so. In practice pretty much anybody in two industries can look at my records if they want to. No accountability. Tens of thousands of people. Have you ever gone in for an STD test? If your prospective date has a contact in health insurance s/he can have you checked out. But it's important to give all those people access so they can decide whether or not to offer you insurance....

Likewise if she has a friend in a bank she can have your credit history checked.

Nobody has ever had as much statism as we do. The computer network makes it much cheaper.

Nobody's even trying to slow it down. The people who want small government are just talking about privatising everything the government doesn't do, just make it more expensive and less accountable.

Fascism, socialism, who cares about the little details? We have it.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 19, 2004 10:45 AM

David - thanks!

Posted by: HA at September 19, 2004 01:08 PM

You guys who are anti-EC and pro popular vote really need to explain why you think it's OK to switch to a system that would give NYC and LA slightly more voting representation than the 9 states I listed. This is an accurate statement based on the most current population numbers from the stat abstract for these states as compared to the population of the immediate cities (not the greater metropolitan areas).

Like I said, I don't think the EC is perfect, and I also don't think we should go further and give the small states additional electoral power.

I do think it's troublesome that only a few states end up mattering as far as campaigining goes, but at least the states that end up mattering are ones that are nationally representative in the sense of having a pretty even split of conservatives and liberals. All things considered, I'm happier that Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida matter than if California and Texas where the battleground states

But what would probably be a better fix than simply going to popular vote would be to modify the current electoral system to make every state matter. This could be achieved by some sort of proportional awarding of electoral votes. Maybe you'd need to get 55% or 60% to get all of them, slightly less to get 3/4, and if the vote is real close, you get one half of the electoral votes available, plus one.

Of course, even this would be hard to get through, because any such change is bound to be viewed as a diminishment of power by smaller states.

I gotta second tmj. Tano, you can be pretty condescending. You seem smart enough to understand that there's a middle ground between conflated and separate called related. God forbid that you'd recognize something like this instead of insisting I'm conflating ideas that I know very well are not quite the same.

But then the alternative for you would have been to address the simple point that there is an enduring need to come to a balance that makes treading on or ignoring the smaller states hard to do. A pure one-person, one-vote system is not the ultimate yardstick unless you're willing to dismiss the idea of our government paying some respect to state sovereignty. For our union to endure, there MUST be some ways in which the nation makes decisions where each state counts the same. That's why the each state gets 2 senators, and why the electoral tally is based on the total number of reps and senators. The reasons for this compromise endure today.

Posted by: bk at September 19, 2004 05:19 PM

Vanya

Conservatives, especially in New Hampshire and most "red" states I've been to, are generally closed-minded greedy xenophobes, almost always admittedly racist once you get to know them and always pissed-off about something.

No doubt you look at me, and see the long hair and earring, and the 20 year old compact car with the odd stickers adorning it, and note the address in a predominantly black neighborhood with as many asians as whites, and automatically lump me in with the non-conservatives. No such luck. I used to vote Libertarian as a youngster, but I've been voting Republican since Reagan and will be voting for Bush despite the fact that he is not a conservative. I am not a businessman, beyond pinmoney entrepreneuring, but I work for businesses owned by businessmen, and the less they are taxed the better things are for me.

Altho I am by no means an Objectivist, my worldview has been influenced by Rand. Her position neatly settles the socialism/fascism debate. They are both collectivist ideologies; the differences between them are trivial.

Posted by: triticale at September 19, 2004 06:10 PM

HA, I think you're doing a good job, too.

Michael, if you want to differentiate between fascism and communisim, it would help if YOU would say what the important difference is.

For me, non-elected "dictator" type power is the key similarity. I'm pretty sure modern religion is among the best counters to too much dictatorship. The problem with Islam is that it is anti-modern.

Tano: "Its legacy results in the over-franchisement of certain groups of people who, by any reading of our founding principals, are entitled to no larger voice than anyone else." Please read the Constitution, where it specifies only male, white, land-owners as voters.

I actually think requiring land-ownership is reasonable, as a measure of responsibility--but it was the first overturned. I'd also like the gov't to allow non-landowners/homeowners to have tax-advantaged home-buying savings accounts (HBA)... [with your OWN money, not Other People's Money]

I'm very very glad that the other two were reversed, and that non-white and women can vote.

The President is TOO important, as is Congress, as is the Tax Code (that nobody reads but is the most important gov't document for influence). EC or not-EC, campaign-finance reform; the big issue is the need to reduce gov't tax collection and tax spending.

But voters want to get more of Other People's Money, for any reason they can.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 19, 2004 06:18 PM

HA: You seem to think the SIMILARITIES between communism and fascism are superficial. I think the DIFFERENCES are superficial.

Oh, I agree. The only reason I'm arguing with you here is because you seem to be saying that totalitarianism only manifests itself on the left and not the right. Some people, like Noam Chomsky, say the opposite.

You've heard the slogan "No enemies to the left" I imagine. This is poison for obvious reasons. "No enemies to the right" is equally poisonous for the same reason. I'm trying to keep you from it. If you're already with me on this, then cool.

Robert Kaplan once noted that Communism is Fascism without the ability to make the trains run on time. Works for me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at September 19, 2004 06:53 PM

Yep, the differences are trivial. Rightist-Non-Liberals and Leftist-Non-Liberals have WAY MORE in common than they have any big differences between them. I'm hard pressed to think of an authoritarian leader who has said, "I want to control your personal lives, but hooray for capitalism!" Nor have I ever heard the inverse of that statement.

In reality, there is no such thing as a purely left-wing or right-wing dictator (as many in this thread have already said). Only liberalism and all things not liberalism. Ayn Rand at least got that much right.

If anyone wants a current example of what I'm getting at, that authoritarianism obliterates "left" and "right".....take a look at what's happening in Russia, today.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at September 19, 2004 08:09 PM

Kurt,

Before anyone else gets too worked up about the poor widdle girl, I'd suggest they read this.
---
If Parlock staged this act, and the guy in the union shirt turns out to have been his son, then he is a scumbag and he should be repudiated by any decent human being. However, I find it difficult to believe that if the guy in the union shirt is Parlock's son and not a union member, that the union would have issued an apology:

http://www.ibpat.org/news/WVa.html

I don't think the guy in the Union shirt is his son, but being attacked three different times looks awfully suspicious to me. Either there's something phony going on, or this guy is extraordinarily obnoxious.

More to the point, even if every attack is completely genuine, what kind of jackass brings a three year old girl to heckle an opponent's political rally? I've got a three year old myself, and I can't imagine bringing him to a rally I support, let alone one I oppose.

The fact that Parlock appears to have been assaulted at three different does not mean anything. It is more likely that this is a result of a pattern of harrassment, intimidation and violence by Democratic and/or union thugs.

Not surprising that that would be the more likely scenario to you.

Posted by: Kurt at September 20, 2004 09:06 AM
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