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June 21, 2007

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the posting rules are preventing me from expressing my true feelings on this topic.

help, help, i'm being oppressed.

Hey, the anti-Nader backlash might be just the unifying force you need.

Nader...you must confront Nader. Only then a Jedi will you be.

ugh

What dismayed said.

He will get GOP backing, that's for sure.
Can we turn him somehow against Liebermann?

"Alternate Universe"??

"Time-Warp" is more like it: what's old Ralph's next lecture going to be after he analyzes the state of our politics? A rant about how we have to get the Corvair and the Pinto off the roads?

Let's see:

Attack Iran if they don't obey our directions:

Republicans: Hell Yes!
Democrats: Well...we need to keep our
options on the table

Expand the military?
Republicans: Hell Yes! More money! More
troops! More profits!
Democrats: Yes. We need to "help" the
benighted savages, don't you
know?
Eviscerate the economy in the name of "free trade" and corporate profits?
Republicans: Hell Yes! More money for us!
Democrats: Yes, but we will set up
underfunded government loan
programs so that 52 year olds
can spend three years and
learn a useless new career!
Health Care?
Republicans: Best system in the world!
Democrats: Best system in the world.
But, let's work with our
buddies in the insurance
industry to set up a
nightmare maze of inadequate
government programs to sorta
address the issues.

Godbothering and Religious Pandering?

Republicans: Separation of church and
state is a liberal myth.
The earth is 6,000 years old.
Bring on armageddon!
Democrats: We need to pander to
religious people! Maybe we
can adopt all of the
Republican programs without
really believing in the
mythology behind them!
That's the ticket!


Yep. BIGGGGG Differences there. Keep on Thanksralphing because your Party is as useful as the Whigs in 1856.

...like flypaper to crazy.

"...like flypaper to crazy"

Crazy's ok, but formatting it like poetry? Serious violation of the posting rules there.

Nader/Perot '08!

Nonsense. Only Nader/The desiccated corpse of Gus Hall can save America in '08.

Ralph just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong?

I am consistently mystified at people who can actually maintain the delusion that the differences between the Democrats and the Republicans are so trivial that they will support someone whose only measurable effect on the election will be to siphon votes away from the person who, at worst, will be less bad on their pet issues.

It really is a delusion, as are the adamant denials of Naderites that their votes help elect Republicans. No third party candidate in modern American politics has a statistically meaningful chance of being elected President. The people voting for the third-party candidate will necessarily be the people who most closely identify with his positions. Without Nader in the election, nontrivial numbers of his supporters vote for the candidate out of the two major parties closest to their views: for Nader supporters this will, almost without exception, be the Democrat.

This isn't even debatable. It's a simple matter of logic, electoral math, and plain common sense. If you care about nearly any given liberal issue, it is a near-certainty that the Democrat in the election will be better on that issue than the Republican. And your ideological purity will be cold comfort when the Republican administration you helped elect starts destroying the issues you care about.

I was going to say, "What dismayed said."

But then I read Catsy's comment. Henceforth, I hereby bequeath my "What [person X] said" honors on this thread to Catsy.

I know, I know, what are you going to do with the all that prize money.

I occasionally have this overwhelming desire to punch Ralph Nader in the face.

Back in 2000, I found the anti-Nader sentiment to be highly offensive. Anyone has a right to run for public office, and the idea that someone with new ideas should stifle himself in order to help some favored half of the duopoly defeat the unfavored half seemed really self-centered.

I guess I still feel that way in principle, but I'm not very passionate. What happened? Well, it's obvious isn't it? In 2000 I believed that a bland major-party candidate was basically an interchangeable cog in the system. I never imagined that a major-party candidate could actually be orders of magnitude more destructive to our nation than any other major-party candidate.

So kudos to you, Dubya. You've certainly gotten me back on the two-party reservation, at least until your stain and that of your party are purged.

It's not just that Nader ran, it's that he actively worked to siphon off votes from Gore to ensure a Bush victory.

In the waning days of the the 2000 campaign, instead of working hard in solidly blue states -- states where he had the best chance of picking up the most votes to perhaps qualify for federal matching funds -- he stumped in swing states. There's no reason for a third party candidate to care about swing states unless he is actively trying to defeat one of the major party candidates.

Given a choice between Hillary and Nader i'm voting for Nader. The Dems have done nothing to stop this war, or prevent a war with Iran even though they "won" congress. I don't see why anyone would think they'd end the war (or prevent a war with Iran) if they held the exectutive branch.

I don't see any of them (dem or GOP) ending the war. Clearly, the few decent candidates; Kucinich, Gravel or Paul won't get the nod.

Can Nader win? Nope, but unless what I expect to be the lineup changes (i.e., Hillary vs. Romney), Ralph's the best person so he gets my vote.

You people want to vote for a warmonger because she's a dem. Great. I won't.

Given a choice between Hillary and Nader i'm voting for Nader. The Dems have done nothing to stop this war, or prevent a war with Iran even though they "won" congress. I don't see why anyone would think they'd end the war (or prevent a war with Iran) if they held the exectutive branch.

I don't see any of them (dem or GOP) ending the war. Clearly, the few decent candidates; Kucinich, Gravel or Paul won't get the nod.

Can Nader win? Nope, but unless what I expect to be the lineup changes (i.e., Hillary vs. Romney), Ralph's the best person so he gets my vote.

You people want to vote for a warmonger because she's a dem. Great. I won't.

I can't see how a third party's going to happen from the top down. The road to multi-partyism is through Congress. I confess to being ignorant of coalition governments in other countries, but I wish we had one here.
I don't blame Nader or anyone else who runs for President. I also don't blame him for George W. Bush, who never could have gotten away with the sh8t he and Ch3n3y have without a whole lot of Congressional Republicans getting into office to allow it.

Bollicks.

Clinton is not as likely to start a war with Iran as Romney - or any other GOP candidate save Paul for that matter. Further, Clinton is more likely to be influenced by the rest of the Democratic Party/anti-war public opinion on these matters than a Republican would.

That might not be as self-satisfying a position, but in the real world where people actually die from bombs and stuff, I'll play the odds.

When you don't have to actually deal with the consequences of actual wars, or the gutting of social safety net programs/environmental regulations/regulatory oversight, it's far easier to strike a pious pose.

Bravo. You're sure better than the rest of us morally compromised folks.

The Dems have done nothing to stop this war, or prevent a war with Iran even though they "won" congress.

This is just silly.

The Dems have actually prevented a war with Iran quite well. As in, we're not at war with Iran!!!!

Further, the Dems "won" Congress by a slim margin that is incapable of overriding Bush's veto. If the Naderites had "won" Congress in the same way, they too would not have ended the Iraq war.

If the Naderites had "won" Congress in the same way, they too would not have ended the Iraq war.

I don't know, they might have actually refused to fund it, which would have ended the war, democrats have this option right now.

I agreed with most of Nader's criticisms in 2000 and still do (look who was the VP candidate), but the choice isn't between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but between Bad and Worse.

So I'm voting for Bad. Well, maybe. I don't live in a swing state, so if Hillary gets the nomination I can indulge myself in a protest vote.

"look who was the VP candidate"

Ok, what about Cheney do you like?

The person who called Hillary Clinton a "Warmonger" has nailed it. She's another extremely authoritarian personality who is eager to prove how tough she is.

All the current Democratic "mainstream" politicans have the same jones on their back-they need to be "tough." They need to increase defense spending. They need to babble about our right to bomb and invade and meddle wherever we want (We are "indispensible" after all). It's a bipartisan consensus.

Is it totally their fault? Not entirely. We have a militarized, brainwashed population that has been trained to accept the bipartisan Exceptionalist mantra that enables us to have hundreds of thousands of troops around the world. It is the imperial consensus. No mainstream politican can come anywhere near to questioning it.

The problem with voting for "Bad" is that it just continues to slide the political landscape further and further to the right. Pretty soon, Pat Buchanan will be running as a "liberal" democrat given your position.

I don't think there is a way to avoid the destruction and turmoil that we as a nation have earned. So, don't tell me that voting for Hillary Clinton, of all people, will do very much. Heck, her husband, the last "liberal" gutted welfare, drug us into another questionable war, continued to fund nasties in the Middle East and throughout the world-all the unpleasantness associated with running a particularly ravenous Empire.

As for "craziness" how are my points "crazy." Saint Barrack himself said that nothing can be taken off the table with respect to Iran if they don't obey us. He is willing to use nuclear weapons on another country! Why should I support this?

Cheney and Lieberman had sort of a lovefest rather than a debate back in 2000. If Lieberman were trying to make Nader's Tweedle criticism look accurate he couldn't have done a better job that night.

I don't know, they might have actually refused to fund it, which would have ended the war, democrats have this option right now.

There are work-arounds for a determined Executive. Money could be shifted within the Pentagon budget, and he could invite an impeachment fight. Which the Naderites couldn't win.

Saint Barrack himself said that nothing can be taken off the table with respect to Iran if they don't obey us. He is willing to use nuclear weapons on another country! Why should I support this?

You know, sometimes a candidate and even a leader must say certain things to maintain a diplomatic front/rhetorical front. Just a thought.

Heck, her husband, the last "liberal" gutted welfare, drug us into another questionable war, continued to fund nasties in the Middle East and throughout the world-all the unpleasantness associated with running a particularly ravenous Empire.

Are you really going to compare the record of Bill Clinton with that of Bush's as if there was no difference? Really?

Come on.

I would also point out that a Clinton funded and controlled by DLC interests will have absolutely no need to "listen" to antiwar "elements." Why should she? You guys will vote for her no matter what she does or says?

Though, rilke, since you're kind of a HRC fan if I recall correctly, I'll appease your wrath to this extent--I might donate money to her campaign, since the Republicans most likely will nominate some crazed torture-supporter. But living where I do, I feel no civic duty to vote for her.

Why should she? You guys will vote for her no matter what she does or says?

Good point.

Do you have a link to the primary poll results that show her at 100%?

No?

I don't know why people bother. There is no penetrating the unreality that hard-core Naderites live in, the ones who are willing to de facto support four more years of the GOP so that they can give an imperfect Democrat the middle finger.

Work on convincing the ones on the margins.

You're right Catsy.

I guess it just frustrates me because there are tragic real-world effects. I've had the opportunity to witness them up close through pro-bono legal work in some rough neighborhoods here in NYC.

People actually suffer by losing important social services, getting sick/injured from unsafe working conditions/food/drugs and having their environment polluted - to name a few.

Think of all the ways that Bush made those situations worse than Bill Clinton. How many millions of people suffered as a result.

But to a Naderite, they're the same President because Clinton did some bad stuff too and wasn't perfect.

This smugness is usually the luxury of people that can afford the somewhat expensive pose. For people whose meals depend on whether Gore or Bush gets elected, such moral "clarity" isn't practical.

Sigh.

I'll vote for whoever the Dems nominate. Not because of the policies they'll implement, but because there's no way they'll nominate the kind of crypto-fascist judges the GOP base demands. Stacking the Supreme Court has implications far beyond the next election, and the Right has done an excellent job of getting their people onto the court, and making sure they get *young* judges onto the court. The hard right wing of the SC will be there for at least a decade if not longer. The older justices are on the moderate wing of the court (there is no Left left).

"you're kind of a HRC fan if I recall correctly"

Given that she's a smart wonky partisan Democrat with WH experience running to the left of Kerry in '04, I'm a fan of her, but mostly I comment on the topic because some online otherwise-sensible liberals are unreasonably set against her.

He made similar noises in 2004, didn't he? Actually, did he try to get on the ballot? I can't even remember. I don't think this is any sort of serious threat in 2008, it's just a cry for attention.

I'm the opposite of Donald: I'd vote for Hillary--what's the point of a protest vote for someone I like less? But I doubt I'll donate money, because a dollar of mine seems like it will have more effect applied elsewhere (if she were way behind the GOP nominee in fundraising, & spending her campaing $ very wisely, I'd consider it.)

I am not a Naderite. I never voted for the man. I, too, used to believe in the worthless Ass party. Not anymore!

As for the comment about polls showing Hillary at 100%? That comment doesn't make any sense. I never claimed she was unanimously supported. Just that you Demodrones would support her no matter what she says if she is the candidate. Just like the 26%ers. She could launch a war with China, and you would still be babbling about how "necessary" the war was and how "efficiently" it was being run. Boy, those Rhodes Scholars and New Republic editors know how to run a bombing campaign!

Besides, all of the mainstream candidates have similar views, anyway, so it is effectively 100% in favor of the disastrous consensus.

I will not vote for a candidate who still says he/she would/could use nuclear weapons first on Iran. That is madness.

"I'll vote for whoever the Dems nominate. Not because of the policies they'll implement, but because there's no way they'll nominate the kind of crypto-fascist judges the GOP base demands."

finally-a reasonable argument. I'm not sure this is even true, anymore. As the politics moves further to the right, and Democrats abandon Abortion rights issues....?

As for the comment about polls showing Hillary at 100%? That comment doesn't make any sense. I never claimed she was unanimously supported. Just that you Demodrones would support her no matter what she says if she is the candidate.

It makes sense if you recall that she has to win a primary before she becomes the candidate. In which case, she will not be supported by Democratic primary voters no matter what she says. Hence, the non-100% levels of support.

She could launch a war with China, and you would still be babbling about how "necessary" the war was and how "efficiently" it was being run

Boy, those Rhodes Scholars and New Republic editors know how to run a bombing campaign!

Uh, no. Because who around this site is a fan of the New Republic? Do you have any actual evidence or do you just make misguided sweeping statements?

I will not vote for a candidate who still says he/she would/could use nuclear weapons first on Iran. That is madness.

Did he/she actually say this? Do you have the quotes?

And like I said before: admirable stance from someone who doesn't rely on government assistance - or the near gutting of the regulatory state. Or someone who doesn't need health insurance.

You make us all proud. You're so pure you're invisible.

Given that Brian, as I had initially thought, isn't a drive-by, I retract my "crazy" comment, upthread, and apologize.

...isn't, as I initially thought, a driveby...

But y'all knew what I meant, eh?

finally-a reasonable argument

...he said, with no sense of irony...

I'm glad that Nader gets attention and you don't. You don't deserve any. Nader's a hero.

Brian: it does your arguments no good whatsoever if you make assumptions about the people here based on no evidence at all. This, in particular:

" She could launch a war with China, and you would still be babbling about how "necessary" the war was and how "efficiently" it was being run."

is just out of line.

Saint Barrack himself said that nothing can be taken off the table with respect to Iran if they don't obey us. He is willing to use nuclear weapons on another country!

The actual quote I found was While we should take no option, including military action, off the table...

I don't think that this is a reasonable inference on your part. For example, I don't think he'd support raping their women and mutilating their children, or blowing up the entire planet- I read 'nothing can be taken off of the table' as not ruling out military action to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon, not (bizarrely) as endorsing literally anything as legitimate response.

Your reading is strained at best. Or maybe you're referring to a different speech. Or maybe you're thinking of McCain, since all these mainstream pols look the same to you.

As the politics moves further to the right, and Democrats abandon Abortion rights issues....?

This seems incredibly unlikely to me. Abortion rights get more support from younger people than older ones- as time passes, I expect the mainstream will become more pro-choice. Even today I cannot imagine a Democrat winning the presidential primary as a pro-lifer, but the current front-runner for the GOP nomination is pro-choice.

In general, don't mistake the pendulum of politics from right-to-left-and-back for a straight line pointing off into wingnuttia. (ie will Ayn Rand really be considered left-wing by 2050?)

Besides, all of the mainstream candidates have similar views, anyway, so it is effectively 100% in favor of the disastrous consensus.

This statement has no basis in fact whatsoever. The only way it is supportable is if your basis for comparison is so generalized or abstracted as to be meaningless. (All the candidates like mom and apple pie, and completely ignore grandpa and cherry cobbler! They're all the same!)

At the end of the day it's simply a baseless, prima facie false rationalization concocted to allow you to cast a protest vote with a clear conscience.

I have long suspected that "all the candidates are the same/similar/etc" is code for "none of them are in lockstep agreement with my magic sock puppet". Garbage like this simply reinforces that impression.

rilkefan: some online otherwise-sensible liberals are unreasonably set against her.

I wouldn't say I'm "unreasonably" set against her. I like her, and, more her campaign, less than Obama, even less than Edwards (Swampland for Shakespeare's Sister? Really????). Spending eve a second of time on a "theme song", fercryinoutloud? Yeah, that's important. Then select a song by a Canadian (that a lot of people just plain hate) that was used to promote Air Canada.

Every move seems to indicate she's got crappy instincts. And she suffers, by orders of magnitude, in wonkosity and charm, in comparison to Bill.

I'll vote for her against the Super Double-Plus Toturiffic Rebublislime, but my primary vote is going Obama.

grandpa and cherry cobbler

Not my favorite kind of cobbler. I really wish English would adopt parentheses for logical partitioning.

Catsy continues to score.

[i]This statement has no basis in fact whatsoever. The only way it is supportable is if your basis for comparison is so generalized or abstracted as to be meaningless. (All the candidates like mom and apple pie, and completely ignore grandpa and cherry cobbler! They're all the same!)[/i]

Hillary, Barrack, and Edwards all believe in a world view that demands the United States have the largest military in history, believe in certain mythical ideas about "free markets" (as long as industries that contribute lots of bucks are not impacted), that believe the United States has the right to demand Iran not have nuclear weapons (while ignoring weapons in the hands of scary terrorist states like Pakistan)-and if they insist, Hillary, Barrack, and john Edwards all demand the right to take military action against Iran. They insist we not only need to keep the current enormous military establishment, they insist that we need to increase the size of said military. All share the delusion that the United States can afford these policies now. Given our trade and current account and government deficits right now, that is close enough to 100% delusion on the biggest issues.

A) Catsy is dominating like Rafa Nadal on clay.

B) If one were to care to do so, I believe Publius' archives from last summerish have a few rather definitive posts as to why "they're the same" is complete hogwash.

By way of illustration:

Sam Alito
Browny
the dunce populating the Civil Rights Divisions with "good Americans" (that phrase is so much more charming in the original German...)
Al Gonzalez
Monica Goodling

and one could possibly go on...

Brian: it does your arguments no good whatsoever if you make assumptions about the people here based on no evidence at all. This, in particular:

" She could launch a war with China, and you would still be babbling about how "necessary" the war was and how "efficiently" it was being run."

is just out of line.

No. It's not. Bill's Excellent Serbian adventure, anyone? The Balkan event was sold with similar hyperbole and exageration and sense of virtue. (Slobodan was the worstest, mostest throeat to CIVILLIZATION ever, don't you know?) (It's amusing to read the virtuous anti-war comments of Republicans who are now slavering warbots...) The lovely statement by Bill's UN Rep that the 500,000 Iraqi children killed by a combination of Sadaam and US policy was a "cost we are willing to pay."

It is bipartisan. Read Blowback and the other Chalmers Johnson books. That will disabuse you of your faith in the Democratic Party. it's not a matter of purity, it's a matter of bloodshed. Carter largely started funding what became Al Qaeda. Carter started the interference that became the Central American bloodbath. Carter's Sec State told the Indonesians that it was ok to slaughter tens of thousands of East Timorese. etc. etc. etc.

Now, admittedly, the level of sheer venality and incompetence exhibited by the current Scary Crawford Caligula's Cabal transcends anything the Dems did (although....there is always Vietnam to add to the Donkle's bloodbath statistics). But...there is a lot of blood on their hands, and I am not convinced that Hillary in particular will avoid future foreign adventures.

"I like her, and, more her campaign, less than Obama, even less than Edwards"

Yeah, I'm not arguing against that position, though I have to say that your example of her theme song search seems extremely weak or politically naive to me.


"And she suffers, by orders of magnitude, in wonkosity and charm"

I read that she's comparably wonky, and of course getting Bill back into the WH as her main adviser is a major plus in my book. No question Edwards and Obama would be much much better at the SotU-speech part of the job, which is certainly an important consideration. I think she's improving though and would be adequate on this score.

and if they insist, Hillary, Barrack, and john Edwards all demand the right to take military action against Iran.

This is an interesting sentence. Who is 'they'? If it is the three candidates, you evince a remarkable ability to see the future, which you should utilize by purchasing winning lotto numbers and turning the money over to Nader. If it's the Iranians, well, that would be novel. But if it is some inchoate public opinion, it seems that the argument boils down to 'if the candidate has a chance of being elected, they have to be wrong, so you shouldn't vote for him/her' IMO, but I think it was done a lot better (and earlier) in Horsefeathers.

Speaking of Chalmers Johnson, I've met him several times, and there is no way in hell he thinks that what he writes is an argument for voting for Nader.

I'm typing very rapidly while I am supposed to be working....so....

what I meant was they, the candidates, insist that the United States has the right to dictate to Iran Iran's defense policies. They all insist that attacking Iran is an option. I disagree vehemently with the possibility of attacking Iran.

I'm not arguing for voting for Nader, either. (He has some scary purist authoritarian tendencies himself). I'm arguing that the Democratic Party has participated from the beginning in a consensus that I increasingly disagree with. I think we cannot afford our little empire anymore, and that said empire increasingly does not benefit most people in this country. It's been a nice run, but how many more countries do we need to invade (or conduct humanitarian interventions in) to keep up the illusion?

Brian: "is just out of line.

No. It's not."

-- You were not making an assertion about Clinton's foreign policy. You were making an assertion about us, and our likely response to a war with China. Trust me: you don't know us that well.

My apologies. I was generalizing more to the universe of Democratic Party apologists. I don't know this group all that well (although I am a regular reader)

Nader is irrelevant. I might vote for him because it is safe to do so in my state, but he's got some mental illness that forces him to run for President every four years. I'd vote for him as a protest against American imperialism, something which the mainstream in both parties has been supporting for as long as I've been alive (and then some).

Brian's 7:04 post about the bipartisan evils of American foreign policy are pretty close to my own views, and those of Chalmers Johnson and (I think) Andrew Bacevich (spelling?), not to mention most of the subscribers to various lefty rags like the Nation and the Progressive, some linguist at MIT, and, it has come to my attention in the last few years, many genuine libertarians. (As opposed to the torture-supporting kinds). I've never met Chalmers Johnson and have no idea who he'd vote for, but find it hard to believe he'd be an enthusiastic booster of HRC. But he might well think Nader is a flake. So do I. I also know that no mainstream Democratic candidate for President would be caught dead endorsing Chalmers Johnson's views. That's for the fringe candidates like Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Nader.

Um, in case it appears otherwise, I know Paul and Nader aren't Democrats. But they are fringe. Which is why they are worth listening to on some issues.

I disagree with Paul on nearly everything else, btw, but I'm glad he's in the Republican debates.

Chalmers was on the stump endorsing Kerry in the last election. Again, I point to Dave Niewert on Paul (there's more, but that post can get you started)

Yep, despite my liking for his work at antiwar.org, and his speeches at the Republican Debates, Ron Paul has some mighty scary friends. His brand of libertarianism is not mine. (I much prefer the Mutualist stuff).

I repeat that the US voting system that tends to restrict votes to the two most popular candidates, does not serve us.

If we had IRV or one of its variants, people could vote for third candidates and third parties without losing their votes. We would be better off.

So if we had IRC and Nader came in third, most of his votes would then go to the democrat because that's what his voters would say they wanted to happen. They got to vote for Nader first and somebody else second and maybe a third guy third. If their first choice comes out ahead, then great! If not they still get to vote for their second choice. A vote for Nader doesn't translate to a vote for the worst candidate. And of course if Nader got more first-choice votes than the democrat, most of them would have Nader for a second choice, and Nader would actually win. As it should be.

It will probably be a long time before we can have IRV in national elections. But democrats can push to have IRV for democratic primaries. If the primaries candidate who actually gets the most support wins the nomination, that's a *good* thing, right?

As it is, when two candidates have positions that are too close they're likely to tear each other apart. Because they're eating out of the same bowl -- the same people will tend to like them. And then after a hard primary campaign the winner has alienated the guys who supported the loser's campaign, and they don't want to help elect him. With IRV they're still competing but they aren't direct competitors. "If you like me, vote for Candidate B second. If I thought he'd do a better job than me I wouldn't run. But he's a good Joe and we could do a lot worse than him." After the primary, for each candidate they can count up the number of ballots that had his name somewhere. If the winner got 85% and the first runner-up got 80%, and the second runner-up got 75%, they don't exactly feel like losers.

Start pushing for IRV in local and state Democratic nominations, and then individual state national democratic primaries, etc. Someday we can get IRV for national elections, and you won't have to choose only the second-worst candidate.

I think it was Theresa (or Teresa?) Nielsen-Hayden who said just because you're on their side doesn't mean they're on your side. Chalmers Johnson endorsing Kerry doesn't mean Kerry would endorse Chalmers Johnson. The Kerry of the Vietnam protest days might. The one in 2004 was still for the Iraq War, as I recall.

Hell, I voted for Kerry.

"IRV or one of its variants"

All of which suffer problems with Arrow's Theorem iirc.

"The one in 2004 was still for the Iraq War, as I recall."

I believe that's incorrect. And certainly a President Kerry would not have taken us to war against Iraq.

...and I am not convinced that Hillary in particular will avoid future foreign adventures.

Neither am I, but that's not the point. First, vote against her in the primaries. Vote for Kucinich or Gravel or whoever. But then, if she wins, you will face a question - the question:

Would you sooner trust her, or the GOP nominee?

I'll take her, thank you.

And voting for Nader or abstaining, in a swing state, is a vote for the GOP candidate.

Saying this does not make me or anyone else blind to the shortcomings of the Democratic Party. But, as JT and others have pointed out, we have a two party system.

We must make do with the options available, and pick the best one. Further, we must try to push the Democratic Party toward policies closer to our own. We have had some successes, you know. Feingold, Sanders (I'm claiming him), Leahy, Waxman, etc.

Even regarding foreign policy, there are indeed very real differences. Keep in mind, PNAC was trying to get Bill to invade Iraq for many years. He didn't. Bush gets elected, and in little over a couple years...whammo.

Which says nothing about the differences in domestic politics which you mostly ignored - other than to make a specious point about abortion rights.

Brian,
Your 6:53pm makes sense- I think we can all agree that all of the major party candidates share certain views (eg the US has the right to prevent an Iranian nuke).

But that doesn't imply that they are the same- even a committed Marxist or Anarchist ought to be able to see the significant differences between them. Just as anyone ought to be able to see the differences between, say, Stalin and Khrushchev.
The difference between Bush and Gore on one single point- the Iraqi War (if you'll grant that Gore almost certainly wouldn't have invaded)- is so significant as to make the argument that they are all the same seem naive.

If you'll grant that point, then you ought not disparage people for supporting one over the other. Even if you feel it necessary to stand on some principle and not vote for either.

All of which suffer problems with Arrow's Theorem iirc.

Well, yeah- it's been proven that none of them can be perfect. But virtually any of the alternative proposals would be better than what we have today. Anything that would break the 2-party stranglehold on the discussion...

Well, no; there's one perfect voting system - i.e., one that has all of the characteristics considered desireable in Arrow's Theorem. Unfortunately, it's the One Man, One Vote (a la Terry Pratchett) system...

I have serious reservations about IRV, in any case; I'd rather see either Approval Voting or a Borda Count-type system implemented. (Either of those would take into account "second choices", in different ways.)

"Anything that would break the 2-party stranglehold on the discussion..."

Looking forward to the fringe-party stranglehold on progress.

"IRV or one of its variants"

All of which suffer problems with Arrow's Theorem iirc.

I tried to look at Arrow's theorem in detail and I got headaches three successive days and gave up. It looks to me like it doesn't mean anything like the popular descriptions of it say it means.

Some of the pathological cases it says are possible appear to me to be not that bad. And some of them look kind of bad, but they will occur rarely, not every time there's a third party.

If you try out IRV in your local democratic primaries you can find out whether Arrow's theorem makes it worse than the mess we have as default.

I have serious reservations about IRV, in any case; I'd rather see either Approval Voting or a Borda Count-type system implemented.

Jim, I'd settle for either of those. I particularly like IRV because anybody can feel like he understands it very very quickly. That's a crucial advantage. But whichever system we can actually get put in place, as opposed to argue about at great length. Arguing about which one is best translates to an argument to use none of them.

Perhaps we could have a plebiscite to determine which voting system to use. And we list all the systems that have a serious following, and then count the votes according to all the different methods and see which of them disagree. If, as is likely, all the methods agree except the one that considers only first choices, then we have a consensus.

I am more concerned about Bloomberg than about Nader.

Let's see if I've cooled down enough to manage to be civil in disagreement. If not, I will not object to being smacked and sent to my room.

There are some crucial differences in the Democratic and Republican establishments. I'm talking here about the networks of consultants, lobbyists, and so on, who will have more power than I'd like no matter who wins.

First of all, the Democratic one is not committed to the desirability of torture and the abolition of the rule of law around it. Katherine has documented Clinton's responsibility in setting some awful precedents, but there are still massive differences. Democrats now in key committee positions want to investigate and prosecute, not continue the cover-ups and the evils being covered up.

Second, there is in the Democratic establishment no militaristic faction like PNAC with nearly so much influence. There is the violence-friendly Israeli lobby (counter to the views of both American and Israeli Jews, of course), but nobody who's pushing for war as the solution to every major and minor foreign policy problem. Not to say that the Democratic establishment is free of warmongers, of course - it isn't. But no Democratic administration would face so much push or pull for war in lots of places (as opposed to the regrettably high support for a large military-industrlal complex).

Third, the Democratic establishment favors competence in most agencies. Clinton oversaw the emergence of FEMA and the VA as first-class places, and a lot of the people who still made that happen are around. It's not that nobody wants to cut buddy deals or get their excess profiteering or anything like that, it's just that they have a history of doing it while actually providing valuable services.

Fourth, while the Democratic establishment often panders badly to various religious constituencies, there is no Democratic equivalent to the Christianist theocratic lobby. There would be no push for creationist literature in national parks, global warming deniers at NASA, and the like. There is no equivalent in the Democratic establishment to the Regents University or Heritage Foundation and their supply of pure ideologues; Democratic ideologues tend to know at least a bit about something else, and to represent a spread of obsessions and interests rather than clustering so tightly.

Fifth, and finally for now, the Democratic establishment is much less monolothically committed to media consolidation, and includes some actual supporters of diversity in media access. While it's a long way from what I would consider really free speech, it's also much improved on the Republican estabishment's commitment to the domination of a very few corporate voices.

There are lots of others, all of which are true even while it's also true that the Democratic establishment sucks a lot from any liberal or progressive viewpoint. The Republican one sucks much, much worse.

I think we have imperialist parties because either Americans want this, or else don't care very much what harm we may do overseas so long as Americans aren't hurt. Not true of everyone, obviously, but probably true of a great many. Kerry didn't make a big issue of torture in 2004 because he didn't want to be painted as anti-American, not something he should have had to worry about if the vast majority of Americans were strongly anti-torture. There are people like Kucinich and Paul in their respective parties, but the people who get the nomination are people like Clinton and Bush.

Sure, and Chalmers got a lot of flak for endorsing Kerry. But my point is that one shouldn't go around using Chalmers to argue for Nader. That may be what you are saying, but I'm not on all cylinders this am.

Bruce's comment seems like the best yet. Good enough for me to think we can close this thread down and all go home. Not that anyone else will necessarily agree, except maybe Bruce.

The reason I like Bruce's comment is that he doesn't gloss over what's wrong with the Democrats while still pointing out very good reasons why they are preferable to the Republicans.

Donald, thanks. :)

I have despairing moments where I wonder if there's any real point to supporting any Democrat with much chance of winning, given that I want peace, the rule of law, and social justice. I construct this kind of list as much for my own evaluation as anything. It's my considered opinion in less despairing moments that while the Republican establishment is a basically unmitigated evil, its Democratic counterpart is a mitigated one, with some actually good points and some more or less neutral ones, and that the gap is wide enough to matter to the country's well-being.

I'll second the compliment to Bruce's comment.

And go another step. Who would Nader appoint to the agencies? To the bench? As ambassadors? What would the criteria be? Guess what, we all know a helluva lot less about this than we do about either of the major parties. And I don't think this is a strength at all.

We aren't electing a single person. It's more like 3,000 people drawn from a pool of, say, 10,000. The pools are largely, but not completely, exclusive. (That is, Holbrooke is in one pool, Rice in another. Some few people are in both). The top guy matters a lot, but a great many among the 3,000 are also very important. We already know many of the top players in each pool, and generally know what members of each pool have in common. Nader or Bloomberg? Not so much. Opportunists, outcasts, cult-of-personality types. Or maybe some from pool A and some from pool B.

Ah, Charley got to the question of the courts before I did. It matters immensely.

Oh, while I'm at it:

Sixth, while the Democratic establishment is far from perfect when it comes to racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like, it for gosh's sake seldom celebrates its bigotries as triumphs of Americana.

Well done Bruce. Nuff said.

celebrates...bigotries?

You lost me, Bruce.

Slarti, see the thread on "good Americans" for one example right at hand.

Still not getting it, Bruce. Maybe I never will.

Back to Nader, though: my, aren't people pissed at him for a variety of different reasons?

Off to bed, now. If you respond, Bruce, I'll have read it, even if I (as is nearly always the case) can't aknowledge it.

Slarti, I may or may not get around to rustling up supporting odcumentation, depending on how my depression goes. If I don't, you may certainly disregard the point as unsupported in your experience. It just depeds on how much I want to go looking for specific kinds of unspleasantness right now.

I'm not asking you to support a point, just wondering what the hell celebrating bigotries means.

I know I said I was going to bed, but I went to the nielsenhaydens main page and am teeterin on commenting on their hurricane season post, which seems possessed of a great misunderstanding of who does what when a hurricane looms. FEMA is not the first responder. Or the second, or third.

And now, really: off to bed.

Holbrooke. Ugh. I agree with your main point, Charleycarp, and for that matter Holbrooke simply has to be better than Rice, but Holbrooke set policy on Indonesia/East Timor during the Carter Administration, which turned out to be the same as the Ford/Kissinger policy of supporting Indonesia as they killed off a large fraction of the Timorese. In the 2000 election he and Wolfowitz prided themselves on their bipartisan effort to keep Indonesian/East Timorese issues out of the campaign. (Source--Joseph Nevins's book "A Not So Distant Horror"). Our East Timor policy for nearly 25 years was bipartisan realpolitik at its worst.
I suppose there's a good chance he's our future Secretary of State.

Still, there's global warming, environmental issues in general, health care, torture, the courts, and other issues. So it doesn't change Bruce's point, which already incorporated the fact that the Democrats aren't exactly perfect.

Am going to follow Slarti to bed. That doesn't sound right.

Oh, okay, Slarti. What I mean is that the Republican establishment is much more likely to break out into defenses of discriminatory practice as protecting real Americans from predators set on undermining good stuff. The Democratic establishment is by no means free of bigotries and prejudices, but makes much less policy out of them, and includes people who take discrimination and the protection of vulnerable people seriously along with those happy to make their money in union-busting, defense of discriminatory hires, and the like. There's nothing much comparable on the Democratic establishment's side to the Republican promotion of the ignorant, superstitious, violent, and perennially broke offspring of secessionists as guardians of the true American spirit.

Personally I don't understand why any country would use non-preferential voting for their head of state when there are more than two candidates.

The winner will most likely receive less than 50% of the vote (or, more people will probably vote for someone other than the winner), which strikes me as odd.

If there is preferential voting, whereby voters rank the candidates, then you will always get (after distribution of preferences) a winner with more than 50% of the vote.

So you can have as many candidates as you like, without splitting the vote as happens today.

Slart,
I don't mean to throw gas on this discussion, but I think, when you have the Ken Mehlman apology to the national NAACP conference for the Republicans use of racially divisive strategies, you might see why some of us from the other side might label some strategies that have been (and arguably are/will be, cf. Tancredo) deployed as celebrating bigotries as "triumphs of Americana".

Brian: What state are you in?

If you are in California or in Texas, go Nader all the away!

Do the anti-Nader arguments apply to non-swing states?

Am I missing something? Can anyone make an anti-Nader argument for states that are a done deal, one way or the other?

rilkefan: Arrow's theorem is a reason not to switch to IRV?? Arrow's theorem knocks down *any reasonable voting system* so failing Arrow's theorem hardly counts against a voting proposal.

"so failing Arrow's theorem hardly counts against a voting proposal"

I wasn't arguing against a voting proposal.

Rilkefan: just about everything besides me, Ara, deciding who should be President suffers from Arrow's theorem. I don't grasp your point.

I don't get why anyone gets their panties in a bunch about Nader. If he can't sell his agenda, his vote totals won't impact anyone, as was the case in 2004.

If his agenda sells, it can only be if the Dem veers so far to the right that he becomes the only progressive option.

So Nader's impact ranges from 'non-entity' to 'progressive motivational impact on the Dem.' He cannot become a spoiler without the active participation of the Dem who abandons the progressive agenda.

I didn't vote for Nader in 2000 or 2004. And I'm not a fan of his penchant for moral lecture. But I believe he has earned the right to run repeatedly ad infinatum and no living being is harmed by him doing so.

I think it critical that we maintain our focus on defeating our real enemies and do so by backing the most progressive Dems we can (those who offer agendas closest to our needs).

And I know all about the choice between bad and worst. In 7 of the 9 presidential contests I've voted in, those were my choices. And I've yet to gain two 'good' presidents as a result. I abhor the two party system because of that and would be happy to back a third party longshot if the other two parties can't move beyond mediocrity.

Most of the Dem candidates this time are at least above 'mediocre'. If the majority chooses either of the two worst (Biden or Clinton), they must recognize the risk they're taking with unapologetic rasty-assed liberals like me.

Ara, I believe that Arrow's Theorem contains a whole collection of sophistries designed to cause confusion, but I was unable to deal with them in a reasonable time because I got so confused about the collective assumptions. But here is one of them:

Suppose that there are 3 candidates, A B and C. Suppose that it turns out that the voters prefer A to B, and they prefer B to C, and they prefer C to A. Then any method you use to choose one will seem unfair. If A wins that's bad because the voters preferred C. If B wins that's bad because the voters preferred A. And if C wins that's bad because the voters preferred B. Therefore every possible voting system is bad.

I regard that as a useless result. Each different voting system will have some rationale for dealing with this pathological case, and you can choose the approach you prefer when you choose a voting system.

IRV says that people's *first* choice should make a big difference. You eliminate the candidate who gets the least number of first-place votes. If candidate C is everybody's second choice but nobody's first choice, then you eliminate him and choose between A and B. Never mind that everybody who voted for A thought C was better than B and everybody who voted for B thought C was better than A. With 3 candidates one of A and B will have a majority for first place.

There are lots of other ways to do it. With 3 candidates you could give each voter 6 votes, and the one they like best gets 3 votes, the second guy gets 2 votes and the third choice gets 1 vote. So if you only want one candidate you can vote A A A and he gets all 6 of your votes, while with A A B he gets 5, A B A he gets 4, with A B B he gets 3 and so does B, etc. This approach lets you tailor your vote very finely. Say there are 5 candidates, should your 5 slots be worth 5 4 3 2 1 or should it instead be 8 5 3 2 1? Each different way you do it will have some argument why it's the best. I say, choose one and go with it.

I like IRV. Choose your candidate. The one you like best is your choice. If he loses because not enough other people chose him, then your second choice counts. If your candidate is winning then it doesn't matter which of the losers you like better.

I think this is much better than saying that only your first choice counts and if your guy loses you get no more say in it at all. Too often that leaves people choosing the guy they think is second-worst. That's a much worse pathological case. Every serious alternative is better, and I will support any of them over what we have now.

I envision the ballot for the US presidential election in the year of the crucifixion bimillenial.
The Unified Armageddon Party (conservative) runs on the Satan/Palpatine ticket, the liberals can't compromise on a candidate and send in:
Jesus
Jesus H.Christ
Jesus F.Christ (twin of H.)
Jessica Christ
Holy Mary
St.Joseph
the archangels (on 4 different tickets)
the 12 apostles (on 9 different tickets)
the venerable Buddha in 7 incarnations
Haile Selassie
Gandhi
Gandhi's wife
Ghandhi's little brother
5 people who look like Gandhi and claim to be the real one.
a dead parrot
Santa Clause
the Easter Bunny
the Tooth Fairy
2 clones for each of the above (and 3 extra for Jesus).

Who do you think would win under the current system?
My guess is: Satan/Palpatine beating Santa and the dead parrot by a small margin of votes cast by people mistaking Palpatine for Liebermann, all the other votes would be split under the more resonable candidates (Satan would also cheat and additionally arrange secret financing for the dead parrot campaign). He would probably lose, if there were 1 or 2 others running against him as nominal conservatives (e.g. Judas or the Boston Strangler*).

*both probably not pro-choice or accomplices of Tinky Winky

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