October 16, 2006

Obligatory November Election Post - UPDATED

I pretty much agree with Glenn Reynolds: The Republicans deserve to lose, but the Democrats don't deserve to win. What's a dead-center guy like me supposed to do when neither of our sorry political parties are worth putting or keeping in office?

In my case I can make it easy on myself and fall back on my default option, the Democrats. I could make it difficult by painstakingly figuring out which party sucks slightly less, but I won't. The default option it is. I'm voting straight Democrat next month. The Republicans are in charge of all branches of government. And if neither party deserves to be in charge then they can cancel each other out. Enjoy the coming stalemate, boys and girls of the Congress. You've earned it.

My liberal friends will be happy to know I'm voting for their party. My conservative friends will be happy to know I'm doing it without enthusiasm.

UPDATE: P.J. O'Rourke flays the GOP alive at the Weekly Standard.

UPDATE: A handful of people in the comments have decided to write me off because I'm not going to vote for their party next month. I fail to see why this makes any difference since this is not a domestic politics blog. But whatever. It isn't my problem.

I'm a moderate and a centrist. That means I get flak from both sides. The upside is that I can vote for either party whenever I feel like it without any sense of obligation or betrayal. If the Democrats controlled the entire government right now I would probably vote for Republicans. If Nancy Pelosi lived in my district I would almost certainly vote for her opponent. If I were a Democratic Congressman I would absolutely choose Harold Ford (D-Tennessee) over her as the party leader. But I can't do these things. They are not options. My local Democratic candidates are reasonable and deserve to be re-elected. They'll win, too, because they get support from local Republicans as well as from Democrats and Independents.

Anyway, there are plenty of partisan right-wing blogs around if that's what you require. I don't know of many partisan right-wing bloggers who plan to visit Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Algeria any time soon, though.

UPDATE: Armed Liberal says both the Democrats and the Republicans deserve to lose. Indeed, they both do. And the only way both can lose is if neither controls all three branches of government.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 10:30 AM

Do that and then explain to your Kurdish friends and your Israeli and Egyptian friends why all the support gets pulled and they are back to where they were when the Al Qaeda attacks again. I am sure they will appreciate your position.

Posted by: dick at October 16, 2006 11:27 AM


The Iraqi Kurds are no longer dependent on American military assistance. Their house is in order, and they are de-facto independent already. Only 200 American troops are stationed there. The South Korean military is supposedly "in charge" of the "occupation" of Northern Iraq, but their soldiers are (hilariously) protected by the Peshmerga. The Kurds will be fine.

The Democratic Party, as an institution, is staunchly pro-Israel, more so than even I am. And I think you'll be hard-pressed to find an Israeli who knows me and who thinks I don't have their interests in mind.

And if that filthy anti-American military regime in Egypt is finally kicked to the curb by the Democratic Party they will have earned my vote.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 12:02 PM

Well, I'm glad I never donated! Enjoy your moral equivalence!

Posted by: n at October 16, 2006 12:24 PM

The Iraqi Kurds are no longer dependent on American military assistance.

What about the risk in entanglement with the Iranians, the Turks, and the rest of Iraq? I understand that car bombs have started going off in Kirkuk, and that Turkey and Iran have begun attacking inside the Iraqi border.

And you have my sympathies regarding the tsunami of trollish condemnation that this post is likely to unleash :-)

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 16, 2006 12:33 PM

Well, n, if I'm required to become a partisan member of the Republican or Democratic parties on condition of getting money I'm also glad you didn't donate.

American politics is petty, degraded, parochial, and juvenile, which are only four reasons I almost never write about it any more. It will take a lot more than PayPal donations to get me on board with one of these parties.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 12:38 PM

The O'Rourke article skewers BOTH parties. The final paragraph rings truest, and will likely be the bit that keeps the GOP in power -- albeit by the slimmest margin immaginable.

Posted by: QuantumDefect at October 16, 2006 12:56 PM

I have to agree with you, Michael, about the state of the political parties. I've been in a quandary to know who to vote for, also. Probably democrat, even though in Utah it isn't going to count much, and I wonder how having democrats in charge will affect my children in the military.
I would love to donate to paypal and will when I can, but at the moment I'm struggling to make ends meet, thanks in part to Bush's economy.
I am really looking forward to the last part of your travelogue across America!

Posted by: sallyo at October 16, 2006 12:58 PM

Vote your conscience Mike.

And believe me, none of these folks were going to contribute anyway.

As an independant moderate who's voted for both parties over the years I share your disgust with the current version of the GOP.

And it's sad because America needs a strong GOP, just as it needs the balancing democrats.

I both fret about, and eagerly await the coming investigations in the House, and possibly Senate, looking into what's transpired over the past 5 years.

It will be disruptive, but at this point disruption looks like a good thing.

And as our beleagered Sec. of Defense reminds us, there are unknown uknowns out there that as a country, we should know about.

Posted by: Davebo at October 16, 2006 01:03 PM

I plan to vote the same as Michael and for the same reasons. I'm not that worried. I don't think a split congress, or a Democratically controlled one, is simply going to cut and run. It's a lot easier to talk about doing that when you are the opposition. When you are in the hot seat things are a bit different. You can't just continue to complain that the previous congress messed things up. You have to actually start doing something.

Posted by: Joshua Marinacci at October 16, 2006 01:06 PM

The only time the Democratic Party is staunchly pro-Israeli is duing elction time. The rest of the time they are in trust to all their academic anti-Israeli supporters. All you have to do is read the MSM to see who they support in the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts. It is always the Israelis who are causing the problems, the Israelis who won't give in, the Israelis who are attacking the poor civilian Palestinians who have only bombed another school bus or pizza parlor. Check out who the universities are supporting with their speakers.

My problem with the Democratic Party has always been that their program reads well. They just forget to enact it. It is all on paper and nowhere else. Remember the change in government legislation about iraq from 1998? That was on the initiative of the democrats. Remember also how far it progressed. How about all that talk about Aids research. The republicans have more than doubled what was spent on it but the dems get the credit. The republicans are the ones who funded the African assistance on Aids but the dems are now trying to take the credit.

The only thing I have seen from the democrats is raise the taxes and increase the entitlements. Oh, and name some additional minorities. We don't have enough of those.

Posted by: dick at October 16, 2006 01:11 PM

At the close of this reply will be removing you from my favorites list.
Good by!

Posted by: Dbl D at October 16, 2006 01:19 PM

Michael, you are a partisan. You said yourself that your default position is Democrat and that you would be voting a straight Democratic ticket. That your partisanship doesn't reach psychotic levels doesn't mean that it isn't lazy and destructive partisanship.

You have a responsibility to study the candidates and vote for those you know something about. If you want to know why so many politicians do such lazy and sloppy things, invest in a mirror.

Posted by: Lewis at October 16, 2006 01:26 PM

I am center-right and I wouldn't mind seeing the democrats take congress and even the senate. The republicans deserve to lose this year and gridlock and nothing is always better then something the government is doing. It won't change the situation in Iraq much because it's pretty clear at this point that the only way to get Iraqis to quit chopping each others heads off is to kill them before they get started.

Think about all the decent people who usually vote democrat who feel like they don't have any representation in Washington because the R's control everything when you vote on the 7th. It would only be fair if they had people in Washington acting like muppets and not representing their interests as well.

Posted by: mike at October 16, 2006 01:30 PM

It is incredibly amusing to read the indignant comments about "not donating anymore" because Michael is voting for this or that party. It is even more amusing to see that there are still people in this country who believe that one party is going to be any different than the other when in power.

I've got news for you, folks: The Egyptian regime has been around through countless Democrat and Republican administrations, so has Israel. American foreign policy is barely different when it comes Democrat/Republican. Hell, domestic policy is barely different between those two these days.

And Michael, you're right, our politics here are indeed juvenile. Look no further than the people who are "removing you from their list of favorites" for voting Democrat. Whatever happened to keeping an open mind? Reading about divergent points of view? It seems to me the American mindset these days is to only read/watch what you want to hear/watch. Have fun living in your bubble folks, on both sides of the isle. And don't come crying when this country ends up going to hell in a handbasket.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at October 16, 2006 01:32 PM

Get a life, people. It's not like it was some secret that Mr. Totten leans Democratic. Anyway, the real solution of whom to vote for is not to vote, since your vote will not affect the outcome anyhow.

Posted by: Adam at October 16, 2006 01:55 PM

One of my fellow independent types decided a few elections ago to never vote for an incumbent legislator no matter what the party. His claim is it cuts down on the old boy networks and the corresponding bribing, PAC influences, etc. His reasoning is that most newbies are ethically highminded for at least the first year or two before the greed and power madness sets in. One term limits the graft to the last half of their terms, therefore cutting overall legislature corrupt by half.

I personally deduct a full point for anyone with a law degree. They get back partial credit if they have held a real job along the way. It's not that lawyers are evil, okay, they are. No, it's just too much when the same people who make a living off the law are entitled to make and change those very laws. Talk about a monopoly.

Which is why I prefer candidates from most any commercial field. They have had to fight bureaucrats and regulators on a continual basis in order to survive and prosper which gives them a full dose of how the real world works. They also know how to cut corners and cheat to the dotted line. Those who understand the tricks can better trap the tricksters. Uh-oh, did I just let in the Enron guys?

I also love old cops. They know the dirt on everybody, and are the world's best skeptics. And did I mention they have this thing about lawyers? (Kidding!! I may need one someday.)

Posted by: allan at October 16, 2006 01:56 PM


In the (vain) hope of calming down some of your more rigid right-wing readers I offer this quote from Reason's blog:

"if Democrats win power next month, they'll do it on the backs of very conservative candidates.

Many of the new Democrats in the House will hail from Red or Dark Purple states... They are also likely to be marginally more conservative than the Democratic mean. (IN '08 candidate Brad Ellsworth, who might represent a district Pres. Bush won by 12 points, is a good example.) These new Dems will pull their caucus to the right.
By "the right," read "social conservatism and foreign policy hawkishness." Democrats in tight races in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the rest of the swing districts are mostly running against voter malaise and Iraq war conduct, as opposed to the idea of the Iraq war. You're not hearing many Democrats rule out strikes on Iran or North Korea, and you are hearing many backpedal at Roadrunner-speed from citizenship-based immigration reform and gay marriage.

The idea that a Democratic Congress would turn the US into one gigantic socialist Islamic-loving Berkeley is completely ridiculous. But if you like corruption and incompetence from people who talk like conservatives, by all means go ahead and vote Republican in November.

Posted by: vanya at October 16, 2006 02:06 PM

DblD: At the close of this reply will be removing you from my favorites list. Good by.

I do not write about domestic politics more than once a year. You're going to remove me because you don't like my annual post?


Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 02:11 PM

Lewis: You have a responsibility to study the candidates and vote for those you know something about.

Of course. My local Democrats are reasonable, but I'm not going to get into it here because most readers don't know who they are or care.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 02:19 PM

I voted today. I took advantage of the vote early option: why do I need to be in Indiana on the first Tuesday in November when I could be anywhere else in the world?

I ask you to reconsider your straight Democrat ticket. I voted about evenly for both Republican and Democrat candidates. Senator Dick Lugar, one of our nation's best politicians and diplomats, deserves to be re-elected, even though he's a Republican. My congressman has done good things for the district recently. He's a Democrat, and got my vote.

The woman running for Sheriff is a friend - republican. The woman running for Trustee is a friend - Democrat.

The Democrats in this part of the state are corrupt. The Republicans are retro. For a few offices we have libertarian candidates. I might have voted for one, but I don't recall.

Posted by: Charles Malik at October 16, 2006 02:25 PM

As a center-right leaning voter who probably will still be rooting for the republicans come November, I would like to thank you for your thoughtful and fair post. And most of all, please ignore the obnoxious comments- all your posts provide interesting insights into the Middle East; if your lack of support for republican candidates or if your lack of enthusiasm for democratic ones alone make people remove this blog from their favorites, no big loss.

I have lots of problems with the republican party and many more with the democrats. But that's politics- you have wonderful ideals and people should be able to act respectfully and have an enjoyable and pleasant debate even if your yard-signs don't match theirs. That is certainly the manner with which the conservatives (and liberals) I know conduct themselves.

Many thanks for the wonderful site!

Posted by: vittoriosa at October 16, 2006 03:53 PM

Amen Michael- a divided government is the ideal solution at this time. I'm no fan of the Democrats, but the comments by (the aptly named) "dick" serve as a useful reminder why Republicans ought not to have unfettered power any longer.

Posted by: Matt S at October 16, 2006 04:04 PM

Like a few others here Michael, I am also center-right but I think a few people here need to be reminded that about 140,000 fine men and women are putting it on the line in the Mideast for you to be able to vote your conscience. Keep it real Michael and ignore the doom and gloomers. We had a Democratic Congress for about 60 years for a good part of last century and suprise! America survived.

Posted by: Dawnsblood at October 16, 2006 04:50 PM

Michael, you've been very open about being a liberal and your writing generally reflects your ideology, so what's the big deal? That's alright. I don't have to agree with your ideology to appreciate the quality of your reporting. To me, you are one of the few true liberals that is also quite realistic and rational regarding national security and the dangers we face throughout the world; this probably comes from your extensive travels and friendships, but still, I congratulate you for keeping an open and honest mind. It is noticed and appreciated, and gives me some hope that some of your fellow liberals might mature, too. BTW, I highly recommend your blog to all my friends, both liberals and conservatives.

That said, I would like to comment on your generalization that the Democratic Party is loyal to Israel. I emphatically disagree and will start collecting examples of my concerns for your future reading. I see the Jewish democratic voters being treated much like the Black democratic voters: generally taken for granted and minimally helped, to the point of being hindered. Their loyalty to the Democrats is baffling to me. Furthermore, if I were an Israeli, I would be very concerned if the democrats controlled all the branches of our government for any extended period of time.

If it makes you feel any better, although I'm conservative I'm not all that wild about voting for Republicans this year, but this is infinitely better to me than voting for the national democratic party line. I do not believe the Republicans have led well at all, but to me the Democrats are just too immature and hateful. That's a disastrous combination for dealing with the serious and dangerous problems we are facing as a nation.

Posted by: E. T. USN 71-78 at October 16, 2006 05:43 PM

No possible donations from me.


Posted by: Paul at October 16, 2006 05:45 PM


Posted by: Xixi at October 16, 2006 06:09 PM

Mr. Totten,

I'm not your friend, though I do consider myself pretty conservative (neoconservative, that is) on national security and foreign policy. I'm not happy that you're doing this, and I'm not happy that you're doing it without enthusiasm. If you don't like either party's offerings, the best course is to stay home or vote for some stick-in-the-mud independent. You have quite a reputation among the neocon/PJM crowd - I don't understand how this squares with it.

Posted by: Jeremayakovka at October 16, 2006 06:13 PM

The only local pol I know about in your area is Earl Bluemenauer, who will undoubtedly be re-elected. I agree that the Republicans do deserev to lose. They have lost their way and few in power seem to remember a man named Barry Goldwater, who for all his faluts and one very poor no-vote in 1964, will be well-regarded in history, while the current GOP is more like Lyndon Johnson with his religious posturing and growth of government. I also give you bonus points for linking to PJ O'Rourke, the king of political satire.

You and Sully are my favorite bloggers and that won't change. I am also impressed by your recent posts and I imagine you could even make my dismal post of Ft Hoot interesting with a photo blog post.

Posted by: Green Baron at October 16, 2006 06:16 PM

Mike, libertarian, LIBERTARIAN candidates.
Go for it.
If not now, when?
"They can't win!" they(you) say?
If you don't vote for the LIBERTARIAN, its a self fulfilling prophesy.
Again, if not now, when?
The other side, they can't make things worse.

Posted by: Terry at October 16, 2006 06:37 PM

No possible donations from me.

Whatever buddy!

I don't see how on earth my voting record will affect your opinion of dispatches from, say, Afghanistan -- where I'm looking to go this winter. But if you can't get over it you can't get over it, and that's your problem not mine.

See ya. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 06:41 PM

No need to think about this.
No need to support the right candidate.
I’d like to come here for enlightenment.

Posted by: Richard at October 16, 2006 07:15 PM

Jeremay: You have quite a reputation among the neocon/PJM crowd - I don't understand how this squares with it.

Because you are more of a partisan hack than they are? Just guessing!

Sorry if that's a bit much. But there are quite a number of reactionaries around here today who can't deal with different opinions and voting records (it burns, it burns us!), something I tend to ascribe to the left-wing activistas lately.

Anyway, PJM includes anti-war socialists and leftists as well as neoconservatives, so fitting in with at least some of them is not difficult. Others, like Glenn Reynolds, agree that the Republicans deserve to lose. So do lots of other commenters today. So do, it appears, the majority of American voters. I could be wrong about that last part, but I doubt it. We'll see.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 07:48 PM

Michael, I must apoligize for not sending my donation, but I just graduated and having more than a few monetary difficulties but I WILL eventually donate, but I digress. You say that you will vote straight democrat, but does this include all proposals in your state election too? Most of the the time the proposals are poorly written legislation designed to fund some morally altruistic sounding program. In the spirit of only giving your support to the Democrats by default, could you at least consider reading through the proposals and taking a Conservative stance?

Posted by: Mantis at October 16, 2006 07:51 PM

Reps deserve to win because of strategy:
pro-democracy in Iraq,
pro-tax cuts (so earners keep more of what they earn).

Pro-life, er, I know Michael, you're pro-choice; glad your great writing isn't used to defend the execution of unwanted humen fetuses after irresponsible sex. (Funny how few Kerry voters had 'moral values' as their primary reason to vote for him.)

The 1974 anti-Nixon Dem landslide led to Dems cutting funding for the corrupt, incompetent, cowardly -- but democratic and human rights respecting S. Vietnames gov't. Which, when the N. Viet attacked (in violation of the Paris Peace Accords of 1973), meant no US salvation, and a rapid takeover & devastation. (Have heard 600 000 died, can't find a source now).

I voted Carter in 1976 partly because Ford pardoned Nixon (w/o trial) -- Vietnam was not a factor.

I'm surprised and disappointed that the Reps haven't been publicizing how, in 1973 Nixon had "won the War", but in 1975 the Dems undercut the not-quite-standing alone S. Viet forces and thus allowed the North to win the 'Peace'.
This is what Murtha and the Dems want to do in Iraq.

I urge you to consider your own responsibility for wanting what kind of future, and how best to get there.

As long as the "safe" Dems are asking for cut and run in Iraq, their actual program isn't worth your vote. And if you don't know what their actual program is, they don't deserve your vote. 'Anything but Bush' is too much like 'anything but Nixon' -- which led to the Killing Fields.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 16, 2006 07:53 PM

Mantis: In the spirit of only giving your support to the Democrats by default, could you at least consider reading through the proposals and taking a Conservative stance?

Ballot measures are (nominally) non-partisan. I vote "no" on almost all of them, always. But I also always look first. Occasionally, I vote "yes."

One thing I definitely won't do is vote for any more tax increases. Last time I did that it cost me 1,000 dollars a year. No more. I don't have an extra 1,000 dollars laying around that I can give to the state.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 08:06 PM

One thing I definitely won't do is vote for any more tax increases. Last time I did that it cost me 1,000 dollars a year. No more. I don't have an extra 1,000 dollars laying around that I can give to the state.

Someone's got to pay for that war. Last time I checked, the cost was over $300 billion and still rising. If it's not paid for through taxation, then how?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 16, 2006 08:39 PM


I was referring to a local Multnomah county ballot measure tax.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 09:04 PM

Ah. We don't have counties.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 16, 2006 09:53 PM

You don't have counties? Don't you have any units between city and province? What's with you people? Even Iraq has counties!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 16, 2006 10:07 PM

Back in the days when I called myself a Republican and was registered as one, the Republican party stood on a platform that was strong on defense, fiscally responsible, at least on the spending side, were believers in smaller government and states rights.

Other than being strong on defense to the point of being offensive, Bush looks less like a Republican and more like a Democrat. Clinton was more of a Republican than Bush and those in todays Republican party. At least Clinton hit on girls.

With the Democrats being afraid to be seen as weak on security they support spending for a strong military, so the primary difference between the parties is that Democrats still believe in a secular government and separation of Church and state.

Republicans now are led by Christian Extremists who believe the bible is the word of God and should be taken literally, hence the strong unconditional and total support for Israel to the extent that some in this Administration see themselves as one and the same with the Likud Party, and justification for the war in Iraq to destroy Babylon WMD or not, all pre-conditions in the Bible for the coming Armageddon. Social and moral issues are influenced by this faith based government such as stem cell research, the abortion pill, vaccination against PMV, HIV prevention through abstinence instead of condoms, school prayer, Darwinism vs creationism or Intelligent design, etc.

Some say that Bush is the leader of the Christian Right and a believer that he has been divinely chosen by God to lead the nation against evil in response to 9/11. Since the President is doing Gods will, there is no reason he should not be above the laws or why there should be any checks and balances to limit the power of the Executive Branch. The Republican controlled House and Senate has abided by his every wish, and abrogated their responsibility of oversight. Democrats are guilty as well.

This is curious since we all know that Bush's term of office ends in 2008, and the same powers Bush has taken or has been given will be transferred to someone who may not be so trustworthy (would they want Hillary Clinton to have these powers?). Perhaps they have a master plan to keep the presidency in the hands of the Bush Dynasty, with Jeb Bush in the White House in 2009-2016, and then any god fearing Republican will do.

In 2000 and 2004 they have shown they can win without having the votes, and perhaps they are confident they can continue this. After all, the GOP has pretty much controlled the main stream media (MSM) by giving the corporate owners and sponsors of these outlets what they want, tax cuts and lack of regulatory enforcement. The weapons industry not to mention Halliburton and Bechtel has plenty of business due to more war and nation rebuilding projects and domestic Big Oil companies are happy with high prices due in part to production drops in Iraq and Bin Ladens/Saudis concerns that the price was too low (Osama also wanted us to leave Saudi Arabia so we relocated to Iraq and he moved his terrorist training camps from Afghanistan to Iraq, so he is probably a happy man most likely has more recruits than he can handle).

They dont control the blogs yet, and books critical of the government do come out, but most Americans do not have time to read as they are working 2 jobs, so if it is not on Fox or CNN, or in the paper, they probably dont pay much attention. When the MSM does report critically on the performance of government or Iraq, they generally do not follow it up.

Today Bush will sign the Military Commissions Act allowing Big Brother to decide if any American is a threat and then locking them up and throwing away the key without telling them why. They can also torture you for fun. So this may be a tool to handle the bloggers and book writers. 1984?

So vote Democrat if for no other reason than to provide a bit more oversight on GWB's powers and actions than now which is zero. But nothing much will change, your vote may or may not be counted, depending on where you live, and if it is we will see a terror scare before the elections to remind people of 9/11 and scare them into voting Republican. We may even see Osamas head on a platter but they probably will save this for 2008. Iraq announced they will postpone handing out a verdict on Saddaam until 2 days before the election, that should be good for a few votes.

Posted by: Paul Todd at October 17, 2006 02:05 AM

Sallyo: you're in financial troubles because of "Bush's economy?" Check the Dow lately?

Posted by: The Fabulous Timbo at October 17, 2006 03:59 AM

I can understand comments that both parties deserve to lose. It's much the same in the UK, where I live.

However, as sane, responsible nations actively seeking to shape the world for the better, neither the US nor the UK can afford to take their eyes off the ball.

Any voting strategy which weakens either country just to punish bad politicians is pretty short-sighted in my view.

Posted by: David Hardcastle at October 17, 2006 04:32 AM

What's really wrong with American politics these days is something that's on ample display in these comments: demonization. We've become polarized between two faction which each see the other not just as wrong, but as depraved and malignant. The sense that reasonable people can disagree on some issues, and that Americans have things in common which go deeper than the left-right divide, is under attack.

Read much of the left: Bush is Satan, every word he says is a lie, everything he does is calculated to harm people, just out of sheer evil. No one votes Republican for legitimate or well-considered reasons, but only because of Karl Rove's witchcraft. Read much of the right: The Democrats hate America and love terrorists, and if they win Congress, then the seas will boil, plagues of locusts will descend, and we will all fall off the edge of the world and get eaten by dragons.

I see the same attitude here. If Michael Totten votes the wrong way, then all his great reporting counts for nothing -- cast him into the memory hole. This is not political thinking. It's the mentality of ideological purism and casting out demons. We need to overcome this.

Posted by: Infidel753 at October 17, 2006 05:16 AM

I think Charles has it right: vote for the best candidate, i.e. the one who most represents your views.

I have, and will continute to, vote for both Democrat and Republican candidates. Although for the last few cycles I have found myself only voting for select Democrats in local and state elections.

Even with all the real and supposed failures of the Republican leadership in congress I can not bring myself to entrust the current Democratic leadership in either house with any type of power.

P.S. Michael, isn't your vote for a Democratic candidate a de facto vote for a tax increase? History would say it is :)

P.P.S. I received the 3 pamphlets yesterday. That is some good stuff. Good job.

Posted by: SirGlubb at October 17, 2006 05:44 AM

You don't have counties? Don't you have any units between city and province?

Nope, only three levels of govmint, municipal, provincial, and federal. And we don't elect members of local law enforcement or judiciary either. Also very few initiatives (I think I've seen about four or five in my life). This allows us to vote with a pencil, a very quick process.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 17, 2006 07:14 AM

It doesn't help those of us who are lower income, working poor (hate that term, but it does describe too many in this country). His much-vaunted tax rebate ended up COSTING me in taxes the next year. (Loved the small print.) I'm sure he's wonderful for those who make more money.
Michael: again, I would love to contribute to offset those who think you're too liberal!

Posted by: sallyo at October 17, 2006 08:12 AM

It's always a mistake to vote strictly for a party, rather than for the specific individual who is running. In my case, I'm a conservative, and a life-long Republican who is voting (and campaigning!) for the moderate Democrat candidate in my Congressional district. The incumbant Republican is seriously corrupt, and generally useless. The Democrat actually has a son serving in Iraq -- not exactly the image of a California liberal.

Before your conservative friends fault you for voting for a Democrat, ask them if they know anything about the actual candidate. Sure, there are some liberal nut cases among the Democrats. (Just as there are conservative nut cases among the Republicans, but why bring that up to them?) But there are also a lot of moderates, and even some moderate conservatives, among the Democrats -- and refusing to vote for them based strictly on party only strengthens the radicals.

Posted by: wj at October 17, 2006 09:40 AM

Way to clean house MJT! Run off the riff-raff with your personal opinion, on your own blog. And I LOVE how the Looney Left calls you a Neo-con and the Rabid Right calls you a liberal. I guess we won’t invite them to the party when your blog site meter turns over 3 MILLION. How ever will we survive without them? I am often amused at how many people carefully protect their opinions from being challenged by facts, and cannot handle anyone having a differing opinion than theirs. ( it burns, it burns!) I love it ;)
Good riddance I say, makes room for the less dogmatic readers/commenters who are capable of rational debate, and who make the comments section interesting rather than an offensive slime-fest.

Posted by: lindsey at October 17, 2006 10:55 AM


PJ's piece was funny but hardly counts as thoughtful analysis.

And if that filthy anti-American military regime in Egypt is finally kicked to the curb by the Democratic Party...

Dream on! If the D's get elected, they will assume their typical foreign policy stance: "If I do not have to deal with the problem right now, I will not." I cannot imagine anything that Egypt would do that would force the D's to act. Unfortunately, neither party will do anything about Egypt.

You are right that neither of these parties deserves to win, but electing one of these parties is not a serious option. Consider this drivel:

"Today Bush will sign the Military Commissions Act allowing Big Brother to decide if any American is a threat and then locking them up and throwing away the key without telling them why. They can also torture you for fun."

Normally, one would rightfully be censured for quoting an obviously idiotic quote from someone who is not in power, but you and I both know that this chap sounds all too much like a lot of Dem Congress critters. Are these people really as ignorant of history and legal precedent as they sound?

So we have a choice between self-interested assess and self-absorbed juveniles. I agree that it is not an easy choice, but I do not see how can one decided to vote for the self-absorbed juveniles.

I propose another option, which I am going to follow. I am going to finally join a party and vote against the incumbent of that party in the primary. It is too bad I cannot join both and vote against both sets of incumbents.

P.S. I seriously doubt those people would ever have donated to you. Those of us who have appreciate you honest and thoughtful opinions (even when we do not agree) and will not stop on account of one article or one decision!

Posted by: JBP at October 17, 2006 11:03 AM

I think the summary at the end of Animal Farm has it best (I'm paraphrasing because I cannot find my copy): "There was a loud commotion from the house, as Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had both played an ace of spades. The animals looked too and fro. Was it a trick of the light? Some had two chins, some had four, but they could not tell one from the other."

The Republicans have become Insiders, and the Democrats are trying to regain their Insider status. All I know is that the Democrats don't deserve to win for the reasons they think they deserve to win and the Republicans don't deserve to lose for the reasons they deserve to win.

Posted by: Cal Conservative at October 17, 2006 12:19 PM

I think the summary at the end of Animal Farm has it best (I'm paraphrasing because I cannot find my copy)...

Pretty close:
An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
But Republicans and Democrats are much more closely related to begin with than Bolsheviks and the Tsar, which is what Orwell was alluding to. And to a foreigner, they're practically identical to begin with. Most nation's political landscapes are diverse, from fascists to marxists on the ballot. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at October 17, 2006 12:54 PM

Do the Republicans deserve to lose? Certainly. But when you cast your vote, remember that the Democrats (most of them) oppose more than just the war on Iraq. They oppose virtually every measure we have taken in the fight against Islamic terrorists -- including the Patriot Act, the terrorist communications surveillance program, the terrorists financing tracking program, the extraction of vital intelligence through the use of harsh interrogation techniques against admitted terrorists like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- all of that is going to go out the window if the Democrats regain control of Congress.

Will that make it easier or more difficult for the global jihadists to pull off another 9/11 -- or worse?

Posted by: Michael Smith at October 17, 2006 03:52 PM

I have to laugh at the "Im taking my ball and going home" posts. Their loss. Im generaly pissed at all of them but I'll be voting Republician, but thats only because its true that all politics is local and my Rep has been (mostly) doing what I want him to do. Ideally, not enough Dems will get in to f' things up but enough will to prevent the Reps from doing the same.

Posted by: Justin Northrup at October 17, 2006 04:11 PM

Intellectuals have a duty to remain loyal to ideas before (or instead of) any party. When they do decide to vote for a party, the decision should be reflected, honed, and strategic. I'm saddened to see you draw such a dispirited conclusion at the end of this election cycle. Politics are always dirty and combative. So what? In any case, I look forward to reading more of your site.

Posted by: Jeremayakovka at October 17, 2006 04:53 PM

I agree with you Michael. I have a right of center blog. Reading it you would believe I was a Republican, but I am not, I consider myself an independent. Along with many others I don't think the Republicans have done their job. So, what we need is a 50-50 split and nothing will get done and then they can blame each other some more. Please give us a third party. Somebody!!

Posted by: Jimmy K. at October 17, 2006 05:26 PM

I can't believe how many people posted that they are not going to read this blog anymore because they disagree with its author about how he is going to vote. Such comments aren't really an insult to Mr. Totten, they're an insult to the person who posted them. What kind of people are you that you only want to hear from people who either agree with you or at least tell you what you want to hear. Are your own principles so pathetic that they can't withstand a little criticism? I'm embarassed that such people make up even the tiniest percentage of my party.

--Disgusted Republican

Posted by: Fern R at October 17, 2006 07:43 PM

My local Democratic candidates are reasonable and deserve to be re-elected.

That's good to hear.

Vote for candidates, not parties.

...and if there aren't any acceptable candidates on the ballot, write someone in. That's what the blank line is for.

Posted by: rosignol at October 17, 2006 10:52 PM

The real battle should have been in the incumbent primary. Those unwilling to register for the party of the incumbent, and vote against the incumbent, are part of the reason for the problems.

The excessively safe gerrymandered seats is another problem -- but neither Party is willing to honestly discuss object criteria for drawing better district lines (like minimizing the total length of all boundaries+minimizing splitting cities and counties into different districts).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 18, 2006 04:48 AM

Mike - Great blog. This is just another center-right independant chiming in to say good work and keep it up.

Didn't someone once say that whoever seeks election to office should be barred from serving? That seems mostly true given the choices we have today.

Posted by: Mike D at October 18, 2006 09:24 AM

I'm also independant, leaning more towards libretarian ideals and I can't hardly square voting for either side. I think that the government should be fiscally responsible, I think that we should not involve ourselves too deeply with other nations and their interests (free trade with all, entangling alliances with none), I think that the federal government should be small and deal with as few issues as possible, leaving most decisions to the State, local or (most preferrably) individual level.

I used to think that meant voting Republican over Democrat. However, the republicans in power don't share these ideals, nor do the Democrats.

So, I'll probably vote for whatever might stop Bush from continuing down this bizzare road we find ourselves on.

I want to see the PATRIOT act removed. I want to see the unauthorized wiretapping stopped. I want to see everyone get an equal oppurtunity to go through the legal process. These seem like traditional Conservative/libretarian views, yet my only hope is that Dems will embrace them just to be anti-Bush.

Our political scene sucks in its banality.



Ok, I feel better now ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2006 10:25 AM

Mike D: Didn't someone once say that whoever seeks election to office should be barred from serving?

Well, Douglas Adams ( Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) said:
"Anyone who is capable of geting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."
And Gore Vidal said:
"Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so."

I think both convey the sentiment ;)


Posted by: lindsey at October 18, 2006 02:52 PM

Enemy combatants should be held until the war is over.

They have no right to trial except military drumhead trials for spying or crimes against humanity.

Otherwise let them rot.

The governent has authority over anything that crosses our borders including communications. Let them use it.

War time is different that peace time. It sucks. Get over it.

BTW here is a real Republican weakness:

Do Republicans support drug prohibition because it finances criminals or because it finances terrorists?

Republican Socialism. Price supports for criminals and terrorists.

Posted by: M. Simon at October 18, 2006 03:05 PM

In my case I can make it easy on myself and fall back on my default option, the Democrats.

Who are your candidates? It's one thing I suppose if you're voting for Clinton for Senator; another if you're voting against some Republican senator.

Posted by: h0mi at October 18, 2006 05:08 PM

Wow, I am amazed at the number of hissy fits thrown by people who are upset that a reasoning person might vote Democratic. Then again, maybe I'm not surprised. Good riddance to 'em, I say. Anybody that will "threaten" (ha!) to withold financial assistance if you vote for the Democrats is not someone who is likely to add reasoned discussion or argument to a site like this.

And just because they happen to be Conservatives does not in any way mean that a lot of Liberals would not do the same thing if you went the other way. I work in customer support and have learned after a few years not to be surprised by the number of e-mails I receive that start right off the bat with threats to report to the attorney general, the governor, the BBB, their mother or somebody else in a position of authority, rather than trying to present an actual argument.

I am center left, someone who tends to vote Democratic. But I am always on the lookout for a Republican who can do the job just as well. I live in California, and apart from Governor Arnold, who I will vote for, its been a long time since I've been able to vote Republican. Richard Riordan, former mayor of L.A. was the last Republican I voted for. Before that, Tom Cambell, representative from the San Jose area was the last, over 10 years ago.

I would love to be able to split my vote and vote for more Republicans. But I can't in good conscience do so.

It took the Republicans less than 10 years to surpass the Democrat's sleaze, corruption, arrogance, hypocrisy and incomptetence that took 40 years to acquire in the House. It's very very sad to see.

Posted by: Tony S at October 18, 2006 06:49 PM

I am also shocked at the number of people who have bought into the Republican party line regarding the Democrats on security. Its time to forget George McGovern. He and his brand of Democrat are not the majority of Democrats out there, past or present. Wilson, who was president during World War I was a Democrat. Roosevelt, president during World War II, was a Democrat. Truman, a Democrat was president during the Korean war. The Vietnam war was started by Kennedy and continued by LBJ, both Democrats. Clinton is too recent to be able to agree fairly on his contributions, and your opinion of him is likely decided by your party. But objectively, he was no disaster for the American Military.

I don't want to start a discussion of Clinton. My point is that Democrats have been in charge for many years when warfare has been required and have a good record. You are not voting against the troops is you vote Democratic. You are not voting against Iraq, against the Kurds, against security, against Israel or for terrorists if you vote Democratic. You are not voting to "weaken the country" if you vote Democratic.

Posted by: Tony S at October 18, 2006 07:00 PM

Its time to forget George McGovern. He and his brand of Democrat are not the majority of Democrats out there, past or present.

Have you noticed the number of democrats calling for a timetable for bringing the troops home?

The McGovernite Left is still with us, and there are enough of them out there to tip primaries.

You are not voting against the troops is you vote Democratic. You are not voting against Iraq, against the Kurds, against security, against Israel or for terrorists if you vote Democratic. You are not voting to "weaken the country" if you vote Democratic.

Tony, do you recall why South Vietnam fell?

Bluntly put, it was because the Democratic Congress refused to appropriate funds to be used as military aid. South Vietnam got to fight an enemy that was being strongly supported by a superpower, without a superpower backing it up.

The Democrats failed to understand that leaving a US ally hanging in the face of superpower-backed aggression would make all of the US's other allies wonder if the US would support them when the Communist bloc set it's sights on them.

This is the essential reason why Democats are considered less credible, capable, and competent in foreign policy. They don't get it. After Vietnam went pear-shaped, the Democrats ran the Scoop Jackson wing- which held pretty much all of their foreign-policy expertise- out of the party.

For all the brilliance of Democatic leaders past, the current generation doesn't get it, and hasn't gotten it in at least three decades- as you may recall, during Kerry's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, the man specifically pledged not to send more reinforcements to Iraq. Nevermind that one of the major criticisms of President Bush at the time was that there weren't enough troops in Iraq to do the job.

These people are not serious.

The basic reason I cannot vote for Democrats at the federal level this election is because I think they want to do to Iraq what the previous generation of Democrats did to South Vietnam. Cut and run.

I can't vote for that.

The Republicans suck, and I say that as a socially tolerant fiscal conservative who doesn't give a damn what goes on between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes. The problem is that the Democrats are a disaster waiting to happen- these people have failed to learn from the previous generation's mistakes.

Posted by: rosignol at October 18, 2006 10:44 PM

Mea culpa. I just saw that Double-plus ungood's response to my animal-farm quote ended up on the next post, thus providing another political post that resulted in another round of boneheaded partisan fighting.

I will say that it's refreshing to see a blog so incredibly balanced that not only can I not detect any bias, but I don't feel any need to "read between the lines."

Although to DPUG I will say that a Fascist and a Communist tend to create the same thing (An Autocratic government with tight control of its citizens), it's the libertarian that is the opposite of a Communist/Fascist. Even by that standard, however, I do agree: American politics is an echo-chamber.

Posted by: Cal Conservative at October 19, 2006 01:37 PM

I will probably also vote D this time around for federal offices. I look at it not so much as a vote in favor of the Democratic party as a vote in favor of divided government - complete Republican control has been a disaster, with the Republican Party topping the list of casualties. A 2 year stalemate between congress and Bush would be a wonderful outcome from my perspective.

Michael, your writing and your commentary is always excellent. Anyone who is de-linking you or not funding you because of your planned vote is probably not someone you wanted in your readership to begin with!

Posted by: Doug at October 19, 2006 04:40 PM

Although to DPUG I will say that a Fascist and a Communist tend to create the same thing (An Autocratic government with tight control of its citizens), it's the libertarian that is the opposite of a Communist/Fascist. Even by that standard, however, I do agree: American politics is an echo-chamber.

Is that a bad thing that the American political scene lacks Fascist and Communist parties that are even marginally significant?

Is it a good thing that governments in other nations have Fascist and Communist parties that are more than marginally significant?

Considering the amount of misery attributable to fascism, communism, and the other various forms of authoritarianism, I am disinclined to think so.

I'll take my politics with a heavy dose of freedom, liberty, and respect for the rights of the individual, hold the authoritarianism and collectivism.

Even if it means I have to listen to people argue about trivia like the difference between erotica and pornography. It's a lot better than the alternative.

Posted by: rosignol at October 19, 2006 09:52 PM

I like your coverage of the places you go. Glen Reynolds is probably right. Both parties have become so self serving and extreme that they are pretty much useless to the average American. I am looking at only one issue to base my votes on. Our troops. They are in harms way. I will vote for those I think will support our troops the best. I would support your efforts with money if I could, but any extra money I have(and some I do't have) goes to support troops at war. I wish you well in your travels and reporting on them.

Posted by: rp at October 20, 2006 07:38 AM

If you vote Dem and they pick up seats, then that will simply serve to validate the Dems irresponsible, even insane, policies and media-manipulating practices. If you vote Repub you might be voting for something you fear is corrupt, but a big loss for the Dems will encourage them to restructure their ideology along more sensible lines. That could only be good for the U.S. So in general, it makes the best sense to hold one's nose and vote Republican this year.

P.S.: biggest mistake voters make is concluding that their rep or senator "deserves" to be re-elected w/o considering the alternatives. Remember, most of the excellent constituent service you receive from your elected ones is a function of staff. That would be nearly the same no matter who was elected.

Posted by: Solomon2 at October 20, 2006 08:33 AM

a big loss for the Dems will encourage them to restructure their ideology along more sensible lines.

Dunno. It didn't work in '02 or '04.

Posted by: rosignol at October 20, 2006 11:29 AM

Either it will work, or the Dems will shrink so small that the Republicans themselves will split in two. Don't laugh. The Democratic Party was created by a split of its predecessor, the Democratic-Republican Party

Posted by: Solomon2 at October 20, 2006 12:52 PM

Rosignol: You seem a bit shrill, you don't need to wave the flag out in front of me, the name is Cal Conservative.

The question is really whether we really agree with the greater "marketplace of ideas" concept. If we do, then not having fascist, communist, anarchist, and national socialist parties is a bad thing. However, if we believe that certain ideas can "lose" and be pushed out of the public discourse then I suppose the lack of these parties is not so uncomfortable.

The essential difficulty to deal with is this: Are all viewpoints equally valid, or are some views more correct/better than others? If the first is true, then we're terrible people for not voting for the national socialists. If the latter is true, then I'd prefer the national socialists to be as far away from my government as possible.

Posted by: Cal Conservative at October 24, 2006 10:47 AM

The essential difficulty to deal with is this: Are all viewpoints equally valid, or are some views more correct/better than others?

IMO, if you think all viewpoints are equally valid, you've been living too close to Berkley for too long.

If how well an idea works is the measure of an idea, some ideas are provably better than other ideas.

If the first is true, then we're terrible people for not voting for the national socialists. If the latter is true, then I'd prefer the national socialists to be as far away from my government as possible.

I'm inclined to agree with the latter point of view- I don't want any of what the national socialists are selling, and am not at all worried that my neighbors don't want any of it, either.

If someone thinks that makes me (or my neighbors) bad people, they're welcome to live somewhere else, and vote for the national socialists to run their neighborhood (and the farther they are from me, the better).

Posted by: rosignol at October 26, 2006 10:54 PM
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