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August 11, 2006

Comments

Politicians, in my worldview anyway, are all pigs at the same trough. Havings said that, I still think that the Deomcratic pigs are a wicked lot better than the Republican pigs. The Dem Pigs/Politicians have a different view of the role of Gov't than the Repub Pigs/Politicians and that counts for a lot, IMO. Repubs seem to think Gov't (especially the Fed Gov't) is a bad thing in and of itself and I think this belief is the main reason they are so poor at governance. Look at the Katrina response or the effort to "save" Social Security if you need proof of this.

Also, I think you are overstating the views of your opponents when you claim they believe, "that a Democratic Congress will be a paragon of virtue." If this is just hyperbole I think detracts from your argument rather than adding to it.

Competition is good, maybe some good ideas will gome through.

One party goverment is horrible. Divided government where the social issues get muted just might be a good vacation from the present.

this seems a good opportunity to further stir up the commentariat.

FOOD FIGHT!!

John Belushi, Animal House.

I think I would prefer widespread Democrat corruption to the current Republican version. Also, since the government isn't going away, and its clear that the Republican's big talk about drowning it in a bathtub was just that, talk, we might as well have the party in power be one that tries to be productive (actual policy analysis, w00t!), rather than destructive.

That said, I think gridlock would be preferable to either (think Dem Prez/Sen and Republican house). Seems like things went pretty well from 1994 to 2000 (other than the ridiculous impeachment nonsense).

As I noted last night in comments, I don't really see a great deal of difference between the two parties.

Then you are not looking very hard, and have not paid much attention to American History over the last 100+ years.

Both parties share a devotion to the basic American values of capitalism. So I guess in this most general sense, there is not a whole lot of difference.

Things that would not exist had Republicans been the majority party for most of the 20th century: social security, minimum wage, labor laws in general (unions and wage and hour laws), EPA and environmental laws in general, FTC, trade regulation and consumer protection in general, civil rights legislation, abortion, contraception for the unmarried, etc.

I imagine the ACLU would have a lot more business since the Republicans over the years have sought to chink away at free speech and other civil liberties.

No difference. Right.

p.s.

Our two party system is not a result of ideology, but the cold mathematics of a winner-take-all system of governance. A party cannot last long unless at least some of the time, it delivers 50% + 1 of the vote. American history is littered with third party movements that are absorbed into one of the two major parties as a matter of cold practicality.

This tends to blur the ideological identity of the parties, but its still there.

p.s.

Our two party system is not a result of ideology, but the cold mathematics of a winner-take-all system of governance. A party cannot last long unless at least some of the time, it delivers 50% + 1 of the vote. American history is littered with third party movements that are absorbed into one of the two major parties as a matter of cold practicality.

This tends to blur the ideological identity of the parties, but its still there.

Andrew,

"The Democratic leadership certainly doesn't inspire any real confidence, and while the sight of John Conyers leading impeachment hearings against President Bush would probably be amusing, when the judge has already reached a verdict"

I didn't think it was amusing when Bob Barr, et al. did the same to President Clinton, did you?

I wouldn't argue that historically Democrats are less corruptible than Republicans, but this bunch of Republicans in power seems to want to be off the scale in every bad way, including corruption.

dmbeaster,

That is not the way to convince Andrew, since he would likely support the repeal of the majority of the items you listed, especially the regulatory ones. It might get some traction with a Nader voter, but not a libertarian.

Let's assume, for the moment, that the commentariat is correct that a Democratic Congress will be a paragon of virtue, never accepting a bribe, always giving the other party its chance to speak, never pushing through bills without input from the other party, etc.

Did any commenter actually express the view that the Democrats would be perfect, as opposed to just significantly better? Did not Anarch and Gary both already point out, in the other thread, that with statements like this you are excluding a lot of middle ground, a lot of run-of-the-mill venality that still falls far short of the epic power-grabs and brazen corruption of the present Republican-dominated government?

Don't blame me. I voted for Kodos!

I’m actually on board with you here. I agree with you 100% on the benefits of gridlock, and I actually hope the Dems take the House in November - but for slightly different reasons :)

If they take the House, their antics over the next 2 years will absolutely guarantee that a Democrat does not get elected president for the next 2 terms. The publicized hearings, the cut-n-run resolutions, and the obstructionism – the GOP 08 campaign commercials will write themselves.

There is plenty to hate about the current administration – but the thought of a weak on defense Dem as the chief executive during the trying times to come is enough to keep me on this side of the aisle.

But please – take the House.

Re: the Democrats being perfect; no one suggested the Democrats were perfect, my intent was simply to use a touch of hyperbole to note that I would still have issues with them if they were.

Dan,

Re: Barr vs. Conyers; I didn't really follow Barr that closely because, while I believed that President Clinton had broken the law, it wasn't something I was going to get overly excited about. With Conyers it would be more of a laugh so you don't cry, because I think there are a number of areas where this administration should be called on the carpet, and I fear that Conyers will do so in such a clumsy and ham-fisted manner as to allow the Republicans to paint the hearings in a partisan light rather than seeing them as a necessary brake on the power of the executive.

Danthehman:

That may be, but then let Andrew defend a world without such regulation. The 1890s was such a wonderful time.

Libertarians have a fantasy that things automatically work better without regulation. Guess what -- unregulated capitalism kills the free market; caveat emptor results in a less efficient marketplace, and greater costs; no labor laws results in ossified class stratification. There are very practical reasons why such regulation promotes a greater good.

Over-regulation in the name of such goals is also a serious problem, and creates its own inefficiencies. But eliminating regulation altogether creates a greater problem, which libertarians seem to overlook.

Andrew,

"With Conyers it would be more of a laugh so you don't cry, because I think there are a number of areas where this administration should be called on the carpet, and I fear that Conyers will do so in such a clumsy and ham-fisted manner as to allow the Republicans to paint the hearings in a partisan light rather than seeing them as a necessary brake on the power of the executive."

And except for a lack of other areas where Clinton needed to be called out on the carpet and the hearings being a necessary brake on the power of the executive, as opposed to a brake of the President covering up the power of his libido, where do you see the differences? If anything, the differences I pointed should make the Clinton impeachment appear more ridiculous, not less.

ack -- missing a preposition after "pointed" in last sentence. Either "to" or "out" work.

Dan,

I'm sorry, I thought I had made it clear that I consider any notional Conyers hearings as markedly more important than the Barr hearings. Let me be clear: I would like to see Congress investigate this administration's actions over the past six years. I would like them to do so soberly and as impartially as possible, in an attempt to balance the legitimate concerns of defending the nation against terrorism while still protecting the balance of powers between branches of government that has been allowed to sway way too far in the direction of the executive.

I am fearful that Conyers will stack the hearings and will play them as a political measure to attack the President rather than as a fact-finding mission, and that such a move will place the focus on the existence of the hearings rather than on their substance.

Like I said before, I don't think the Democrats are angels; just that they are part of that overwhelming majority of people who would be better than the present Republicans in power. Partly this is because the Republicans are unusually dreadful; partly because some of their awfulnesses are connected to their ideology; but I also wanted to argue earlier that it would be politically disadvantageous for Democrats to repeat some of the Republicans' mistakes. This isn't an argument for the claim that they're angels; it's just that their self-interest runs, at present, in less awful directions.

I also think that the present crop of Republicans in power are sufficiently extreme that a lot of basically non-partisan policy people have migrated into the Democratic camp recently, and this makes the Democrats likely to be better on policy in the near-term. This, of course, is just a temporary thing, and I expect it to change when Republicans start to swing back away from the extreme right, but still.

Note: that comment took a long (!) time to post, and was actually written before any of Andrew's comments appeared. (The ones that made it seem unnecessary.)

even if these weren't "trying times", i get the feeling you'd find a different groundless reason to stay over there.

By mid-afternoon on 9/11, even Al Gore said to himself, "Thank God for Florida".

These are trying times - so I don't need to go looking do I?

Comments are rather sluggish this morning.

Comments are rather sluggish this morning.

Too much to drink last night.

On Conyers hearings, even if they were set up perfectly (i.e,, non-biased investigatory fact-finding missions) the giant shrieking harpies bleating from the right-wing would claim otherwise, and I don't think the news media is up to accurately reporting reality without falling for the right-wing spin (country needs to move-on, their opposed to fighting terrorists, etc. etc. etc.).

And except for a lack of other areas where Clinton needed to be called out on the carpet

Waitwaitwait...so, you think that the sex scandal was the only objectionable thing about Clinton's term in office? Me, I was much more concerned about this than what Bill and Monica did in the Oval Office with a cigar. So, ponder well for a moment why Democrats were not taken seriously on matters of national security and campaign finance after that little escapade.

but the thought of a weak on defense Dem as the chief executive during the trying times to come is enough to keep me on this side of the aisle

even if these weren't "trying times", i get the feeling you'd find a different groundless reason to stay over there.

Things that would not exist had Republicans been the majority party for most of the 20th century: social security, minimum wage, labor laws in general (unions and wage and hour laws), EPA and environmental laws in general, FTC, trade regulation and consumer protection in general, civil rights legislation, abortion, contraception for the unmarried, etc.

Most of the 20th century?

EPA – Created by Nixon.


Civil rights legislation:

Radical Republicans (Reconstruction, tried to legislate against discrimination).

Warren (R) Court – Brown v. Board of Education – overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. Warren appointed by Eisenhower (R).

Woodrow Wilson (D) – Racial segregation in federal employment.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Many more D votes against than R votes against.

Civil Rights Act of 1965 – Many more D votes against than R votes against.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 – Senate (D) 28.8% against, (R) 9.4% against. House (D) 37% against, (R) 45.6% against.

Do we even need to discuss the Southern Democrats?

Today’s libertarian, seems to be a cool way to say “I’m a right-wing statist who enjoys porn and dope and is not to offended by gays.”

Slarti,

"Waitwaitwait...so, you think that the sex scandal was the only objectionable thing about Clinton's term in office? Me, I was much more concerned about this than what Bill and Monica did in the Oval Office with a cigar."

So you think there was impeachable conduct by the President (which was, after all, what I said) from this? Really? Can I see some evidence of this?

Do we even need to discuss the Southern Democrats?

You mean the ones who left for the Republican Party?

Today’s libertarian, seems to be a cool way to say “I’m a right-wing statist who enjoys porn and dope and is not to offended by gays.”

Which is one reason I attempt, with mixed success, to avoid all such labels.

You mean the ones who left for the Republican Party?

Byrd still had a D next to his name last time I checked.

Sorry, but the revisionist history surrounding Democrats and the civil rights movement is laughable.

Impeachable? It barely merited an investigation. Given the seriousness of what happened, I've been looking askance at that whole situation for nearly a decade, now, but my askance-ness isn't accomplishing much. The fallout from that was two defense contractors convicted of passing secret information to the Chinese.

I don't know which would be worse: that we were giving (or selling) secrets away wholesale to the Chinese with Clinton's knowledge, or that all that happened without him having any awareness of it. One smacks of corruption; the other of a depth chart of incompetence.

The campaign money machine, though; I never understood why nothing stuck from that.

Gromit says:

with statements like this you are excluding a lot of middle ground...

But this is the way of libertarians. The muddle of the real world is unappealing to them. Libertarians swill gin out of the bottle on principle; civilized people drink martinis.

the revisionist history surrounding Democrats and the civil rights movement is laughable.

You think it's funny? All those Republicans beaten by Bull Connor's men didn't think it was funny, son.

Today’s libertarian, seems to be a cool way to say “I’m a right-wing statist who enjoys porn and dope and is not to offended by gays.

Where do I sign up? Any, uh, free samples available?

Perhaps now would be a good time to say: one of our practices here at Obsidian Wings is to avoid saying things about "Democrats", Republicans", and I should now add "libertarians", unless we actually mean them to apply to all those people who identify themselves as Democrats/Republicans/libertarians/Bonapartists/whatever.

I got in trouble for this in one of my first ever comments on this blog: after Abu Ghraib, I said that Republicans (by which I meant: the ones in Congress and the administration) had brought shame on this country, and Moe lit into me. I thought he was wrong at first, but over time I have concluded that he was right and I was wrong.

hilzoy,

Look at it this way: it's a good way to identify those who don't actually have an argument to put forward.

I recently read that the Republicans gor their earlier reputation for integrity from the thirty years in which Democrats dominated Congress. Nobody would even bother to try to bribe a Republican in the 50s and 60s;there wasn't any point. So it was in the interest of Republicans to have policy judged on national merit rather than local interest.

"Divided gov't" as I experienced was divided in several ways. The division between Southern and liberal Democrats in the 50s and 60s was at least as important as divisions between Republican and Democrat. Divided government has become less useful as the Republicans have become more ideological and the Democrats have been forced to scramble for campaign money that conflicts with their prevailing ideology.

Tax cuts, defense spending, and inertia. I do not see the Democrats ever gaining a large enough majority to overcome Republican intransigence without some obvious catastrophic externality. The Republican error in the late 40s, 80s, currently was in attempting to dominate without the actual votes;without the franchise, you are better off emphasizing defense. That should be a lesson learned from Clinton health care. LBJ waited patiently, worked the margins, and was ready when the breaks fell his way.

That one might want sutures.

The claim "I like the Democrats about as much as I like the Republicans." is not the same as the claim "There's little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans." I like steak about as much as I like ice cream, but I wouldn't claim that there's little difference between them.

"Let's assume, for the moment, that the commentariat is correct that a Democratic Congress will be a paragon of virtue, never accepting a bribe, always giving the other party its chance to speak, never pushing through bills without input from the other party, etc."

Jeepers; talk about false excluded middles.

Gary,

Did you even bother to read the update, or did your busy little fingers scurry to the comment box as soon as you hit that?

OC Steve wrote--


"Sorry, but the revisionist history surrounding Democrats and the civil rights movement is laughable."

Do you know what the history is? There were northern liberal Democrats who supported civil rights and conservative southerners who opposed it. The southern white voters who hated civil rights often became Republicans over this issue. I grew up with this. None of this is a secret. As a child I was confused by the fact that my father said the South was traditionally Democratic when my racist white friends were staunch Republicans and despised Democrats as n----lovers. It didn't take me long to figure out what had happened to the traditional Southern Democratic voter, nor was it a big surprise when Reagan went to Mississippi and gave a speech on "state's rights". I didn't need Jimmy Carter to explain what that was about.

My amusement at the expense of libertarians (all perfectly fine people, with the exception of Tom Tancredo and millions of others) is that their realism regarding the imperfectibility of mankind is so perfectly affronted when mankind turns out to be imperfect.

Some libertarians (I mock, all in fun) say: Hey I want government to be run like a business.

Me: O.K. So you want government to be productive and do stuff?

Libertarian: No. I don't want it to do anything.

Me: You mean, you want it to go out of business?

Libertarian: Yes. With one exception.

Me: Is it your exception or my exception?

Libertarian: All mine.

Me: Because I'm imperfect?

Libertarian: Yes, as I am perfectly well aware of.

My feeling about Randall Cunningham and Tom Delay (for example) is that, O.K., imperfection comes with the bi-pedal territory, but did you need to take imperfection to such perfect superhuman heights? Couldn't your imperfection have been of the run-of-the-mill, imperfect sort like Jim Wright's tawdry, imperfect imperfection.*

The odd thing about today's Republican Party is that the human imperfection of corruption is so perfectly tolerated and realized by some of its denizens but the human imperfection of small d democratic governance wherein compromise and give and take and deal-making (yeah, I'll include what you want in my bill so we can get some business done) is so perfectly not tolerated, as when members of the Democrat (there I go misspelling it again) Party
can't even attend a stinking meeting in my public building.

The history of America goes something like this:

I won't be taxed without representation. I must give my consent. The King is not perfect.

Wait a minute. Hey, I'm still being taxed. I didn't give my consent. What kind of representation is that? I'll tell you what kind, the imperfect kind.

Did I mention I won't be taxed with representation either?

Perfect.

*I'm perfectly aware of LBJ's colossal and perfect imperfections in the area of political corruption. I think it's terrible that millions of people receive medical care under Medicaid because of his corrupt arm-twisting and deal-making when they could be affording scant amounts of medical care in
the free market in the perfectly imperfect world they lived in before LBJ.

As to Mr. Jefferson -- off with is head. Put it in the freezer next to the money.

"Do we even need to discuss the Southern Democrats?

You mean the ones who left for the Republican Party?"

I don't remember where I heard this, but it makes a lot of sense to me - we have had a three party system since the Civil War. The three parties have been the Dixiecrats, Dmeocrats (northern ethnic whites, union members) and Republicans. The Dixicrats have been in two long-term coaltions, first with the Democrats and now with the Republicans. In the meantime, the Democrats have done everything they can think of to run off their white ethnic, union memeber base. Now because of the coalition with the Dixicrats, the Republicans have been doing everything to run off their country club boardroom base. Except when they do something like thier wobble on immigration, to win base the boardroom base, which has been alienating the Dixiecrat base. This is the conundrum the party in coaltion always faces; it's like having a foot in two baots and now it's time for the boats to drift apart again.

"Did you even bother to read the update"

Yes.

"Do we even need to discuss the Southern Democrats?

You mean the ones who left for the Republican Party?"

I don't remember where I heard this, but it makes a lot of sense to me - we have had a three party system since the Civil War. The three parties have been the Dixiecrats, Dmeocrats (northern ethnic whites, union members) and Republicans. The Dixicrats have been in two long-term coaltions, first with the Democrats and now with the Republicans. In the meantime, the Democrats have done everything they can think of to run off their white ethnic, union memeber base. Now because of the coalition with the Dixicrats, the Republicans have been doing everything to run off their country club boardroom base. Except when they do something like thier wobble on immigration, to win base the boardroom base, which has been alienating the Dixiecrat base. This is the conundrum the party in coaltion always faces; it's like having a foot in two baots and now it's time for the boats to drift apart again.

John T.,

"My feeling about Randall Cunningham and Tom Delay (for example) is that, O.K., imperfection comes with the bi-pedal territory, but did you need to take imperfection to such perfect superhuman heights"

My feeling about Randall Cunningham is that, while not the greatest quarterback in NFL history, he does not deserve to be confused with the former Congressman whose nickname he shared with a Doonesbury character, which always seemed a better way to refer to him to me.

Andrew: [Update: upon rereading, I clearly missed the mark here. My intent was to utilize a little hyperbole, but it comes across as snide. My apologies.]

I know a thing or two about that...

Anarch charmingly claims that my dislike of both parties is akin to a 1930s German declaring there's no difference between the Nazis and the Social Democrats, a charming analogy. A rather silly analogy, but political discourse would be so dry and stale if we couldn't spend all our time comparing things to either the Nazis or Vietnam. Really, I think the pundit industry would dry up and blow away if we couldn't use those two. Of course, the analogy founders if it turns out that I'm endorsing a Democratic takeover of Congress, as I have, but why let the facts stand in the way of a lazy analogy?

Contrary to what you wrote, my analogy* was neither charming, silly nor lazy. [Well, ok, it was charming. I'm cute like that.] It was overblown and hyperbolic, of course, but it was also to the point -- and that point was in response to the following quote of yours:

The Republicans are garbage. Perhaps the Democrats would be much, much better from the standpoint of corruption, etc. They'll still be statists. From my perspective, this is a lose-lose situation.

Let me reiterate: no offense, but this is dumb. Mind-bogglingly, stupefyingly dumb. My response was a reductio ad absurdem to illustrate this, by picking the 1933 SPD (a party far to the left of where the Democrats have ever been) and the (1933) Nazis (a party far to the right of where almost anyone's ever been); two parties who were ideologically distinguishable in almost every single detail except that of "statism". If that's your sole perspective, well, you're in for a seriously rough ride.

Except, of course, that that's not your sole perspective, which is one of the reasons I risked being so, um, bracingly direct. I know you're capable of distinguishing between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and assigning moral valuations thereto -- you've done it innumerable times, not least of which is in the present OP -- which is what flabbergasted me in re the previous statement. Of course they're both "statist"; I'm quite literally not aware of a single government or meaningful political party in the entire course of human history which was anything but, especially if you buy into the standard libertarian construction. [I don't, but that's a convo for another time.] Finding a "non-statist" government would be like finding an atheist vicar or a Marxist CFO; it's conceivable, but so close to a contradiction in terms as to render it all but impossible. If you're going to look at the state of American politics and judge "wins" and "losses" purely by statism then yes, by that self-same logic you're denying yourself the ability to make the kinds of distinctions that would allow one to vote for fiscal responsibility, for a sensible foreign policy, for cleaner and more responsible government (viz. the passage cited above), or for (reductio'ing) the SDP against the Nazis.

I repeat: that's dumb. It's also contravened by damn near everything I've read of yours except when you're engaging in direct comparisons of Democrats and Republicans. You don't have to like the Democrats -- hell, I don't like them most of them time and I've voted the straight Democratic ticket in almost election I've been eligible for -- you just have to acknowledge (as you do in the breach) that the Republicans winning in 2006 and 2008 would be a loss for the country while the Democrats winning, suboptimal though that outcome might be in the grander scheme of things, wouldn't be.

* I'll have to go to the judges on this one, but I'm fairly sure that a comment beginning "You sound like..." is a direct comparison, not an analogy. Trivial point, I know, but where's the fun if we can't come to hammerblows over trivialities?

" and Moe lit in to me. I thought he was wrong at first. But over time, I've concluded that he was right and I was wrong."

Then he changed his mind. Now he's right and everyone else, but especially you, is (are) wrong. ;)

As to generalization, I'm (I'm not referring to anyone in particular) remiss in not pointing out that when I use terms of ideology or party affiliation, I'm not talking necessarily about everyone here.

Especially here, the place of moderate discussion in the blogosphere, otherwise referred to by the rest of the blogosphere in general terms as hypocrisy.

But, if generalization is so bad, why the draconian efforts over the past 35 years by the Republican Party (by which I'm not referring to anyone in particular) to enforce generalized party discipline and to oust even moderate Republicans (by which I'm not referring to anyone in particular).

Question: When Sebastian (by which I'm not referring to anyone in particular) refers to the "Democrat" Party, what generality ( I hate to generalize about generality) is being referred to?

Anarch,

I get to be dumb. I'm a CDAT; it's in my contract.

I am interested by the fact nobody seems to have noticed that, in the last paragraph, I note that I have convinced myself of the thing I was arguing against.

Ah, but John: you appear to be under the mistaken impression that you belong to the "people", or "commenters", or "everyone", to whom the rules apply; whereas in fact, by having such a stellar record of successful gonzo commenting (as opposed to mere attempts at gonzo commenting, which are much more frequent -- it's sort of like undergrads who try to write like Nietzsche; attempts are alas much more common than success) that (Nietzsche again -- why does he keep popping up?) you are free to sin boldly, and to hell with sklavenmoral*. The normal rules don't apply to you.

Some of them, at least. We won't tell you which. Transgress the wrong ones, and it's down into the oubliette.

(*I cribbed that phrase from somewhere.)

John, they like to say "Democrat Party" because they think it makes people consider them illiterate -- a virtue in some quarters.

Related: as everyone knows, Democratic Party can almost never be used as the subject in a sentence.

Dantheman:

If I called him "Duke", John Wayne would rise from his grave and tell me I was generalizing.

Thanks for the correction. Not all quarterbacks are corrupt. I want to make that clear, though John Elway is a Republican, but I think that is a personal problem.

Incidentally, I hate to generalize, but I don't believe in the perfectability of mankind, either. And I mean that personally.;)

I get to be dumb. I'm a CDAT; it's in my contract.

Dammit. I'm only dumb at an amateur level; sure, it maintains my Olympic qualifications but I'd really like to parlay it into a career, y'know?

I am interested by the fact nobody seems to have noticed that, in the last paragraph, I note that I have convinced myself of the thing I was arguing against.

I wasn't sure that you had, actually, so, um.... yay?

I'm a CDAT

You're a Climate Data Analysis Tool? You've just destroyed my whole picture of you.

I never thought of you as a tool, I swear.

I wasn't sure that you had

Judging from the commentary, you're far from alone.

You're a Climate Data Analysis Tool?

Um...no.

one of our practices here at Obsidian Wings is to avoid saying things about "Democrats", Republicans", and I should now add "libertarians", unless we actually mean them to apply to all those people who identify themselves as Democrats/Republicans/libertarians/Bonapartists/whatever.

I've always found this to be a rather silly policy (and the various responses it begets, usually involving references to old Johnny Carson routines and huffy accusations of "mind-reading," to be similarly absurd). There is a Republican Party and a Democratic Party in this country, and they both have official stances on a host of issues which the vast majority of their respective candidates support to some extent or another, and it's perfectly legitimate to criticize those positions as the positions of "Republicans" and "Democrats" in general. If in the midst of a critique of Republican foreign policy I make the claim that "Republicans supported the invasion of Iraq," I don't expect anyone to argue in good faith that I've grossly mischaracterized Republicans because of the existence of Lincoln Chafee. The standard you're holding forth here makes it more or less impossible to ascribe any trait to Republicans or Democrats whatsoever, and renders the very labels meaningless.

Christmas,

I think the intent is to discourage commentary of the 'X thinks this, therefore you think this' variety, rather than to deny people the ability to point out that the official stance of the Republican Party is X.

Christmas: just think of it as a way of asking people to identify the people they're speaking of clearly. Either that or a way of avoiding the sorts of misapprehensions that lead to needless vitriol.

Generally speaking, I think she's on to me.

I spent my formative years in an oubliette;
I prefer the echo here.

As a linguistic aside, one of the problems is that English has (at least) two implicit universal-ish quantifiers which mangles things rather considerably when you read a sentence using the wrong one. Something like "Republicans supported the war" could interpreted in a bunch of different ways depending on context, some of which would be true and some of which wouldn't be true, and while it'd be nice if everyone took the most charitable interpretation, it's nicer (if more frustrating) to simply write more accurately in the first place.

Slartibartfast --

Followed your reference to a wikipedia article on Chinese espionage. It starts with a Chinese test in May 1995 of a nuclear warhead that was allegedly based on stolen US designs.

Assuming it's all true, the key espionage presumably occurred some years before (you don't run up a nuclear weapon over a long weekend). And indeed, the 2nd paragraph notes that "According to the report, the information was stolen via an espionage campaign that stretched from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s."

Bill Clinton only took office in January 1993, so it's more likely than not that the designs were stolen under Ronald Reagan or George HW Bush.

Of course, the Chinese spy on us. (Who else would they spy on? The Finns, for cell-phone designs?) And sometimes they succeed, which is bad. But whatever broad-brush conclusions you'd draw about it presumably apply to Messrs. Reagan and Bush as well.


OC Steve -- "the thought of a weak on defense Dem as the chief executive during the trying times to come is enough to keep me on this side of the aisle"

Hasn't it registered with you yet that there's more than one way to be weak on defense? The current Bush administration has been terribly weak ... half-hearted, unfocused, unwilling to sacrifice, so entranced by by moonbeam dreams as to ignore the world around them. You know, all the ugly things people say about academics.

Realistically, how could a Gore (or Kerry) admministration have done worse?

*Cribbed from von

but the thought of a weak on defense Dem as the chief executive during the trying times to come is enough to keep me on this side of the aisle.

Stepping out in a sec, but define "weak on defense".

But there's value in the ability to make ideological generalizations about ideologically like-minded groups (in this case, political parties). For example, Andrew in this post is making the claim that there isn't much difference between Democrats and Republicans (although as far as I can tell he's not exactly making that claim all that full-throatedly); it seems to me there's no way to respond to an argument like this without making generalizations of this sort. If someone tries to use the Republican Party's very well-known stances on foreign policy to smear an individual commenter, then you step in and complain. You don't say it's not true that "Republicans support X" if X is in the party platform and 90% of elected GOP representatives support X.

"According to the report, the information was stolen via an espionage campaign that stretched from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s."

Yep. Keep reading; you'll find that key things were stolen in the mid-1990s, and that certain folks in government became aware of it, and that no one seemed to think it was important enough to tell the President, or discuss it with China. If you buy the official story, anyway. Not saying it's untrue, just that if true it represents an astonishing negligence.

That's only a piece of it, though. I know it's a lot of stuff to read, but keep reading. There's lots of footnotes, too, but I expect that at least some of them are broken by now.

It has been said that the Law is a Crucible; pouring opposing elements into a pulverizer, heating till it boils, and looking at the result as possibly being the "truth." We all know deep down this is not what really happens. But it is a way to go about it.
The two party system is the same. We have opposing views about how to run government. Is it best that one control all branches? No, because then they will run amok. If one branch, theoretically with equal control, opposes the methodology of another branch, and they "fight it out" perhaps we will have a system that is better. That is why many feel that Congress ought to be run by the democrats, because they disagree with the Executive branch on how to run government.
In the past this forced bipartisanship has seemed to work to some degree. On the other hand, when one does not play by the rules, and goes outside the bounds of the process, it all goes to hell in a handbasket, and nothing works right.
The GOP has stepped outside the lines during this administration. The result is chaos. My view? If Democrats take control of congress, it will be all partisanship, all the time, with everybody trying to dirty trick everyone else out of power. No good result can come of that.
Perhaps it will be better if the voters got what they wanted all along--------a dictatorship. Then they will understand the REAL value of the two party system, and they will wish longingly for it again.
But I'm just exasperated. Of course I want the dems to win. Its the only alternative to Bush as King at this point.

I voted for Kang.

Both parties are corrupt by nature. It's just that the repugs are such hippocrites about it. My last three presential votes were against the repug and not for the dem.

Robb: you only need to post once.

Robb's comments are like potato chips.

OCSteve: Most of the 20th century?

...

Radical Republicans (Reconstruction, tried to legislate against discrimination).

Might want to check the dates on that one.

Voting Rights Act of 1965 – Many more D votes against than R votes against.

Civil Rights Act of 1965 – Many more D votes against than R votes against.

Civil Rights Act of 1968 – Senate (D) 28.8% against, (R) 9.4% against. House (D) 37% against, (R) 45.6% against.

A great example of how to lie with statistics. Republican votes were instrumental to the passage of these acts, but to say that's only half the story would be charitable. I think the Southern realignment of the past half-century has been covered pretty well by others, so I'll just point out the raw numbers on these votes.

CRA of 1964 (which is what I assume you meant when you typed 1965):

The Original House Version:

Democratic Party: 153-96 (61%-39%)
Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)
Democratic Party: 46-22 (68%-32%)
Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate Version, voted on by the House:
Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

By Party and Region

The Original House Version:
Southern Democrats: 7-87 (7%-93%)
Southern Republicans: 0-10 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 145-9 (94%-6%)
Northern Republicans: 138-24 (85%-15%)

The Senate Version:
Southern Democrats: 1-20 (5%-95%)
Southern Republicans: 0-1 (0%-100%)
Northern Democrats: 45-1 (98%-2%)
Northern Republicans: 27-5 (84%-16%

More D's than R's voted against, but more D's than R's voted for, too. More D's than R's voted, period, because the Democrats were in the majority. The regional breakdown is eye-opening, too, as it makes clear that party affiliation wasn't the most important factor.

CRA of 1968:

Vote statistics (Senate): Democrats: 42-17 (71.2% For, 28.8% Against) Republicans: 29-3 (90.6% For, 9.4% Against)

House:
Democrats: 150-88 (63% For, 37% Against)
Republicans: 100-84 (54.3% For, 45.6% Against)

Same story. There are simply enough Democrats that they can beat the Republicans in both for votes and against votes. Also note that in the 1968 vote, the Democrats' house numbers, which are far more representative of the population generally due to apportionment and term lengths, exceed the Republicans not just in absolute numbers but in percentages, too.

VRA:

Senate: 77–19 Democrats: 47–17 Republicans: 30–2

House: 333–85
Democrats: 221–61 (78% for)
Republicans: 112–24 (82% for)

Conference Report:

Senate: 79–18
Democrats: 49–17
Republicans: 30–1

House: 328–74
Democrats: 217–54 (80%)
Republicans: 111–20 (85%)

This is where your "more votes against" cherry-picking is most misleading, since there is very little difference in the percentages between the House Democrats and the House Republicans on this vote.

This is all a long way of saying the idea that the modern Democratic party should answer for the sins of the segregationist faction of the Democratic party of the early to mid twentieth century is a tired and dishonest Republican talking-point. They were forced to either shape up or leave the party by pro-civil-rights forces some time ago, something the modern Republican party can only claim about the occasional loudmouth like Pat Buchanan.

Realistically, how could a Gore (or Kerry) admministration have done worse?

The failures of one party (Bush/Republicans) does not say anything about the likelihood of success for the opposing (Gore/Kerry/Democrats.) All it means is that we get to roll the dice again and see what happens. Which I think would be better than the status quo, but is no guarantee of anything whatsoever.

And really, the idea that things couldn't possibly be worse is naive.

I've always found the insistence of so many Republicans on using "Democrat" as an adjective and referring to the "Democrat Party" mystifying. On a certain level, I know that a lot of them do it to annoy us, and it does succeed--but not, I think, in the way they intended. It annoys me in the way that hearing adults use grade school insults annoy me: it's not that I feel insulted, is that I feel embarassed that they have involved me in their display of immaturity.

It's the Democratic Party. They are Democratic politicians. Changing the name by which you call someone in order to tweak them is about on the level of refusing to capitalize someone's name because you don't like them. In the end, it doesn't accomplish anything except making you look illiterate and stupid.

I am an optimist and, therfore, think Worse can always get worse. But, you have to admit, the GOP have certainly pushed Worse's abilities a great deal already.

"I've always found the insistence of so many Republicans on using 'Democrat' as an adjective and referring to the 'Democrat Party' mystifying."

See Hendrik Hertzberg, among many other commentators on this, Catsy.

"Changing the name by which you call someone in order to tweak them is about on the level of refusing to capitalize someone's name because you don't like them."

The problem is that individuals are Democrats.

It is a propaganda issue for both sides. A democratic process and a Democratic proposal have nothing to do with each other. In fact, some Democratic proposals are anti-democratic. Democrats would prefer that you think of all of their proposals as democratic.

Democrat's proposal
Democrats' proposal

Both are clearly correct. For the most part I suspect it is a lazy abbreviation of those.

Democratic votes against the Voting Rights Act, not democratic.

Democrats' votes against the Voting Rights Act that at least makes sense.

As for usage--see the similar sounding description "Fascist". A proposal by a fascist need not be described as a Fascistic proposal. It is the Fascist proposal.

See also "Feminist".
Singular Feminist
Plural Feminists
Adjective Feminist

I find it interesting that at least one of the people here who professes to be so annoyed refuses to talk about "pro-life" proposals....

Sorry, are you actually arguing about what the correct usage is - claiming that 'Democrat Party' is more correct than 'Democratic Party'? The damn party has been around for over two centuries, and it's been the Democratic Party for both of them. If you're worried about the possibility of confusion, the same exists for the Republican party. The English language incorporates homonyms, and hasn't collapsed under the strain.

I'm not going to get terribly worried about it -- as snide little attacks go, it's an unimportant one -- but it is beyond ridiculous to characterize Republicans' usage of 'Democrat Party' rather than 'Democratic Party' as having anything to do with accuracy rather than partisan sneering.

It is a propaganda issue for both sides. A democratic process and a Democratic proposal have nothing to do with each other. In fact, some Democratic proposals are anti-democratic. Democrats would prefer that you think of all of their proposals as democratic.

No. It isn't a propaganda issue for both sides. The distinctions you want to make are easily handled, in print, by capitalizing "Democratic" when one is referring to the party. In speech, context is usually more than adequate. If Bill Frist said, "I don't think this Democratic proposal is a good idea," absolutely no one would be confused.

snide little attacks go, it's an unimportant one

Aren't snide little attacks umimportant by definition? :)

Personally, I am going to start referring to the GOP as the Publican Party whenever I hear someone say 'Democrat Party'. It will be about as accurate. Quite possibly more so.


4. Democratic Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Democratic Party.

The Harrison Ford quote was, "I didn't kill my wife!" Five-tenths deduction.

"It is a propaganda issue for both sides. A democratic process and a Democratic proposal have nothing to do with each other."

Sure, Sebastian: this is why Democrats are so juvenile about always insisting on referring to "Repubs," because we don't want to grant that a Republican proposal might be republican.

We also believe in treating people like idiots, both insulting their intelligence while we directly insult them by refusing to call their party by its rightful name.

Oh, wait: we don't. Only one set of people are that rude and crude.

"For the most part I suspect it is a lazy abbreviation of those."

You're denying that Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich deliberately used a strategy of manipulating language? I'm willing to believe that you are ignorant, but now you have no excuse. Really. Truly. Right?

Yes, but Pharisee party would be even more accurate if referring to creatures like Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, and so on.

JP,

D'oh! I think I transposed Harrison Ford and Milhouse.

Maybe Andrew was right after all: Lamont is apparently the Al Qaeda candidate.

Lamont is apparently the Al Qaeda candidate.

o.O When did I say that?

Errrrr... you know, I could've sworn I typed something totally different. But I have no idea what it was. So, um, Andrew would have been right if he'd said that, which he totally didn't, and, er, oops?

See, I think (I just about got away for the weekend, but since I started this last uproar ..) what we have here is three folks, Sebastian, Slart, and Andrew who are pretty much principled, sincere conservatives and/ or libertarians, who vote Republican from time to time.

It's just tough to get an argument off the ground for many of the rest of us. You rage in from the storm of the rest of the blogosphere with a jones, or a stalk of celery, on regarding the latest outrage from Tom DeLay (nailed it, Gary), or John Gibson, or Frank Luntz and first, you need to answer questions like, "Tom who?" or "John Gibson, never heard of him? Plays third base for the Cardinals?" or "Republicans commissioned language manipulation by whom?" .. or in Charles' case...

"My thumb in your eye. That's impossible. I don't have thumbs." (that's a joke)

But see, Gingrich, DeLay (yes), Gibson, and Luntz have other fish to fry. They are after the 5% percent of the electorate which give the Republican Party their slim, challenged majority.

The folks who are frightened by the bogeyman and can be sweet-talked. They've taken Sebastian, Slart, and Andrew for granted.

I am going to start referring to the GOP as the Publican Party

I, for one, am quite willing to be a Publican when there's need.

Me too. But only if need is demonstrated.

Sometimes I'm Publican for myself, but I don't like to talk about that much.

"You're denying that Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich deliberately used a strategy of manipulating language?"

They used a strategy of manipulating language all the time. Politicians, ummm, do that.

I have two words for you. "Pro...Choice".

Sebastian Holsclaw: The problem is that individuals are Democrats.

It is a propaganda issue for both sides. A democratic process and a Democratic proposal have nothing to do with each other. In fact, some Democratic proposals are anti-democratic. Democrats would prefer that you think of all of their proposals as democratic.

Democrat's proposal
Democrats' proposal

Both are clearly correct. For the most part I suspect it is a lazy abbreviation of those.

You're missing the issue entirely. "Democrats' proposal" is fine, since "Democrat" is a noun. The objectionable usage would be "Democrat proposal", which uses the noun "Democrat" as if it was an adjective, which it is not. "Republican", "feminist", and "fascist" can each be used as nouns and adjectives, so "Republican proposal" is grammatically correct. "Democrat" on the other hand, is like "autocrat", "technocrat", or "theocrat" in being ONLY a noun.

"They used a strategy of manipulating language all the time. Politicians, ummm, do that."

Sebastian, the point is: many Republicans, as part of campaign that's been running for many many decades, denigrate their opposition by refusing to call the opposition by its actual name: the Democratic Party. This is a discourtesy not engaged in in any way by Democrats in return.

Do you deny this?

Do you feel that denigration is reasonable behavior? Do you defend it? Or would you say that Republicans shouldn't do it? (I'd suggest that they shouldn't on the grounds that it is childish and rude.)

What do you think?

Sebastian Holsclaw: They used a strategy of manipulating language all the time. Politicians, ummm, do that.

I have two words for you. "Pro...Choice".

This is another question entirely. You can complain that "Pro-Choice" (or "Pro-Life" on the other side) fails to accurately describe the position in question, but there's nothing inherently ungrammatical about it, and where these terms are used in the official names of organizations, respectful dialogue would demand that they be used, unmodified.

Whether respect is deserved is a separate question entirely, but it is inarguable that, as Gary points out above, Democratic politicians overwhelmingly give Republicans this minimal respect, and in return have faced a systematic campaign to deny them the same.

Lamont is apparently the Al Qaeda candidate.

Wait, I thought Lamont was the Nazi candidate. Isn't that why the Wall Street Journal gave him a Hitler mustache?

The use of "Democrat Party" seems roughly parallel to the Jim Webb campaign's use of "Felix" to refer to George Allen, except that at least Felix is actaully Allen's middle name and the Webb campaign hasn't been repeating the joke for decades.

Many decades; as Hertzberg observes:

The history of “Democrat Party” is hard to pin down with any precision, though etymologists have traced its use to as far back as the Harding Administration. According to William Safire, it got a boost in 1940 from Harold Stassen, the Republican Convention keynoter that year, who used it to signify disapproval of such less than fully democratic Democratic machine bosses as Frank Hague of Jersey City and Tom Pendergast of Kansas City. Senator Joseph McCarthy made it a regular part of his arsenal of insults, which served to dampen its popularity for a while. There was another spike in 1976, when grumpy, growly Bob Dole denounced “Democrat wars” (those were the days!) in his Vice-Presidential debate with Walter Mondale. Growth has been steady for the last couple of decades, and today we find ourselves in a golden age of anti-“ic”-ism.
It's so classy.

Anybody around with the keys to the blog? There's a foul mess in the subsequent post to be expunged.

btw feel free to X the previous comment and this as well.

What should people be using in place of "pro-choice" that would be more accurate and less manipulating, Sebastian? "Pro-death?" "Pro-abortion?" Please don't tell me you're in agreement with those addle-brained notions.

It's "pro-life" that's the more manipulative and inaccurate usage, since in practice what it generally means is simply "anti-abortion."

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