Who’s got the best Public Access TV show? Oh yeah, I think you know. »« Open thread on TAE 786 / GB 2.23

Post election open thread

Okay, okay, I know not all atheists are behind Barack Obama… so congratulations or condolences depending on where you happen to land on that question.  However, I offer some reasons for the great majority of us to be cheerful today:

  1. Gay marriage.  Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote.  Washington state reaffirmed it.  Minnesota shot down a bill to outlaw it.
  2. With apologies to Kristine and our great friends at Secular Pro-Life (whom Matt recently vowed to continue debating until the entire organization is dismantled)… abortion.  Todd “legitimate rape” Akin got the smackdown. Richard “gift from God” Mourdock is out too.
  3. Diversity.  The 2012 Congress will have 19 women as Senators, the highest number in history.
  4. God lost this election… repeatedly.  In the Republican primaries, three candidates — Perry, Bachmann, and Cain — all stated that God wanted them to run for president.  None of them even made it past the first few rounds.  Romney said no such thing; nevertheless, 74% of Evangelical Christians got over their revulsion for Mormonism and stated their intention to vote for Romney.  Lou Engle, a self-styled prophet, let us know that God was DEMANDING that we vote for Romney: “I sensed the Lord saying, Will you stand with Me in my covenantal faithfulness? Will you stand for my ancient covenant with My people? A deep abiding ‘yes’ began to conquer my arguments…”  But ya know, even the full force of the Almighty’s endorsement does jack squat for a the candidate, apparently.
  5. Math.  It works.  So says xkcd.

 

Comments

  1. unbound says

    Seems to be the MO for many conservatives. The mindset seems to be that when they get the benefit, it was needed and/or earned…but when others get those benefits, it is handout for their laziness. They don’t seem to be able to comprehend that most people getting benefits are in the same / similar situation as themselves.

  2. edward says

    Personal freedom with regard to what we consume also won the day in three states with Colorado and Washington State legalizing marijuana. Massachusetts legalized medicinal marijuana.

  3. scorinth says

    I have four main reactions to the election news:

    1.) I am damn proud to have been one of the voters to put the smackdown on Mourdock.

    2.) I am increasingly annoyed at being effectively disenfranchised by the electoral college. (It’s to the point that I counter “A vote for third-party is a vote for Romney!” with “In this state, a vote for *anybody* is still a vote for Romney!”)

    3.) I am tremendously relieved that Romney lost, anyway.

    4.) I now know that watching ongoing election result coverage can trigger panic attacks in me. That sucked.

    I guess now I have a few months until I’m required to care again. [fluttershy] Yay. [/fluttershy]

  4. Oliver says

    Hey American friends, and congratulations! For a while we here in Europe (excluding Matt from Oslo, probably) feared the worst.

  5. Dago Red says

    My favorite aspect of this election cycle is that for two presidential elections now, the candidate who won was the one who motivated and harnessed the many smaller diverse voting blocks (women, blacks, latinos, perhaps even secularists too, etc.) while still losing the traditional white-male vote. Not that I have an issue with the white males (I am one) but I do believe the eventual yet-to-be discovered avenue away from the indemic failures of the American political ideologies of the past 60 years or so — the ones that are dominated by the innanity of religion, of the various economic voodoo strategies, the Amerikkka-uber-alles jingoism — isn’t likely to come from us white guys (we pretty exausted our great ideas back in the 18th century when the country strarted and have been resting on our laurels ever since). I think our future lies, instead, with leaders from a diverse group of Americans with a diverse set of backgrounds and, thus, a more diverse set of ideals and dreams. Obama doesn’t quite represent that kind of diversity, but he may become a nice door-step through that door.

  6. quiet heretic says

    A quick website related note: You should change the link to XKCD to point to http://xkcd.com/1131/ otherwise people visiting the blog in the future will see that day’s cartoon instead of this one.

  7. Vall says

    My daughter voted for the first time yesterday. Last night she saw a lot of negative stuff on facebook so she posted this:

    “If you voted today and you voted for any other candidate, don’t let this discourage you. Every vote counts even if your candidate didn’t win. It is your civic duty that comes with your freedom. People are dying just so you have the right to vote, just so you can have an opinion. People who say that you’re moving out of the country now, sorry that you have to sound so ignorant. If everyone moved out of the country that voted for someone other than Obama then you would leave your country in pieces. The country would fall apart along with everyone who would still live in it. You would just leave all the soldiers who are fighting for your right to have an opinion, just because you “lost.” You didn’t loose anything. You just didn’t get what you wanted, and it is extremely childish of you. It almost disgusts me. Don’t stop voting, ever. For people who did vote for Obama, you happen to see the good side of voting. You get to see through experience that your vote really does count. Lastly, for people who didn’t vote, quit being lazy and go vote next time. Oh and you shouldn’t have any complaints about whatever happens from now on because you didn’t vote. But you will most likely express your freedom of speech. Too bad you didn’t express your freedom to vote.”

    I thought that was a pretty good response.

  8. says

    Im glad Romney didn’t win, but you are defiantly right when you say not all atheist are behind Obama. I made my vote count even though I personally don’t want either in office. I voted open chair. I will always vote, but i refuse to mark a name on the ballot just because there is a someone to vote for. Look at Nevada’s results. Over 5700 people in that state united and wrote in “none of these” giving them nearly 1% of the vote. Now why couldn’t the rest of the country do that.

  9. Green Jelly says

    …because it is a plain stupid ting to do? The world is complicated, and you don’t go with the one thing you think will be great. You weigh in the consequences, you weigh in the alternatives, and you vote in a way that the resulting reality will be optimal. Your voting suggestion is like saying “I’lle at this huge chocolate cake, cos right now between the choices of eating and not eating this cake, eating it is the one that will make me happier.”

  10. Kes says

    Lots of conservatives loved the idea of social programs when they were going to help struggling white (war) widows with wholesome Christian children. They only became anti-welfare and starting propagating ridiculous racist stereotypes about lazy “welfare queens” once the Civil Rights Movement made the case that those program should benefit little black children just as much as little white children. Only when black families organized to overcome the systematic racist obstacles to the welfare they were eligible for was all that Christian charity forgotten.

    Some discussion of this: http://academic.udayton.edu/race/04needs/welfare01b.htm

  11. Kazim says

    I really don’t understand why you bother showing up if you are just going to write “none of these.” There is absolutely no functional difference between submitting a junk ballot and just staying home sleeping. It’s actually worse than sleeping since it creates pointless busywork for both you and the people counting the votes.

  12. DanTheMilkMan says

    At least one, I met a guy at Starbucks that said he made a write in vote for Jesus. He showed me a picture of it on his phone.

  13. DanTheMilkMan says

    I live in a deep red state too, so my vote for president never really counts either, democratic presidential candidates don’t even campaign here during the general election. But I have to say, it seems that with the changing demographics of the country, the democrats have found a way to use it to their advantage. Which of course, probably means the republicans will finally want to change it. But that’ll take awhile, so assuming a decent candidate in 2016, we might get to hold onto the white house for at least 16 years.

  14. DanTheMilkMan says

    I suppose there’s still state questions or other candidates they’re interested in voting for or against. But I vote for the one that will best represent me, even if I don’t like them personally, I’m never going to have a beer with them, so I don’t care if I like them or not. Really, until the republican party can muster up the courage to tell the Ralph Reed’s of the world to take a hike, then I vote a straight democratic ticket anyway.

  15. says

    I find it fascinating with all these people who apparently have a direct line to god. What fascinates me, beyond the sheer arrogance of the claim, is that they always fail to take it seriously themselves.
    I mean, if I had a chance to talk directly with the creator of the universe, I don’t think “Who should I vote for?” would be my first question. I’d have a few other more pressing matters to deal with.

  16. says

    no it’s not stupid. Voting for someone just because they are on the ballot is like saying all my friends read the bible so i should too. That’s stupid. You can abstain and waste your voice or you can take a stand and and tell them what you think. I think nobody was speaking for the best interest of the county. How long have we been making the same argument over and over against religion and in favor of knowledge? What would happen if we just kept our mouth shut and said it stupid to try?

  17. Ronwise Gamgee says

    You make a good point here, Kazim. My main motivation to vote was not to see my favorite presidential candidate win (which I had none), but to make sure that the candidate most undeserving lost. Or, as paraphrased when I was in the military, I chose to eat a shit sandwich as opposed to a soggy shit sandwich. It’s not optimal, but with the way that presidential elections operate in the U.S. (with the overwhelming majority of the attention and funding going to Democrats and Republicans), I have to make realistic choices.

  18. Rychord says

    Indeed I noticed this as well while looking at the exit poll data published by the NY Times.
    http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president/exit-polls

    Of course, we always have to be careful while looking at such figures that we not jump to any conclusions as to what they mean, beyond the fact that people of a given subsection of the electorate identified with a given candidate, in a certain proportion, for whatever reason.

    Still, it’s hard not to speculate on these results when we see how much some of the different categories show clear divides.

    Unfortunately, religious identification was not part of the categories they decided to include in their data, so no insight into the atheist vote there. :/

  19. Kazim says

    Okay, walk me through this thought process of yours. Last night, Obama won the election and Mitt Romney lost the election. Today, Obama supporters are gloating, and Romney supporters are moping.

    Explain to me exactly who it is that you think is sifting through the remaining ballots, and saying to themselves “Oh hey, look at this… another vote for ‘None of the above!’ That certainly sends me an important message!”

    Is it Democrats? Republicans? Congressmen? Election officials? What exactly do they do with this information once they’ve got it, since it doesn’t directly influence the outcome of the election in any way? What do you see changing based on your “None of the above” vote?

  20. Kazim says

    “but to make sure that the candidate most undeserving lost”

    And how, exactly, does voting for “None of the above” make that outcome more likely?

  21. jacobfromlost says

    I think what they do with the info is completely ignore it (if they even put that much thought into it), and ignore whatever demographic votes that way, as no politician is going to try to get the vote of someone who votes for “none of the above.” What would be the point?

  22. says

    there is proof that saying something has more of impact(no matter how small) than remaining quiet. If you are saying i have to vote for someone just because they are on the ballot, just to defeat the others on the ballot, then my views are stupid. How does that differ from a religious view?

  23. jacobfromlost says

    jerrold: there is proof that saying something has more of impact(no matter how small) than remaining quiet.

    me: Where is this proof? And what is the difference between voting “none” and not voting? As Russell asked, who would care? And why should they? All you’ve said is that you are not saying anything.

    jerrold: If you are saying i have to vote for someone just because they are on the ballot, just to defeat the others on the ballot, then my views are stupid. How does that differ from a religious view?

    Me: No, I think Russell is saying that voting “none” is the same as not voting at all, thus going through the trouble of voting “none” is pointless. It differs from a religious view in that it has no connection, parallel, or analogy to any religious views whatsoever. Taking a strong stand that you are not taking a stand is the same as not taking a stand. What that has to do with a “religious view” is beyond me.

  24. codemonkey says

    Here’s the argument. You should identify your desired goals, and you should take a consequentialist position when evaluating plans of action. So, identify your goals, and ask yourself, “is voting ‘none of the above’ more or less likely to achieve my desired ends than voting Obama or Romney?”.

    I think you could make some some sort of cathartic argument. I also do stuff like that sometimes, protest just to make myself feel good, a sort of righteousness. But please don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re helping yourself or the rest of us via the effects of casting that non-vote.

  25. says

    By abstaining, one states that one is uncertain of the arguments for or against the alternatives which form the subject of a ballot or vote.

    By withholding a vote, one states either of the following: 1. one principally disagrees with one or both (or all) of the alternatives which form the subject of a ballot of vote; 2. one is opposed to one or both or all the alternatives being voted on.

    One would normally announce that one is withholding one’s vote, thus making one’s disagreement public, lest others imagine one is merely undecided (e. g., that one is abstaining).

    Examples: if I have no strong feelings for or against Obama or McCain, I would simply abstain from voting. But if I dislike a certain motion presented for a ballot, before the vote I would declare that I am withholding my vote, thus making my dislike public.

  26. says

    People are dying just so you have the right to vote, just so you can have an opinion.

    I gotta say, it pisses me right off when people pull this crap. No one is dying for my right to vote right now, nor has any member of the American military died for it in my lifetime or the lifetimes of anyone reading this blog. In fact, AFAICT, no military action the U.S. has undertaken since the Revolutionary war has had anything to do with anybody’s right to vote. The last people who died so that Americans could have the right to vote were the Freedom Riders in the 1960s, and they weren’t soldiers.

  27. rilian says

    I didn’t vote for anyone because none of the candidates was perfect.
    Also I forgot to register.

  28. FromHereOn says

    Haha, how is this going over so many people’s heads??

    “Shut up, dude. You can’t marginalize my waste-of-a-waste-of-time!”

    Welcome to meta-wasting time, election angst style.

  29. Warp says

    Look on the downside. Now we’ll have to endure another 4 years of “birthers” and other stupid conspiracy theorists…

  30. says

    I’m not going to attempt to explain someone else’ motives, but I do something similar when I vote.

    Ideologically I’m anarchist-communist (there’s a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax). When I vote, I write in “No One”. It’s the only accurate representation of my views. It isn’t that I don’t want any of the candidates to be the President/Senator/etc…, it’s that I don’t agree with the idea of having a President at all. In the current system, there isn’t a way of voting that actually represents how I feel. Is it largely symbolic, and symbolic to no one other than myself? Sure. But it also gives a chance for me to discuss a viewpoint outside of the mainstream spectrum of political thought when people ask me who I voted for.

    Also, as someone else mentioned, there are ballot issues. I live in MN and we had both the marriage amendment and a Voter ID amendment that I was much more concerned with.

  31. Aleyx says

    Well, to be honest, most XKCD comics show that math and science win. So yeah, pointing to the correct comic is good, but pointing to the homepage still works ^_^

  32. WA says

    You call that a downside? I call that hilarious.

    Then again, I do live on the other side of the ocean.

  33. says

    Meh, I found the voting system in the US very undemocratic. If you are a republican but live in California, you basically have no voting power. Same for a democrat living in Texas. Then, most states have winner takes all so basically only 51% of the votes counts. Then, only swingstates basically decides who the president will be.

    And then, you have the electoral college. You can win the popular vote but still lose or you can have the electoral votes but, since the electoral college is not obliged to vote as their state demands, they can basically flip flop and decide who is the next president without any repercussions.

  34. escuerd says

    Yep.

    Psychologists call this tendency the “fundamental attribution error“.

    I think there’s also a pronounced tendency among conservatives to be more interested in punishing the undeserving than in bettering those who need help (or even society in general). Why, it just keeps me up at night thinking that all these programs to help poor people who are *legitimately* down on their luck might be giving collateral help to someone who doesn’t really need it!

    Add in a big helping of racism, and you have a common Republican view of social programs. I.e. they’re programs created by Democrats to pander to lazy people (which includes the majority of black people) who want to live on the lavish and unnecessary welfare programs that working (mostly white) people like me have to pay for. If all these unemployed people would just get jobs like I did then I wouldn’t get taxed so much. Democrats only want to protect various social programs because they want the lazy parasites’ votes, but since these social programs are encouraging more and more people to become welfare queens, our nation is doomed to insolvency unless we eliminate these programs, or at least make sure they only help those who *really* need it (like me).

  35. Dark_Monkey_316 says

    This year, none. Next election, none, Election after that, none. Election after that, very little. Election after that, little. Election after that, a little more.

    The point I think that was originally trying to be made is that if that many people are writing in “none of thee above”, that there are probably a lot more people in the U.S. feeling the same way. I think that this was more of a foot in the door. Now that people in Nevada got it published in the paper, more people may do this next year, and may continue to grow.

    So even though it doesn’t do anything now, but if you keep doing it and more people see it, it may in the future make a difference. Isn’t that how the Atheist Movement got started as well (and please don’t rip on me for the Atheist Movement line, I just couldn’t come up with a better term.)

  36. Kazim says

    No. That’s still idiotic. Atheism as a movement has specific goals and reasons we are interested in supporting overall. Writing “none of the above” on a ballot in no way constitutes a coherent position and therefore has no chance of accomplishing anything regardless of how many people you win over to this not-cause. For all the election officials know, you may be voting “none of the above” because there are no atheist candidates; OR you may be voting “none of the above because there are not enough KKK members; OR because you only vote for candidates in pink tutus. It doesn’t clarify anything, it doesn’t send any message, it is not useful now and never will be.

  37. Brian H says

    This may be the case, but I don’t think conservative whining should blind us to the real issue behind the wailing. I am for a safety net. I’ve used the state unemployment safety net earlier this year for 6 weeks while I changed careers. But one can’t deny that there is rampant abuse of the voters’ generosity.

    I have a friend who is receiving state assistance while working under the table, living comfortably with triple income (him, his wife, and state income) in an apartment that is twice my rent, spending food stamps on expensive cuts of meat for grilling.

    Let’s not forget the girl from east Michigan who got busted for continuing to accept government assistance after winning the lottery because she was “having trouble” with her multiple house payments.

    The mentality of what the safety net is there for needs to change. It is a safety net, not a hammock.

    I’ll be the first one to point at ridiculous conservative post-election rants and chuckle. We shouldn’t dismiss the legitimate complaint behind it just because they initiate an ad hominem attack against themselves. We are skeptics, we need to accept an opposing view point on its merrits despite how poorly it is argued.

  38. Brian H says

    I am a veteran and I agree with this. The last American soldier to die for our right to vote would have been arguably in the 1940’s. I appreciate and respect my right to vote. I have mostly anti-war sentiment, but I do see a little bit of the other side of the argument. What we don’t need is to muddy the waters of this discussion by fooling ourselves that what is going on now has anything to do with our rights here at home. It doesn’t.

  39. Brian H says

    The following morning I was listening to CNN in the background as I got ready for work, and one of thier pundits was going on and on about how now that they’ve won, the Democratic party needs start respecing religion more. He felt that the secular movement, as he saw it, in the left was troubling and unwarranted. I doubt he is alone in this sentiment. The fight against religion in government/politics is far from over.

  40. says

    I have a friend who is receiving state assistance while working under the table, living comfortably with triple income (him, his wife, and state income) in an apartment that is twice my rent, spending food stamps on expensive cuts of meat for grilling.

    Report him.

    I’m all for cracking down on abuse. Abuse isn’t a reason to discontinue the safety nets, though.

    I question the pervasiveness of it. What are the true statistics? What we get is a lot of anecdotes cherry picked from the masses.

  41. leeslonaker says

    I voted for Obama, not because I agree with every thing he’s done or will do, There are likely better men for the job out there.
    I voted for him because I knew that after the votes were counted the president would be either Romney or Obama. I prefer Obama if I have to choose between the two. I could have written in the name of some one who I thought would be a better president,but I feel my duty is to choose the best candidate that actually has a chance at the office. Because if a man can’t get elected he can’t do anything.

    I suppose it might be possible that as close as this election was if say 20% of the vote went to “none of the above”, it may have sent a message about how out of touch both parties are with a large segment of the population. Maybe that would have a positive effect on the next election, but I doubt it. If that were the case Mitt Romney would have had that concession speech ready after writing off 47% of the population. I think it is entirely possible that he lost because he under estimated how many people would show up to vote against him after he pissed them off. Every vote that went to anyone but Obama was the same as a vote for Romney.

    All that being said, I live in Texas so maybe my vote for Obama was wasted. But I still feel good about it.

  42. Vall says

    I actually agree with you, we are not fighting defensively. Our rights aren’t under attack by the people our soldiers are killing.

    When my daughter wrote that, it was in response to some of her friends on facebook ranting about the election. I would have left out that part, or said “people have died,” instead of “people are dying.”

    To say that nothing since the Revolutionary war has protected our rights is incorrect also. So maybe one bad sentence in a paragraph is pretty common. I was just glad to see her engaging the fools instead of ignoring it.

  43. says

    Really? Name another military action that had anything to do with the right to vote. The Civil War definitely involved people’s rights, but voting was explicitly not on the table when that one started, nor when it ended; the 15th Amendment wasn’t passed for another 5 years, and Lincoln said outright that he had no intention of giving black people the vote. Other than those two, name any military action we’ve engaged in that had anything to do with protecting or upholding the rights of Americans, and how? (Arguably WWII involved the rights of Europeans and East Asians, but no one on this continent). Not that I’m not sick of the right-wing whining too, but frankly any of them that leave will only make this country a better place. They do the country nothing but harm by voting, too, so the more of them that stay home on election day the better.

  44. Vall says

    I still agree with you in principle, but not your argument. I can’t predict what would have happened any more than you can. There were battles in the 1812 conflict on American soil, the British burned our capital. We’ve had battles with Mexico and Canada, and you admit WW2 is arguable for Europe and Asia but not the U.S. for some reason. Some would argue (not me) that our actions after WW2 were to prevent the spread of communism, which could have impacted voting if it spread here. I find your lack of imagination unconvincing, and it is a bad argument.

    I see all our rights tied together, not just voting. I don’t think any military actions were exclusively about voting, including the Revolutionary war. Will you ignore all the lynchings and riots in the civil rights movement just because no troops were involved? Oh wait! Troops were involved. They were called in for problems all time. Go listen to the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song “Ohio.” It’s about four students killed by troops at Kent State.

    I think the right AND left should vote. Checks and balances and all that. With shrinking numbers I don’t think the Republicans can stay the course much longer, hopefully, but they should still be heard.

  45. says

    It’s about four students killed by troops at Kent State.

    Yes, and they were working against the people who were supporting our rights, not in favor of them. That was my point about the Freedom Riders in my first post. No active service members died in the line of duty fighting for civil rights. As far as the specter of Communism, the idea that Stalinism would ever take over in the U.S. is patently absurd. The only communist activists who ever got anywhere in the states were labor unionists, who once again were fighting forpeople’s rights, and against the National Guard, who were on the other side of that fight. Our wars with Mexico and Canada were blatant territorial grabs on our part, not in any way efforts to expand anyone’s rights, and the War of 1812 is merely the extension onto this continent of the Napoleonic Wars, and we were involved because we backed that well known champion of people’s rights, Emperor Napoleon. I acknowledge that our involvement in WWII was at least partially to free people from the reign of the Nazis, but it’s stunningly disingenuous to pretend that the American forces were fighting to preserve American rights. If anything, I’d say that it makes us look much better to discard that claim; that way, we were doing it all for other people’s good, not just fighting back because our backs were to the wall like the British, French, etc.

  46. Vall says

    “…the idea that Stalinism would ever take over in the U.S. is patently absurd.”

    I agree completely, but that was a main selling point by the war creators. Some people bought it. And as far as Hitler, what if his plans went brilliantly? We can never know what might have happened. That was my point. We can’t know what was prevented.

    When I enlisted, I had some vague ideas about protecting our country, and patriotism. No evidence to support it but I think that may be part of the reason many people enlist. As I matured I came to realize we are not under imminent threat, and my enthusiasm decreased. I still however, feel a strong military is a deterrent and we have no possible way to measure what might have been. That deterrent is a protection of our rights, including voting. So I think ANY servicemember who dies, even in times of peace, died protecting our rights.

    For the record I think if we cut our defense budget in HALF, we would still have a strong military. I am not pro-war by any measure but I think the actual boots on the deck are motivated by good intentions.

    Your argument ignores the preventative nature of our protection and diminishes the sacrifice made, even in times of peace.

  47. codemonkey says

    So, I believe you are being dishonest. Do you honestly believe that you cannot predict that one being elected would be better for you and everyone else compared to the other? Of course, if you say yes, I’ll have to accept it, but I will remain dubious.

    The next question is did you vote for any other candidates/issues on the ballot? If yes, then fine by me.

  48. codemonkey says

    The whole “republicans in Cali don’t matter” thing is because of the electoral college. It’s the same issue.

  49. escuerd says

    Definitely won’t deny there are people who abuse social safety net programs. But like Jasper of Maine, I’m skeptical about the pervasiveness of it.

    In practice (and, increasingly, it seems, in rhetoric) the standard Republican solution seems to be to weaken the programs as much as possible across the board. And this I have a very big problem with.

  50. says

    ..as far as Hitler, what if his plans went brilliantly? We can never know what might have happened. That was my point. We can’t know what was prevented.

    We really pretty much can. A seaborne invasion without a friendly base on the other side (i.e. Canada or Mexico, for Germany) is a complete non-starter with 20th century military technology. Hitler’s plans generally hurt Germany’s military prospects more than they helped him, and if one of the conspiracies against him managed to replace him with someone more competent, they’d have had to pull in their horns. Nazi Germany opened way too many fronts, which made them look like a big threat, but they massively overextended themselves, and could not possibly have been a military threat to anyone in the New World.

    No evidence to support it but I think that may be part of the reason many people enlist.

    Exactly. Just because some may enlist because the believe without evidence that they are defending freedom doesn’t mean that they are in fact doing so.

    I still however, feel a strong military is a deterrent and we have no possible way to measure what might have been.

    A deterrent to whom, deterring them from what?

  51. jb says

    I also suspect that these people vote republican out of a sense of *pride*. They may be using all of the social programs, but to vote dem, to *admit* they need these programs is too much for their little lizard brains to handle. So out of pride, they vote against their own interests.

  52. Vall says

    “We really pretty much can.”

    And then you describe his plans not going well. Also, you may be surprised at what can be done from the sea. I am somewhat of a subject matter expert on that. We can put thousands of Marines and all their equipment on the beach overnight. With close air support too. I’ve seen more than a few landings, it’s very impressive. And that’s just ONE of our ARGs. These techniques were developed in WW2. It’s all speculation anyway, we can’t know what didn’t happen. Read some Harry Turtledove novels if you find this interesting.

    “A deterrent to whom, deterring them from what?”

    If you find the military used as a deterrent confusing, I don’t know how to respond to that, but I’ll try.

    Have we been invaded lately? By anyone? If you answer no, please explain why and you will probably answer your own question, unless you think it costs too much gas or something. If you answer yes I’m going to ask for citations.

    You said “No one is dying for my right to vote right now, nor has any member of the American military died for it in my lifetime or the lifetimes of anyone reading this blog.”
    I say, all of our rights including voting are protected by a strong military, therefore any death in the military can be viewed as protecting our rights. The character Jack Nicholson played in “A Few Good Men” was a little crazy, but he was essentially correct.
    “Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Dalillama? I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

  53. says

    For the record I think if we cut our defense budget in HALF, we would still have a strong military.

    I forgot to comment on this one earlier, but if we cut our military budget by 80% we’d still have the biggest military budget on the planet.

    And then you describe his plans not going well.

    You misunderstand; Hitler’s plans went as well as it was possible for that set of plans to go, which is not very. The likelihood of his plans working significantly better is similar to the likelihood that we’ll someday unearth the tomb of Gandalf at an archeological dig.

    Also, you may be surprised at what can be done from the sea. I am somewhat of a subject matter expert on that. We can put thousands of Marines and all their equipment on the beach overnight. With close air support too. I’ve seen more than a few landings, it’s very impressive.

    If you’re such a bloody expert, then I shouldn’t have to be the one explaining this to you. We can put loads of Marines on shore overnight when we’re invading someplace that hasn’t got an air force or navy worth mentioning. Try that shit landing in China or France and see how far it gets you. Additionally, we currently have exponentially more industrial power available to us than Nazi Germany did, or could have had, given that they also had nothing like our natural resource base, and brutal dicatatorships tend to lag in science.

    Have we been invaded lately? By anyone?

    You once again misunderstand my question. Who might potentially invade us? Even if we had no military at all, who would invade us, from where, using what resources, and for what reason? Note that I’m not suggesting we unilaterally disband our military, but the National Guard, Air Guard and a few cruise missile installations on the coast would be more than enough to make invasion an impossibility, even if there were a threat of such, which there isn’t. That applies as well to the Jack Nicholson bullshit you finished up with. Who are you supposedly defending these freedoms from? What specific foreign threat to our cherished liberties are you so damn terrified of? Also, you do realize that his character is the villain of the piece, don’t you?

  54. Dago Red says

    Yes, our system has drawbacks but a more direct popular voting method also has its drawbacks too. Such voting methods often promote many more candidates, which sounds good on paper, until you have a mess of radical fringe people like the Pat Buchanans or Michelle Bachmanns or Ralph Naders gaining a small but vocal group that persists decade afer decade (in France, for example, see Le Pen’s National Front party as an example of how a persistent vocal extremist group becomes a MAJOR pain in the ass).

    By contrast, our winner-take-all system tends to force us into usually deciding between two relavitively moderate parties. In the few events where a radical fringe manages to gain a foot hold (i.e. Ralph Nader Greens, Pat Buchanan Reform Party, and now the Teaparty dingbats) the more moderate party suffers and loses a few elections because of the peel off, then the radical fringe inevitably gets blamed and brow-beaten into submission. In short, our system tends to force the extremist voices out and lends more credence to the moderate voices.

    For me I will take moderation over the fact that my voice may not necessarily be heard based on the geography of where I live.

  55. says

    deciding between two relavitively moderate parties

    I’m sorry, from the rest your post I got the impression you were an American, but you can’t possibly have lived in the same country I have for the past few decades, and especially the past 12 years, not if you’re saying that.

  56. Dago Red says

    There is no difference between write-ins and no-shows for the current election cycle, but there is a functional diffence between not-voting and writing-in at the political party level going forward. Write-ins are simply viewed like votes for third party candidates — a protest vote (and yes, they are all still tallied, despite, “Fuck You” always coming in someplace around 9th or 10th place). In short, a small but significant number of write-ins, just like a small but significant voting block going for a Nader or a Buchanan or Perot, tells one or both main parties they aren’t understanding/reading their electorate correctly and they need to figure out politically what they are missing. Meanwhile, a lot of no-show/low turn out usually signifies a branding problem; their constituents don’t really care which party wins because they can’t tell any real difference. The write-in voters are interpretted as annoyed and aggrevated, while the no-shows are interpretted as apathetic. These problems end up leading to very different solutions.

    This may seem like an oversimplification of motivation, but its not. People make the mistake (as they did in the Bush-Gore election) to think the votes for third party candidates come from the more moderate party on the same side. Thus Nader was “blamed” for Gore’s slim loss by many Democrats. This, however, is a misnomer. Polls regularly reveal that a vote for a third party (like Nader or a Buchanan) is usually a protest vote against the establishment candidates (i.e. no one ever remotely thinks such third party people can win) so votes often come from either party. People, in fact, often cross-party lines with their protest vote as a little extra fuck you to their least favorite party, hoping to mislead “the greater enemy” into thinking there are more party defectors on that side than really exist (as was likely the case with Nader). People who go to the effort to vote but end up writing-in Mickey Mouse or no-one, are primarily motivated by the same reasoning — they want to protest their current dissatisfaction with the given choices.

    This might seem insignificant to us voters, but to a political pundit these two different voting actions send two very different meta-messages, and the political machines end up using no-show vs write-in/protest voting info in very different ways when they select future party candidates and campaign strategies.

  57. codemonkey says

    This is how I see it. What if instead of two moderate parties, you had developed two extreme parties who, in the past, divided up which side of the issues they would be on in a somewhat arbitrary and capricious way. People picked sides based on evaluating which of the 2 sets of arbitrary groupings issues they liked more. Then, this led to demagoguery, where people stopped caring about the issues, and started seeing each other as the enemy instead of as fellow Americans, solidifying the divide and cementing the positions of the parties.

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Washington%27s_Farewell_Address#1

    I’ll take small active racist parties anytime which can be drowned out by the majority of sensible people versus a party which controls half of everything which acts certifiably insane and with which I have little to no recourse.

    Of course, the grass is always greener on the other side, but I can’t help but think it would be better.

  58. Dark_Monkey_316 says

    That was the point I was trying to make in my previous post, but you put it much better than I did. I get what Russell was saying:

    “For all the election officials know, you may be voting “none of the above” because there are no atheist candidates; OR you may be voting “none of the above because there are not enough KKK members; OR because you only vote for candidates in pink tutus. It doesn’t clarify anything, it doesn’t send any message, it is not useful now and never will be.”

    meaning by writing “none of the above” doesn’t give political parties a direction to go on and to fix the problem, but I still think the NOTA (none of the above) at least identifies a problem. I don’t have an answer to this problem off the top of my head, but recognizing a problem is a start. That is what I thought the point was in jeroldhaymon post about the NOTA thing in Nevada.

  59. Vall says

    “We can put loads of Marines on shore overnight when we’re invading someplace that hasn’t got an air force or navy worth mentioning.”

    Just one of our carriers has more capability than most other nations air forces, and we have maybe 11 or 12 active, not counting retired ones that can be recalled. Again you may be surprised at what spending more than double of all other nations combined will buy. That’s why I said cut it in half because we would still outspend them all. Your example of an impossible country to invade from the sea includes a country that we invaded from the sea successfully, see the problem with that argument?

    I’m sorry it got late last night and my sense of humor got the best of me with the Nicholson stuff. Yes he was the bad guy, but the movie’s premise was about the grey areas and it took a courtroom to figure out who was villain. All sides involved were somewhat correct.

    To re-cap, change the words in my daughter’s post to read “have died” instead of “are dying.” I had a problem with that one too, but since she wrote it I left it as it was. I don’t think we are under threat from anyone but our own rich assholes right now. Rove spent millions and raised hundreds of millions that were flushed away. Let’s celebrate that instead of speculating who would rise up to challenge us if we were less prepared. You seem to be saying the military doesn’t deter anything because you can’t imagine any nation being able to invade us with or without a strong military. I can’t address your lack of imagination, you are using a logical fallacy and that is what I’m stuck on. I agree with you, but not your argument, if you understand what I mean.

    If forced to speculate, I would pick Mexico, in a mostly bloodless conflict re-gaining the Southwest. Using the resources of millions of citizens already living, working, and voting here. I’m not sure of the numbers now, but just a few years ago, California, all by itself had the seventh largest economy in the world. That could be a reason you are searching for. Money. But as far as a “Red Dawn” type, we agree. It wouldn’t happen. You seem to attribute that to a lack of motive by other nations, I think the fact that we could smack them down is at least part of the reason nobody is motivated to try.

  60. says

    Just one of our carriers has more capability than most other nations air forces, and we have maybe 11 or 12 active, not counting retired ones that can be recalled. Again you may be surprised at what spending more than double of all other nations combined will buy.

    And a few dozen modern cruise missiles would sink the lot l in the course of a couple of hours. Good thing we haven’t been picking fights with anyone who has those.
    Your example of an impossible country to invade from the sea includes a country that we invaded from the sea successfully, see the problem with that argument?
    This may just be SIWOTI syndrome, but I’m going to keep on anyway. Did you notice in my initial comment about this, I said without a friendly base on the other side . In the case of D-Day, we were able to support the assault with massive land-based bomber wings flying out of Britain. You do understand the difference between crossing the English Channel and crossing the Atlantic Ocean, in terms of fuel capacity? On top of that, the German Navy at that time was virtually nonexistent, and their air force on its last legs. They had virtually no ability to affect our shipping in the slightest anymore. The reason why cross-ocean invasions of industrial powers is impractical otherwise is logistical; if all of your ammo, reinforcements, etc. have to be landed under fire from land-based aircraft, artillery, and missile batteries, it becomes infeasible to transport materiel in the quantities needed.

    I don’t think we are under threat from anyone but our own rich assholes right now.

    This is exactly where I was going with my earlier questions. Right now, the only credible threat to the U.S. or the rights of its citizens is the American Right Wing. And gee, guess who makes endless political hay by ranting about the alleged need for an insanely large military.

    Rove spent millions and raised hundreds of millions that were flushed away. Let’s celebrate that instead of speculating who would rise up to challenge us if we were less prepared.

    Oh joy. hundreds of millions of dollars flushed down the toilet instead of doing something useful. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

    You seem to be saying the military doesn’t deter anything because you can’t imagine any nation being able to invade us with or without a strong military.

    This is exactly correct. It is not a logical fallacy, it is a reasonable inference from available data. in addition to the logistical concerns I mentioned above, we have historical precedent. What countries in the past 60 years have invaded any nation not directly bordering them? Let me count. One. And since that one is us, I can’t really call that a military threat to us. So that leaves countries that do border us, Canada and Mexico. Canada, we can write off immediately; the Canadian Army is smaller than the NYPD; they haven’t got the numbers to invade anyone.

    If forced to speculate, I would pick Mexico, in a mostly bloodless conflict re-gaining the Southwest. Using the resources of millions of citizens already living, working, and voting here.

    A plebiscite is not the same thing as an invasion, and can’t effectively be fought militarily. That’s leaving aside the extreme unlikelihood of a significant number of Latin@ voters in the SW voting to be annexed by Mexico; if they have the numbers for that, they’ll have the numbers to overturn the various anti-latin@ measures and make the legal environment more congenial without attaching themselves to the ongoing nightmare of corruption and inefficiency that is the Mexican government. Militarily, the Mexican Army consists of 192,000 personnel, or roughly half the strength of the U.S. National Guard. At least 40,000 of those National Guard forces are currently on the border. (I can’t get counts for New Mexico or Texas, but each has at least one division of infantry, plus Air Guard units.) Additionally, the Mexican Army is busy fighting what amounts to an ongoing civil war, and can’t spare any troops for pointless aggression against their neighbors.

  61. Vall says

    “And a few dozen modern cruise missiles would sink the lot l in the course of a couple of hours.”

    Are you arguing that, by your own account, the most expensive, best equipped military force the world has ever known, would be helpless against some cruise missiles? Really? I better call down to Newport News Shipbuilding and let them know cruise missiles exist so they can start preparing. Holy shit.

    “You do understand the difference between crossing the English Channel and crossing the Atlantic Ocean, in terms of fuel capacity?”

    So you do think we haven’t been invaded because the ships will run out of gas, don’t you. Nothing at all to do with the giant guns pointed at them if they somehow manage to cross the ocean. You seem to be underestimating the fuel capacity of ships, ignoring underway replenishments (our secret weapon in WW2, btw) and nuclear wessels (as Chekov would say)
    Why didn’t England go ahead and finish off the war before we paddled back across to get the assist? They were so low on gas they couldn’t cross the channel? Or was it because a hostile military force on the other side made them think twice about it?

    Are you beginning to understand the military used as a deterrent?

    “Oh joy. hundreds of millions of dollars flushed down the toilet instead of doing something useful. That’s definitely worth celebrating.”

    I challenge you to name ONE thing Karl “Fucking” Rove would do with that money that is useful. Not something that a normal person would do, Karl Rove.

  62. says

    Are you arguing that, by your own account, the most expensive, best equipped military force the world has ever known, would be helpless against some cruise missiles? Really? I better call down to Newport News Shipbuilding and let them know cruise missiles exist so they can start preparing. Holy shit.

    Has it occurred to you that our current military posture and equipment may not, in fact, be designed for 21st century warfare against a major industrial power? That what we have is a very effective implement for bringing developing countries to heel rather than something that would be used to e.g. invade France or China? Because, to be brutally honest, that’s what we’ve got.

    So you do think we haven’t been invaded because the ships will run out of gas, don’t you.

    For chrissakes are you being deliberately obtuse here? That remark was specifically in reference to supporting our invasion with BOMBERS. The bombers needed to have enough fuel to go home after dropping the bombs, you see. If they had to fly across the whole ocean to get there, then they wouldn’t, you see?

    Nothing at all to do with the giant guns pointed at them if they somehow manage to cross the ocean.

    Very goood. Those are the guns that I was talking about which would make such an invasion impractical unless you have a forward base and have suppressed the enemy’s naval and air power.

    Why didn’t England go ahead and finish off the war before we paddled back across to get the assist?

    Because they’d already taken some pretty significant hits prior to Dunkirk, and also, as you may have noticed, were much much smaller than Germany, and therefore had fewer people to carry guns. This is basic fucking military history here, and I really should not need to go into so much detail with s former Marine who claims expertise on the subject.

    Are you beginning to understand the military used as a deterrent?

    BRITAIN WAS ALREADY AT WAR WITH GERMANY!!! Germany was ATTACKING Britain at the time. You think that maybe, just maybe, they were a bit busy defending themselves?

    I challenge you to name ONE thing Karl “Fucking” Rove would do with that money that is useful. Not something that a normal person would do, Karl Rove.

    I don’t give a flaming fuck what Karl Rove would have done with the money besides that. The problem is that it was given him in the first damn place.

    BTW, I notice you’re not talking about current military threats to the U.S. anymore, only our ability to threaten others. Why is that? Are you realizing yet that there are no military threats to the U.S., and that we’ve gone entirely overboard in threatening and attacking others in the name of deterring some imaginary boogeyman? I leave you with a quotation from an author I’m quite fond of, Lois McMaster Bujold:
    “The really unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, or anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future. But the crimes they hope to prevent in that future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present — they are real.”

  63. Vall says

    “Very goood. Those are the guns that I was talking about which would make such an invasion impractical unless you have a forward base and have suppressed the enemy’s naval and air power.”

    I’m not sure if you realize this, are you trying the bugs bunny switcheroo and argue my point in the hopes that I won’t notice just to keep going? Your last post describes in detail “deterrent.” So I assume you agree with me now. My point about England was they were the ones deterred (there’s that word again) from attacking the continent because they faced a stronger opposition.

    In this comment thread I have suggested that we could cut our defense budget in half, and still be just fine. I’m not sure where you get the idea that I’m some sort of warmonger just because I understand concepts like military deterrent and projection of power. You have demonstrated that you understand those concepts as well, so are you a warmonger? To clarify I never claimed to be a Marine, but I was a sailor for many years.
    My job was to shoot down missiles, so my understanding of these things is pretty thorough.

    “BTW, I notice you’re not talking about current military threats to the U.S. anymore, only our ability to threaten others. Why is that?”

    I sense a disturbance in the Force. Why? I’m busy giving you examples of things you say can’t be done. This rollercoaster is all you. The exchange started when you didn’t like it when someone says soldiers “are dying” to protect the vote, then claimed no soldiers have died protecting our right to vote since the Revolutionary War. My response was I mostly agree and would have changed the wording to “have died,” however ANY death in the military could be viewed as preserving your rights, even in times of peace, because of the “buffer” military deterrence provides.

    After that you seem to be saying the military doesn’t prevent anything because nobody could attack us even if they wanted to. Our geographic location is deterrent enough. I disagreed, with examples. So that’s why I’m not talking about current military threats. I’ve already admitted we don’t have any, and I give credit to a strong military, not fuel capacity.

  64. says

    I’m not sure if you realize this, are you trying the bugs bunny switcheroo and argue my point in the hopes that I won’t notice just to keep going?

    That was part of the separate, but parallel portion of the discussion as regards the infeasibility of a seaborne invasion of an industrial power, unless you have nearby friendly territory on their side of the ocean. In the face of an enemy who can use land-based aircraft and artillery/missiles against your supply vehicles you will be unable to land sufficient supplies and reinforcements for the initial assault force, who will have take horrific casualties in the landing. Carrier-based air wings are distaance-limited, meaning that if they’re in range to support the cargo craft, they’re in range of land-based missile batteries and aircraft, not to mention submarines. Any aircraft that are defending the carriers aren’t available for air superiority measures, and those tasked for air superiority are vulnerable to land-based missile batteries. You are probably correct that with our 11 carriers and supporting ships we could invade someplace like France (although not someplace like China), and actually force a landing, but a)it would be massively expensive in both lives and materiel and b) No one else in the world has more than 2 carriers at the moment, and those are mostly crap. with 1-2 carriers, forcing a landing against an even semi-industrialized enemy is basically a no go. Thus, there is no threat of invasion of the U.S. by sea, even if we cut down to an actual defense force rather than a standing assault force designed to bully the developing world, which is all we’ve used it for for about 50 years now. Carriers, incidentally, are entirely a force-projection tool. For purposes of coastal defence, i.e. deterring a potential invasion by making it look too tough, (That is what you mean by deterrence, right?) carriers are no good. They do nothing on the defense that land-based aircraft wings can’t do more efficiently.

    So I assume you agree with me now. My point about England was they were the ones deterred (there’s that word again) from attacking the continent because they faced a stronger opposition.

    Actively being attacked is not the same thing as being deterred by a threat. The difference is between you telling me that if I mess with you you’ll kill me, and you can do it because you have a gun, so I leave you alone. That’s a deterrent. On the other hand, if you pull out a gun and start shooting at me, I will duck and dodge, which may delay my efforts to stop you shooting at me. That is not a deterrent, that is a fight. Do you see the difference?

    You have demonstrated that you understand those concepts as well, so are you a warmonger?

    I understand these concepts perfectly well, and I am opposed to the U.S. military being used for force projection, given the purposes for which that force is projected. I therefore propose that we cut our military spending to a level commensurate with the actual military threat, which would also bring it in line with the budgets of other industrial powers. This would greatly limit the temptation of every cowboy asshole in the White House to get it into his head that now would be a good time to murder a few thousand foreigners for the greater benefit of the fruit companies, or the oil companies, or the arms companies, or maybe just because he’s pissed off and wants to take it out on the world. I don’t care what their fucking motivation is, I want them to fucking stop it, and the only to do that is to take their fucking toys away from them. You say we need three times the military force of our nearest competitor, that we need carrier groups to scare the world into submission, so yes, I’m saying you’re a warmonger. You’re a warmonger because you’re insisting that we need the capacity to make war on the world at a moment’s notice, just in case. There is no just in case. If you want to talk about defence, we can talk about it, but stop pretending that we’re defending a damned thing by bombing random brown people halfway around the world into the stone age.

    To clarify I never claimed to be a Marine, but I was a sailor for many years.

    My apologies, I conflated ‘thousands of Marines’ and ‘I have seen many such landings’ and arrived at an erroneous conclusion. FWIW, much of the information I working with here was first pointed out to me be an associate who also spent a number of years in the Navy, in your same specialty no less, although I have of course also done some reading of my own to check his data/sources, or as much of it is publicly available.

    My response was I mostly agree and would have changed the wording to “have died,” however ANY death in the military could be viewed as preserving your rights, even in times of peace, because of the “buffer” military deterrence provides.

    And this is the root of the problem. The Americans who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t defending me, or America, or in fact anything whatsoever but the doctrine of American exceptionalism. The same goes for Granada, for Vietnam, for the Spanish American War, etc. And yes, I know that we were ‘defending’ South Vietnam, for instance, but that is hardly a claim to the moral high ground, given what utter bastards their government was too. Defending our country means defending it against actual attacks, or looming attacks. This can be accomplished by a much smaller, and differently organized, military to the one we presently have. You have not made any kind of a case that anyone is deterred from attacking us because we have a habit of invading small countries for the hell of it, nor because we retain the capacity to do so. In order for your ‘deterrent’ argument to hold water there would have to be not just some source of a threat, but a threat so incredibly overwhelming that it couldn’t be handled on the budget that China spends. There is no such threat present in the world, and there is no sign of one appearing anytime soon. There are many, many countries that don’t get invaded, and they don’t have nearly the obscene military budget that you propose: Canada, Belize, Switzerland, India, Germany, Poland…The list goes on, and on, and on. So, where is the threat that we supposedly need to deter? What makes you think that acting like an unpredictable bully on the world stage makes it less rather than more likely that someone might try something preemptively before we get around to attacking them?

    I’ve already admitted we don’t have any, and I give credit to a strong military,

    But you have given no reason to think so.

    not fuel capacity.

    The point about logistics and the point about bombers are separate points. U.S. bombers could not have supported D-Day from U.S. shores, due to fuel capacity. The point about logistics would require you to understand the concept, which you do not appear to.

  65. Dago Red says

    Yes, Russell is correct it is difficult to discern the true motivations that lead to a particular write-in vote being cast simply by looking at the ballots, but the same can be said about any ballot result. Its wrong to assume that every vote cast (or even assume most of them) reflects a positive endorsement of that candidate. The most common form of “protest” voting, in fact, is a vote cast for one of the two main candidates, which was completely motivated, not by any affection, but rather by hatred for, or fear of, the other guy. This, in fact, is why so-called negative campaigns are so effective. It’s usually a lot easier to motivate people to “vote-against”, rather than “vote-for” anything.

    And, its worth noting now, one of the many purposes of certain kinds of exit-polls is to discern precisely these finer grains of motivation behind why a vote was cast, whether it was for a candidate or merely a write-in protest.

    While I can’t speak to Russell’s specific reasons for disliking protest voting so much, most Democrats who voted in the 2000 election are still steaming mad with the Al Gore’s defeat, which many strongly believed to have been caused by left-leaning people casting “protest votes” for Nader, and thus handing Bush, with the help of a conservative SCOTUS, his narrow victory (and all the heinous consequences that unfolded thereafter).

    While this is a plausible hypothesis and worthy of consideration, at the same time, the fact that the democrats may have been so severely disrupted by Nader and the Green Party and their 3% of protest votes also deserves some consideration as well, especially if you are politically radical, who largely view the Democratic party as nothing more than the liberal wing of the Republicans, and are quite bothered by the fact that major party politics in this country are completely dominated by moderate voices, leaving radical positions completely unheard. It is through such moments like the 2000 election, and due to people like yourself who are willing to cast protest votes, that the mainstream party platforms are occasionally forced to consider other non-mainstream moderate issues in their platform on occasion. If people are willing to think Nader actually had the power to throw an election in 2000, then we have to also consider the Green platform for which Nader represented that year more seriously so they don’t continually produce such a high profile, protest-vote drawing crowd pleasers such as Nader (or Buchanan/Reform Party if you are a Righty). Yes, it cost Gore that election, but it also showed that such blanket neglect of the radical fringe is done at their own peril. We can continue to simply “be practical” and tell ourselves that a protest vote is entirely a waste of time and no better than not voting at all, and thus continue to swallow the beige pill being fed to us by the moderates, or we can value the power a protest vote has to, on rare occasions, upset the moderate apple cart, and face the fact that it can force the moderates to at least be concerned with other, perhaps more radical, views within their party once in a while.

    I am not advocating either position for myself (I am actually a fairly beige democrat myself — go Obama! Nader you suck!) — just merely flushing out the Political Science 101 counterpoint to Russell’s position that hasn’t been represented here — for your own consideration, as someone who does cast protest votes.

  66. Vall says

    “You say we need three times the military force of our nearest competitor, that we need carrier groups to scare the world into submission, so yes, I’m saying you’re a warmonger. You’re a warmonger because you’re insisting that we need the capacity to make war on the world at a moment’s notice, just in case. ”

    I’m gonna demand citations here. If my writing is so bad that this is the message you got from my words I think it’s time for me to stop. Also, you should stop bringing up imaginary scenarios that you insist couldn’t happen because in every case I can give you an example where it has happened. Logistics are obviously important, but not the insurmountable obstacle you seem to think.

    The only thing I’m insisting on is giving credit to where it’s due. I’m not FOR a huge military, but I can appreciate it nonetheless. You, however, are standing in a cornfield that has no crows in sight, complaining that the scarecrow is useless and too expensive because there aren’t any crows to scare. And you want to claim victory because I can’t call out every crow by name that lives near enough to eat the corn.

    I will freely admit the role of the military has shifted it’s focus. Now we just run around the world punching brown people who can’t fight back, but make no mistake, that is an additional capability, something added to what we have. That’s part of why it’s so expensive, and you are getting caught up on something we agree on. I honestly hope you aren’t upset, I’m not trying to spin you up, you should see some of the stuff I backspaced over before posting.

  67. says

    I’m quite upset right now in general, and some of that has undoubtedly leaked into my conversation with you. My main problem here is that your definition of a ‘strong military’ is grossly out of proportion both actually extant military threats and, for the same reason, grossly out of proportion with the militaries that serve the purposes of deterring invasion perfectly well in all of the other industrialised countries. I say this on the grounds that no one has invaded China, Russia, any of the EU countries, etc. since WWII, which appears to indicate that they have sufficiently strong militaries for the purpose of deterrence. You have explicitly stated your opposition to reducing our own military expenditures until they are in line with these demonstrably adequate militaries here:

    That’s why I said cut it in half because we would still outspend them all.

    , at which time you were arguing for half of our current expenditures for this purpose, immediately after I had pointed out that a cut of 80% would still serve that purpose:We’d still have the biggest military budget on the planet. You have made no argument for why we need so vastly much more than our nearest competitor, nor what that amount of excess military force is good for other than bullying the world and shooting up random foreigners.

  68. Vall says

    I’m not comfortable with the world bully role, and I think we agree on that. We could use some big cuts, we agree on that too. However, cutting by 80% would be way too much. That’s almost all of it. Do we want another million unemployed? That’s not even counting private sector jobs that build all that stuff. If that sounds like right-wing rhetoric, I’m sorry. I’m looking at it from the labor point of view. There are also technology spin-offs that among many things, provide the very means for you and I to communicate. So there are benefits to having a strong military other than kicking sand in faces. I’m not suggesting that we start a war just to employ people, but you’ve got to recognize the difficulty here. Consider the logistics of that. Where will you put them? You can’t just cut the budget, it’s not that simple. Additionally, there are actual missions being accomplished. Not everyone agrees with all of the missions, I don’t, but shit gets done. They don’t fuck around. It’s the politicians that drag things out.

  69. says

    However, cutting by 80% would be way too much. That’s almost all of it. Do we want another million unemployed? That’s not even counting private sector jobs that build all that stuff.

    I’m not saying we should cut the Federal Budget by 560-odd billion. I’m saying that we should cut the Pentagon’s budget by that amount.
    There are dozens of things we could be spending that money on that would provide plenty of jobs, and private sector spinoffs too, and furthermore they would afterwords leave us with valuable infrastructure, scientific knowledge, and/or new technology. I’m aware that there are beneficial spinoffs of military research as well, but we’d get a lot more benefit if we focused the money directly on research that would benefit us and didn’t have to waste effort figuring our how it could be used to kill people to get funding.

    I don’t, but shit gets done.

    Yes, we very effectively bomb random foreigners back to the stone age. I don’t consider that an accomplishment to be proud of, especially when it happens at the cost of shit getting done at home. Shit like retooling the ancient power grids, rebuilding the rail net and upgrading it to modern high-speed rail standards, an internet infrastructure that provides universal high-speed access, etc, etc, etc.

  70. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Vall,

    You really are talking complete nonsense about WWII. The D-day landings were possible precisely because Germany no longer had an effective navy, and what was left of its air force was rather busy trying to stave off the Soviet offensive, and British and American bombers attacking Germany itself. There was never any serious possibility that Hitler could invade the USA; nor, in fact, that he could invade Britain successfully without decades of military build-up, because that required command of both the sea and the air. He expected Britain to come to terms once pushed off the continent, and when it didn’t, his only recourse was an attempted blockade by submarine, and invasion of the Soviet Union in order to gain the vital resources – notably oil – that he still lacked. Do some reading. I suggest The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze.

  71. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Apparently the plan is to switch some key states such as Ohio from winner-takes-all in the electoral college, to splitting the vote by number of congressional districts won. Because the Republicans have gerrymandered these on a heroic scale since their wins in 2010, this could give them a clear majority of electoral college votes from such states even if they lose the popular vote there. (However, Nate Silver says that Romney would actually have needed to win the popular vote by around 3% to win the electoral college.)

  72. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    “In short, our system tends to force the extremist voices out and lends more credence to the moderate voices.”

    Considering what’s happened to the Republican Party, that’s simply bizarre.

  73. Dago Red says

    CodeMonkey —
    You are assuming the “small racist parties” and the “majority of sensible people” have some way of remaining mutually exclusive in most political systems. They don’t. Those two ideas, in fact, often coincide in times of national stress e.g. European Facism. Our system isn’t immune to this, but it is currently the longest extant political system on the planet primarily because it does a better job at isolating its political path from the far more chaotic and whimsical changing currents of its population.

    Nick —
    I am not sure what you mean by “what happened to the Republican Party” — are you implying Romney is not a moderates voice in the Republicans, or is that a reference to the Teabagger bifurcation or something else?

  74. Vall says

    I understand WW2 just fine. I simply write like shit, and I am not trying to be difficult or upset anyone. I refuse to argue that Hitler would have invaded the U.S. since I never made that claim. When I said what if his plans went well, I was trying to stimulate imagination, not historical facts. That’s the IF part of that. What IF they had plenty of oil? What IF they developed the a-bomb? It’s easy to sit here with 20-20 hindsight and say they couldn’t do these things. His plans didn’t go well and probably couldn’t have, I’ll never say they would have, except as a mental exercise. Any discussion of alternate history was my attempt to illustrate the concept of deterrence to someone determined to undersell it’s effectiveness. Did we attempt landing when Germany had a strong navy and air force? No. It wasn’t only logistics that stopped us, it was the inevitable loss of life and material. We would lose, so we didn’t even try, therefore we were deterred. When someone suggests we couldn’t do that against a more prepared enemy, that says to me that they understand deterrence just fine, they just don’t want to admit it for some reason.

    I thought my cornfield analogy was pretty good. We sit here, without any serious rivals, thanks to that giant scarecrow. Yes, we could use a much smaller one, now that the big one did all the work. I would be the first to embrace defense cuts, but not the drastic cuts suggested. Not from fear, but from a non-naive understanding that we live in a world with walls…, you know the rest.

  75. says

    are you implying Romney is not a moderates voice in the Republicans,

    This is correct. Romney is not a moderate voices in the Republicans. He stuck to the party line whenever he actually specified what his plans were, and the Republican party line is batshit crazy far right.

  76. says

    Yes, but the walls are in your damn imagination. You imagine what might have happened in a totally different world to the one we live in, and then decide based on that what we need to defend ourselves. You have still failed to explain why you think need a metaphorical scarecrow three times bigger than anyone else’s, nor why an assault force is needed for defense. You’re just sitting there pissing your pants at the though that we might only have as much military force as anyone else, and then we wouldn’t be able to go bully the world to make you feel all big and strong. Please explain, as I have asked you to several times before, why we should not limit our military expenditures to the level of our nearest competitor, that being sufficient to make an attack on us infeasible?

  77. Vall says

    I think our opinions are closer than you realize, although I meant 80% cut to the military would be too much. I would support cuts, just not as much as you.

    We are overdue for an infrastructure re-build, like you noted, no disagreement.

    I have a reply on the long chain above. I have a mixed opinion on nested comments.

  78. Dago Red says

    Dalillama,

    Romney is not a moderate voices in the Republicans. He stuck to the party line whenever he actually specified what his plans were

    Given that the Republicans are roughly half the electorate and Romney, as you said, stuck to their party line, is it not a contradiction to deny his place as a moderating position in that party?

    and the Republican party line is batshit crazy far right.

    While I fully agree with you here, I’m not addressing the more emotional argument that you are addressing; our opinions on what is and is not batshit crazy is not really the point I am trying to make. Despite our personal dislike for Republican positions, they remain roughly half of the electorate, and we must accept the fact that this population distribution defines the democratic position, as the other half, to be no less or more “moderate” than the republicans — even if we personally feel their position to be really, really stupid.

  79. says

    Moderate does not mean ‘in the middle’. Moderate means ‘not an extremist.’ The present Republican party are extremists, not moderates. Someone who is halfway between the two parties is also not a moderate, they would be a right winger. Currently, the Democrats are a right wing party which has many moderates, the Republicans are an extremist far right wing party, which has no moderates, and actual liberals either vote for democrats or don’t vote, because the present setup has no option for them.

    I’m not addressing the more emotional argument that you are addressing;

    Batshit crazy isn’t an emotional judgment. It’s a pragmatic one. Republican policies are not based on reality, and have no detectable connection to it; they are making policy based on delusion, which is to say craziness.

  80. Vall says

    “You have still failed to explain why you think need a metaphorical scarecrow three times bigger than anyone else’s”

    That’s easy, I don’t think that. I think it WAS needed when we were not the only ones building giant scarecrows, and now that they have all been chased away, we could scale back by quite a bit. My “quite a bit” is less than yours, so I guess I’m terrified.

    “Please explain, as I have asked you to several times before, why we should not limit our military expenditures to the level of our nearest competitor, that being sufficient to make an attack on us infeasible?”

    I reject your premise is why. Please explain why you think they don’t have large militaries, without including the peace provided by the U.S. or Soviet umbrellas. I wouldn’t reduce our military to the level of our nearest competitor because I feel our nearest competitor enjoys the same blanket you do. Our scarecrow is so big it scares crows away from fields that aren’t ours. Do we need to be Team America: World Police? No. Do I want that scenario? No. Is that what we’ve become? Yes. Are we stuck with it? I hope not, but we should cut incrementally, and I say that with concerns of labor issues, not fear.

  81. says

    Our nearest competitor is China. So go ahead, tell be about how China has benefited from the umbrella of U.S. and/ or Soviet protection. I’m listening. In fact, Russia is China’s next biggest competitor, and they spend only about half what China does, which still puts them $10 billion ahead of the UK, who’s in the number 4 slot. So, given the actual military forces that exist right now, exactly who is this ‘umbrella’ protecting anyone from? You have still failed to explain this, despite my repeated requests. You go on and on about deterrence and protection, but you have not identified any threats that need to be deterred. Indeed, the closest you’ve come is mentioning the other ‘umbrella of protection” that the Soviets used to provide. Who were the Soviets protecting them from? Oh, that’s right, the U.S. Now, what was the justification for the U.S. ‘umbrella’? Oh, right, the Soviets. The Soviet Union is where now exactly? That was the threat that justified our enormous military buildup (although there’s evidence that the non-nuclear threat was never as large as we thought at the time; the Soviet Army had some serious ongoing problems), but it’s gone now, and it’s not coming back. So, what fucking rainstorm is the ‘umbrella’ for?

  82. Dago Red says

    Moderate does not mean ‘in the middle’. Moderate means ‘not an extremist.’

    //facepalm

    Batshit crazy isn’t an emotional judgment. It’s a pragmatic one.

    //facepalm x 2

    Republican policies are not based on reality, and have no detectable connection to it; they are making policy based on delusion, which is to say craziness.

    …this almost sounds like plausible if you say it with a german accent and replace “Republican” with “Jew” //Godwin

  83. says

    ??!???!?!?! What the blistering fuck are you blithering about? Are you genuinely incapable of comprehending the difference between ‘this ethnic group are subhumans who should be exterminated’ and ‘this set of policies is contrary to reality’? Name a Republican policy which produces the outcomes the Republicans say they implemented for. One. Or, alternately, shut up and quit being a tiresome troll.

  84. Dago Red says

    What is says is that I have actually studied how the American political system actually works throughout its history, how it was designed, and understand the principles behind it — and you have not. If you had, you would understand why this is necessarily true.

  85. Dago Red says

    Then I would suggest you pull your head out of your ass long enough to actually follow the argument being presented to you rather than blathering about points that are not germaine to the topic. If you cannot bother enough to follow along and pay attention — and instead argue with ideas bouncing around in you head instead not being put forth by anyone — why even bother opening the door of discussion? There is nothing I hate more than a knee-jerk pseudo-intellectual.

  86. Dark_Monkey_316 says

    @DAGO RED: In response to your last post in this thread, (It would not allow me to reply), I find most of it to be accurate. The point I was trying to make was that my first post was to point out the statement of the NOTA. Like I said to Russell, it maybe a “protest vote”, (however I did vote for who I thought was the best), the fact that NOTA votes are out there still show a distrust with the two major parties.

    I understand how/why you say Gore lost that election, I’m not sure it was because of a radical left being displeased with the Democratic party. With society being where it is in this day of age, I’m not so sure that more people aren’t fed up with the two party system.

    As for most voters, they aren’t voting for what they think is right, but just the less of two evils. I get why but I think the NOTA’s are doing what any small group is trying to do, and that is trying to get their voice heard. As I stated before, it might not matter now, or a few years from now, but to start this trend might be the right step.

  87. Vall says

    I understand your point, and mostly agree. I even wrote a paper arguing for a smaller military, and I used Steven Pinker’s new book for citations. But I did not argue for 80% military cuts. That would be an almost complete dismantling. Sorry, I’m not for that. If you want to dismantle something, let’s start with the TSA and the whole homeland security crap.

    I think for many years the whole world was threatened by the shadow of a nuclear exchange, including China. I think your point about other countries keeping a military just big enough to avoid invasion is wrong. Have you considered they might have spent more if they had more money? Do you think having the largest economy had anything to do with our spending? Maybe we have more to protect than other countries do. I live in a state that is bigger than France. You are using the current state of affairs to prove your point without accounting for the relative security provided by our outspending everyone. Back to that cornfield analogy again. You dodge that one like a champion.

    Protect from what? Nobody is threatening us, I hear you already. I bet you lock your door at night, even though you can’t name the burglar that may rob you. Are you terrified of burglars?

  88. says

    I’m actually not in the habit of locking the door while I’m home, sleeping or awake. The crime rate around here is pretty minimal, so I’m not that worried about burglars. More relevantly, even if I weren’t living in a rental place and I was the one who could add more locks, I see no reason to; the standard number of locks are perfectly sufficient, if not in excess of actual need. I’m not going to get rid of the locks, but if I bought a house nearby that had a high maintenance alarm/security system that I’d have to pay for, I’d dismantle the thing and just go with a couple of locks.

    Have you considered they might have spent more if they had more money?

    Have you considered researching the topic at all on your own? As a percentage of GDP we’re still the highest, although not by quite such a large margin (Russia is spending 3.9% to our 4.7%. China, though:2%. The UK: 2.6% France:2.3%). So, all of those countries could spend more if they wanted to devote as large a chunk of their resources to it. But they have different priorities, and so should we.

  89. Vall says

    I’m happy that you feel secure enough to leave your stuff unlocked. I hope you would admit that it’s not an attitude shared by most adults. Some might consider it naive, I do. I’m guessing it has more to do with lack of valuables than relying on the milk of human kindness. If you owned a Monet, would you lock your doors? Or do you think since none of your neighbors have been proven to be art thieves, you are perfectly safe? What if you had a child? Would you bet her life on puppies, rainbows, and good feelings? Not everyone will take that risk, and you claim there is no such thing as risk because you don’t see any.

    We keep going around and around on this. You are asking for me to prove a negative so I tried a few analogies. Sorry, can’t do it. I’ve stated that I generally agree with you. My suggested 50% cut would be seen as excessive by most, and downright treasonous by others. A 50% cut will never happen so I’m not sure why you are insistent on more.

  90. says

    The fact that other people are led by their fears to a greater extent than reality may justify is not really my problem; people are entitled to live in as much fear as they want. Nevertheless, I prefer that government policy be enacted based on reality, rather than paranoia. The likelihood of such happening is small, but it’s worth fighting for anyway. That’s what we all agree on, after all, isn’t it? That we should guide decision making and policy by objective, empirical evidence? And if that’s what we’re after, then we need to address the massive waste which would be represented by even half of our current military expenditures, let alone our current level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>