Democratic decline, interrupted

Veerrry interresting. Michael Barone, editor of The Almanac of American Politics for many years, writes an in-depth article on the psephology of the 2010 midterms titled Dems retreat to coasts as GOP rules vast interior. I read this and had a feeling of deja vu.

Rummaging through my archives…aha! Six years ago, running a post-mortem on George Bush’s election win, I asked Are the Democrats becoming a regional party?. My analysis then was essentially the same as Michael Barone’s now. I even made a strong prediction about the 2004 county-by-county returns that turned out to be correct, based on my (and now his) theory about the regionalization of the Democratic base.

I called the 2008 elections wrong; I thought Obama was going to crumble at the last minute. But now it is beginning to look like Obama was a fluke in a long-term story of increasing Democratic failure outside the coastal metroplexes and a few university towns (the likes of Austin and Ann Arbor).

Barone’s analysis is even causing me to put more credence in the theory (muttered by some Republicans) that Obama, the Chicago machine politician, used ACORN and SEIU to steal the election by stuffing urban ballot boxes in a handful of key swing states. Still not proven, for sure, and I wouldn’t even say I put the odds of it having been true at over 50% yet – but I do remember that the stench out of Ohio was pretty thick in 2008. and ACORN/SEIU have certainly been caught in wholesale vote fraud since then. It would be nice if we had a Justice Department interested in enforcing clean voting to dig into this and put the question to rest one way or another, but that ain’t happening.

I have not forgotten the leaked Democratic strategists’s complaint in the late 1990s that the only base the party had left is “the blacks and the public employee unions”. I don’t think Michael Barone has either. The third leg of the Democratic tripod, the people Joel Kotkin calls “gentry liberals”, would be too small a bloc to swing elections without the public-employee unions and the blacks, a fact somewhat obscured by gentry-liberal control of most of the national media and their crucial importance in funding the party machine.

Probably the largest opportunity the Democrats missed in the last fifteen years was corralling Hispanics into their base. This might have been managed, especially given Republicans’ ham-fisted failure to attract a group with upward mobility and broadly social-conservative instincts. But what tension with the Democratic black establishment didn’t do, rapid assimilation did. U.S.-born Hispanics are fast ceasing to be ethnically marked, rather as Italians lost that coloration after World War II. We can expect their voting behavior to increasingly resemble that of recently-assimilated white ethnics like Italians and Poles, not preferentially tilting towards either party. We can also expect Democratic efforts to hold back the tide by pouring money into fringy Hispanic identity-politics groups, a tactic unlikely to be any more successful in the future than it has been up to now.

Having failed to expand their base, the Democrats need to attract voters outside that base to exert nationwide clout. Obama managed it it by trading on white guilt about past racism, but that’s a card that can probably only be played once and his plunging poll ratings (worse than George W. Bush’s at the corresponding point in his presidency) suggest he couldn’t do it today.

Barone’s point is that, absent Obama, the underlying psephological trends look very bad for the Democrats’ ability to pull independents and Republicans. I continue to think that the core of the problem is the Democrats’ loss of its conservative-populist Southern wing beginning in the 1950s, a development which led to the capture of the party apparatus by the unions and the New Left in the 1960s and eventually destroyed the party’s ability to maintain the broad national coalition created by FDR.

If Barone and I are right, the Democrats are probably going to see their worst-case scenarios become real in the upcoming midterms. The surface drama will be all about Obama vs. the Tea Party movement, but the actual problem will be the continuation of the long Democratic decline in the heartland that became visible when Reagan peeled blue-collar whites out of the New Deal coalition in 1980.

My prescription for the Democrats remains what it was in 2004. To remain viable at a national level the party needs to reverse Reagan’s move and peel groups out of the Republican coalition. The tactic I recommended then, reversing the party’s anti-Second-Amendment stance, has probably lost a lot of its potential effectiveness following the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling in 2008. Democrats leading a pro-gun-rights charge charge before Heller would have looked laudably willing to think outside the post-1968 party’s box, but if they try following it today they’ll probably just look weak.

The Democrats today need some corresponding course reversal that would only alienate a small part of the party coalition while having broad appeal outside it. But whose ox are they going to gore? If they alienate gentry liberals, their funding base and effective control of national-media-except-Fox will be damaged, perhaps crippled. The public-employee unions are their most reliable footsoldiers and voters. And the blacks are right at the core of the party’s mythologization of itself as the banner-bearers of the 1960s civil-rights movement and the Great Society.

I think in 2010 the faction the Democrats least need to keep solid is probably the blacks. Blacks are in demographic decline as a percentage of the U.S. population, and racial-grievance politics was looking pretty stale even before the country elected a black President. Hispanics, the closest approximation to a rising minority group even if they are in late-stage assimilation, don’t like the black political establishment and aren’t very wedded to the apparatus of racial preferences and set-asides the Democrats built to keep the blacks on side. Scrapping racial preferences and set-asides would be hugely popular, would deprive Republicans of a key rhetorical weapon, and Obama’s election has probably given the Democrats enough cover to advocate it.

Absent a reversal at least this dramatic in Democratic party politics, its base and geographic breadth will almost certainly continue to decline. As I pointed out in 2004 and Barone is doing now, national demographics are not favoring its prospects. Nor is the party’s own internal conversation – it almost seems to want to fort up in the big cities and university towns and abandon the rest of the U.S. to the Republicans. But that psephological math won’t work for the Democrats; it cedes the Electoral College to the other party.

Obama’s urban cool, his Ivy-League manners, and his air of detachment neatly symbolize this trend in Democratic instincts. But it’s not a healthy one for the party; in fact, it’s accelerating the Democrats down a road to impotence in national elections. It remains to be seen what, if anything, they will actually do about that.

276 thoughts on “Democratic decline, interrupted

  1. Eric … you keep talking about Democrats and Republicans, when *both* parties have been in decline. The only growth in the last 10 years has been in independents — voters who are not members of either major party, and who have been turned off by the extreme partisanship that makes both of the major parties look identical … and non-functional. Obama’s victory in 2008 was primarily the result of independents, not Democrat successes or Republican failures. (That, and the standard reaction during elections in bad economic times to ‘throw the bastards out’.)

  2. Or they could fall back on their old standby. What do Democrats do when the going gets rough? Cheat.

    Is there anyone willing to look at facts honestly (there’s no hope for those who make a conscious refusal to believe) who hasn’t yet realized that ACORN (the whole network, including it’s affiliates) is nothing but a huge, taxpayer-funded (how did they manage that!?!?) machine whose express purpose is to commit election fraud?

    The Democrats have been papering over weaknesses in their coalition and their platform’s lack of appeal to living non-felon citizens for a while now with large-scale deliberate fraud. Who’s to say that will change?

    Oh and I’m not sure I believe your take on Hispanics. I don’t think assimilation is as broad or as far along as you describe it, and the pressure to assimilate is weaker now than it’s ever been, with large-scale mechanisms (deliberately?) put in place (by Dems, of course) to either make it unnecessary or actively discourage it.

  3. Craig, after the Scott Brown victory my thinking was paralleling yours. I wrote “Are Political Parties Obsolete?” speculating that the Internet might be disintermediating them. But Barone, who has looked at the voting numbers more closely that I, sees the Republicans gaining strength in flyover country.

    The midterms may provide a test. Barone’s theory predicts a hard swing to Republicans; yours a softer one away from Democrats and with a more ambiguous, less party-aligned result. We’ll see. I’m thinking Barone’s outcome looks more likely right now, but it wouldn’t bother me much to be wrong about this.

  4. you keep talking about Democrats and Republicans, when *both* parties have been in decline.

    And the TEA Party movement isn’t just about electing Republicans; they’re purging the people who voted for the big spending at the primary level, supported cap-n-tax, etc.

  5. > And the TEA Party movement isn’t just about electing Republicans; they’re purging the people who voted for the big spending at the primary level, supported cap-n-tax, etc.

    Agreed, but pretending that the Tea Party is any good at attracting Democrats is nearly as absurd a fiction as the MSM’s myth that it’s a cover for racism. Just because the lefties are idiotically buying their own agitprop is no good reason for you conservatives to make the same error.

  6. esr> The midterms may provide a test. Barone’s theory predicts a hard swing to Republicans; yours a softer one away from Democrats and with a more ambiguous, less party-aligned result. We’ll see.

    I’m not sure how we can really see the results of this. Given that most ballots give no choices other than D/R, these non-party voters would seem to have no-where to turn. How can this be measured?

    It should be remembered that the TEA party seems to be having as much success at ousting establishment Repubs as it is in defeating Dems. The TEA party is, mostly, a non-party-affiliated movement as populist movements often are. The fact that that their goals most closely align with what the Repubs *supposedly* stand for is not really by design. I think the Repubs have as much to fear as the Dems, longterm. Maybe more, as they seem to be utterly clueless.

  7. I agree with your overall analysis, but must mildly disagree with your characterization of the Democrat strongholds as “the coastal metroplexes and a few university towns”. How do you explain Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, and Detroit?

    FWIW, there’s a similar dichotomy in Minnesota politics. The Twin Cities and the inner-ring suburbs are as blue as it gets short of Boston or San Francisco, the outer ring suburbs are much more conservative, and the rest of the state moderately red – aside from the heavily unionized Iron Range, which will vote for whoever Big Labor tells them to. That’s leading to an interesting governor’s race here: the Democrat is the laughable Mark Dayton who’s campaigning on a promise to soak the rich to solve a $6 billion budget gap, the Republican is the Tea Party-backed Tom Emmer, and there’s a centrist third party candidate, Tom Horner, who’s drawing about 18-20%. The polls show Dayton with about 39%, which would be enough to get him elected today. Since the Minnesota Legislature is under the firm control of the DFL (Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party, our version of the Democrats), a Dayton governorship could well produce the most left-wing state government in the US.

  8. ACORN/SEIU have certainly been caught in wholesale vote fraud since then

    ACORN was caught in actual voter fraud? I was under the impression that phony registrations were submitted by ACORN employees who were being paid per-registration before the 2008 elections, and no actual fraudulent votes were discovered to have been cast as a result. Do you have some information to the contrary?

    Probably the largest opportunity the Democrats missed in the last fifteen years was corralling Hispanics into their base.

    Hispanics have become a more strongly Democratic-aligned voting bloc over the last six years; they currently lean Democratic by 36 points (as opposed to 22 points in 2004). How big would that edge have to get to be sufficiently basey?

    The Monster: And the TEA Party movement isn’t just about electing Republicans; they’re purging the people who voted for the big spending at the primary level, supported cap-n-tax, etc.

    The Tea Party movement is simply the more committed wing of the Republican party. Against “big spending”? None of these people had a problem with gigantic war spending in the last decade; none of them have a problem with gigantic war spending now. (Contrast, for example, Ron Paul.) They’re about electing super-Republican Republicans.

  9. What makes this more ambiguous is that a lot of Democratic voters are moving from ‘blue’ states like California and Massachusetts to ‘red’ states like Idaho or New Hampshire. In the short term, this will end up changing the balance to favor the red states, at the eventual cost of dilution in this respect.

    I think that the Democrats could pull off a guns-based partial resurgence and restore a lot of their competitiveness. One of the reasons that Al Gore lot his home state in 2000 was over that issue. Though gun owners are generally viewed to vote Republican on that issue, there is no reason that couldn’t change. The funny thing is that the most recent congress has been the most gun-rights-friendly (least harmful) in a while. But doing little more than nothing won’t convince people that you’ve changed 50 years of behavior. They could start by eliminating the ban on out-of-state handgun purchases and the ban on mail-order firearms purchases – just require that the recipient of a package containing a firearm show government-issued ID for the package being received. This wouldn’t be a major change in the culture, but would have an impact on pricing and sales. Eliminate the ban on carrying in the public portions of the post office, etc. Not substantial changes to the way we live, but enough that it would make people think that maybe they are serious about it.

    One of the nice benefits of the recent back-and-forth of the house and senate is that it managed to eliminate an awful lot of dead wood. Watching some of these people talk about the law and technology makes me cringe. There’s a minimum age for the elected office. I can’t help but wonder if there should be a maximum age as well.

  10. >ACORN was caught in actual voter fraud?

    Registration fraud is voter fraud.

    >How big would that edge have to get to be sufficiently basey?

    That’s easy; over 50%.

    >The Tea Party movement is simply the more committed wing of the Republican party.

    I think there’s a lot of truth to this characterization. It’s why I’ve kept my distance from the tea-partiers.

  11. It should be remembered that the TEA party seems to be having as much success at ousting establishment Repubs as it is in defeating Dems. The TEA party is, mostly, a non-party-affiliated movement as populist movements often are. The fact that that their goals most closely align with what the Repubs *supposedly* stand for is not really by design. I think the Repubs have as much to fear as the Dems, longterm. Maybe more, as they seem to be utterly clueless.

    This is what I was getting at. Lots of us were really turned off by the spending binge Bush and the Republican majority in Congress put us through. Yes, we understood that if you want to fight two campaigns in the war on Islamofascism, it’s going to cost a lot of money. But that should be a temporary expense. In addition, they piled on new vote-buying programs (prescription drugs for seniors) that never go away. Democrats got control of Congress in 2006 by campaigning for fiscal restraint compared to those wascawwy wepubwicans. We see how that worked out.

    The Insurgency has beaten several GOP establishment candidates at the primary level, and come close to beating others (here in KS, Todd Tiahrt came from way back to a very close loss to Jerry Moran). You can bet that the people in DC are paying attention. They can’t just say “well, we aren’t as bad as the Democrats” and automatically get re-elected.

  12. Just because the lefties are idiotically buying their own agitprop is no good reason for you conservatives to make the same error.

    FWIW, I’m not a “conservative”; I’m a small-l libertarian, who has registered as a Big-L Libertarian in the past but now register as a Republican and try to get Goldwater types nominated. I see the TEA Party movement as very representative of that coalition of “leave me alone” people.

  13. >FWIW, I’m not a “conservative”; I’m a small-l libertarian,

    Sorry. But does that make believing that the Tea Party is attracting people from the Democratic base any less silly?

  14. @Jay Maynard:

    Detroit is actually easy to explain. The city population is over 80% African American votes overwhelming Democrat. The suburbs divide up like this: working class suburbs with large amounts of blue collar (read: UAW) employees — much of Wayne County, much of Washtenaw County (especially near Ann Arbor and Ypsi). parts of Oakland and Macomb Counties closer to the city, etc., vote mostly Democrat. White collar suburbs — much of northern Oakland and Macomb County, most of Livingston County, vote mostly Republican.

    This becomes very clear if you look at the House seats.

    Outside of Detroit, Michigan looks much the same — the closer to the cities of Flint or Saginaw, etc., the more blue; the further out, the more red.

    So, IOW, much like your example of Minnesota.

  15. > Sorry. But does that make believing that the Tea Party is attracting people from the Democratic base any less silly?

    I think it does. But it depends on which Democratic base you’re talking about.

    I live in yellow dog Arkansas. Excepting Mike Huckabee, nobody here has ever seen a Republican. But lots of these old-time country democrats are turning out for TEA party events and some of them might in-fact even think about what they’re doing instead of just punching the D hole on the ballot.

  16. grendelkhan> The Tea Party movement is simply the more committed wing of the Republican party. Against “big spending”? None of these people had a problem with gigantic war spending in the last decade; none of them have a problem with gigantic war spending now. (Contrast, for example, Ron Paul.) They’re about electing super-Republican Republicans.

    Nice bit of fear-mongering, that.

    I assume by ‘super-Republican Republicans’ you mean anyone not a John McCain leftist-progressive?

    As you say, if there’s anywhere the TEA party movement is bad astray, it would be in supporting these foolish, endless and pointless foreign wars. (That was to be the only bright spot of the Obama presidency, that he might get us out of there. Pfft.) The TEA party is heavily patriotic, that’s good. But unfortunately it too often translates into regurgitating GWB talking points about “fighting them over there instead of over here”. To get this country on a road not leading to fiscal ruin, *every* USG program is going to have to be cut. Drastically.

  17. Eric,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. Thanks.

    This line struck me as a sweeping generalization that bordered on meaningless. “Hispanics, …, don’t like the black political establishment …

    “Men don’t like the current British government,” is a comparable generalization that *is* in fact meaningless.

    You might rephrase that point so it more clearly expresses what you were trying to communicate.

  18. > Are the Democrats becoming a regional party?

    Yes, but their “region” just doesn’t happen to be geographically contiguous — it’s a collection of pockets, many of which are population-dense and so do still contain a large number of votes.

    For another example, see the fascinating electoral map of the Scott Brown senate victory in Massachusetts, which is highly non-random:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d2/Massachusetts_Senatorial_Special_Election_Results_by_Municipality,_2010.svg/800px-Massachusetts_Senatorial_Special_Election_Results_by_Municipality,_2010.svg.png

    The democrats (in blue) concentrate in the population-dense urban pocket of Boston, and in the central university towns of the Connecticut valley, and then in the far west, which is really the eastern edge of New York’s Hudson Valley (gentry liberals and college professors). In geographical terms, the majority of this “liberal” state’s territory went for the republican.

  19. “Craig, after the Scott Brown victory my thinking was paralleling yours. I wrote “Are Political Parties Obsolete?” speculating that the Internet might be disintermediating them. But Barone, who has looked at the voting numbers more closely that I, sees the Republicans gaining strength in flyover country.

    The midterms may provide a test. Barone’s theory predicts a hard swing to Republicans; yours a softer one away from Democrats and with a more ambiguous, less party-aligned result. We’ll see. I’m thinking Barone’s outcome looks more likely right now, but it wouldn’t bother me much to be wrong about this.”

    I think there’s a synthesis of both views to be found here.

    The swing to the Republicans is real, substantial but CONDITIONAL.

    If they return to business as usual, it will evaporate. If they read the meaning of their victory correctly, it will be lasting.

    There’s a profound distrust of Republican career politicians that will likely play itself out over the next several election cycles as moderate, prog-lite Republicans such as Lindsay Graham get the axe in the primaries. So while on the surface it may appear that Republicans are gaining and keeping a Congressional majority, the meaningful action will take place in the spring and summer of even years. The replacement in the Republican party will continue to take place.

    Whether Republicans are swaying traditional Democrats is less important than the fact that independents have been scared out of their minds by the last 2 years of Democratic hegemony, and are unlikely to be forgiving and forgetful anytime soon (unless the Republicans make major errors or the Democrats make radical changes, some of which esr points out.)

    The key here is that both parties are overdue for an overhaul. They will be quite different 6 to 8 years from now.

  20. The Tea Party started out as a populist backlash against corporatist elements monopolizing both parties armed by quasi-libertarian ideology and funding, lasted sincerely for a few months, and then was promptly co-opted by opportunist Republicans. Now we have paranoid reactionaries running the show. Where are the agents of the Left Hand Path to conjure a thousand souls of the damned to haunt the apostate Christine O’Donnell until she gets over being the college slut when you need them?

    Anyways, a LOT happened between 2004-2008, and I think it is almost certain the Democrats would have farily won / did actually fairly win in 2008 by virtue of an escalating culture war combined with a very conveniently timed recession-candidate combination. McCain (and Bush and Palin) were repeatedly flubbing, allowing the media to easily project a narrative on the election; even with independent concerns about Obama’s policies, a two-party race between apparently equal candidates takes the path of least resistance. After all, most of the major Democratic senate wins were well outside of ACORN’s locus operandi.

  21. “and then was promptly co-opted by opportunist Republicans. ”

    Which “opportunist Republicans” would those be?

    It seems to be the “opportunist Republican” who has the most to gain by the success of the TP in November is…wait for it…Jim DeMint. If they do not get the majority in the Senate, the DeMint coalition will in the least be instrumental in keeping the progressive disease outbreak contained. If that’s “reactionary”, then I say bring it.

  22. SEIU doesn’t just engage in election fraud. They’re the thugs who beat up Kenneth Gladney for selling Gasden flags and Tea Party buttons. Basically, they’re Obama’s brownshirts, although they’re typically a lot older and fatter than Hitler’s were.

  23. >was promptly co-opted by opportunist Republicans.

    The Republicans wish they could co-opt the Tea Party, and so do the Democrats, but the fact is that the Tea Party is not looking for leaders, and they’re not about to accept anyone who jumps in front of the parade and claims to be leading them.

    Go to any Tea Party event, and see for yourself. They’ll curse Bush and Paulsen just as vehemently as they’ll curse Obama and Geithner.

  24. >they’re purging the people who voted for the big spending at the primary level

    It was hilarious to watch the lefties’ heads spinning when that douchebag in Utah came in third in the Republican primary. They simply couldn’t fathom that voting for the bailout was a betrayal of everything he was supposed to stand for, and all the gay-bashing and other splinter-issue posturing he did couldn’t save him.

    RIght now, there’s an opportunity to do a massive housecleaning in the Republican party. We’re not going to restore this country to constitutional government without fixing one or both wings of the Ruling Party along the way.

  25. Regarding Democrats and guns, the reason they’ve been against the right to self-defense goes back to the days immediately after the civil war, when the defeated confederates consisted of the KKK and the Democratic Party, much like the IRA and Sinn Fein (although with rather more overlap of membership).

    Back then, the NRA was founded by a group of Union officers (including General Grant), to protect the rights of the freedmen to defend themselves against the KKK, by fighting the political efforts to disarm them.

  26. >the blacks are right at the core of the party’s mythologization of itself as the banner-bearers of the 1960s civil-rights movement and the Great Society.

    Heh.. If you ever want to watch some people’s heads explode, mention to a pack of lefties that MLK was a Republican, and Bull Conner and George Wallace were Democrats.

  27. Heh.. If you ever want to watch some people’s heads explode, mention to a pack of lefties that MLK was a Republican, and Bull Conner and George Wallace were Democrats.

    MLK was a Republican because, at the time, the Republican party — the “party of Lincoln” — was friendly to civil rights causes. Make no mistake: he was a socialist through and through; and spoke publicly on his pro-socialist and anti-war views.

    The current association of the GOP with racism was largely due to the “Southern Strategy” of Nixon’s campaigners, who successfully captured the vote of alienated Southern racists after Kennedy and Johnson made civil rights an official Democratic plank and successfully pressed for civil-rights legislation.

    Since then the Southern Strategy has been a key part of Republican politics especially around Presidential election cycles.

    Nothing head-explodey here for those who study a bit of history.

  28. esr: Registration fraud is voter fraud.

    Oh, please. The claim is that the election was stolen by ACORN et al.; as you said, “stuffing urban ballot boxes”; to do this, actual fraudulent votes would be required. That would be voter fraud–the casting of fraudulent ballots. (You can’t stuff ballot boxes with registrations.) And that’s precisely what didn’t happen.

    Why on earth would you claim that you were really talking about voter registration fraud when you very clearly were trying to connect ACORN with fraudulently-cast ballots?

    [How big would that edge have to get to be sufficiently basey?] That’s easy; over 50%.

    That’s bigger than the edge that Democrats usually get from lesbian, gay or bisexual voters. (It’s usually in the forties. Note that I can’t find party identification numbers, so that’s actual voter turnout, which varies quite a bit from year to year. In the ’08 elections, LGB voters went Democratic by 43 points; Hispanics by 36. The distinction seems kind of arbitrary.)

    Michael: Nice bit of fear-mongering, that.

    Could you be more specific? I’m telling you that the Tea Party, despite starting as a Rand Paulish kind of thing, is now simply a nice hat for the extra-conservative wing of the Republican party to wear. I don’t think that’s particularly more frightening than any other alternatives I had in mind.

    I assume by ’super-Republican Republicans’ you mean anyone not a John McCain leftist-progressive?

    Privatizing social security, bombing Iran, opposition to the federal minimum wage, “personhood begins at conception”… if these are “leftist-progressive” positions, does this mean that George W. Bush was a secret Communist?

    The TEA party is heavily patriotic, that’s good. But unfortunately it too often translates into regurgitating GWB talking points about “fighting them over there instead of over here”. To get this country on a road not leading to fiscal ruin, *every* USG program is going to have to be cut. Drastically.

    It’s not an accident. Despite your wishful thinking about the Tea Party being a leaderless collective, they’re largely funded by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and the Koch brothers’ think tank system, and their ideology toes that line. And if they get out of line, they’ll be properly corralled by their leaders.

  29. >Why on earth would you claim that you were really talking about voter registration fraud when you very clearly were trying to connect ACORN with fraudulently-cast ballots?

    Stop right there. I still don’t give that theory even as much as 50% odds, and said so. But if you expect me to believe that ACORN engaged in massive registration fraud but is somehow miraculously innocent of ballot-box-stuffing, no sale. Their known behavior does make the behavior Republicans suspect them of more likely, and you can’t fancy-dance your way out of that.

  30. Jeff Read: Make no mistake: [MLK] was a socialist through and through; and spoke publicly on his pro-socialist and anti-war views.

    Now, if we follow Some Guy‘s technique of taking the names of parties from the 1950s and ’60s and implying that there’s been no rearrangement… then the Republican Party is clearly the party of anti-war socialists! Hence Michael‘s reference to John McCain’s “leftist-progressive” nature. If you actually look at his positions, it’s impossibly ridiculous, but when you look at the name of his party, well, it all becomes clear.

    Also, it’s rather cute how esr refers to the whole Civil RIghts movement in terms of “the Democrats’ loss of its conservative-populist Southern wing beginning in the 1950s”. Like that whole “we’ve just lost the South” thing simply happened out of the blue.

  31. > Their known behavior does make the behavior Republicans suspect them of more likely, and you can’t fancy-dance your way out of that.

    Except that registration fraud is much, much easier than voter fraud. You’re conflating two different things: the chance that ACORN might want to engage in a certain behavior, and the chance that they’d do so successfully.

  32. esr: But if you expect me to believe that ACORN engaged in massive registration fraud but is somehow miraculously innocent of ballot-box-stuffing, no sale.

    If ACORN was truly interested in committing voter fraud, why would they submit obviously false registrations which the state would catch? Why would it look for all the world like the $8/hour kids ACORN was employing on their voter registration drives simply got lazy and faked their registration forms rather than actually registering people, if the goal was to get more ballots cast? If the registration fraud was so ludicrously obvious, why would a five-year federal investigation completely fail to discover any actual fraud? That’s a disturbingly specific level of evil competence you’re attributing to the organization.

    The prosecuting attorney in King County, WA who investigated ACORN’s involvement in voter registration fraud there said, “A joint federal and state investigation has determined that this scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting [...] Instead, the defendants cheated their employer, ACORN, to get paid for work they did not actually perform. ACORN’s lax oversight of their own voter registration drive permitted this to happen.”

    If you’re insistent that ACORN is (well, was) involved in undetectable voter fraud despite all evidence to the contrary, I have to wonder how the invisible levitating heatless smokeless dragon in your garage is doing.

    Their known behavior does make the behavior Republicans suspect them of more likely, and you can’t fancy-dance your way out of that.

    Is pointing to a five-year crackdown during the Bush administration that failed to find any sort of voter-fraud conspiracy a “fancy-dance”? Yes, we can wave our hands and guess all we want, but at some point, you have to update your beliefs based on the evidence that’s available.

  33. @grendelkhan

    Oh, please. The claim is that the election was stolen by ACORN et al.; as you said, “stuffing urban ballot boxes”; to do this, actual fraudulent votes would be required. That would be voter fraud–the casting of fraudulent ballots. (You can’t stuff ballot boxes with registrations.) And that’s precisely what didn’t happen.

    You can’t vote without being registered. The only reason anyone would participate in massive voter registration would be in order to cast fraudulent ballots. Unfortunately, once the ballots are cast, there is no way to know which ballots were cast by legitimate voters and which ballots were cast by fraudsters, due to the fact that voting in this country is conducted by secret ballot. But since you have the fraudulent registrations, there can’t even be plausible deniability; one has to assume if there were fraudulent registrations, there were fraudulent ballots cast.

  34. No, really. It’s way easier to register under a false name than it is to vote under a false name. One is trivial; the other is not. In order to register, you need to fill out a form and send it in; it doesn’t require any identification. The first time any given voter shows up to vote, you have to show photo ID or a current paycheck/utility bill/bank statement. Most of those also require photo ID; the utility bill is probably the easiest thing to get under false pretenses, but it’s got to be current, so there are limitations even there.

    You can look this up; it’s in the second column of the first page national voter registration form, here:

    http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/AssetManager/national%20mail%20voter%20registration%20form%20english%20august%2011%202010.pdf

    I am, as always, somewhat startled when libertarians ignore the profit motive for faking registrations on an individual level, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

  35. The first time any given voter shows up to vote, you have to show photo ID or a current paycheck/utility bill/bank statement.

    Obtaining a paycheck, utility bill, or a bank statement with someone else’s name is not very difficult at all. In fact, until very recently, in many states, the only thing you needed to obtain a state-issued driver’s license with your picture on it and someone else’s name and data on it was one of the above. Now, as each state signs on to the Real ID Act, a birth certificate or other citizenship-proving document is required. But before states started signing on to that, all you needed to do was steal someone’s mail (we’ll call this person $IDENTITY_THEFT_VICTIM), show up at the DMV, claim you are $IDENTITY_THEFT_VICTIM and that you lost your driver’s license. They take your picture, then mail the new license. Then wait for the new license to show up in $IDENTITY_THEFT_VICTIM’s mailbox, and voila: you are them. Government incompetence at it’s finest!

  36. >If ACORN was truly interested in committing voter fraud, why would they submit obviously false registrations which the state would catch?

    Incompetence. In view of ACORN’s known conduct and the degree of corruption we know was endemic there, I ‘m certain that a lot of their street soldiers were druggies, petty criminals, and garden-variety scum without the brainpower to utter a convincing fake.

    Morgan Greywolf has already pointed out the answer to the more general question.

  37. grendelkhan> Could you be more specific?

    Yes. You said “They’re about electing super-Republican Republicans.” Implication: not only do we have to worry about garden-variety evil republicans, now we have genetically enhanced bionic Republicans to worry about also. And they’re funded by the Koch Brothers!!!!!

    grendelkhan> Privatizing social security, bombing Iran, opposition to the federal minimum wage, “personhood begins at conception”… if these are “leftist-progressive” positions, does this mean that George W. Bush was a secret Communist?

    To refer to GWB as a communist wouldn’t require all that much hyperbole, truly. Secret prisions, torture, takeover of private industry, endless foreign wars of occupation, just to name a few.

    And on John McCain: legislating away free speech, wide-open borders, endless social programs, endless foreign wars, are all progressive-leftist causes and I’m forgetting most of them. And bombing Iran seems to have wide bi-partisan support.

    grendelkhan> It’s not an accident. Despite your wishful thinking about the Tea Party being a leaderless collective, they’re largely funded by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and the Koch brothers’ think tank system, and their ideology toes that line. And if they get out of line, they’ll be properly corralled by their leaders.

    Nice try. I didn’t see the Koch brothers or D. Armey on our courthouse lawn at the last TEA party event. And I doubt they had much influence on a businessman friend of mine deciding to run for state legislature having no history of politics (he’s far ahead in the polls of the career politician democrat BTW, and this in yellow-dog country). The link about Sarah Palin trying to get defense spending exempted from the small government push is irrelevant and you know it. She no more leads the TEA party than the mystical Koch brothers do. Most in the TEA party are rather ambivalent about her from my experience.

    You’re projecting. Just because leftist-progressives all play follow-the-leader doesn’t mean everyone does.

    And while I have numerous concerns and doubts about the TEA party, they are the *only* group that is engaged in and has a chance at meaningful change. Democrats: more of the same. Establishment Republicans: more of the same. Libertarians: AWOL.

    Can’t believe I just wrote that as I don’t think anything will make meaningful change. Our destiny is essentially set. As Fred Reed said “What would work is politically impossible, what is politically possible won’t work.” I’m just waiting for the crash and hoping to make the best of it.

  38. Sorry. But does that make believing that the Tea Party is attracting people from the Democratic base any less silly

    Where the hell did I give you the idea I believe that? The base is pro-big-government. They’re down with the struggle until the bitter end.

    The Tea Party movement is attracting what we used to call “Reagan Democrats”, the kind of people who think that government ought to be a tad more active than a minarchist like me (much less an anarchist like you) would prefer, but is not on board with the insanity we’re seeing now.

  39. I have to wonder how the invisible levitating heatless smokeless dragon in your garage is doing.

    “I ain’t even got a garage! You can call home and ask my wife!”

  40. “‘The integrity of the voting rolls in Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes,’ the Harris voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, charged as he passed on the documentation to the district attorney. A spokesman for the DA’s office declined to discuss the case. And a spokesman for Vasquez said that the DA has asked them to refrain from commenting on the case.

    The outcome of the efforts grew in importance the day after Vasquez made his announcement. On the morning of Aug. 27, a three-alarm fire destroyed almost all of Harris County’s voting machines, throwing the upcoming Nov. 2 election into turmoil. While the cause wasn’t determined, the $40 million blaze, according to press reports, means election officials will be focused on creating a whole new voting system in six weeks. Just how they do it will determine how vulnerable the process becomes.”

    RTWT — http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/09/23/voter-fraud-houston-tea-party-truethevote-texas/

    But yeah, sure, fraudulent registration has noooooooothing to do with with fradulent voting. Not a thing. Nope. And pay no attention to that smoke behind the curtain.

  41. And it’s worth noting that Harris County is, overall, one of the bluer ones in that very red state. There’s a very substantial portion of liberals in Houston, especially inside the I-610 loop. It’s not for nothing that Sheila Jackson Lee is from there (in a seat originally created explicitly to get Barbara Jordan in Congress). It’s also worth noting that the Democrat candidate for governor of Texas is Houston’s mayor. Thus, manipulating results there to skew in favor of the Democrats is less likely to stand out, while still being big enough to provide a meaningful swing.

  42. Um, but. . .would this be the same ACORN where the employees of multiple offices got nailed in a private journalism sting for helping a supposed pimp set up a brothel with underaged illegal alien hookers, including tax evasion advice?

    Or, wait, was I *also*ever-so-conveniently supposed to forget about all that? And the denials each time, followed up by the publication of further successes of the same sting? And, well, the huge scandal so massive and outrageous that even Congress had to get into the act and pretend to do something?

    Because I don’t think I can. Sorry, but I guess you should find another line of argument than trying to defend ACORN from corruption charges.

  43. Re: Voting Machines

    I live in Wyandotte County, KS, which had a classic Democrat Machine for the longest time. We cleaned out the corrupt politicians (I voted for Democrats that did this) and we now have what I think is the right way to do elections. All voting is done on optical-scan ballots. You fill in the ovals with a Sharpie, slip the ballot inside a cardboard sleeve that covers it until you insert one end into the scanner. If you overvoted, it spits the ballot back out and lets you request a new ballot. Even if the scanner were down, they could fall back to an old-fashioned locked ballot box mode. Provisional ballots can be cast on the same paper ballots, and placed inside the special envelopes with the challenge information on them, pending resolution of the challenges. (Ms. Jones’ address change didn’t show up on our forms. Did she vote at her old precinct too? No? Then let her vote at the new precinct be counted.)

    Since there is no punching, there’s no pregnant, dimpled, or hanging chads to give a different reading every time the ballots go through for a recount. Each precinct should be able to rescan its ballots in another machine and get identical totals, allowing for a first verification that takes just minutes. Because everything IS on paper, it is possible to do hand-count audits to be sure that the machines aren’t fudging.

    In fact, I like that feature so much that I’d like it to be required by law for a certain number of precincts to be chosen at random for such audits, and that each party would get the opportunity to choose some additional audit targets. The choices of audit targets would not be revealed to the election workers until after the totals are transmitted to the election office, so that no one could know ahead of time which precincts could be safely cheated in.

  44. > Um, but. . .would this be the same ACORN where the employees of multiple offices got nailed in a private journalism sting for helping a supposed pimp set up a brothel with underaged illegal alien hookers, including tax evasion advice?

    I’m pretty sure the guy who made that sting was revealed as something of a fraud himself, and that the footage recorded was very nastily edited to produce that end result.

    At least, as I understand it. I take no personal stand in the matter.

  45. “Despite your wishful thinking about the Tea Party being a leaderless collective, they’re largely funded by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and the Koch brothers’ think tank system, and their ideology toes that line.”

    Is it fair to presume that, given if what you say is true, if the “ideology” or message of the KochArmey were (let’s say) a populist progressive message, it would garner the same kind of mass approbation?

    If no, then, honestly, what’s the effin difference here? If someone who agrees with you gives you a crapload of money, where’s the sinister puppeteering?

  46. >The current association of the GOP with racism

    Bullshit. The side of the Ruling Party that demands racism as an official policy is the Democrats. They call it “affirmative action”.

  47. I’m telling you that the Tea Party, despite starting as a Rand Paulish kind of thing, is now simply a nice hat for the extra-conservative wing of the Republican party to wear.

    I know you wish that were the case, because it’s a lot easier to shout down the right-wingers than all the people who are rejecting the idea of taking us further and further into debt.

    The “extra-conservative wing of the Republican party” wish they could muster the kind of support that the Tea Party gets, but they can’t. The most they can do is keep trying to jump in front of the parade.

  48. > Just because leftist-progressives all play follow-the-leader doesn’t mean everyone does.

    Bingo. Right at the beginning of the Tea Party, I saw all the lefties in the media trying like hell to identify some “tea party leader” that they could identify and start up the smear machine. Then you had that stupid twat Jeneane Garafolo trying to claim that anyone who opposes runaway spending must be a racist.

  49. >I’m pretty sure the guy who made that sting was revealed as something of a fraud himself, and that the footage recorded was very nastily edited to produce that end result.

    No. Breitbart’s final, funniest hack was to wait for that to solidify as the approved defensive spin on the incident – then release the raw tape. I never actually watched the raw tape myself, but I believe the reports that it was just as damning, only with the boring bits left in. I believe it because if the raw tape had offered any loophole at all for the Democrats to rescind the ACORN funding cancellation, they’d have jumped on it.

  50. >Then you had that stupid twat Jeneane Garafolo trying to claim that anyone who opposes runaway spending must be a racist.

    Unfair, sir! Twats are both lovely and useful. Janine Garofalo is neither.

  51. My take on American politics in recent years is that the Democrats get into power, and do things that disgust the large number of independent voters, who then vote Republican or stay home to punish them. The Republicans get into power, and behave the same way. Go to start. The invisible dragon in this garage is the huge mass of independent voters who belong neither to the theocratic right nor the redistributivist left, and vote against whichever has most recently had power and used it to try to push through its agenda, with an effect rather like an unbalanced load in a washing machine. It’s certainly not the case that the majority of those independents are constitutional libertarians like me or anarchists like esr; but not liking the core group of either establishment party is a big step in the right direction. Whichever party first figures out that it needs lasting appeal to independent voters is going to win big.

  52. > The Democrats today need some corresponding course reversal that would only alienate a small part of the party coalition
    > while having broad appeal outside it. But whose ox are they going to gore?

    I was going to say, “support school vouchers”, but that pretty much eliminates one of their core public-employee unions, despite how much urban, black, and Latino (non-)voters would like the move. Thinking a bit more broadly, but still along the lines of what would genuinely be good for the nation, I think Democrats need to reverse a century of going-along-so-they-don’t-appear-weak: they should oppose every aspect of drug prohibition.

    This probably doesn’t win them the next two-year Congressional cycle, but it sets them up for decades of credit for wisely opposing entrenched special interests, as well as making the word “progressive” seem like something other than ridiculous infantile posturing. Luckily, in this case many of the special interests that support the status quo (police and prison guard unions, defense contractors, construction firms, etc.) are Republican-aligned anyway. (The trial lawyers of course love the status quo, but they would still support the Dems for a few cycles in the hopes of writing the rules for the new regime.)

    There are certain old conservatives who will never be convinced of the awful truth about drug prohibition, but few of them would ever vote Democratic anyway. As violence and other actual crime plummets in the wake of legalization, while prisons empty, ghettos revive, and border areas become more secure, the average voter will see the obvious improvement and say, “that’s how Democrats govern” while ignoring their idiotic ideas about entitlements, employment, and economic development. Best of all, with all the money saved by not outfitting 10,000 SWAT squads etc. and taken in those tasty new drug taxes, Democrats will have a LOT of money with which to buy votes. And buying votes is what they do best. They could probably even repeal drug prohibition in such a way that felons with only drug felonies could have voting rights restored; who do you think would own those votes?

    I have never voted for a Democrat for a legislative position (although that streak will end in about a month since Roy Blunt voted for TARP, so I’d vote against him if his only opponent was a Satanist Nazi Mutant), but if the Democrats got this one issue right, they could count on my support and donations for decades.

  53. >they should oppose every aspect of drug prohibition.

    That’s actually a very clever idea. You’re probably right about the practical politics.

  54. > It’s also worth noting that the Democrat candidate for governor of Texas is Houston’s mayor.

    And in one of the more amusing ironies of the midterms, Bill White actually appears to be notably more fiscally conservative than Rick Perry (and looks less given to moral panics, but we’ll see). Austin’s been notorious for contract and similar corruption for a long time, and White actually (1) has real-world business experience (in oil and gas, no less) and (2) has trimmed down and streamlined Houston government during his tenure.

  55. > No. Breitbart’s final, funniest hack was to wait for that to solidify as the approved defensive spin on the incident – then release the raw tape. I never actually watched the raw tape myself, but I believe the reports that it was just as damning, only with the boring bits left in. I believe it because if the raw tape had offered any loophole at all for the Democrats to rescind the ACORN funding cancellation, they’d have jumped on it.

    Everything I’ve read about the raw footage says it was not nearly as damaging as it was edited to be. I certainly don’t defend ACORN, though; just another example of unnecessary spending that is better gone. Without seeing the raw footage myself I’ll withhold any further comment on the matter.

  56. >Twats are both lovely and useful. Janine Garofalo is neither

    Fair enough. I’ll try to think of a more appropriate epithet. I’d call her a bitch, but I love dogs. A mosquito, perhaps?

    I wonder what happened to her. I remember a time about a decade and a half ago when she was actually able to make me laugh with her stand-up routine. I’m not sure when she turned into the bitter crone we see today.

  57. >I think Democrats need to reverse a century of going-along-so-they-don’t-appear-weak: they should oppose every aspect of drug prohibition.

    Dream on. Prohibition is a massive pork-barrel scheme, and the last thing the Democrats will ever do is support a cut in the pork.

  58. Well, sure, all politicians like pork, but I was responding to ESR’s premise that the Democrats might really be in existential trouble. In such circumstances, even mind-shattering proposals like cutting pork to your opponents’ supporters merit consideration.

  59. > In such circumstances, even mind-shattering proposals like cutting pork to your opponents’ supporters merit consideration.

    Except the primary beneficiaries of the WOD are Democrat supporters (public employee unions – police & prison). They’re no more likely to defund that than they are the teacher’s unions.

  60. >I was responding to ESR’s premise that the Democrats might really be in existential trouble

    Oh, not for a few years yet. They still own most of the national media, which covers a lot of weakness. Anyway, their structural problems are likely to be dwarfed by much larger upheavals in our politics, like when entire states of the U.S. start going bankrupt because they’re in debt holes so deep that they can’t tax their way out and nobody will buy their bonds. And if you think that sounds like fun, just wait until the same happens to the Feds. Interesting times.

  61. “No, really. It’s way easier to register under a false name than it is to vote under a false name. One is trivial; the other is not. In order to register, you need to fill out a form and send it in; it doesn’t require any identification. The first time any given voter shows up to vote, you have to show photo ID or a current paycheck/utility bill/bank statement. Most of those also require photo ID; the utility bill is probably the easiest thing to get under false pretenses, but it’s got to be current, so there are limitations even there.”

    Very interesting that that is included in the Federal registration-by-mail system, but I have to ask you: Have you ever actually voted?

    Because I have never, in any single election, ever been asked for any form of ID. This is in several different districts, different polling places in 2 states. Several states have attempted to require picture ID at the polling place, and have been subject to the worst kind of abuse from the usual ballot-box-stuffing subjects. For instance, the Indiana law was challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Why exactly would anyone want to contest the requirement to show some form of ID to vote?

  62. > entire states of the U.S. start going bankrupt because they’re in debt holes so deep that they can’t tax their way out
    > and nobody will buy their bonds

    Why won’t such states will continue to get bailed out by stimulus bills? For all the noise made about shovel-ready projects in this latest cycle, a hell of a lot of “stimulus” money disappeared into underfunded public-employee pension and benefit programs. What is this if not the nationalization of state and municipal deficits? At current debt and inflation levels, that deficit is “free” once it’s federalized. I’m sure at some point we’ll have to default on US government debt, but this game can continue for decades before that happens.

    But you’re right that Democrats retain a number of advantages that can help them stay in power without having accomplished a single good thing.

  63. Really? Everything I’ve read about your personal life says that you spend your leisure time down behind the bus station blowing random passengers for candy bars and spare change.

    At least, as I understand it. I take no personal stand in the matter.

  64. @Michael
    > Except the primary beneficiaries of the WOD are Democrat supporters (public employee unions – police & prison).
    > They’re no more likely to defund that than they are the teacher’s unions.

    My impression is that police and prison unions are different from teacher’s unions, in that they usually support the incumbent, except when said incumbent has in some small measure bucked our modern rising tide of fear-mongering, mandatory minimums, and ever-increasing persecution. They’re certainly not as in-pocket for Democrats as teachers’ or transport unions.

    In a context of more and more private prisons and militarized police forces, however, the really deep pockets are not the unions but the prison companies, as well as the armament, technology, and construction firms that specialize in police support. These latter could be persuaded to vote Democratic, but they’re not a sure thing by any means.

  65. I know an Italian-American woman about my age who’d run into so much anti-Italian prejudice that she doesn’t think of herself as white. I need to ask whether she thinks her experience as at all typical.

    I’m not convinced that white guilt is what got Obama elected. I was hanging out (online) with people who were terrified of GW and crew, and who would have voted for any remotely plausible Democrat. I don’t know how typical they were, but there were quite a few people who mostly didn’t want more of the existing administration.

    IIRC, in 2008, every city above a certain population, and every port city above a somewhat smaller population, went blue.

    Any party which wants to be tough on illegals isn’t going to get the majority of the Hispanic vote.

  66. @Jess
    > My impression is that police and prison unions are different from teacher’s unions, in that they usually support the incumbent, except when said
    > incumbent has in some small measure bucked our modern rising tide of fear-mongering, mandatory minimums, and ever-increasing persecution.
    > They’re certainly not as in-pocket for Democrats as teachers’ or transport unions.

    The police/prison unions and teacher unions certainly aren’t identical. In a non-controversial election, the police/prison voting patterns probably split similar to the rest of the US. But should one party/candidate seriously threaten to interrupt the gravy train and I suspect there would be a rally cry. The police are just as addicted to federal welfare as any stereotyped welfare mom (or big-ag corn grower, or, or, ad nauseam).

    Both parties know this. And saying “we must support our local law enforcement” is not much different than saying “it’s for the children”.

  67. I was a lifelong registered Democrat from turning 18 in 1971 until August of 2008. I joined the Democratic Party because of men like JFK and Sen. Henry (“Scoop”) Jackson; I considered the lurch towards Gene McCarthy to be a passing trend. I was wrong. Of course, I was also appalled by a lot the Republicans did when they had control of Congress from 2002-2006 — as P. J. O’Rourke once put it, “The Republicans are the party that says big government doesn’t work, and when they get into power, they set about to prove it.”

    During those 37 years of being a Democrat — and particularly during the last 15 to 20, when I was increasingly alienated from my own party — I often thought, as you did, what the Dems could do to re-nationalize the party. Unfortunately, I think it’s a lost cause, because here’s what they’d have to do:

    – Abandon (or seriously scale back) their love of Keynesian economic and European socialism. Even the Europeans are smart enough to be moving in that direction, and they’re frankly puzzled why we’re going down a road that hasn’t been supportable for them.

    – Truly champion the Bill of Rights in an even-handed manner, including freedom of press (and, yes, that means Fox News), freedom of religion, and freedom of speech.

    – Treat the voting public with respect, not contempt.

    – Recognize that, yes, indeed, our Constitution recognizes a balance between federal power and state power — and claiming that “state’s rights” is code language for racism is as stupid and dishonest as saying the Democrats today are bigots because large numbers of Democrats fought _for_ segregation back in the 50s and 60s.

    – Champion fairer use in intellectual property issues, instead of being in the pockets of the MPAA, RIAA, and so on.

    I think the fundamental differences today between the liberal and conservative movements boil down to foundational axioms regarding the perfectibility of humans and society. The Left believes they can do it, if they are just given enough time, power, and money. The Right believes it can’t be done, at least not from above, and prefers to work out their own problems within the rule of law and within a free market. I have a couple of bookshelves devoted entirely to history; I know the excesses and problems of both, but my personal preference is for freedom, not state control. ..bruce..

  68. Acksiom:
    > Really? Everything I’ve read about your personal life says that you spend your leisure time down behind the bus station blowing random passengers for candy bars and spare change.

    > At least, as I understand it. I take no personal stand in the matter.

    Huh. Was that directed at me? I’d rather know if I’m being trolled specifically. I’m not going to waste any more bandwidth or time responding to you if you do respond, though; it’s not constructive.

  69. > Um, but. . .would this be the same ACORN where the employees of multiple offices got nailed in a private journalism sting for helping a supposed pimp set up a brothel with underaged illegal alien hookers, including tax evasion advice?

    In a lot of social circles I’ve been in, the very suggestion that James O’Keefe was not fraudulent is enough to end the discussion with mutual claims of reality distortion. Welcome to the hell of the 18-35 demographic.

    Same thing applies with Shirley Sherrod acting racist.

  70. >I’m sure at some point we’ll have to default on US government debt, but this game can continue for decades before that happens.

    Decades? I severely doubt it. We passed the event horizon in March, when Social Security went cash-flow negative. We’ll hit the next stage when U.S. Federal bonds lose their AAA rating, which I’m actually a bit surprised hasn’t happened already; it probably would have if the Obama administration had given the state of California the bailout it was looking for.

  71. >Any party which wants to be tough on illegals isn’t going to get the majority of the Hispanic vote.

    I think that will remain true for at least the next five to ten years, and I think that’s why both parties are running away from the illegal-immigration issue as fast as they can. Whether grassroots sentiment in the U.S. will let them get away with that is another question – seems to me there’s a pretty big wave of close-the-borders-and-crack-down feeling out there among non-Hispanics.

    (I personally have no political investment in the issue one way or the other.)

  72. >just wait until the same happens to the Feds.

    I would argue that the Feds are already in that condition. The Federal Reserve is already monetizing the debt through one level of indirection, by “lending” newly inflated dollars to the banks which then “buy” treasury bonds. They might as well just be issuing dollars for t-bills directly.

    The sliver lining in this is that when people stop accepting US dollars as payment, the federal government is going to lose its ability to fuck with the economy through indirect means. To control people, they’ll have to actually send in the goons, and it’s pretty hard to pay the goons when their checks start bouncing.

  73. > We passed the event horizon in March, when Social Security went cash-flow negative.

    Sorry, No. Social Security is not now unfunded.

    What’s unfunded are the government programs that have to dip into Social Security to balance their own books, not Social Security.

    You may want to read-up on the actual meaning of ‘cash flow’.

  74. – Recognize that, yes, indeed, our Constitution recognizes a balance between federal power and state power — and claiming that “state’s rights” is code language for racism is as stupid and dishonest as saying the Democrats today are bigots because large numbers of Democrats fought _for_ segregation back in the 50s and 60s.

    Sorry, no — “states’ rights” is code language for racism. The proof lies in the vocal support from the right in the past for increased state power when it comes to things like segregation, but not gay marriage, drug prohibition, or abortion. If you want to smoke weed, terminate a pregnancy, or marry someone of the same sex, the “states’ rights” crowd have no qualms about using federal power to prevent you from doing so.

  75. > Sorry, No. Social Security is not now unfunded.
    >
    > What’s unfunded are the government programs that have to dip into Social Security to balance their own books, not Social Security.
    >
    > You may want to read-up on the actual meaning of ‘cash flow’.

    Of course it’s not unfunded. It’s just sending out more money than is being put in. The alleged “trust fund” account still has a positive book balance, yes, but that balance is now shrinking. You may want to read up on the actual meaning of ‘cash flow’.

    Additionally, you may want to read up on government accounting rules, particularly for Social Security. It’s accounted on what would vaguely be called a cash-flow basis in the private sector, which is why so many call fraud on it–it doesn’t accumulate its liabilities ratably, only accounting for current expenses.

  76. Sweet jesus, there is nothing funnier than a bunch of psuedo-libertarians trying to convince themselves that the GOP is a better reflection of their views than the Dems.

  77. @Jeff Rea
    > If you want to smoke weed, terminate a pregnancy,
    > or marry someone of the same sex, the “states’ rights” crowd have no qualms about using federal power to prevent you from doing so.

    LOL. And would you explain what any of those have to do with race? Your thinking is more muddled than even the typical leftist-progressive.

    States rights is about obeying the constitution. That’s the source.

    It’s also about allowing the “laboratory of democracy” to actually work as such. There’s no laboratory when all answers are being decided by the Cathedral.

    It’s also about reducing the size, scope and power of central government. Central planning doesn’t work. Not for the economy or anything else. That’s been proven; it’s no longer a point of debate. So if the USG isn’t going to decide every single thing, where would it likely fall next. The law of the land already answered that.

  78. Sorry, no — “states’ rights” is code language for racism.

    Only among leftists who want to tar those who demand freedom with the broad brush of racism so they don’t have to answer substantive arguments.

  79. > I wonder what happened to her. I remember a time about a decade and a half ago when she was actually able to make me laugh with her stand-up routine. I’m not sure when she turned into the bitter crone we see today.

    For Garrison Keillor it was the election of Bush. But that was around the time I became a conservative. Maybe he was always that way and I just hadn’t noticed.

    Yours,
    Tom

  80. Morgan Greywolf: The only reason anyone would participate in massive voter registration would be in order to cast fraudulent ballots.

    Or, y’know, because like the actual investigation showed, the workers didn’t want to bother actually registering people, so they turned in fake registrations in order to get paid. But why bother looking into it, when playing to our own preconceptions is so much more fun?

    But since you have the fraudulent registrations, there can’t even be plausible deniability; one has to assume if there were fraudulent registrations, there were fraudulent ballots cast.

    By who? Lazy registration workers turned in obviously fake registrations; do you think the secret (undetectable!) master plan was to have them then show up at the polling places to vote in the name of Donald Duck? Why did the investigation that turned up a number of cases of actual voter fraud fail to

    esr: In view of ACORN’s known conduct and the degree of corruption we know was endemic there,

    Could you be more specific about the corruption you know about? The registration fraud was carried out by lazy or incompetent minimum-wage people; I don’t see how that necessarily implies a conspiracy reaching to the very top of the organization–which, again, a whole heap of investigators were unable to uncover. You’re still positing an unrealistically specific level of evil competence.

  81. @grendelkhan:

    Maybe SOME of it was lazy workers. Much of it was fraud. There have been indictments and convictions after all.

    And there are several ways to leverage fraudulent registration (which is really the only way to manipulate the vote in most areas).

    Create fake credentials so the same person can vote in multiple districts. The people working the polls have no way to validate a drivers license.

    Overwhelm the registrar of voters. It won’t get a lot of fake voters in, but the overload may keep legitimate votes out. And depressing the opposition’s support is effectively the same as creating votes for your guy out of whole cloth.

    Create enough fraudulent registrations to keep the election tied up in court while your shills in the media continue to pound your opponent. Try to encourage him to concede “for the good of the people and the state” (note, this happened in Washington state, and they got a disaster of a governor for it).

    Of course, the leftists also got same-day registration in many states, so that they can just bus in a bunch of people from outside with bogus credentials and get them to cast ballots for the “right” candidates. Same with “motor voter”. The left put these into place to facilitate vote fraud, not to expand access as they claim.

  82. > Only among leftists who want to tar those who demand freedom with the broad brush of racism so they don’t have to answer substantive arguments.

    Spare me the rhetorical flourishes.

    It’s always surprised me how litle introspection is shown by the fabled “those who demand freedom”.

    Why is it that a good deal of the social policy platform of the pseudo-libertarian conservatives is about pretty much the opposite of “freedom” (abortion, gay marriage, drug policy generally etc.)

  83. Pardon me; part of the second paragraph of the last was truncated. It should read “Why did the investigation that turned up a number of cases of actual voter fraud fail to turn up anything whatsoever to back up your claim of an organized campaign to commit voter fraud?”

    Michael: You said “They’re about electing super-Republican Republicans.” Implication: not only do we have to worry about garden-variety evil republicans, now we have genetically enhanced bionic Republicans to worry about also. And they’re funded by the Koch Brothers!!!!!

    Hm. Perhaps I was unclear. Nobody the Tea Party is backing departs particularly far from party orthodoxy, despite the revolutionary rhetoric. They’re not “more Republican than Republican”; they’re just “the Republicanest of the Republicans”, if that makes any sense.

    I point out that they’re funded by the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks not to discredit their ardency, but to point out that the movement’s politics have shifted from their more-libertarian beginnings. The funding clearly changed the nature of the movement such that I strongly predict that it’ll end up advocating nothing more revolutionary than cutting taxes and social programs (but not Social Security or Medicare) and doing a whole lot of culture-war grumbling. In other words, the Republican platform.

    To refer to GWB as a communist wouldn’t require all that much hyperbole, truly. Secret prisions, torture, takeover of private industry, endless foreign wars of occupation, just to name a few.

    “Communist” is not a synonym for “totalitarian”. Just because Communists did evil things, and Bush did evil things, it does not follow that Bush was a secret Communist.

    And on John McCain: legislating away free speech, wide-open borders, endless social programs, endless foreign wars, are all progressive-leftist causes and I’m forgetting most of them. And bombing Iran seems to have wide bi-partisan support.

    “Endless foreign wars” are progressive-leftist causes? I seem to remember the current wars being profoundly unpopular among the left, and Obama being elected largely on promises to end the Iraq war. Invading or bombing Iran looks to have bipartisan support only because further-left politics simply don’t make an appearance in the debate.

    Acksiom: But yeah, sure, fraudulent registration has noooooooothing to do with with fradulent voting. Not a thing. Nope. And pay no attention to that smoke behind the curtain.

    That’d be a really good point if I’d ever said that fraudulent registration has nothing to do with fraudulent voting. I said that registration fraud isn’t the same thing as voter fraud, and that while ACORN employees clearly committed the former, there’s no evidence that thy committed the latter, which kind of undercuts the “ACORN stole the election” argument believed by a majority of Republicans.

    Um, but. . .would this be the same ACORN where the employees of multiple offices got nailed in a private journalism sting for helping a supposed pimp set up a brothel with underaged illegal alien hookers, including tax evasion advice?

    I suppose if that’s relevant to determining whether or not ACORN was involved in a voter-fraud conspiracy–complete lack of evidence notwithstanding–then it’s relevant to point out that this is the same James O’Keefe who thought it would be an awesome idea to attempt to lure a CNN reporter onto a boat and secretly record his attempt at seducing her? (“This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.”)

  84. >Could you be more specific about the corruption you know about?

    Google for “ACORN embezzlement” for starters.

  85. > The left put these into place to facilitate vote fraud, not to expand access as they claim.

    Sorry, what’s that now? Conservative paranoia much?

    Maybe you’re just upset because increasing access to voting in most “disadvantaged” areas generally means more democrat votes.

  86. Tom: Maybe SOME of it was lazy workers. Much of it was fraud. There have been indictments and convictions after all.

    Lazy workers committed registration fraud. There were convictions for registration fraud. There’s no evidence of any organized campaign to influence the election. From a story about the indictments in Washington State: “The defendants, who were paid employees and supervisors of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, concocted the scheme as an easy way to get paid, not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections”.

    JB: Is it fair to presume that, given if what you say is true, if the “ideology” or message of the KochArmey were (let’s say) a populist progressive message, it would garner the same kind of mass approbation? If no, then, honestly, what’s the effin difference here? If someone who agrees with you gives you a crapload of money, where’s the sinister puppeteering?

    The sinister puppeteering is evident in the way that the Tea Party’s focus has shifted. As I said above, the main goals of the Tea Party appear to be the same as the more conservative wing of the Republican party. (See how Michael can claim with a straight face that John McCain is a “progressive-leftist”? That’s the kind of purity contest they’re engaging in.) They weren’t previously–as I pointed out, Ron Paul and his ideas–which overlap considerably with conservatism but differ in a lot of places as well–were previously quite prominent in the movement; they have far less influence now that it’s been absorbed into the larger conservative movement.

    Michael: LOL. And would you explain what any of those have to do with race? Your thinking is more muddled than even the typical leftist-progressive.

    I don’t think you understand what you’re replying to. Conservatives claim to believe in states’ rights, but when a state wants to do something like legalize weed or gay marriage, they don’t hesitate to drop the federal hammer. But the phrase has historically been used to mean that, for instance, states have the right to enforce segregation, to resist the civil rights legislation that the federal government attempted to force on them in the 1950s and ’60s. (It’s kind of historical, which I think is why it’s not used very often nowadays.)

  87. Why is it that a good deal of the social policy platform of the pseudo-libertarian conservatives is about pretty much the opposite of “freedom” (abortion, gay marriage, drug policy generally etc.)

    Before you use that broad brush again, you might ascertain whether it's actually warranted. I consider myself a conservative with libertarian leanings, and I suspect you'd agree with my positions on the issues you cite.

    You see, embracing freedom in all of its glory doesn't require introspection. It merely requires following it wherever it leads.

    I’m beginning to think “introspection” is like “nuance”: a red flag that warns a reasonable person that a leftist is about to make a grab for your wallet.

  88. esr: Google for “ACORN embezzlement” for starters.

    The founder’s brother embezzled at least a million dollars back around 1999 or 2000, and the founder helped him cover it up while he started to pay the money back. (There were apparently reports last October that the actual value may have been higher–more like five million–but I didn’t see anything following up on it with the results of the local DA’s investigation. Maybe it didn’t pan out?) That is pretty corrupt… but it still doesn’t have anything to do with a campaign of voter fraud. Just like the fraud at the lowest levels, it looks like personal greed and venality, not a mustache-twirling plot to steal an election. And, again, given the level of competence on display here, it strains credulity to imagine that none of the numerous investigations into possible voter fraud came up with anything at all to imply the conspiracy that enjoys widespread belief in the Republican party.

  89. Eric,

    This analysis ignores a large group: independents and swing voters. There is a political scientist who is very good at predicting the Presidential winner based on the economy alone. If the economy is good, we elect the the candidate of the party of the current President. If bad, the opposition.

    Which means we are being governed by a bunch of single issue voters, and it isn’t gun control or abortion. All these things we (from anarchists to progressives) care about – whether it’s freedom or equality of outcome – aren’t the deciding factor for the swing voters. It’s just the economy – which is something the government cannot control very well. But once you know this it explains why politicians try so hard to control it, even though they can’t.

    We are getting the government the swing voters want and that reality constrains – obsessed about the economy and helpless to do anything about it.

    Yours,
    Tom

  90. >I’m beginning to think “introspection” is like “nuance”: a red flag that warns a reasonable person that a leftist is about to make a grab for your wallet.

    There’s a Western with the following lines in it:

    Good Guy: “You’re lyin’.”

    Grifter: “What? How did you know that?”

    Good Guy: “Yer lips are movin’.”

  91. Registration fraud facilitates “found” absentee ballots for close elections. Hence the aphorism, “if it’s not close, they can’t cheat.”

    “Maybe you’re just upset because increasing access to voting in most “disadvantaged” areas generally means more democrat votes.”

    If it’s dead disadvantaged people and their household pets, he probably has a right to be.

  92. One possible problem with Democrats’ embrace of drug decriminalization is the jarring discordance with the rest of their nanny-statist program. You need a serious talent for BS to convince Joe Average that heroin should be legal while transfats, e.g. shouldn’t.

  93. > I consider myself a conservative with libertarian leanings, and I suspect you’d agree with my positions on the issues you cite.

    So you agree with the brie-nibbling left-liberal progressives on social policy. Good for you.

  94. >Social Security is not now unfunded.

    Social security has been “unfunded” since day one. It’s always been a Ponzi scheme, and it has never invested any of the payroll tax in any profitable manner. If a private company tried to pull the kind of shit that the SSA does, everyone involved would be behind bars. Imagine a company using its pension funds to buy its own debt!

  95. Tom:

    Sorry, what’s that now? Conservative paranoia much?

    Maybe you’re just upset because increasing access to voting in most “disadvantaged” areas generally means more democrat votes.

    Uh, no. Because of Motor Voter and election-day registration we are now ending up with several districts where there were more votes cast than residents. Not eligible voters: residents.

    Although from a purely minarchist standpoint I do not support universal franchise. Only those who have property or business holdings (i.e. those with something to lose) should be voting. If government isn’t going to cost you, you get no say in running it, because you will always end up demanding more and more from the producers while calling them greedy for not giving you enough.

    Tom:

    It’s always surprised me how litle introspection is shown by the fabled “those who demand freedom”.

    Why is it that a good deal of the social policy platform of the pseudo-libertarian conservatives is about pretty much the opposite of “freedom” (abortion, gay marriage, drug policy generally etc.)

    It always amazes me how people play this card and dismiss all explanations as though they know the minds of those who hold them.

    Abortion is a human rights issue. You no more have the right to decide the fate of an innocent 30 year old than you do a gestating fetus.

    Gay marriage is bad on two fronts. First, it extends something the government had no right co-opting in the first place, thus enlarging their power and influence. Second, it violates the reason that government stuck its nose into marriage in the first place – encouraging procreation by having a provable inheritance system in place.

    And drug policy, while misguided in its present state, is simply about preventing you from imposing upon my rights. The anti-drug-war people are always telling me that the government has no business telling them what to do with their bodies, but can’t show me any examples of, for instance, a productive heroin user. Drug policy is as much about keeping people off the dole as it is about preventing junkies from fucking up other people’s lives.

  96. The anti-drug-war people are always telling me that the government has no business telling them what to do with their bodies, but can’t show me any examples of, for instance, a productive heroin user.

    William Burroughs.

    In general, of course, productive heroin users can be expected to keep quiet about their habit.

  97. @Nancy – but even at that, what’s the ratio? A million to one? Is one man’s freedom worth a million burdens upon the productive? At some point we get to decide where your freedom ends.

    After all, your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose.

  98. “Sorry, no — “states’ rights” is code language for racism. The proof lies in the vocal support from the right in the past for increased state power when it comes to things like segregation, but not gay marriage, drug prohibition, or abortion. If you want to smoke weed, terminate a pregnancy, or marry someone of the same sex, the “states’ rights” crowd have no qualms about using federal power to prevent you from doing so.”

    Jeff, I’ve read a lot of your comments here and find that often you add to the conversation with your (relative to this site) contrarian views. …but this? Man, I have to call bullshit, here. I *am* one of those states rights people and have been for a LONG time…and like most states rights supporters, I take a rather narrow view on the commerce clause – weed grown in California (or insert your state here) and consumed in California is none of the Fed’s damned business. As for gay marriage. Again…don’t care. If your state is cool with that, fine – but by the same token, I don’t think that one state’s recognition should automatically be forced upon another state. I don’t recall anything in the Constitution that guarantees recognition of marriage – ANY form of it – that must be honored across state lines. (And don’t even think about accusing me of supporting some (federal) constitutional ban on gay marriage – the very concept of embedding something so trivial into our national contract is quite repugnant to me as wells as most states rights supporters; see the 18th and 21st amendments for examples.)

    Likewise regarding abortion – it’s a STATES RIGHTS issue. If, e.g., Kansas says life begins at conception, then in Kansas such will be honored. If in some other state life begins on the first breath, then in that state, such will be honored. Not cool with that? Pick one of the other 49 states to live in. This isn’t rocket science Jeff, and it isn’t closet racism, either.

  99. You need a serious talent for BS to convince Joe Average that heroin should be legal while transfats, e.g. shouldn’t.

    I could be wrong, but I think the whole transfats thing is more a matter of disclosure. If heroin were legal, and restaurants were adding it to food because they found it increased repeat business, I think the same people up in arms about the hidden transfats would be up in arms about the hidden heroin.

  100. Brian, at best the war on drugs represents a hope of a net gain in productivity. Aside from matters of rights (people own their time), the drug war is tremendously expensive, not just in money, but in years lost to prison (and people working as police and guards who could be doing something more useful), and productivity lost because even when people get out, their reputations (and thus, employability) are damaged.

    Is there anything you think is good for society that you think shouldn’t be nationally enforced?

  101. Brian:

    Abortion is a human rights issue. You no more have the right to decide the fate of an innocent 30 year old than you do a gestating fetus.

    The problem is that the gestating fetus has no right to demand that another human being be plumbed to it and support it biologically. (NOT financially or in any other way. I’m talking strictly biology.) The mother has the absolute right to associate herself or not as she chooses. The innocent 30 year old has demonstrated that he can survive without being biologically connected to another person.

    Second, it violates the reason that government stuck its nose into marriage in the first place – encouraging procreation by having a provable inheritance system in place.

    Baloney. This objection runs afoul of couples who do not and will not have children. If you prohibit those marriages, then I’ll believe that argument.

    I do agree that government should be out of the marriage business. I’m of the opinion that there should be a civil contract that replaces it for governmental purposes, and available to any two competent, freely consenting adults (I’m undecided as to groups of more than two, but while I’m wishing, I’d like a pony).

    I’m convinced that the war on drugs needs to be done away with. I’m not comfortable with the message that will send (decriminalizing them will tell people that they’re acceptable, whether that’s the intended message or not), but thinking about the futility of banning guns led to me to realize that banning drugs will be just as futile.

    Tom:

    So you agree with the brie-nibbling left-liberal progressives on social policy. Good for you.

    Some social policy, by no means all. I am very much in favor of the death penalty, to pick one example.

  102. Nate:

    As for gay marriage. Again…don’t care. If your state is cool with that, fine – but by the same token, I don’t think that one state’s recognition should automatically be forced upon another state. I don’t recall anything in the Constitution that guarantees recognition of marriage – ANY form of it – that must be honored across state lines.

    Article IV, section 1 of the Constitution:

    Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

    Frankly, I find the federal Defense of Marriage Act (what a misnomer!) fails this test, and is therefore unconstitutional.

  103. And drug policy, while misguided in its present state, is simply about preventing you from imposing upon my rights.

    Aside from the entrenched interests, the most vocal proponents of draconian drug laws that I personally know are those cowering, fearful parents who just want somebody, ANYbody, to keep all the evil influences away from their children, and they sound just like you do here. I always find it interesting that those on both “ends” of what is nominally considered to be the mainstream political “spectrum” want more government to take care of this sort of illusory problem (though the actual illusory problem differs depending on which end of the spectrum is being discussed).

    If the government simply allowed the market to provide enough cheap heroin to all comers, the druggies wouldn’t be busy stealing your VCR; they would be self-medicating themselves to death. Personally, I hate the laws that practically require the unemployable to steal my VCR in order to get their next fix.

    As the Opium Wars have shown us, the concern that heroin users won’t be productive is probably a much more realistic concern than that they will otherwise become a menace to society. As Prohibition and subsequent events have shown us, education, social mores, and legal action against people who choose to operate lethal machinery while deliberately incapacitated are much more effective at reducing the negative effects of drugs on society than artificially restricting the supply and providing a lucrative illegal trade.

  104. >Some social policy, by no means all. I am very much in favor of the death penalty, to pick one example.

    I’ve actually changed my mind about this. I now think the power to execute citizens in peacetime conditions is so dangerous that government should be stripped of it. The only death penalty I now support is that exacted at the time of the crime by the victim in self-defense.

  105. Nancy:

    Is there anything you think is good for society that you think shouldn’t be nationally enforced?

    Most things, actually. Government (at any level) primarily exists to stop you from infringing my rights and vice-versa. Secondarily, it exists to ensure that you and I live up to any contractual agreements we enter. And other than those tasks designated to the federal government in the Constitution, there’s not much else for government to be doing absent a mandate from the masses, and a sober assessment of whether or not government ought to do something just because it can.

    Jay Maynard:

    The problem is that the gestating fetus has no right to demand that another human being be plumbed to it and support it biologically. (NOT financially or in any other way. I’m talking strictly biology.) The mother has the absolute right to associate herself or not as she chooses. The innocent 30 year old has demonstrated that he can survive without being biologically connected to another person.

    The mother forfeited that right when she got pregnant. Engaging in sex is de facto consent to carry a child (for the woman), and de facto consent to be responsible for said child (for the man). No, I’m not going to get dragged into a discussion about rape.

    Baloney. This objection runs afoul of couples who do not and will not have children. If you prohibit those marriages, then I’ll believe that argument.

    So long as the government is granting incentives for marriage and procreation, I would prohibit those marriages. When you enter a civil marriage, you are entering a three-party contract – you, your spouse, and the state. And in exchange for financial considerations to you, the state is expecting new taxpayers from you in return. Not having children puts you in breach of that contract.

    One man’s opinion, for what its worth.

  106. Jay:

    Frankly, I find the federal Defense of Marriage Act (what a misnomer!) fails this test, and is therefore unconstitutional.

    I’ll agree with you there. Furthermore, any attempt to put a “definition of marriage” into the Constitution renders the document meaningless, as its sole purpose is to limit what government may do. Couching it in language to say “it only prevents the government from recognizing gay marriage” is bullshit. It is modifying the Constitution to limit the people.

  107. Patrick Maupin:

    Aside from the entrenched interests, the most vocal proponents of draconian drug laws that I personally know are those cowering, fearful parents who just want somebody, ANYbody, to keep all the evil influences away from their children, and they sound just like you do here.

    Personally, I could not give a damn about “the children”. If the druggies were content to leave me the hell alone and not demand my money in the form of welfare, they could stay wasted all the time. It’s the job of parents to protect their children, not the government.

    If the government simply allowed the market to provide enough cheap heroin to all comers, the druggies wouldn’t be busy stealing your VCR; they would be self-medicating themselves to death. Personally, I hate the laws that practically require the unemployable to steal my VCR in order to get their next fix.

    I hear this argument from the legalizers all the time. Doesn’t wash. You make it legal, nobody will want to sell it for fear of liability. And even if someone does sell it, they will get robbed repeatedly. What part of “no visible source of income” is missed here? Why do you think so many hard users turn to selling? It’s the only way that they can buy their junk. Making heroin dirt cheap won’t do a damn thing to reduce crime.

    As the Opium Wars have shown us, the concern that heroin users won’t be productive is probably a much more realistic concern than that they will otherwise become a menace to society. As Prohibition and subsequent events have shown us, education, social mores, and legal action against people who choose to operate lethal machinery while deliberately incapacitated are much more effective at reducing the negative effects of drugs on society than artificially restricting the supply and providing a lucrative illegal trade.

    Yeah, that’s done so well for drunk driving. Now I have to deal with the indignity of checkpoints, and MADD isn’t satisified with that.

    It’s a lose-lose situation, really. Until more people practice armed self-defense and more junkies start dying at the hands of their would-be victims I don’t see drug abuse abating. Shooting the perps has certainly reduced carjackings and home invasions.

    esr:

    I now think the power to execute citizens in peacetime conditions is so dangerous that government should be stripped of it. The only death penalty I now support is that exacted at the time of the crime by the victim in self-defense.

    This.

  108. @Brian: Why would you not get ‘dragged into a conversation’ about rape? Isn’t that a pretty big issue on the whole subject of consenting to be pregnant? How can that just be ignored as a triviality?

    I’m not trying to pick an argument. I haven’t really even formed my own opinion on abortion yet. Just seems strange to refuse to discuss such a large section of an issue you willingly engaged on.

  109. I’m not dismissing it, but it’s a long discussion, brings out the raging screamers, and is so far afield of the original topic as to be not worth talking about here.

  110. To put a conclusion on it: The state has no business having a legal opinion on abortion at all. It is a matter of conscience. If you conclude that you want an abortion, that’s between you and your god(s). I would like to convince you otherwise, but if I can’t I won’t stand in your way.

  111. > I don’t think you understand what you’re replying to. Conservatives claim to believe in states’ rights, but when a state wants to do something
    > like legalize weed or gay marriage, they don’t hesitate to drop the federal hammer.

    I very much understand what I’m replying to.

    Would you point out who these “Conservatives” are who are dropping this federal hammer. You’re going to answer “Republicans”, I assume. Republicans aren’t conservatives, they’re leftist-progressives. They believe in essentially everything the left believes in, only just going slowly about it so the corporatists can keep up.

    But I must point out that the Federal level is the only place anyone can “drop the hammer”. The states have essentially been stripped of their lawmaking ability. The states can now neither permit nor abolish anything. Calif legalize weed, nope. Montana legalize in-state gun sales, nope.

    The left-progressives have centralized and federalized *everything*. There is nowhere else anything can be done. But it’s the world you left-progressives have built, deal.

    > But the phrase has historically been used to mean that, for instance, states have the right to enforce segregation, to resist the civil rights
    > legislation that the federal government attempted to force on them in the 1950s and ’60s. (It’s kind of historical, which I think is why it’s not used
    > very often nowadays.)

    You keep wanting to bring up segregation. That thread is a half century old. Perhaps we could talk about the Inquisition also.

  112. @brian: “You make it legal, nobody will want to sell it for fear of liability.”

    If it is legal to sell, why would I be liable for selling it? The liquor store isn’t held responsible if I punch someone while drunk.
    What are you imagining as ‘legal’ that doesn’t include selling? I do agree somewhat with your point that there wouldn’t be a complete disappearance of crime, though.

  113. @grendelkhan

    “Why did the investigation that turned up a number of cases of actual voter fraud fail to turn up anything whatsoever to back up your claim of an organized campaign to commit voter fraud?”

    What better way to hide actual voter fraud than with a bunch of obviously fake voter registrations? One thing you can’t deny is that ACORN is actually a very shady organization and that this isn’t the first time they’ve been investigated for corruption. I’m going to assume the worst from ACORN because their track record speaks for itself.

    First of all, ACORN was organized as a 501(c)(3), which precludes them from endorsing specific candidates or parties, yet, they lobbied at every DNC since 1980 and clearly endorsed specific candidates, including Barack Obama. (Full disclosure: I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 mostly because A) I strongly dislike Sarah Palin and B) I was sick of John McCain switching his platform with whichever way the wind was blowing.) Such actions are in direct violation of federal law.

    Secondly, there was the embezzlement of nearly $1 million by Dale Rathke. It’s very likely that Wade Rathke, the organization’s founder and Dale Rathke’s brother, was also involved.

    Lastly, I’m not even sure that the investigation into the undercover videos was fair and unbiased; after all, it was conducted by Jerry Brown. You remember Jerry Brown: he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992.

    Finally, why would a Democratic Party-led Congress and a Democrat POTUS sign into law, a bill which defunded this organization if there wasn’t any hanky-panky going on?

  114. @Adriano:

    Liability from the families of those who overdose. Liability from overzealous attorneys general (a la the tobacco settlement).

    Of course, if it was made legal, it would be trapped in FDA approvals for decades anyhow.

    Liquor stores might not be held responsible, but bars are. Even though the bars are legally forbidden from deciding you’re too drunk to serve and can’t stop you leaving. But they’re still liable if you have an accident on the way home.

    Back to the crime thing – you wouldn’t stop the petty property crimes and muggings, because the junkies would still be destitute (unless someone is planning to bankroll their next fix, because I’m certainly not gonna let taxes pay for it). You wouldn’t stop the gang-related crimes, because they’d be shaking down stores for protection and still fighting turf wars over who gets to “protect” whom.

    Drugs are almost exclusively used irresponsibly by irresponsible people. Alcohol much less so. This may be cultural, but it may also just be due to the way these things effect the body and brain.

  115. “I could be wrong, but I think the whole transfats thing is more a matter of disclosure. ”

    It’s more of a bottom up movement for now (Philadelphia, Nassau Co. kitchen ban, SF is threatening as well etc.) but how realistic is it to expect nanny statists to restrain themselves?

    The point is — the same people who want to micromanage our lives are going to make a glaring exception for smack? Same people who warn of dangers of smoking, transfats, riding bikes without helmets, and so on ad infinitum?

  116. You wanna see a lefties head explode? Ask them why they support smoking bans and pot legalization at the same time.

  117. @grendelkhan
    > Hm. Perhaps I was unclear. Nobody the Tea Party is backing departs particularly far from party orthodoxy, despite the revolutionary rhetoric.
    > They’re not “more Republican than Republican”; they’re just “the Republicanest of the Republicans”, if that makes any sense.

    I think I understand what you’re saying. But I submit you’re confused. The TEA party tends to be conservative. Republicans not at all. Your statement would be like saying that oranges are the most apple of all.

    @grendelkhan
    > I point out that they’re funded by the Koch brothers and FreedomWorks not to discredit their ardency, but to point out that the movement’s politics
    > have shifted from their more-libertarian beginnings. The funding clearly changed the nature of the movement such that I strongly predict that it’ll
    > end up advocating nothing more revolutionary than cutting taxes and social programs (but not Social Security or Medicare) and doing a whole lot of
    > culture-war grumbling. In other words, the Republican platform.

    I’ll take your word for that, but that’ s not at all how your statements came across. Can you cite something authoritative to regarding this funded shift. (If you’re planning to link to some talking-point leftist thing, don’t bother. They lie. Pretty much always.)

    Here’s what the TEA party is doing, in a nutshell: taking down establishment Dems and Repubs and replacing them with (fairly conservative) outsiders largely having no political experience or affiliation. Are the Koch brothers behind that? If so, good for ‘em. But I submit you’re looking for some boogeyman or causality chain that isn’t there.

    The TEA party was never very libertarian, regrettably. TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. It was primarily reactionary to the bailouts and an administration that is bent on spending us into oblivion. But a lot of other conservative ideas are tagging along as well as a few libertarian ones.

  118. @grendelkhan
    > “Communist” is not a synonym for “totalitarian”. Just because Communists did evil things, and Bush did evil things, it does not follow that
    > Bush was a secret Communist.

    Never said so. You sure like putting words in people’s mouths. Most of the things Bush did during his terms would fit very well in a proto-communist movement.

    @grendelkhan
    > “Endless foreign wars” are progressive-leftist causes? I seem to remember the current wars being profoundly unpopular among the left, and
    > Obama being elected largely on promises to end the Iraq war. Invading or bombing Iran looks to have bipartisan support only because
    > further-left politics simply don’t make an appearance in the debate.

    Yes, “endless foreign wars” is left-progressive. You forget that the neo-cons were originally democrats. They follow whoever is in power (in the WH mostly). But I should be more specific. Endless ‘foreign nation-building at the point of a gun’ is what we’re really doing and it is a leftist movement. This can be easily proven in that the form of government they’re putting in place (everywhere possible) is western social democrat. Oh and you do remember Somalia and Bosnia, right?

    I very much say it with a straight face: John McCain is a leftist-progressive. As are most establishment Republicans.

    Here is a suggestion: when looking at politicos, look at what they do not what they say. Then analyze what they are putting in place and what it indicates about their core beliefs and tendencies.

  119. “The left-progressives have centralized and federalized *everything*. ”

    Which is why, as I’ve been saying, the killer app of the TP/Conservatism should be returning power to the states, via Constitutional amendments if needed.

  120. @esr
    There’s something broke here. I keep trying to leave a comment (a wonderful one, no doubt), it keeps telling me “you said that already” but the comment won’t appear. Tried a different browser to make sure it wasn’t a cache thing.

  121. Jay:

    I see your point with the cited Article; however, I would also think there to be considerable “wiggle” room there. In the definition of “marriage”; one state could declare that the semantics of marriage defined in one place is not the same as defined here, and thus that they do not have to give full faith to it. I believe that the portability of concealed carry might be similar, here. Honoring a birth or death certificate in another state is a bit more (semantically) clear, in that sense.

    For a bit more personal context, I admit to much misunderstanding on my part re: “marriage” vs. civil unions – not understanding what exactly are the terms of the debate. I can infer now that, in the context of the cited Article, perhaps the use of the word “marriage” (vs. “civil union”) is an attempt to guarantee a linkage in the semantics across state lines.

    As per your other comment, I too am on board with the “government should be out of the marriage business” altogether; however, the concept of marriage (and more so the implicit understanding that marriages result in progeny) is now so embedded in our social welfare system, etc – getting gov’t out of that business would be a very difficult endeavor, indeed. (I want a pony, too – preferably one that’s nice and has pretty spots on it.)

  122. Brian:

    The mother forfeited that right when she got pregnant. Engaging in sex is de facto consent to carry a child (for the woman), and de facto consent to be responsible for said child (for the man).

    Too many edge cases where there was clearly no intent on either part to conceive. She’s a woman, not a baby factory, and she loses no rights at all.

    The state has no business having a legal opinion on abortion at all. It is a matter of conscience.

    All right, I can agree to this. It’s an unusual stance for someone who feels as you do about abortion to take, but I think it’s the correct one.

    Eric:

    I now think the power to execute citizens in peacetime conditions is so dangerous that government should be stripped of it.

    The problem I have with this is that there are some crimes for which no lesser penalty is appropriate, and I object to life without parole on the basis that I should not be forced at gunpoint to support a criminal for the remainder of his days.

    Michael:

    Republicans aren’t conservatives, they’re leftist-progressives.

    I find this so thoroughly offensive that, were you to say it in person, I’d have a hard time remembering that dueling has passed out of custom. I am not a leftist-progressive, yet I am (if somewhat uneasily) a Republican.

  123. Brian:

    the bars are legally forbidden from deciding you’re too drunk to serve

    Uhm…huh? Every state I know of has a law that says a bar can’t serve a drink to someone who’s intoxicated.

  124. > Republicans aren’t conservatives, they’re leftist-progressives.

    @Jay Maynard
    I find this so thoroughly offensive that, were you to say it in person, I’d have a hard time remembering that dueling has passed out of custom. I am not a leftist-progressive, yet I am (if somewhat uneasily) a Republican.

    Hehe. From what I can glean of your ideas, I’m surprised you’d want to be called a Republican. Especially in the post-GWB era. You sure you’re not having an identity crisis or something, bro? :-)

  125. Michael, I was proud to vote for GWB 4 times, twice as governor of Texas and twice as President. Yes, he did things I disagree with, but he was far, far better than the alternatives I was offered. (His second opponent for Texas governor, Garry Mauro, said “If you can think of one thing George Bush did for you, vote for him.” I could (he signed the CCW law Queen Anne Richards vetoed), and I did. Mauro was crushed.) There’s no way in hell I’d have voted for Al Gore or John Kerry. Yes, the Republican Party needs to be dragged back to its core principles. Given that my real choices are either Democrat or Republican, though, it’ll take an unusual Republican and an even more unusual Democrat for me to consider voting for the Democrat.

    That the Republican Party has strayed does not make it “leftist-progressive”, however, except maybe in the eyes of a right-wing radical maniac. Are you sure you’re not a John Bircher?

    And if that question offends you, good. Perhaps you’ll find it as offensive as I found being called a leftist-progressive.

  126. >The problem I have with this is that there are some crimes for which no lesser penalty is appropriate, and I object to life without parole on the basis that I should not be forced at gunpoint to support a criminal for the remainder of his days.

    These are the arguments that formerly persuaded me. They no longer do.

    >[Michael,] I find this so thoroughly offensive that, were you to say it in person, I’d have a hard time remembering that dueling has passed out of custom.

    I am no conservative but I think you are quite right to be offended by this. Should you require a second I would consider it an honor to serve. ;-)

  127. Jay Maynard:

    Too many edge cases where there was clearly no intent on either part to conceive. She’s a woman, not a baby factory, and she loses no rights at all.

    No, not too many. Really only where consent either cannot or has not been given. Consenting to sex is consenting to all possible outcomes thereof. If you didn’t ask your partner if they have AIDS, you can’t complain when you get sick. If you asked and they lied, you’ve got them on fraud. If pregnancy results, then there’s two people on the hook for a baby that they created. I sincerely doubt that there’s a preponderance of people who don’t know where babies come from. And if there is, then somewhere along the line we’ve failed.

    All right, I can agree to this. It’s an unusual stance for someone who feels as you do about abortion to take, but I think it’s the correct one.

    It’s correct only in that the state is really incompetent to offer guidance. What do we do, start throwing people in jail for it? I doubt it would have a deterrent effect, and the kind of punishment government can offer is not really appropriate. Abortion isn’t the same as shooting an adult in the head. But it is still the intentional taking of a life that cannot be consulted. Abortion will only go away when people have concluded that it’s a moral wrong, not when the government waves a magic wand and makes it illegal again. Which won’t happen anyhow, because the Supreme Court isn’t about top admit that it screwed the pooch on Roe.

    Uhm…huh? Every state I know of has a law that says a bar can’t serve a drink to someone who’s intoxicated.

    Yup – and bars have been sued and lost because the bartender isn’t legally competent to determine if they’re sufficiently drunk, and they aren’t allowed to administer breathalyzer tests.

    @Michael – Bush was a liberal statist. I’ll say what I think Jay will – I didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me.

  128. dang it – screwed up the tags.

    Jay Maynard:

    Uhm…huh? Every state I know of has a law that says a bar can’t serve a drink to someone who’s intoxicated.

    Yup – and bars have been sued and lost because the bartender isn’t legally competent to determine if they’re sufficiently drunk, and they aren’t allowed to administer breathalyzer tests.

    @Michael – Bush was a liberal statist. I’ll say what I think Jay will – I didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me.

  129. @Brian:

    > Liability from the families of those who overdose. Liability from overzealous attorneys general (a la the tobacco settlement).

    You could view the fact that they still allow tobacco sales cynically, like “don’t kill the golden goose.” Or you could view it, like I do, that it is really a disclosure issue, same as with the trans-fats, and that the tobacco companies are rightly being punished for willfully misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.

    > You wanna see a lefties head explode? Ask them why they support smoking bans and pot legalization at the same time.

    I don’t know if I’m a “leftie” or not, but I support both pot legalization and public smoking bans. I just don’t want your (tobacco or pot) smoke in my face in public locations, but knock yourself out if you want to pollute your own space.

  130. @Jay
    “Michael, I was proud to vote for GWB 4 times, twice as governor of Texas and twice as President. Yes, he did things I disagree with, but he was far, far better than the alternatives I was offered. (His second opponent for Texas governor, Garry Mauro, said “If you can think of one thing George Bush did for you, vote for him.” I could (he signed the CCW law Queen Anne Richards vetoed), and I did. Mauro was crushed.) There’s no way in hell I’d have voted for Al Gore or John Kerry. Yes, the Republican Party needs to be dragged back to its core principles. Given that my real choices are either Democrat or Republican, though, it’ll take an unusual Republican and an even more unusual Democrat for me to consider voting for the Democrat.

    That the Republican Party has strayed does not make it “leftist-progressive”, however, except maybe in the eyes of a right-wing radical maniac. Are you sure you’re not a John Bircher?

    And if that question offends you, good. Perhaps you’ll find it as offensive as I found being called a leftist-progressive.”

    I was living in the Houston area when Queen Anne refused to allow allow the citizens of TX to decide for themselves if they wanted CCW. So I share the sympathy.

    I’m unable to be offended at the John Birch reference as I’m only vaguely aware of them.

    (I’m now having difficulty determining if I actually offended you or it was said tongue-in-cheek. Forgive, if so.) Note when I said “Republicans” are left-progressive I didn’t mean local people who (uneasily or otherwise) identify with the Republican party. I’m specifically referring to recent national office holders and the RNC machinery and a few highly visible talking heads and some state-level people (Arnold?). I’ll defend saying they’re left progressive on the (surely indisputable) evidence that most of the things they have done in the last decade were far more supportive of big oppressive ever-expanding all-powerful central government than otherwise. To this libertarian-leaning conservative that’s close enough to pure left for talking purposes. The Republicans had the congress and presidency locked up for quite a few years and the country did not move right in any significant way, but it moved left in many ways – with their support and assistance.

    My businessman friend who looks likely to win a seat in the Arkansas house is running as a Republican. He is definitely not a left-progressive.

    Perhaps my strongest disagreement would be in the (implied, I think) necessity to vote for GWB since he was better than the alternatives. I used to think that way, but no longer do. I believe that thought process is getting us nowhere fast (actually we’re going left fast). (I voted for GWB once, but said “never again”.)

    BTW, my thinking on what constitutes left/right and how they relate to the players in the US has been heavily influenced of late by this guy:
    http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/
    You’d probably have to start at the beginning of his *very* long writings to understand why I assert that Republicans are left-progressives. Too short: the USA is left-progressive and since the Repubs are part of the ruling Cathedral they are part and parcel of the same.

  131. > Yeah, that’s done so well for drunk driving. Now I have to deal with the indignity of checkpoints, and MADD isn’t satisified with that.

    The pendulum does tend to swing too far in either direction. But, from my viewpoint, checkpoints are just another manifestation of the war on drugs. Without the pseudo-moral underpinnings of the war on drugs, cops would not be so bold as to want to stop every vehicle on the off chance that somebody inside might be committing a crime.

  132. @Michael – Yeah, I’ve seen the argument that voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. But what other choice do we have? Vote for the most evil and watch it all burn?

    The revolution starts from the bottom. We’re seeing entrenched officeholders at all levels challenged like never before. It remains to be seen if their replacements actually follow through on their intentions to shrink government or go native.

  133. “@brian Yeah, I’ve seen the argument that voting for the lesser evil is still voting for evil. But what other choice do we have? Vote for the most evil and watch it all burn?”
    We have the choice to sit it out. Voting for lesser evil George Big Government Bush is the reason, IMHO, that we now have Barack Obama. So how did it work out? As Spock said, there are always options, but there is no guarantee that any of the options are any good.

    @brian “It remains to be seen if their replacements actually follow through on their intentions to shrink government or go native.”
    Prediction: some will go native, the ones that remain true will see their every effort buried. Nothing will change.

    The Cathedral won’t be brought down by voting for the lesser-evil or even the truly-non-evil. It will eventually collapse of its own internal contradictions and excesses but no power on earth can otherwise challenge it.

  134. Love these when I’m sleep deprived. Janine fix? Get her of the ‘diet pills’ and Plump, beautiful, funny Janine might make a comeback. Investigating ACORN? I mean to figure if it’s more bad than good or vice versa? I googled and found the links to be Bad, Good, Definitely Bad, No Definitely Good, etc. A cursory scan of the accusations, defenses, counter accusations, counter defenses, and inspires curiosity as both sides seem to be slinging mud rather than providing numbers. I’d like to see a timeline. Ok, looks like the timelines are still he said she said. Maybe I don’t get out enough but this discussion is making me a little sad. In terms of opportunity costs what is being accomplished here. Crud can’t remember the name, Procapius? I think ESR blog readers are familiar with the Pournell axis. I’ve wondered, how hard would it be to remap as a circle instead of an X Y grid. And would it help to more clearly map out our similarities and out differences, or would if make things worse. Most of the folks I’ve talked to have found it an interesting idea, but repelled by the Cartesian structure. I think a circle would be readily mapped to a clock so you could see that if you are say a 3:14 PM then you then you would readily support positions from say, 3:00PM to 3:30PM and oppose support for 7:00PM to 7:30 policies. Or maybe we could just try to remember that the policies we put in place to damage our political foes today, will be used against us or our progeny tomorrow. Thought provoking as always:). murph

  135. @Patrick Maupin:

    Or you could view it, like I do, that it is really a disclosure issue, same as with the trans-fats, and that the tobacco companies are rightly being punished for willfully misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.

    Oh, come on! Who are you kidding? The tobacco companies fooled no one. If you didn’t know that breathing fire is bad for you, you deserve to be taken out of the gene pool by your own stupidity. As far as public cost goes, the problem isn’t that smokers are being subsidized for their habits, the problem is that the health care system is being run by the Feds in the first place. No government should be involved in providing health care to anyone.

  136. @Michael:

    But we knew that both Gore and Kerry were objectively worse by every measure than Bush. Are you certain that we’d still be a function nation had Gore gotten 4 years of power?

    I share your cynicism, but I still hold out hope that the adults will wake up and yank the children from behind the wheel before we go off the cliff.

    Because the self-collapse of the government will be many orders of magnitude worse than anything you can imagine.

  137. Re: Janeane Garofalo.

    Yes, she’s rather unfunny these days. Yes, her political views leave much to be desired. Yes, I agree, she was cuter when she weight more. However, can you guys at least learn to spell the poor woman’s name right?

  138. @brian
    But we knew that both Gore and Kerry were objectively worse by every measure than Bush.

    I thought so. And still want to. But I’m no longer sure. Could Gore or Kerry have as easily gotten us involved in *2* foreign wars over the objections of a Republican-controlled congress? Could they have passed yet another huge entitlement program (medicare prescription drugs) in spite of congress? Huge education expansion (No Child Left Behind)? Wiretaps, torture, etc?

    It’s yet more cynicism, but the best thing we could out of DC at present is nothing at all and a split is the only “easy” way to effect that.

    And I’ll still suggest that the reason we have that moron Obama today is because we voted in Bush in 00/04.

    @brian
    Are you certain that we’d still be a function nation had Gore gotten 4 years of power?

    Yes. I’m sure. The US will survive 4 years of Obama just like it survived 8 years of Clinton. It’s not these super-bad presidents that will bring it down. (None of them have that much power at any moment in time.) It is the endless contradictions within left-progressivism itself that eventually do the job.

  139. @Michael, but there were only two years of that Republican-controlled congress, and they spent like drunken sailors. I don’t think partisanship would have curbed all that much of it.

    Also, after 9/11 taking out expansionist Islamism became a priority. I think the Congress would have gone to Afghanistan over President Gore’s objections, and Iraq would still have been on the list as something with which to neuter Iran. Of course, Obama doesn’t believe in neutering Iran, but that’s another topic for another thread.

    I disagree about your cause of Obama. He was inevitable once he announced, and he would have done so regardless. He is too perfect for the progressive power-brokers to have not been pushed into the presidency.

    And I think that four years of Obama with a Pelosi/Reid congress WILL be the end of this nation, because their shared goal is destruction and subjugation.

  140. Nate: If your state is cool with that, fine – but by the same token, I don’t think that one state’s recognition should automatically be forced upon another state. I don’t recall anything in the Constitution that guarantees recognition of marriage – ANY form of it – that must be honored across state lines.

    You don’t think that the Full Faith and Credit Clause applies to marriage? The Supreme Court never ruled on whether state-level bans on the recognition of out-of-state interracial marriages were legal (they just struck down all such bans, period), so I don’t know how that would turn out, but it’s at least somewhat plausible.

    brian: Abortion is a human rights issue. You no more have the right to decide the fate of an innocent 30 year old than you do a gestating fetus.

    I think it makes something of a difference that the “innocent 30 year old” isn’t currently living in my belly.

    Gay marriage is bad on two fronts. First, it extends something the government had no right co-opting in the first place, thus enlarging their power and influence.

    That’s an argument against government recognition of marriage in general; it has nothing to do with same-sex marriage in particular.

    Second, it violates the reason that government stuck its nose into marriage in the first place – encouraging procreation by having a provable inheritance system in place.

    By this reasoning, the government shouldn’t provide marriage licenses to old people, or childfree couples, or infertile people. A rationale based on childbearing capacity must either exclude these cases, or include same-sex marriage.

    I don’t think these are your real reasons for opposing government recognition of same-sex marriage. (If they are, you really haven’t thought them through.) Some people–I’m not necessarily saying it’s you–oppose same-sex marriage because the thought of two guys having sex give them the yecchies. Does the thought of two guys having sex give you the yecchies?

  141. grendelkhan:

    I think it makes something of a difference that the “innocent 30 year old” isn’t currently living in my belly.

    So the idea that the gestating fetus was put there by the participants in the sex act bears no impact on your position, then? Should you be allowed to kill a houseguest that has overstayed his welcome?

    By this reasoning, the government shouldn’t provide marriage licenses to old people, or childfree couples, or infertile people. A rationale based on childbearing capacity must either exclude these cases, or include same-sex marriage.

    I answered this already. (see above)

    Some people–I’m not necessarily saying it’s you–oppose same-sex marriage because the thought of two guys having sex give them the yecchies. Does the thought of two guys having sex give you the yecchies?

    Nope. It does make them an evolutionary and biological dead end though. It’s not about the sex, it’s about the burden they are willing to place on other people so they can live out their little Cinderella fantasies.

  142. brian: To put a conclusion on it: The state has no business having a legal opinion on abortion at all. It is a matter of conscience. If you conclude that you want an abortion, that’s between you and your god(s). I would like to convince you otherwise, but if I can’t I won’t stand in your way.

    I’m pretty sure that makes you “pro-choice”. The shirts reading “don’t like abortions? don’t have one!” aren’t usually worn by pro-lifers.

    You wanna see a lefties head explode? Ask them why they support smoking bans and pot legalization at the same time.

    Have “lefties” actually proposed a ban on smoking in the privacy of your own home, or supported people being able to light up a joint in restaurants or other public places where smoking tobacco is currently banned?

    (These “head-exploding” suggestions seem peculiarly unimpressive to me; it’s a level of argument one would expect to find in a Chick tract. Have you guys actually had someone respond with “that just blew my mind!” or similar?)

    Michael: Republicans aren’t conservatives, they’re leftist-progressives. They believe in essentially everything the left believes in, only just going slowly about it so the corporatists can keep up.

    Your perspective on the political consensus in the United States today differs from mine so much that I suspect we’ll have very little success in communicating meaningfully with each other. I think we’d both agree that the political spectrum considered “reasonable” here is sadly too narrow, but while you believe that the country has been taken over by the left, I see it as the Republicans having doubled down on their right-wing beliefs, both socially and economically, and the Democrats having abandoned any serious attempts at left-wing economics with Clinton’s asendance, leaving us with that endless bromised from the pundits about how we’re a “center-right” nation now.

    Morgan Greywolf: What better way to hide actual voter fraud than with a bunch of obviously fake voter registrations?

    Investigations finding evidence of voter fraud would have led you to conclude a pattern of voter fraud, I assume. Investigations finding no such evidence… also led you to conclude a pattern of voter fraud. Please ponder the example of the dragon in your garage, and consider where your reasoning has led you astray. You have your conclusion, and despite the evidence being precisely what we’d expect to see if ACORN was run by a bunch of self-serving crooks with their hands in the till who had a habit of employing part-timers with similar work ethics, but no particular grand designs… you insist that the conspiracy is there, wildly gesticulating at events which suggest some wrongdoing, any wrongdoing, and declaring the presence of a conspiracy by faith alone.

    It’s like claiming that I clearly masterminded a cunning bank robbery (despite a complete failure of a rigorous investigation to turn up any evidence whatsoever), because I have a criminal record of incompetently trying to forge one-dollar bills with a photocopier.

    Finally, why would a Democratic Party-led Congress and a Democrat POTUS sign into law, a bill which defunded this organization if there wasn’t any hanky-panky going on?

    Because Republicans made a big deal out of it. The Democratic Party’s own supporters–though not the really, really partisan ones–refer to them as an island of suck in an ocean of shit because that’s the sort of thing they do. Google “democratic capitulation” if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

  143. >Because Republicans made a big deal out of it. The Democratic Party’s own supporters–though not the really, really partisan ones–refer to them as an island of suck in an ocean of shit because that’s the sort of thing they do. Google “democratic capitulation” if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

    Balls. If your “democratic capitulation” actually motivated any congressional behavior at all, Obamacare – opposed by over 60% of the population – would never have passed. Instead, the supposed representatives of the people enacted into law a bill that even the sponsors admit they never read.

  144. I’m pretty sure that makes you “pro-choice”. The shirts reading “don’t like abortions? don’t have one!” aren’t usually worn by pro-lifers.

    I refuse to use those terms. The proper terms are “pro-abortion” and “anti-abortion”. Neither choice nor life matters much to either group.

    And I am not strictly either, as I refuse to adopt the rhetorical methods of either group. I find abortion to be revolting. I am also realistic that there’s no way it could ever be outlawed. Once it was figured out, it was here to stay. The only way abortion ever goes away is when people stop believing in the “non-viable tissue mass” line that was fed to us during the Roe era.

    There is a baby that was just delivered 14 weeks early. So small that the only thing they could keep her warm with was a plastic sandwich bag.

    As technology progresses and the ability to resolve details in the womb increases, this realization will eventually dawn on people. And the demand for abortions will simply drop.

    Have “lefties” actually proposed a ban on smoking in the privacy of your own home

    Yes. At least when there are children in the home/car. Or if you have a nanny (because then your home becomes a workplace, and therefore regulated). I believe both New York and California have proposed such things, but nothing has passed as yet.

    In Maryland, however, you can be visited by the police for smoking in such a way that your neighbors can smell it.

  145. > Obamacare – opposed by over 60% of the population

    Could you clarify that statistic as you give it? Is it actually 60% completely against the bill, or is that percentage broken up by for example x% against completely, y% against the proposed bill as drafted, z% against because of $some_clause, etc etc? I tried to keep up on things during the whole brouhaha, and I never saw that large of a number in black-and-white.

  146. @Morgan:

    Oh, come on! Who are you kidding? The tobacco companies fooled no one.

    Perhaps they didn’t really fool anybody, but they enabled people to fool themselves, and more importantly, enabled those same people to indignantly claim there was zero evidence of second-hand smoke issues whenever people asked them to move downwind.

    In any case, if you look at the amount of money they spent on the “smoking is not bad for you” charade, and you take the normal position that businesses are reasonably smart and spend money as an investment, then you have to agree they thought they were investing in something. If not fooling people, then what?

  147. esr: Balls. If your “democratic capitulation” actually motivated any congressional behavior at all, Obamacare – opposed by over 60% of the population – would never have passed. Instead, the supposed representatives of the people enacted into law a bill that even the sponsors admit they never read.

    If you’re referring to the March 19-21 CNN poll, you should mention that a significant proportion of respondents opposed the passage of the bill because it was insufficiently liberal. Looking at it from another perspective but using the same poll, 43% thought that the bill was too liberal, while 52% thought the bill was just right or not liberal enough. Furthermore, “Obamacare” did involve a significant capitulation; the so-called “public option” was never really on the table, despite enjoying significant public support (I’ve seen polls showing 59% support for a public health insurance option); google “public option capitulation” to learn more.

    Even the single biggest legislative victory of the Obama administration thus far involved caving in.

  148. @grendelkhan:

    No, I’m not insisting that a conspiracy is there. I’m insisting that it cannot be satisfactorily shown that such a conspiracy wasn’t there. There is a large difference between the two statements.

    Look at this way: you’re an employer in a retail business with several employees. Unfortunately, don’t use one of these new-fangled fancy cash registers that feature unique login IDs and such because you can’t afford them. Your till has been short by your count several times, but you don’t know how it was this came to be because there are no unique login IDs; maybe someone made a mistake in giving out change, maybe somebody was shoving money in their pocket.

    Today, however, you actually catch one of your employees with their hands in the till. Do you accept their apology and explanation that this was the first time they’d ever done it and the promise that they’ll never do it again? Or do you fire them for stealing from you?

    If your answer is anything but the latter, you are a fool.

  149. grendelkhan – once people were told what “public option” meant, their support turned to “fuck no” pretty much instantly.

    And better than 70% support outright repeal now that they understand that the entire enterprise means that they will be paying more for insurance, or won’t be getting insurance at all. Just like us evil “party of no” types warned them.

    Even the single biggest legislative victory of the Obama administration thus far involved caving in.

    Which is amazing considering he has a commanding majority in the house and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Which ought to tell you something about his far-left agenda. Even his own party knows it’s bullshit.

  150. All I can offer after reading this thread is a quote I read somewhere:

    “It takes a right wing and a left wing for this pig to fly”

  151. @grendelkhan
    “but while you believe that the country has been taken over by the left, I see it as the Republicans having doubled down on their right-wing beliefs, both socially and economically, and the Democrats having abandoned any serious attempts at left-wing economics with Clinton’s asendance,”

    I’m amazed that you seem to see right wing successes everywhere. (I’m not saying that by way of insult or criticism, I just truly cannot imagine it.) The left has been utterly victorious in essentially everything going all the way back to the mid 1600s.

    But to work with the issue of “Democrats having abandoned any serious attempts at left-wing economics”:
    - We pass major new entitlements every few years.
    - More education funding and assistance.
    - Keynesian-ism is left-wing to the core as is its major spokesman, P. Krugman, and it has been applied without restraint the last 2 years.
    - Regulation upon regulation is heaped upon private industry (minor, tiny reversals like EPA reg changes mean nothing, as Obama just banned an entire category of industry in the Gulf of Mex).
    - The Federal Register grows in size every year.
    - New agencies are added every year.
    - Every time a Federal agency shows its incompetence or authoritarian stripes we reward it with more money and more power.
    - A massive, massive healthcare socialization program enacted utterly against the will of the voting public.
    - The number of people on the government payroll and government dole grows every year.
    - The income disparity between government workers and private-sector workers grows continually.
    - And social issues like gay marriage (unthinkable a mere 20 years ago) move every day closer to institutional acceptance.

    … I could surely go on and on. In short, you’re getting everything you want, just maybe not quite as fast as you want.

    Can you remind me of any significant (meaning real impact, not just symbolic) victories the conservatives have scored in the last decade. I can’t think of a single one. Minor things, yes – but even those are few in number.

    BTW, I’m not the first to observe that the left always thinks of itself as the underdog and persecuted on every side, when the reality is that the left owns all major resources and institutions of society and will always win in the end.

  152. Instead, the supposed representatives of the people enacted into law a bill that even the sponsors admit they never read

    I don’t know how it’s possible for legislator to vote to make a law he’s never read. In what meaningful way can he indicate his support for the legislation? How can a court expect citizens to obey a law that not even the legislators have read?

  153. I’m not the first to observe that the left always thinks of itself as the underdog and persecuted on every side, when the reality is that the left owns all major resources and institutions of society and will always win in the end.

    Oh, that’s simple. Leftism is based on the notion that there are “haves” and “have nots”, “exploiters” and “exploited”. Their role as the defenders of the “exploited have nots” is the source of their power. If you ever notice that they now are the ones in power, then their entire argument is vaporized.

  154. > Can you remind me of any significant (meaning real impact, not just symbolic) victories the conservatives have scored in the last decade.

    Gun rights.

    Yours,
    Tom

  155. >Gun rights.

    My first reaction was “Yes, that counts as a conservative victory.” But that was wrong; it’s a libertarian victory that happens to have been fought for by conservatives for historically accidental reasons. That’s not a trivial distinction.

  156. Eric,

    > But that was wrong; it’s a libertarian victory that happens to have been fought for by conservatives for historically accidental reasons.

    Back to his point, though – it was a rollback of a leftist position.

    Back to my previous point: What are we going to do to get people to stop voting as if the last couple of years of economic results are all that matters?

    Yours,
    Tom

  157. Tom DeGisi Says:
    Gun rights.

    I’ll grant there’s a case to be made for this.

    But it is a weak one for 2 reasons: 1) the real victories have all come at the state level (I’m aware of Heller, it remains to be seen if it is anything more than a symbolic victory), 2) the full body of federal firearms laws is still in force and is still being added to (by executive fiat lately).

  158. esr Says:
    “… it’s a libertarian victory that happens to have been fought for by conservatives for historically accidental reasons. That’s not a trivial distinction.”

    I would enjoy hearing some elaboration on your thoughts there.

  159. Michael:

    (I’m now having difficulty determining if I actually offended you or it was said tongue-in-cheek. Forgive, if so.)

    Yes, I was and am actually offended. If you intend to have meaningful arguments, please don’t redefine words to mean whatever you damn well want them to mean. Calling Republicans and those who side with them as a while leftist-progressive is just plain wrong in terms of how those words are used in today’s political discourse, and as with the FSF’s redefinition of “free”, can only confuse – and in this case offend.

    The John Birch Society was a white supremacist conservative movement in the middle 1900s. William F. Buckley’s main achievement in the promotion of conservatism was in getting them thrown out of the conservative movement, pretty much.

  160. >The only death penalty I now support is that exacted at the time of the crime by the victim in self-defense.

    I’m for the death penalty in principle, but I flat-out don’t trust the government enough to let them have that power as a routine punishment.

  161. >The John Birch Society was a white supremacist conservative movement in the middle 1900s.

    The JBS has never been a white supremacist organization. It used to be focused on anti-communist activities, so the reds trotted out every smear that they thought might stick.

    http://www.jbs.org/core-principles

  162. Jay Maynard Says:
    > Yes, I was and am actually offended.

    I apologize.

    > If you intend to have meaningful arguments, please don’t redefine words to mean whatever you damn well want them to mean.

    I’m not the one who thought to properly categorize national establishment Republicans as leftist-progressive and I’m certainly nowhere near the first to say such a thing. You need to read a bit more widely I guess.

    > Calling Republicans and those who side with them as a while leftist-progressive is just plain wrong in terms of how those words are used in today’s political discourse

    I never said anything about “those who side with them”; in fact I made a particular point that no such was intended.

    I guess we’ll just have to disagree on the “wrongness” of it. The reason being, I think, is that I judge them by their actions and their fruit (the only reliable way) rather than accepting what they occasionally claim to believe. As individuals they are mostly fine folk I’m sure. As a corporate body, they are a fraud and a quite dangerous one, IMHO.

  163. # Some Guy Says:
    > I’m for the death penalty in principle, but I flat-out don’t trust
    > the government enough to let them have that power as a routine punishment.

    I don’t particularly have a point to make, but just wanted to offer something to provoke thought.

    Do you trust the government with the power to put men in prison, where there is a very high chance they will be severely assaulted, and, in many cases raped? Where the only way to survive is to become more monstrous than the monsters you are forced to live with? (Obviously, I say men because the situation for women is considerably different.)

    Is there a practical difference between these three scenarios:

    1. Joe is falsely accused of murder in a state with the death penalty. After twenty years of appeals and red tape, the state sticks a needle in his arm and he dies, unvindicated.

    2. Fred is falsely accused of murder in a state without the death penalty. After twenty years of appeals and red tape, the Fred dies unvindicated in his cell of a heart attack caused by the stress of his incarceration.

    3. Dave is falsely accused of murder in a state without the death penalty. After twenty years of appeals and red tape, Dave if beaten to death in the yard by the monsters the state has forced him to live with. He too is unvindicated.

    BTW, one other thing, am I the only person who finds death by legal injection offensive? Using medical procedures to kill people? I find it twisted. Why exactly is it better than a rope or a kiss from Monsieur Guillotine?

  164. “… it’s a libertarian victory that happens to have been fought for by conservatives for historically accidental reasons. That’s not a trivial distinction.”

    My read on this is that conservatives stuck to their ‘but things were always this way, before the new-fangled lefties starting writing laws…’. Admittedly, the laws involved are ’34 NFA, ’68 GCA, and the plethora of regulatory powers given to the ATF. (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms…oughta be a convenience store, not a Gov Agency.)

    But all the ‘original intent of Constitution’ thinkers joining up with ‘self-defense is a human right’ and ‘ban bad actions, not misused tools” to get firearms rights advanced very far on the State level, and provided support for the intellectual firepower that won Heller, and now McDonald v. Chicago.

  165. …to finish my thoughts, after injudiciously hitting ‘submit’.

    Conservatives in the Right To Keep And Bear Arms world were generally the “original-intent-of-constitution’ folks, but many people who had that gut sense that ‘Centralized Solutions Don’t Work’, even if they didn’t think heavily about the War on (some) Mind-Altering Substances, did have a deep-in-the-gut knowledge that gun control laws don’t stop crime.

    Whether or not this is Conservative, or just the Venn Diagram for where part of conservatism overlaps with part of libertarianism, this was the group that formed the nucleus of the active RKBA support.

    The fact that even Left-Centrist Presidents like Clinton were on the gun-ban side drove a lot of conservatives into mild-to-strong support of RKBA.

    But I still suspect that conservatives were helping centrists, rather than conservatives making the movement.

  166. Regarding abortion, I haven’t heard the long-term elephant in the room mentioned yet; namely the precedent of basing personhood on an arbitrary category of biological development rather than explicit observation of sapience. In the future, where will that leave the intelligences not based on a biological substrate? If one is claiming that a fetus is endowed with some sort of unobservable “vital essence” or “soul”, it would quickly mark you as a potential existential threat by a much faster replicating and more energy efficient population…

  167. TP/Conservatism should be returning power to the states, via Constitutional amendments if needed.

    Given the contempt that the federal government routinely shows to the constitution, it seems to me that amending the constitution won’t suffice. We already have the tenth amendment, after all.

    I’d say that Jefferson’s solution is the only one that can work; the states must nullify unconstitutional laws, and interpose their power to protect their citizens from illegal federal actions. California is about to fully legalize marijuana: that’s a start, but if we really want our people to be free from harassment by the DEA, we’ve got be ready and able to arrest DEA agents who break California’s laws.

  168. > Given the contempt that the federal government routinely shows to the constitution, it seems to me that amending the constitution won’t suffice.

    We are pretty good at following the mechanics of the Constitution which is why amendments like Barnett’s which allow two thirds of the state legislatures to override a federal law would be obeyed.

    Yours,
    Tom

  169. >We are pretty good at following the mechanics of the Constitution

    ..except for 90+% of the federal government’s activities, you mean?

  170. I’m confused as to how Obama receiving 67% of Hispanic votes in 08 (and a much greater percentage if we separate the Cuban vote*) doesn’t factor into your analysis. Remember how the pundits said Hispanics would not vote for a black man? Yeah, ok. Hispanics will vote Democratic as long as Republicans continue to harp on immigration and the Taking of American Jooorbs. Just eyeballing it, the Democrats won 80% of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote, and that qualifies Hispanics as being part of the Democratic base.

    I’m also thrown off by how you make the black vote and the bicoastal city vote sound like 2 out of 10 people when it’s closer to 6 out of 10 people in America. This seems like a cheap rhetorical trick that the talking heads on Fox would use, pointing at a map of America and emphasizing that seemingly huge red area in the middle of the country. Obviously the Texan cities besides Austin are exceptions to the rule of cities being Democratic, but NYC’s 8 million people are exactly as important as North Carolina’s 8 million people (or the roughly 8 million people living in 8 randomly selected states from “flyover” country).

    It’s like you regard those of us living in the big cities and college campuses as less than human, and frankly, there are a lot of us, Republicans are not smart to speak ill of us, and NYC and Washington DC were attacked on 9/11 because they are vastly more populated and significant. I’m going to stop myself from arguing the merits of cities because I know I’ll sound more McCoy than Spock, but I love living in urban areas and I can tell you that we are definitely real people here, and we raise the American flag with pride.

    *Younger Cubans are far more willing to vote Democratic, so soon this vote may become as uniform as the black one.

  171. > The JBS has never been a white supremacist organization. It used to be focused on anti-communist activities…

    This is correct. While there is sometimes overlap between the patriot movement and the white supremacist movement, it’s wrong to automatically assume they’re one and the same.

    The JBS was sufficiently focused on anti-community activities that they called Eisenhower “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.”

  172. Some Guy Says:
    ” but if we really want our people to be free from harassment by the DEA, we’ve got be ready and able to arrest DEA agents who break California’s laws.”

    If California would actually do that I would promise to take back every bad thing I ever said about them.

  173. >>We are pretty good at following the mechanics of the Constitution

    >..except for 90+% of the federal government’s activities, you mean?

    The federal government at least tries to look like it’s following the Constitution. They don’t do blatantly unconstitutional things without at least some justification, even if it’s trying to stretch the Commerce Clause so that it covers banning guns on high school campuses. The solution, then, is to write some very specific amendments that make it as difficult as possible to stretch the meaning. For some time I’ve been considering writing a ‘Constitution, bearing in mind the lessons of the old one’, that specifically bans the various abuses of the fedgov that go more or less entirely against the Constitution. Something like, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or (rest of amendment here). No, it is not for the children. No, you may not ban Christmas trees that are visible through exterior windows. No, prohibition does not help.’

  174. Tom Dickson-Hunt Says:
    > For some time I’ve been considering writing a ‘Constitution, bearing in mind the lessons of the old one’,

    Here are two rules I would add if I could:

    1. No representative may serve more than four terms in office, and no senator may serve more than two terms in office.
    2. In all votes in congress, representatives and senators must vote yea or nay on every provision in a bill, they may not vote on the bill as a whole, similarly the President may veto any specific provision in the bill (and his veto may be override using the existing mechanisms.)

    That would fix a lot of the mess.

  175. >It’s like you regard those of us living in the big cities and college campuses as less than human, and frankly, there are a lot of us,

    Please stop projecting all over me. I’m closer culturally to a coastal-metroplex urbanite than I am to a heartland conservative, and I like college towns.

  176. @Jessica Boxer:

    2. In all votes in congress, representatives and senators must vote yea or nay on every provision in a bill, they may not vote on the bill as a whole, similarly the President may veto any specific provision in the bill (and his veto may be override using the existing mechanisms.)

    Congresscritters are lawyers. They’ll just bundle up a bunch of provisions, which they’ll call “elements” and then call the result a “provision.”

    I say make ‘em digitize the bills. Then they get to vote on each bit. Character encoding is UTF-16. Combined with your term limits, they’ll never get anything done! ;)

  177. If California would actually do that I would promise to take back every bad thing I ever said about them.

    If Arnold actually stood up to Federale enforcers with a bunch of state troopers it’d be a crowning moment of irl badass for him.

  178. I think the last United States governor who called out troops to oppose federal intervention was a Democrat, oddly enough.

  179. # Bryant Says:
    > I think the last United States governor who called out troops to oppose federal intervention was a Democrat, oddly enough.

    Wasn’t that to enforce segregation? Surely if it was a profoundly racist act it must have been done by a Republican, no?

  180. # Bryant Says:
    > I think the last United States governor who called out troops to oppose federal intervention was a Democrat, oddly enough.

    In the south, conservatives used to be democrats, not republicans.

  181. I’m really particularly interested in this here; it strikes me as being far more enlightening than the rest of the discussion. So, thank you, Michael, for responding, and my apologies for taking so long to get back to you.

    Michael: I’m amazed that you seem to see right wing successes everywhere. (I’m not saying that by way of insult or criticism, I just truly cannot imagine it.) The left has been utterly victorious in essentially everything going all the way back to the mid 1600s.

    On a long timescale, I do indeed agree with you. In general, women are regarded as human beings rather than chattel, slavery is an obvious evil, marriage is no longer a property-purchasing contract, people of differing religions can live next door to each other without regularly trying to light anyone on fire, and so on. I’m surprised that you mention these things, because they’ve become part of the post-Enlightenment consensus, which isn’t usually regarded as a left-wing achievement, especially by people who aren’t fans of the left.

    But to work with the issue of “Democrats having abandoned any serious attempts at left-wing economics”:
    - We pass major new entitlements every few years.

    Do we? Apart from Obamacare, I can only think of Medicare Part D over the last thirty years or so, which was heavily industry-influenced and is not generally considered an expression of left-wing ideals. Also, during that time, welfare reform in 1996 ended AFDC (an entitlement program) and replaced it with TANF, which is smaller and temporary, and apparently doesn’t qualify as an “entitlement program”.

    - More education funding and assistance.

    College tuition, and associated student loan debt, has steadily increased over recent decades–since 1950, in fact, but much more so over the last twenty years. I know much less about primary and secondary education, but I do know that many colleges are reliant on state funding, and they’ve had to raise tuition in order to make up for a lack thereof.

    - Keynesian-ism is left-wing to the core as is its major spokesman, P. Krugman, and it has been applied without restraint the last 2 years.

    What? Krugman? The guy who’s been nothing but critical (from the left) of Obama’s economic policies since day one? If Keynesianism had been applied “without restraint”, we’d have seen a stimulus package like what Krugman was recommending. A package of that size was never even proposed.

    - Regulation upon regulation is heaped upon private industry (minor, tiny reversals like EPA reg changes mean nothing, as Obama just banned an entire category of industry in the Gulf of Mex).

    Are you talking about offshore deepwater drilling? The temporary moratorium which is set to expire November 30, but which Ken Salazar has stated will likely be lifted before then? The category of industry which was, due to improper management and regulatory capture, responsible for a gigantic environmental disaster which essentially “banned” an entire category of industry in and of itself–that is, coastal fishing in the Gulf?

    (I’m attempting to split up the comment so as not to run afoul of the spamfiltering. Removing links isn’t quite enough; apparently enough quote-tags will also do it.)

  182. (Continuted from above.)

    - A massive, massive healthcare socialization program enacted utterly against the will of the voting public.

    Not really. Healthcare socialization would be something like the British National Health Service or the VA–the government runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. That’s never been seriously proposed, as far as I can tell. Socialized health insurance, like Canada has–the government runs the insurance company which reimburses the doctors and hospitals, was called “single payer”, and was also never actually proposed. (Old people have it, it’s called Medicare, and they seem to like it.) The closest thing to that which was ever proposed was a “public option”, which would have been a socialized health insurance program competing with private plans. This was taken off the table early on. At this point, it’s just a heap of extra regulations on health insurance companies. To call it “socialism” would be profoundly laughable if it wasn’t so unbelievably sad.

    Also, as for that “against the will of the voting public” bit, see the survey that Eric mentioned above. He was a bit misleading in the way he referenced it; a majority of Americans believe that the bill was a good idea or should have been more liberal.

    - The number of people on the government payroll and government dole grows every year.

    I don’t see numbers post-2000, but from 1992 to 2000, the percentage of workers who worked for the government went from 14.7 to 12.8%. Not counting public education workers (i.e., schoolteachers), it went from 9.2 to 7.4% over the same period.

    If you consider Social Security or Medicare to be “the government dole”, then those numbers would indeed rise as the population ages and boomers get older. Are you including unemployment insurance? Food stamps? Things like TANF? Welfare rolls shrunk from the mid-1990s to the current recession in most if not all states. (Mass unemployment tends to put people on unemployment insurance, but it’s hardly a long-term trend.) Is there a particular trend you were referring to?

    - The income disparity between government workers and private-sector workers grows continually.

    When I get a bit of time, I’ll explain why I think right-wing economics have become ascendant, at least since the mid-1970s. I’ll defer this bit until then, but in short, I think this reflects private-sector workers getting a worse deal over time, and government workers being insulated from those causes.

  183. amendments like Barnett’s which allow two thirds of the state legislatures to override a federal law

    How about instead, we allow the state legislatures to send delegates to Congress to vote on the “federal” laws, treaties, and appointments? It’s called the US Senate; the 17th Amendment turning it into another House but with fewer districts defanged the 9th and 10th Amendments.

    Ever since Wickard v. Filburn, there has been damned little external restraint on Congress. That leaves us with Congress’ own self-restraint. [Pause for laughter to subside.] Laws like the 55-mph speed limit and uniform 21 yr. drinking age, which were imposed on state legislatures by greenmail (“pass this law and enforce it to our satisfaction or we’ll withhold your ‘federal’ highway money!”) because directly enacting those as national (not ‘federal’, which means something very very different) laws was too far for SCOTUS to allow. I cannot imagine any US Senator, or a Representative considering a run for Senate, voting for such a law that compels the very state legislature he’ll face in the election to do something its members do not support.

    The original design of the Constitution balanced the “supremacy” of the laws passed by Congress against the fact that the state legislatures controlled the Senate in the first place. Whenever Congress felt like taking too much power from the states, they’d “blow a fuse” and stop it from happening. The 17th Amendment puts a penny in that fuse box.

  184. @ esr

    >I’m closer culturally to a coastal-metroplex urbanite than I am to a heartland conservative, and I like college towns.

    Strange place to be. Part of you revolted by the red necks. Part of you revolted by the limousine Lib. crowd.

    Where do you fit most comfortably?

    I ask, because I have similar “issues”.

  185. Ever since Wickard v. Filburn, there has been damned little external restraint on Congress.

    If I could build a time machine and go back in time to 1942, I would shoot those Justices in the name of economic freedom and declare myself a patriot for having done so. That decision single-handedly enabled Congress to have command-and-control power over the free market.

    Or perhaps I would simply travel back to the Constitutional Convention and when they came around to the Commerce Clause, I’d tell them about Wickard v. Filburn and watch them all go “fsck no!”

  186. @ Morgan Greywolf

    >Or perhaps I would simply travel back to the Constitutional Convention and when they came around to the Commerce Clause, I’d tell them about Wickard v. Filburn and watch them all go “fsck no!”

    I think most of them would be appalled, a few would smile knowingly.

  187. >Strange place to be. Part of you revolted by the red necks. Part of you revolted by the limousine Lib. crowd. Where do you fit most comfortably?

    Among martial artists, SF fans, and computer hackers. What I have in common with people in these groups tends to transcend the differences.

  188. > Among martial artists, SF fans, and computer hackers

    I glean from this blog there might be a fair amount of overlap between those 3?

    I hate to get pigeon-holed into any clique. I refuse to conform to any other person’s limitations.

  189. >I glean from this blog there might be a fair amount of overlap between [martial artists, SF fans, and computer hackers]?

    Yes, quite a bit.

  190. # esr Says:
    >>I glean from this blog there might be a fair amount of overlap between [martial artists, SF fans, and computer hackers]?
    >Yes, quite a bit.

    Question for you Eric. My experience with martial artists is that they tend to reflect the population in terms of politically. I find this surprising. Much of the nature of martial arts is the idea of taking responsibility for yourself, which seems to trend to a more libertarian world view. For example, you will find gun club members considerably more libertarian than the population in general. Like I say, I don’t find this amongst martial artists. This might be perhaps part of the religious and oriental influences in that culture that counteract the libertarian trends. (Though, in truth the Buddhist influences also trend toward individual responsibility is a kind of backward way.) But I would be interested to know if you (or other serious martial artists) agree with my assessment and why that is. Perhaps it is only this way in my parochial little world.

    (FWIW, I am a karateka, and don’t have much experience outside this, especially not the weapons heavy stuff that you seem to prefer.)

  191. A couple notes:

    1. For all the fear-mongering about how the Koch Brothers’ support for the Tea Party movement proves they’re just ‘more GOP than the GOP’, that’s FUD. The Koch Brothers are libertarians as are their think tanks. They’ve been pushing the GOP towards basic platform of the Tea Parties since the 1970′s, needless to say the arrival of the Tea Party movement was pretty much their dream come true and they’re pushing it as much as they can. They used to use the think tanks to push the GOP towards a more libertarian approach, now they’re using them to support the Tea Party’s push for the same.

    2. The Tea Party is pretty clearly the majority of the GOP base getting pissed off at the GOP leadership and the paleo-conservatives. Yeah, they tend somewhat socially conservative but their primary concern is economic. And yes, they’re pulling in significant support from independents and Reagan Democrats but the core is the GOP base which is alienated from its leadership in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time.

  192. >>>If California would actually do that I would promise to take back every bad thing I ever said about them.
    >>If Arnold actually stood up to Federale enforcers with a bunch of state troopers it’d be a crowning moment of irl badass for him.
    >I think the last United States governor who called out troops to oppose federal intervention was a Democrat, oddly enough.

    In any other state Arnold WOULD BE a democrat.

    B’Livion’s Iron Clad Rule of Politics:

    Politicians are always to the left of their constituents, where “left” is defined as having this unsupportable delusion that

  193. Adam Maas Says:
    > Yeah, [the Tea Party] tend somewhat socially conservative but their primary concern is economic.

    However, one of their big beefs is that they don’t want anybody messing with social security or Medicare. These two programs are the nexus of the problem not the inviolable heart of “small government”. I’ll grant you that the alternative isn’t great either.

    Doesn’t the dissonance between “Save Social Security”, and “Taxed Enough Already” bother anyone else? Any serious small government advocate would be shouting “Kill social security and medicare as painlessly as possible.”

    I think the best realistically achievable outcome of the forthcoming election would be deadlock. Busy inaction is the best type of government.

  194. They don’t do blatantly unconstitutional things without at least some justification,

    Mr. Korematsu and many others who have been deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law would disagree.

  195. In re the Gulf oil drilling moratorium: I think that was overreach. BP had an unusually bad safety/compliance record, so the existing system was presumably measuring something. If there were other companies with a record comparable to BP’s, it might have been reasonable to tell them to stop drilling, but not all companies.

    I don’t think Obama is a socialist. I think he was telling the truth about himself when he said he doesn’t want to run the economy. However, as with Cash for Clunkers and that tax break for buying a house, he seems to have a delusion that the government can just poke at business now and then and get reliable results with no significant side effects. I don’t know if there’s a name for that approach.

    As for fandom, those anti-Bush buttons sold pretty well, and I didn’t get into much in the way of arguments about them. As far as I could tell, fandom is a blue state. I might do as well with anti-Obama– who knows? the biggest fannish site I know of is progressive on economics, libertarian on personal rights.

    Why do you think your politics/preferences are typical in fandom? I grant that foodies are pretty common.

    I think that some traits are relatively common in fandom (libertarianism, paganism, polyamory) so that it’s easy to think they’re predominant. I’m willing to bet that most fans prefer conventional politics, are not pagan, and about as monogamous as the general population.

  196. “The sinister puppeteering is evident in the way that the Tea Party’s focus has shifted. ”

    You’re repeating yourself without elaborating.

    I don’t see the shift that you’re impugning.

    In fact, I suspect you’re heavily projecting here, since you mention Ron Paul.

    The bottom line is genuine, significant grassroots support. Such is achieved in the TPM by deemphasizing cultural conservative issues and rallying around the critical issue of debt, spending, size of federal government, etc.

    As I’ve already said, it will be the Republican party’s goal to read the tea leaves correctly and change business as usual. Which means no repeat of “compassionate conservatism” (i.e. kinder, gentler statism) or opening a new front in federalizing the culture war (I suppose they can finesse the whole issue with a renewed ‘states’ rights approach.)

    But I don’t see what you see.

  197. >But I would be interested to know if you (or other serious martial artists) agree with my assessment and why that is.

    My experience is this: while the intellectual, top-of-brain politics of martial artists only skew slightly more libertarian than the general population, their gut instincts and emotional tendencies are rather more so. This has the peculiar result that they’re more likely to react in a libertarian way if they’re upset or caught by surprise than if they have time to think.

  198. >Why do you think your politics/preferences are typical in fandom? I grant that foodies are pretty common.

    I’m not sure whether you were addressing me, but I did not assert that my preferences are typical – just that what I have in common with other fans tends to overshadow the differences.

  199. “Doesn’t the dissonance between “Save Social Security”, and “Taxed Enough Already” bother anyone else? Any serious small government advocate would be shouting “Kill social security and medicare as painlessly as possible.””

    As I’ve said before, I take the objection to mean “hell no to Peter robbing Paul” Obamunism.

    We’re not having this debate in terms of “what’s everyone going to sacrifice?” It’s more like, Obama’s constituencies get everything at the expense of the elderly. It’s hard to motivate people to be rational in the context of such blatant corruption and zero-sum politics.

    I could be wrong, but I’d at least like to see this debate attempted under different circumstances.

  200. “I think the best realistically achievable outcome of the forthcoming election would be deadlock. Busy inaction is the best type of government.”

    The most astounding Republican victory will produce deadlock, as Obama will surely veto all attempts to repeal Obamacare and will probably fight many budget cuts tooth and nail. (Republicans will not get 60 seats in the Senate – mathematically impossible, IIRC)

    This isn’t the Clinton administration where that old paradigm works.

    “Inaction” in this context means everything Obama signed stays.

    The most practical course of action is to destroy the progressives and come to some workable compromise between libertarians and conservatives.

  201. Tom Said October 1st, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Sweet jesus, there is nothing funnier than a bunch of psuedo-libertarians trying to convince themselves that the GOP is a better reflection of their views than the Dems.

    Not funny just an unfortunate result of looking at how democrats behave when given power. The link below is to a sarcastic comment that summarizes the situation pretty well.

    The obama administrations recent efforts to mandate easier wiretapping of internet communications is a less entertaining example of just how bad the democrats are on civil liberties.

    The idea tends to be that while liberals want to tell you what insurance to buy, how much salt, fat, and what kinds of fat you can use in cooking, what kinds of lightbulbs you can use, how much water you can use each time you flush, how much carbon you can exhale, and at what point you’ve made enough money and need to have it spread around, conservatives don’t want you to have sex with other men.

    So the two sides are basically the same, you see.

  202. @JB (and anyone else who cares to read):

    Is it possible to kill Social Security painlessly? Small government advocates might like to find a way to kill Social Security painlessly, but I doubt that there’s anyway to do that.

    As far as the Tea Party goes: I’m not convinced that the Tea Party is truly small government, and their “Save Social Security” nonsense is yet another thing that proves that.

  203. Doesn’t the dissonance between “Save Social Security”, and “Taxed Enough Already” bother anyone else? Any serious small government advocate would be shouting “Kill social security and medicare as painlessly as possible.”

    GW Bush floated the idea of giving workers the option to reroute 2% of salary from FICA to a personally-owned retirement account that the politicans couldn’t use to buy votes, it was quickly quashed by the AARP and friends.

    Social Security is a unique program in that it pretends that each taxpayer is somehow investing their own money in some kind of retirement account. The actual relationship between “contributions” and benefits is rather tenuous, but there’s enough correlation to keep up the fiction that Aunt Tillie wants her money: what was taken out of her paycheck, “matched” by her employer, along with whatever interest has been earned on those “contributions”. The US government has lied to Aunt Tillie all her working life, and used her “contributions” to pay out the benefits of the older workers already retired, on a scale that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

    For those who are already retired or within a few years of retirement age, paying them the benefits they’ve been promised in return for their contributions is the right thing to do. But just because we’ve promised those benefits doesn’t require us to keep making new promises. The rest of us should be transitioned to true privately-held accounts (our property, which we can pass down to our heirs if we don’t use them to purchase an income stream that terminates on death) subject to some rules requiring diversification of assets, age-appropriate ratio of debt to equities, etc.

    But as soon as you talk about doing that, the compliant media paints you as wanting to make Aunt Tillie eat dog food.

  204. >>They don’t do blatantly unconstitutional things without at least some justification,

    >Mr. Korematsu and many others who have been deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law would disagree.

    I referred here mostly to laws passed. Executive orders have more leeway in this regard, as they’re lower profile and provide less opportunity for publicity, as well as said publicity and the ensuing debate almost invariably occurring after the order has been implemented.

    I have no illusions that more than <1% of Washington politicians care anything about following the Constitution–or at least, the ones that do have remarkably resilient blind spots to the bits of the Constitution that they don't like. However, those blind spots tend to cancel out in many cases (one of the areas in which both parties have similar blind spots is with respect to the whole size-of-government thing). Thus, when W. Bush's blind spot on right-to-privacy started influencing his policies, the Democrats cried bloody murder (which may have been exaggerated, but certainly had a basis in fact). Earlier when the Democrats' blind spot on RKBA influenced their policies (assault weapons ban and so forth), the Republicans cried bloody murder (which I'm pretty sure wasn't exaggerated much, but I have researched this rather more closely than the privacy issues). Neither party wants to be publicly committed to a position that can trivially be portrayed as unconstitutional; however, they have no scruples about actually following the Constitution, only about being seen to do so.

  205. Mechanics are things like majorities and 2/3 majorities and vetoes. We are pretty good at following those. Those other examples you gave are neither mechanics nor well followed.

    Yours,
    Tom

  206. Morgan Greywolf Says:
    >Is it possible to kill Social Security painlessly? Small
    > government advocates might like to find a way to kill
    > Social Security painlessly, but I doubt that there’s anyway to do that.

    Sure there is, or with only a little actual pain (though a lot of bellyaching no doubt.)

    If I have taken on masses of debt to buy a house or a car and I can’t pay it, then the solution is to sell the house or the car and, if that isn’t enough, the family silver, to pay off the debt. Perhaps you have to agree with the debt holder to get them to take 80 cents on the dollar, but that is what you do to get out of debt bondage.

    So, I say sell the collateral that they bought. They bought it a long time ago, and have been paying off their credit cards with other credit cards for a while, so a little historical digging is in order. And probably the family silver is going to have to be sold too, and maybe the debt holders in Florida and Arizona will not get all they were promised.

    But that is the solution. Selling NASA and Utah might not appeal to everyone, but it is a lot better than burdening every new born baby with $50,000 in unfunded debt liability and another $100,000 in other obligations before the doctor can even say “It’s a girl!!”

  207. Jessica,

    I like it, but only if the accounting/math works. Does the government own enough salable stuff to cover 107 trillion? If not, not painless.

    Yours,
    Tom

  208. Tom Degisi: The Feds own about 2/3 of the western states for starters. I’m sure Yellow Stone, and Yosemite will fetch a fair price. And they own a few other interesting places that could go on the auction block.

    The really cool thing about this, if you sell a bunch of that stuff, you can stop paying people to protected it, repair it, make it look pretty, make advertisements for it, etc. so you get a twofer.

  209. @Jessica Boxer:

    I don’t know if there’s a citation for Tom DeGisi’s $107 trillion, but it doesn’t sound like it’s too far off the mark. We’d probably have to start selling off huge tracts of land. I wonder if the French would be interested in re-purchasing the Louisiana Purchase? What else could we sell? Puerto Rico? We don’t want Puerto Rico. Maybe we could sell it to Cuba.

  210. The ‘start selling the national parks’ approach is even less likely to be politically palatable than hyperinflation or sovereign default. I would rate it as quite unlikely.

  211. >The ’start selling the national parks’ approach is even less likely to be politically palatable than hyperinflation or sovereign default. I would rate it as quite unlikely.

    Besides which, it wouldn’t solve the problem. The U.S. government’s deficit isn’t a transient cash-flow issue, it’s a structural deficit – we have legislated into existence more demand on the treasury than can be collected in taxes. By about a factor of 3. Those spending demands have to be abolished; otherwise an asset sale would only postpone a recurrence.

  212. @esr:

    While I totally agree with you, I can see some problems with that proposal that a lot of people would point out.

    Of course, if you cut government spending 2/3rds, that will necessarily put a lot of people out of a job. Even people who don’t work directly for the government. Since unemployment is already at 10+% in many parts of the country — and rising — the economic problems would be greatly exacerbated. Additionally, people have gotten accustomed to having certain services. Most of those services would have to be greatly curtailed or eliminated.

    Personally, I think we hit the point of no-return a long time ago. The entire system has to collapse before anyone will do anything about it.

  213. For those who are already retired or within a few years of retirement age, paying them the benefits they’ve been promised in return for their contributions is the right thing to do. But just because we’ve promised those benefits doesn’t require us to keep making new promises.

    Actually, I found a way to get out of paying pensions without breaking contract law. Put out a list of pensioners and a 10k bounty on them.

    A Shovel-ready solution.

  214. esr Says:
    > Besides which, it wouldn’t solve the problem. The U.S.
    > government’s deficit isn’t a transient cash-flow issue, it’s a structural deficit

    Actually, not so, the figure Tom gave included monetizing and extinguishing some of those long term obligations, namely buying out our obligations on SS and Medicare.

    FWIW, I never said it was politically feasible, I was merely answering Morgan’s claim that it couldn’t be done without pain. We have the assets to eliminate a lot of the problems, just don’t have to will to do it.

    But yes, part of the fix is not just selling the house to pay the mortgage, or selling the family silver to pay off your college loans. You need to cut up your credit cards too.

    In answer to Tom’s question, $100 trillion? The CIA world factbook says the GDP of the USA was about $15 trillion. That means the US Economy is worth, in total, probably about $50trillion, half of the debt. That is pretty scary don’t you think?

    I think though that there is immense unrealized wealth in these unused assets, so I don’t know. I think we could go a long way to dealing with a lot of the debt. Honestly, I’m not sure it would be enough for the whole thing. It also depends a lot on the mechanism, whether enough time was available to raise the capital. Ways to do if effectively is a whole other story.

  215. The “naturally Republican” hispanic vote is a long-standing ignis fatuus.

    It fails on several grounds. One is that hispanic immigrants aren’t assimilating, and don’t converge economically with the mainstream. Hispanic immigrants tend to be very low-skilled and poorly educated. (Some recent Mexican immigrants don’t even speak Spanish; they’re Indios from way back in the hills where Nahuatl is still prevalent.) They’re poor. The next generation does somewhat better, though still below average; third and later generations show no further improvement.

    This modest economic progress is accompanied by sociocultural regress: hispanic immigrants assimilate to the norms of the urban underclass, with decliing educational achievement and increasing crime and illegitimacy.

    Hispanics as a “community” are deep in the Democratic pocket. “Community” affairs are dominated by professional activists who staff “community-service” NGOs largely funded by government grants. These NGOs are nominally non-partisan, but in practice are solidly left-wing.

    The great exception is Cuban-Americans, whose anti-Communist heritage pushed them to the right. Even there: the three Cuban-American Republican Representatives from Florida are all well to the left among Republicans.

  216. > Is it possible to kill Social Security painlessly?

    Painlessly, no. But given how the late- and post-babyboomers are not expecting Social Security to be there for them, I think we’re braced for the necessary pain.

  217. esr: I’m not sure whether you were addressing me, but I did not assert that my preferences are typical

    Perhaps not here, but you’ve certainly made similar claims in the past, specifically about hacker culture. I’m sure you can see where the confusion might have come from.

  218. >Perhaps not here, but you’ve certainly made similar claims in the past, specifically about hacker culture.

    That article was false. It was based on a load of snark by NTK that I doubt even the NTK guys believed at the time they wrote it. It’s seldom wise to take comedians and satirists as factual sources.

    One of the NTK guys subsequently apologized to me for it.

  219. esr: That article was false.

    I’m not referring to NTK’s snark about you; I’m referring to you rewriting the “politics” section of the Jargon file to more closely reflect your personal politics in a way that was at best not entirely accurate with regards to hackerdom in general. (Donald Knuth and RMS come to mind.)

    One of the NTK guys subsequently apologized to me for it.

    Publically?

  220. >I’m not referring to NTK’s snark about you; I’m referring to you rewriting the “politics” section of the Jargon file to more closely reflect your personal politics in a way that was at best not entirely accurate with regards to hackerdom in general. (Donald Knuth and RMS come to mind.)

    But I never did this. I find that people who assert this are invariably projecting political positions on me that I don’t actually hold. It is helpful to remember that I am neither a conservative nor a neoconservative – in fact, as I’ve written before, I don’t think the latter term is even meaningful.

    >One of the NTK guys subsequently apologized to me for it.

    Personally, in public space at a Linux conference.

  221. >I thought “Neocon” meant “Jew”.

    That’s what it used to mean – it was the antisemitism that dare not speak its name. Now it has the same meaning as “racist”, which is to say anyone who dares to disagree with a left-winger.

  222. “martial artists, SF fans, and computer hackers”

    Do SF fans repeat the same debate as f.e. the one we see here on a more abstract, fictional level: the fans of Iain M. Banks forming a “left-wing”, the fans of David Weber’s Honorverse forming a “right-wing” etc., or something like that?

  223. My understanding of “neoconservativism” is basically a traditional conservative mindset, particuarly on social issues, with a supposedly greater emphasis on laissez-faire capitalism and an interventionalist foreign policy. Neocons also claim to be pro-small government.

    However, neocon actions show that they’re really not that interested in laissez-faire free-market capitalism when it conflicts with their favorite special interest groups or their social agenda and that they love to expand government — one of the biggest expansions of government power happened by the actions our last neocon POTUS, Dubya.

  224. >Do SF fans repeat the same debate as f.e. the one we see here on a more abstract, fictional level: the fans of Iain M. Banks forming a “left-wing”, the fans of David Weber’s Honorverse forming a “right-wing” etc., or something like that?

    Not that I’ve seen. There have been occasional attempts to introduce heavy political subtext into the genre, but genre fans generally seem to ignore these debates in their reading choices. The only political group that seems to have been successful at really inhabiting the SF genre is libertarians, and there’s a strong historical argument that that is because SF was libertarian before the libertarians were (see my essay “A Political History of SF” for extended discussion).

  225. The Feds own about 2/3 of the western states for starters.

    They control 2/3 of the land in the western states, but legally speaking, the government doesn’t own that land, we do. The constitution allows for Federal control of the District of Columbia, but it doesn’t authorize massive land-grabs. When the people of those territories formed states and joined the Union, they didn’t cede title of that land to the federal government.

  226. if you cut government spending 2/3rds, that will necessarily put a lot of people out of a job. Even people who don’t work directly for the government. Since unemployment is already at 10+% in many parts of the country — and rising — the economic problems would be greatly exacerbated.

    That’s what the Keynesians said would happen when we demobilized at the end of world war two, but what actually happened was that freeing a million men from military servitude, abandoning a lot of FDR’s insane economic controls, and cutting federal spending by 2/3 actually gave us a couple of decades of very strong economic growth.

    Government “employment” isn’t productive: it’s a forcible misallocation of labor from the productive sector of the economy to the destructive sector of the economy.

  227. Morgan,

    > I don’t know if there’s a citation for Tom DeGisi’s $107 trillion, but it doesn’t sound like it’s too far off the mark.

    Citations are possible, but not forthcoming from me. You may cite my memory. I heard the figure on the radio again this morning, although it was the more precise $106.8 trillion. This includes Social Security and Medicare Parts A, B and D.

    Jessica,

    > In answer to Tom’s question, $100 trillion? The CIA world factbook says the GDP of the USA was about $15 trillion. That means the US Economy is worth, in total, probably about $50trillion, half of the debt. That is pretty scary don’t you think?

    Yes, I do think it’s scary, and that $107 trillion does not include the $12 trillion of pure federal debt. State and local governments are also on the hook for at least another trillion in pure debt, and their pension plans, while funded, are not funded in full. I’m surprised I haven’t rung this alarm bell here before. Our debt plus our unfunded obligations are truly scary.

    The current Congress is so irresponsible that they first added to our unfunded obligations by passing Obamacare and second, have utterly failed to pass a bugdet for this year. Of course Bush and the Republican Congress (with plenty of bipartisan support) did pass Medicare Part D – which I was against at the time, in spite of my general support of Bush and the Republican Congress. That is $15 trillion our of that $107 trillion, for which curses be upon Bush, the Republican Congress and the Democrats who actually wanted a more costly benefit.

    > The U.S. government’s deficit isn’t a transient cash-flow issue, it’s a structural deficit – we have legislated into existence more demand on the treasury than can be collected in taxes. By about a factor of 3. Those spending demands have to be abolished; otherwise an asset sale would only postpone a recurrence.

    Yes. We must tie the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages firmly to demographics, so that perhaps twenty people are always paying in for every one receives benefits, and every time Congress raises benefits without raising FICA taxes the retirement age automatically goes up.

    We may need a Constituional Amendment for this – hopefully one which forbids ANY new government run defined benefit programs and any lock boxes containing government bonds.

    It should be unconstitutional to buy present votes with future money.

    Yours,
    Tom

  228. We must tie the Social Security and Medicare retirement ages firmly to demographics, so that perhaps twenty people are always paying in for every one receives benefits, and every time Congress raises benefits without raising FICA taxes the retirement age automatically goes up.

    No, we must stop the insanity of defined-benefit plans and move to defined-contribution instead.

    You have money taken out of your check and “matched” by your employer (don’t kid yourself; the employer isn’t paying for that “match” any more than he is for the part nominally paid by you; you’re paying for it all with your labor) and goes into your account. From that account, the insurance component (disability insurance) is deducted. The rest is used to purchase Treasury securities which earn interest. When you reach retirement age, you can choose to convert some portion of your account into an annuitized lifetime income stream based on the current mortality tables. Life insurance companies are very good at figuring out these mortality rates; competitive pressures assure they remain so, as under-estimating someone’s life expectancy will cost them monthy payouts, and over-estimating will cost them sales.

    But you don’t have to convert your entire retirement into such an annuitized stream; you can leave some of it to dip into for major medical bills, home or auto repairs, etc., and leftovers to leave to a surviving spouse or other heirs at your death.

    The key to the whole thing is that it is your account, not a big heap of money that can be raided for various vote-buying schemes. If I could wave my hand and make the legislation happen, these Individual Security Accounts would replace SS/Medicare, Unemployment Insurance (which would become a loan from your own retirement that you’d pay back with higher contribution rate when you get another job, totally changing the incentives from our current system) and as many other government programs as possible.

    I don’t like a forced-savings program, but if we must have one, there is no reason why it must the mess we have now.

  229. > No, we must stop the insanity of defined-benefit plans and move to defined-contribution instead.

    I’d like to stop the insanity, but I don’t think we can get there from here fast enough politically. By contrast your proposals above would be sane if starting from scratch. But I don’t see a politically feasable way to convert from our current system to your system. The conversion can’t mess over the current retirees, the near future retirees or the far furture retirees. And if it isn’t politically feasable it isn’t sane either.

    Yours,
    Tom

  230. P.S. My solution probably isn’t politically feasible either. So, hopefully we will end up with something like yor solution after our retirement system collapses.

  231. >And if it isn’t politically feasable it isn’t sane either.

    I agree. Which means the only way out is through a full-fledged, catatastrophic entitlements crash that destroys everything that “current retirees, the near future retirees or the far future retirees” value about the system. We’re not far from that point now. Just google for “unfunded pension liabilities”.

  232. @ esr

    >I agree. Which means the only way out is through a full-fledged, catatastrophic entitlements crash that destroys everything that >“current retirees, the near future retirees or the far future retirees” value about the system.

    So is that extraextra catastrophic?

    I have the same feeling. But I wonder what the volk will do in such an instance. This worries me far more than the eco-hippies. I imagine the hipsters will come to their senses when their latte, tofu, and massage is unavailable. OTOH spurned volk might start to break shit.

  233. Jay Maynard: “Neoconservative” is a pejorative the Left likes to hurl instead of actually arguing someone’s positions.

    Really? I thought it was back-of-the-envelope defined as “the people who led the charge into Iraq”, more specifically as a group of politicians and theorists who modified old-school conservatism to include lots of invasions and wars in order to (a) deplete the public treasury, and thus get rid of social spending, and (b) provide a salutary experience in order that the nation might rally ’round the flag. We heard a lot of (b) just after 9/11, as it was the “death of irony”, and flag-waving patriotism was back in again; we’re hearing a considerably amount about (a) now, as the debate over the national debt focuses almost entirely on cutting back things other than the military spending and tax cuts that got us into the current mess. A canonical neoconservative position was claiming that the Iraq war would “pay for itself”.

    Could you give some examples of people hurling “neoconservative” as a generic insult at someone to whom it clearly doesn’t apply?

    Some Guy: That’s what the Keynesians said would happen when we demobilized at the end of world war two, but what actually happened was that freeing a million men from military servitude, abandoning a lot of FDR’s insane economic controls, and cutting federal spending by 2/3 actually gave us a couple of decades of very strong economic growth.

    Over the long term, sure. (You’re really chalking several decades of economics up to a single set of events?) In the short term, there was a more than 10% drop in GDP (sources conflict, but all give a number above ten percent), and the short term is what’s at issue here.

  234. >Could you give some examples of people hurling “neoconservative” as a generic insult at someone to whom it clearly doesn’t apply?

    I have an example. Me.

    I’ve had “neoconservative” hurled at me as an epithet, despite publicly rejecting every argument on your list.

  235. I thought it was back-of-the-envelope defined as “the people who led the charge into Iraq”, more specifically as a group of politicians and theorists who modified old-school conservatism to include lots of invasions and wars in order to (a) deplete the public treasury, and thus get rid of social spending, and (b) provide a salutary experience in order that the nation might rally ’round the flag. We heard a lot of (b) just after 9/11, as it was the “death of irony”, and flag-waving patriotism was back in again; we’re hearing a considerably amount about (a) now, as the debate over the national debt focuses almost entirely on cutting back things other than the military spending and tax cuts that got us into the current mess. A canonical neoconservative position was claiming that the Iraq war would “pay for itself”.

    That’s how it was originally defined. It’s lost that precision, at least in the public discourse. One need only look at comment sections in the left-wing MSM to see it. And, as with Eric, I too have been accused of being a neoconservative, even though I reject the idea of war as a primary tool of domestic statecraft.

  236. >That’s how it was originally defined.

    Actually, this isn’t true. Grendelkhan’s Iraq-war-centric definition of “neoconservative” was the second loading of that term, not the first. Pre-9/11 it was in use to describe members of a small group of conservative public intellectuals who had in common (a) former attachments to the 1960s New Left, (b) public recantation of that background, and (c) being Jewish. This sense goes back to the late 1980s but as I recall it had little popular currency. Nobody accused me of being one of them.

    During the debate over the Iraq war, “neoconservative” first became a covert anti-Semitic jab at any Jewish supporter of the war, implicitly accusing them of putting tribal interests over the U.S.’s. Then the must-be-Jewish connotation got shed, leading to a definition roughly coincident with grendelkhan’s. By about 2005-2006, the term lost any meaning other than “person a leftist wishes to insult”.

  237. esr: I have an example. Me.

    I was under the impression that you supported the invasion of Iraq and the 2001/2003 tax cuts, and view the current fiscal crisis as justifying, even necessitating, major cuts in social spending. There are also some bits about American exceptionalism which also match up, I think. I’m well aware that you prefer not to label yourself as a “neoconservative”, and claim that your reasons for the preceding positions are totally different than the ones that folks like Bill Kristol or Dick Cheney had for coming up with the same opinions, but I don’t think it’s completely off the wall for people to assume that since you walk like a duck and quack like a duck, it’s at least somewhat reasonable to think that you might be ducky.

    By about 2005-2006, the term lost any meaning other than “person a leftist wishes to insult”.

    I think you’re mistaken here, and I think it has more to do with political uniformity on the right than confusion on the left. Believing that the United States is a special nation (and thereby judging its actions on a different scale than one judges others), believing in an inevitable clash of civilizations between Islam and the West, backing the Iraq war (especially at this point) and agitating for the dismantling of the social safety net at home… the neoconservative program has been spectacularly successful as a meme, which makes people, even people who loudly claim to disagree with each other, fit the description.

    The term honestly does mean something. It just happens to have a wide, wide overlap with people leftists frequently wish to insult.

    Jay Maynard: One need only look at comment sections in the left-wing MSM to see it.

    You’re appealing to anonymous blog comments to make your point? Why not just start citing urbandictionary and Youtube comments while you’re at it?

  238. >I don’t think it’s completely off the wall for people to assume that since you walk like a duck and quack like a duck, it’s at least somewhat reasonable to think that you might be ducky.

    It night be, if my non-duck and anti-duck reasoning weren’t a matter of very public record. Since it is, that assumption can only be a result of ignorance or malice.

  239. esr: It night be, if my non-duck and anti-duck reasoning weren’t a matter of very public record. Since it is, that assumption can only be a result of ignorance or malice.

    I’m well aware that you loudly proclaim that you’ve come to the same conclusions as the neoconservative movement for totally different reasons, and I’m sure it’s easy for other people to discern this as well. While I don’t have any particular desire to assign a specific label to your politics, I can certainly see how people who do care about such things might not think that your justifications are relevant.

    I’m not speaking of myself here, of course.

  240. >I’m well aware that you loudly proclaim that you’ve come to the same conclusions as the neoconservative movement for totally different reasons

    Not even this much is true; my conclusions don’t coincide with theirs. For example, like actual conservative Jay Maynard and unlike neconservatives, I reject the entire line of argument that is encapsulated in so-called “national greatness” neoconservatism – war as a tool of domestic statecraft to rebuild national unity.

  241. I don’t see a politically feasable way to convert from our current system to your system.

    The problem is that the logic behind the Individual Security Account doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. If someone amenable to the idea were elected POTUS and laid it out in an SOTU or equivalent widely-covered speech, it might have a chance.

    The important thing to explain to people is that the failure to account for the present discounted value of future liabilities is fundamentally dishonest. That sort of accounting would put private-sector executives in Leavenworth. Defined-benefit models are screwed, because we have no way of accurately projecting what those benefits will cost, nor what rate of return can be earned between the present and when those benefits must be paid for.

    Maybe “ISA: It’s YOUR Money.” would fit on a bumper sticker.

  242. Neoconservatism is cited by Jonah Goldberg and Michael Kinsley as a word coined by core leftists to label old liberal friends who moved right. This is consistent with the more common phrase I have heard: “a liberal mugged by reality” – referring to liberals who moved right in response to 9/11. It is also consistent with being particularly inapplicable to esr, even while being a label one could conceivably attempt to fire in his direction. :-) There also seems to be a Semitic component as well – it was usable against a Semite who is left in all things except – well, some thing said core leftist disagrees with. But it didn’t seem restricted to Semites. It’s just a label.

    This is all pretty much in line with esr’s comment above. The only difference is that “liberal mugged by reality” bears a subtly noble tone – I have heard conservatives use this label on someone who has “returned to the fold”, at least partly.

  243. >This is consistent with the more common phrase I have heard: “a liberal mugged by reality” – referring to liberals who moved right in response to 9/11. It is also consistent with being particularly inapplicable to esr, even while being a label one could conceivably attempt to fire in his direction. :-)

    Well, there was a time when you could have described me as “a liberal mugged by reality” by stretching only a little, but it was a quarter-century before 9/11.

    Before I was a libertarian, I was a centrist Democrat of a kind now so long extinct that people barely remember we existed. I guess you could call what I was then a JFK Democrat – a “pay any price, bear any burden [...] to assure the survival and the success of liberty” Democrat who believed in American exceptionalism and was proud of my country, liberal on most domestic issues but muscularly anti-Communist. In that day, the “conservatives” were Dixiecrats – I thought of myself as a liberal, if only by contrast to them

    My first political activism was, though I didn’t understand it then, witnessing the death of that kind of Democrat. I went door to door for the Scoop Jackson campaign in 1976. But Jackson was a dinosaur, already shouldered aside in ’72 by the party’s rising New Left clique and fighting a losing rear-guard action against them four years later. By the time I became a libertarian in 1980 the Democrats had drifted so far left that the “liberalism” of my childhood sounded like conservatism by comparison.

    I responded not by moving rightwards but by jumping off the left/right spectrum altogether.

  244. ESR: “neoconservative”… (c) being Jewish.

    There was a Jewish core group, notably Irving Kristol and Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz. However, there were also important non-Jews in the group, such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Daniel Moynihan, though not a true neo-conservative, also participated. IIRC, he had several articles in Commentary on the failures of Great Society liberalism.

    Neo-conservatism had several roots. One was the refusal of domestic liberalism to address crime and disorder in any useful way. Another was the international Left’s embrace of virulent anti-Zionism, supported by the USSR, while the American Left wallowed in anti-anti-Communism.

    It should be noted that the early neo-cons were not “social conservatives” or of the “Religious Right”, though there has been some coalescence later.

  245. > The problem is that the logic behind the Individual Security Account doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker. If someone amenable to the idea were elected POTUS and laid it out in an SOTU or equivalent widely-covered speech, it might have a chance.

    No, that’s not the problem. The problem is that our children cannot both pay into their own accounts AND pay for the benefits of those whose past payments were mostly paying the benefits of the previous generation and partly being squandered by Congress.

    Please, prove me wrong. Converting from the current Ponzi scheme to something where people have money in their accounts is hard because, like all Ponzi schemes, the old money has already been spent.

    In other words, show me how you pay for it. With math. Every method I’ve thought of either leaves some large group of taxpayers / voters in the lurch, or involves double counting money.

    Yours,
    Tom

  246. esr: Not even this much is true; my conclusions don’t coincide with theirs. For example, like actual conservative Jay Maynard and unlike neconservatives, I reject the entire line of argument that is encapsulated in so-called “national greatness” neoconservatism – war as a tool of domestic statecraft to rebuild national unity.

    I don’t think you understand what I’m saying. Your “line of argument” isn’t a conclusion. Though you (loudly) claim to have gotten there by totally different “line[s] of argument”, you’ve come to the same actual policy preferences as the neoconservative movement, and that’s what people respond to.

  247. >you’ve come to the same actual policy preferences as the neoconservative movement, and that’s what people respond to.

    No, not even that is true. This is idiots projecting their own prejudices on me again. Is it a neoconservative goal to abolish government, for fuck’s sake? Even on a nearer timescale, you don’t see “neoconservatives” advocating the end of drug prohibition, or me embracing “nation-building” as a goal.

  248. grendelkhan,

    Dude, you are claiming an asteroid is an elephant, just because both go around the sun in the ecliptic plane. I’m a neoconservative (ex-liberal) and Eric is an anarcho-capitalist.

    Yours,
    Tom

  249. Tom DeGisi: Dude, you are claiming an asteroid is an elephant, just because both go around the sun in the ecliptic plane. I’m a neoconservative (ex-liberal) and Eric is an anarcho-capitalist.

    Read more closely. I’m claiming no such thing; I haven’t thrown the “neocon” label at anyone; I’m simply explaining–and apparently doing a poor job of it–that there’s a lot more daylight between Eric and the canonical center of the neoconservative movement in a theoretical sense than there is in a practical sense. I described the specific policy questions that have defined the neoconservative movement–i.e., “was invading Iraq an awesome idea?”–and the difference between “yes” and “yes, but I still don’t like nation-building”, like Eric’s position on drug prohibition, isn’t particularly relevant.

    Please, prove me wrong. Converting from the current Ponzi scheme to something where people have money in their accounts is hard because, like all Ponzi schemes, the old money has already been spent.

    Isn’t that true of any pension plan? Current workers pay for pensioners’ retirements, and their retirements are in turn paid for by the workers that follow them; there’s no giant heap of money required in order to make it sustainable; what makes it a Ponzi scheme is that new and ever-greater sources of money have to be constantly found to pay off inflated and unsustainable promises, until the whole thing collapses in on itself.

  250. >I described the specific policy questions that have defined the neoconservative movement–i.e., “was invading Iraq an awesome idea?”–and the difference between “yes” and “yes, but I still don’t like nation-building”, like Eric’s position on drug prohibition, isn’t particularly relevant

    This is idiocy. Of course, anyone who chooses to ignore all the ways I’m different from a neoconservative can label me a neoconservative. And anyone who chooses to ignore all the ways fish are different from bicycles can call a fish a bicycle. Meanwhile, in the land of people who aren’t rendered batshit insane by their political fixations, fish are still different from bicycles.

  251. esr: Of course, anyone who chooses to ignore all the ways I’m different from a neoconservative can label me a neoconservative.

    The point is that the ways in which you differ from a neoconservative aren’t things which have made a significant real difference for you, in terms of actual policies, from neoconservatives. It’s not just some out-of-the-blue arbitrary insult. You’ve been called a neoconservative (I must emphasize again, not by me) because your advocated policies seem to match up with theirs in the ways that matter most. It’s hardly like comparing an elephant to an asteroid or a fish to a bicycle, and, at least in your case, doesn’t simply mean “person a leftist wishes to insult”.

  252. >The point is that the ways in which you differ from a neoconservative aren’t things which have made a significant real difference for you, in terms of actual policies, from neoconservatives.

    No matter how often you repeat this, it will not begin to be true.

  253. grendelkhan Says:

    > Current workers pay for pensioners’ retirements, and their retirements are in turn paid for by the workers that follow them.

    That would be a completely unfunded pension plan. IANAL, but I believe it is illegal for any company or private firm to offer this. I would be surprised if a private company could even put all the assets of their defined benefit plan in their own common stock.

    Now, what exactly is in the Social Security Trust Fund?

  254. Please, prove me wrong. Converting from the current Ponzi scheme to something where people have money in their accounts is hard because, like all Ponzi schemes, the old money has already been spent.

    I’m convinced it can be done, but will require selling assets like all that land in AK and other western states. And it needn’t actually cover all the money that should be in everyone’s accounts. Those already retired or within a couple of years of retirement should get the benefits they’ve been promised; the younger the worker, the bigger the pro-rated bite that they’ll have to take. But they also have more time for their ISA to make up the difference out of their future contributions and the interest/dividends earned.

    But whatever happens, we must stop making new promises to young workers that we know can’t be kept.

  255. grendelkhan,

    > Read more closely. I’m claiming no such thing; I haven’t thrown the “neocon” label at anyone; I’m simply explaining–and apparently doing a poor job of it–that there’s a lot more daylight between Eric and the canonical center of the neoconservative movement in a theoretical sense than there is in a practical sense. I described the specific policy questions that have defined the neoconservative movement–i.e., “was invading Iraq an awesome idea?”–and the difference between “yes” and “yes, but I still don’t like nation-building”, like Eric’s position on drug prohibition, isn’t particularly relevant.

    OK. Other people are claiming an asteroid is an elephant, just because both go around the sun in the ecliptic plane, and you are defending them. Your argument is that neocons and Eric have a total of three (three!) policy preferences in common makes Eric close enough to a neocon for all purposes to call him one. This is obvious nonsense, considering the vast differences between neocons and Eric in all other ways.

    You aren’t having (much) trouble communicating. You are having trouble producing an argument which is not easily shown to be false by vast amounts of publically available information.

    This is a common problem. Dean Esmay got tagged as a neocon because he supported the Iraq War, too. He’s not a neocon. You can tell because he loves Obamacare and hates corporations.

    > Isn’t that true of any pension plan? Current workers pay for pensioners’ retirements, and their retirements are in turn paid for by the workers that follow them; there’s no giant heap of money required in order to make it sustainable; what makes it a Ponzi scheme is that new and ever-greater sources of money have to be constantly found to pay off inflated and unsustainable promises, until the whole thing collapses in on itself.

    No, it not true of any pension plan. My 401k is a defined contribution pension plan. I get out whatever my investment is worth when I retire. GM’s pension plan for it’s workers, and KPERS, the Kansas State pension plan are funded – money has been invested to pay for the plan. The investments can be bought and sold by GM and Kansas to change their investment mix, unlike the Treasuries supporting Social Security. It is true that GM and Kansas have not fully funded their plans for various reasons, but they are not Ponzi schemes. Many private defined benefit pension plans (such as Ford’s) are fully funded because it is required by law. That GM was not able to fully fund it’s pensions was one of the reasons for it’s bankruptcy.

    Yours,
    Tom

  256. > I’m convinced it can be done, but will require selling assets like all that land in AK and other western states. And it needn’t actually cover all the money that should be in everyone’s accounts. Those already retired or within a couple of years of retirement should get the benefits they’ve been promised; the younger the worker, the bigger the pro-rated bite that they’ll have to take. But they also have more time for their ISA to make up the difference out of their future contributions and the interest/dividends earned.

    I’d like to see some back of the envelope numbers, if you can come up with them. This is just a blog, and please label your sophistical wild ass guesses as such if it makes you more comfortable.

    The thing is, I think we are monitizing all that land now. The mining, forestry and tourist lobbies, for example, do not strike me as incompetent. It might be that turning lose hoards of capitalists as unencumbered by federal and state governments as our Xteenth century forebears could result in vast amounts of wealth which would make speculators buying that land pay a pretty penny for it, but who is going to roll back all the existing government which constrains us now? We can hardly create an oil lease without ten years of paperwork. Remember also that our Xteenth century forebears usually paid very little or nothing for the land we drove the Indians off of. Will people actually pay big bucks for this unimproved and often highly inaccessible land?

    > But whatever happens, we must stop making new promises to young workers that we know can’t be kept.

    That will require Constitutional amendments which prevent Congress from implementing plans promising benefits now to be paid for later. Remember, an optimistic Congressperson with a plan will always overpromise and underdeliver and believe he is telling the truth.

    Yours,
    Tom

  257. The Monster Says:
    >> Now, what exactly is in the Social Security Trust Fund?
    > Treasuries.

    And Treasuries are _general_ obligations of the US Government, backed only by the ability / willingness of future taxpayers to pay the holders of the Treasuries.
    So one asset of the US Government is secured _only_ by a liability of the US Goverrnment.
    This is unlike when a locality floats a Bridge Bond, where the bond is secured by the future tolls on the bridge

  258. So one asset of the US Government is secured _only_ by a liability of the US Goverrnment.

    Marco, take a look at a dollar bill sometime. Then compare to old money (Gold/Silver Certificates). The old money represented a promise by the US Treasury to redeem in a precious metal. The new money promises nothing other than that it’s legal tender for all purposes.

    It’s turtles all the way down.

  259. The Monster,

    I read that the U.S. Government owns a quarter of the land in the country. Selling it off would help some (maybe all) with Social Security and Medicare. Do you think that doing so is politically possible? I don’t.

    Yours,
    Tom

  260. Not that anyone’s still paying attention, but I voted in Maryland for the first time this morning. Not only did I have to show an ID when I voted, but I had to vote provisionally — my registration will be further validated before my vote is counted. Conflating registration fraud with voting fraud continues to be a bad idea.

  261. Political campaigns, particularly Republican ones, have been caught astroturfing on Twitter.

    One wonders if the Republicans are very confident in their rebound if they feel they have to resort to stuff like this.

    I guess we’ll find out tomorrow, but my feeling is that the GOP is not as assured of taking back Congress as its pundits have been crowing. The memory of what happens when Republicans gain power is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

  262. Well, the rebound wasn’t as big as Fox News was projecting. But it was still pretty big.

    Most notably, Russ Feingold, a well-respected senator and the only person in the U.S. Senate to keep their sanity in the wake of 9/11 hysteria, was defeated. Curiously enough, parts of the campaign-finance law which bears his name were overturned in a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, which laughably made corporate political fundraising protected speech, put disporportionate political power back in the hands of the wealthy, and was probably largely responsible for the GOP rout.

    This is indeed a sad time. The lessons of eight years of Shrub have not been well learned at all.

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