Pharyngula

Arlen Specter, Democrat

In an act of political expediency, Arlen Specter has switched parties. This is good, in that it gives the Democrats more clout (especially when Minnesota’s senator is finally seated). It’s bad in that we don’t want ex-Republicans to have more voice in the party. We’ll take it, anyway.

The best part of the whole switch, though, is that it is a metric of the problems the conservatives face…no one wants to be seen with them anymore, unless they also happen to be crazy or stupid.

Comments

  1. #1 flaq
    April 28, 2009

    I assume he scurried across a large rope to get from one side of the aisle to the other.

  2. #2 Shannon
    April 28, 2009

    I just got the CNN Breaking News text message. I’m wondering how long until everyone just completely disowns the Republicans? How about we send them all to Texas and let them have their wish of independence. We won’t mind that it’s treason.

  3. #3 Alex
    April 28, 2009

    Queue up all of the hazing he’ll be getting from the lunatics like Limbaugh and the god-squad pundits.

  4. #4 MrProsser
    April 28, 2009

    Has this happened much in the US? I do not remember hearing about people doing this in the past but I certainly do not catch every little thing that happens in American politics. Up here in Canada people cross the floor on a fairly regular basis (not often, but it is not some exceedingly rare occurrence).

  5. #5 Chiroptera
    April 28, 2009

    Well, I’m not sure that it’s because Specter is too embarrassed to be seen with Republicans (although he might be) as much as payback. Remember, for the last 8 years or more the “conservative” wing of the Republican Party (previously known as “kooks”) have been insulting and marginalizing the “moderates” (once known as “conservatives”).

  6. #6 Curiouser_Alice
    April 28, 2009

    I happen to disagree about ex-Republicans and the Democratic party but I suppose I’m Republican on the fiscal side. It’s just their social policies I disagree with (and from his record, Specter does also most of the time). I believe the last major switcher was Lieberman. Chiroptera has it exactly right.

  7. #7 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    Michael Steele said:

    Senator Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.

    If he has a left-wing voting record , then surely his principles line up with the Democrats, no?

    As usual, Steele is talking out of his “urban-suburban” arse.

  8. #8 Donnie B.
    April 28, 2009

    Lieberman didn’t switch parties. When he lost in the Democratic primary, he ran in the general election as an independent and won. He still caucuses with the Democrats, but he’s certainly a very Republicanish fellow — he backed the McCain ticket last fall.

  9. #9 TechSkeptic
    April 28, 2009

    Alice,

    I think that is called a Blue Dog Democrat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Dog_Coalition

    I am one also.

  10. #10 Alex
    April 28, 2009

    The religious, and by religious I mean xtian fundies, have hijacked the Republican party to the extent that they have become dysfunctional as a political party. Because they are hamstrung by their religious interests, they are unable to effectively respond to the rest of their constituency or the broad range of issues political parties must address. They’ve been converted from a political party into a religious social engineering organization.

  11. #11 AJ Milne
    April 28, 2009

    Remember, for the last 8 years or more the “conservative” wing of the Republican Party (previously known as “kooks”) have been insulting and marginalizing the “moderates” (once known as “conservatives”).

    Ah, the contemporary GOP. It’s inspiring, really. To think that within their ranks you can find political opinions covering such a wide and vibrant spectrum… All the way from the certifiably insane to the barely subclinically deranged.

  12. #12 Grendels Dad
    April 28, 2009

    Alice,

    When you say you are a republican in a fiscal sense, do you mean the fiscal policies that they talk about, or the way they actually behave?

    It has always amazed me how people will believe the rhetoric instead of the evidence.

  13. #13 Bill Dauphin
    April 28, 2009

    Now Al Franken is No. 60. You Minnesotans need to redouble your efforts to shame Norm Coleman into getting the hell out of the way.

    Hmmm… there’d been all this talk of Specter (R, PA) facing a primary challenge from the right; I wonder if Specter (D, PA) will face a primary challenge from the left? I don’t really know how to feel about this: Specter would almost certainly won reelection as a Republican, but (per FiveThirtyEight.com’s prior analysis) if he’d been knocked off in a primary, the seat would’ve been a likely Democratic pickup. This analysis suggests that it’s not an unmitigated win for us Dems… but if Specter is interested in actually retaining the seat, he may be forced to move farther to his left than he’s currently saying. It occurred to me that this might be a signal that he’s planning to retire, and wants to do the right thing in the meantime… but none of the other analysis says any such thing.

  14. #14 Tony P
    April 28, 2009

    And in Kansas didn’t Brownback follow through on his threat to resign if the Republican party there didn’t stop the challenge to his seat? Which means there’s now a Democrat in the seat, or will be soon enough.

  15. #15 Mark
    April 28, 2009

    For our Canadian friends, here’s what happened. The Republican party in the US has become a neocon right wing party, having been taken over by religious nutbags starting in 1980.

    Over the last 30 years they’ve purged their party of moderates. Spector is one of the last remaining moderates. That being the case, he look more like a Democrat than a Republican now. Since the Republican party moved the Line of Demarcation by their series’ of purges, and Spector really has moved very little in his views, he has found himself in the Democratic camp by default.

    If McCain had won the election last year I suspect we would soon be seeing brownshirted jackbooted Republicans opening Gitmos all over the country – for our own people. They’re that bad. All you have to do is listen to Rush, Hannity or O’Reilly for about an hour to know precisely where they all stand on social issues. And they’ve not shut up since the election. In fact, they’ve raised the level of rhetoric to new levels of absurdity over the last several months.

    Be glad you’re Canadian.

  16. #16 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    April 28, 2009

    I believe the last switcheroo was when Ben “Shithead” Cambpell D/R/Whatever-Colorado switched to the R column after teh ’94 ass kicking. In the immortal words of Han Solo, “Great, Kid, don’t get cocky.”

  17. #17 The Backpacker
    April 28, 2009

    The best part is that as a pro-life Dem (yuck) he will win re-election for sure and just moved a senate seat over to the good guys untill he kicks

  18. #18 Joseph
    April 28, 2009

    Actually it has much more to do with the fact that he was very likely to be defeated in the next Republican primary. He figures that he has a better shot of winning the general (assuming someone doesn’t try to take him down in the Democrat primary!).

    He’s already said he’ll still vote with the Republicans on certain cloture votes (like CardCheck).

  19. #19 Joseph
    April 28, 2009

    @15: Mark, do you actually believe that? McCain would have put people in *camps*?

  20. #20 Glen Davidson
    April 28, 2009

    It may indicate something about the popularity of the Republicans, but it also indicates something about the economic policies of the Democrats that an economic parasite like him wants to go over to them.

    Every silver cloud has a dark lining.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  21. #21 Pablo
    April 28, 2009

    I’ve seen I’ve been beaten to the punch, but I’ll be more specific:

    Alice

    I happen to disagree about ex-Republicans and the Democratic party but I suppose I’m Republican on the fiscal side.

    So you support massive borrow-and-spending to pay for a bloated defense budget?

  22. #22 strange gods before me
    April 28, 2009

    If he has a left-wing voting record , then surely his principles line up with the Democrats, no?

    No and yes. He has a center-right voting record, like most of the Democratic Party. There are maybe a couple dozen leftists in Congress out of 535 people.

    Michael Steele and the rest of the party are just extreme right-wing kooks. They should have said “Arlen Specter was a valuable member of the party who served his constituents well. He was welcome in the big tent of the Republican Party and we are sorry to see him go, but we look forward to working with him on many bipartisan measures where we can find agreement.”

    Instead they’re all foaming at the mouth.

  23. #23 CrispyShot
    April 28, 2009

    no one wants to be seen with them anymore, unless they also happen to be crazy or stupid.

    Cue Michelle Bachmann…

  24. #24 ScienceBlogs Rules Committee
    April 28, 2009

    Posting guidelines for ScienceBlogs:

    1. Use conservative and Christian interchangeably.
    2. When someone says they are fiscally conservative, pretend bafflement as to weather they mean actual conservative ideals or what the GOP has actually done.
    3. Post nothing deeper than “LOL! TEH REPUBLITARDS AM TEZ CRAZEE STOOPID!” Remember, you are far too sophisticated to worry about details.
    4. Stereotypes, broad brushes and bogeymen are valid tools of the true intelligestia.
    5. With every comment, never forget that Republicans are exactly the same, down to the last nanodetail, as Nazis. Every last one of them continuously dreams about putting you all in death camps. Really. It is not insanity to believe that. It’s intellectualism.

  25. #26 Qwerty
    April 28, 2009

    Norm Coleman switched from Democrat to Republican some time ago to get elected as the mayor of St. Paul. I wonder if he now wishes he’d switched back, but I guess you only get one switch in a lifetime or you look a little wishy-washy to the electorate.

  26. #27 varlo
    April 28, 2009

    I have followed Spector’s career more closely than must non-Pennsylvanians because more than 60 years ago I knew him slightly through high school debate and have generally agreed with him except for his actions during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. We can only hope that Limbaugh, Hannity et al. will go into convulsions at the news.

  27. #28 Grendels Dad
    April 28, 2009

    But Alice didn’t say she was fiscaly conservative, she said she was fiscaly republican. Are you pretending that they are the same thing?

  28. #29 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    There’s a ScienceBlogs Rules Committee?

    It sure does rule – sign me up!

  29. #30 Matt Heath
    April 28, 2009

    SRC@#24: Your concern is noted.

  30. #31 Grendels Dad
    April 28, 2009

    I’ll include a few extra “L”s in my next post to make up for th elast one.

  31. #32 Daniel Hast
    April 28, 2009

    I’m glad that he switched parties, but less because it strengthens the Democratic Party and more because it weakens the GOP. If the Republican Party loses enough power, people on the left may be more likely to vote for third party candidates or independents with more liberal views. Right now, many of those people vote for Democrats just because the Republicans are worse.

    Hopefully this, along with the 2008 elections, indicate a long-term shift in power towards progressive values, and not just a temporary swing in the direction of the Democratic Party.

  32. #33 Bill Dauphin
    April 28, 2009

    I believe the last major switcher was Lieberman.

    We Connecticut Dems don’t feel particularly represented by him, but LIEWberman didn’t actually switch parties. He created a sham party to enable his run as a petitioning candidate, but he remains a registered Democrat, and he has continued to caucus with the Democrats and hold committee assignments as a Democrat. Senate Democratic vote counts (58 + Specter [59] + Franken [60, pending]) include LIEberman (and Bernie Sanders, who’s technically an independent, and who self-identifies as a “democratic socialist”).

    AFAIK the last sitting senator to switch parties was Jim Jeffords, who switched from R to D in the summer of 2001, temporarily giving the Dems control of the Senate.

  33. #34 strange gods before me
    April 28, 2009

    @15: Mark, do you actually believe that? McCain would have put people in *camps*?

    See World War II for precedent. When you see some of the other things the Republicans had planned, prison camps do not sound impossible.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/nationalaffairs/index.php/2009/03/02/the-bushyoo-axis/

    ?The government?s compelling interests in wartime justify restrictions on the scope of individual liberty,? Yoo wrote in one memo [titled “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States”]. ?First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.?

    I could honestly only say “I don’t know.” Imprisoning dissidents would certainly not be out of character.

  34. #35 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    No and yes. He has a center-right voting record, like most of the Democratic Party. There are maybe a couple dozen leftists in Congress out of 535 people.

    I’ll probably get slapped by a large trout for bringing this up, but you’re using a different definition of “left-wing” to what I would use.

    Cue pointless debate about what it means to be left wing.

    Stupid French and their bloody revolution.

  35. #36 Michael Fonda
    April 28, 2009

    As a liberal I love it when Republicans claim that the reason they are out of power is because they failed to stick to their principles and that the way for them to get power back is to become even more passionately conservative by, for example, forcing people who aren’t lunatics out of their party.

    That is so right on! Go, conservatives, go! Don’t ever stop standing up for your principles! I love you!

  36. #37 the pro from dover
    April 28, 2009

    Methinks he failed the True Republican religion litmus test.

  37. #38 HenryS
    April 28, 2009

    Hopefully this, along with the 2008 elections, indicate a long-term shift in power towards progressive values, and not just a temporary swing in the direction of the Democratic Party.
    **********
    There is not much progressive values in the current crop of Dems…Just looks at the legal agenda of the Holder DOJ. IMO the 2008 election cycle really exposed the rot on the Dem. party. I contributed to 12 liberal Dem campaigns during ’07-08. I had one winner..Donna Edwards, MD-4. Hopefully ’10 will be better.

  38. #39 Feynmaniac
    April 28, 2009

    I see the rats are jumping ship.

  39. #40 Phaedrus
    April 28, 2009

    Cynical view, PZ. This guy won’t help us on anything substanstive, you watch. It’s bad on every level, but worst is that it dilutes the Democratic/progressive platform by letting such a schmuck under the tent.

    At some point we need to stand for something. I’m sorry if the Republican party has walked away from what Specter believes in, but that doesn’t mean that the Democratic party should walk towards this guy.

  40. #41 Chiroptera
    April 28, 2009

    SBRC, #24: With every comment, never forget that Republicans are exactly the same, down to the last nanodetail, as Nazis.

    I agree that this is way, way overblowing things. The Nazis were evil and insane but smart. The Republicans are just evil and insane.

  41. #42 Patricia, OM
    April 28, 2009

    I listened to Limbaugh on a drive to the post office, he’s howling that it doesn’t matter about Spector. Mostly he’s on about the jet flying over New York.

  42. #43 Trumpeter
    April 28, 2009

    Indeed Spector has been quite clear his primary consideration is the umpcoming primary race. He unabashedly states polls indicate a loss in the Republican primaries. He has a very good chance in the Democratic primary and equally good chance of winning the general election. What no-one has mentioned as yet is the win for science. He is a staunch supporter of science, research and funding of same and never hesitates to mention it. This is a definite win. However, he is not the guaranteed 60th. vote.

  43. #44 ScienceBlogs Rules Committee
    April 28, 2009

    @#30

    Your facts are uncoordinated. The Committee does not care nor have concerns. The Committee merely is.

  44. #45 dogmeatib
    April 28, 2009

    This isn’t going to change much politically. On most of the issues where the Republicans would be likely to attempt a filibuster, conservative Democrats are likely to side with them thereby eliminating the possibility of cloture. People are assuming that a “D” next to that person’s name means they’ll support Democratic objectives or the policies of the Obama administration. That isn’t the case and never has been.

  45. #46 Jimmy Groove
    April 28, 2009

    Specter really had no choice; pretty much every moderate Republican voter has switch to the Democrat party because of the fundamentalism of the Republican. Really, Palin just put the nail in the coffin of the moderate Republican (a coffin both Bushes built).

  46. #47 strange gods before me
    April 28, 2009

    I’ll probably get slapped by a large trout for bringing this up, but you’re using a different definition of “left-wing” to what I would use.

    There are opportunities for objective definitions. I’d like to hear yours.

    Mine is roughly the following, but I’m open to changing it.

    If you believe that regulation of capitalism is inherently a bad idea, you’re far right.

    If you believe in regulation of capitalism and downward redistribution of wealth for the purpose of preserving capitalism, you’re center right.

    If you believe in regulation of capitalism and downward redistribution of wealth for the purpose of improving the lives of those at the bottom, you’re center left.

    If you believe in abolishing or radically restructuring capitalism for the purpose of minimizing disparities of wealth, you’re far left.

    By this measure most modern Republicans are far right, most Democrats center right, a few Democrats plus Bernie Sanders are center left, and no one in Congress is far left.

    For comparison, a few 1960s Republicans were far right, most Republicans were center right, many Democrats were also center right, many Democrats were center left, and I still can’t think of any on the far left but I’m open to suggestions.

  47. #48 JJR
    April 28, 2009

    Though I’m no fan of Specter…his name is an anagram for “Creep Rentals”, btw…I can’t say I can’t relate. When I was a teenage know-it-all in the 1980s, I was a Republican, loved Reagan, was all gung ho for all things military…but I was also *already* an atheist and skeptic as well. Reagan welcomed support from the religious nutbags but he seemed to keep them at arms length, at least in public; I never noticed it, anyway. But when Bush Senior OPENLY embraced the Religious Right and their “Kulturkampf” in his re-election campaign, I, moderate Republican, found myself without a party and pulling for the Democrats in 1992, while my parents were both Perotistas.

    I’ve been drifting mostly leftward ever since, though my views have become more nuanced and less dogmatically politically correct. I voted for Obama in the Texas primary (mostly a slap against Hillary) but Green Party in the National race. I like some things Obama has done, and dislike others. Yeah, it’s better than Bush Jr.

    Did anyone see Cal Thomas’ column arguing that the GOP has to keep hatin’ teh gay or else “lose their soul” as a party?! Specter’s departure is a nice f.u. to that notion…

  48. #49 mothra
    April 28, 2009

    @24. You forgot the /sarc tag. The views expressed by the majority of Rethuglicans are in fact stupid (defined here as having no basis in reality or even pragmatism).

    1) You perhaps have never seen the movie Jesus Camp- do so. The idea of ‘camps’ was not far off the mark, it has happened before.

    2) Our country has spent a billion dollars every 3 days since 2003 on a ‘manufacturWARsy’ while the ‘seeds’ of 911 have sprouted as the original ‘tree’ was never uprooted.

    3) Iran offered help after 911, was snubbed and soon will be a hostile nuclear power. Korea is now a nuclear power- albeit an incompetent and unstable one, ditto Pakistan. These are direct results of Rethuglican policies.

    4) AIDS has done more than decimate people in many countries in Africa. Abstinence only programs are a failure. Witness Uganda. Pseudoscience does not work- witness South Africa.

    5) Never forget that on March 14, 2001, President Bush questioned the whole global warming issue and asserted that carbon dioxide was not a pollutant (reneging on a campaign promise) while TWO days later an issue of Nature hit the stands showing how localized greenhouse effects around towns and factories, due to their increased levels of CO2 could be measured via satellite.

    Have you been hiding out for the last 8 years on the north shore of Baffin Island (sorry Canadians- just a handy exemplar of isolation)?
    The SRC should probably slink back to the RC from whence it came. /end rant

  49. #50 abot
    April 28, 2009

    Arlen specter democrat-what the fuck does it again!
    arlen specter democrat-must go !?

  50. #51 Russell
    April 28, 2009

    PZ, you need to post this poll:

    http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/04/28/hot-seat-bushs-war-crimes/

    And the rest of y’all: take pity on we Texans.

  51. #52 The Tim Channel
    April 28, 2009

    POLL ALERT….POLL ALERT

    Andrew Sullivan asks “Should Bush be tried for war crimes?”

    With 7329 votes in, NO leads YES, 64 to 33 with 3% undecided.

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/mr-broder-wants-us-to-move-on.html

    I voted Yes. Do what you do.

    Enjoy.

  52. #53 catgirl
    April 28, 2009

    The problem is that 2 major parties are just not enough to cover the wide range of political views that people can have. I don’t fit well into either label, so I am registered as independent (it sucks for closed primaries), but I am certainly Democrat-leaning. On top of using the same word to describe a wide range of people, there is also the issue that politicians don’t necessarily follow their party’s platform. As others have brought up, the conservative ideology of government spending is different than the reality of the way Republicans have spent lately. So I’ll give Specter the benefit of the doubt and think that he switched parties to better align with his views, rather than for some ulterior motive. And if a politician changes to represent his constituents better, isn’t that how representative democracy is supposed to work?

  53. #54 JJR
    April 28, 2009

    Though I’m no fan of Specter…his name is an anagram for “Creep Rentals”, btw…I can’t say I can’t relate. When I was a teenage know-it-all in the 1980s, I was a Republican, loved Reagan, was all gung ho for all things military…but I was also *already* an atheist and skeptic as well. Reagan welcomed support from the religious nutbags but he seemed to keep them at arms length, at least in public; I never noticed it, anyway. But when Bush Senior OPENLY embraced the Religious Right and their “Kulturkampf” in his re-election campaign, I, moderate Republican, found myself without a party and pulling for the Democrats in 1992, while my parents were both Perotistas.

    I’ve been drifting mostly leftward ever since, though my views have become more nuanced and less dogmatically politically correct. I voted for Obama in the Texas primary (mostly a slap against Hillary) but Green Party in the National race. I like some things Obama has done, and dislike others. Yeah, it’s better than Bush Jr.

    Did anyone see Cal Thomas’ column arguing that the GOP has to keep hatin’ teh gay or else “lose their soul” as a party?! Specter’s departure is a nice f.u. to that notion…

  54. #55 Russell
    April 28, 2009

    catgirl, winner-take-all elections to geographically apportioned positions leads to a two-party system. The way to give third parties some viability and visibility is to move to some form of proportional representation for some seats. That won’t be easy in the US.

  55. #56 Curiouser_Alice
    April 28, 2009

    @12, 21, 28: If you want to be technical, I am fiscally conservative, not Republican. But many of the Republicans talk that way. By the same token, “free market orientation” is CLAIMED by the Republicans, and the Democrats CLAIM the unions. NAFTA, however, was pushed through by Clinton (after being spearheaded by Bush) – and Dubya wanted to protect the steel industry. Generally speaking, I think they are all talking out of both sides of their mouths.

  56. #57 catgirl
    April 28, 2009

    Russell, I didn’t say anything about fixing the two-party problem; I was just complaining that it is a problem. I didn’t really want to bring up ideas to fix it, because we could go on about that for days and I didn’t want to derail the thread. There’s just no simple, easy solution for it.

  57. #58 Maezeppa
    April 28, 2009

    There’s no down side to this. Specter doesn’t have a long career ahead of him and the next Pa. Senator will be a Democrat. This is great, and once Sen. Franken is seated how close to filibuster-proof are we?

  58. #59 MosesZD
    April 28, 2009

    It’s not good. He’s still a Republican and is still voting against Obama’s appointments.

    Rather, this goes to show that the Democrats are even more worthless and wimpier than I thought. They should have given him the bird and let him go down in flames while in a very blue state put on a good, progressive candidate and sewn it up for decades.

  59. #60 JBlilie
    April 28, 2009

    I’ve been wondering when he would do something. The Neocons have been hammering in his reelection bid and I think he just told them to fuck off.

    It’s a good thing. He’s been one of the few Republicans I’ve had respect for in the last 20 years. I think he’s basically a good man. I’ve always wondered why he retained the GOP tag. No more!

    An PZ has is right: My immediate reaction was: Yeah, no one wants to be photographed next to Rush Limbaugh, Bush II, Pat Robertson, et al. anymore! Whoo hoo, very fine news.

    Maybe the release of the torture memos pushed him over the edge with the George II GOP.

  60. #61 Dr.Woody
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t get the euphoria/triumph this seems to have elicited across the blogosphere.

    Specter’s a treacherous, poisonous, old fuckwit who has a habit of rhetoricizing one way and voting another.

    Why would PA Dims vote now for someone who has just spent the last 30 years fucking them for the greater glory of the GOP and the Chamber of Commerce?

    Don’t PA Dims have any home-grown demagogues?

    You KNOW he didn’t jump without the assurances from the very HIGHEST echelons of the Dim leadership that he’d have a clear path to the nomination. A sorta reverse-loserman arrangement with the party elites…

    I don’t see how Dims benefit from Specter who will drag the party further to the already-too-far-right of center.

    Olympia Snowe, even that despicable Collins from Maine? That might be something to remark.

    But Specter’s made his money back-stabbing and betraying…

    I’m glad I’m not a “Democrat;” I wouldn’t wanna be associated with Specter in any way…

  61. #62 MosesZD
    April 28, 2009

    Posted by: Maezeppa | April 28, 2009 3:43 PM

    There’s no down side to this. Specter doesn’t have a long career ahead of him and the next Pa. Senator will be a Democrat. This is great, and once Sen. Franken is seated how close to filibuster-proof are we?

    But you think Specter is going to be a “good democrat.” Fuck that naivette! It’s as delusional as religion. He’s going to be a “blue dog” democrat at best.

    I think Greenwald nails it: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/28/specter/index.html

  62. #63 MosesZD
    April 28, 2009

    It’s a good thing. He’s been one of the few Republicans I’ve had respect for in the last 20 years. I think he’s basically a good man. I’ve always wondered why he retained the GOP tag. No more!

    As Greenwald observes:

    The moment most vividly illustrating what Specter is: prior to the vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, he went to the floor of the Senate and said what the bill “seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years” and is “patently unconstitutional on its face.” He then proceeded to vote YES on the bill’s passage.

    “Good people” don’t vote for shit like the Military Commissions Act which sought to gut the Constitution and keep that hell hole of Gitmo going in all it’s evil glory. You are how you vote and Spector, after acknowledging the evil of the MCA VOTED FOR IT.

  63. #64 Reginald Selkirk
    April 28, 2009

    Poll: Do you believe miracles can be performed by praying to saints?
    Current tally:
    Yes 399
    No 130
    Unsure 67

  64. #65 Dahan
    April 28, 2009

    Russell @ 51,

    I take pity on you Texans, if for no other reason than that my rabidly religious, semi-psychotic, right wing cousin lives down there. Watch out for him. He’s been stock-piling guns since Obama got elected.

  65. #66 Dr.Woody
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t get the euphoria/triumph this seems to have elicited across the blogosphere.

    Specter’s a treacherous, poisonous, old fuckwit who has a habit of rhetoricizing one way and voting another.

    Why would PA Dims vote now for someone who has just spent the last 30 years fucking them for the greater glory of the GOP and the Chamber of Commerce?

    Don’t PA Dims have any home-grown demagogues?

    You KNOW he didn’t jump without the assurances from the very HIGHEST echelons of the Dim leadership that he’d have a clear path to the nomination. A sorta reverse-loserman arrangement with the party elites…

    I don’t see how Dims benefit from Specter who will drag the party further to the already-too-far-right of center.

    Olympia Snowe, even that despicable Collins from Maine? That might be something to remark.

    But Specter’s made his money back-stabbing and betraying…

    I’m glad I’m not a “Democrat;” I wouldn’t wanna be associated with Specter in any way…

  66. #67 Randomfactor
    April 28, 2009

    There’s no down side to this. Specter doesn’t have a long career ahead of him and the next Pa. Senator will be a Democrat.

    The downside to this is that Specter gets another term in office–however much of it his health will allow.

    Without switching, the Rethugs would’ve picked him off in the primary, and their chosen sacrificial lamb would’ve lost to in the general.

  67. #68 Jadehawk
    April 28, 2009

    the name Arlen Specter is tugging at some unpleasant memories at the back of my head, but I can’t figure out WTF it is that I vaguely remember not liking about him. this will now bug me all day, at least.

  68. #69 JBlilie
    April 28, 2009

    The problem is that 2 major parties are just not enough to cover the wide range of political views that people can have. I don’t fit well into either label, so I am registered as independent (it sucks for closed primaries), but I am certainly Democrat-leaning

    I feel exactly the same way. However, I find the GOP post-Reagan to be arrogant (amazing how often they like to call others that), ignorant, and almost obscenely religulous. I cannot bring myself to vote Rep. Schwarzenegger is in the ballpark; but I couldn’t have voted for (even if I’d had the opportunity) because of the bad experience with Jesse Ventura here in MN. (Not that I like (“no new taxes”) Pawlenty and I think Susan Gaertner will beat him in 2010, if he runs again.) The Reps have become vile, mostly. None of their prez candidates last year were in the same category as Obama. All of them are gamecocks or religious nuts, or both.

    I don’t vote a party, I vote for the person. It does happen that far more often I prefer the Dem to the Rep. I agree with them far more often.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in low-tax states. I’ve always chosen to live in high tax states (and pay high taxes.) I never intend to live in a low tax state.

  69. #70 MosesZD
    April 28, 2009

    NAFTA, however, was pushed through by Clinton

    And opposed by virtually every Democrat in the House and Senate. Don’t use Bill Clinton, who was an outlier on economic issues from the main Democratic Party, as an “example” of how the Democrats, as a party, speak out both sides of their mouths.

  70. #71 KemaTheAtheist
    April 28, 2009

    “The problem is that 2 major parties are just not enough to cover the wide range of political views that people can have.”

    I agree. I don’t fall into either party as well. I’m extremely liberal on social views like same-sex marriage and such, but I hate the tendancies of democrats to put my tax money into unemployment (and other such social programs) so that people who got fired from McDonald’s can collect free paychecks for months.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be some programs like this, but they’re far too easily abused.

  71. #72 Dr.Woody
    April 28, 2009

    Jadehawk @ 68: the name Arlen Specter is tugging at some unpleasant memories at the back of my head, but I can’t figure out WTF it is that I vaguely remember not liking about him. this will now bug me all day, at least.

    The ridiculous single-bullet theory? His scurrilous attack on Anita Hill?

    He’s just about the paragon of scum-sucking sleazebaggery.

  72. #73 A-Tom-IC
    April 28, 2009

    Regardless of your opinion of Barry Goldwater, he saw the religification of the Republican Party coming over 20 years ago:

    “When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye”. The Washington Post (28 July 1994)

  73. #74 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    MosesZD #70

    Don’t use Bill Clinton, who was an outlier on economic issues from the main Democratic Party, as an “example” of how the Democrats, as a party, speak out both sides of their mouths.

    Molly Ivins said of Clinton: “If left to my own devices, I’d spend all my time pointing out that he’s weaker than bus-station chili…no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal.”

  74. #75 Bill Dauphin
    April 28, 2009

    I’ve spent a lot of time in low-tax states. I’ve always chosen to live in high tax states (and pay high taxes.) I never intend to live in a low tax state.

    I understand, but if we don’t turn things around soon, you may not have as much control over that as you’d like: Most people would consider Connecticut a high-tax state, and we’re reliably blue in federal elections (i.e., we went big for Obama, and if I hold my nose and include LIEberman, all 7 of our members of Congress are Dems), yet there’s increasingly no shortage of I-got-mine-and-I-don’t-want-to-pay-for-yours tax hawk Republicans, many of them affluent retirees, who refuse to support adequate budgets at the state and local level. I’ll be going to a public town meeting tonight to speak out, trying to keep the pitchfork-wielding hordes from cutting our already fatally slashed town budget even more.

    I would say “thank FSM my daughter already graduated from our rapidly sinking school system,” but I can’t, because I know that precisely that sort of if it doesn’t affect me directly and personally, I don’t need to worry about it attitude is at the very root of the problem. It takes a village to have a fucking village; a collection of houses full of people who only care about their own damn selves is no town at all (and a state full of “towns” like that is no state to live in).

    [sigh]

  75. #76 Bostonian
    April 28, 2009

    My take on it is that it’s probably a mostly political move. I’m not saying he’s lying (he’s a politician so I don’t have to say that), but he did have more challenges ahead as a Republican than he will with his new affiliation. Supposedly the upcoming Republican primary was not going to be pretty, and his state is leaning more to the left.

    That said, I don’t see him switching back to the Republican Party if the winds change yet again, as some right-wing wishful-thinkers are suggesting in posts to many news sites. He’s been in office since the early 80s, and was a Republican about 15 years earlier than that. He’s seen the country vote for Democrats many times, but it hasn’t made him desert his party until now. Clearly something’s different.

    Despite the political angle, ignore every wingnut who says this move is meaningless. Yes, Specter will probbaly vote no differently as a Democrat, but he’s made a loud statement and the fallout from it is yet to be seen. I also look forward to seeing what other moderate Republicans will do. It would be cool if this were the beginning of an avalanche.

  76. #77 Matthew Pickard
    April 28, 2009

    I’ll take the wait-n-see approach and see what Spector will bring to the table. I really don’t care about his motivation for why he is not sitting at the table.

  77. #78 Dr.Woody
    April 28, 2009

    @71: I hate the tendancies of democrats to put my tax money into unemployment (and other such social programs) so that people who got fired from McDonald’s can collect free paychecks for months.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be some programs like this, but they’re far too easily abused.

    Who, sir, are then the deserving poor? And shall you determine the justice of their claims?

    Capitalism, in all its forms and permutations, requires a certain amount of unemployment. It is necessary for “worker discipline.” Without the threat that there is someone else out there who will take the worker’s job, for a lesser wage, if the worker does not accede to the Boss’s demand, kapitalismus/the Boss loses control over its most formidable resources: the value it appropriates by compelling productivity on its own terms. Full employment is anathema to capitalism. What’s called “Full Employment” is a structurally agreed-upon term which sets the acceptable number at somewhere around 4%.

  78. #79 Jadehawk
    April 28, 2009

    The ridiculous single-bullet theory? His scurrilous attack on Anita Hill?
    He’s just about the paragon of scum-sucking sleazebaggery.

    I am really not sure… all I know is that my mind has filed him under “slightly less of an idiot-dinosaur-hybrid than Ted Stevens”

  79. #80 Mrs Tilton
    April 28, 2009

    SBRC @24,

    ha ha!

    No, really; I don’t agree with you at all, but that was a moderately amusing and well put-together comment. Since you can arrange words, some with multiple syllables, into comprehensible sentences with only a few spelling errors, and even manage to avoid posting in all caps, I have to conclude that you?re one of those conservatives whose political faith stems from an unfortunate personality disorder rather than sheer howling, rock-biting stupidity. In the spirit of compassion, then, let me help you:

    1. Use conservative and Christian interchangeably.

    Oh, believe you me, though most commenters here (I can’t speak to other Science Blogs) have real and serious disagreements with Christianity, I am confident in saying that most of us would be delighted to be able to stop using those two terms interchangeably.

    There are, mirabile dictu, a few Christians who comment here. NB I am not referring to the creationist trolls that occasionally clutter up the place, I am talking about people who wish to participate seriously. The Christian-bashers here even awarded one of them, Scott Hatfield, the first ever Molly; not bad for a delusional godbotherer, eh? And there are Christian bloggers who are much admired by many in this crowd of (mostly) rabid (mostly) atheists. Fred Clark, a Baptist, is one example.

    Thing is, if you listen to those Christians, one of the things that most tries their virtue of patience is the way so many other US Christians make “Christian” and “conservative” interchangeable. It really pisses them off, and I can understand that. But you know what? That’s not our problem. We can be all, like, “no true Scotsman” and all that. If you don’t like people conflating Christianity and conservatism, then persuade Christians/conservatives to stop conflating the one with the other themselves. When I read American Christian spokesman saying ?Poverty? Poverty shmoverty ? what does helping the poor have to do with Christianity? The core of Christianity is denying women the right to choose and keeping the faggots from marrying?, that answers the question of whether (mainstream American Republican) Christianity is anything more than a Junior Republican League for the slower-witted and more superstitious sort of rightwing bigot.

    Or to put it another way, if you are (as I infer) yourself a Christian and bothered by the ?Christian=conservative? equivalence, then muck out your own goddamned stall. Supposedly, somebody somewhere once advised that what is to be rendered unto God and unto Caesar are separate things. The man who supposedly said that was a swarthy middle easterner, so I?m not surprised conservative Christians have no use for his opinions. Pity; he had a very valid point there. Even if you are (as I also infer) conservative, if you take Christianity seriously (as I once did myself), you should want to stop it whoring itself to the GOP. Again, if you want us to stop using Christian and conservative interchangeably, then stop using them interchangeably.

    2. When someone says they are fiscally conservative, pretend bafflement as to weather they mean actual conservative ideals or what the GOP has actually done.

    Oh, rilly? Enlighten us, O earnest conservative Christian, as to why we should not be baffled. (And our bafflement is far from pretense.) Unlike you, we cannot peer within the human heart. We can only note what people say and what they do. And when the small-government, drown-it-in-the-bathtub party loudly preaching fiscal responsibility occupies the better part of a decade slashing taxes and at the same time pawning the family silver unto the seventh generation and spending like drunken sailors on shore leave in hot pursuit of the worst dose of the clap ever known to man, then bafflement is the only appropriate response. I am not entirely without sympathy here. There are probably as many as 17 or 18 genuine fiscal conservatives left in the Republican party. And I?ll agree: sad to be them. Also: embarrassing to be them ? given the way they were content to go along for the ride during Bush?s regime, I?m not really in a hurry to assume their good faith now that, the drunken revels over and the hangover to be endured, they start making noises about how they?re not like those other, bad and irresponsible conservatives.

    3. Post nothing deeper than “LOL! TEH REPUBLITARDS AM TEZ CRAZEE STOOPID!” Remember, you are far too sophisticated to worry about details.

    Apparently I was hasty in thinking you could post without all-caps. And you?d really be better advised to be careful about casting that first stone when it comes to spelling errors. Thing is, though, while it is certainly untrue of all Republicans, there is a critical mass of the party that am, in fact, teh crazy stoopid. Beck, Malkin, Limbaugh, Bachmann, Goldberg, Inhofe, Dobson, Vitter, Coulter, Tancredo, Schlafly, Santorum, Kristol, Davis Hanson, Pence, Krauthammer, Delay, Mellon Scaife, Palin, Bozell, Horowitz, Robertson, Fossella, Hannity, Erickson, Cantor ? to mention just a few names that spring to mind without bothering to compile a systematic list ? are a vivid potpourri of crazee and stoopid in varying proportions.

    Me, though? I?m not that bothered by Republican stupidity. Stupidity, after all, is no vice (unless willful). I?m more bothered by pandemic Republican moral degeneracy, political bankruptcy and intellectual and personal dishonesty.

    4. Stereotypes, broad brushes and bogeymen are valid tools of the true intelligestia.

    Only for values of ?true intelligestia? ? which I guess is like ?intelligentsia? but better ? that include the modern conservative movement. I mean, I have a very low opinion of Freudian theory, but c?mon: you?re really just begging for a screen in front of you right now.

    5. With every comment, never forget that Republicans are exactly the same, down to the last nanodetail, as Nazis. Every last one of them continuously dreams about putting you all in death camps. Really. It is not insanity to believe that. It’s intellectualism.

    I hope you?re not a smoker, ?cause if you are, you?re in mortal danger surrounded by all those straw men. Mind you, there are large numbers of Republicans who?d have been Nazis ? not the big dreamers, just obedient functionaries ? if they?d lived in nazi Germany; just as they?d have been cogs in the Stalinist machine in the Soviet Union of the day, minor inquisitors in the medieval Roman church, small-town falangists in Franco?s Spain, and local Wizards and Kleagles had they been of their grandfathers? rather than their own generation. But I agree with you: it?s really not reasonable to think that all Republicans want to put everybody else in death camps. Indeed, I?m sure only a small minority want to do that. But I?m also confident that many, possibly even most, other Republicans would obediently implement the others? plans if the others could only grab the power to carry them out; and would defend those plans in the press and before the world because Saddam Hussein was worse and ZOMG scary brown people will murder us in our beds and, oh look, Clinton?s penis.

    On second thought, screw compassion. Let?s see if we boil that all down to something pithy. This?ll do: go fuck yourself, ass^H^H^H? I was going to write ?asshole?, but why insult an innocent and helpful body part? Better: go fuck yourself, conservative Christian.

  80. #81 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    Specter switched parties because he saw it as the best thing he could do for Arlen Specter. He’d like to remain a Senator and decided, for good reason, that doing so would be difficult as a Republican. He hasn’t changed his political views, he hasn’t moved leftwards, he hasn’t renounced the Dark Side. He thinks that to be reelected in 2010 he can’t be a Republican any more.

    It’s not like when Jim Jeffords was kicked out of the Republican Party for ideological impurity. Specter is looking out for one person only, himself.

  81. #82 JBlilie
    April 28, 2009

    to be reelected in 2010 he can’t be a Republican any more

    This is a good indication for the US. Another sign that the Rep/Neocon tide has turned

    Maybe now that he no longer has to kowtow to the GOP leadership, the Limbaughs, etc., things will be better. He always seemed a RINO to me.

    Specter is looking out for one person only, himself

    Sort of like any politician.

  82. #83 Fred Fungible
    April 28, 2009

    For those who can’t quite recall what the unpleasant
    thing was that they associate with Arlen Spector,
    here’s mine:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3225539

  83. #84 Bill Dauphin
    April 28, 2009

    Who, sir, are then the deserving poor? And shall you determine the justice of their claims?

    Me, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the undeserving poor.

  84. #85 Matt Heath
    April 28, 2009

    Mind you, there are large numbers of Republicans who?d have been Nazis ? not the big dreamers, just obedient functionaries ? if they?d lived in nazi Germany; just as they?d have been cogs in the Stalinist machine in the Soviet Union of the day, minor inquisitors in the medieval Roman church, small-town falangists in Franco?s Spain, and local Wizards and Kleagles had they been of their grandfathers? rather than their own generation.

    Indeed, and for those that don’t already know about his work, U. Manitoba psychologist Bob Altemeyer can tell you about what drives these people for free.

  85. #86 TJ Longshore
    April 28, 2009

    Please do not send them all to Texas! We have enough of them here already.

  86. #87 Loc
    April 28, 2009

    Mrs. Tilton,

    This is the best post I’ve ever read! Superb!

    Loc

  87. #88 chuckgoecke
    April 28, 2009

    I have a vague liking of Specter, I seem to remember him being one of the least bad Republicans, and some things he did I actually liked. I can’t think of any specifics though. It was probably stuff related to his past chairmanship of the Senate Judicary committee.

  88. #89 Anonymous
    April 28, 2009

    ‘Tis Himself, #74: …no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal.”

    Ah, but the late Ms. Ivins repeated herself.

  89. #90 S. Sepp
    April 28, 2009

    I’m a bit concerned about how this will play politically. In the current clusterf%*k climate, the Democrats were in a good position with their not-quite bulletproof majority. It gave them a bit of leeway to blame certain things on the Republicans. As long as the Republicans can filibuster and obstruct certain policy pieces – few of which would have significant economic impact – it allows the Democrats to say “Well, we’re trying – but those darn Republicans won’t let us pass what really matters.” With Franken and Spectre, they can no longer shift some of the blame. If their policy doesn’t match the rhetoric, it will be a tough time in 2010.

    TLDR: Now that they can’t be blamed for obstructing policy, this could be a boon for the Republicans.

  90. #91 Geral
    April 28, 2009

    A one party system is anti-democratic, but a two party system? Yep, that’s okay. We really should demand that the electoral system be opened up a bit.

  91. #92 chuckgoecke
    April 28, 2009

    I have a vague liking of Specter, I seem to remember him being one of the least bad Republicans, and some things he did I actually liked. I can’t think of any specifics though. It was probably stuff related to his past chairmanship of the Senate Judicary committee.

  92. #93 les
    April 28, 2009

    Specter switched parties because he saw it as the best thing he could do for Arlen Specter. He’d like to remain a Senator and decided, for good reason, that doing so would be difficult as a Republican. He hasn’t changed his political views, he hasn’t moved leftwards, he hasn’t renounced the Dark Side. He thinks that to be reelected in 2010 he can’t be a Republican any more.

    Ding ding, we have a winner. There’s a reason that “to Specter” is verb meaning to talk one way and vote the other. For 8 years, he’s made pious, self serving statements opposing the more lawless, unconstitutional, greedy policies of the Bush administration, and then voted party line. On top of which, 60 people in the Dem caucus doesn’t mean filibuster proof–as Lenny Bruce said, and it’s true today, “I’m not a member of any political organization, I’m a Democrat.”

  93. #94 bobxxxx
    April 28, 2009

    Republicans are for making America a theocracy and they’re for destroying the environment.

    Examples from my state, Florida:

    Ronda Storms wants to put a dead Jeebus on our license plates. Last year this Baptist pig from hell attacked our new public school science standards.

    Yesterday the Florida House passed a bill to authorize near-shore oil drilling off Florida’s coast. The vote was 70-43. 68 of those 70 votes were from Republicans. Fortunately this bill won’t pass in our Senate.

  94. #95 les
    April 28, 2009

    to be reelected in 2010 he can’t be a Republican any more

    This is a good indication for the US. Another sign that the Rep/Neocon tide has turned.

    Unfortunately, no. It means he would have lost the Repub primary to a Club For Growth crazy person, because he’s viewed as moderate; but only from the crazy perspective. The CfG crazy may well have lost to an actual moderate; but instead we’ll probably get Specter v. crazy, and Pa. doesn’t really like Specter.

  95. #96 Keanus
    April 28, 2009

    The only really serious challenger for the Democratic nomination for Specter’s senate seat was State Rep. Josh Shapiro, an up and coming serious legislator from Montgomery County (a Philly suburb). And this afternoon, Shapiro announced that he would not challenge Specter for the Democratic nomination, so I think the Democratic primary will be relatively easy for Specter. And in the general he’s almost certain to wipe the floor with Pat Toomey, the probable Republican candidate, former right wing Representative from Allentown, and past president of the Club for Growth. Toomey fits very well in the much, much smaller Republican tent. But the reality is that Democratic registration in Pennsylvania has grown by over 600,000 in the last four years with a corresponding shrinkage for the Republicans giving the Dems an edge of well over a million registered voters.

  96. #97 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    The ridiculous single-bullet theory?

    The single bullet theory has overwhelming factual support. I once also believed otherwise, but I was lied to by conspiracy nuts making money on their books by including fraudulent drawings and misleading photographs of the “pristine” bullet (which was anything but). See Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (he also wrote The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President, and
    The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, so he’s not exactly a right wing shill), or http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/sbt.htm

    His scurrilous attack on Anita Hill? He’s just about the paragon of scum-sucking sleazebaggery.

    No argument there. This talk of “60 votes” is nonsense; he has already stated that he will vote against the EFCA, and he is likely to hold his vote on other issues for ransom just as he did with the stimulus package.

  97. #98 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    Anyone who thinks the Republican Party has disappeared or is on its death bed or otherwise going out of existence is seriously deluded. Remember, in the election Obama got 53% of the popular vote to McCain’s 46%.

    As for those hoping for a third party, the last time a third party became viable in the US was in the 1850s when the Whigs imploded over slavery, allowing the Republicans to emerge as the anti-slavery party (the Democrats were pro-slavery).

  98. #99 2 cents
    April 28, 2009

    A random thought: with Spector joining the Dems, will that make ab(Norm)al Coleman dig in his heels much more firmly and delay the seating of our second senator even longer? I can see the Repug Partei shoving more money in his direction.

    As for the demarcation of left/right political stances, the Overton window comes into play here. The more outrageous one side is, the more the other side has to move to the center or across the line.

    Wonder what decent Republicans like Eisenhower would make of their party today?

  99. #100 Ichthyic
    April 28, 2009

    *tips hat at Mrs. Tilton*

    now THAT was a wonderful rant for my breakfast enjoyment.

    ahhh.

  100. #101 Alverant
    April 28, 2009

    MrProsser #4. According to CNN a sitting senator switched party affiliation 13 times in the past 100 years.

    ‘Tis Himself #98. Bush won his two terms by less of a margin and people were saying the liberals were on the way out. But there hasn’t been such a majority in the Senate as now.

  101. #102 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    As for those hoping for a third party, the last time a third party became viable in the US was in the 1850s when the Whigs imploded over slavery, allowing the Republicans to emerge as the anti-slavery party (the Democrats were pro-slavery).

    You forget the Progressive party.

  102. #103 Daniel Hast
    April 28, 2009

    @’Tis Himself (#98): I don’t think the Republican Party is going to disappear, but if that 46% were to go down to 40% or so?a plausible number if Obama succeeds in helping the economy recover and getting universal health care passed?then third party candidates on the left would be much more viable, if only at the state level at first.

  103. #104 Scott from Oregon
    April 28, 2009

    For all the chutzpah about the religio-nutjobberdoodooheads voiced around here, I can’t wrap my head around anyone thinking denigrating only half of the two party wash-out is a rational POV.

    As America- the country- gets so broke it cannot repay the money it borrowed, perhaps it will sink in that we’ve been getting one-two punched for quite sometime.

    Here we have a Democratic congress now swiping billions out of the coffers and giving it to Corporate fraudsters, and the great outcry is that “The Republicans started it!”

    It is truly embarrassing the kind of corn-holing some liberals are willing to tolerate to rationalize the imcompetence on their side of the crooked fence…

    But at least ya got Kieth and Rachel…

  104. #105 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    Anyone who thinks the Republican Party has disappeared or is on its death bed or otherwise going out of existence is seriously deluded. Remember, in the election Obama got 53% of the popular vote to McCain’s 46%.

    And when’s the last time there was such a margin at the Presidential level? And let’s not forget that a lot of people voted for the avuncular centrist rather the black socialist muslim. Of course, that tells us that Republicans can garner votes by misrepresenting both themselves and their opponents, but it’s gotten harder for them to do that. Here’s the stat that you didn’t mention: only 21% of people polled identify as Republicans. 35% identify as Democrats and 31% as independents, but when you poll people on issues, there’s not much support for Republican positions or ideology, and most of the support is in the south. The Republican Party hasn’t disappeared, but it’s well on its way to being a regional party.

  105. #106 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    Wonder what decent Republicans like Eisenhower would make of their party today?

    Well, the shout-out he gave to the military-industrial complex was clearly a warning against Cheney and Halliburton.

  106. #107 uncle frogy
    April 28, 2009

    I have speculated about the political make up of the electorate and how it relates to the parties as we know them for some time.
    Many people on the more liberal side of things have tended toward support for Nader or the Green party and have complained about the sameness of the two parties. I think that for some time there has been growing a realignment within the parties. The reactionary religious right have been driving out the Main Street republicans as not being “True Conservatives” forcing those who are not so social conservative or militarist out while at the same time the “Centrists Democrats” have been distancing themselves from the more “radical left” elements of the Democratic party this is just the latest event in this process.
    Will the Republicans become the new “ultra Right true conservative” party
    the Democratic party become the new center left where most of the people generally are when the all facts are brought out.
    the question is what will become of the more ambitious left, the greens and labor?
    How will they line up. Will they support the democrats or continue to lean further left?
    Will the Republican party fade as it becomes more discredited and marginalized?
    Will some new alignment arise on the left composed of The Naderites, Greens , Labor and the old anti-war left?
    Or will the “Global Warming Catastrophe” overwhelm everything?

  107. #108 JackC
    April 28, 2009

    Patricia@42:

    Mostly he’s on about the jet flying over New York.

    As are a number of us. What in incredibly stupid, arrogant and idiotic move.

    On another note, it is sad to note that you and I both live near US-84, but opposite ends of the country. Sigh. I would have enjoyed buying you a beer. I have even been known to sail occasionally.

    JC

  108. #109 James
    April 28, 2009

    yeah all this country needs. Another IDIOT democrat holding office!!!

  109. #110 JeffreyD
    April 28, 2009

    Standing and applauding Mrs. Tilton for post #80 – Brava.

  110. #111 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    Here we have a Democratic congress now swiping billions out of the coffers and giving it to Corporate fraudsters, and the great outcry is that “The Republicans started it!”

    It is truly embarrassing the kind of corn-holing some liberals are willing to tolerate to rationalize the imcompetence on their side of the crooked fence…

    [citation needed]

    But at least ya got Kieth and Rachel…

    I’d take Keith and Rachel over asylum escapees Glenn, Sean, Rush and Bill any day.

  111. #112 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    From the NRCC:

    Today, Senator Arlen Specter switched his party affiliation to the Democrat Party. I hope you will join me in saying ?Good Riddance.?

    Don?t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC

    While today?s party switch underscores how well Specter will fit in with his new Democrat colleagues, this act of political self-interest comes at a very serious cost. If Democrats succeed in stealing the election in Minnesota they will have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. This would amount to a blank check for Democrats to continue spending trillions of your tax dollars with ZERO accountability.

    This supposedly was a concern for Specter when last month he stated:

    “I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role, a more important role, to play there. The United States very desperately needs a two-party system. That’s the basis of politics in America. I’m afraid we are becoming a one-party system… I think as a governmental matter, it is very important to have a check and balance.” – Sen. Arlen Specter, 3/17/09

    But like his principles, I guess this no longer applies.

    Don?t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC

    Now, your support for House Republicans matters more than ever. Since taking power in 2007, Democrats have worsened the culture in Washington, while strapping this country with trillions in new debt and crushing tax hikes on all Americans.

    Remember, it was the House Republicans who stood in unison to oppose the so-called ?stimulus? and the budget.

    Don?t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC

    Now more than ever, it is important to elect principled, fiscally responsible Republicans. Help us send Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Arlen Specter a message by supporting the NRCC as we work to elect Republicans like you and me.

    Thank you for your continued support.

    Sincerely,

    Guy Harrison, Executive Director

    P.S. Americans deserve Representatives who put principles first. Please support the NRCC as we work to rid Washington of self-interested Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and turncoats like Arlen Specter.

    Yeah, that’s the way to show you’re a big tent party and not a bunch of raving right wing whackjobs: call it “the Democrat Party” and say they’re stealing the election in Minnesota.

  112. #113 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    Yeah, that’s the way to show you’re a big tent party and not a bunch of raving right wing whackjobs: call it “the Democrat Party” and say they’re stealing the election in Minnesota.

    But everyone knows the Nazi party were really called the Bacon and Lesbian party!

  113. #114 llewelly
    April 28, 2009

    And when’s the last time there was such a margin at the Presidential level?

    Clinton won by more electoral votes in both 1996 and 1992. Clinton won by more percentage points in 1996, but not in 1992.
    Reagan and H.W. Bush won by leads that dwarfed Clinton’s. Given the influence that the 1990s and 1980s had on modern politics, it’s grossly ignorant to pretend that’s all ancient history.
    Really, of recent past presidents, it’s only G.W. Bush who couldn’t beat Obama’s electoral college victory margin.

    Obama Vs McCain, 2008:
    365 173 (192 vote lead)
    52.9% 45.7% (7.2% lead)

    Clinton Vs Dole, 1996:
    379 159 (220 vote lead)
    49.2% 40.7% (8.5% lead)

    Clinton Vs H.W. Bush Vs H. Ross Perot 1992:
    370 168 0 (202 vote lead)
    43.0% 37.4% 18.9% (5.6% lead)

    H.W. Bush Vs Dukakis, 1988:
    426 111 (315 vote lead)
    53.4% 45.6% (7.8% lead)

    Reagan Vs Mondale, 1984:
    525 13 (512 vote lead)
    58.8% 40.6% (18.2% lead)

    Reagan Vs Carter, 1980:
    489 49 (440 vote lead)
    50.7% 41.0% (9.7% lead)

  114. #115 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    Given the influence that the 1990s and 1980s had on modern politics, it’s grossly ignorant to pretend that’s all ancient history.

    That influence supposedly resulted in a highly polarized nation, but that polarization has given way to marginalization of the Republicans; that 21% identification was last matched in 1983. Of course things change; the Republicans came back from their 1964 disaster and the Dems came back from their 1994 disaster, but the Reps are clearly in decline and all the signs are that they will continue in that direction.

  115. #116 The MadPanda
    April 28, 2009

    Mrs. Tilton, I do believe you have justified an early Molly nomination. Well written! Well written indeed.

    The MadPanda, FCD

  116. #117 Alex Deam
    April 28, 2009

    Clinton won by more electoral votes in both 1996 and 1992. Clinton won by more percentage points in 1996, but not in 1992. Reagan and H.W. Bush won by leads that dwarfed Clinton’s. Given the influence that the 1990s and 1980s had on modern politics, it’s grossly ignorant to pretend that’s all ancient history. Really, of recent past presidents, it’s only G.W. Bush who couldn’t beat Obama’s electoral college victory margin.

    Llewelly, put those numbers you quoted in terms of how many people voted for each person makes a big difference. Obama got 10 million more votes than McCain. Since Roosevelt, only three times has there been bigger margin of difference between the two main candidates: Johnson (and he had the help of a nation who’d lost it’s previous president to an assassination), Nixon’s 2nd term, and Reagan’s 2nd term. In all three criteria (percentage of the vote, absolute vote count, and electoral college votes) Obama’s destroys Kennedy’s win. And don’t forget, this was a black candidate, and I’m sure there would have been a number of people racist enough to not vote for him because of that.

  117. #118 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    Many people on the more liberal side of things have tended toward support for Nader or the Green party and have complained about the sameness of the two parties.

    Where “many” is in the small single digit percentage, and in the small fractions when it comes to voting for Nader.

    the “Centrists Democrats” have been distancing themselves from the more “radical left” elements of the Democratic party this is just the latest event in this process.

    This is a complete misunderstanding of Democratic Party politics. It is the centrist DLC types who now have greatly diminished influence due to the ascendance of progressive elements (largely empowered by the web) who are in tune with majority views as indicated by issue polling. The “radical left” is off masturbating over pictures of Ralph. Over at DailyKos, a money raising and activist powerhouse for the DP, the strategy in 2006 was to elect Democrats, any Democrats. In 2008 it started to shift to electing “good” Democrats (not the blue dog kind), and the strategy is now fully focused on replacing DINOs, blue dogs, and weak-kneed Dems with those who are fully progressive.

  118. #119 DaveH
    April 28, 2009

    The people who matter for the next US election are the young’uns who grew up thinking Reagan/Thatcher was normality. Neither country (US/UK) has a two-party state, people changing parties has no effect on whether the MAN is in charge.

  119. #120 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    “It’s good for the Republicans”. Count on William Krystol to make the standard Dem parody of Republican hypocrisy into reality.

  120. #121 squidbait
    April 28, 2009

    Not much lost. I do agree with PZ. This was a good move. The more frauds in the Republican party we can get rid of the better. I sure hope he can be replaced by a real Republican this time. Most conservatives knew that this man was just a rino anyway. When was he ever a Republican? He should have been in the democrap (pun definitely intended) party all along. Now if we can get rid of Steele, and the Log Cabin phonies…

    Maybe then we can start to take the party back and put some real conservatives in power.

  121. #122 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    The CfG crazy may well have lost to an actual moderate; but instead we’ll probably get Specter v. crazy

    I agree with Keanus that Specter will wipe the floor with Toomey.

    Pa. doesn’t really like Specter.

    They like him enough to have kept him in office for 28 years.

  122. #123 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    I would say that no one can really be as stupid as squidbait if I hadn’t learned to know better.

  123. #124 Squidbait
    April 28, 2009

    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele ripped Specter, calling him a Republican in name only who was out of step with the rest of the party because of his “left-wing voting record.”

    “Some in the Republican Party are happy about this. I am not,” Steele said in a written statement. “Let’s be honest — Sen. Specter didn’t leave the GOP based on principles of any kind. He left to further his personal political interests because he knew that he was going to lose a Republican primary due to his left-wing voting record.”

    Steele said Republicans “look forward to beating Sen. Specter in 2010, assuming the Democrats don’t do it first.”

    I’m sure his mama didn’t raise him this way,” Steele added.

    RESOURCE: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/28/specter.party.switch/index.html
    ——-

    I do not like Steele all that much. He’s okay, but has to be watched in case he turns out to be a rino too. At least he got it right. I’ll be throwing my financial and blog support to Pat Toomey starting today!

  124. #125 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 28, 2009

    Squidbait, we don’t give a shit what you think, since you are an idiot.

  125. #126 Anonymous
    April 28, 2009

    But at least ya got Kieth and Rachel…

    and you’ve got Ross and Rachel, right caveman?

  126. #127 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    A one party system is anti-democratic, but a two party system?

    Equivocation over “system”. One-party systems are generally anti-democratic because the government itself bans other parties.

    We really should demand that the electoral system be opened up a bit.

    We can demand that people not be ignorant lazy dimwits, but that won’t make it happen. What are you doing to promote IRV, proportional representation, and other mechanisms that can make multiple parties viable?

  127. #128 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    I do not like Steele all that much.

    It must be that hip-hop thing and being the wrong color and all.

  128. #129 'Tis Himself
    April 28, 2009

    Alex Deam #102

    You forget the Progressive party.

    Do you mean the Bull Moose Party? The only thing Teddy Roosevelt and his party did was split the Republican vote in 1912, putting Woodrow Wilson into the White House.

  129. #130 flaq
    April 28, 2009

    Anyone who TLDR-ed Mrs Tilton @ 80, go back and give it a read. It’s well worth it.

  130. #131 Chuck
    April 28, 2009

    As a graduate student currently writing a grant and as a liberal Democrat, I’m quite pleased to welcome Specter into our party. I don’t expect to agree with Specter or any other politician on every issue. I don’t think that we want to see the Democratic Party purging itself of ideological elements not exactly in line with my own liberal point of view. That’s what the Republicans have done, and it is destroying their party (a development that I can only cheer).

    Remember that Arlen Specter is a champion not only of health care reform in general, but health-related scientific research in particular. We have largely him to thank for the largest increase in funding to the NIH ever. Ever.

    So, yeah, the guy may not be totally in line with my views on anything, but when he has done so much for an issue so close to my heart (and my self-interest), I cannot do anything but support him 100%. I’ve noticed that a lot of the liberals on here are skeptical of him, but I say that we should thank him for the good he has done and cautiously support his new career in the Democratic Party. If he betrays us on too many vital issues he should be dumped. But he supported the stimulus and Obama’s tax policies, he supports science (stem cell research and NIH funding), and he supports universal health care. He voted for the Iraq war, but I can name a few Democrats who did the same.

  131. #132 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    That’s what the Republicans have done, and it is destroying their party (a development that I can only cheer).

    It’s destroying it because they are purging all but the stupid people.

    I cannot do anything but support him 100%. I’ve noticed that a lot of the liberals on here are skeptical of him, but I say that we should thank him for the good he has done and cautiously support his new career in the Democratic Party. If he betrays us on too many vital issues he should be dumped.

    Cautious is not 100%, and your last sentence is pretty skeptical, so it seems you’re neither self-consistent nor really in disagreement with the skeptics.

    But he supported the stimulus and Obama’s tax policies

    Holding your vote ransom in order to get a pared down version is not exactly support of Obama’s policies.

  132. #133 Chuck
    April 28, 2009

    Actually he held his vote ransom for what I argue is a pared up version, namely, the large increase in NIH spending as part of the stimulus. But on your other points I entirely agree. I shouldn’t have really said ‘100%’ support. I meant we should entirely support and welcome him NOW, and continue that support on the condition that he not betray the party on vital issues.

  133. #134 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    I meant we should entirely support and welcome him NOW

    I really don’t know what means. Send him money and post “Hey, Arlen, welcome to the party!”? No thanks, I’ll stick with critical evaluation and commentary.

  134. #135 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t fall into either party as well. I’m extremely liberal on social views like same-sex marriage and such, but I hate the tendancies of democrats to put my tax money into unemployment (and other such social programs) so that people who got fired from McDonald’s can collect free paychecks for months.

    You fall right into the Libertarian Sociopath Party.

  135. #136 Jadehawk
    April 28, 2009

    I don’t fall into either party as well. I’m extremely liberal on social views like same-sex marriage and such, but I hate the tendancies[sic] of democrats to put my tax money into unemployment (and other such social programs) so that people who got fired from McDonald’s can collect free paychecks for months.

    right. because such bottom feeder scum pot smoking losers don’t deserve to be protected from homelessness, hunger, etc, and from seeing their kids escape the vicious cycles. damn poor, shouldn’t be breeding in the first place…

    libertarian

  136. #137 africangenesis
    April 28, 2009

    The dems must be concerned about losses in the 2010 election. It is pretty clear they could have had a more liberal senator than Spector in 2010, but in order to make sure they have more control and get their agenda across before this two year window closes, they sacrificed the future. There is a real chance the excessive spending will teabag them if the economy doesn’t recover.

  137. #138 Jadehawk
    April 28, 2009

    er. i need to work on my inadvertent, accidental double negatives :-p

    RANT FAIL

  138. #139 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 28, 2009

    but I hate the tendancies[sic] of democrats to put my tax money into unemployment (and other such social programs) so that people who got fired from McDonald’s can collect free paychecks for months.

    I suspect this person has no ideas of the reality of the situation. I’m being required to take a weeks leave of absence this quarter by corporate. If I apply for unemployment, it won’t kick in due to a weeks wait time for my state. If this was repeated in a later quarter, I could get some money. But the amount is only one third of my normal take-home salary for that week. Hardly rolling in dough. And the money for a real McD’s worker would be pitiful. And the libertards wonder why we think they are morally bankrupt…

  139. #140 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    ag is as clueless as ever. The Dems had virtually nothing to do with Specter’s switch. And it’s unlikely that they had much to do with Josh Shapiro dropping out, either.

  140. #141 africangenesis
    April 28, 2009

    nothing’s sacred,

    Apparently you are unaware that Spector was woo’d by the democrats for awhile. He was promised that by the Senate majority leader his seniority would be fully recognized back to when he was first elected to the Senate, and that the governor of Pennsylvania would raise money for him and the president would campaign for him. In addition a number of democratic colleagues in the Senate agreed to campaign and raise money for him.

    I’m not sure why you chose to take a stand about something you obviously know nothing about, but your apology is accepted.

  141. #142 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    I suspect this person has no ideas of the reality of the situation.

    Including where unemployment funds come from (not from taxes on grad students, certainly) and why unemployment insurance was instituted in the first place back in the 1930’s. Funny that he/she/it lists learning and rationality among interests but seems disinclined toward either.

  142. #143 therussmeister
    April 28, 2009

    Should be noted that this is his second stint as a Democrat. He began his political career as a Democrat.

  143. #144 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    ag continues to be full of crap. The Dems offered to support Specter if he voted for EFCA; he ain’t gonna. He rebuffed their offers, saying he was staying a Republican. That’s one of the reasons everyone was surprised by this move.

  144. #145 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    He began his political career as a Democrat.

    Only in the most technical sense. He was a registered Dem when ran for DA on the Republican ticket, but reregistered after he won.

  145. #146 nothing's sacred
    April 28, 2009

    in order to make sure they have more control and get their agenda

    Rereading this, ag, I begrudgingly offer you that apology – they did try to do that, but didn’t really succeed. (But the bit about “sacrificing the future” is quite overblown.)

  146. #147 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    nothing’s sacred,

    “But the bit about “sacrificing the future” is quite overblown.”

    That part was my inference. Rather than “the future”, perhaps I should have said “a seemingly attractive opportunity”. One has to wonder what the Dems internal thinking was to do this, because the seat looked like theirs for the taking in 2010.

  147. #148 llewelly
    April 29, 2009

    Alex Deam April 28, 2009 7:01 PM:

    Llewelly, put those numbers you quoted in terms of how many people voted for each person makes a big difference. Obama got 10 million more votes than McCain.

    This is every bit as disingenuous as the 2004 claim that ‘More Americans voted for Bush than voted for any previous president.’ To count absolute numbers of votes is to pretend America’s population does not grow, or that the percentage of people who vote does not change. Electoral college votes determine who wins, and percentage of popular vote is rough measure of overall support. The absolute number of votes a president won by is primarily influenced by population growth. By your logic, Obama won by a larger margin than George Washington did.

    Since Roosevelt, only three times has there been bigger margin of difference between the two main candidates: Johnson (and he had the help of a nation who’d lost it’s previous president to an assassination), Nixon’s 2nd term, and Reagan’s 2nd term.

    Reagan’s first term, H.W. Bush, and Clinton’s second term both beat Obama’s margin, on both electoral college votes and percent of popular vote. Again, your way of looking at the numbers is like the people who, in late 2007, after the record Arctic sea ice deficit of that summer, pointed at the record rate at which the Arctic ocean re-froze, and argued that Arctic sea ice wasn’t really declining after all.

    And don’t forget, this was a black candidate, and I’m sure there would have been a number of people racist enough to not vote for him because of that.

    If you want to argue that Obama deserved a landslide that left McCain with no electoral college votes except those of Oklahoma, I completely agree. But reality is that Obama didn’t get a landslide, howevermuch he deserved one.

  148. #149 Ichthyic
    April 29, 2009

    Well, now that Arlen is a dem, I suppose the dems can hold helping to finance any re-election campaigns over his head?

    Or is that a rather dull axe?

  149. #150 Kseniya
    April 29, 2009

    So the rumors are true! Guy Harrison really is a blithering idiot.

  150. #151 Mike D
    April 29, 2009

    You have grossly underestimated United States-ian’s stupidity I’m afraid.

  151. #152 nothing's sacred
    April 29, 2009

    One has to wonder what the Dems internal thinking was to do this, because the seat looked like theirs for the taking in 2010.

    Perhaps they didn’t think their chances against Toomey would be so good with a rookie, and/or maybe the Dems who offered to support Specter are on the more centrist side and find him quite acceptable, and/or perhaps they think (rightly or wrongly) they’ll pick up other seats in 2010 against a party so diminished in the polls, and maybe when you add that all together it makes some sense to actually care about solving problems now rather than just tallying future seats. Or maybe they are just typical shortsighted pols who thought only of the latter and didn’t do any sort of electoral calculation; they wanted Specter’s EFCA vote and figured they could buy it after his vote on the stimulus package.

  152. #153 uncle frogy
    April 29, 2009

    well nothing sacred I hope you are right but are the policies so far by this administration really that far left? Are the appointees far left liberals? It looks to me that they have been very competent centrist for the most part compare that to the previous 8 yrs and indeed it looks almost radical. Don’t get me wrong it is what we need and need it badly. We will see how it shakes out I do not know anything more than what I see around me like the Man said “what I read in the papers”
    Now if I was in charge………………….?

  153. #154 nothing's sacred
    April 29, 2009

    well nothing sacred I hope you are right but are the policies so far by this administration really that far left? Are the appointees far left liberals?

    What the heck does that have to do with what I wrote? I was talking about electing progressives. Politics at the Presidential level is a whole different ball of wax. It’s not like we had a choice in Dennis Kucinich, even if he were a competent campaigner and administrator, which he’s not; he’s not much more of a real candidate than Ralph. We got Obama who is about as progressive as we could get; certainly a lot more so than Bill Clinton was. The President wields a heck of a lot of power and pretty much makes what appointments he wants; progressives tried to apply pressure and managed to scotch Summers as Sec. Treas., but we got Geithner instead. However, we have seen a lot of liberals in environmental and labor posts. I get a steady stream of emails from the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations who are constantly creaming themselves over how thoroughly the Obama administration has turned things around from Bush and then some (although they’re not entirely thrilled about Ken Salazar).

  154. #155 nothing's sacred
    April 29, 2009

    You have grossly underestimated United States-ian’s stupidity I’m afraid.

    No one’s likely to overestimate yours. (googleplexgoogleplex? Nope, greater still.)

  155. #156 nothing's sacred
    April 29, 2009

    And don’t forget, this was a black candidate, and I’m sure there would have been a number of people racist enough to not vote for him because of that.

    If you want to argue that Obama deserved a landslide that left McCain with no electoral college votes except those of Oklahoma, I completely agree. But reality is that Obama didn’t get a landslide, howevermuch he deserved one.

    What exactly do you mean by “deserved”? Given the context, you seem to be saying that, without racism, Obama would have done much better. If so, you’re conceding the original point that the gap is misleading as to the standing of the Republican Party.

  156. #157 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    I’m hoping to move to the US temporarily at some stage after I graduate, and, if I like it, I may settle there permanently and become a US citizen. I always thought that I would be a Republican, but more recently I’m not sure I could really owe any allegiance to either of the major parties. Increasingly, they’re both crap.

    I’m more and more inclined towards a scheme of minarchism/ultra-localism, bordering on anarchocapitalism. Consider this. What if we were to break up all modern nations into small local statelets, democratically governed at the local level? These communities would each be too small to maintain full-scale military forces, so total war would be a thing of the past; rather, each community would have a volunteer citizens’ militia for defence. The communities would provide minimal key services – policing, fire safety, roads – but wouldn’t have the resources to institute massive bureaucratic government programmes. Although we would need no “central government”, we could have a worldwide union/conference of states, bound by treaty; in particular, they would all be bound to the principle of free international trade and to refraining from the imposition of tariffs and subsidies, and to free movement of goods, capital and labour across borders. So if your local community was restricting your rights unfairly – for instance, if you were gay and couldn’t get married in your hometown – you could easily move to a different community with more liberal policies; and, over time, people would gather in statelets with other like-minded people who shared their interests.

  157. #158 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Consider this…

    Consider the possibility that those local, democratically-governed communities may reject industrial capitalism and you’re on your way to…

    …wait for it…

    …anarchism (shock horror).

  158. #159 John Phillips, FCD
    April 29, 2009

    Mrs. T. #80, once again, you outdo yourself, bravo.

  159. #160 SAWells
    April 29, 2009

    I love that cheerful little “total war would be a thing of the past” line in Walton’s fantasy; what you’ve got there is the Dark Ages. Those international treaties are going to work reeaaaaal well with no enforcement mechanism; “no-one will trade with the meanies” doesn’t work once you have two or more meanies who’ll happily work together. Those volunteer citizen militias will totally be used only for defence, yes indeed, nobody would ever raise their little warband and go off pillaging like they did in _the last several thousand years of human history_. Sheesh.

    And good luck with your pandemic flu preparedness too! The fourteenth century can be fun!

    Walton, seriously, keep this sort of thing for the sci-fi novels where everything happens like the author wants it to, and don’t try to do any serious theorising until you have more knowledge to work from.

  160. #161 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    what you’ve got there is the Dark Ages.

    He did say

    we could have a worldwide union/conference of states, bound by treaty;

    Federated local entities are actually the way things seem to be moving in some ways – a good direction.

  161. #162 Lilly de Lure
    April 29, 2009

    Walton said:

    we could have a worldwide union/conference of states, bound by treaty; in particular, they would all be bound to the principle of free international trade and to refraining from the imposition of tariffs and subsidies, and to free movement of goods, capital and labour across borders.

    Treaties enforced by whom, precisely?

  162. #163 JasonTD
    April 29, 2009

    nothing’s sacred @ #127,

    What are you doing to promote IRV, proportional representation, and other mechanisms that can make multiple parties viable?

    I don’t know what IRV is, but proportional representation would require amending the constitution, and that is no easy business. The apportionment of Representatives in the House is clearly spelled out as being by a state’s population. I suppose each state could allow for an electoral process that divides things up proportionally rather than geographically without an amendment, but that wouldn’t make any difference in the smaller states with few representatives because only large parties would get a seat anyway.

    Multi-party politics in the U.S. suffers from a chicken and egg paradox. The system is set up in a way that reduces the effectiveness of small parties, which makes it hard for them to grow. Yet, it will take an effective 3rd party to break the hold on power the current 2 have to make changes to the system. We could do like evolution itself did and make small changes over time, rather than trying to poof one or the other into existence, god-style. But be prepared for a long and sustained effort that would take decades in a country that took almost 200 years to prevent members of Congress from voting themselves raises for their current term (the last successful amendment to the Constitution).

  163. #164 JasonTD
    April 29, 2009

    Also, I am glad that Specter is stating that he’s still against the EFCA. I really don’t get what there is to like about that proposal.

  164. #165 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Consider the possibility that those local, democratically-governed communities may reject industrial capitalism

    And on a lesser note, consider the possibility that they decide to provide services beyond what you’ve listed, or to regulate business concerns operating in their territory, or…

  165. #166 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    And on a lesser note, consider the possibility that they decide to provide services beyond what you’ve listed, or to regulate business concerns operating in their territory, or…

    Then the business concerns will move out, to a neighbouring statelet where they can operate without regulation.

    In my proposed system, since it will be easy for businesses and productive citizens to move between statelets, the incentive will be to keep taxes low and services minimal. A statelet which offers extensive public welfare and high taxes will be faced with an influx of welfare dependants and an exodus of businesses and high-paid workers, destroying its economy. Thus, competition for productive citizens will ensure that my statelets remain libertarian.

  166. #167 Cheezits
    April 29, 2009

    It’s bad in that we don’t want ex-Republicans to have more voice in the party.

    Why not? I’m an ex-Republican too.

  167. #168 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Then the business concerns will move out, to a neighbouring statelet where they can operate without regulation.

    In my proposed system, since it will be easy for businesses and productive citizens to move between statelets, the incentive will be to keep taxes low and services minimal. A statelet which offers extensive public welfare and high taxes will be faced with an influx of welfare dependants and an exodus of businesses and high-paid workers, destroying its economy. Thus, competition for productive citizens will ensure that my statelets remain libertarian.

    First, you haven’t answered my first question. Second, I’m not asking for your (stupid and ignorant, based on the evidence to date of regulatory welfare states) predictions about what you believe would happen if this were to occur. That’s irrelevant. I’m trying to get you to acknowledge that decisions about the production and provision of goods and services are also in the realm of democracy. In other words, based on your proposals, you can criticize another polity’s democratic decisions about their economy, but you are a hypocrite if you support – as you have here in the past – the overthrow of elected governments, coerced policies overriding democracy, invasions, etc., in support of your ideological beliefs.

  168. #169 Lilly de Lure
    April 29, 2009

    Walton said:

    In my proposed system, since it will be easy for businesses and productive citizens to move between statelets,

    Even when said statelets are at war with each other? And what is to stop one (or more) of these statelets deciding it doesn’t want it’s productive citizens to move out and taking steps to prevent them from doing so?

  169. #170 shonny
    April 29, 2009

    #48 – I like some things Obama has done, and dislike others. Yeah, it’s better than Bush Jr.

    The understatement of this millenium?

  170. #171 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    I’m trying to get you to acknowledge that decisions about the production and provision of goods and services are also in the realm of democracy.

    Morally, no, they are not. Because it is individuals (and corporations) who actually produce goods and services, it should be individuals and corporations who make decisions about the production and provision thereof. If such decisions are democratically made by the wider community, individuals become slaves, not sovereign beings.

  171. #172 Kel
    April 29, 2009

    Because it is individuals (and corporations) who actually produce goods and services, it should be individuals and corporations who make decisions about the production and provision thereof. If such decisions are democratically made by the wider community, individuals become slaves, not sovereign beings.

    Fuck off with this libertarian bullshit. Do you even know what slavery actually is? Produce of goods and services is done within a context of society, and thus the society has power of regulation to ensure the safety. When someone grows crops and farm animals near a reef, the reef is affected by the minerals in the fertilisers. In your view, can we lock up individuals who produce goods and services that harm the environment around us?

  172. #173 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Morally, no, they are not. Because it is individuals (and corporations) who actually produce goods and services, it should be individuals and corporations who make decisions about the production and provision thereof. If such decisions are democratically made by the wider community, individuals become slaves, not sovereign beings.

    That‘s your answer? That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard. First, corporations are not citizens, of any polity. They are recent fictional constructions whose very existence is subject to democratic decisions. Second, “the wider community” is a collection of individuals, democratically governing themselves. This is what democracy means. How the hell would participating in local democracy turn individuals into slaves (especially as you’ve stipulated that they would be free to exit the polity)?

    If it is “individuals…who actually produce goods and services, it should be individuals…who make decisions about the production and provision thereof” (replace “individuals” with “citizens” if you wish) then you’ve made my point. Otherwise, you’re simply advocating for undemocratic corporate rule (which, of course, you are, but don’t you fucking dare try to dress it up in the cloak of democracy).

  173. #174 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    If such decisions are democratically made by the wider community, individuals become slaves, not sovereign beings.

    This may be the stupidest thing Walton’s ever uttered here. Democracy = slavery, and is the opposite of sovereignty. Wow.

  174. #175 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    OK, whatever. I don’t know. I’m off to the gym.

  175. #176 KI
    April 29, 2009

    Walton, the Greeks tried the independent city state thing – look up the Peloponnesian War to see how it worked out.

  176. #177 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    Shorter Walton @171:

    Democracy is slavery

    Look, people, by now we should all have learned, at the cost of much personal pain and suffering, to avoid engaging with the semi-resident libertarian clique when they are in their “Oh noes, teh Little People are banding together to restrain the natural greatness of us Galtlike Übermenschen!” mode.

    It doesn’t matter that the interlocutor is, as Walton seems to be, earnest and sincere. If you engage him, five minutes later we will be faced with a thousand-comment thread of longwinded sermons about what a paradise libertarianism would bring about (pay no attention to the 30-Years’-War Germany, the American Wild West and the modern-day Somalia behind the curtain), and the superiority of private-sector executions, and tradeable property rights over oxygen, and unregulated markets in transplantable organs of living infants, and (soon enough and inevitably) why theories about anthropogenic global warming are Bad Science. And then where would we be?

    Most of thse guys seem decent, or half-decent, enough when they dismount their hobby-horses. So let’s try to steer them to conversations where they might actually contribute something, or at least be less annoying. Look, we’re all in this together. Normal people? Ignore their rantings about the Slave State; try to get them talking about fossils or recipes or science-fiction. And libertarians? Try a bit harder to get laid. You’ll find it’s usually quiet pleasant, and if you manage to get some with any regularity, you’ll be more relaxed and less prone to wittering on about the Road to Serfdom.

  177. #178 llewelly
    April 29, 2009

    nothing’s sacred April 29, 2009 4:23 AM:

    [Alex Deam Author Profile Page | April 28, 2009 7:01 PM:]

    And don’t forget, this was a black candidate, and I’m sure there would have been a number of people racist enough to not vote for him because of that.

    If you want to argue that Obama deserved a landslide that left McCain with no electoral college votes except those of Oklahoma, I completely agree. But reality is that Obama didn’t get a landslide, howevermuch he deserved one.

    What exactly do you mean by “deserved”? Given the context, you seem to be saying that, without racism, Obama would have done much better.

    I do think Obama would have done much better without racism. However, by ‘deserved’, I intended to refer to the election numbers Obama would have received in an alternate world populated by mostly sane and rational people – rather than the election numbers he received in the real world. Racism is much of the difference, but not all of it.

    If so, you’re conceding the original point that the gap is misleading as to the standing of the Republican Party.

    You asked: “And when’s the last time there was such a margin at the Presidential level?” and I provided the answer. And then I went on about the widespread and historically ignorant idea that Obama won by an usually large margin. If you weren’t trying to imply that Obama won by an unusually large margin – then I apologize. I did not intend my remarks as a comment on the original point; implying that Obama’s victory margin was unusually large is a mistake whether or not his victory margin is misleading as to the standing of the Republican party. I would not have commented at all if it had not seemed to me that your question contained a misleading implication.

    I don’t think the President’s victory margin is a great indicator of the relative strengths of the two parties. Votes in the house – or votes in the senate – are each a little bit better indicator, though each has their flaws as well.

  178. #179 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    And libertarians? Try a bit harder to get laid. You’ll find it’s usually quiet pleasant, and if you manage to get some with any regularity, you’ll be more relaxed and less prone to wittering on about the Road to Serfdom.

    I wish it were that easy.

  179. #180 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Walton, the Greeks tried the independent city state thing – look up the Peloponnesian War to see how it worked out.

    At at the EU – a freakin’ powderkeg!!! Oh, wait…

  180. #181 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    and you’ve got Ross and Rachel, right caveman?

    So long as we get Chandler and Monica, I’m cool with that.

    Although, I hardly think they would have Ross, him being a palaeontologist an’ all, he’s one of his surely?

    Do you mean the Bull Moose Party? The only thing Teddy Roosevelt and his party did was split the Republican vote in 1912, putting Woodrow Wilson into the White House.

    I do mean that party, but saying the only thing they did was split the Republican vote in 1912 is a little wrong. They didn’t just split the Republican vote, the Progressive party got 27.4% of the vote with 88 electoral college votes, to the Republican’s 23.2% and 8 electoral college votes. They pushed the Republicans (led by the incumbent, Taft) into third place that year. Not to mention that the party held several prominent public offices in its biref existence too.

    I’m not sure why you chose to take a stand about something you obviously know nothing about, but your apology is accepted.

    africangenesis is the most arrogant fucktard I think I’ve come across here.

    What if we were to break up all modern nations into small local statelets, democratically governed at the local level?

    How does a libertarian such as yourself plan on getting sovereignty over all nations to do such a deed?

    These communities would each be too small to maintain full-scale military forces, so total war would be a thing of the past; rather, each community would have a volunteer citizens’ militia for defence.

    Each “community” with it’s own militia would still go to war with each other. Large countries didn’t invent war, Walton. And of course, when one country one, what’s to stop it taking land from the other, and building an “empire”? Walton, you should realise that half of Europe’s history has seen petty wars between “statelets”, and then those statelets eventually merging together into more dominant empires e.g. Prussia. It doesn’t matter how small you make the state, there will always be someone who will try to force his way to power.

    Although we would need no “central government”, we could have a worldwide union/conference of states, bound by treaty; in particular, they would all be bound to the principle of free international trade and to refraining from the imposition of tariffs and subsidies, and to free movement of goods, capital and labour across borders.

    Bound by what exactly? The treaties are enforced how? Force perchance?

    And you do have a central government. You’re not proposing federalism, which means each individual “statelet” acts on its own, and each possesses the monopoly on the legitimate use of force. You have central government. You’ve just brought it closer to home.

    So if your local community was restricting your rights unfairly – for instance, if you were gay and couldn’t get married in your hometown – you could easily move to a different community with more liberal policies; and, over time, people would gather in statelets with other like-minded people who shared their interests.

    People don’t tend to want to move to marry the person they love. You’re effectively proposing that if people don’t agree with the views of their “country”, they should voluntarily banish themselves if they want to get what they want.

    I can see it now. Walton would tell Rosa Parks to stop bitching and fuck off to another country if she wants a seat on her the bus; it’s not his problem.

    And what about those who can’t leave the country at all? What about those subjected to torture, to slavery, to genocide, to another Auschwitz?

    Then the business concerns will move out, to a neighbouring statelet where they can operate without regulation.

    Why should a business operating in another statelet get to dump CFCs into the atmosphere, and harm my existence in some other country?

    In my proposed system, since it will be easy for businesses and productive citizens to move between statelets, the incentive will be to keep taxes low and services minimal. A statelet which offers extensive public welfare and high taxes will be faced with an influx of welfare dependants and an exodus of businesses and high-paid workers, destroying its economy.

    Are Scandinavians leaving in their droves? No.

    There are opportunities for objective definitions. I’d like to hear yours.

    Mine is roughly the following, but I’m open to changing it.

    If you believe that regulation of capitalism is inherently a bad idea, you’re far right.

    If you believe in regulation of capitalism and downward redistribution of wealth for the purpose of preserving capitalism, you’re center right.

    If you believe in regulation of capitalism and downward redistribution of wealth for the purpose of improving the lives of those at the bottom, you’re center left.

    If you believe in abolishing or radically restructuring capitalism for the purpose of minimizing disparities of wealth, you’re far left.

    By this measure most modern Republicans are far right, most Democrats center right, a few Democrats plus Bernie Sanders are center left, and no one in Congress is far left.

    For comparison, a few 1960s Republicans were far right, most Republicans were center right, many Democrats were also center right, many Democrats were center left, and I still can’t think of any on the far left but I’m open to suggestions.

    I’m in agreement with your definitions, in that I have been known to use them in conversation, but I (and lots of other people) have used other definitions (sometimes in the same sentence). For instance, what about fascists/nationalists? Usually categorized as far right, but under your definition they wouldn’t be, since people like Hitler interfered greatly in capitalism. And what about those who are left wing under your definitions, but are also socially conservative. Where would they fit in?

    So although conversationally speaking I use and abuse the terms left and right wing, I believe that a definitive political spectrum is impossible with only 1 axis. You certainly need 2, maybe even 3.

    Saying that, I have to disagree that, “most Democrats [are] center right”. I don’t see this myself.

    @148 llewelly:

    Good point about the population growth thing. Tbh, it did cross my mind, but I never realized that the US population has increased so much so fast, so I saw it as only a minor quibble.

    However, I stand by my overall point, that Obama is in such a good position, and the Republicans in such a bad one, that this is likely to be a realigning election.

    I can’t be arsed right now to give a full account of why I think this, but here’s few links to fivethirty-eight.com that provides some reason why I believe this was a realigning election:

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/obamas-electoral-cushion.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/was-2008-realigning-election-ask-me-in.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/12/are-republicans-still-national-party.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/obama-more-political-capital-than.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/just-five-red-states-left.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/republican-death-spiral.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/01/republican-death-spiral-in-graphic-form.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/02/starry-eyed-look-at-2012-republican.html

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/03/yes-obamas-approval-ratings-are.html

  181. #182 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    Democracy is slavery

    War is Peace

    Freedom is Slavery

    Ignorance is Strength

  182. #183 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    Walton @179,

    I wish it were that easy

    Oh, but there are a lot of little, easy things that will improve your chances to a surprising degree. Washing regularly; listening attentively to what your intended belle (or beau) has to say; a romantic candle-lit dinner; refraining, while at that dinner, from three-hour soliloquies about the minarchist paradise to come.

    Good luck, and don’t forget to carry protection in case it all works out for you. Can’t expect the state to take care of everything, you know!

  183. #184 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    I’m pretty sure the High-Tory, traditionalist Walton can’t live in he same brain as the radical, AnCap-visionary Walton for too long. My guess is that the former will in complete charge by the time he graduates.

  184. #185 Wowbagger, OM
    April 29, 2009

    In my proposed system, since it will be easy for businesses and productive citizens to move between statelets, the incentive will be to keep taxes low and services minimal. A statelet which offers extensive public welfare and high taxes will be faced with an influx of welfare dependants and an exodus of businesses and high-paid workers, destroying its economy. Thus, competition for productive citizens will ensure that my statelets remain libertarian.

    And you say you’ve never taken drugs? Because only someone who’s high – albeit on some very ordinary gear indeed – could imagine that to be possible.

  185. #186 Anonymous
    April 29, 2009

    Posted by: Walton | April 29, 2009 9:28 AM
    (…)
    I wish it were that easy.

    You must have reached that “certain age”–like me–when the only ways to get a woman to touch you are 1) to be married to her, or 2) to pay her…

  186. #187 Dr.Woody
    April 29, 2009

    Posted by: Walton | April 29, 2009 9:28 AM
    (…)
    I wish it were that easy.

    You must have reached that “certain age”–like me–when the only ways to get a woman to touch you are 1) to be married to her, or 2) be related to her or 3) to pay her…

  187. #188 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    your intended belle (or beau)

    Aw. What a sweet way of putting it. I wish people still spoke like that more.

  188. #189 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    You must have reached that “certain age”–like me–when the only ways to get a woman to touch you are 1) to be married to her, or 2) to pay her…

    Basically. Except I’m 19. And not married.

    See http://incel.myonlineplace.org/forum/ a site where I’m a regular lurker (though I don’t post there).

  189. #190 KI
    April 29, 2009

    sc,om@180
    I used city-state Greece as an example because it fit many of Walton’s outlines for the “perfect state”. I don’t think the modern EU fits his model, and the EU is pretty young. Let’s see how it works out in a couple decades.

  190. #191 A Voice of Experience
    April 29, 2009

    I am thinking back to when I was 19; this was some time ago (J. Carter administration), but I think I can recall the aspirations to intellectualism, the pleasure of the give and take of ideas, the willingness to argue every point whether thought through or not. And looking back I can say truthfully that I didn’t know shit. I benefited much more from the questions I asked back then than from the assertions I made (and believed). But I was extremely naive and I think I sort of even knew it. (Of course, I was into pharmaceutical mind expansion and improvisational music and organismal biology rather than nutty political fantasy ideology and stick-up-the-assitude, but the ignorance of youth is a given in any culture.)

    Walton: shut up. Learn. You do not have all the answers; you’ve barely had time to ask most of the questions. In 10 years, you will look back on your cocksure assertions here and be very embarrassed. You can’t possibly know what you’re talking about, so why do you keep talking about it?

  191. #192 ScienceBlogs Rules Committee
    April 29, 2009

    @Mrs Tilto

    Nope. I’m not conservative or Christian. Completely atheist, in fact, and I have no use for either Party. I just like trolling and seeing what responses I get. Thanks for playing my game. :-)

    Oh, rilly? Enlighten us, O earnest conservative Christian, as to why we should not be baffled

    I love it. You’re so sure who you are responding to, but you are not even on the right planet.

    Apparently I was hasty in thinking you could post without all-caps.

    Swing and a miss!

    I hope you?re not a smoker, ?cause if you are, you?re in mortal danger surrounded by all those straw men. Mind you, there are large numbers of Republicans who?d have been Nazis

    It’s a straw man, but, oh, some of them are Nazis in their hearts! Absolutely classic ideological brain damage.

    On second thought, screw compassion. Let?s see if we boil that all down to something pithy. This?ll do: go fuck yourself, ass^H^H^H? I was going to write ?asshole?, but why insult an innocent and helpful body part? Better: go fuck yourself, conservative Christian.

    Absolutely LOL! How intelligent! Too late. You’ve already been anally pounded by wasting time on your response to an imaginary being. Ha ha! Fuck you, too, loser! :-) Welcome to the internets.

  192. #193 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    See http://incel.myonlineplace.org/forum/ a site where I’m a regular lurker (though I don’t post there).

    “A section where people who believe a change is possible can gather and discuss the possible solutions”

    Obama?

    sc,om@180
    I used city-state Greece as an example because it fit many of Walton’s outlines for the “perfect state”. I don’t think the modern EU fits his model, and the EU is pretty young. Let’s see how it works out in a couple decades.

    The main reason it doesn’t fit the model, is because the EU is not a state!

  193. #194 Edward Lark
    April 29, 2009

    I do not think that I ever knew more or was more sure (and full) of myself than I was at 19. Oddly, I found that I was more and more ignorant and naive most every year afterward. (I also remember thinking that it was the height of condescension when someone older suggested that I might not actually have all the answers and that I might look at things differently in a few years, or decades.)

  194. #195 SteveM
    April 29, 2009

    ScienceBlogs Rules Committee @191:

    I just like trolling and seeing what responses I get. Thanks for playing my game. :-)

    PZ Myers says:

    High Crimes and Misdemeanors
    What gets people put into the Pharyngula killfile dungeon? This is a list of annoyances; it usually takes more than one incident to get thrown in the slammer, though. The people who’ve been incarcerated are typically persistent and have a known history of pulling these stunts over and over again.

    Trolling Making comments intended only to disrupt a thread and incite flames and confusion.

  195. #196 Edward Lark
    April 29, 2009

    Nope. I’m not conservative or Christian. Completely atheist, in fact, and I have no use for either Party. I just like trolling and seeing what responses I get. Thanks for playing my game. :-)

    On the internet you are who you present yourself to be. You presented yourself to be a conservative christian fuckwit troll, and Mrs. Tilton responded appropriately (and entertainingly). Your followup fails both as a riposte and as humor.

    Mrs. Tilton for the early Molly.

  196. #197 KI
    April 29, 2009

    Alex@192
    No the EU is not one state, but neither was city-state Greece. I stand by my analogy.

  197. #198 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009

    SC:

    He did say

    we could have a worldwide union/conference of states, bound by treaty;

    Federated local entities are actually the way things seem to be moving in some ways – a good direction.

    If that “worldwide union” was vested with enough authority and resources to actually be effective, what you’d end up with is a sort of global federalism… which would, I think (on first blush), indeed be a good direction, but which I’m quite sure is not what Walton’s after (one-world government?? horrors!!).

    Absent a global federal union, I’m with SAWells: Walton’s “statelets” will be more susceptible than current national governments, not less susceptible to capture and cooption by corrupt, self perpetuating elites, while the infrastructure for this free trade and inter-statelet movement (interstatelet highways, cross-country rail and air travel, international ports) Walton imagines would erode due to lack of overall management (and the parsimonious unwillingness of each statelet to pay for anything outside its own territory or sphere of control). In the end, even if they remained nominally democratic, these statelets would end up looking a lot like Dark Ages feudal states, and while “total war” might be impossible due to the collapse of global infrastructure, global culture would also be impossible, and local war would be endemic.

    It’s nice to imagine a world of enlightened Athenian city-states; nothing in my experience suggests that’s anything other than a utopian fantasy. But then, maybe I’m just disillusioned by the town meeting I attended last night.

    Walton:

    [SC:] I’m trying to get you to acknowledge that decisions about the production and provision of goods and services are also in the realm of democracy.

    Morally, no, they are not. Because it is individuals (and corporations) who actually produce goods and services, it should be individuals and corporations who make decisions about the production and provision thereof.

    I’m in the middle of reading (listening to) Jared Diamond’s Collapse (I know, I know… I’m a couple years behind the rest of the world on that one), and it’s abundantly clear that the collapse of societies — by which I mean not some political disintegration, but the literal death or disappearance of whole populations of humans — is often attributable to the disruption of the production of goods and services (esp. food production), often due to unmoderated use of the resources required for such production. If you think only the individuals and corporations directly involved in the production of goods and services have a vital stake in that activity, you’re crazier than I ever thought you were.

    I may never in my life purchase services from a commercial trucking firm… but to the extent that food is delivered to my community by trucks, and the air I breathe is affected by operation of trucks, your FSMdamned right I have a stake in the manner in which trucks are operated. And the market alone can never fully address my interests in that regard.

  198. #199 Sven DiMilo, but just once
    April 29, 2009

    Mrs. Tilton already has a well-deserved Molly.

    KI, I caught the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden shows–first was fun (Death Don’t Have No Mercy; my first-ever Dark Star) and MSG was off-the-hook excellent. I mean, it’s not 1976 anymore, but I’d say it was up to the bar of 1985 or even 1981. Warren Haynes is a freakin monster, the perfect Pig-Garcia hybrid, plus he’s the only guy in the band who can sing. Chimenti on keyboards, also excellent. I’m really looking forward to hearing the NJ shows w/ Branford Marsalis, as the improvisational thing is starting to gel nicely.
    Anyway. Despite a shaky start, I’d definitely recommend seeing this band.

  199. #200 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    @195 Mrs Tilton is already Mollified.

  200. #201 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    Yeah GSO was a lot of fun but they needed polish (first who in a while of tour etc…). I’m pretty sure Bobby had never heard any of the songs he was singing.

    But it was still damn good and brought back some old school memories.

  201. #202 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009

    D’Oh! I made my own most-hated error: This…

    “…your FSMdamned right I have a stake…”

    …should obviously have been:

    “…you’re FSMdamned right I have a stake…”

    [shame]

  202. #203 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    No the EU is not one state, but neither was city-state Greece. I stand by my analogy.

    But the discussion was about self-governing federations of self-governing city-states (or polities of whatever sort). The claim that such peaceable federations are impossible – the “Leviathan Argument” – is problematic. The EU may erupt into warfare – who knows? there are many factors that make it still a federation of imperialist powers. Still, doesn’t appear likely. There are many developments – the assertion of regions or smaller polities in Europe, the expansion of existing federations, the federations in Africa, Asia, South and Central America, the UN (problems, yes…)… But I see no reason to dismiss confederation. It’s democracy writ large, and things have changed wince 2000+ years ago.

  203. #204 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    Nope. I’m not conservative or Christian. Completely atheist, in fact, and I have no use for either Party. I just like trolling and seeing what responses I get. Thanks for playing my game. :-)

    Fuck off troll. What a deceptive little fucking child.

    Here, this place is probably more suitable for you.

  204. #205 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    If that “worldwide union” was vested with enough authority and resources to actually be effective, what you’d end up with is a sort of global federalism… which would, I think (on first blush), indeed be a good direction, but which I’m quite sure is not what Walton’s after (one-world government?? horrors!!).

    Oh, indeed. I agree that true global federalism isn’t what he’s after (but is what I’m after), which makes it hard for me as an anarchist to participate in this discussion. :S

    Sven,

    Glad to hear you had such a good time! BTW, I’ve quite liked Wynton (no, not Brandon) Marsalis’ “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary.” But you’re more of a jazz geek than I, so…

  205. #206 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Wow. At 19, I too was a Rand Devotee – having read AS twice and working on the third, as well as Fountainhead and several others. I was Republican through and through, not knowing anything of Libertarianism at the time. I probably would have been a Lib though, had I known.

    I was referred to by my teacher in my last year of HS Social Studies as his “little conservative”

    Over the years though, I started paying attention – and noticing just how much I was saying (and thinking) with nothing really backing it up.

    And now, I guess I have to say I am a Godless Liberal too.

    Hey – you grow.

    Walton – Pay Attention. I am you in 30 years.

    JC

  206. #207 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    Glad to hear you had such a good time! BTW, I’ve quite liked Wynton (no, not Brandon) Marsalis’ “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary.” But you’re more of a jazz geek than I, so…

    Both are great. Branton’s touring group is unreal. His drummer Tain is a madman. His brother Wynton is the more statesman Jazz historian (and subsequently a bit on the annoying side) but he can blow too.

    If you haven’t watched Ken Burns’ series on the history of Jazz, it’s worth watching. Though I think he spent too much time on some and little to no time on others, it was highly enjoyable and informative. Wynton plays a big part in that.

  207. #208 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    SBRC @191,

    oh ho ho, now that’s droll. Well, as I think the old New Yorker cartoon put it, on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dick; until, of course, your posts show you to be one.

    So, you say you’re not a Christian conservative? Maybe not, though you do an extremely good impression of one. Then again, maybe you are. As you are an admitted liar, I’m afraid we have to discount pretty steeply anything you now say. Absent any more persuasive evidence to the contrary (your own testimony, sadly, is not reliable), the evidence of your arguments and revealed personality suggest the better working assumption is that you almost certainly are a conservative (the “pox on both their houses” shtick doesn’t really fool anybody, you know) and quite possibly a Christian as well. Or at least, that’s what I’d think if it weren’t utterly inconceivable that conservatives and Christians would lie.

    Oh, and this —

    You’ve already been anally pounded by wasting time on your response to an imaginary being

    No, it’s the Christian deity that is an imaginary being. You’re real enough, whatever you might believe.

  208. #209 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Branton’s touring group is unreal.

    I’ll keep an eye out for them… (I’ve been on the Blue Note list for a while, so I can probably keep up there.)

    If you haven’t watched Ken Burns’ series on the history of Jazz, it’s worth watching. Though I think he spent too much time on some and little to no time on others, it was highly enjoyable and informative.

    I agree.

    By the way, oddly, I can’t find

    Coupe de Ville, Neil Young (no On the Beach, but still…)

    Straighten Up and Fly Right, Marvin Gaye

    on WooTube. WTF?

  209. #210 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 29, 2009

    Trolls do serve one use: No matter how depressed and bitter I am, I can always point to a troll and say, “At least I’m not that pathetic.”

  210. #211 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    SC’OM,

    “Oh, indeed. I agree that true global federalism isn’t what he’s after (but is what I’m after), which makes it hard for me as an anarchist to participate in this discussion”

    Ooooooooooooooh, an anarchist finally says something substantive, and it turns out to be one world GOVERNMENT.

    Perhaps JackC who was “was saying (and thinking) with nothing really backing it up.” will realize he is now supposed to keep quiet until the government was in place and it is too late to go back. How do you justify coercion JackC? Or are you just going to walk softly and carry a big stick?

  211. #212 KI
    April 29, 2009

    Hey Sven!
    I’ve been following the setlists at Dead.net, and I am sooo impressed with the boys this time around. Two song repeats in six shows? And one of those was “Slipknot”! When did they last play “Cream Puff War” Criminy!
    But I can’t afford it. I’m not even seeing Springsteen in town here ($100!), and the E Street Band has been doing “Rosalita” in the encore. Concerts are just too effin’ expensive.

  212. #213 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    AG: Huh? I don’t recall saying what you are saying I am saying. But then, I don’t pay attention alot – so I might be wrong. Hell, you may have even corrected by the time I post this, things being what they are around here.

    Or perhaps you are just confused? Actually,I think you may just be mis-attributing. Methinks you might have that problem more than could be accounted for by chance occurrence?

    JC

  213. #214 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Ooooooooooooooh, an anarchist finally says something substantive, and it turns out to be one world GOVERNMENT.

    ag – still insane. How do you function with your mind such a jumble?

  214. #215 KI
    April 29, 2009

    sc,om@202
    Yes, things are different than 2500 years ago, we are hopefully smarter and a little less belligerent. I was just trying to imagine the distopian end result of Walton’s ideal.

  215. #216 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    AG – oh shit, Nevermind :-)

  216. #217 Gruesome Janine
    April 29, 2009

    OT. Congratulations to Naked Bunny With A Whip for winning Quote Of The Week at The Comic Curmudgeon.

  217. #218 Watchman
    April 29, 2009

    You’ve already been anally pounded by wasting time on your response to an imaginary being.

    Disingenuous? Apparently.

    Non-corporeal? Arguably.

    But imaginary? Hardly.

    Mrs. T. was responding to the archetype that your comment intentionally evoked. That you were trolling has little bearing on the fact that your comment could have been written by one of any number of conservative/christian commenters who visit this blog day in, day out.

    (Anally pounded? What a charming image. Be proud of that one, and be sure to tell your grandchildren about it.)

    By the way, folks, the eldest Marsalis brother is Branford, not Branton or Brandon.

  218. #219 Walton
    April 29, 2009

    Sanity is in the eye of the beholder.

    And I hate the EU, btw (as do most people in the UK). Its trade policies (tariffs, massive agricultural subsidies, etc) impoverish the Third World while benefiting inefficient French farmers. It also imposes millions of pointless regulations and wastes vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on bureaucracy.

    And yes, my earlier idea was, on reflection, unworkable. I retract it.

  219. #220 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    However, AG, now that I have gone back and actually read what I (and you – three times) wrote … I wonder if you have? I don’t even know how you went out on that limb with your comment about me, however that is quite a little limb. I think if I were you, I would be looking for some alternate grasp.

    And, for MY part, I will TRY to not sneak in commentary while I am supposed to be working. I am obviously not paying attention enough to even recall what I have said after what – 5 minutes?

    Normally, I strive not to really need to. Sigh.

    JC

  220. #221 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    JackC,

    When you depart from libertarianism (because you had nothing to back it up) and proclaim yourself a “godless liberal” the presumption is you now advocate coercion and have something to back it up. So how do you back it up, or did you mean “godless classical liberal”, which is really still libertarianism.

    Perhaps you should have realized that when you advocate living with others non-coercively, you don’t NEED a lot to back it up. When you share with someone “I’m not going to hit you” they don’t usually respond “Why! How can you justify that!” The standard of “back it up” is lower for noncoercion than for coercion.

  221. #222 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    SC’OM,

    “ag – still insane. How do you function with your mind such a jumble?”

    Whoooa, you give us a glimpse of your vision of one world government (euphamisticly a “federation”), quickly realize your mistake, and retreat once again into personal attacks and lack of substance. When you put flesh on your anarchism, it starts looking like a flesh-eater.

  222. #223 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    sc,om@202
    Yes, things are different than 2500 years ago, we are hopefully smarter and a little less belligerent. I was just trying to imagine the distopian end result of Walton’s ideal.

    Yeah, I know. I don’t think we’re smarter or less belligerent, but we do have a greater appreciation of a shared, fragile planet and resources and also better communications technology. So federations or a global federation of democratically-governed communities are not at all far-fetched, I don’t think.

    By the way, folks, the eldest Marsalis brother is Branford, not Branton or Brandon.

    Of course. *smacks self* Duh. I knew that sounded wrong.

    ***

    And yes, my earlier idea was, on reflection, unworkable. I retract it.

    Yes, because if you had to think through the implications of real democracy…. Better to retract.

  223. #224 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    AG: You presume quite a bit. You also make up quite a bit. Hey – have fun with that.

    JC

  224. #225 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Whoooa, you give us a glimpse of your vision of one world government (euphamisticly a “federation”)

    A) Get spellcheck.

    B) “Federation” is not a euphemism, mushmind.

  225. #226 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    JackC#223,

    Did you read what you wrote at #205?

  226. #227 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    And I hate the EU, btw (as do most people in the UK).
    For “UK” read “Walton’s Conservative Society bubble”. Most people barely notice it exists.

  227. #228 Stu
    April 29, 2009

    Is it just me, or is AG getting increasingly shrill and incoherent?

  228. #229 Gruesome Janine
    April 29, 2009

    Posted by: africangenesis | April 29, 2009

    SC’OM,

    “ag – still insane. How do you function with your mind such a jumble?”

    Whoooa, you give us a glimpse of your vision of one world government (euphamisticly a “federation”), quickly realize your mistake, and retreat once again into personal attacks and lack of substance. When you put flesh on your anarchism, it starts looking like a flesh-eater.

    Thank you for this lesson. I had no idea that the believe that all government is wrong was the same as believing that a one world government is needed.

    Quickly, you must go see Michele Bachmann. You need her to talk some sense into you.

  229. #230 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    SC’OM#224,

    Don’t try to distract attention by devolving into a spelling troll. “federation” is a looser form of government, that term perhaps make the leviathon of a one world government seem more benign, thus it serves as a euphamism.

    Even a one world “federation” needs to be fleshed out, since it raises all kinds of questions about how you would keep it benign. Once you populate it with modern humans, the concerns raised by F.A. Hayek in “Road to Serfdom” are relevant.

  230. #231 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    Stu @227,

    Is it just me, or is AG getting increasingly shrill and incoherent?

    I warned you*, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew, didn’t you? Oh, it’s just a harmless little libertarian, isn’t it?

    * See upthread @177.

  231. #232 Stu
    April 29, 2009

    euphamism

    Dude, if even after a spelling error has been pointed out you can’t be bothered to look it up… that just makes you an obstinate, dumb douche.

  232. #233 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Gruesome Janine#228,

    “I had no idea that the believe that all government is wrong was the same as believing that a one world government is needed”

    The apparent contradiction is less if you realize that anarchists only SAY that “all government is wrong”. I don’t mean to pick on SC’OM, she just revealed explicitly in SC’OM#204, what was implicit in the glimpses of anarchistic mechanisms, e.g., “democratically GOVERNED communities” (my emphasis). Anarchists definitely believe in GOVERNING others, although they might give the impression that it is somehow more communal with total consensus than other types of governing.

  233. #234 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    And I hate the EU, btw (as do most people in the UK).

    The part in brackets wasn’t needed. It doesn’t help your argument.

    Its trade policies (tariffs, massive agricultural subsidies, etc) impoverish the Third World while benefiting inefficient French farmers.

    Agreed. This needs to be looked at.

    It also imposes millions of pointless regulations and wastes vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on bureaucracy.

    Maybe you should stop reading the gutter press and open your eyes for once:

    1) Impose? Well, it’s less democratic than it ought to be, but the overwhelming majority of things it does are under the full agreement of the British government, and decsions made by the EU heavily involve Britons. Just because it’s in Brussels doesn’t mean it’s “imposed”.

    2) As for the “millions of pointless regulations and wastes vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on bureaucracy”, well there’s almost certainly the odd on or two that aren’t great, but I suggest for the most part you’ve been brainwashed. Bureaucracy is an easy stick to beat a Labour government with, same as it’s easy to attack “‘uman rights”, “elf’n’safety”, and “PC GONE MAD”. Most of the time though, it’s made up shit by the media, because attacking New Labour for bureaucracy made more sense when they were “Old” Labour. And it’s even easier to attack the EU over these sorts of things, because it’s full of “unaccountable foreigners”. I suggest you go and look at the EU’s record, and work out what exactly has been over-bureaucratic about it. I assure you that your fears will either be based on the media’s lies, manipulations and scaremongering, or they will be based on your libertarian ideas, in which case you think the same about all governments, not just the EU.

  234. #235 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    O FFS, AG:
    SC can answer very well for herself, but claiming her comments tell anything about anarchists in general is at best idiotic and at worst dishonest.

  235. #236 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    So federations or a global federation of democratically-governed communities are not at all far-fetched, I don’t think.

    The “communities” would have to be very large, say continent -size, and not Walton’s tinpot “statelets”.

    There’s room for statelets, but not at that high a level. I envisage a pyramid (or more likely, a trapezium) style of government, only with it being democratic, rather than the pyramid of the feudal ages.

  236. #237 Stu
    April 29, 2009

    Anarchists definitely believe in GOVERNING others

    Yes, just like Libertarians actually care about people.

    *ducks*

  237. #238 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    “I suggest you go and look at the EU’s record, and work out what exactly has been over-bureaucratic about it.”

    It would help if you could point to some of the things that are commonly point to. EU actually seems less fixated on auto safety and reducing pollution than the US, but perhaps they are considered over regulatory in other areas.

  238. #239 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    federation” is a looser form of government, that term perhaps make the leviathon of a one world government seem more benign, thus it serves as a euphamism.

    No, it’s a term for a federation – or federation of federations – of self-governing (participatory-democratic) communities.

    I don’t mean to pick on SC’OM, she just revealed explicitly in SC’OM#204, what was implicit in the glimpses of anarchistic mechanisms, e.g., “democratically GOVERNED communities” (my emphasis). Anarchists definitely believe in GOVERNING others, although they might give the impression that it is somehow more communal with total consensus than other types of governing.

    You are BUGFUCK NUTS.

    ***

    The “communities” would have to be very large, say continent -size, and not Walton’s tinpot “statelets”.

    I disagree. (What the optimal polity size for participatory democracy is, if any, I have no idea.)

  239. #240 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Stu. No – it is not you. And I refuse to participate and am somewhat chagrined that I was pulled into the silliness. I normally refuse to participate.

    Which is the tack I am taking now.

    JC

  240. #241 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009

    SC:

    I’m afraid my uncautious (albeit parenthetical and somewhat snarky) use of the phrase “one-world government” led you straight into the AG Vortex of Insanity™; please forgive me.

    I actually think an OWG consisting of a global federal union would probably be a good thing (though my version of it would involve incorporating mostly existing nation-states under a global federal union, with local sovereingty fairly gradually giving way to planetary government)… but I’m realistic enough about the actual world and its actual politics to understand that while this makes for a nice SF scenario, it’s unlikely to happen (or even be seriously considered) in my lifetime or my daughter’s (unless, of course, Kurzweil is right about the singularity).

  241. #242 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Matt Heath#234,

    “SC can answer very well for herself, but claiming her comments tell anything about anarchists in general is at best idiotic and at worst dishonest.”

    Since SC is the only one with the courage to speak out about the mechanics about how anarchism would work, she is the spokesperson by default. If you disagree you can speak up. How do you justify being silent if she is wrong about, or misrepresenting anarchism? It is interesting that anarchists believe they can govern by consensus and without coercion via a governmentless “participatory democracy”, yet they can’t reach a consensus about anarchism or agree about anything, except perhaps who they hate.

  242. #243 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Bill

    Regarding Kurtzweil

    He isn’t. No worries.

    JC

  243. #244 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    Matt Heath, you’ve been exposed as a member of the Global Left-Anarchist International Central Committee. I will send you the specifics on Operation Sperm Whale (oh, no -I’ve said too muc

  244. #245 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009

    oh, no -I’ve said too muc…

    You haven’t said enough. Is that you in the corner?

  245. #246 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    You haven’t said enough. Is that you in the corner?

    *Throws a boot at Bill

  246. #247 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    You haven’t said enough. Is that you in the corner?

    No, that’s me in the spotlight. I thought I heard you laughing.

  247. #248 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 29, 2009

    oh, no -I’ve said too muc

    Hmm… The Pullet Patrol, Squid Squadron, or the Barracuda Brigade?

  248. #249 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    To all in the immediate upthread:

    Sorry, pop-song allusion FAIL. To a first approximation, use of the present tense in the song title is incorrect for this website.

    (And yes, I’m aware it is in fact a southern American figure of speech that means something else altogther.)

  249. #250 SC, OM
    April 29, 2009

    To a first approximation, use of the present tense in the song title is incorrect for this website.

    Sorry – you lost me. :)

  250. #251 Alex Deam
    April 29, 2009

    I disagree. (What the optimal polity size for participatory democracy is, if any, I have no idea.)

    My reason for the uber-sized constituent entities of a global federation, is because of the sheer difficulty in getting nations to agree much on a grand scale. It’s not like when you have 60 (hopefully) caucusing Democrats and 40 Republicans, because you need complete agreement on the world stage, not majority or supermajority, and because Congresses and Parliaments of the world, while made of of hundreds of politicians, are usually split into a few main groupings/parties/caucuses. While there is some common interests between certain countries, there are so many of them with so many competing agendas, that having a global federation at the nation level wouldn’t get much done in my opinion. So the parts of the federation would need to be bigger than nations.

  251. #252 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    The hint of the Century… Loosing instead of Lost?

    Of course, I am just guessing, not being overly good at this game.

    JC

  252. #253 Matt Heath
    April 29, 2009

    SC@243 FTW.
    AG: Find where I ever claimed to be an anarchist (or where there are significant numbers of other anarchists waiting around on Pharyngula silently nodding along with SC) and you might have the ghost of a point (good luck with that).

    I’m far to much of a bourgeois reformist to ever call myself an anarchist. On the other hand I do share the concern of flattening out hierarchy and reducing the restrictions on freedom that come from power inequalities. SC convinces me much more than any right libertarian that she can answer questions of the form “How do we reduce coercion in one area of life without increasing it elsewhere”. Within this framework it seems that some sort of global political body is a no-brainer. If your aim is maximum the freedom people have from all possible oppressors some global body able to restrict the ability of any group to enslave their neighbours as imperial subjects is clearly required.

  253. #254 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Matt Heath,

    “If your aim is maximum the freedom people have from all possible oppressors some global body able to restrict the ability of any group to enslave their neighbours as imperial subjects is clearly required.”

    Like Alex Deam, I think it would be difficult to get a global body to agree on that. But his point is that the bodies need to be bigger than countries, I guess because larger entities would homogenize parochial local interests.

    And larger countries would also address your concerns about groups enslaving their neighbors as imperial subjects. There would be plenty of people within the borders of larger countries to enslave, there would be less need for imperialism to enslave neighbors. Much as the UN saw no need to remove Saddam, once it was clear he couldn’t endanger his neighbors, these organizations generally recognize the right to oppress one’s “own”.

    If a global organization did have the means and the will to free enslaved peoples even if within borders statelets or empires, the US has proven that noble intent and even oppressed majorities are no guarantee that there aren’t enough people who benefitted from the enslavement to mount a problematic insurgency regardless of how immoral and unjustified the insurgency is.

    The US and UK should not have to bear the costs of these noble efforts alone, but even if just the democracies are considered, consensus on action is not easy to achieve, even when there is consensus that there is oppression, enslavement and genocide.

  254. #255 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Come on, Mrs T. (oh – and BTW: You make some damn fine bloody mary mix…) Some of us are waiting for some sort of explanation. Brain dead and all, ya know.

    JC

  255. #256 Watchman
    April 29, 2009
    To a first approximation, use of the present tense in the song title is incorrect for this website.

    Sorry – you lost me. :)

    Lost me, too, and my “song title” sensors are usually pretty sharp.

  256. #257 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009
    To a first approximation, use of the present tense in the song title is incorrect for this website.

    Sorry – you lost me. :)

    Lost me, too, and my “song title” sensors are usually pretty sharp.

    Note SC’s emoticon; she’s not really lost.

    And lost is the operative word (or at least a form of it): Review the thread (beginning with “oh, no, I’ve said too muc[h]”), and then meditate on Mrs. T’s reference to tense (verb tense, that is). It’ll come to you.

  257. #258 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Wait.. hang on a sec.. Bill – you mean – I was RIGHT?

    That can’t happen.

    JC

  258. #259 Mrs Tilton
    April 29, 2009

    Jack @257,

    got it in one.

  259. #260 Gruesome Janine
    April 29, 2009

    It’s the end of the world as we know it!

    Offer me an alternative
    Offer me a solution
    And I decline!

  260. #261 Watchman
    April 29, 2009

    Bill: Ok, I didn’t follow backwards nearly far enough. (I must have been out of time). It’s obvious now. Thanks for spoon-feeding me. It was a late night last night. ;-)

  261. #262 El Pedanto
    April 29, 2009

    you mean – I was RIGHT?

    Not quite. “Loosing” is a different word altogether.

  262. #263 Watchman
    April 29, 2009

    This just in from Mass Equality:

    The New Hampshire Senate voted to pass HB 436 — the marriage equality bill, which would replace the separate and unequal civil union system with full marriage equality.

    The amended Senate bill must be reconciled with the House version before it goes to Gov. John Lynch. The Governor does not have to sign the bill for it to become law.

    This is yet another victory for New Hampshire and for LGBT equality.

    Our congratulations go to the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, the New Hampshire Democratic Party, GLAD, and the HRC, whose extraordinary leadership made this victory possible. We’re also proud of the role MassEquality played helping secure critical votes through a legislator to legislator dialogue program – matching up our supportive elected officials in Massachusetts with their counterparts in the Granite State to have personal, private, and frank conversations about marriage equality.

  263. #264 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    El Pedanto

    Oh good! At least I got SOMETHING wrong. Not sure I could handle it otherwise.

    And … Yay Massashoveits! NY has GOTTA be next. Or CT.. or both…

    JC

  264. #265 Watchman
    April 29, 2009

    This is New Hampshire. CT is already there. Maine and RI are next. And in 2078? Idaho!

  265. #266 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    New Hampshire. Yes, I knew that. Really. I did. I have really got to stop posting while working.

    Why is it that the ONLY think I could pull out of Watchman’s blockquote was “Mass” … over and over? My eyes hurt.

    JC

  266. #267 Watchman
    April 29, 2009

    Jack, the “Mass” must have warped space and caused the light to bend and draw undue attention to the word. What other explanation could there possibly be?

  267. #268 Jadehawk
    April 29, 2009

    If a global organization did have the means and the will to free enslaved peoples even if within borders statelets or empires, the US has proven that noble intent and even oppressed majorities are no guarantee that there aren’t enough people who benefitted from the enslavement to mount a problematic insurgency regardless of how immoral and unjustified the insurgency is.

    how… HOW… how does one go from a discussion of “federation of participatory democracies” form of OWG to discussing the “noble intentions” of imperialistic “liberators”? For example, I really can’t remember either the U.S. or the Iraqi population voting on that particular piece of global hegemony clusterfucking

  268. #269 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Watchman: Me just not paying any attention cause I was listening to 7 gentlefolk from some other well populated country not the USofA talking over the top of each other about something that everyone should have already known?

    Just cogitating out loud…

    Methinks I have been overly distracted today.

    JC

  269. #270 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 29, 2009

    Methinks I have been overly distracted today.

    You’ve just described my entire life.

  270. #271 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    April 29, 2009

    I get bored if I’m not overly distracted.

  271. #272 Bill Dauphin
    April 29, 2009

    Janine (I refuse to believe you’re “Gruesome”) @259:

    I used to have “It’s the end of the world as we know it!” as my shutdown sound on my work PC.

    This whole line of conversation reminds me of a buddy of mine (a tropical fish farmer, which is an interesting job!) who went to Georgia Tech for graduate school, and has all sorts of stories of seeing R.E.M. and the Indigo Girls (then known as Saliers and Ray) performing in local Ga. clubs back in the day.

    “Now I know a refuge never grows
    From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
    Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.”

  272. #273 Anonymous
    April 29, 2009

    Jadehawk#267,

    “HOW… how does one go from a discussion of “federation of participatory democracies” form of OWG to discussing the “noble intentions” of imperialistic “liberators”? For example, I really can’t remember either the U.S. or the Iraqi population voting on that particular piece of global hegemony”

    From Matt Heath#252 in his defense of SC’OM,

    “If your aim is maximum the freedom people have from all possible oppressors some global body able to restrict the ability of any group to enslave their neighbours as imperial subjects is clearly required.”

    Jadehawk, Presumably enslavement bad enough to require military action in a participatory democracy OWG, would share the properties that make elections questionable in places like Iran, Saddam’s Iraq and N. Korea. BTW, the US did vote for it in a representative fashion, although the distinction isn’t relevant. Are you arguing that insurgencies can’t happen within statelets of a OWG?

  273. #274 JasonTD
    April 29, 2009

    These kinds of discussions really kill any usefulness of the thread. Instead of staying on topic with something concrete – the reasons for Specter’s switch and the effect it will have on the policies Obama and Congressional Democrats will be able to pursue – we have almost a day’s worth of posts about some hypothetical one-world government? This is why I don’t bother much with political ideology.

  274. #275 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Oh yeah, baby. The End of the World Beyond doubt, one of my favourites.

    Thanks for reminding me! It’s off the the refrigerator I go!

    JC

  275. #276 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    JasonTD,

    “we have almost a day’s worth of posts about some hypothetical one-world government? This is why I don’t bother much with political ideology.”

    Hmmm…wants politics, not political science…ah, if you ctrl-F and search on “song”, I think you will find the posts that would have followed without this bunny trail.

  276. #277 JackC
    April 29, 2009

    Damn. No End of the World for me tonight. But at least I have a Happy Monkey

    A visit to my local purveyor is in order.

    JC

  277. #278 Jadehawk
    April 29, 2009

    the US did vote for it in a representative fashion, although the distinction isn’t relevant.

    oy. now I remembered why I never bother talking politics with you.

  278. #279 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Jadehawk,

    “now I remembered why I never bother talking politics with you.”

    Yes, I explained it to you last time: “Thinking is hard”.

  279. #280 Jadehawk
    April 29, 2009

    Yes, I explained it to you last time: “Thinking is hard”.

    I hope that made you feel better.

  280. #281 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Matt Heath#85,

    “Indeed, and for those that don’t already know about his work, U. Manitoba psychologist Bob Altemeyer can tell you about what drives these people for free. ”

    Thanx, I’m only partway through, but it is interesting reading. I doubt his test will stand the test of time, it is too tied to today’s culture and time. A selected subset of the less political Myer’s Briggs type questions might be a more subtle way and less culturally biased way to tease out authoritarianism. He also seems bent on demonizing authoritarian followers (so far), while Keirsey might credit them with being the backbone of a stable society, the responsible ones who do their duty and keep things working on a daily basis. They are perhaps a double edged sword.

    Altemeyer appears also to have a blind spot, to not quite see them as well on the American left as on the right. I had to chuckle at how apt some of the descriptions were of the behaviors here on this blog.

  281. #282 africangenesis
    April 29, 2009

    Jadehawk,

    “I hope that made you feel better”

    I do feel better sometimes, not just taking the crap, but I would prefer substantive discussions rather than infantile personal attacks, obscenties, and mocking but uninformative wisecracks.

  282. #283 Rorschach
    April 30, 2009

    Jon Stewart imitating Michael Steele:

    “Yo,Arlen Spector is so dumb he thinks Roe vs Wade is 2 ways to cross a river!

    *Snicker*

  283. #284 Alex Deam
    April 30, 2009

    “I suggest you go and look at the EU’s record, and work out what exactly has been over-bureaucratic about it.”

    It would help if you could point to some of the things that are commonly point to. EU actually seems less fixated on auto safety and reducing pollution than the US, but perhaps they are considered over regulatory in other areas.

    As for examples, well the media usually goes, “EU BUREAUCRATS BAN CURVED BANANAS” (or they ban straight bananas, I’ve seen both stories), when they’ve done no such thing. That’s an example of the basic euromyth created by the media that Walton may be referring to.

    If not, then it’s hard to give an example of regulation that Walton’s talking about. If it’s over-regulation because he’s a libertarian, then take your pick. If it’s over-regulation because most people here would agree it is, then that requires Walton to give examples.

  284. #285 Walton
    April 30, 2009

    Btw, strange gods before me, if you’re reading this, take a look at my blog. You may be interested in what I’ve posted today, particularly the penultimate paragraph.

  285. #286 Walton
    April 30, 2009

    Btw, strange gods before me, if you’re reading this, take a look at my blog. You may be interested in what I’ve posted today, particularly the penultimate paragraph.

  286. #287 Watchman
    April 30, 2009

    all sorts of stories of seeing R.E.M. and the Indigo Girls performing in local Ga. clubs back in the day.

    Hey Bill, remember the Swimming Pool Cues and Love Tractor? (The former made at least one excellent LP circa 1985.)

  287. #288 Gruesome Janine
    April 30, 2009

    Watchman, that would be the Swimming Pool Qs. And do not forget Pylon.

  288. #289 Watchman
    April 30, 2009

    Ah! Thank you! That explains why I wanted to type “Queues” which I knew wasn’t right, so settled on “Cues”.

    Oh yeah, Pylon. And of course the B-52s were out of Athens, too, but they broke out in ’79, so they don’t count. ;-)

  289. #290 Bill Dauphin
    April 30, 2009

    Watchman and Janine:

    Sadly, it was my friend, not me, who was in Ga. when that incredible scene was going on… and even sadlier(?), in the Eighties I was nowhere near as trascendently hip as I am now. ;^)

    But thanks for the tips; I’ll check ‘em out.

  290. #291 Watchman
    April 30, 2009

    The Q’s LP I have is called Blue Tomorrow. Nice stuff.

    The band is still together.

    http://www.swimmingpoolqs.com/blue-tomorrow/

  291. #292 nothing's sacred
    April 30, 2009

    I don’t know what IRV is

    Your google key is broken? I guess your intellectual laziness also explains why you don’t know what’s desirable about EFCA.

    but proportional representation would require amending the constitution

    Neither relevant to my point nor true; see, e.g., http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/articles/Brief%20History%20of%20PR.htm

  292. #293 nothing's sacred
    April 30, 2009

    Mrs. Tilton for the early Molly.

    I think Mrs. Tilton’s #80 assures her of a Molly for this month. There’s no rule against getting more than one, and it’s only fair considering that last time she had to share it with some overbearing foulmouthed fellow who was nominated for his “grandiloquence”, of all things.

  293. #294 strange gods before me
    April 30, 2009

    Walton, that is why we have the American Civil Liberties Union and its socialist pro-freedom agenda. You should be so fortunate.

    Of course, it’s right-wingers who consistently complain about free speech, with projects like “Stop the ACLU.”

    The worst actual threat to free speech in the US recently has been the capitalist project of “free speech zones” to protect politicians and economists from having to see dissent while attending free trade conferences.

    Dishonest is your claim of a “recent proposed UN resolution prohibiting ‘defamation of religion'”. Of course there was no such thing, and you share PZ’s ignorance of international law. Compare chapters 4 and 5 of the UN charter, and you will see that only the Security Council — where the US has veto power — holds any legal authority. The OIC’s resolutions are mere propaganda for the General Assembly.

  294. #295 JasonTD
    April 30, 2009

    I don’t know what IRV is

    Your google key is broken? I guess your intellectual laziness also explains why you don’t know what’s desirable about EFCA.

    Instant-runoff voting was something I had never heard of prior to looking it up at your suggestion. I feel confident in my belief that I am a reasonably curious and informed person, so maybe it was mistake on your part to assume that everyone would know what the acronym stood for. On the other hand, if you thought that some people might not know, it would be laziness on your part to make them look it up rather than explain yourself fully to begin with.

    but proportional representation would require amending the constitution

    Neither relevant to my point nor true; see, e.g., http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/articles/Brief%20History%20of%20PR.htm

    Your point in bringing up proportional representation (and IRV) was to list it as a method of increasing the viability of smaller parties. So, the fact that it not a viable option for the House of Representatives is relevant. And, yes, it is also true if you take the wording of the Constitution at face value. As I said, the wording of Article 1, Section 2 is quite explicit about how state representatives are to be apportioned (i.e. how many reps each state gets). Each state would be free to change its own laws in order to allow for proportional representation within its own delegation, but that would be a state-by-state process, and completely irrelevant in the states with just one representative.

    The link you provided was all in regards to local elections. I wasn’t saying that it was unconstitutional at all, just that it wouldn’t work at the federal level without an amendment, if it was to be done for the whole country all at once.

    Regarding the EFCA, I’ll dive in with my view of it. Perhaps then you can show me where I’m wrong and why it’s a good thing. The two provisions of it that I see mentioned in news reports (when they do more than just say that it will make unionizing easier) are the ‘card-check’ aspect and the automatic, binding arbitration if no contract is reached fairly quickly (2-3 months, if I remember correctly).

    Card check, in practice, would mean that once 50% of employees sign a card in support of forming a union, then the union would be recognized. EFCA removes the right of the employer to call for a secret-ballot election. Instead, it places that right with a petition signed by at least 30% of employees.

    Admittedly, when it is clear that employees really want a union, insisting on a ballot is just a delaying tactic on the part of the employer, at best, and an effort to reverse the decision (through either legal or illegal means), at worst. But for all of the arguments of intimidation or other abuses by employers, no proponents of EFCA seem worried about abuses and peer-pressure the other way. It comes down to an argument that goes like this: “If the system can be rigged, we should just make sure we are the only ones that can rig it.”

    The binding arbitration provision is actually the more damaging proposal, though it gets less press. The balance of power between employers and employees has always come down to the ability of employees to strike if they don’t like what the employer is offering. It’s a powerful weapon, but it comes with a cost (as it should) in the form of employees not getting paid. But with a first contract that lasts for 2 years that will be better than the employer’s best offer virtually guaranteed through arbitration, where is the union’s incentive to negotiate in good faith?

  295. #296 Walton
    May 1, 2009

    I think Mrs. Tilton’s #80 assures her of a Molly for this month. There’s no rule against getting more than one

    O.M. and bar?

  296. #297 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 5, 2009
    Don?t give Democrats a blank check, support the NRCC

    Don’t give Democrats a blank check, give us a blank check!!!

  297. #298 nothing's sacred
    December 16, 2009

    I feel confident in my belief that I am a reasonably curious and informed person, so maybe it was mistake on your part to assume that everyone would know what the acronym stood for.

    I made no such assumption, moron.

    On the other hand, if you thought that some people might not know, it would be laziness on your part to make them look it up rather than explain yourself fully to begin with.

    Jeez but you are an idiot.

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    January 2, 2010

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