Episode CCXLIX: Madman in the sky »« Be safe, Easterners!

Chris Clarke for President

It’s the only sane choice. He explains why he’s not voting for Obama in 2012, and he makes a good case: in particular, Obama has been disastrous for environmental issues, as Clarke documents. He also posts a minimal list of basic criteria for any good progressive candidate:

  • must neither openly nor tacitly support the use of torture in any circumstance.
  • must pledge to defend women’s access to abortion against any threatened limitation, whether that obstruction be political, religious or economic.
  • must pledge to oppose the enshrining in law of social discrimination against any group of people based on gender, ethnicity, sexuality, language, religious belief or lack thereof, disability, social class, or other arbitrary division.
  • must agree that the rich — who have after all profited most from the country’s natural wealth, infrastructure and financial policy — ought to pay their fair share of taxes.
  • must at least hold as an aspiration the provision of a tolerable standard of living to all people in the US, including shelter, food, clothing, education, health care and access to communication, regardless of the individual’s ability to pay.
  • must support the continued existence of labor unions.
  • must pledge not to punish individual migrants for the failures of the country’s immigration policy.
  • must at least pledge to value the ecological integrity of the United States’ landscapes over the possibility that profit might be extracted from them.
  • must possess at least a high-school level understanding of science, especially regarding but not limited to crucial topics such as climate change and evolutionary biology.
  • must oppose any interference in the routine and proper teaching of science in our public schools by religious groups.
  • must abide by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

I think I’d add a few, though.

  • must openly and strongly support the separation of church and state — no prayer breakfasts, no faith-based initiatives.
  • his economic advisors should be focused on the lower and middle classes, and not be stocked with bankers and Wall Street cronies.
  • end the drug war, stop the privatization of prisons as big business, and release all non-violent drug offenders.
  • must have a nation-wide plan for standards in science education that ends the petty tyranny of local school boards and the penny-pinching funding based on local levies.

The funny thing is, if you attend local democratic caucuses and conventions, you find mobs of people enthusiastically pushing these kinds of ideas for the party platform. Somehow, though, they all get lost on the long climb upward to our actual representatives, who all end up standing for nothing…other than getting re-elected.

Why did we all vote for that Obama guy, anyway? He’s doing none of the above. Oh, yeah, simply because his opposition was a venal Rethuglican.

Comments

  1. says

    Although, at this point, I might be content with candidate who does one thing as radical as, say, repudiating torture. Small steps.

  2. says

    Why did we all vote for that Obama guy, anyway? He’s doing none of the above.

    We all voted for him because he campaigned as a liberal. That he turned out to govern as a conservative is disheartening, to put it mildly. But we should never forget the fact that majorities in the U.S. elected a man — a black man, no less — who campaigned as a liberal. Therein lies the hope (if not the change).

  3. chigau () says

    must neither openly nor tacitly support the use of torture in any circumstance

    Weak.
    Must actively OPPOSE the use of torture would be better.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Oh, yeah, simply because his opposition was a venal Rethuglican.

    Yep, at this point that is all that is required. When whoever is the most progressive democrat in 2012 other than the incumbent who can actually win the election, let me know.

  5. required says

    Obama campaigned as center-right. We just projected liberal ideas onto him. During the primaries, the most liberal thing he said was that he always opposed the war in Iraq and torture. He made some promises he couldn’t keep, like closing Gitmo and more radical health care reform, but most of his other promises were… center-right.

    McCain just campaigned on idiocy.

  6. says

    Iris Vander Pluym:

    We all voted for him because he campaigned as a liberal.

    Actually, he didn’t. He only seemed liberal in comparison with the Republican crazies. He campaigned as a center right pragmatist.

  7. says

    I mostly agree with Clarke’s list, though for preference I’d add a few more things which are equally important: legalizing marijuana, ending the death penalty, and reducing the rate of incarceration and ending solitary confinement and other forms of prisoner-abuse in US prisons.

    Also, this:

    must pledge not to punish individual migrants for the failures of the country’s immigration policy.

    is a positive step, but a bit mealy-mouthed: it skirts the issue of whether the US’s restrictive immigration laws are justifiable in the first place. Personally, I’d say that discrimination against undocumented (I refuse to use the dehumanizing term “illegal”) immigrants is equally as bad as discrimination against ethnic minorities, women and LGBT people, and should be opposed equally strongly.

  8. Mr. Eeeks says

    And we’ll probably vote for him again because the eventuality of a Republican in the White House will probably not be palatable.

  9. says

    (Of course, in my case it doesn’t matter: I can’t vote anyway, being an eeeeebil resident alien rather than an American citizen. And I probably won’t even be here come the 2012 election, unless I apply for a visa extension.)

  10. Kirian says

    It is, alas, the continual problem of the true progressive. With a voting system that effectively forces us into two parties, we will always be voting for the lesser of two evils. But, as I read somewhere else, it is the choice between baby steps forward (mediocre health care reform, repeal of DADT, mostly leaving Iraq, and some others) and gigantic steps backward. Even the most liberal of the Republican candidates will take us backward rapidly; we progressives cannot vote for them, and cannot in good conscience vote for a third party, lest we see another Nader 2000 problem. So, we vote for baby steps.

    No, it doesn’t help that the Democrats continually espouse compromise, knowing that the Republicans are happy to not compromise. A good piece on that is here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/26/1010719/-No-Consequence-for-Extremism?showAll=yes&via=blog_731950

  11. shoshidge says

    would it’ve been better with McCain/Palin?

    Every election i’ve ever voted for in my adult life has been a choice of who I dislike the least, Obama in ’08 would have been no exception if I were American given the other option.

    I do believe that Obama is liberal at heart but he can’t impose this mentality on a population that seems to be under the spell of libertarian dogma, to try to do so would be seen as evidence of the kind of left-authoritarianism that his paranoid critics were were shrieking about during the election.

    Even if Chris Clarke were elected, his wish list would remain as unfulfilled as Obama’s, and armchair political douchebags would be lamenting HIS ineffectuality too.

  12. Jon says

    Hooray! Let’s counter right-wing extremism with uncompromising left wing idealism! That’ll work for sure!

    There is no third party that actually espouses all of these ideals. Even those who believe in parts are just batshit insane in other areas. So fine, don’t participate in the political process until your ideal candidate runs. You’ll never vote again.

  13. says

    Voting will never do it.

    Vote Democrat to stave off the evil (seriously – look at the alternative) and get out and fight. Chris Clarke’s blogging and activism (supported by Chas Peterson, it should be noted) will have far more reach and effect than his vote. Direct action more than anything.

  14. Berior says

    There is one point on which I must disagree with PZ (also I seem to be in a commenting spree) or I would at least ask for clarification.

    Specificly I’m dubious about releasing non violent drug offender.

    I agree that some should be released, but I think having a simple criteria like non violent doesn’t cover the whole situation.

    Personaly I find the use of drug abhorent, for myself. I have self control issue, I just can’t relax so any drug susceptible to alter my behavior radicaly scare me. I don’t drink or smoke (I don’t even drink coffee)

    wait what was my point again…. ah yes, the damage potential of drugs cover far more than simple violence, I’m thinking specificly about driving under the influence of a drug of another. While I don’t think those peoples should be in prison I’m firmly against letting them get away scott free. I think a community service program would be a better idea.

  15. Mark says

    I can’t think of a single elected president — or candidate for any office — that I would have agreed with a hundred percent. I have to play the hand (or the ballot) I’m dealt, and I don’t hesitate to vote for the person who I can score 80 or 90% rather than the one who earns 40%, or 20, or zero.

    Clarke is arguing for the futility of voting at all, unless it’s for a candidate you support 100%. There aren’t any like that. And since an election is the only time the government is legally required to take my opinion into account, I can’t sit it out.

    I agree with Clarke’s commenter who pointed out that the decline in quality of candidates isn’t causing, but only reflecting, the decline in culture in general.

  16. says

    required:

    Obama campaigned as center-right. We just projected liberal ideas onto him. During the primaries, the most liberal thing he said was that he always opposed the war in Iraq and torture [sic]. He made some promises he couldn’t did not keep, like closing Gitmo and more radical liberal health care reform, but most of his other promises were… center-right.

    FIFY.

    I’m so sorry. I guess I hallucinated Obama’s campaign promises of transparency, his emphatic support for unions, his pro-choice rhetoric, his commitment to a public option, his proclamations about Executive overreach and the rule of law, and his professed support for whistleblowers who alert the press and public to government illegality and corruption.

    Good to know that was all just my projecting liberal ideas onto him, and/or that those promises were actually “center-right.” “Center-right pragmatist,” even. Thank you so much. I’ll seek the psychiatric help I so clearly need straight away.

    Well, right after the hurricane.

  17. Kevin says

    I feel compelled to point out that a right-wing friend of my just sent me a lengthy hagiography of Rick Perry.

    No kidding, he was an Eagle Scout!!!

    So, advocate for the candidate of your values — no problem there.

    But realize that when push comes to shove at the end of the election cycle, the choice is probably going to be between someone committed to a tea party right-wing, fundamentalist Christian “drown government in the bathtub” ideology, and someone who is sane.

    Just sayin.

  18. Aqua Buddha says

    I would also add to the list any candidate that actively promotes the off-shoring of jobs (also referred to as “free-trade agreements, since that sounds nicer) is unfit to govern. Sadly, this includes Obama, despite ’08 rhetoric.

  19. says

    shoshidge 11:

    would it’ve been better with McCain/Palin?

    No. But so what? Does that mean we should not criticize or apply political pressure to force Obama leftward?

    I do believe that Obama is liberal at heart [Citation needed] but he can’t impose this mentality on a population that seems to be under the spell of libertarian dogma [Citation needed], to try to do so would be seen as evidence of the kind of left-authoritarianism that his paranoid critics were were shrieking about during the election.

    So what? He had majorities in both houses of Congress. Is the far right even remotely concerned with what “paranoid critics” are shrieking during elections? (Hint: no.) And how’s that attitude working out for them? (Hint: wildly successful.)

    Even if Chris Clarke were elected, his wish list would remain as unfulfilled as Obama’s, and armchair political douchebags would be lamenting HIS ineffectuality too.

    What on earth makes you think Obama’s “wish list” has not been fulfilled? [Citation most definitely needed.]

    Armchair political douchebags, indeed.

  20. Bostonian says

    I’m still waiting for a president who recognizes that the public wants liberal policies, even if the word “liberal” isn’t itself popular, and having gotten the message, delivers those policies.

    It’s great that we got the health care reform contained in the ACA, but if Obama had simply pledged to work for Medicare for everyone (not what he campaigned for, I know) then the policy would have been very popular – even most Republican voters like Medicare, and opposing it would have presented serious political problems for right wing politicians.

    If he had pledged in 2009 to regulate Wall Street, provide mortgage relief, and perhaps even nationalize the banks for a few months, I think he’d be doing much better in the polls now. (In fact, as a side note, here’s a nice list of things he could have done for the economy.) Certainly, the fact that the Tea Party movement was so fueled by anti-Wall Street sentiment early on should have been a wake-up call for the president. If people – even Republican people – trust the party of deregulation in the wake of a financial crisis caused by deregulation, then the president has a serious messaging problem.

    And of course, when the Republicans started talking about the national debt they created, Obama dutifully picked up their talking point and risked the economy in the process.

    I’d support a Dem primary challenger, since Obama has been so weak kneed about the country’s most pressing challenges, but only I’d only vote for that challenger if he/she were actually a compelling candidate. It would be great to oust Obama and get someone with guts in office, but not at the risk of a Perry or Bachmann presidency.

  21. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Berior, just because you can’t use drugs without losing self-control doesn’t mean it’s true for everybody else. Should we also outlaw alcohol (again) because some people find it impossible to stop after a couple of drinks?

    Driving under the influence laws already cover drugged as well as drunk driving. Quite frankly, I find your morality policing abhorrent, not least because that mindset has ruined so many lives in this country.

  22. John Casey says

    If you people manage through your utopian idiocy to get a Republican elected in 2012, I promise to come to this blog every day for what life I have in me and scream at you.

  23. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    I’m with SC…waht Jello Biafra said 20 years ago still resonates:

    How many of you out there think this country’s a democracy?

    Or is it really more of a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state? The Democrats are on the inside what the Republicans are on the outside–each having almost identical financial backers to grease all the appropriate orifices and holes.

    So maybe it is no surprise that Ron Brown, head of the Democratic National Committee and a Jesse Jackson protegee, has announced a Fall Democratic Party endorsement for Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein…

    Did you VOTE for the Pentagon?
    Did you VOTE for Wall Street?
    Did you VOTE for a nuclear arms race?
    Did you VOTE for the CIA?
    Ever try reading the Bill of Rights to a cop?

    People didn’t vote for “Star Wars.”
    People didn’t vote for “Drug Wars.”
    People didn’t vote for acid rain.
    Noone voted for being homeless.”

  24. alkaloid says

    @Nerd of Redhead, #4

    “Yep, at this point that is all that is required. When whoever is the most progressive democrat in 2012 other than the incumbent who can actually win the election, let me know.”

    No, that’s not all that’s required. What’s required is someone who will actually take meaningful steps to reverse the damage that the Republicans have done, not just continue their policies or give them openings to do even worse damage like the debt reduction commission from the debt deal.

  25. Francisco Bacopa says

    We really need a viable third party, perhaps the Greens. But we do not need any spoiler candidates for president. You want a real liberal third party? Start local. Start with your utility board, city council, school board, or maybe even the state house. Get some candidates into any kind of office where we can seem them grow and learn. Then, and only then, will it be time to make a move into local politics.

    Got a really good Green candidate here running for an at large seat in Houston. Because of our weird off year non-partisan voting system with its crazy runoff system, she’s got a very good chance. This is a position that could be spun into a State house seat. Find an elected office like that where you live and back somebody for it.

    The Republicans have been creating their machine since Nixon. It’s going to take at least half that long to turn things fully around.

    Until then, we just have to remember what judges might be appointed without Obama and hope for the best.

    Alas it really is time to start circling the wagons and backing Obama again.

  26. says

    Did you read your own link?

    probably, this is the part Iris referred to:

    Well, I think my feelings began to evolve after the midterms in 2010. I think the Democrats saw the writing on the wall, with the percentage of the gay vote going to Republicans [doubling] to 30 percent; donations from gays — gay groups, gay orgs, gay people — to Democrats plummeting; that they realized they could no longer just fob us off with speeches and the occasional appearance with the Human Rights Campaign — that they had to deliver. [...] But we got those things because we began to push back and play hardball.

    And the gay vote is bigger than the Jewish vote. It’s bigger than the Miami-Cuban vote. And Jews and Miami Cubans get everything they want. Tremendously powerful blocs. And it was after the November 2010 midterms that we suddenly, in the eyes of the Democrats, overnight morphed into Jewish Miami-Cuban cocksuckers who couldn’t be taken for granted anymore.
    [...]
    I don’t doubt we wouldn’t have seen these things, that these things would not have been delivered, if we didn’t make it clear there would be a price to pay if they weren’t.

    how duplicatable that is is questionable, since the LGBT issues are well known (reinforcing SC’s point), so fleeing to the republicans didn’t confuse anyone into thinking gays didn’t want the right to get married anymore. OTOH, the rest of the electorate fleeing to the Republicans will be interpreted as a rightward shift, not a dissatisfaction with the Democrats’ spinelessness and unwillingness to take on left-wing issues. Because the left wing isn’t loud enough about it (again, SC’s point)

  27. timmosocal says

    This is a very disappointing post, PZ. It features the same kind of faulty logic that led so many liberals to vote for Ralph Nader in 2000. How well did that work out for progressive causes?

    Atheists account for what, 15-18% of the US population? And liberals maybe 25%? With numbers like those, it would make sense a bit more realistic when it comes to political expectations.

    Obama may not be as progressive as I would like him to be, but he is a hell of lot better than the disastrous possibility of having Perry/Romney/Bachmann in the White House in 2012. And if you don’t vote for Obama, you are making that disaster scenario more likely.

  28. Kirian says

    Iris: There was an insignificant period of time during which Democrats held useful majorities in both bodies. Franken was installed on 07 July 2009, giving the Democrats 60 Senators, but Ted Kennedy was already hospitalized by then and never cat a vote after Franken was installed. Kennedy’s successor was installed on 25 September and was bumped by Scott Brown on 04 February 2010. So Democrats had a useful bulletproof majority for a total of 4 months and 9 days, the majority of which was spent in recess.

    Obama, effectively, never had a majority Congress.

  29. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Since the leading Rethuglican candidates for Maximum Leader seem to be Gov. Goodhair and Bachmann, I guess I’ll hold my nose and vote for Obama again.

  30. madbull says

    If you guys actually elect someone like that, I might actually feel sad to leave the United States once my student visa expires.

  31. amphiox says

    Oh, yeah, simply because his opposition was a venal Rethuglican.

    And that is reason enough, in this political climate.

    Triage first. And that means voting for the less bad option until the republican far right option is utterly and completely discredited as a political position, by as long a string of continuous electoral defeat as is necessary. Only then, when the existential threat of the teabaggers and their ilk is eliminated, can we work to move the Overton window to the left by challenging the centre.

    Obama would have been a considerably more progressive president if he had a non-filibusterable Democratic majority in the senate, though. Pretty much all his most progressive legislation was either stopped dead there despite passing majorities in both houses, or forced to be watered down in order to get by the threatened filibuster.

    So that’s really what realistic progressives have to aim for first – a centrist Democrat president like Obama, with a majority in the House and a super-majority in the Senate. Ideally you also want the Progressive caucus in the Senate to itself form a filibuster-capable minority, too.

    The tea partiers spent over 30 years shifting the Overton Window to the right while the Democrats slept at the switch. Reversing that is going to take more than one election cycle.

    Of course, if you just triage and don’t proceed immediately to the next stage of treatment, the condition will simply recur.

  32. procyon says

    I may be naive, but it seems that in order for anyone (including Obama) to get elected to Congress or the Presidency they have to take money from, and be beholden to the special interests, big business…Wall Street, the huge banks, etc. And thus you see only token effort on the part of Democrats to do anything about helping the middle class; no effort to close the tax loopholes, or bring jobs back to this country, or exercise any control over wall street, or even hold anyone responsible for causing the economic collapse. As long as getting elected requires selling oneself to the highest bidder there will be few politicians willing to risk re-election by trying anything other than what the donors (sponsors) demand. Even local elections are now funded on a huge scale from out of state sources. And thus the revolving door between corporations, lobbyists, and Congress. They have become one and the same. The first effort would seem to be campaign reform and getting control of the election process out of the hands of the Plutocrats.

  33. Aquaria says

    We really need a viable third party, perhaps the Greens. But we do not need any spoiler candidates for president. You want a real liberal third party? Start local. Start with your utility board, city council, school board, or maybe even the state house. Get some candidates into any kind of office where we can seem them grow and learn.

    This. I’ve been telling people this for over a decade.

    Then, and only then, will it be time to make a move into local politics.

    I think you meant state. Once you have the local scene down pat, then move up! That’s the whole point of starting local, after all.

    Got a really good Green candidate here running for an at large seat in Houston.

    It only took the Greens over 10 years to figure out going local–that’s fucked up. I told people in 2000–what the hell are you doing running for the White House now? Get in your local races then your state then the federal then the White House. That’s how parties are built–not by going for the brass ring like an egomaniacal lamb for slaughter.

    Because of our weird off year non-partisan voting system with its crazy runoff system, she’s got a very good chance. This is a position that could be spun into a State house seat. Find an elected office like that where you live and back somebody for it.

    Hooray! Best of luck!

    The Republicans have been creating their machine since Nixon.

    Not really. The Christian Coalition decided to start local and work up in the lated 70s early 80s, and they decided to use the Republican party as their vehicle to get what they wanted.

    And look how it’s turned out for them. True blue liberals could do the same with the Democratic Party. But there’s not much reason why it wouldn’t work for a new party. It’s about building your credibility, building your experience, and building your fundraising avenues and strategies.

    I’d also suggest peeling away enough of the progressive Internet gurus to make their Internet fundraising prowess work for you. Nobody touches progressive Dems when it comes to Internet fundraising. Republicans are in the tough place of finding it necessary to continue using labor-intensive, time-intensive and EXPENSIVE mass mailings and phone calls, whereas the Dems can do lightning fundraising with the Internet, raising money overnight in most cases that a candidate needs (and with some to spare). The Republicans know they can’t dump their vaunted mailing lists completely–because more of their supporters don’t have computers, and don’t know how to use them even if they do. It’s startling just how many Republican supporters are not computer literate.

    The Dems, when they’re operating on more than one cylinder during an election, can leave the Republicans in the fundraising dust with barely a sigh–plus less waste of time, energies and resources.

  34. magistramarla says

    “The Christian Coalition decided to start local and work up in the lated 70s early 80s, and they decided to use the Republican party as their vehicle to get what they wanted.”

    Aquaria,
    You are exactly right. I remember reading a several-part article in my husband’s Playboy in the late ’70s or early 80’s. The “Religious Right” had just been thoroughly trounced and Playboy interviewed one of their leaders. I remember him vowing that they would start over from the ground up, and that their people would soon be our mayors and school board presidents. This worried me, but my husband thought that American voters were too smart to allow that to happen.
    I wish that I could find what year and months that Playboy article was published. I hope that someone is inspired to research it.

  35. says

    Good luck with those utopian ideas of what a candidate should stand for in the US. The reality over there is that of a factual theocratic ideocracy, where anti-intellectualism and religious symbolism replacing real politics are rampant, and an illiterate born-again axe murderer would seem to have better chances to reach a nomination for an important public office than a secular humanist.
    I share the fear of those who argue that not voting for Obama might get a Republican elected, and the world can ill afford that, given the candidates they have on offer.

  36. Pen says

    Ok, I know I may be stupid and naive, but.. how does does a President, physically and in practice, go about doing any and all of the above? Bearing in mind that the only methodologies available to him or her are ones we’re also willing to see a democratically elected president apply to issues we don’t support. I mean, isn’t all that ‘most powerful man on the planet’ stuff intended as a joke?

  37. BCskeptic says

    Wow! Surprise, surprise! U.S. president in bed with bankers and military generals. Wolf in sheep’s clothing?

    Hmmm…sounds like Woodrow Wilson, you know the guy who passed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, giving the power to create the nation’s money (out of nothing!) to a bunch of powerful bankers. And then we, the taxpayers (er… suckers…and same here in Canada) pay interest on the debt incurred (and clearly the interest payments aren’t even being kept up with).

    It’s a catch-22…must have money for a modern economy to function, and all money is debt money, holding the population in a perpetual state of economic slavery. If the U.S. debt were ever paid off, the economy would collapse, ’cause too much money would disappear! (At least that’s the way I see it…I invite any more knowledgeable than me to correct how I believe the “system” works…)

    Where will it all end? Where is justice for the people?

  38. DLC says

    By all means, campaign, complain, protest, make noise — forcibly remind Obama of which side his bread is buttered on.
    But, when it comes next November, remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and act accordingly. Voting a “protest vote” for whichever candidate makes you happiest is not going to get you anything but President Perry. Like it or not, that’s the objective reality.
    As for a Third Party – there has been a third, fourth, fifth and maybe even a sixth party in play since the 1920s. They haven’t gotten anywhere, largely because of lack of funds coupled to lack of interest.

  39. Francisco Bacopa says

    Then, and only then, will it be time to make a move into local politics.

    I think you meant state. Once you have the local scene down pat, then move up! That’s the whole point of starting local, after all.

    Sorry Aquaria, I meant to say “state and national” where I repeated “local”. And you must also understand that an at large seat in Houston can easily turn into a seat in US House district TX-18. Republicans usually run a joke candidate as it is one of the most solid liberal districts in the country. Price could easily be a contender for a house seat in 18 after a couple terms in Council. She could cross over to the Dems to run for 18 or she could safely run as a Green for 18 without being a spoiler who turns it Republican. It’s that safe a district. The Republicans gerrymandered it that way. By making two no chance for a Republican ever tiny bug splat districts in Houston they ensured that the suburbs would almost always go Republican.

    So all y’all in Houston Make sure April Price gets into the runoff.

    Interesting experiment in how democracy works in Houston. Candidates are not allowed to declare party affiliation and there are no ticket votes. Elections are held out of sync with national and state elections so upper level concerns don’t influence local voting. Usually four or five candidates run for each position. Almost no race is decided on official election day. The top two vote getters (usually both democrats) are placed into a runoff election with short hours on a Saturday morning in late November or early December. You get your posse to show up, you win.

    It’s why we have a gay mayor. The fundies tried to get a posse but no one cared. I think that may be an example of how we can send a Green to Austin or Washington.

  40. Robert B. says

    Hm. It seems I’m a touch more moderate than you, which I probably could have guessed.

    Your language on abortion is stronger than I’d support – I think there are some valid limits on abortion. Roe v. Wade had it basically right. Late enough in the pregnancy, the fetus is pretty much a baby that just happens to still be in the womb, and abortion should not be allowed. I certainly agree that these attempts to put economic and bureaucratic barriers in the way of abortion, and thus cheat federal law, is theocratic bullshit.

    I’m not sure preserving environments automatically trumps developing natural resources – theoretically, we dig mines and wells to get things that we can use to make our lives better, and that might sometimes be more important than the patch of forest we knock down to get them. It’s just that the environment is a resource, one that we use best by not disrupting it and which is very vulnerable to the tragedy of the commons, so government ought to protect it and be wary of arguments to the contrary.

    And I’m leery of national education standards in general – it seems like they should be a good idea, but recent efforts to impose them have been… well, the most charitable way to say it is that they’ve had significant downsides. But having national standards in other subjects but not science is clearly just going to screw science; it should be every core subject or none.

    That’s about all I can argue with, though – I’d be thrilled to vote for that platform given the alternatives. In particular it blows my mind that the statement “torture is wrong” is considered debatable by anyone at all in the United States of America in the year 2011.

  41. alkaloid says

    “By all means, campaign, complain, protest, make noise — forcibly remind Obama of which side his bread is buttered on.
    But, when it comes next November, remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and act accordingly. ”

    In other words, when it comes to doing the only thing that Obama and politicians like him might even consider paying attention to, don’t even think about it.

    How is this endless supplication all that different from accomodationism?

  42. says

    I would also add to the list any candidate that actively promotes the off-shoring of jobs (also referred to as “free-trade agreements, since that sounds nicer) is unfit to govern.

    I am really, really tired of Americans who spout this sort of crap. Free trade across borders, including off-shoring of jobs, is a good thing. Yes, some jobs will go out of the country, but the overall effect will result in growth and more jobs.

    Also, don’t people outside the US deserve jobs?

  43. Sigh says

    For a supposedly rational scientist, you seem to take an awful lot of political positions based on emotion not reason–even when the evidence does not support said position, and in either obliviousness or callousness to the actual consequences to the actual well-being of actual people. You don’t seem to understand the difference between a primary, where you fight like hell for the candidate you want, and a general, where you fight like hell for the better of the *two actual choices you actually have, because you only have one vote like everyone else and your opinion may not, in fact, be the majority opinion, so your ideal candidate may not win. You also don’t seem to understand that we are not in a parliamentary system, and, that, in any given electoral contest for an actual seat representing actual US citizens, only the one with the most votes wins—and, that if you don’t like that, you should put your efforts into changing the system so that candidates who come in ninth may get some representation, which will make you feel better even though in reality they will either compromise to join a majority coalition in order to govern, or they will compromise to join an opposition coalition, which is essentially what happens in the Democratic Party during the primary season, *and* of course you could run yourself and see how fucked up the system really is and then maybe be a little less unrealistic about how candidates win nomination—but I guess it feels better (and is a hell of a lot easier) to be theoretically virtuous than to actually have to make less-than perfect real-life decisions in the interest of hurting fewer people whom you don’t personally know in less dire ways than the worse nominee of the two actual choices you have will. And, I guess we have to go through this temper tantrum bullshit every four – make that two – years, because some privileged Palm Beach resident like Chris Clarke thinks he has invented Ralph Nader.

    It’s rather depressing, actually.

  44. cody says

    As impotent as the democratic party may be, what alternative do we have? Obama may be the equivalent of a moderate republican from the 90s, but republicans have become pre-enlightenment/medieval peasants, and everyone outside of the two major brands are throwing our votes away… unless… if we elect Perry (or Bachmann, or Palin, etc.), we at least get to see what an apocalypse looks like… like Rome’s fall on steroids! Apocalyptic stories are usually pretty entertaining, I say we all vote for the republican just to humor ourselves. Plus, following the implosion, resistance to “socialist” approaches to healthcare and progressive taxes rates would be welcomed!

  45. raven says

    How is this endless supplication all that different from accomodationism?

    In this case the choice is between accomodationism and national and personal (financial) suicide. It’s an easy choice if not a great choice.

    I’m not all that crazy about Obama either, especially on the economy which IMO, is the main issue.

    But he has accomplished some things.

    1. Ended DADT.

    2. Ended the Iraq war.

    3. Won one of our little wars for once, in Libya.

    4. Enacted a national health care system, supposedly.

    All Bush did was cause massive damage to our budgets and economy. It will take years to undo that damage, if we ever do. Plus, start two expensive wars that got bogged down.

  46. JediBear says

    His ratchet analogy strikes me as a just-so story.

    It is true that who wins the election (and by how much) has a role in the public conversation, but voting for the lesser evil doesn’t seem to have the effect he proposes.

    If Dems win, especially by a large margin, the punditocracy gets the (correct!) idea that the public actually supports their common positions, even if the president (or any other individual Dem) himself does not.

    If Dems take a “shellacking” because progressives stay away from the polls out of disgust for DINOs and an unsupported faith in the notion that Conservatism is finished as a national movement (just last year, folks!) then the pundits get the notion in their head that America has swung hard right and the more the pundits say it the more it seems to be true.

    So by failing to vote or by voting for a third-party candidate, the message you are sending *to society at large* is perversely not that you won’t support a candidate who won’t take a stand against torture and extraodinary rendition, but rather that you won’t support a candidate who does not clearly favor them. You might as well just join the Tea Party at that point.

    What’s happening isn’t the tightening of a societal bolt by an electoral ratchet, it’s a complex societal conversation driven by a variety of factors, in which disinformation (the general public were genuinely confused about which party defends medicare and which is trying to destroy it) and poor education (the electorate seems to be as disastrously clueless about economics as the political class, and knows to be afraid of “socialism” but not what that word means or what’s bad about it and are deeply confused about history, philosophy, science, and the current state of the world) have lately loomed large.

    Every President (neglecting Carter, for no obvious reason) since Nixon may have been to the right of him (I say it depends on how you count it. Reagan, for example, was a dove to Nixon’s hawk — willing to risk his public image and even incite treason to avoid a war) but American society and government generally has actually been trending left.

    DADT was an horrific policy, but it was a triangulating pragmatist’s answer to the existing policy — outright discrimination against gays. And soon even that will be swept away.

    We are under far greater threat from general innumeracy and the fear which grips American hearts at the lingering images of a collapsing building than we are from any historical right-wing drift.

    I can wish we would revise our system of representation to be more representative, or our electoral system to end tyranny of political parties.

    Those would be genuinely nice things, but I can’t escape the feeling that there’s something bigger we should be working on. I think the best course of action is really to educate and to converse — to trust that the national conversation will finally come to the right conclusion, but also to fight to make it happen sooner rather than later.

    I can be an idealist on my own time. The voting booth is not a soapbox.

  47. JediBear says

    It’s worth noting that no new conflict Obama has taken on is a “sister war” to Iraq and Afghanistan. Just because bullets are flying and people are dying does not make all wars the same.

    Iraq and Afghanistan were and are disasters because they were exercises in nation-building by the brute force of arms. They merely proved what students of history should already have known — that Imperialism is truly dead, that it is beyond the ability of any modern nation to profitably rule another.

    Libya was a limited military action in concert with a large international coalition and a real populist movement in the nation itself to finally bring down a dictator, madman, and terrorist — the virtue of the cause and the necessity of military action were simply beyond dispute. It was (as wars go) short, inexpensive, and victorious.

    In other words, as much as such a thing is possible, it was a good little war.

  48. JediBear says

    @#45 BCskeptic,

    Let me assure you now that you actually have no idea whatsoever what the Federal Reserve is or does or how fiat currency actually works.

    To say nothing of government securities.

    Basically, you need to do a whole lot of reading, and not of bad-crazy libertarian sites on the Internet.

  49. alkaloid says

    “In this case the choice is between accomodationism and national and personal (financial) suicide. It’s an easy choice if not a great choice.”

    Accomodationism is still suicide. It’s just prolonged suicide because accomodationism means letting the people that are allegedly on your side be so infiltrated by the cynical, the craven, and those just looking out for where they’re going after their political careers that when the Republicans do ask for something ludicrously inhumane, not only will they get it but they’ll get the permission to ask for even more next time-which has pretty much happened on every major issue.

    In the phrase “I’m voting for Democratic politicians because they’re lesser evil…but I expect them to do better.” they tune out everything that comes after the word politicians. Why would they do anything else when they’ll be rewarded for it with re-election either way?

    I’m not all that crazy about Obama either, especially on the economy which IMO, is the main issue.

    But he has accomplished some things.

    “1. Ended DADT.”

    After being threatened that he was going to lose support from GLBT voters for stalling. Also bear in mind that for such a push to have been credible, it would need to be more than “I’ll vote for you, but I’m holding my nose”.

    “2. Ended the Iraq war.”

    How many American personnel (not troops) are armed and still in Iraq right now as compared to when he began his administration?

    “3. Won one of our little wars for once, in Libya.”

    Another unconstitutional war that the United States probably shouldn’t have been involved with in the first place. That’s not exactly a great point of pride.

    “4. Enacted a national health care system, supposedly.”

    Created a massively complicated piece of legislation that only takes effect in 2014 (when he won’t have to face re-election when it’s completely enacted) which strengthens the role of the same health insurance companies that made the system so dysfunctional in the first place, and established an individual mandate system so people have to pay into these same companies. People are supposed to be able to get waivers and subsidies to afford this but guess what the Republicans are going to cut first? Among other flaws.

  50. Barry Williams says

    his economic advisors should be focused on the lower and middle classes, and not be stocked with bankers and Wall Street cronies.

    Sorry this just irked me I know until we get some decent gender neutral pronouns this is awkward but when we are talking about the office of the president we really need to accept that there may be a women in there.

    This coming from Australia where we currently have an Atheist Women PM who is about as useless on most of the a fore mentioned issues as most.

  51. Kimpatsu says

    I would add “Must support, introduce, and maintain healthcare free at point of access for all”.

  52. Matt Penfold says

    Sorry this just irked me I know until we get some decent gender neutral pronouns this is awkward but when we are talking about the office of the president we really need to accept that there may be a women in there.

    This coming from Australia where we currently have an Atheist Women PM who is about as useless on most of the a fore mentioned issues as most.

    Chris Clarke is male, and since PZ was adding to a list of what Clarke would do if president, then saying his is quite appropriate. The “his” refers to Clarke, and Clarke is male. So what are you on about ?

  53. says

    I am really, really tired of Americans who spout this sort of crap. Free trade across borders, including off-shoring of jobs, is a good thing. Yes, some jobs will go out of the country, but the overall effect will result in growth and more jobs.

    QFT. Trying to “protect American jobs” by tariffs, quotas, immigration restrictions, and other forms of border control is a terrible idea. For one thing, there’s no good reason why “American jobs” should be considered more important than the rest of the world’s jobs, or why the former should be protected at the expense of the latter; why is an American worker inherently more important than a German worker or a Chinese worker? It’s just nationalistic bullshit. Furthermore, as Kristjan points out, free trade is better for everyone in the long run, and will lead ultimately to a stronger and more efficient economy.

    What America should be doing is focusing on building jobs in areas where it’s strong. America can’t compete with China in the low-end manufacturing market, and it shouldn’t try. Rather, America should be working on developing things like research and development, high-tech industry, and the like – areas which require a highly educated workforce, so improving access to high-quality education for all should be the number one priority.

  54. Berior says

    Daisy Cutter

    I’ll thank you for not jumping to conclusion and to actually read what I wrote.

    I am not proposing making drugs illegal, if peoples want to get wasted in the comfort of their own home it’s their own problem.

    What I am saying is that the situation about drugs isn’t as clear cut as if it doesn’t cause you to be violent then it’s not a problem. There are a host of problems associated with taking drugs, not all of them fall under the category of violence and some of those consequences should be adressed, by no mean with prison sentences, but by community service and awareness raising programs.

  55. says

    What I am saying is that the situation about drugs isn’t as clear cut as if it doesn’t cause you to be violent then it’s not a problem. There are a host of problems associated with taking drugs, not all of them fall under the category of violence and some of those consequences should be adressed, by no mean with prison sentences, but by community service and awareness raising programs.

    It’s not very clear what you’re advocating. “Community service” usually refers to a criminal sentence, albeit a non-custodial one. So are you advocating continued criminalization of drugs, but without the option of prison sentences?

    If so, I strongly disagree. Criminalization is not a good way of dealing with the problem of drug addiction: it makes things worse, not better. (See also: Prohibition.) I’d argue that marijuana, at least, should be legalized, regulated and sold legally to adults, just as alcohol currently is; consider that marijuana causes far fewer health and social problems than alcohol does, that it has medical benefits, and that plenty of people use it responsibly and in moderation. For other drugs, decriminalization (along the lines of the successful policy adopted in Portugal in 2001) would be a good first step.

  56. Berior says

    First off, I’m not saying drugs need criminilized in and off themselves, as I said, feel free to do whatever you want as long as you’re not causing problems for anyone else. What I am saying is that if drugs comsuption lead to criminal actions or action dangerous for society (stealing to feed an addiction, driving under influence) those actions needs to be punished but with a punishment adapted to the cause of the problem.

    What I mean by community service is, yes, a criminal sentence, but one where you spend your time doing something useful for society rather than rot in a 2 by 4 for months or years. In the case of drugs anything that put the person in front of the consequences of their actions should they keep going as they have. For exemple helping take care of victims of accidents, or having to attend AA meetings, that kind of things.

    So to clarify my position raguarding what PZ said, if the person is in jail simply because they took drugs I’m fine with letting them go, but if they are in jail because of something they did while on drugs whitout those action being violent, then I think they should face some consequences for their actions, it shouldn’t be seen as punishment, but as education.

  57. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    alkaloid #59

    Another unconstitutional war

    There’s no such thing as an unconstitutional war. Declaring war is a political act and the Constitution gives the authority to declare war to Congress. However a declaration of war just gives the combatant certain rights (and duties). If a country goes to war without declaring it, they just forfeit the rights (but have to comply with most of the duties*).

    There’s unpopular wars, unnecessary wars and even illegal wars, but there are no unconstitutional wars.

    *The Geneva and Hague Conventions are quite specific about the duties of combatants and mandate a signatory combatant abide by those duties even without a declaration of war.

  58. Stephen Wells says

    So because you don’t like all of Obama’s governance, you’re going to not vote for him, which means his opponent, whose platform is much worse, needs one less vote to win.

    Congratulations on voting Republican, PZ. It’s not appreciated.

  59. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Steve Gyetko wrote in that thread:

    “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” had more balls that this waste of oxygen!

    I’m disappointed that Clarke let that slide.

  60. Eider says

    “would it’ve been better with McCain/Palin?…”

    Actually, its possible.

    With McCain/Palin, the dems might have retained their supermajority, and blocked everything the republicans tried to do. They may have been able to prevent the Tea Party framing our economic issues as the gov’t being flat broke and unable to spend any money on anything except tax cuts for the ultra rich and tax cuts/handouts for corporations.

    I no longer care if Obama’s heart is in the right place, and he’s just an incompetent wuss, or if he was just a republican in democratic clothing all along. The result is the same. The democratic president just may have passed more republican policy than the republican he ran against ever could have.

    I’m done. I’ve always voted for the lesser of 2 evils. I’ve never NOT voted. But I will not vote for a democrat and certainly not a republican president in 2012. Maybe not ever. Without a 3rd party, I guess I’m writing someone in.

  61. unbound says

    “He also posts a minimal list of basic criteria for any good progressive candidate:”

    Therein lies the problem. The democratic party (for the most part) is not a progressive party…at least not for the past few decades. Both Clinton and Obama are moderates.

    “Why did we all vote for that Obama guy, anyway? He’s doing none of the above. Oh, yeah, simply because his opposition was a venal Rethuglican.”

    Yep. Simply voting for the lesser of evils anymore. I’ve been of age to vote since the mid-80s. I haven’t voted *for* a presidential candidate yet.

  62. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    So because you don’t like all of Obama’s governance, you’re going to not vote for him, which means his opponent, whose platform is much worse, needs one less vote to win.

    Congratulations on voting Republican, PZ. It’s not appreciated.

    Fuck that noise. The Dems have effectively taken the nation hostage.

    ***Don’t vote for our candidate because xe has vision. Don’t vote for our candidate because xe will deliver progressive reform. Voter for our candidate because xe is not that asshole.***

    They won’t get one more vote from me (at the federal level, anyway) until they deliver a candidate who is actually progressive. Shoot the fucking hostage, for all I care. The hostage is dying anyway.

  63. says

    Free trade across borders, including off-shoring of jobs, is a good thing.

    No, it isn’t. Storing and shipping all of this stuff thousands of miles consumes huge amounts of energy unnecessarily. The only things that should be traded are things that need to be. People in poor countries growing food to ship to rich countries is madness.

    And the “off-shoring” of jobs without the free movement of people across borders results in exploitation.

    Rather, America should be working on developing things like research and development, high-tech industry, and the like – areas which require a highly educated workforce,

    Yeah, uneducated people in Asia and Central America can do the shit jobs. That’s their role.

  64. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    [meta]
    SC! Mosquito Empires is now at the top of my book pile. I’ll probably start reading tonight.
    [/meta]

  65. says

    I’m down with Eider @ 70. (Sorry)

    I agree that with McCain/Palin in the WhiteHouse, we’d never heard a peep about cutting Social Security, or otherwise screwing with the safetey-net, such as it is.
    The GOPhux, under Bush, tried it in ’04-05, and were beaten back by MINORITY Dim -and massive PUBLIC–resistance.
    I said all along the GOPhux THREW the ’08 election. I think they’ll probably throw this one, too.
    Then in ’16, with the blame for all the troubles of the previous (by then) FORTY years firmly attached to the shoulders of America’s “first Black” president and his “party,” the Losers, they’ll swoop back in with Jeb Bush (mebbe with Cheney’s daughter as VP).
    Obama was ‘elected’ because he was NOT a ‘white, male Republican,” and because of a genius marketing campaign made it seem that that mattered.

  66. davem says

    Forget all that stuff – it’ll never happen anyway. Just take the money out of US politics. Make the winner the guy with ideas, rather than the guy who can raise more millions of dollars. Have fixed campaign costs. Enforce neutrality/even time in TV/newspaper coverage. Then democracy can get a chance to be heard.

    Second thoughts – no, that’ll never happen either. Sorry, you’re stuck with it.

  67. says

    “The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).”

    lol.

  68. Ms. Daisy Cutter says

    Berior:

    I’ll thank you for not jumping to conclusion and to actually read what I wrote.

    Perhaps if you expressed yourself more clearly, your **true meaning** would be more apparent.

    Also, 12-step meetings such as AA are absolutely soaked in religion pretending to be “spirituality,” and they work long-term for only 5% of attendees.

    Robert B.: Abortion should be up to the woman. Period. If there were never a good reason to have an abortion at the very last minute, Dr. Tiller would never have had clients. Keep your mansplaining nose out of our uterii.

    Kristjan and Walton: A sovereign country has every damned right to attempt to protect jobs for its citizens, and the U.S. would not be the only one to attempt to do same. “Free trade,” my ass. Globalization has screwed over Americans — and, I might add, poor people in other countries at the mercies of the multinational corporations. Or, what Salty Current said at #73.

  69. says

    The only people who would be good leaders are those who do not want to be in that position of power. I think this is always the case.
    @davem, 77: Th-then they’ll say “what what, this, is not a capitalistic system of political, advertising!” Wow the more I go the more it seems democracy and capitalism just might contradict each other.

  70. says

    Well, it is going to be obama or one other person, so until the other person has been picked it is pretty damn difficult to endorse voting against obama.

    I have seen a variety of ‘well fuck that! I won’t vote for someone unless they exactly match what I want!’ responses. This focus on idealism, rather than pragmatism, is puzzling to me; I don’t understand why people who focus on idealism rather than pragmatism seem to think that a *new* person in the same system is really going to change shit. If it were that easy then you would think we could have more than one president like FDR, eh? I’ve seen this with ron paul people, ralph nader people, etc. All the anger people feel is totally misdirected into voting instead of direct action. They put all their hopes into the hands of a stranger instead of in their own communities, despite the history non-stop betrayal or failure. If you don’t want to be practical within the current system, then why not focus on solutions that would actually solve the problems inherent in our current system? Most of all, why pretend your actions aren’t fucking things up worse when they demonstrably are?

    Part of the reason why people like Obama don’t do what they promise to is because private interests are doing a lot more work to get their agenda fulfilled. Very few people work to make their lives more difficult for no reward. Americans aren’t rioting at the white house over the torture or taking over factories in response to economic policy. They are going to a booth and hoping for better this time, despite all evidence. It is totally fucked. Our leaders should be assumed to be enemies of democracy until proven otherwise, we should all work to make them do what the many need instead of what the few want, or perhaps take over the means for such decision making ourselves.

  71. Tom Clark says

    “Oh, yeah, simply because his opposition was a venal Rethuglican.”

    Which is exactly why we must vote for him again, unless we want Rick Parry in the White House.

  72. fmitchell says

    Sorry, as a reluctant Texan I fear a President Goodhair beyond all measure, just as many Minnesotans must fear the spectre of President Crazyeyes. Anyone who stands even a step to the left of those two, or their inevitably worse successor after the primaries, will of necessity get my vote.

    We must vote for a lizard or the wrong lizard might win. Again. *sigh*.

  73. TimKO,,.,, says

    Clarke: Obama started wars in Libya and Yemen

    erm…what?!?

    “As near as I can determine…”
    I.E. strawmen

    “Writing and photography from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts”
    And a facts desert.

  74. TimKO,,.,, says

    Will have to disagree, Berior.

    “damage potential of drugs cover far more than simple violence”
    The same can be said about public transportation, etc. In a free society you don’t incarcerate that potential. If you did, the first to go would be guns and trans-fats.

    “I’m firmly against letting them get away scott free”
    Where is the evidence that punishment is an effective deterrent? We know reams more about substance usage than we knew 20 years ago. We now know that punishing for drug possession is akin to punishing for cancer and that addictive personalities have to juggle their state regardless of the existence of drugs. I don’t think you should get away with this outdated thinking scott free [sic]. I know you haven’t hurt anybody yet but the potential is there. ;)

    “I’m thinking specificly about driving under the influence of a drug of another”
    A drug is anything that causes a chemical change in the body. There are many foods that can affect driving.

    “I am not proposing making drugs illegal”
    If the law isn’t involved, how would you enact and enforce your mandatory community service?

    “What I am saying is that if drugs comsuption lead to criminal actions”
    You’re still demonizing the drugs here and not the actions. We already have laws for the criminal actions. Sounds like you want to tell people what they can do with their own bodies. The concept that “drugs lead to” is dated. If milk were illegal, then the drinking of milk could be said “to lead to”. Conversely, If a redneck beats his wife do you blame his wifebeater shirt or the effects of NASCAR? The “leads-to” argument isn’t clear cut as much as a trope.

    Society’s fear of chemical euphoria and conciousness improvement is steeped in religion. It’s competition with the church/status quo.

  75. lordsetar says

    Alan #84: Please spare us the tired assumption that Sam Harris is treated as some sort of infallible, unquestionable authority — for the umpteenth time, he’s not.

  76. alan says

    lordsetar #87
    Alan #84: Please spare us the tired assumption that Sam Harris is treated as some sort of infallible, unquestionable authority — for the umpteenth time, he’s not.

    Where did that come from? I made and make no such assumption. I was merely asking what people think of Sam’s arguments on torture. Perhaps he is right when he says that it can’t even be discussed in liberal circles. I really would like to know what people here think about this.

  77. Ze Madmax says

    alan @ #84:

    I’ll bite. Harris claims that torture can be seen as ‘less wrong’ than collateral damage. But then, that’s an argument against collateral damage, not for torture.

    His second point, regarding a ‘ticking bomb’ scenario, well, Harris himself states it’s an unrealistic scenario, which makes the entire idea moot. Torture doesn’t work, and it’s anathema to the ideals supposedly enshrined by Western democracy. Hence why it shouldn’t be an option, and people who engage in torture should be persecuted.

  78. says

    I agree and disagree to the point that I think you’re nuts! (Respectfully!)

    All these things are true – and not voting for Obama if (when) he becomes the Dem nomnee is horrible. Just freaking horrible. It blows that Obama is the “It could be worse!” president – but he is. And it could be. Much, much worse.

  79. says

    SC 30, Jadehawk 31:

    Sorry, I’ve been out of pocket with hurricanes and whatnot.

    Yes, the hardball tactics Savage mentions in the quoted text are exactly what I meant. The direct result of the gay community not supporting Democrats with their funding, and doubling their votes to Republicans (Republicans!) — who would never, ever support repealing DOMA or DADT — was to push Obama and the Democratic Party to the left on their issues. You wouldn’t even have to replace a majority of Democratic incumbents, just a targeted few, enough so that the party knows there is a heavy price to be paid for governing as a corrupt conservative: loss of power. Even those primaries that Democratic incumbents ultimately win against real liberal candidates still cost the party: making them mount a fight for what they considered a safe seat can often push the incumbent to the left, however slightly (see e.g. Blanche Lincoln).

    Jadehawk’s point about whether this strategy would work with every item on the liberal wish list is a good one; liberal issues and their core constituencies are fluid and interrelated in complex ways, and messaging is key. But my larger point is that until there is a serious price to be paid for Democrats who do not represent liberal values and initiatives, we can expect to see a lot more more of the same craven rightward trajectory. “We’ll ultimately vote for you and support you no matter what you do” doesn’t cut it. Conservative hardball tactics work, and the left should adopt more of them.

    ‘Swat I’m saying.

    Hope that’s clearer… like the sky over New York. :)

  80. raven says

    alan the idiot:

    I suspect there are a lot of Harris admirers here. It is the second section on the page.

    Most of us don’t think much of Harris, including myself. I didn’t even bother to finish his book, which IMO wasn’t that good.

    I suspect all of us think you are an idiot though.

  81. LT says

    A fuller response than my first one, and one that I left at Coyotte Crossing:

    I am 100% behind you writing this and promoting this. I am 100% against you not actually voting for the Dem nominee.

    “But it also manifestly creates conditions by which the lesser evil will, over time, get more and more evil.”

    You’ve stated that – and I don’t agree – but even if I did you’ve made no argument that not voting changes that anymore than voting. You’ve simply said you’re not going to vote. What did I miss?

    By “I don’t agree” I mean that Obama is clearly less “evil” than Bush. The Iraq War was a crime, literally, of colossal scope that Obama will not come close to regarding any issue. And ending the pre-existing conditions clause in health care was a really big positive that Bush never came close to.

  82. LT says

    A better response than my last comment, and one I left at Coyote Crossing. (And I posted this once, and it didn’t show up. I probably did something wrong. If not and it’s a double – sorry.)

    I am 100% behind you writing this and promoting this. I am 100% against you not actually voting for the Dem nominee.

    “But it also manifestly creates conditions by which the lesser evil will, over time, get more and more evil.”

    You’ve stated that – and I don’t agree – but even if I did you’ve made no argument that not voting changes that anymore than voting. You’ve simply said you’re not going to vote. What did I miss?

    By “I don’t agree” I mean that Obama is clearly less “evil” than Bush. The Iraq War was a crime, literally, of colossal scope that Obama will not come close to regarding any issue. And ending the pre-existing conditions clause in health care was a really big positive that Bush never came close to.

  83. alan says

    raven # 89.
    “Alan the idiot”?
    Do you have any thoughts on the issue? Did you read the section of the site I referenced. I don’t understand the name calling. Well, yes I do. This is the 2nd post on this thread to make assumptions about what I think when I haven’t said what I think. I expected better from this group since I’ve seen so many cogent comments. But then, while a long term fan of the blog, I’ve only been reading the comments for a few days. I had hoped this was a place where one could discuss ideas without being insulted but I see one can be insulted even when he hasn’t said what his idea are. Does anyone have anything to say about the issue?

    #89 ze madmax
    “His second point, regarding a ‘ticking bomb’ scenario, well, Harris himself states it’s an unrealistic scenario, which makes the entire idea moot. Torture doesn’t work, and it’s anathema to the ideals supposedly enshrined by Western democracy. Hence why it shouldn’t be an option, and people who engage in torture should be persecuted.”

    Well, Sam says something quite different at the site I referenced. I wonder if you would want to respond to THAT. See below

    Sam says:
    It is widely claimed that torture “does not work”—that it produces unreliable information, implicates innocent people, etc. As I argue in The End of Faith, this line of defense does not resolve the underlying ethical dilemma. Clearly, the claim that torture never works, or that it always produces bad information, is false. There are cases in which the mere threat of torture has worked. As I argue in The End of Faith, one can easily imagine situations in which even a very low probability of getting useful information through torture would seem to justify it—the looming threat of nuclear terrorism being the most obvious case. It is decidedly unhelpful that those who claim to know that torture is “always wrong” never seem to envision the circumstances in which good people would be tempted to use it. Critics of my collateral damage argument always ignore the hard case: where the person in custody is known to be involved in terrible acts of violence and where the threat of further atrocities is imminent. If you think such situations never arise, consider what it might be like to capture a high-ranking member of al Qaeda along with several accomplices and their computers. The possibility that such a person might really be “innocent” or that he could “just say anything” to mislead his interrogators begins to seem less of a concern. Such captures bring us closer to a “ticking bomb” scenario than many people are willing to admit.
    While I think that torture should remain illegal, it is not clear that having a torture provision in our laws would create as slippery a slope as many people imagine. We have a capital punishment provision, for instance, but this has not led to our killing prisoners at random because we can’t control ourselves. While I am strongly opposed to capital punishment, I can readily concede that we are not suffering a total moral chaos in our society because we execute about five people every month. It is not immediately obvious that a rule about torture could not be applied with equal restraint.
    It seems probable, however, that any legal use of torture would have unacceptable consequences. In light of this concern, the best strategy I have heard comes from Mark Bowden in his Atlantic Monthly article, “The Dark Art of Interrogation.” Bowden recommends that we keep torture illegal, and maintain a policy of not torturing anybody for any reason. But our interrogators should know that there are certain circumstances in which it will be ethical to break the law. Indeed, there are circumstances in which you would have to be a monster not to break the law. If an interrogator finds himself in such a circumstance, and he breaks the law, there will not be much of a will to prosecute him (and interrogators will know this). If he breaks the law Abu Ghraib-style, he will go to jail for a very long time (and interrogators will know this too). At the moment, this seems like the most reasonable policy to me, given the realities of our world.
    The best case against “ticking-bomb” arguments appears in David Luban’s article, “Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb,” published in the Virginia Law Review. (I have posted a PDF here.) Luban relies on a few questionable assumptions, however. And he does not actually provide an ethical argument against torture in the ticking bomb case; he offers a pragmatic argument against our instituting a policy allowing torture in such cases. There is absolutely nothing in Luban’s argument that rules out the following law:
    We will not torture anyone under any circumstances unless we are certain, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the person in our custody has operational knowledge of an imminent act of nuclear terrorism.
    It seems to me that unless one can produce an ethical argument against torturing such a person, one does not have an argument against the use of torture in principle. Of course, my discussion of torture in The End of Faith (and on this page) only addresses the ethics of torture, not the practical difficulties of implementing a policy based on the ethics.
    While my remarks on torture span only a few pages in a book devoted to reducing the causes of religious violence, many readers have found my views deeply unsettling. (For what it’s worth, I do too. It would be much easier to simply be “against torture” across the board and end the discussion.) I have invited readers, both publicly and privately, to produce an ethical argument that takes into account the realities of our world—our daily acceptance of collateral damage, the real possibility of nuclear terrorism, etc.—and yet rules out a practice like “water-boarding” in all conceivable circumstances. No one, to my knowledge, has done this. And yet, most people continue to speak and write as though a knock-down argument against torture in all circumstances is readily available. I consider it to be one of the more dangerous ironies of liberal discourse that merely discussing the possibility of torturing a man like Osama bin Laden provokes more outrage than the maiming and murder of children ever does. Until someone actually points out what is wrong with the “collateral damage argument” presented in The End of Faith. I will continue to believe that its critics are just not thinking clearly about the reality of human suffering.
    (And, for what it’s worth, I have since discovered that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy basically takes the same view

  84. says

    #51 sighs: … some privileged Palm Beach resident like Chris Clarke …

    Other strawmanning aside—You do know you’re addressing lots of people who do things besides vote “to change the system,” right?—and serious points aside too, because others are handling them quite well IMO:

    He may live in Palm Springs or thereabouts, but Chris Clarke is so fucking broke, I send him money now and then, and I am a freelance writer and a pinchfisted Taffy besides, both by inheritance (on my mother’s side) and by injection.

    OK, it’s for blogspace rental, but still.

  85. raven says

    Hey Alan the death cultist, guess what? The highest support for torture in the USA is…white fundie xians. This is data from polls published in every newspaper in the USA a while ago.

    May 1, 2009 – Of course, the group with the highest thirst for blood were the white Evangelical Christians, who backed torture over 60% of the time.

    Not too surprising. After a long absence, torture was brought back to the USA by a fundie xian president, Bush, and his theocratic party, the Theothuglicans.

    I’m sure that as a christofascist troll, you think torture is just fine. For fundie death cult xians, torture, hate, and murder and the basis for their whole religion.

    Poll: Most Evangelicals and Catholics Condone Torture in Some …
    http://www.usnews.com › Politics & Policy › God & Country – CachedApr 30, 2009 – Poll: Most Evangelicals and Catholics Condone Torture in Some Instances … A slight majority of mainline Christians and religiously unaffiliated …

    ►Pew Research Survey unmasks Evangelical Christians – What’s …
    tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/…/pew-research-survey-unmasks-e… – CachedSimilar
    May 1, 2009 – Of course, the group with the highest thirst for blood were the white Evangelical Christians, who backed torture over 60% of the time. So, is it …

  86. raven says

    I and many or most atheists don’t think much of Sam Harris. He vaporized his credibility by writing too much like a xian fundie death cultist.

    The fundies are always coming up with hate based statements since fundieism is a hate based religion. Pastor Mike wants to start a list of all atheists. We’ve seen that move before. Shortly afterwards are the concentration camps and ovens.

    Tom Willis just wants to herd them into slave labor camps and work them to death. It makes slightly more sense and is in line with Tea Party economics.

    Harris has his problems. But compared to average fundies like Pastor Mike, Tom Willis, and “alan”, he’s an amateur. Harris thinks torture might be OK sometimes.
    Fundie xian Bush and the Theothuglicans didn’t just think about it, they did torture a large number of people.

    Tom Willis:

    …”evolutionism problem,” leaving the legal details to others:

    Labor camps. Their fellow believers were high on these. But, my position would be that most of them have lived their lives at, or near the public trough. So, after their own beliefs, their life should continue only as long as they can support themselves in the camps.

    pastor Mike:

    Brothers and Sisters , I have been seriously considering forming a ( Christian ) grassroots type of organization to be named “The Christian National Registry of Atheists” or something similar.

  87. Dr J says

    When was the last time we had a truly liberal democratic president? It wasn’t JFK, maybe FDR but he suffered many of the problems Obama is facing as well. What republicans do so much better than us Dems is get themselves elected at state and congressional levels. How much better a president would Obama be if we had turned out in 2010 and not given up the house and the (close to) 60 senate votes? This didn’t happen because people who had voted for Obama switched their vote, it happened because people who voted for Obama didn’t bother to vote. And every fundy church in America violated their tax exempt status with a nod and a wink and sent out their minions to vote in the holy war against the evil antichrist.

    Are you that unhappy with Kagan and Sotomayor on the SCOTUS? If Rick Perry gets to replace Breyer or Ginsberg, Anthony Kennedy becomes irrelevant and Clarence Thomas et al. can do whatever they want, precedent be damned. Say goodby to Roe v Wade.

  88. BCskeptic says

    @ #58 JediBear:

    Kindly enlighten me (sincerly). I am not anti-government, and I am not libertarian. I believe that money should be managed for the benefit of the people, not to line the pockets of the wealthy. Aren’t central banks (the Fed) supposed to stabilize the monetary system? Is that what the evidence shows? What *would* happen if we paid off all of our debts?

    References? Thanks.

  89. Dan L. says

    Are you that unhappy with Kagan and Sotomayor on the SCOTUS? If Rick Perry gets to replace Breyer or Ginsberg, Anthony Kennedy becomes irrelevant and Clarence Thomas et al. can do whatever they want, precedent be damned. Say goodby to Roe v Wade.

    In fact, say goodbye to all laws providing legal barriers to unfettered exploitation of labor and the environment and to the installation of theocratic influence in public institutions. If they get before a wingnut-dominated SCOTUS, such laws will be dead.

  90. illuminata says

    Say goodby to Roe v Wade.

    LOOLOLOLOLOLOOOLOLOLOLOL

    *GASP*

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa

    It’s already fucking GONE. It’s an empty statute. You’re going to have to come up with new vote-extorting blackmail if you want my vote for the dem candidate.

  91. illuminata says

    I have seen a variety of ‘well fuck that! I won’t vote for someone unless they exactly match what I want!’ responses.

    I’m so incredibly sick of this blatant bullshit lie. NO ONE is saying a candidate must be 100% in line with any rando individual’s politics.

    A candidate does, however, need to not repeatedly kick their base in the teeth and then rest on “where else ya gonna go, bitchez!”

    All the arguments supporting and encouraging voting for Obama are – tragically and horribly – correct.

    My state is solidly blue, my not voting for him will make absolutely no difference. Of course, it wouldn’t matter any other way, but let’s keep pretending it would.

  92. roland says

    I guess the reason there is no other candidate on the left side is that the left wing votes would be split into smaller parts thus handing the presidency to the republican. Hello two party system.

  93. truthspeaker says

    required says:
    27 August 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Obama campaigned as center-right. We just projected liberal ideas onto him.

    Thank you.

    Obama never campaigned as a liberal. That was just wishful thinking on the part of some voters.

  94. Jeff Johnson says

    Obviously Obama has not been able to accomplish the dream agenda for liberals. But being realistic about, you know, counting votes and the less-liberal attitudes of large constituencies, abandoning Obama and going for a third party candidate will most likely hand the election to some total Republican idiot like Rick Perry. This would be far worse for progressive ideals than having the more centrist Obama in office.

    People don’t seem to take into account the practical limitations out President faces, such as the filibuster in the Senate, and now the unfortunate effects of Democrats losing the House due to poor turnout in the 2010 election. Plus he is not the Democrats version of Bush, a my-way-or-the-highway liberal. He is moderate, conciliatory, pragmatic, and recognizes the reality that he represents all Americans, and that he must govern by consensus and move the country in a progressive direction incrementally.

    In all the criticism I hear from liberals, I sense a kind of impatient expectation that the President can unilaterally change everything in one term (or even two). Consider what the GOP has accomplished in the 30 years since Reagan’s election. Our side needs to have that kind of relentless, sustained, well-organized, well-messaged, patient, disciplined, long-term attack on the right and the bullshit it has worked so hard to dupe Americans into believing. I just hear a bunch of whining and giving up on the best President I have seen in my lifetime.

    I also believe people tend to be unaware of how many concrete achievements have been won since Obama took office. He’s far far better than Bush in countless ways. Try looking at the following sites:

    http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/
    http://www.whathasobamadone.org/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Things-Obama-has-done/457458970505

  95. illuminata says

    Anyone else sick to death of people pretending to be mind-readers, while simultaneously ignoring what the actual objections to Obama are, and then condescendingly douchesplaining what “liberals” want?

    Prolonged Detention. Making home foreclosure MORE PROFITABLE for companies already being investigated for fraudulent foreclosures – literally stealing the homes of people who did nothing wrong.

    But, he’s so much better than a republican!

    The end.