Post-Election Notes For the GOP (Not That They’ve Asked For Them)

Having just voted against both its presidential and Ohio senatorial candidate, I am reasonably sure the GOP doesn’t want any notes from me about its failures last night. On the other hand, I am a white, male, well-off, heterosexually-married, college educated fellow, which means according to these exit polls at least, I am the GOP “demographic” down to the last jot and tittle. Maybe it’ll listen for just that reason.

So, fellows! Some notes for you. Please note this is addressed to the party leaders, not the party members.

1. Recognize your brand is damaged. You can’t seriously be considered to be the party of fiscal probity at this point; your record for the last thirty years makes this laughable. Bush shot your international relations standing in the foot. All you have left is social issues, and — surprise! — on social issues, most people who are not you think you’re intolerant at best and racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted at worst.

Seriously, guys: What does the GOP actually want to be the party of? At this point, and for the last few years, it’s been “The Party of Not Obama.” This is not a good way to run a railroad.

2. Deal with your base. Your base is killing you. Did you see your presidential nominee slate this year? I know your base was excited about them, but from the outside we were all, like, “seriously, WTF?” The fact that an unrepentant bigot like Rick Santorum managed to pace Mitt Romney for the nomination as far into the process as he did should have sent up enough red flags to rival Beijing on May Day. Then it makes the (relative) moderates who eventually win the nominations spend too much time tending to its issues and selecting awful vice presidential candidates. Sarah Palin terrified the non-base voters she was supposed to attract. That Paul Ryan counts as an “intellectual” in GOP circles speaks to the almost unfathomable poverty of your brain trust at the moment. That these two were brought on to bolster their respective presidential candidates with the party’s base should throw up all sorts of warning signs.

Your base is fine for now with mid-terms, when you’re dealing with house races, and districts that have been gerrymandered to allow for genuinely horrible politicians to be elected (yes, on both sides, but we’re talking about you for now). For presidential elections, when you have to deal with a national electorate? They’re a bad foundation. They’re going to keep making you fail. If you don’t want to believe it, two words for you: Akin, Mourdock. If you think they only lost their races, think again.

3. Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things. By “tolerant” I mean that we’re okay with gays marrying and women deciding what to do with their own wombs and that we think science doesn’t want to shiv Jesus in the night when no one is looking. By “browner,” we mean, well, browner. Lots of Latinos and blacks and other ethnic minorities out there. More every day. And very few of them want to have anything to do with you. Both of these mean that lots of younger white people don’t want to have anything to do with you either, because — again, surprise! — many of the people who they love and grew up with in this browner and more tolerant nation are the folks you spend a lot of time railing against, in code or just straight up. And that’s bullshit.

I am a white, well-off, college-educated man married to a woman. And in my family and close circle of friends I have Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, gay, bisexual and trans people, religious, agnostic and atheist, able-bodied and disabled. You lose me when you classify any of them as the other. They’re not the other; they’re us.

4. Stop letting your media run you. Look, guys: Fox News and Rush Limbaugh don’t actually care about the GOP. They really don’t. They are in the business of terrifying aging white people for money. To the extent that your political agenda conforms to this goal, they’re on your side. But when you step outside of their “terrify aging white people for money” agenda, they’re going to stomp on you. How many GOP politicians have had to grovel at Limbaugh’s feet because they said something he didn’t approve of? Stop it. Tell him to fuck off every once in a while. It’ll be good for you.

And while you’re at it, tell Grover Norquist to fuck off, too. The fact this dude keeps the lot of you from facing economic reality with that damned pledge of his is an embarrassment.

These are the things I would start with.

Do I expect you to consider them? Not really, no. What I expect you to do is the same thing you’ve been doing for the last twenty years, which is to decide that the problem with the GOP is that it’s not socially conservative or fiscally irresponsible enough, cull anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the new tighter and angrier level of orthodoxy and go from there. If that’s the direction you go, I wish you joy in it, and look forward to years and years of Democratic presidents.

392 thoughts on “Post-Election Notes For the GOP (Not That They’ve Asked For Them)

  1. I’ve recently been doing a book of crosswords about US history (hey, it’s a review tool for the AP US History exam – acquired for about $1 so it a good deal and super-nerdy) and where it has me are the names of all the old political parties that used to exist ages ago.

    And seemed to have some sort of national voice in politics (like Bull Moose and others). Seems it was much less of a solid two-party majority.

    Do you think a strong third-party will come into play or gain more power if the Republican party fragments or fails to change? (Note: I haven’t the foggiest which alternate party this might be so I’m just throwing this out there as a point of discussion/thought)

  2. “Seriously, guys: What does the GOP actually want to be the party of?”

    Of power. Power is not the means to their ends, it is the end in and of itself. They just didn’t think anyone would notice that.

  3. It seems that you believe that if you speak slowly and in small words that the Republican base will somehow listen and come around.
    A smaller and smaller demographic base really do believe that the South will rise again, all the non-whites will be put back in their place and that women will all return to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.
    Just listen to the Right Wing media today; they believe that the problem was that their message was ignored by the stupid and greedy population and that if they just keep getting more and more conservative that somehow this will attract more voters.

  4. I don’t see how they do this. They can’t surrender their far-right base who vote largely on party identity and those few issues. If they drop the anti-abortion efforts and are accepting of gays then those voters stay home or create organizations that siphon off their votes. The Constitution Party candidate and Libertarian candidate both took a lot of votes in Virginia. It may turn out that they took enough to close the gap with Obama.

    How do they make movements that lose them these people? They won’t stop sending folks to the House even if they stop calling themselves Republicans. That means they won’t stop being an impediment to them passing legislation.

    I really don’t see how they change their way out of this problem. Which sucks, since I’d like to see the Democratic party have some meaningful (ie, productive rather than just obstructionist) opposition other than itself.

  5. #3 sums up my thoughts exactly. All of it was great, but if the GOP doesn’t recognize number 3, they will ensure that their biggest fears become reality–more Democratic control and an increasingly marginalized GOP.

  6. This:
    Your base is fine for now with mid-terms, when you’re dealing with house races, and districts that have been gerrymandered to allow for genuinely horrible politicians to be elected (yes, on both sides, but we’re talking about you for now).

    Between the money they can harvest from Super Pacs which will blunt the everything-not-scalzi electorate & another 2 years to run merrily amok stopping legislation, the GOP is in a fine position for 2014. They’re not going to listen to you (or us) anytime soon.

  7. “Did you see your presidential nominee slate this year? I know your base was excited about them, but from the outside we were all, like, “seriously, WTF?” The fact that an unrepentant bigot like Rick Santorum managed to pace Mitt Romney for the nomination as far into the process as he did should have sent up enough red flags to rival Beijing on May Day.”

    HILARIOUS. Seriously one of the best things you’ve written in a while, Mr. Scalzi. I’d love to share this whole article with my Republican friends, but just can’t bring myself to rub it in any further today.

  8. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh don’t actually care about the GOP. They really don’t. They are in the business of terrifying aging white people for money.

    I want that on a t-shirt.

  9. I expect that, thanks to the upcoming purges, the left-over conservatives are going to be able to look around and paraphrase Ninotchka: there are going to be fewer but better Republicans.

  10. Most excellent. Seeing things written today by those on the right, I am without doubt of your last paragraph.

  11. Your base is fine for now with mid-terms, when you’re dealing with house races, and districts that have been gerrymandered to allow for genuinely horrible politicians to be elected (yes, on both sides, but we’re talking about you for now).

    Like who on the left? Seriously, I’m asking the question. Who on the left is equivalent to Akin or Mourdock or Bachmann?

  12. I really hope I am wrong on this, but I do see a strong possibility that the GOP has marginalized itself to a degree where the 2-Party system is upheaving again, as it has at least twice. The GOP may be the Whigs.
    The Democratic party, contrary to the screaming of the hate&fear machine, has actually been skewing increasingly to the right since the 1970s. A slow process, to be sure, but definite and verifiable by almost any objective criteria.
    The question will be, then, what the newly-emerging “other” party will represent?
    We may be seeing the left/right divide realigning itself along entirely different ideological lines.
    I retract that “hoping I am wrong.”
    This might be interesting, but it will play out over a haul too long to rely on popcorn for nourishment. I’m ordering pizza. Organic, hand-assembled, locally-owned, take-and-bake pizza. Who’s with me?

  13. Per previous comments to me, I am not reposting the full text of what I posted 2 hours ago on my Facebook Timeline, headlined: “To my Republican and Conservative friends. Remembering my father and his father were Wall Street Conservative Republicans… The kindest name for what the GOP must go through now is what the Senate campaign leader said: ‘Recalibrate.'”

  14. Believe me, John, I’m much more frustrated than you are with the way the GOP primary went, but I always have to roll my eyes a little bit when, following a bad election, the other side decides to give helpful advice that amounts to litle more than groundless assertions of their own particularly ideology.

    Some of these tips–despite their groundless nature–will be right. (Broken clocks and all that.) Others, on the other hand, will be just silly. Case in point:

    3. Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things. By “tolerant” I mean that we’re okay with gays marrying and women deciding what to do with their own wombs and that we think science doesn’t want to shiv Jesus in the night when no one is looking.

    As for “browner”: yeah. The GOP’s stance on immigration may have single-handedly cost Mitt Romney this election. That’s substantiated based on the fact that the Hispanic voter turnout was higher than 2008 and more pro-Obama than 2008. So reality check = passed.

    But “tolerant” as applied to the abortion issue? Totally detached from reality. In May 2012 Gallup came out with a poll that found that self-identified “pro-choice Americans are at an all-time low. The idiotic and damnable comments of Akin et al aside, the pro-life position–when handled with sanity and sensitivity–is absolutely not a losing proposition for the GOP. In fact, it’s the DNC that is incredibly out-of-touch with mainstream America on this, as well as a few other issues (consider the fiasco that was taking out and then putting reference to God in the official party platform).

    If the Democrats were remotely as close to being Pareto-superior to the GOP then we wouldn’t have a GOP majority in the House, now would we? The GOP has lessons to learn, but it’s rash to assume all those lessons fall in line with your own political predilections.

  15. Their problem (or one of many) is that their base is all that keeps them alive. The made a bargain with the devil (aka religious conservatives) in the 80’s to build enthusiasm but largely ignored that increasingly vocal demographic legislatively while stoking them up every four years with fear of the oncoming Armageddon if the Democrats won.

    Finally, that family misfit that the ‘adult’, establishment Republicans wanted to ignore snuck out of the basement and started rampaging around the house. The cynical establishment leaders trying the old ‘appease and stoke fears’ trick which only made the misfits louder and more assertive.

    Now, I’m not sure how they’ll force the nutcases back into the closet.I’d suggest they abandon ship and reform as a new party. It’s not like these people are easily educated, particularly after spending years training them not to think.

  16. I was raised in a home that was nominally Independent, but voted mostly Republican. Neither my siblings nor I vote Republican now. We are white, well-educated, middle-class, middle-aged and none of us can support the Republican Party at this time. My brother, who stuck with the party through the early 2000s, said to me this week that he is disgusted with them and that their positions on important issues including social and fiscal ones are completely insupportable. He feels that the party abandoned him and only sees it getting worse. I don’t believe that my parents would be voting Republican if they were alive today. The party is abandoning its historic values and losing its base along with them. And yet, the first thing I heard from a conservative Republican pundit last night was that the party needed to reaffirm its conservative social values and fiscal policies including deregulation. They may stand on their principles forever, but those principles are speaking to a shrinking demographic.

  17. The GOP’s far right shift isn’t something they’re likely to give up. The reason for this is that the Dems were pulled rightwards as a result so there isn’t anywhere to go back to. This hasn’t been all good for the Democrats either, in covering a significantly larger political spectrum there is much more internal division. However, the only way for the GOP to become more moderate is if that internal division progresses to a real break and leftward shift. Whether or not that happens isn’t in the GOP’s control, their options are only to maintain the status quo or shift even more to the right and hope the dividing line gets dragged with them.

  18. The perceived danger of shifting anywhere to the left for the GOP is they wind up with the equivalent of the Dixiecrats or the American Independent Party again and that just gives the White House to the Democrats.

    At this point they’re probably thinking they can make gains again in Congress in 2014 and hope to win in 2016 when the Democrats fail to find a candidate who can energize the “demographics” the way Obama did.

  19. But “tolerant” as applied to the abortion issue? Totally detached from reality.

    @Nathaniel – you may want to read farther down that poll you linked to, where 80% of people want abortion to be legal. Plenty of pro-life people understand that it is not their place to use the police power of government to force that decision on everybody else.

  20. 1. Recognize your brand is damaged.

    fair point

    2. Deal with your base

    Your point that the candidate field was poor is a good point. It sucked. Not just Santorum, but Michelle Bachman was even considered a contender for a while. But don’t worry. For various reasons, the next field will be a lot better.

    3. Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things.

    The GOP needs to be more “tolerant” and accepting of the brown-ness of the US?
    Hmmm. What ever can you mean? I think you mean, again, that the GOP is racist.
    If that were true, it would not be fixable.
    However …. it looks like the Dems have a lock on the latino vote, and this is probably what won them the election.

    4. Stop letting your media run you.

    A good point, but a second order one. That isn’t what lost the election.

  21. I truly hope that the Republican party reforms. I’m tired of deadlock in Congress. We need cooperation, but it’s never gonna happen if we have strong moral disagreements /and/ opposition to good ideas just because they come from The Other Side.

  22. I’m afraid that while I think you make some good micro points, there’s a big fat fact that will compellingly (and, I’d think, rightly!) prevent anyone from the Republican party from listening, and that is the fact that they didn’t lose by terribly much. They were within 2% of popular vote of winning, with 48%.

    For them to take to heart such things as you describe would require that their party had been *demolished* in the election, rather than “squeaking out barely losing,” which is what we saw.

    In my country, the loose equivalent to the Republicans are called the “Conservatives.” My party of yesteryear was the Progressive Conservatives, who were destroyed, back in 1993, as they fell from a majority government, swinging from 43% popularity, and 169 seats, to 16% popularity, and just two seats in government.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_federal_election,_1993

    That party was closed down in 2003, and replaced by a somewhat more Republican-like Conservative party, which has since taken power in Canada, after taking to heart a very different set of principles than those held by the PCs.

    Our “centre-left” party, the Liberals, had a tough enough time in the last election that they may imagine that they’re taking new principles to heart, although I don’t quite believe it, because they weren’t hurt quite enough.

    In short, I don’t see the Republicans being anywhere near ready to learn any of the lessons you suggest, because they haven’t been chastened by a *serious* loss, of the complexion we Canadians saw in 1993.

  23. @Nathaniel, by “all-time low” you mean slightly less than half, and you oddly omit that the change is in the label, not so much attitudes to abortion themselves. The majority of Americans do not support a “no exceptions” or “only to save the mother” platform, and they certainly don’t believe women’s bodies magically stop rape-pregnancy unless it’s the will of God.

  24. YES. To all of this. And the GOP need to stop fulfilling their worst stereotypes. Mary Matalin melted down on Van Jones (not me) on CNN earlier, and it was shameful. She was so angry, bitter, and dismissive she was almost vibrating in place. The scorn in her tone and on her face was embarrassing. The only thing she contributed to the discussion was bias, denial, and self-righteousness, and she seems convinced that We The People have stupidly re-elected a thief and liar and incompetent fool into office. How is any of that attitude helpful going forward? And why do so many GOP sound just like her? Why would they rather see Obama fail than help our nation succeed? it’s depressing, and I want nothing to do with people like that, not just in politics but on any personal level, either.

  25. Reaction on watching post election interviews is that they need at least one more try and being younger, less experienced and crazier than the democrats before they change tack.
    Incidentally, does 2012 speak out against the ‘Candidate with the better hair wins’ theory?

  26. women deciding what to do with their own wombs

    Both parties have moved to extremist positions on this issue.

    If you have a fully-grown, viable, baby inside you that’s about to pop out in a few hours, then that’s not the same as a microscopic clump of cells and there is surely some kind of moral issue about whether that baby lives or dies. If it’s biologically human, then it’s human, whether inside or out.

  27. It is not as clear-cut as this, but in general I agree with 1, 2, and 4. Oversimplified, cocky even, but in the ballpark.

    Where I take issue is #3 . . . you are making it sound as both a race thing and an age thing. The numbers for the 2008 election don’t bear you out. Old white guys did vote for Obama, and I suspect the numbers will show the same here. Maybe not for the ultra-conservatives, but the far-right do not make up the majority.

    I like to believe, and more often than not I see evidence for it, that the non-fanatics inevitably see the logic of granting other people the same rights they want for themselves.

    You could have taken the last paragraph of #3, merged it with #2, and got rid of the part about “brown”. Of course, a cynical me might say that would go counter to the Democratic Party’s talking points.

    Seriously, a case can be made just on the wacked-out items on the RNP platform (amazing reading), most of which are steeped in religion. The change in demographic may just as easily be attributed to more people comfortable with secularism.

    But, that’s just me hoping. I also hope for fiscal responsibility in DC, but that’s even more crazy-talk than thinking the GOP will change. People tend to forget a pendulum’s motion is harmonic . . . they need but wait.

  28. If the Democrats were remotely as close to being Pareto-superior to the GOP then we wouldn’t have a GOP majority in the House, now would we?

    Read up on the state-level results of 2010. Since the GOP won so many state houses and governorships, they were able to redistrict (read: gerrymander) most districts very favorably for Republicans. IIRC they made ~180 US House seats “Safe R,” which means in any given election they only need to win 38 to have a majority. Several of them also redistricted late in 2012, which mean that there wasn’t a district for a competitor to, well, compete in.

  29. There were a few great successes Obama pulled off this cycle: 1) Convincing more gullible members of the public a GOP “War on Women” exists, when it is about as real as the War on Christmas, and 2) That Romney wanted to cancel Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which won him the poor and elderly votes. Sure, there’s a grain of truth to each (Akin and Murdoch both rightly lost… but in fair measure because they were disowned by the GOP for their idiotic remarks), but all the best lies are based in part on truth.

  30. I’d be happier about these victories for common sense and learning in yesterday’s election if only I knew why almost half the country insists on membership in the Know-Nothing Party of the mid-19th century. You may think this was a decisive vote for truth and beauty – but I’m kinda fretful about the almost-half of the nation that lives in chronic fear and resentment.

    Yes, it’s spiritual/psychological question, not easy to measure, but the chasm has grown so deep now it’s nearly a geographical feature of the continental U.S. There are people suffering (at the same time they’re being exploited by the manure-sacks of hate radio) much due to a chronically-ill Weltanschauung. They are the collateral damage of that infamous naked lust for power mentioned by crypticmirror.

    I wonder if we can help.

  31. Yes! The brand is damaged. In WA, we had a perfectly lovely GOP candidate for Lt. Gov., that I didn’t vote for, solely because he was a Republican, and this year, I felt I could no longer trust any member of the party. As a result, I voted for the incumbent Democrat, who is a waste of oxygen, but at least he’s a harmless waste of oxygen. Four years ago, I would definitely have voted for the Republican for Lt. Gov., based on his credentials. This is the first year that I have ever voted a straight ticket, and it made me sad.

    Of course, I believe that to many conservatives elsewhere in the US, WA Republicans are actually Democrats; WA Democrats are actually Socialists; our Socialists are Communists; and our Communists are alien reptiles wearing human-suits that eat babies. Or something. But we really do have fairly active alternative parties, including the International Communist Party, up here in pot-smoking, gay-marriage land. We’re also the first state in the union to have female suffrage; the relationship between the IWW and feminism is a matter of record, so maybe the right wing is right, and America is now the new Iron Curtain. Or something. I don’t even know.

  32. As someone who self-identifies as generally “small c” conservative, I have had serious issue with the GOP for years, largely for the reasons you outline. To me, one of the problems is the over-use of the word “conservative” to describe a wide range of values that sometimes conflict – Christian Right, social conservative, fiscal conservative, laissez-fair in the public and/or private spheres. I’m tired of feeling I need to defend myself – I am not heartless, I am not a bigot, I not only tolerate but celebrate diversity.

    The problem for me is that my values do not align with the Democratic Party at all. While I don’t want anyone to have a say over a woman’s body but that woman, I don’t want tax dollars to pay for elective abortions, I want responsible fiscal policies, I support the military, and though I support the social safety net, I also support the power of the market, free enterprise and individual initiative. As a legal immigrant to this country, I want the immigration problem to be solved by real reform that makes legal immigration tenable, not by waving a magic wand that reclassifies illegal immigrants.

    I feel like I have nowhere to turn.

  33. @Adam K “Both parties have moved to extremist positions on this issue.”

    Except that the “extremist position” on the left is the one held by the majority of Americans, who feel that it’s far more immoral for politicians to attempt to legally enforce their religious beliefs on everyone else.

    Seriously — I’m sure that right-wing media is telling you otherwise, but come on. If last night doesn’t teach you the problems with epistemic closure, I’m not sure what will.

  34. Oh yes, @Jason at 3 PM, this is a conservative who believes in Science.

  35. I have this long-standing hunch, solely from personal observations, that one of the most important factors in the US becoming more comfortable with ethnic diversity was simply “television.”

    I think about how slavery was abolished during the Civil War, but it took 100 years before the Civil Rights Movement really took hold and changed things; during the last decade or so of that century, pretty much every home in the US got a TV set. I feel like actually seeing film of what was happening to people, in our own homes on a daily basis, made an incalculable difference to the attitudes of people (of all ages) who had previously been “visually insulated” from some appalling realities.

    Same goes for the Vietnam War. And looking at the trends going on now, I think cable TV’s addition of dozens of new channels beyond the old Big 3 Networks brought a much broader view of the world to small-town America. MTV alone was huge in exposing young rural people to cultures other than their immediate surroundings.

    In the mid-’90s I was in the small town where I went to high school, and realized that almost nobody there younger than me had the strong regional accent anymore – while everyone older than me still did. I seriously doubt that can be a coincidence.

    I feel like even if you’re a white kid from a relatively homogenous white ethnicity, since around 1965 or so, and especially since the mid-1980s, you’ve grown up with exposure to ethnic and cultural diversity that people growing up earlier would never have seen in a persistent, ubiquitous visual medium.

    I’m old enough to remember how freaked out people were about “All In the Family” and “The Jeffersons” being so popular on TV. I started watching Sesame Street – a national show with a very diverse cast set in a clearly urban area – around when it started airing; how many kids since it started have watched that? I feel like I watched the change happening on TV, and then saw it very quickly happening in real life all around me.

    I agree, John: no more “other.” It’s just “us” now, and failure to work with “us” is a bad idea.

  36. Well said. I think that every person who relates (even remotely) with anything the GOP says should read this. I tend to lead to the Right, but everything you stated here is what I’ve been telling my Liberal and Conservative friends for YEARS. And most (almost all) agree with me. The GOP would me much more palatable if they could get this through their thick skulls.

  37. I think you’re badly misreading the Republican party if you mistake feelings they had for Romney with genuine enthusiasm. He wasn’t a great candidate and a lot of Republicans looked forward to voting for him as much as a trip to the dentist.

    You do touch on part of the problem when you talk about the issue of fiscal responsibility. The fact is, the party leadership has been terrible on this front over the last decade and a half (and high tax receipts under the Internet boom with Clinton made holding the line there relatively painless). The entire Tea Party phenomenon (as separate from actual Republican party action) is a symptom of this. People in the Republican party who genuinely believe in fiscal responsibility are standing up and saying “look, you guys keep talking about this, but you don’t DO anything about it.”

    The party leadership is almost totally under the control of the “country club” Republicans – rich business interests, who don’t mind irresponsible spending but just want it to go to their supporters instead of Democratic supporters. These guys get along great with the social conservatives because they honestly don’t give a crap about the social issues and the social conservatives don’t much care about spending, so long as they get their giant-invisible-fairy-in-the-sky-driven way on social issues.

    (Of course, the whole Tea Party thing meant that every nutter who wasn’t happy with everything could come out and call themselves “part of the Tea Party” movement, and assert that the whole idea of the Tea Party was to push whatever their pet issue was… and naturally the media focused on the nutters rather than the mass of people whose only nutty notion is that income and expenses ought to have some kind of relation in the nation’s budget.)

    What needs to happen is a push through the party institutions, cleaning out the corrupt business-as-usual Republican leaders and showing troglodytes like Akin the door. But that’s hard, damned hard, because the business-backed corrupt leadership has money (and the time luxury money presents, of not having to hold down a job where you must be at work five days a week most weeks of the year), and the social conservatives have infrastructure of their own to worry about too. I wish I could say “it will happen”, but… honestly it’s not even likely.

  38. Is anyone else tired of the one-dimensional way we characterize political leanings? If you don’t agree with the Democrats you are assumed to be a rich, white, god-fearing, science-hating, racist. If you don’t agree with the Republicans you are assumed to be an pot-smoking, godless, communist, Che Guevera lover.

    I suspect that a huge number of people in this country don’t feel represented particularly well by either party right now.

  39. The GOP catches a lot of grief on this site, and I’ll cop that much of it is deserved. FWIW, one person’s response from the right:

    1) Regarding finances: What can I say? Many on the Right can’t stand Bush for exactly this reason. If the GOP isn’t the party of “we can’t afford it”, then what good is it? (also, the country _really_ needs a party of We Can’t Afford It). It will take a long time to regain this position, but I think there is the biggest potential to gain moderate support by trying to be the party of living within means. Whether either party wants to deal with it, the country’s finances are a wreck, and getting wrecky-er all the time. Obama may find the Presidency a poisoned chalice in this regard, as sequestration, debt ceiling, entitlements, health care cost overruns, and credit downgrades are likely to consume his second term. Maybe he will use the freedom from re-election to pursue a Simpson-Bowles style solution, in which case I will be pleasantly surprised.

    2) Regarding the base and the War on Ladyparts: Yeah, those who love a good in-fight are investing in popcorn futures right now. With own-goals in the Senate in MO, IN, DE, and NV, I think many on the Right agree that there needs to be a way to channel social conservative support to candidates who are electable. This cycle was particularly maddening. Trust me, the “no abortion in cases of rape and incest” wing of the GOP is pretty small, yet they managed to get two candidates on the ballot in red states (it would be one thing if they had campaigned on this as a platform, but to spring it after they had the nomination was stupid squared).

    3) Regarding the charge of racism. This is probably the one that irks the most, because I think it racism plays so little role in the thinking of the my fellow conservatives. I have yet to find a policy that Obama proposed that would have been more palatable coming from a President Clinton, Kerry, or (shudder) Biden. This one may actually change faster than anyone thinks. Within the next generation of GOP candidates are Mia Love (narrowly lost in the House), Gov Haley (SC), Gov Jindal (LA), Sen Rubio, Gov Martinez (NM), Gov Sandoval (NV).

    4. Regarding the Right Wing Media. There is a lot of frustration on this score out here in GOP-land. Love him or hate him, I think Andrew Brietbart foretold the path that the GOP must take – alternative media. Our message is either not getting through mainstream media filters or it is getting stuck in right-wing informational ghettos. How this will happen, I don’t know. I do think the old media model will continue to lose influence, and the Right will work to have a say in what comes next.

    Finally, I think perspective is in order. With the power of incumbency and a largely supportive media, Obama won solid EV majority, but he eeked out a popular vote win. He now leads a very divided country. For all of these criticisms above, something as Black Swan-y as a big storm may have been enough to tip the balance in this election (Gallup pre-Sandy to post-Sandy swung 4 points in Obama’s favor). One added problem for the GOP will be calibrating a response that addresses problems without tossing out ideas that were attractive to 49% of the electorate.

    OK, I lied, finally for sure this time. A sincere request: consider that your political opponents are not generally the villains you are portraying. We as a country are likely to face a pretty rough patch of both domestic and international challenges. I think both sides will need to find common ground, and a message of “Suck it Wingnuts” will come back to haunt you (and us all). Explore magnanimity in victory.

  40. Except that the “extremist position” on the left is the one held by the majority of Americans, who feel that it’s far more immoral for politicians to attempt to legally enforce their religious beliefs on everyone else.
    I don’t think you’ll find majority support for partial birth abortion. It’s possible to be non-religious and be against very late term abortions. That would be a non-extremist position, which neither party holds.

  41. Christopher is completely right. They aren’t going to change because of a 48%-50% election. Why should they? Did the Dems shift after the 51%-44% midterms? They did not.

    What I’d actually like to see is Obama’s plan for dealing with the fiscal cliff. No, “blame it on the GOP” isn’t a plan. It’s an excuse. The exact same excuse that they’re using, oddly enough.

    Now, one can make out a rational case for high taxes/extensive government services, or low taxes/minimal government services, and of course there are many who appear to believe that we can have low taxes and extensive services — wishful thinking, but that’s at least understandable. If there is a massive groundswell of people out there who demand service cuts AND higher taxes, however, it’s somehow escaped my attention.

    No hurry… there’s just oodles of time before January 1.

  42. Adam K, you are articulating an extremist position that the democratic party does not hold. Roe v. Wade and PP v. Casey addressed your “fully-grown, viable, baby inside you that’s about to pop out in a few hours”, allowing states to limit abortion past viability (well before the “few hours” you posit). No one in the mainstream Democratic party is seriously trying to widen abortion rights past these limits at this point. Instead, the party’s position has been to uphold the rights these cases articulated, in the face of the Republican party’s constant attacks on them.

    Yes, there are definitely members of the party (and of independent parties) who believe that even post-viability decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, instead of a woman, her doctor, and their legislators, but they haven’t written it into the platform. The platform explicitly supports Roe v. Wade, viability limitations and all.

  43. they only lost by 2 million votes nationwide. That isn’t enough to say someones brand is broken. Americans get tired of seeing the same party in power after a while. So they will win future elections and they don’t have to become democrats to do it.

    Parties change and morph over time. The Republicans used to be isolationists before World War 2, now they are hawks. As late as the 1970s Republicans were talking about all the Americans who died in Democratic Wars (World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Vietnam). The party name is just a name and issues change.

    This is like arguing that democrats were done in 2000 when Bush won and Republicans had both sides of the house. People need to remember that in the 6th year of a presidential term the party NOT in the white house typically picks up a vast number of seats in Congress. I think administrations get stale after a while and people get tired of hearing the same voices. So before you get too excited, you should be concerned about 2014 just on the basis of history.

    I also think that democrats should stop being giddy. We are at 7.9% unemployment. Do a google search of unemployment by year. You can get them back to 1900 pretty easily. This long and this high has not been seen since the 1930s. This ‘its Bush’s fault’ is a lame excuse. Fix it. Or get out.

  44. I like what John Scalzi wrote, and had short pithy first reactions to each major point.

    1. Recognize your brand is damaged. — But don’t launch “New Coke” now and hope that everyone will drink it by 2016.

    2. Deal with your base. — And your acid.

    3. Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things. — The millennials are the most tolerant generation that I’ve ever seen in the USA. Those who voted for Kerry, then Obama, and then Obama, are in the Democratic chaotic attractor now. It will take a HUGE perturbation to get them to switch to a GOP trajectory.

    4. Stop letting your media run you. — Rush Limbaugh will not be popular on Computer-Brain Interface infrastructure. Scared old white people are not early adopters of new technology.

    5. I’d add: when a batter strikes out, the batting coachdoesn’t day: next time go to the plate and do exactly the same thing, but swing harder.

  45. “I am a white, well-off, college-educated man married to a woman. And in my family and close circle of friends I have Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, gay, bisexual and trans people, religious, agnostic and atheist, able-bodied and disabled. You lose me when you classify any of them as the other. They’re not the other; they’re us.”

    This segement describes me as perfectly as it describes you… though we do have less hispanics around here (for some insane reason possibly linked to the fact that none live near here so it is a bit of a commute for them, which is fine) my friends and family are totally this mix. A very though provoking and well written post which deserves to be read by as many as possible. Have shared and approved of this post.

  46. Sorry. Correcting the typo in the final line:
    I like what John Scalzi wrote, and had short pithy first reactions to each major point.

    1. Recognize your brand is damaged. — But don’t launch “New Coke” now and hope that everyone will drink it by 2016.

    2. Deal with your base. — And your acid.

    3. Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things. — The millennials are the most tolerant generation that I’ve ever seen in the USA. Those who voted for Kerry, then Obama, and then Obama, are in the Democratic chaotic attractor now. It will take a HUGE perturbation to get them to switch to a GOP trajectory.

    4. Stop letting your media run you. — Rush Limbaugh will not be popular on Computer-Brain Interface infrastructure. Scared old white people are not early adopters of new technology.

    5. I’d add: when a batter strikes out, the batting coach doesn’t say: next time go to the plate and do exactly the same thing, but swing harder.

  47. @Drew: Who on the left is as bad as Bachmann or Santorum? Cynthia McKinney – hit a police officer and played the race card to get out of it. Hell, Joe Biden’s idiocy is legendary.

    @CrypticMirror: Both parties are only interested in preserving their power. Don’t pretend it is only the GOP – all of their votes on issues like immigration and Voter ID are predicated on if it will gain or lose them votes.

    For an easy example of Democrat power hunger, here in California they passed a bill that removed all third parties from the ballot for Congressional elections.

  48. @David McCune:

    Much of what you say in your post, I could totally get behind. I’d vote for a “We Can’t Afford It” party, but that party also has to talk about not being able to afford tax cuts, or farm subsidies, or military spending, as well as entitlements.

    As to the War on Women- if the GOP is going to be the party of smaller government, then be that.

    Racism- I agree with you- as the next wave comes up, this won’t be as big a thing. However, currently? Just peruse twitter, or facebook.

    Finally, as to the Right Wing Media- I go back to the Moynihan quote: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” It’s fine to articulate a biased position (on either side), but some facts are facts.

    I miss a rational, reasonable Republican party- I’m not in love with the Democrats, but certain positions of the GOP are anathema to me, and preclude me from ever voting that way until the GOP changes. I hope you all can work it out.

  49. David McCune:

    Gallup pre-Sandy to post-Sandy swung 4 points in Obama’s favor

    But Gallup was also one of the least accurate pollsters this cycle. The polls in general were already swinging Obama’s way before Sandy; they started around about the time of the second debate, and continued at more or less the same pace, unchanged, through the hurricane and its aftermath. Sandy didn’t hurt Obama, certainly, but it also didn’t make Romney lose.

    Christopher Browne:

    My party of yesteryear was the Progressive Conservatives, who were destroyed, back in 1993, as they fell from a majority government, swinging from 43% popularity, and 169 seats, to 16% popularity, and just two seats in government.

    I’m not sure that kind of shellacking is possible in our de facto two-party system. I don’t actually know U.S. history well enough to understand how exactly our few upheavals have occurred, where one or both of our two major parties died and got replaced by another one, but absent that kind of cataclysm, the GOP is going to go on winning more than a third of the vote, and probably closer to half. (This xkcd comic is kind of fascinating for viewing those trends, although it takes a lot of patience and reading to really parse.)

  50. Someone wrote above that the GOP may be the Whigs. This could be. John said that the current GOP is “The Party of Not Obama.” Well, the Whigs were created as “The Party of Not Andrew Jackson,” and that didn’t work out particularly well for them.

  51. I don’t think you’ll find majority support for partial birth abortion. It’s possible to be non-religious and be against very late term abortions. That would be a non-extremist position, which neither party holds.

    Well, it depends; most ‘partial birth abortions’ performed tend to be because Something Has Gone Wrong in a wanted pregnancy: either the fetus is inviable outside the womb and the birth defects weren’t visible until later in the pregnancy, or the mother is ill enough that the pregnancy needs to end Now. Most people support these circumstances of abortions, which usually lead to some rather gruesome-looking methods of abortion and ones that happen later in the pregnancy than average.

    But most pro-choice people I know would rather abortions be easily available so women can get one early in their pregnancies if they choose. Hell, most pro-choice people, if given the choice, would rather contraceptives lower the unwanted pregnancy rate so that the abortion rate is lowered. (And support economic policies that they believe would make child-raising less of a path to poverty, so an unplanned pregnancy is less likely to be unwanted.)

    It’s not even a matter of ethics but of pragmatics: abortion is a medical procedure, and the longer you wait, the more expensive, uncomfortable, risky and generally complicated it gets. While I might think a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy whenever she wants*, it’s generally speaking less painful for everyone to have things done as promptly as possible.

    * Though, terminating a pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean abortion if the fetus is old enough to live outside the womb, so none of this ‘what’s the difference between a newborn and a fetus a day before being born?’ stuff. Just… it’s her womb in her body and she has the right to control what’s happening in it and what health risks she exposes herself to.

  52. On the other hand, I am a white, male, well-off, heterosexually-married, college educated fellow, which means according to these exit polls at least, I am the GOP “demographic” down to the last jot and tittle.

    Don’t educated people tend to vote Democrat? Traitor.

  53. The Whigs elected four Presidents and would likely have remained a major party if they hadn’t split over slavery (the anti-slavery wing became the Republican Party; Lincoln was a Whig at one time). “Not Andrew Jackson” worked out pretty well for them, actually. Just sayin’.

  54. Seriously, what’s the deal with Grover Norquist? Does this guy have copies of all the GOP sex tapes or something? I have never understood why or how an unelected troll from some second tier think tank manages to hold an entire political party by the nads. It’d be like if the Democratic establishment jumped at every whim Markos Moulitsas posted on Daily Kos (not saying Markos is a troll, just trying to think of a well-known Democratic activist who pulls as much water and failing).

  55. There were a few great successes Obama pulled off this cycle: 1) Convincing more gullible members of the public a GOP “War on Women” exists, when it is about as real as the War on Christmas

    Nope, firm majorities of the GOP supported getting rid of employer support for women’s health, including cancer screenings and non-contraceptive uses of hormonal birth control.

    and 2) That Romney wanted to cancel Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which won him the poor and elderly votes.

    Again, nope. The Ryan plans for all three would have made those programs all in name only, whether it’s through privatized accounts (SS), voucherization (Medicare), or severe loss of funding and block-granting (Medicaid).

    Sure, there’s a grain of truth to each (Akin and Murdoch both rightly lost… but in fair measure because they were disowned by the GOP for their idiotic remarks), but all the best lies are based in part on truth.

    Akin had the support of the official GOP funding arms, and Romney never dropped his endorsement of Mourdock.

  56. Both of these mean that lots of younger white people don’t want to have anything to do with you either, because — again, surprise! — many of the people who they love and grew up with in this browner and more tolerant nation are the folks you spend a lot of time railing against, in code or just straight up. And that’s bullshit… They’re not the other; they’re us.


    If the Republicans hope to make any gains with Millenials (I don’t know, maybe they’ve given up hope on the youth vote), this needs to be addressed. I think that many young voters can relate to what the Republican Party is advocating when it comes to financial policy, but the stances on social issues scare them away. Job creation, small businesses – all good things… but if my gay cousin is not afforded the same standard of life I am simply because of whom he loves, I’m not willing to take a chance with that platform. Our economy is a mess and I think either party has the opportunity to change things for the better. But with the financial side of things a seeming toss-up, people my age will look to social issues to determine their vote. Sure, the economy is the most important issue – but with that a wash, what else matters to us?


    (Disclaimer: single white female, early 20s, voted for Obama both times.)

  57. @ gary W –

    Speaking of which, has this video crossed your radar screen yet, in which Bill O’Reilly decodes the election for you? The white establishment is in the minority now, and the brown folks and women are voting for Obama “because he’ll give them stuff”. Stuff they apparently think they deserve, according to O’Reilly.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/nov/07/election-2012-bill-oreilly-white-establishment-minority-video

    So there it all is: brown people want stuff. Neither brown people nor women are evidently part of the establishment. Obama has bought them off. Alas Babylon!

    As a semi-well-off white god-fearing Democrat I weep for the political discourse in this country.

  58. Marie,

    Regarding the Sandy effect, I think it was a small but real boost for Obama. Gallup may have been externally inconsistent, but internally it changed as expected in response to other events (conventions, the debates, etc). In a very tight election, would a “small but real boost’ be determinative? Truth is we’ll never know.

  59. While I don’t want anyone to have a say over a woman’s body but that woman, I don’t want tax dollars to pay for elective abortions

    This hasn’t been the case since the Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976. Anyone who’s telling you otherwise is lying.

    I want responsible fiscal policies

    Over the last several decades, the majority of fiscal growth has come under Democrats.

    I support the military

    I don’t know what this means, seeing as how the level of military funding hasn’t fallen under Obama.

  60. I’m a fiscal conservative, who is socially liberal. I would like a mainstream party to think a little like I do. Maybe I’m deluded, but I think there are a lot more people like me out there who would like a party that generally fits that description. I think there is an opportunity for the GOP to go there.

  61. @David McCune, I would dearly love to find common ground, but after eight years of Republicans proclaiming a “Bush Mandate,” then the 2010 House “Mandate,” and now the 2012 House “Mandate” it appears to me that the only common ground the elected officials of the Republican Party are willing to give is the ground they stake out.

    I am not saying this as a Democrat, because I am not a Democrat. I don’t even consider myself a liberal (though it seems the definition for “Liberal” in the US has shifted right pretty significantly, and apparently others do… a far cry from college, when my friends considered me “the conservative one.”) But the 2000’s weren’t just about Republicans going on a spending spree (which they did, and it wasn’t just George Bush: he had a Senate and a House that enthusiastically adopted that behavior). It’s also that any opposing viewpoints were SHOUTED DOWN, and the people who dared raise them were THREATENED. I was accused of being un-American and TRAITOROUS for questioning the Iraq War–both directly, by Republicans I knew, and indirectly by the officially recognized spokespeople of the Republican Party. Not only was that not fun, it was also damned insulting.

    I’m someone who, like Mr. Scalzi, was perfectly willing to vote Republican when I thought it appropriate–and I had, on occasion, found it appropriate and preferable to the alternatives. I voted for George Allen for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, because he was clearly a superior candidate to his Democratic opponent. I might have considered voting for McCain in 2000 had he won the Republican nomination, though I am informed that at the time he was not considered a “True Republican” so perhaps that doesn’t count. The thing is, right now I can’t do it–even if I liked and admired a Republican candidate, I could not vote for him or her on a national level–because I have no faith that the Republican Party has any room for me and my beliefs in any capacity whatsoever. I remember the labels I was given in the last decade far too well, and the rhetoric I hear nowadays isn’t better. It’s worse.

    The Republicans will have to do far more than preach fiscal responsibility if they are going to have a chance in hell of making me trust them again. The leadership in the last decade thought they could build a permanent supermajority and they gambled on scorched earth tactics to build it. They failed, and they’re paying for it now, and to be quite honest they deserve to pay more for it, because they haven’t realized it hasn’t worked.

    I’m reasonably close in line with Republican ideas when it comes to fiscal responsibility–though I have to confess, the behavior of the “invisible hand” in the ’00’s is forcing me to re-examine and question a number of my opinions concerning the free market–but I see, at the moment, no way to divorce those beliefs from the social beliefs and the antagonism associated with those beliefs. Bachmann demanding an investigation of an aide on the grounds that he’s a Muslim? Calling Obama’s health care policy socialist when it’s most controversial piece was lifted wholesale from a position paper created by a conservative think tank in the 80s? The Republicans have to prove to me, personally, that they’re willing to have an actual, honest-to-God discussion before I’ll even consider it.

    And I don’t mean you specifically. You seem wholly reasonable. The problem is, David, you don’t represent the Republican Party today. You may look around the Republican Party and see reasonable people, but that leads me to think you’ve never had the knives brought out on you. I have, and I remember those cuts. Just because they’ve healed doesn’t mean I have any interest, whatsoever, in feeling them again.

  62. @BillK, the “War on Christmas” is anti-Semitic dogwhistling from a conservative TV pundit lying about the reasons private business wish customers a happy holiday season. The “War on Women” refers to an actual pattern and practice of legislative positions and actions to restrict women’s control of their bodies and ability to enforce the right to equal pay, reinforced by GOP lawmakers and candidates making some extremely unfortunate remarks.

    Now, you could certainly take issue with the phrase “War on Women” as inflammatory or its implication that Republicans hate women, but you know, some of us were paying attention last election season and “who are you gonna believe, me or your lying liberal eyes” is in persuasive.

  63. women deciding what to do with their own wombs

    I don’t think anyone cares to stop women from deciding what to do with their own wombs. It’s what they do with the little person inside their womb that’s the problem.

  64. What I’d actually like to see is Obama’s plan for dealing with the fiscal cliff. No, “blame it on the GOP” isn’t a plan. It’s an excuse. The exact same excuse that they’re using, oddly enough.
    Huh? The sequestration was agreed to by both parties. The only ones backing out of it are Republicans.

    Who on the left is as bad as Bachmann or Santorum? Cynthia McKinney – hit a police officer and played the race card to get out of it.

    Cynthia McKinney has not held elected office for 6 years.

    Hell, Joe Biden’s idiocy is legendary.

    Not outside of the right-wing blogosphere.

    For an easy example of Democrat power hunger, here in California they passed a bill that removed all third parties from the ballot for Congressional elections.

    I assume you’re talking about Prop 14, which was authored by the Republican Lt Governor, passed by a non-supermajority Democratic legislature, backed by the Republican Governor, and then put to a vote by the citizens where it was approved. So, not at all what you describe.

  65. @DavidMcCune –

    2) Trust me, the “no abortion in cases of rape and incest” wing of the GOP is pretty small

    — yet that plank is nonetheless in the official platform of the party. This is a problem for the party.

  66. I’m spending too much time here today, but as to the racism thing, let me remind you of the nice lady at a Romney speech at the American Legion: “I just don’t like him. Can’t stand to look at him. I don’t like his wife — she’s far from the First Lady. It’s about time we get a First Lady in there who acts like a First Lady and looks like a First Lady.” Looks like a First Lady? In what way did Ms. Obama not look like a First Lady other than the color of her skin?

    And, frankly, I find it difficult to listen to the Birther movement types without wondering about their motivation. At least in 2008 John McCain tried to squash that line of BS. Haven’t seen any real backing away from it on the Repub side this time out. If it talks like a duck, etc. etc.

    cf also my post at 3:33 about the O’reilly video. Can’t get more race-based analysis than that.

    Note that I’m not saying the top of the ticket was racist. It’s just hard to hear stuff like this and not see the party as a whole as terminally infected with this type of rhetoric.

  67. I don’t think anyone cares to stop women from deciding what to do with their own wombs. It’s what they do with the little person inside their womb that’s the problem.

    I don’t think women like the idea of being held hostage to a [fetus/baby/unborn], either. Both beings share the same space; I feel a little antsy when I hear about one or the other having absolute authority. The “no abortions” stance is just as abhorrent to me as “abort all pregnancies.” Obviously there is middle ground here somewhere. The general Republican platform needs to be a little less fringe when it comes to this one.

  68. @Marcos, You appear to be incorrect.

    I just serched the GOP platform for “abortion”, “rape” and “incest”. The party platform is that there should be no government funding for abortion (rape and incest not mentioned). The only mention of rape is with respect to punishing criminals, and there is no mention of incest.

  69. ““Seriously, guys: What does the GOP actually want to be the party of?””

    It wants to be the party of the Global Plutocracy. All of whom have far more in common with each other than they do with the rest of us. Their kids get the best schools, and the best (maybe only) positions in law, religion, finance, etc. They live world parallel to the rest of us, but not connected in any way — very much as did the European ruling classes in the long summer after the Napoleonic era, which the reform and revolutionary movements of the 1840’s failed to displace, and which supposedly WWI did displace and impoverish. Except this current plutocracy is really international and it is much larger, and even more powerful and wealthy than the one of the 19th century.

    Love, C.

  70. @Steve: as Scalzi pointed out recently, the womb in question is part of the woman’s body. You may argue other factors outweigh the woman’s control of her body in some circumstances – that’s exactly what Roe v. Wade holds, after all – but you’re still taking away that control. And, in this election cycle, GOP candidates argued for doing so for really indefensible reasons.

    @Keith Edwards, I believe he appeals to a certain extremely small yet extremely wealthy wing of the party.

  71. @David McCune: You typed : “Our message is either not getting through mainstream media filters or it is getting stuck in right-wing informational ghettos.”

    Is it possible that your message IS getting through, and only 48% of Americans approve of it? Because I think that’s the case with a whole lot of folks. And I think that’s something you (as in the GOP) may want to consider.

  72. Keri,

    Speaking only for myself, I’d love to have them. Puerto Rico is no slam dunk blue state, as they had a Republican governor until this election (and he lost in a close contest this time). Beyond that, I would view it as a sign of national health to be adding states. We’ve been too comfortable with 50 (I blame round numbers)..

  73. @Shemp, i think that the versions of the Republican vision that many in the country think they are familiar with are distorted (see @Markos, above). I don’t try to say that there are not problems with the message, or that all would agree with it, if only it were clearer. I do think message clarity would have helped in what was a very close election.

    But part of what I wrote makes your point. If the GOP perceives a mix of distortion (on the one hand) and echo chamber fedback (on the other), it will not be a willing to recalibrate that message.

  74. Brand and popular spread, consider this — quoting my spouse here:

    Even with the flood of dark money, this presidential election shouldn’t have been that close. It is of course disturbing that so many people would vote for the worst — from every possible angle — major-party presidential candidate in living memory. Chalk it up to old-school racism? White, male, old, red state: the most striking thing about the vote totals for me, even beyond the 19-point gender gap, is that in both red and blue states, the point spread was so wide. We are a sharply divided country, not that we didn’t already know that: the 50-to-48 total national popular vote obscures the fact that in the individual states, double-digit point spreads were common. In many red states, Romney was more than ten points ahead — in Wyoming, 41 points (69.3% to 28.0%). Double-digit spreads were less common in blue states, but in New York, it was 62.7% versus 35.9%. In California, 59.2% to 38.5%.

    In this chart from daily kos, we see that under 30s voted 60% for O, and 30-somethings voted 55% for him. R. only carried over-50’s.

    Love, C.

  75. @David McCune:

    “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

    The “cannot be infringed” part is where exceptions would go, if the party had intended anything other than a blanket ban.

    This is not a distortion. This is the part of the platform that Republican lawmakers pointed to when asked about exceptions. It may not be the political belief of all Republicans, but it’s right there in the party platform.

  76. I’m a fiscal conservative, who is socially liberal. I would like a mainstream party to think a little like I do. Maybe I’m deluded, but I think there are a lot more people like me out there who would like a party that generally fits that description. I think there is an opportunity for the GOP to go there.
    Alas Johnson, who was a two-term Republican governor was only allowed in a couple of debates and was then driven from the field, and only then ended up as the Libertarian candidate. I would have enormously preferred Johnson, but I don’t see how to get someone like him through the primary season.

    While it is true that there are a number of racist Republicans, I think that the party as a whole would be happier to have browner folk in its membership, but for that to happen you need browner folk to be interested in joining. There are plenty of Hispanics of Cuban extraction in the party.

  77. I don’t think women like the idea of being held hostage to a [fetus/baby/unborn], either. Both beings share the same space; I feel a little antsy when I hear about one or the other having absolute authority. The “no abortions” stance is just as abhorrent to me as “abort all pregnancies.” Obviously there is middle ground here somewhere. The general Republican platform needs to be a little less fringe when it comes to this one.

    No, there really is no middle ground here, there are no “both sides” to this issue. Women have a right to control their bodies or they don’t, no grey area involved. Nobody likes abortions noone gets them for fun. The scare tactics of mothers killing babies hours before they would be born is laughable and anyone who even mentions it in a discussion can henceforth be ignored. Honest people who wish to reduce abortions will promote birth control and equal access to healthcare. Honest people who care about children would support social safety nets that actually help children.

  78. Sorry, I get sidetracked easily =(

    On topic, the election was not a “close thing” and whats worse for republicans is the gap will be widening year after year. I know the vote was 50% 49% for the popular vote that is not as close as it looks. Especially when you consider who most of the non voters are.

  79. Sigh,

    I did not find that passage with my word search of the platform, and I agree that your reading seems reasonable. I don’t think it would kill anyone in the GOP platform committee to add “except in cases of grave threat to the life, health, or wellbeing of the mother”.

  80. Adam K wrote: If you have a fully-grown, viable, baby inside you that’s about to pop out in a few hours, then that’s not the same as a microscopic clump of cells and there is surely some kind of moral issue about whether that baby lives or dies. If it’s biologically human, then it’s human, whether inside or out.

    At the point of pregnancy you describe, a woman cannot obtain an abortion. Please, for the love of whatever deity you choose, let’s be intellectually honest. No woman is lying there in labor demanding an abortion.

    That said: I concur with what Mr. Scalzi wrote above. The GOP is going the way of the Whig party — for exactly the same reason. The Whigs latched on to the evangelical movement and it destroyed them.

  81. “The “no abortions” stance is just as abhorrent to me as “abort all pregnancies.””

    The only problem here is this little thing called false equivalency, and that legalized abortion != “abort all pregnancies.” Rather, legal abortion = women have the OPTION to abort a pregnancy should they CHOOSE to do so. There’s no compulsion by the state or federal government for them to do so, whereas if abortion isn’t a legal option, they’re de facto compelled to carry that pregnancy to term, whether they want to or not.

  82. A few people have pointed out that the close popular vote is an indication that the GOP brand is not damaged. To me, the close popular vote represents the opposite. The focus on the election was on the economy, and Romney should have dominated that issue. If Romney had given a solid plan for economic improvement and stuck with it, he should have won by 4 points or so.

    Instead, Romney had to perform political yoga to keep his base and still appeal to the general population. Romney’s vaugness on his plan might have been as much to keep it from his base as it was to keep it from the general population. I suspect that Romney is smart enough to know the things that need to be done, but his own party kept him from saying it out loud. In addition the other Republicans, Mourdock and Aikens especially, gave Obama the opportunity to change the subject.

  83. “Who on the left is as bad as Bachmann or Santorum?”

    Al Sharpton and Andre Carson? Boom! What do I win?

    On #3, I find it very very hard to believe that the Republicans could have run on any platform that could have changed Obama’s 95% draw on the black vote. How many black celebrities have stated over the last four years that they were voting for the black man?

    I read something interesting the other day, but I don’t know how to source it easily and I don’t have the time to verify it. Republicans elect minorities because they are the best person, Democrats elect minorities where they have no choice. Is there a minority democrat, besides the president, that was elected in a non-racially gerrymandered district?

    The Republican party needs to drop the Gay Marriage issue, it’s coming to votes by state, which is what I’m in favor of. As for abortion, you can’t stop it anyway, so shut your yap, or state your belief and then shut your yap, regardless of what you “mean” it sounds stupid, so stop.

    I don’t know when free birth control = women’s reproductive rights, but I’ll draw the line there. Unless someone from the D side wants to go ahead and say it’s eugenics and a cost saving measure. In which case see my abortion comment above.

    Equal pay for women, don’t see Obama fixing what has been buy most standards a 1-7% difference in pay. You can’t add up all the pay on one side and just flat compare it to the other. STEM makes a difference, taking time for family, a lot of high paying dangerous jobs are still male (Because apparently women don’t want to run a Crab Boat, or plant underwater explosives) Both the “dirtiest” and most dangerous job fields are dominated by men. I notice no one wants to see more female coal miners or ditch diggers, bet they’d make the same there. Oh, and if O is going to fix that, maybe he should start with his own staffers.

  84. David McCune:

    I think it is deliberately not searchable using the terms you described (abortion, rape, incest). I’ve read both party’s platforms more than a few times this election season, and I will admit that I had a lot of trouble parsing certain sections of each. I came to the conclusion that the adherence to certain turns of phrase is both to appeal to the party faithful (“human life amendment” = “personhood amendment”) and seem vague enough to appeal to outsiders who might be looking for buzzwords.

    That said, I don’t think it would kill anyone on the committee, or even a majority of party members, to add your phrase, above, but they deliberately chose to leave it out. And I think that’s what Mr. Scalzi’s points 2 and 3 address.

  85. Adam K wrote: If you have a fully-grown, viable, baby inside you that’s about to pop out in a few hours, then that’s not the same as a microscopic clump of cells and there is surely some kind of moral issue about whether that baby lives or dies. If it’s biologically human, then it’s human, whether inside or out.

    And if a woman’s going to have an abortion in cases of late-term pregnancies, it’s typically because something has gone horribly, terribly wrong and there’s no choice but to abort the pregnancy because the life of the mother is in jeopardy and the life of the fetus is likely already a foregone conclusion.

  86. @Melissa W
    RE: Do you think a strong third-party will come into play or gain more power if the Republican party fragments or fails to change?

    If so, after watching Rove, O’Reilly, and the people over at freerepublic last night, I propose we call them the Brown Pants Movement. Both as a nod to their ideological heritage and to the many many pairs of undies they ruined last night.

  87. Great analysis Scalzi. They will not listen. Now, pray, just pray that the GOP is true to form and say no to Obama. Then we get the fiscal cliff come January 1. I want that fiscal cliff to happen despite the pain it will cause. We need to endure the pain to get our fiscal house in order where when we spend a Federal dollar it is a federal tax receipt dollar, not a borrowed dollar. Democrats have, on occasion, run surplus budgets. We need some balanced, even surplus budgets, and I don’t mean using borrowed dollars to do the balancing. Come, fiscal cliff, come. Be a great President, Obama, preside over the fiscal cliff and get our fiscal house in order. Do you thing, GOP, say not to Obama from now to New Year’s Day.

  88. The GOP must decide if it can pick up more voters by abandoning social issues than it would lose. I think they would pick up more – it seems clear that more people vote against their stance than vote vote for it, but maybe the latter give more time/money? – and hopefully with the failure of the Tea Party to get people elected and raise money, they will too. If they don’t then they will slowly devolve to a state and local party.

    To those saying “it was Sandy!”, I think you’re forgetting the GOP candidate said he wanted to privatize FEMA before that storm hit, and didn’t pay attention to what the affected people were saying about FEMA and its response. Particularly when compared to Hurricane Katrina. I wonder who those people voted for?

    To those saying “it was only 2M votes!”, I invite you to look at the electoral map again. The GOP turned out their base very well in the states where they hold a hammerlock on the electoral votes, and lost badly. That base gets smaller every year. If they don’t reach beyond their base, they’ll keep losing.

    A GOP which took no stance on social issues but a hard line on government spending (everything – guns and butter, teachers and taxes, etc.) would attract voters like me. I would like more chances to vote for a candidate instead of against one.

  89. The only problem here is this little thing called false equivalency, and that legalized abortion != “abort all pregnancies.”

    Believe me, I’m with you on this issue. I wasn’t trying to equate the abortion of all pregnanies to legalized abortion. My apologies if that is how it came off. I was equating that radical stance to a similarly radical stance that there should be no abortions whatsoever (no exceptions).

    My point (relevant to the original post) being, right now on social issues the Republican leadership has chosen to embrace the more radical faction of their party, to the point of putting in their platform the part @Sigh quoted – no exceptions no matter the circumstances. It’s the hard right “NO” that is alienating the part of the country who sees these issues on a sliding scale rather than absolute black or white. Plenty of conservatives agree that there should be exceptions, but the party line for now is still “NO.”

  90. As a matter of perspective, this morning (subject to minor revision), here are the votes that stood between Romney and a 281 EV victory:
    Virginia: 107,339
    Ohio: 100,763
    Florida: 47,493
    Colorado: 111,094
    Nevada: 66,379
    Total: 433,068

  91. And here are the votes that Al Gore needed to win an Electoral College victory:
    Florida: 538.

    Total: 538.

  92. I’d like to add one thing. While they’re telling Rush to fuck off, they need to tell Trump, as well. His goal is not to help the GOP. His goal is to create financial turmoil because, as the guy who holds the wealth, a big economic mess is a good market to buy stuff up.

  93. Genufett: refusing to withdraw endorsement of a guy who claimed that children of rape were “gifts”

    Adam: Every child is a gift. Aren’t they?

    Please refer back to #1: Recognize your brand is damaged.

    Seriously damaged.

    Adam: the GOP is racist.

    Ding! Ding!

    If that were true, it would not be fixable.

    Do they still have racist segregation and a lack of women’s suffrage where you live and it can never be fixed? Maybe you should move to the United States. Racism and sexism can be changed here. One thing we figured out is that the first step in getting rid of racism is recognizing that racism exists…

    Oh…

    I see the problem now….

  94. … yeah, but Nevada was won by Obama by six percent: It’s a low population state. So if it’s just the vote gap we’re talking about, give me 433,068 votes and I’ll give Obama North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Mississippi. 352 EV! ;-)

  95. John is there any chance you could whip up a similair “what to do next time” for the democratic party?
    I’d quite like to see your take on that.

  96. Last night on ABC, George Will in reference to young people who vote for gay marriage said, “Young people do not understand the issue”. I guess I do not understand the issue

  97. “I am a white, well-off, college-educated man married to a woman. And in my family and close circle of friends I have Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, gay, bisexual and trans people, religious, agnostic and atheist, able-bodied and disabled. You lose me when you classify any of them as the other. They’re not the other; they’re us.”

    As those damn young kids on the internets keep saying, when they’re not on my lawn, “this.”

  98. …No, I’m sure I do understand the issue. And that’s why I will always vote in favor of marriage equality.

  99. Quoth Gary Willis: We need to endure the pain to get our fiscal house in order where when we spend a Federal dollar it is a federal tax receipt dollar, not a borrowed dollar. Democrats have, on occasion, run surplus budgets. We need some balanced, even surplus budgets…

    No, we don’t. Not now. When the economy is growing at 4% p.a. and interest rates are back up around 5% on 10-year T-notes, then we can run a surplus. (Like the last Democratic administration did.) When demand-side stimulation is needed to get growth back up to long-term historical averages and investors are paying the government to borrow money from them, then a deficit is a good thing.

  100. @Christopher

    Agree that “perspective” cuts both ways regarding the votes seperating Romney from victory. the EC is a mandate magnifier. The point is that the GOP has a job to do to win nationally, but it is not insurmountable. A few less rape comments here, a senate candidate with some vetting there, and it could have been Republicans controling all three branches of government the Democrats going through seppuku.

  101. BillyBob/Jeff: I’ve just started mentally replacing “do not understand the issue” with “do not agree with me.” I find myself nodding in agreement with pundits a whole lot more often. “Mr. Will, you’re right! Young people do not agree with you! Neither do a bunch of not-so-young people! Well recognized!

  102. RE: ” look forward to years and years of Democratic presidents.”, I have enough respect for the judgment that shines out of your blog from time to time to hope and assume you do not really mean that. As someone who sported a proud RINO button for much of the fall (and voted mostly for Democrats), I fear you are correct and mourn the idea of a one-party country. I live in Maryland, which is essentially a one-party state, and I can assure you that it does not produce good government. We need two strong parties where moderates of either stripe have a chance to get nominated and, often, elected, and where the elected officials work together to solve problems instead of concentrating on paying back the interest groups that got them elected or on making the majority party look bad.
    My gut feel is that you are correct in that the Republican party is not going to clean up its act and we need a new party for the fiscally conservative socially liberal that make up a large part of the electorate. Given the cost of elections these days, I do not think that is very likely.

  103. Curious: John is there any chance you could whip up a similair “what to do next time” for the democratic party? I’d quite like to see your take on that.

    Did the Dems lose?

  104. Sorry David McCune, those numbers are meaningless unless presented as percentages.

    VIrginia Obama +3%
    Ohio +2%
    Florida – >1% – very close, but less than 2000….
    Colorado +4%
    Nevada +6%

    Nationally, Obama +2%… given 2000 and 2004 this wasn’t close. Not remotely.

  105. Daveon,

    Whether an election that could have had a different victor if ~ 1 in 50 people in 4 states switched their votes counts as “close” is not my point. My point is that I think the GOP could take much of John’s advice without a wholesale rebuilding from the ground up.

  106. Woodman asked: Is there a minority democrat, besides the president, that was elected in a non-racially gerrymandered district?

    Yep. Rep. Mike Honda — just to name one. You’re welcome.

  107. Jon Huntsman, we hardly knew ye.

    Seriously. He was terrific. But the Tea Party hated him, so he couldn’t make it through the primaries. Bad for the R’s because a lot of D’s would have voted for him.

    It’s high time Puerto Rico became a state. Hola, amigos.

    Dear non-hetero humans: I wish you many years of publicly acknowledging your love.

  108. Daveon: exactly. Last time Obama won 52/46. This time he won 50/48 (you’ve given the Electoral College figures above). If anyone thinks the GOP is going to see that as an OMG WE MUST DRASTICALLY REMAKE THE PARTY mandate (particularly given the drubbing the Dems took in the last midterm) I’d like some of what they’re drinking or smoking. It’s not happening, folks.

    Gary Willis: maybe so, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in office (for either party) when Joe Low Tax Bracket sees his payroll taxes jump 50% in January, and that Grandma, who already had a hard time finding a doctor who took Medicare, now can’t find one at all.

    Here’s what we’re looking at: http://money.cnn.com/2012/08/06/news/economy/fiscal-cliff/index.htm?iid=EL

  109. @ Lurkertype: Agreed. I probably wouldn’t have voted for Huntsman in this election, because President Obama has earned my re-election vote over the past four years (I even prefer drone warfare over the alternative, but I come from a military family.) In another match up, I might have voted for him. He’s only 52, so if he’s up in 2016, I may vote for him, then.

  110. fiona64: “The Whigs latched on to the evangelical movement and it destroyed them.”

    No, they split into pro- and anti-slavery wings. There were other issues but that was the big one.

    The anti-slavery wing became the Republican Party.

  111. If anyone thinks the GOP is going to see that as an OMG WE MUST DRASTICALLY REMAKE THE PARTY mandate (particularly given the drubbing the Dems took in the last midterm) I’d like some of what they’re drinking or smoking. It’s not happening, folks.

    So, the GOP don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about Todd ‘legitimate rape’ Aiken losing a race that on paper should never have been competitive? Or Tea Party darling Scott Brown being given the boot? I’m sure Democrats would heartily concur.

  112. Ironically, our dysfunctional politics are probably made moreso by the democratic (small “d”) nature of discourse that is enabled by the internet. We no longer have to engage in dialog with those who disagree with us. Instead, we just log in to the blogs written by kindred spirits. Then we write our own blogs that are also read (largely) by folks who agree with us. We get a tremendous level of self-affirmation this way. As a result, opinions become more and more deeply entrenched, and there is little incentive to add new information to our data set.

  113. cranapia: How about responding to what I actually said, not to some cartoon parody of it?

    The Dems won. The vaginas can run wild and free! (which I’m perfectly okay with, let me add).

    Now maybe the Dems can worry their pretty little heads about the fiscal cliff, and unemployment, and the Middle East, if they could take just a moment of their free time away from slagging off the other party. Those of us who don’t belong to either party would appreciate it. Thanks.

  114. FWIW, I don’t expect the GOP to alter its position on abortion in the slightest. I do expect them to become much more careful about what they say to reporters. So, there’s one change.

  115. Ironically, our dysfunctional politics are probably made moreso by the democratic (small “d”) nature of discourse that is enabled by the internet. We no longer have to engage in dialog with those who disagree with us. Instead, we just log in to the blogs written by kindred spirits. Then we write our own blogs that are also read (largely) by folks who agree with us. We get a tremendous level of self-affirmation this way. As a result, opinions become more and more deeply entrenched, and there is little incentive to add new information to our data set.

    I used to worry about this, but honestly its not really true, the best threads are ones with people who disagree, the very best threads are ones where both sides have valid arguments. If you look on the internet the most popular places are not echo chambers, rather they are the places of controversy.

    You may retort by saying no ones opinion is really changed reading those sites, but they are, not all at once but over time people assimilate data. Opinions change, people can and do learn even the most intractable. I know my opinions have changed drastically in large part due to sites like this.

  116. @cranapia

    MA was always going to be a tough one for Republicans to hold. To me, Elizabeth Warren seemed to be a flawed candidate, but I don’t pretend to understand MA voters. i would of course have preferred Brown to keep his seat, but in the end, losing the MA Senate seat will cause about as much recalibration for Republicans now as Mark Begich’s losing the AK Senate seat he won when Ted Stevens imploded will cause Democrats in 2014 – little to none.

    MO, on the other hand, was an own-goal of stupendous proportion. Inexcusable. However, I think fix, vetting candidates for their views on rape and abortion, won’t require a wholesale remake of the GOP.

    I hope for and expect a more fiscally focused, younger, and more ethnically diverse Republican Party in the years ahead. Frankly, you should, too, I don’t think one-party rule would be anyone’s idea of good governance.

  117. While they’re telling Rush to fuck off, they need to tell Trump, as well.

    I find it difficult to believe that Donald Trump is secretly petting a white Persian cat. Though if they showed him only from the neck down that might be OK. I’m more inclined to believe that Trump would rather trade wealth for fame than use fame to acquire wealth.

  118. @David: Right. I don’t think anyone seriously expected the Kennedy family’s hereditary Senate seat to remain in Republican hands for the long term. I was amazed that it went to Brown in the first place, actually.

  119. The Dems won. The vaginas can run wild and free! (which I’m perfectly okay with, let me add).

    You want to be taken seriously, Tony, that’s not a good way to do it. But, hey, I guess it’s just “vaginas” who have issues with the idea that a woman should just STFU and be forced to accept that being impregnated by your incestuous rapist is a wonderful gift from God, and anyway if you’d been “legitimately” raped in the first place your magic womb would have prevented conception.

    Great, I think it’s wonderful you and your privilege doesn’t have to give a rat’s arse about any of the above. But Missouri voters – a state Romney carried by nearly ten points, BTW – obviously begged to differ. And I make no apologies for saying, yeah, the GOP really needs to think about that. Hard.

  120. Adam K:

    The GOP as such isn’t racist, but it contains a significant enough percentage of people who have heavily racist attitudes that I could’ve made a killing this year if I’d cornered the market in dog whistles.

    And racism *is* fixable. It’s not a quick cure, and there can be unpredictable flare-ups, but the are lots of ways to successfully treat the condition. This is true of both institutions and individuals. I’ve seen examples of both, and I am an example of the latter.

  121. Tony Hurch, The problem is your not really “saying” anything, your implying things of course but you have made very few actual statements to argue with. Yes the fiscal cliff needs to be addressed, but grandma will find doctors just fine even if it happens and if the payroll tax goes back to what it was its not going to break anyone, everyone knew it was just temporary.

    The republicans probably have a few people smarter than you, and they know they have a problem. The economy is already recovering if nothing is done there will be 12 million new jobs regardless, simply on policies already put into place. The panic from the Republicans and the reason they spent 6 billion dollars on this election is because they know already recovery is happening and in a couple years there will be no denying who brought us back from 2009.

    Whats worse is that all the reasons they lost this year will still be there in 2016 and on top of that they wont have the “economy” to run on anymore, not to mention that the demographic will have shifted even farther away from them. Its also getting harder for them to just lie about anything and everything without getting called on it two seconds after it leaves their mouth. As little as 10 years ago candidates could just spout any nonsense they wanted and got away with it. Not so much anymore and its coming as a big shock to them, as can be seen by Romney’s reaction when he got called on it in the third debate by the moderator.

  122. Cranapia: I’m not going to have an argument about abortion with you. Sorry. Try someone else.
    notsont: “he problem is your not really “saying” anything, your implying things of course but you have made very few actual statements to argue with.”
    I’m not actually “arguing” about anything. I want to know what the Democrats are going to do about those issues. They won. Now what?

  123. uleaguehub: Ah, so we have a Naomi Klein acolyte! Count me as one who ‘s rather singularly unimpressed with her work. I’m wary of going off on too tangential a thread here, and yet…I didn’t live in 1980s Britain, but I have family that did. Anyone who suggests that Maggie Thatcher precipitated (let alone engineered) the Falkland Islands War deserves to be looked at askance (and this doesn’t even begin to address whether or not you’d rather be living in the UK in 1977 or 1992). Kinda reminds me of a friend of mine, a dyed-in-the-wool Truther who is somehow sufficiently self-assured to deride the Birther movement.

  124. I mean specifics, by the way. Stuff like “the grandmas will find doctors just fine” and “there will be 12 million new jobs” doesn’t exactly give me confidence, y’know? Especially not from the party that promised to cut the deficit in half by now. Some of us actually keep track of that stuff.

  125. “Accept the fact that the US is browner and more tolerant than you are, and that you need to become more of both of these things.”

    John (and his many supporters here):

    Let me ask you a question; and I will try to keep this as free of snark as possible.

    We all agree that the U.S. is changing; and it is likely to become more unfriendly to the GOP in its current iteration. But what sort of results do you anticipate from all this “diversity” (other than more diversity and entitlements for their own sake)?

    When we talk about the “browning” of the U.S., we are mostly talking about a.) increased immigration from Mexico, coupled with b.) higher Hispanic birth rates and c.) lower white birth rates. (African-American birth rates have held steady for quite some time.)

    Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, recently noted that 80% of today’s retirees are “white” while over half of todays young people are “diverse.” So okay, twenty years from now, we have a society that is far less Anglo-Saxon, and far more Mexican.

    I know this will offend some of you: But have any of you visited a Mexican barrio of late? Have you been to Mexico? It isn’t a pretty picture, and it’s never been a pretty picture. Hispanics in the U.S. have higher crime rates than whites, lower SAT scores, and higher rates of out-of-wedlock births and reliance on government services.

    I know, the same could be said about the Irish in the 19th century. Many of my relatives came from that unfortunate place; and many of them conformed to the stereotypes of the drunken, shiftless Irish paddies. However, the American culture of that time was predominantly Anglo-Saxon Protestant, and in an age before political correctness, very unambiguous about the need for immigrants to assimilate.

    Moreover, there was a large period in the 20th century (between the 1920s and 1964) when immigration was very restricted. During this time, the various European immigrants who came earlier were assimilated into the majority Anglo-Saxon culture, which was the most productive and vibrant in the world.

    Now, however, we seem to have a call to basically take as many people as Mexico can send, with a majority population that is in decline. At the same time, the politics of multiculturalism assert that immigrants do not have to assimilate. The government welfare state mandates that every immigrant (even the illegal ones) are entitled to taxpayer-funded healthcare, education, etc.

    Okay, I know it is horrible to even raise the notion that “Maybe the Mexicanization of the U.S. is not a completely good thing.” I recently visited Southern California, which is on the front lines of this, and I what I saw was lots of crime, and chaos. Illegal immigration has also been a major factor in California’s fiscal woes.

    So, leaving aside the charges of racism, etc., let me ask you: What sort of *results* do you expect from an America that will be more like Mexico in ten or twenty years, and less like the country we know now. It will be more diverse, yes. But what about its GDP, education levels, and crime statistics?

    I realize that these questions are unthinkable in this crowd, but I have endeavored to ask them as politely as possible.

  126. “You may retort by saying no ones opinion is really changed reading those sites, but they are, not all at once but over time people assimilate data.”
    Actually, I would retort by saying that the people who visit “the best sites” are not really the source of the problem. I suspect that conservatives who visit HuffPost only do so in order to glean fuel for their anger fire, and reverse is probably true of zealous lefties.

  127. @Amitava, I have serious issues with how Naomi extrapolates from her data, and agree that many of her specific cases are poorly-drawn arguments for her own thesis. Nevertheless, the fundamental thesis IS very sound. As long as the legal structure permits, and the sociocultural milieu rewards/reinforces the exploitation of anti-social investment and legislation with profit and power, we will continue to see such exploitation by those in a position to do so.

  128. @David McCune – the problem isn’t people switching votes, it’s the average swing required for those people to switch votes. This is a common factor of coverage of British Elections and interesting to see the only place I see it here is Sam Wang’s Princeton Election Consortium.

    The swing you needed required an additional swing of 2.5% (according to Sam Wang) – that’s actually a pretty significant amount, especially in a winner takes all system.

    Worse for the GOP, is that their turnout was pretty much maxed out. The comparison with 2010 and the democrats isn’t valid because the data shows that the democratic problem in 2010 was democrats staying home and not voting. This time a highly motivated GOP electorate turned out and STILL lost.

    There’s no electoral future if your only path to victory involved the opposition not bothering.

    And looking at the composition of the electorate, it doesn’t get any better moving forward.

  129. Cranapia: I’m not going to have an argument about abortion with you. Sorry. Try someone else.

    Fine. Please don’t talk to me about anything if the best you can’t do is patronizing drivel about marauding “vaginas.” Which might just go a non-trivial distance towards explaining why, as John put it in the OP, “All you have left is social issues, and — surprise! — on social issues, most people who are not you think you’re intolerant at best and racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted at worst.” Missouri isn’t exactly Marin County or Manhattan, and if you’re pissing off voters in a place this deeply red then I really do think the GOP has to get out of denial mode. Quickly.

  130. Todd. You really REALLY wrote that?

    And yes, I’ve been to Mexico… many times. It was lovely.

    I’ve been to Atlanta too, and it sucked.

    Poverty begets crime and a stupid drugs policy in the US makes it even worse.

  131. @David McCune: I forgot to mention that I don’t actually expect Begich to lose that seat. He’s (and others in his family) have been active in Alaska politics for a long time and he’s actually fairly popular.

  132. @John-

    Guys, again: Let’s not have another very general discussion on abortion, please. Keep it tied to the entry.

    No problem: I really have no appetite for a general discussion. But the original point–tied directly into the post you made–is that the abortion issue is not a losing issue for Republicans. A majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life and an overwhelming majority of Americans would like to see abortion more regulated than it is now, and more regulated than it could be as long as Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are in place. As this Gallup poll shows, those who want abortion legal in a few / no circumstances outnumber those who want it legal in most / all cases by 61% to 37%. (Note also: there’s no gender advantage for this issue either.)

    I realize that there’s confusion about exactly what the current law is and therefore what the definition of “pro-life” is, but there’s absolutely no evidence that abortion is a winning issue for Democrats. You’ve got outliers on both sides. We all know Akin’s idiot comments, and then the pro-choicers have Peter Singer, who thinks that eating meat is unethical but infanticide (up to about 6 months) is moral and should be legal. OK, there are crazy people everywhere. Details at 11. But the reality is that these fringes don’t represent either side, and that the country is evenly split, and has been trending slowly in a pro-life direction. All the abortion issue does is motivate the respective bases of the GOP and Democrats. That’s it.

    The larger issue I was trying to point out–and this goes back to what Genufett said–is that you can’t seriously believe that the Democratic party is Pareto-superior to the Republican party if nearly half the country supports the Republican Party. (Pareto-superior means that the Democrats are at least as good as the Republicans on every issue. You can vote Democrat instead of Republican and you get superior policies without any sacrifice.)

    It that were true, no amount of gerrymandering could possibly give the GOP a majority in the House. One of two things must be true. Either:
    A – The Democrats are truly Pareto superior, in which case the only explanation is that 48% of the country is authentically evil/stupid.
    B – The Democrats are better in some ways, but worse in others.

    Hence the danger in just saying “Gee, GOP, if you were more like me in every way you would do better!” If it were true, the GOP would not exist. If anything, the GOP and the Democratic Party are, in fact, quite similar to each other in accord with basic economic / political science theory. (See Hotelling’s Law, although the more accurate version is the dynamic model with market-entry, which Wikipedia doesn’t consider. Hmm… I should probably add that.)

    Before you offer advice to the GOP on how to improve (advice they obviously desperately need), it would make sense to first determine what their strengths are. It might be cute to say something like “being evil and maniacal”, but it says something pretty depressing about your faith in your fellow Americans if you sincerely believe all the GOP has to offer is fear and bigotry, and on that platform alone they attracted nearly 60 million votes.

  133. Actually, I would retort by saying that the people who visit “the best sites” are not really the source of the problem. I suspect that conservatives who visit HuffPost only do so in order to glean fuel for their anger fire, and reverse is probably true of zealous lefties.

    I wouldn’t visit the huffpo if you paid me in gold, same for wing nut daily. Those are not the sites I am talking about. its sites like this (like this) and there are thousands of them even tens of thousands. On all different topics from hunting to knitting to sci-fi authors. I visit maybe a few hundred sites politics and religion and social issues are discussed on almost all of them regardless of their main topic. With right wingers to communists (real ones) to people who’s political views I couldn’t even pretend to understand. People cross pollinate even the most insular groups. Its slow and often painful but things are not as bleak as they look.

  134. Tony Hursh

    Combining references to vaginas and pretty little heads in the same post guarantees that people with iqs into three figures will laugh at you.

    Of course, you may get off on people laughing at you, in which case, enjoy!

    Otherwise you could try engaging your brain and constructing an argument before your fingers hit the keys; that way you could hold a conversation with people who will engage in reasoned discussion even if they disagree with your core premises…

  135. @Todd, I’ll do you the courtesy of keeping the snark in check in return, and merely observe that by characterizing the demographic shift as predominantly related to “Mexicanization,” you’re ignoring a number of other important factors. Asian and Near Eastern immigration are rising quickly. And although you dismiss the African American birthrate with a nod as “steady,” when you combine that with the trending caucasian decline, the net result is still a higher percentage of African Americans.

    Finally, those Spanish-speaking, darker-complected individuals in the “barrios” are not by any means all “Mexican.” Cuban-Americans, Central Americans, and immigrants and descendents of immigrants from South American countries are all part of the mix. And don’t forget Puerto Rico- a whole new brown state, if the GOP doesn’t manage to obstruct it.

    And speaking as someone who lives in a culture shaped in many ways by non-Anglo-European immigrants (here in the Southwest such cultural enclaves exist still,) I’d have to say that I hope many aspects of this culture DO become assimilated as America continues to “brown.” There is a respect here for community well-being, care of the land and resources, and attention to spiritual and artistic expression that would not come amiss “back East.”

    Describing “Anglo-Saxon culture” as “the most productive and vibrant in the world” is a pretty nearsighted, emotional assumption. You want “vibrant?” I can think of dozens of cultures that are equal or more “vibrant.” “Productive” of what? Social isolation, anomie, global warming, degradation of the quality of life in all aspects except stuff… This isn’t necessarily a recommendation.

  136. @Daveon: That is an ideological response, not a reality-based one. Mexico’s crime rate now makes it more dangerous than Iraq by some estimates. The chaos in Mexico is one of the main factors that fuels illegal immigration.

    In the U.S. border states, much of this crime as also spilled over into the U.S.

    U.S. drug policy is a separate issue. But it is worth noting that Canada has managed just fine, “stupid drugs policy in the U.S.” notwithstanding.

    Try again…but step out of the PC straitjacket and actually think about your response this time.

  137. “I recently visited Southern California, which is on the front lines of this, and I what I saw was lots of crime, and chaos.”

    I’m not even going to touch the rest of that epic amount of sludge, because I’d need several showers to get off the stink, but as a resident of Southern California, I’m utterly confused at your depiction. I’d even go so far as to say I’m flabbergasted. Perhaps you have recently seen Escape from LA and are confusing it with reality?

  138. Daveon,

    I don’t agree that this election maxed out the GOP. For whatever reason, both Obama and Romney polled below the 2008 benchmarks. There are voters out there who did not show up. I’m not sure why, because the GOP electorate seemed very engaged. As for a 2.5% swing, well, that’s not far from the pre and post Sandy polling delta, so it does not strike me as insurmountable.

    I also think it is a mistake (and, frankly, insulting) to assume that African Americans and Hispanics will continue to support one party in unchanging proportions. The GOP will recalibrate their message and try again. If Obama presides over a Reagan-esque recovery, then the Democratic nominee will propably cruise to election. If there is a double dip recession, it will be a much harder sell.

  139. Oh, and @Todd, besides your comments being quite racist, you might want to think about who will be paying the Social Security taxes to support all those retirees. Hint: they’re the people you’re trying to throw out.

    Oh, and during the last period of extremely high immigration (the 1880s to 1900), the United States grew to be the largest economy in the world.

  140. Stevie: the “pretty little heads” bit was introduced by cranapia, not me.

    “Otherwise you could try engaging your brain and constructing an argument”

    I’ve already noted that I’m not “arguing” about anything. And that I’m not a member of the GOP. And that I’m perfectly okay with vaginal freedom, but not actually interested in discussing abortion.

    I repeat: other than that, great point.

  141. Todd:

    “So, leaving aside the charges of racism, etc.”

    i.e., “please ignore me the fact I’m engaging in racism here to ask a racist question.”

    Yeah, no.

    Todd, crime rates in California now are at historically low levels, so if you want to stupidly pin what crime you see on the Mexicans, you’re going to have to do better than that.

    Also, if you want to know what I expect from this diversity: My wife and child. My wife, you know, is of Mexican ancestry, which means so is my child. And so is the large portion of my immediate family here in Ohio (although they, like me, are originally from southern California, i.e., “that place you visited once”). Strangely enough, every single member of this Mexican family of mine who is not currently in school holds down a job, pays taxes and is a contributing member of society.

    Todd, please take your racist ass off this thread right now. In fact, take a week of so off from the site. I’m not in the mood to treat you well at the moment.

  142. Wow. Another great post.

    Already on Fox News, Krauthammer and Ingraham have scoffed at any suggestions that the Republican party has moved too far to the Right and needs to change to reach out to minorities. I think a few more Presidential election losses may force the GOP to change. Or go extinct like the Whigs.

    They need to give up their bigotry and find a way to be more inclusive. President Obama only won 39% of the White vote, but still won decisively. That should be a red flag to Republicans on their prospects for winning Presidential elections in the years to come as the country becomes Blacker and Browner.

  143. Dose of cold water on the “GOP IS DOOMED!!!” notion:

    Beginning today, pundits are going to offer a wide range of explanations for Obama’s victory. But I think the simplest and most obvious is that he won because the economy had improved just enough since 2008 to give him the edge. As I pointed out back in September, standard models of presidential election outcomes based primarily on economic variables predicted, on average, that Obama would get 50.2% of the popular vote. Although late West Coast results will increase this total slightly, it looks like he actually got about 50.4%. That’s a very close match.

    That’s law prof Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy. If you can explain the election so accurately based on a simple economic model… why all the obsession with the GOP’s brand? Cause everyone needs something to talk about, of course, and also because politics is basically an organized sport. (Sadly.)

    I mean, what this says is that if you take John Scalzi’s criticism seriously (their brand is broken, etc.) then you have to explain how on earth they managed to match a party-blind, economics-only model only despite their demonic predilections.

  144. John, in typical form consider nail hit. You offer sound advice, the more I read your blog the more I realize the GOP is not the party I want it to be. I keep hoping, but then they speak and I realize they are totally lost. Hopefully they do some soul searching.

  145. David: If I wanted more campaign promises I could have found them myself. Thanks, though.

    So, wait, you want to know what the Democrats will do but not by reading what the Democrats are saying they will do? I’m thoroughly confused.

  146. @David McCune
    I don’t agree that this election maxed out the GOP. For whatever reason, both Obama and Romney polled below the 2008 benchmarks. There are voters out there who did not show up. I’m not sure why

    Why did 2008 voters for the GOP not turn out in such numbers in 2012? Given the GOP’s reliance on elderly voters, I’m guessing it is due to a lot of them dying in the time between elections. Which is one of the problems highlighted. Democrat votes dropped because that is what happens with incumbents, people who had too high expectations, or just wanted to place a protest vote, the first time round either stay home or revert back to their original choice.

    Which makes it all the grimmer for the Republicans, since even if you figure in any dissatisfied Democrats or protest voters, they did lower still. Because their base is literally dying out due to old age. And it is going to keep on happening unless they do something brave. Republican turnout is maxed out; without massive change they will never be more popular than they are now, and they will continue to lose voters. Without massive internal change, 2016 will depend more on low Dem turnout than anything Republicans do themselves, assuming they can get their remaining base out at its maximum then-existing level. They are no longer the masters of their own chances.

  147. @David McCune: The GOP will recalibrate their message and try again. Sorry, but isn’t that a reversal of the position you’re taking up thread? My argument is yes, the GOP has to recalibrate it’s message for a wide range of voters including hispanics, african-americans, women and younger people.

    But just taking a glance over at the NRO it is SO not in a mindset to do that at the moment.

  148. @CRash (3:32pm) EXACTLY what I’ve been telling people all along. I actually believe in Republican political ideals (as opposed to their ideaological ones) – I wish Republicans did, too!

  149. OMG! Foxnews just said GOP thinks it needs to move more right! WTF!? John, your efforts are appreciated, but a complete waste of time :(

  150. David, either you’re not familiar with how the guff in party platforms generally plays out in the Real World, or you think that I’m not.

    Let’s try just one:

    Worst-case scenario (although a person upthread was advocating just this): Obama and the House both refuse to blink. We go over the fiscal cliff. Now what?

  151. Here’s an awkward question about crime rates (seeing as I’m here in California, where my neighbors have made it abundantly clear that they want to keep the option of killing prisoners, whatever the cost…)

    Oh yeah, the question: have crime rates really gone down, or have we merely transferred the crime to inside the prison system, where it doesn’t have to be recorded? For example, I’ve seen nasty comments that the “real” rape stats for the US (including those in prison among the unreported) mean that as many or more men get raped as women. Whether or not this is believable is one question. A bigger question is whether we’re actually making society as a true whole safer by putting some subsection of it in a gulag and letting them victimize each other, while the rest of us pretend they don’t exist.

    Since I’m in a bit of a cost-cutting mood, I have to ask whether it’s worth $50,000/person/year to put that condemned subsection away, or whether it’s cheaper to let more prisoners out (e.g. those convicted of marijuana possession), and let our outside crime rates rise slightly.

    The real point here is that our society does manipulate its crime statistics, and there is a big industry (the prison-industrial complex) and big unions (prison guards) who both benefit at public expense. In some cases this system does indeed saves human lives and families, and in some cases, it destroys human lives and families. From where I stand, it’s awfully hard to tell whether our current prison system is a net good or not. Personally, I suspect it isn’t.

    However, if we’re going to cut costs by letting people free, how much more crime are we willing to tolerate?

  152. Todd: I know this will offend some of you: But have any of you visited a Mexican barrio of late? Have you been to Mexico? It isn’t a pretty picture, and it’s never been a pretty picture. Hispanics in the U.S. have higher crime rates than whites, lower SAT scores, and higher rates of out-of-wedlock births and reliance on government services.

    Smells like racism, looks like racism, tastes like racism.

    Wonder what it could be….

    Tony Hursch: Those of us who don’t belong to either party would appreciate it. Thanks

    Ah. Should I go get my third-party bingo card? Center space is free.

  153. I also think it is a mistake (and, frankly, insulting) to assume that African Americans and Hispanics will continue to support one party in unchanging proportions.

    GIven the past policies of the parties and stated intentions of both, it’s rather insulting to think that they won’t.

    It will take YEARS of actions to reverse that support; blacks and Hispanics have memories and Republicans have a LOT of work to do to counteract those memories (frankly, more than four years worth). Actions speak louder than words–and action is something that’s apparently not happening.

  154. David: either you’re not familiar with how the guff in party platforms generally plays out in the real world, or you think I’m not.

    Let’s break it down a bit:

    Worst-case scenario (although someone upthread was advocating it): neither Obama nor the House blinks. We go over the fiscal cliff. Now what?

  155. Todd: “We all agree that the U.S. is changing; and it is likely to become more unfriendly to the GOP in its current iteration.”

    Your causal vector is pointing in the wrong direction. The basic issue is *not* that the US is likely to become more unfriendly to the GOP. The basic issue is that the GOP is generally unfriendly to what the US is becoming, demographically.

    “But what sort of results do you anticipate from all this “diversity” (other than more diversity and entitlements for their own sake)?”

    As far as I’m concerned, diversity for it’s own sake is pretty much the point. The perspective that immigrants in some golden past all dutifully learned English and otherwise became some sort of standard-issue Americans is grossly over-simplified. Just as much as immigrants and their descendants become Americans, so too does America become what immigrants bring with them. It has always worked that way. It has often been a rough process, but it’s always been worth it in the long run.

    I fully expect that if there’s ever any influx of *actual* aliens, most of them will end up in the US. And some of them will stick to their own little enclaves, and others will learn English and listen to the latest music and fall in love with burgers and Afro-French fusion cuisine and wear baseball caps (if they have the equivalent of a head). And some Americans will be suspicious and treat them like shit, and the rest of us will pick up alien whistle slang and get funky to their rhythm-flash jamming and start putting alien anchovies on our pizzas. (And put intersapient porn up on the intertubes.) Because that’s what Americans *do*.

  156. Daveon,

    Sorry, but I have tried to be consistent.

    Regarding John’s 4 suggestions to Republicans:
    1) Agree with need to reemphasize financial prudence
    2) Agree that there is a need to find a way to channel the base’s energy but avoid its excess
    3) Continue to grow a diverse next generation of governors, senators, and other viable minority candidates (Rubio, Sandoval, Martinez, Ted Cruz, Jindal, Haley, Mia Love, Condeleeza Rice etc)
    4) Agree that alternative media outlets are needed beyond FOX and Rush

    So, I do think change is needed, and I actually agree with the direction, if not the magnitude, of the changes John suggested, and I think it will broaden its appeal. I don’t think this represents a wholesale change of the GOP (it appears to me that perhaps you do, although i could be misinterpreting your comments), and I hope this is direction it goes in for 2014.

    There is a non-zero chance that the social conservatives and financial conservatives will fragment the party, but I think, given that it’s been less than 24 hours, some of this is necessary venting.

  157. @David… Michael Steele talked about Item 3 this morning. He correctly points out that this isn’t going to be dealt with by having a few poster children who happen to be the correct colour. Unless they’re saying something different it will not make a blind bit of difference.

    Having Marco Rubio leading a party that won’t deal with immigration reform, for example, won’t get the hispanic vote. Anymore than, say, having Bachman or Palin on the ticket would have women lining up to vote.

    The GOP has put itself in the place that the British Tories were in in 1997 and just lurching more and more to your base doesn’t work.

  158. @Bearpaw — that raises the question, will we be unable to define intersapient porn but will know it when we see it?

  159. Nathaniel: Before you offer advice to the GOP on how to improve (advice they obviously desperately need), it would make sense to first determine what their strengths are.

    What are the strengths of the Republican party which are not in some degree contained in the Democratic party?

    It might be cute to say something like “being evil and maniacal”,

    Well, I can’t think of any strength that the Republicans have a monopoly on, that isn’t to some degree reflected in the Democratic party as well. If you think the Republicans are the only ones with (insert strength here) and the Democrats don’t have that strength at all, how different is that from saying Republicans are “evil and maniacal”? So, then as far as strengths go, it seems only a matter of proportions.

    But if you want to compare weaknesses, well, that’s a different matter. The Republican party has been making a point to show everyone their biggest weakness: intolerance. racism. sexism. homophobia. islamophbia. xenophobia. and so on. A number of Republican politicans ran on intolerant policies. Democratic politicians in general ran on equality.

  160. “Should I go get my third-party bingo card?”

    I don’t actually belong to any party at present, although after reading up on them some more the Whigs are starting to sound pretty good (modulo some of the 19th Century-specific issues…scrap the prohibition thing, e.g.). A market economy with strong government investment in infrastructure and education, along with import tariffs (because we need to fix that China thing for reals) sounds pretty good.

  161. Daveon,

    It depends on what you mean by “get the Hispanic vote”. A majority? No time soon, More than 2012? Very possible.

    Obama did better with African Americans than Kerry, and I believe most of that difference was because of identity. Having credible candidates of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities will increase the chance of getting a conservative message to a larger number of Americans, which is part of what the GOP will need to do to succeed on a national level. It also opens up the possibility of bridging the policy divide, introducing changes that the GOP caucus might otherwise not accept. For example, a Sen Marco Rubio can promote the DREAM Act in ways that Sen Orrin Hatch can’t.

  162. General $AGREE with Scalzi’s post. The Volokh Conspiracy quote and others’ around here and around the net (and on Fox News) miss a point – elections are never purely about economic circumstances, though that can become an overwhelming factor. Economics may help the variable support and polling in the general election lead-up converge in one direction or the other. But voter trust issues are as much of an issue.

    Speaking as someone who’s voted for a lot of Republican presidents over the years, on Foreign Policy and on Finance / Economics grounds, this time around I could not vote for Romney on either of those grounds, and I’m not alone (though the number of educated independently thinking wonks is fairly small). As pointed out above, the massive upswing in Republican Party fringeist racism and nutbaggery was also a significant disincentive. In the long term, it’s party suicide to keep on this path, and that was predictable a decade ago plus. If the current party core doubles down, the little-l libertarian and fiscal conservative otherwise centrists are going to walk, split the party, form a new party along the lines of the California Conservative party I keep thinking about launching.

    There’s nothing dirty about thinking critically about minimizing the role of government financially or legally in our lives. That does not imply thinking Obama is a muslim terrorist from Kenya, that the banking crisis was a Democratic conspiracy, that there’s something wrong with all the immigrants we’ve had who failed to file paperwork prior to arrival, that Science is out to get us. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, and everyone commenting on Fox last night, can go take a flying leap, and a new party can stand up and say enough’s enough.

  163. David: either you’re not familiar with how the guff in party platforms generally plays out in the real world, or you think I’m not.

    Actually, I think that party platforms are pretty good statements about what the party would like to do, often interrupted by reality. Your casual dismissal of them is not my problem, or the Democrats’ problem, for that matter. We can’t control it if you simply don’t believe the party’s policy priorities.

    Worst-case scenario (although someone upthread was advocating it): neither Obama nor the House blinks. We go over the fiscal cliff. Now what?

    Wait, what? You wanted the Presidential candidates to lay out detailed hypotheticals of what they would do in specific situations? Okay: Obama would do the same thing as Romney. Watch the stock market drop and then work out a compromise with the House GOP. Since you’re all fired up on hypotheticals and Romney apparently provided the answers for you, what would he have done in case the fighting in Syria spilled over into Iraq/Jordan and other bordering countries?

  164. Just as much as immigrants and their descendants become Americans, so too does America become what immigrants bring with them. It has always worked that way. It has often been a rough process, but it’s always been worth it in the long run.

    The alien-whistle slang may be a fine addition to the American landscape. America is generally friendly to immigrants willing to drink the Kool-Aid because it’s the Kool-Aid that binds us more than genes, but you actually do have to drink the Kool-Aid.

  165. “Romney apparently provided the answers for you,”

    No, he didn’t, actually, so I didn’t vote for him either.

    So you expect Obama to compromise. I’m not quite as sanguine about that as you are, but okay.

  166. In a polite centered way: “I recently visited Southern California, which is on the front lines of this, and I what I saw was lots of crime, and chaos.” — my wife and I, both scientists and professional author/editors and with teaching experience in four nations, could live almost anywhere. We were methodical in making the decision. We chose to own a home and raise a family in Southern California.

    As to Mexico, my wife and son and I love to visit Mexico. I chose to teach middle school and high school in working class Mexican-American neighborhoods in Southern California. I loved that teaching, as the students brought actual family values, and a culture of honor into the classroom.

    Now, seriously, wouldn’t it be nice if every member of Congress had a passport (many do not) an visited other countries? No country is perfect, but can’t we all learn from each other?

  167. Hmm… my posts are disappearing. Scalzi, if I’m causing a problem just let me know.

    “Romney apparently provided the answers for you”

    No, he didn’t, actually, so I didn’t vote for him either.

    So you think Obama will compromise. I’m not quite as optimistic about that as you are, but okay.

  168. Tony Hursh:

    I’m not moderating your comments, no. Let me check my spam folder.

    Update: It seems like they landed in the spam folder for some reason. I’ve freed them. Sorry about that.

  169. Oh, and with respect to party platforms: the Republican Party has had abortion* in its platform since at least Reagan (maybe before). Some of those years it’s controlled Congress as well. It’s named numerous Supreme Court justices. Yet Roe v. Wade is still stare decisis. How is that?

    Party platforms are largely bullshit designed to fire up the base. Always have been, always will be. No one who’s followed politics at all believes they’re worth the electrons they’re printed on.

    *This is an EXAMPLE, mind you, not a sign that I’m now interested in an abortion argument. Since people continue to misread this: I am personally in favor of people doing anything they damned well please with their vaginas, wombs, or any other body part, jointly and severally, solo or in conjunction with other consenting adult(s) of any sex, gender, orientation, race, national origin, handicap, or other distinguishing category. I do have ethical problems with late-term abortions (other than to save a mother’s life or something of that nature) but not early ones. I realize that this position makes me anathema to both rabid Democrats and rabid Republicans, but it works for me. I’m not going to argue it or discuss it. I’ve seen and considered your arguments before. Trust me.

  170. Tony: either you’re not familiar with how the guff in party platforms generally plays out in the real world, or you think I’m not.

    So, you’re point is that words are meaningless and you want some action. i.e.

    Now maybe the Dems can worry their pretty little heads about the fiscal cliff, and unemployment, and the Middle East, if they could take just a moment of their free time away from slagging off the other party.

    You’re poitn is that Dems have been sitting around “slagging” the Republicans, but they haven’t been doing anything. You want them to get to work on the “fiscal cliff, and unemployment”.

    So you propose a hypothetical situation and ask a question: Worst-case scenario (although someone upthread was advocating it): neither Obama nor the House blinks. We go over the fiscal cliff. Now what?

    Dude. You’ve just rigged the contest so its impossible to satisfy you. You want actions, not words, because words is just “guff” that doesn’t play out in real life. And yet, you ask a hypothetical question that by virtue of being hypothetical can’t be answered in action and can only be answered in words. And if you don’t like the answer, you’ll just dismiss it as more “guff” and more “slagging”.

    WTF?

    How about this: How about you answer your own hypothetical question. You’re third party candidate of choice is in power. He and the House blinks. We go off the fiscal cliff. Now what?

    Whatever you say, I can simply dismiss as “guff”. You’re answer will be all talk. And likely, your answer will compare your guy favoriably to the other parties who drove us off the cliff, and I’ll be able to call you on “slagging” the other parties.

    I think you just won the 3-party bingo space that says “Third party candidates don’t lower themselves to politics like the main parties do”.

  171. First, I don’t have a “third party candidate of choice” because I don’t belong to a third party. However, if I did he or she wouldn’t have let things get to this stage in the first place.

    What he would not be doing: spending his time yelling at the other side(s) rather than actually working on the problem.

  172. Posted a more-detailed response to this on my own blog, but the short version: The GOP isn’t going to change anytime soon. Their base is too large, and has nowhere else to go.

    Years ago, I predicted that we were going to see the decline and fall of the GOP manifest in one of two ways:

    1. If GOP leadership cut the social-conservative bits and stuck to the economy, the social cons would cry foul, and run off and start their own parties (see: Tea Party.)

    or

    2. If GOP leadership clung to the social-conservative bits, thus alienating moderates, the moderates were going to jump ship, and abandon it to the social cons.

    Best as I can tell, #2 is what’s happening now. The Tea Party stuff was formed internally, and slowly took over until they couldn’t be ignored or just given lip service. Voila: Michele Bachmann, et. al. Romney is pretty much the last (theoretically) moderate candidate that they’ll ever manage, and he got there only by trying to scrub his past and make it look like he was on board with the God Squad.

    There are still some fingers-in-ears moderate holdouts, who want desperately for their party to return to Eisenhower, but most relatively sensible ones (see: Andrew Sullivan) have realized they’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and have bailed.

    What’s also helping (in addition to the demographic shift) is that the Dems are taking over on the one thing the GOP has had in their pocket: the economy. Aside from people who think get-rich-quick schemes represent sound economic policy, most are seeing that reinvesting in the consumer class is what really produces long-term, sustainable economic growth, not concentrating it at the top and expecting the ownership class to expand business (i.e. create jobs) in a demand vacuum.

    Only people who aren’t actually paying attention to the real numbers and the real studies done by real economists (and not the loonies at Cato) still believe that Dems are purely tax-and-spend and Republicans are fiscally prudent. And that’s to say nothing of their respective records on civil liberties.

    The GOP is the party of straight, white dudes who sincerely believe they’re entitled to disproportionate power. Said base is being outnumbered by the rest of us, but they’re still a large enough voting bloc that they have to be contended with. Unless some new party springs up to welcome them all and make them believe that their utopia is truly a possibility, they’re going to stick with the GOP. And since tthe GOP can’t get rid of that infestation, they’re going to slowly become more and more irrelvant as that bloc becomes a smaller and smaller chunk of the voting population.

  173. ” … there was a large period in the 20th century (between the 1920s and 1964) when immigration was very restricted. During this time, the various European immigrants who came earlier were assimilated into the majority Anglo-Saxon culture, which was the most productive and vibrant in the world.”

    Damn right. That’s why we had to have a Civil Rights movement to end Jim Crow, those laws and that legal system that allowed people of color to be abused and exploited as any sheriff and boss felt like. You probably recall how common lynching was in through the 1920’s, though it did slow down with the run-up to WWII. But we had a great outbreak of lynching in those years previous because of all those troops of color who served in WWI, and came home, thinking they too were U.S. citizens.

    Once we had the Voting Rights Act and so on — well, then, we had to open immigration so we could have new populations without rights so we can abuse and exploit them economically.

    Also — all those old white people retiring? Whose salaries are going to pay their social security and medicare benefits? Why those ‘brown’ people. Good frackin’ grief. And yes, I’ve spent time extensively in most of the Spanish speaking parts of the Americas (and I’ve learned Spanish), as well as the French and English speaking ones of the Caribbean. And these are the people with the strongest work ethic of anyone I know. They also believe in education. And they take care of their elderly as well as their little children in loving tender manner.

    What you said was just — well, ignorant.

  174. I’m constantly amazed by the comment, made by many Republicans, that Obama doesn’t compromise.

    Obama is so willing to compromise that during budget negotiations he was willing to put Medicare and Social Security on the table. The only thing the Republicans had to do in return is decouple the middle class tax cut and let the upper income tax cut expire.

    The Republicans wouldn’t take the deal, because the Tea Party wouldn’t let support it. If they had, I guarantee you Obama would not have been elected to a second term.

  175. Also, I don’t wish to unearth Todd’s racism-a-go-go, but on the subject of the economy: that’s reason #1 why poor Mexicans come here, legally or no. Their own country had the same kind of supply-side politics for decades, which created an extremely wealthy ownership class and a slightly-less-wealthy management class. Everyone else was stripped bare of economic autonomy, which created every single problem of crushing poverty you see now (not to mention the horrors of drug cartels.) The people affected by this have been trying for years to turn things around, but without a lot of success. And in the meantime, people on the ass end of this policy are literally dying from it, and thus are flooding across the border for the tiniest chance of a better life. People who are willing to arrest being shot or jailed just to work shitty under-the-table jobs are fleeing something far, far worse in their home country. And the thing that created that far-worse state is the same economic policy the GOP would like to become status quo here.

  176. “I’m constantly amazed by the comment, made by many Republicans, that Obama doesn’t compromise.”

    I’m constantly amazed at partisans who don’t realize just how sick average people are of the party bickering. Oh, the voters may hold their nose and pull a lever for one person or the other, but they’re getting really, really tired of it. If that ever boils over, both parties are going to be wondering what hit them.

  177. Tony: I don’t actually belong to any party at present

    That’s a space on the bingo card.

    However, if I did he or she wouldn’t have let things get to this stage in the first place.

    Yes. Of course. Whatever candidate you would have picked, (s)he would have overcome any political obstacles put in place by his/her political opponents. Opposition party controls the Senate? Not a problem for your third party candidate. Opposition party controls the House? Not a problem for your third party candidate.

    Hey, Tony. You know why you didn’t pick a candidate who wouldn’t have let things get to this stage in the first place???? Because that person does not exist.

    But criticizing real politicians in real government dealing with real obstacles is a whole lot easier if all you ever do is talk about how your hypothetical, non-existent candidate wouldn’t let it get this bad.

    You just simultaneously slagged the other parties while making “guff” campaign promises of not letting it get that bad in the first place, without offereing a single, solid, real, action that your hypothetical, nonexistent candidate would take to actually accomplish that goal.

    Pretty impressive.

    What he would not be doing: spending his time yelling at the other side(s) rather than actually working on the problem

    Has Obama been “spending his time yelling at the other side rather than actually working on the problem”? Could you give a specific instance where/when this took place? Not some hypothetical/imaginary/nonspecific reference to “guff” and “slagging”, but a specific time, a specific place, maybe a specific video on youtube, or at least a URL to a news article that gives the specifics to an example of a real world yelling-when-should-be-working event of which you speak?

    Otherwise, isn’t this just you “slagging” Obama with some “guff” that never actually happened?

  178. You’re right, Greg. Everyone out there sees Obama as the soul of compromise, a man whose every single thought makes perfect sense to anyone who isn’t actively EVIL. Guess what? The Republicans see Boehner the same way.

    To those who aren’t immersed in politics, on the other hand, they seem like a bunch of posturing assholes. You won’t believe that, of course (since Obama is the soul of compromise, etc.) but it’s true nonetheless.

  179. Tony: I’m constantly amazed at partisans who don’t realize just how sick average people are of the party bickering.

    Portraying members of the two main parties as “partisans” and third-party members as the “average” person is a space on the Third-Party bingo card.

  180. The GOP’s biggest weakness is not it’s xenophobia and bigotry, but the fact that they refuse to govern. For almost 20 years now, they’ve run on the idea that the Government doesn’t help anybody and never does anything good. This isn’t just an ideological talking point, but a promise and a threat. Republicans as a party are opposed to the very idea of a competently run federal government (or even a state government, judging by the way Chris Christie has become pariah of the week).

    We have the Speaker of the House purposely throwing Congress into gridlock, just to make the President and opposition party look bad. Meanwhile, people are dying and the country’s infrastructure is falling apart (and the economy is shaky at best) but the GOP is willing to let the country fall apart rather than use the federal government’s power to do anything useful.

    There are dozens of examples I could cite, form the Debt ceiling debacle on, but the most recent was when Hurricane Sandy was off the coast, about to wipe New Jersey off the map. Romney said he’d gut FEMA and then turned around and criticized Obama for responding quickly and efficiently! One half of our political apparatus is actively opposed to helping people, even when it’s a national emergency. That’s not just repugnant and disturbing but bordering on the criminally negligent.

    Someone up threat (sorry, forgot who) asked what the GOP’s strengths were. The answer is simple: they don’t have any. They’re a political party opposed to the idea of functional government. Until that changes, the rest is all just window dressing.

  181. Tony, I’d like you to explain the connection, because I don’t really see it.

    I was responding to an observation made by Republicans that Obama doesn’t compromise. It’s one that I hear all the time when Republicans are interviewed. It was a charge that was levelled at him constantly through the election. And as a counter to it I made the observation that Obama took two of the most sacred cows of the Democratic Party and laid them on the sacrifical altar in an attempt to strike a deal with Republicans to solve the budget crisis.

    Your response felt like a bit of a non sequitir, since it appeared to portray the gesture as partisan bickering. Unless I’m missing an implied connection, which is possible, because I’m low on coffee.

  182. Also… The GOP has adopted a tolerance and in many cases encouragement for voter disenfranchiesment / discouragement which is frankly grossly offensive. More voter fraud was committed by GOP actors this time around throwing away voter registrations of Democrats than by anyone else, as far as the record shows so far. The ongoing polling place restrictions, time restrictions, efforts to knock people off the rolls, are all Wrong.

  183. No, I wasn’t talking about that gesture per se. Why won’t he compromise on the “rich people tax” (or whatever it’s actually called)? Because that’s the issue that fires up his base.

  184. Are you guys really skeptical that there are a WHOLE LOT of people out there who have grown to hate our political class as a group? Your guys included? Wow.

  185. Tony: You’re right, Greg. Everyone out there sees Obama as the soul of compromise

    Nice try. Now answer the question: You’re third party candidate of choice is in power. He and the House blinks. We go off the fiscal cliff. Now what? What specifically does your candidate do?

    And remember, this is for posterity so be honest.

    To those who aren’t immersed in politics, on the other hand, they seem like a bunch of posturing assholes. You won’t believe that, of course (since Obama is the soul of compromise, etc.)

    Portraying main party voters as viewing their candidates as perfection, while third-party voters are the only ones who see the truth, is a space on the Third-Party bingo card. I think you might have 5 in a row.

    And Obama’s done some things that seriously piss me off, and folks here will probably tell you they are sick and tired of hearing me complain about it. But I voted for Obama because (1) Romney was WAY worse and (2) your hypothetical third party candidate who would never have let things get this bad in the first place doesn’t exist in the real world.

  186. Tony: Pres Obama *did* compromise on the “rich people tax” as you call it. He wanted to abolish it, the Republicans wouldn’t budge and to keep the country functional he compromised and continued all the Bush tax cuts.

    Your turn.

  187. Tony: Have fun with your card, Greg. I hope it’s a solitaire game, ’cause I’m not playing.

    Oh, man, you are so playing. Every time you try to portray a hypothetical third party candidate as so much better than a real life existing main party candidate? Point. Every time you try to portray main party voters are mindless automatons of party propaganda, while third party voters are the hyperintelligent few who see through the bullshit? Point. Every time you criticize a main party politician’s actions but are unable to provide a specific, real world, alternative action that you would do instead? point.

    You’re entire conversation on this thread has been nothing but slagging of main party candidates and guff about how great it is to be NOT in either of the main parties. And one of your main initial complaints was how the Dems have been too busy slagging the Reps to do anything specific about the problems. But when asked, you can’t even give a single specific action you would take, and instead give more guff and slag.

    Keep the “third party shit don’t stink” cracks coming. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

  188. Greg: I’ve already told you what you can do with your bingo card.

    I’ve seen polls where politicians either score worse than used car dealers or just above (I forget the exact rank ordering, but those were the bottom two). If you don’t think that’s a problem, great.

    And with that I’m outta here for now. Laundry calls.

  189. You’re only what 2 maybe 3 presidents away from when baby boomers start dying off en masse. Both parties are in for rough ride in the near future on the demographics front. Though it will harder for the republicans to stay the party of old white men when most of them are going into the ground.

  190. I avoid politics like the plague most of the time and I thought Obama was bending over backwards trying to compromise with the Republicans, and the Republicans had committed themselves to refusing to work with Obama under in any situation. It was bewildering. And yes, I’m quite angry at the Democratic party as well as despising the Republican party. But I’ve never felt the need to hold my nose while voting for our current President because he seems like one of the few people in power actually interested in making our country work.

    Anyhow, just speaking up as somebody not immersed in politics.

    Oh, and I don’t identify myself with any party… even a third party. I mostly think of myself as ‘a voter’.

  191. I spent today listening, in small bursts, to Rush Limbaugh. In my time of listening, here is what I learned:

    1) People who voted for Obama are stupid.

    2) People who voted for Obama are greedy and want to take stuff from the rest of us.

    3) We need to run a true conservative canidate and then we would win in a landslide.

    4) Chris Christie should immediately be run over by the nearest truck.

    I can’t take Rush for long, but I often listen to him a bit after major political events (ie elections) because I like to know how the other side thinks. Or doesn’t. Four years ago, I tuned into Rush on election day and was greeted by a non-stop rant on how Democrats were stealing an election that wasn’t even that close. It was entertaining.

    Points one to four above show a severe disassociation from reality. I think a “true” Rush Limbaugh conservative canidate for president would probably get swallowed by large scale political landslide of historic proportions, and I wish that the Republicans would run one. They’d only do it once.

    I’d add a few points:

    1) Don’t underestimate your opponent. I really think many Republicans felt Obama was some sort of Jimmy Carter clone and would roll over and play dead. The man came up in Chicago politics, and as much as the GOP decries that, you’d think they’d realize he can handle some rough and tumble. In fact, he basically pulled a Karl Rove swift boat move on ya’ll and defined Romney by turning his perceived strengths into weaknesses. And you acted surprised by it. Bad move, you should have seen it coming.

    2) Improve your ground game. Look, the massive influx of outside money helped Republicans this year, but it just bought a lot of ads no one watched. The Obama campaign, meanwhile, had a massive ground game in place. I received calls from them, and at least three groups of Obama volunteers went thru my neighbourhood in the last couple of weeks. I live in one of the main swing states (Virginia) in part of a district that sends Eric Cantor to the house like clockwork. How many GOP workers did I see? Try none. The calls I got from Republicans were robots and robot push polls; I actually talked to real live Obama people. Ya’ll got stomped. Hard.

    3) Stop trying to disenfranchise folks and start building something. Thanks to restrictive poll laws, there were two folks filling out provisional ballots at my polling place when I went to vote. Strangely enough, both people filling out provisional ballots were black.

    I think that the tea party is likely going to force a split in Republican politics at some point in the near future. There’s room for a fiscally conservative party that respects individual rights (ie, doesn’t take them away from people while ensuring the same rights for others). Right now, the Republicans are neither. They’re fiscal nut jobs (sorry) who specialize in limiting individual rights.

    I’ve voted Republican in the past, BTW, but John Warner retired long ago. He was a man and senator I did not always agree with and often disagreed with, but I grew to respect him greatly over his political career. I see very few like him in the current Republican line-up, but Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are his logical heirs.

  192. Tony: Greg: I’ve already told you what you can do with your bingo card.

    guff AND slagging??? For you who hates guff and slagging, that’s a free space on your bingo card.

    I’ve seen polls where politicians either score worse than used car dealers or just above … If you don’t think that’s a problem, great.

    Oh, it’s a problem. And you know what you can do to solve it? Answer this question: You’re third party candidate of choice is in power. He and the House blinks. We go off the fiscal cliff. Now what? What specifically does your candidate do?

    (crickets)

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  193. @Greg

    (Just as a recap:)

    Nathaniel (that’s me):

    Before you offer advice to the GOP on how to improve (advice they obviously desperately need), it would make sense to first determine what their strengths are.

    Greg:

    What are the strengths of the Republican party which are not in some degree contained in the Democratic party?… Well, I can’t think of any strength that the Republicans have a monopoly on, that isn’t to some degree reflected in the Democratic party as well. If you think the Republicans are the only ones with (insert strength here) and the Democrats don’t have that strength at all, how different is that from saying Republicans are “evil and maniacal”? So, then as far as strengths go, it seems only a matter of proportions.

    This is totally fascinating to me, and IMHO worthy of it’s own blog post. In essence this is a simple challenge: to a Democrat name one thing that the Republican party currently does better than the Democratic Party. To a Republican, name one thing that the Democrats currently do better than the GOP.

    Watching someone try to squirm out of that is like distilling the essence of cognitive dissonance. For example: I didn’t say a single word about the GOP having a “monopoly” on any particular policy. My position is simply that neither party can really be better than the other in every single way. To believe that, you’d have to honestly believe that the people who voted for the other party (roughly 1/2 the country) are truly, sincerely, evil/stupid. Is that a thing that people–in calm deliberation rather than the heat of the moment–are really willing to get behind?

    ‘Cause I’m not.

    I humbly submit that if someone can’t conceive of a single, sincere thing they admire about their political opposition then they should just stop and think seriously about what that means.

    Look, I’m not going to be coy and pretend that I don’t have a party affiliation. Technically, I don’t, but I’m a social and fiscal conservative. That doesn’t prevent me from seeing aspects of the Democratic Party that I think are absolutely superior to the GOP. In terms of morality: I admire Democratic dedication to the ideals of fairness and equality. In terms of actual policies: the Democratic policies on immigration are far more humane than the GOPs.

    I really think this shouldn’t be hard. Unless you’re seriously imbibing the Party Kool-Aid (for either party), it just shouldn’t be that hard to separate yourself from the us-vs-them mentality and try to see what the other side does that is at least as good–in some limited way–as what your side does.

    @Tony

    Oh, and with respect to party platforms: the Republican Party has had abortion* in its platform since at least Reagan (maybe before). Some of those years it’s controlled Congress as well. It’s named numerous Supreme Court justices. Yet Roe v. Wade is still stare decisis. How is that?

    Roe v Wade was decided 7-2. If it was being challenged today in full, it would be upheld 5-4. If it was being challenged in part, it might very well be curtailed (even Ginsberg has expressed disapproval of the absurd “health” loophole, suggesting she would opt to tighten it with something like “an imminent and sever threat to the mother’s health”.) If Romney had been elected, chances are good the scales would have finally tipped.

    Again: not advocating pro or con, but the party platform has already had a real impact, and will continue to do so, but the wheels of SCOTUS policy turn slowly.

  194. @ notsont: I sincerely hope you’re right. As I live in the red, red state of South Dakota, however, I am not so sanguine. People are very polite here, but only because there are so few democrats to beat on. There were fistfuls of races in the state where the dems couldn’t even field candidates.

  195. I am neither a Democrat or a Republican, but I can immediately think of a strength the Republicans have and a strength the Democrats have.

    Republicans: party discipline. Oh my God, they are amazing a party discipline. It’s broken down a little in the last few years, but if a Republican put a bill forward you could be absolutely sure that every other damn Republican in the House and the Senate would vote for it, because it was a Republican bill. If a Republican moderate didn’t like how extreme the bill was they would vote for it anyway, because they were Republicans first and that’s just what Republicans do.

    The discipline that Republicans have is mind-numbingly amazing, and even when what they’re doing is destructive to the country, and in the service of passing laws I consider detestable and downright evil, I have to admire them for it, because they don’t need super-majorities to get anything done. All the Republicans have to do is figure out the votes the Democrats will muster against it and then vote one more. And they do it like clockwork.

    The thing the Democrats do better than the Republicans? They fight each other. All the time.

    Yes, it’s exactly the opposite of what I was talking about above. If Democrat A doesn’t agree with Democrat B’s bill, Democrat A doesn’t vote for it. Period. Democrats will cheerfully fight with each other over any imagined ideological difference, which is why you have Blue Dog Democrats, and Big Business Democrats, and single-issue Democrats, and Democrats in favor of gun laws, and Democrats against gun laws (yes, really) and Democrats who are pro-union and anti-abortion, and Democrats who are pro-life and right-to-work… They’re all over the map. And if a Democrat sees a bill that goes against his or her beliefs, there will be no vote cast for it, no matter who put the bill forward. It’s almost as if the Democratic Party is a parliamentary government in its own right, full of coalitions and alliances, with some causes getting stronger over time and others getting weaker. And that churn has been good for them. It introduces new ideas and voices, it shakes up the balance of power from time to time. Without that churn, Obama would never have been nominated while running against the Clinton legacy. There is no equivalent to an Obama candidacy in the Republican party.

    Of course the churn also hurts them in the House and Senate. It hurts them a lot. A Democratic majority is *always* safer, legislatively, than a Republican one, simply because Republicans can peel away specific Democrats on specific issues. You will find the occasional Republican to vote against party lines, but they’ll immediately be targeted and punished. When Democrats vote against their party they’re immediately called “Democrats.”

    One thing the Tea Party has done has really punished the Republicans for being so discipline. There were a number of times in the last two years where Boener could have passed the bill he *wanted*, but in order to do so he would have had to have the moderate-to-conservative Republicans and Democrats vote together leaving the batshit crazy Tea Partiers out in the cold. He wasn’t willing to do that so he adopted the batshit crazy Tea Partier versions of the bills, and the Republicans voted as a block.

    And over the last few years the Democrats have improved their party discipline. Not as much as they’d need to, to effectively fight the Republicans at their own game. I don’t honestly think it’s possible for them to do so. The party cultures are too different.

    Anyway, there you have it. That is, at least, how it looks from the outside. I’m sure Republicans and Democrats with more experience on the inside can roll their eyes and say “uh, yeah, not exactly” and then launch into fascinating stories about about the “exactly” part.

  196. Nathaniel: a simple challenge: to a Democrat name one thing that the Republican party currently does better than the Democratic Party.

    Well, that’s a different challenge. Originally you said determine what their strengths are. I think Republicans have some strengths, but off the top of my head, for everything strength I see in Republicans, I think the Democrats are stronger.

    For example, Republicans encourage business. But by preventing monopolies, Democrats encourage stronger businesses, more competitive businesses.

    Republicans often think one of their strengths is the military. But I think if Al Gore had been president during 9/11, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq and occupied it for nearly a decade, and we would be in a hell of a lot better shape militarily speaking. We probably would have had the manpower to have captured Bin Laden rather than let him slip through our fingers in Tora Bora and put an end to that whole madness years earlier. (not to mention avoid the whole war crimes thing of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib)

    The one thing I consistently see Republicans demonstrate better than Democrats is party alignment. Republicans will adopt a message and repeat it obediantly down the line. Democrats often seem to save their harshest criticism for their own party. Republicans have demonstrated a strong capacity for refusing to compromise. Democrats are often notorious for preemptively negotiating away their strongest position.

    So, there would be that.

    it just shouldn’t be that hard to separate yourself from the us-vs-them mentality and try to see what the other side does that is at least as good–in some limited way–as what your side does

    Well, here’s the problem I see with that.

    Lets take a third party example: Libertarianism. Does the Libertarian party have strengths as you speak of? Sure. They have a strong “by your own bootstraps” approach to things, for one. But, like I said, most strengths are in all the parties to some degree. I think the Dems encourage people to take on a “by your own bootstraps” attitude, but they do it by first leveling the playing field a bit.

    For example, I grew up on a farm. The bank foreclosed on us when I was in high school. When I graduated, I wouldn’t have been able to afford college. Government loans and grants helped me through school. I paid back the loans, and my salary on a non-farming job is way better than any farm-related job I might have been able to get in my situation without a degree. So I work and gladly pay my taxes to pay back the govenrment the help they gave me and pay it forward to the next generation.

    The Democratic party encourages a “by your own bootstraps” approach. Those who think it doesn’t (such as Libertarians and some Republicans) will says Dems are nothing more than a cradle-to-grave group of socialists who are looking to enable moochers. The difference between Dems and Reps/Libs is that the Dems try to lift people up enough that they can get out of the kinds of circumstances that would trap them.

    So, while I could take your notion to see the strength in the Libertarian party that is “by your own bootstraps”, it is impossible for me to view that strength of the Libertarians in isolation. That strength comes with all the other baggage embodied in the Libertarian party. And some of that baggage can be viewed as nothing more than a level of selfishness that is so horrendously short sighted, that it can’t even see that helping other people up will help everyone including themselves. Instead Libertarians won’t help anyone and get trapped in a Prisoner’s Dillemma where all sorts of human potential is lost, and so is the resulting economic potential.

  197. @Greg-

    I appreciate your thoughtful reply, but I’m still flabbergasted at the central belief within it: Whatever the GOP or libertarians or anyone else can do, the Democrats already do better. There are two feelings that just seem alien to me–and dangerous in politics–the first is certainty and the second is superiority. To have someone spend so much time defending both (or at least certainly superiority) is, well, alien.

    Of course I think that–all things considered–the GOP tends to do better than the Democrats. That’s why I tend to vote GOP. But it would just strike me as bizarre to advocate for the proposition that not only are the GOP better in a “win some, lose some, all things considered” kind of way but no–much more than that!–they are better at everything.

    I think that social science research bears this out, by the way. I’ve already given the DNC props for tending to run a campaign based on positive principles (fairness and equality, although Obama’s “revenge” comment was a jarring departure from it), and I think Jonathan Haidt’s excellent TED talk outlines some of the ways in which conservatives actually have some best-in-class qualities, and then of course there’s research indicating that libertarians are the most economically sophisticated of all voters.

    I guess I just operate from a place where–whenever I see a group of sufficiently large size (say: “millions”)–I assume that there must be some legitimate explanation for people choosing that group instead of my group. I don’t think they are right, obviously (or I would join them), but I assume they are decent and reasonable. And it seems totally incoherent to assume that an opposing group has people who are both relatively smart and relatively good if that group is inferior to my group in every single category.

  198. And speaking of conservatives being total idiots:

    JACKSON, Miss. — A protest at the University of Mississippi against the re-election of President Barack Obama grew into crowd of about 400 people with shouted racial slurs as rumors of a riot spread on social media. Two people were arrested on minor charges.

    Is this really happening? The WaPo says yes.

    The 60s called. They want their racism back.

  199. @Heteromeles: I’m not sure how one commits car theft or securities fraud or burglary inside a prison, but I’m willing to hear you out. As for sexual assault, those rates are the same for both male and female prisoners.

    @Nathaniel Givens: Americans are very conflicted about abortion, and it’s convenient to say “See! They’re on my side!” when really what they are is emotional and contradictory. There’s no meaningful way to put in a regulation that says “a woman should be able to get an early abortion if she was being careful but the contraception failed; but if she was being careless, she shouldn’t”, but that’s far from an uncommon position. The problem is that, as has been pointed out already, most Americans do not support the view that the mother should if necessary die rather than abort (as the GOP platform suggests), nor are they sympathetic with the idea that a pregnancy forced on a woman at gunpoint is a “gift” intended by God. Abortion is not a winning issue for Democrats directly, but it is, indirectly, if Republicans allow people like Aiken to ride under their flag.

    There’s no point in talking to Todd, but his attitude is one shared by a significant sector of the Republican base. And so the leaders of the GOP who aren’t racist are stuck with a dilemma: do we tell the Todds of the world to DIAF and lose their votes, likely losing key Congressional seats in the process, or do we embrace them (however stiffly) and alienate everybody who isn’t a racist doucheloaf? Their current plan is to try and keep their acceptance of Toddist votes on the down low, which is just about impossible to do in the Internet age, and then act like they can’t figure it out when “naturally” socially-conservative groups want nothing to do with them.

  200. Hey! I recognize that study! It was the one that was biased to the point where the author re-evaluated and denounced the findings!

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/12/i-was-wrong-and-so-are-you/308713/

    “It turned out that I needed to retract the conclusions I’d trumpeted in The Wall Street Journal. The new results invalidated our original result: under the right circumstances, conservatives and libertarians were as likely as anyone on the left to give wrong answers to economic questions.”

  201. @mythago-

    it’s convenient to say “See! They’re on my side!” when really what they are is emotional and contradictory.

    But I’m not saying that, mythago, for a variety of reasons. The first is that it’s simply not true. I have a very specific and precise position on abortion that–while within the mainstream of the pro-life movement–is certainly not the same as everyone else’s. I can’t speak for all pro-life activists, let alone for all the Americans who simply disagree with the current law.

    Secondly, because trying to say “They’re on my side!” is just a clumsy way of trying to have the abortion debate by proxy, and I’m not dumb enough to think Dear Proprietor would not notice. (And I fear the Mallet with a righteous terror.)

    But most importantly, it’s just not germane to the case. My argument is simply that it’s foolish to presume that the abortion issue is a loser for the GOP. That has nothing to do with my position whatsoever. Nor does it require that the American populace hold a simple view of the issue. It merely observes that Americans tend to be about equally divided on the issue, including women. That’s really all you need to know to conclude that it’s folly to count being pro-life as a political mis-step by the GOP. It’s not. (Now, having a big fat idiot open up his mouth about abortion and rape, on the other hand…)

    To me the icing on the cake just happens to be the fact that our current regime is so extremely lop-sided that it actually makes the Democrats more vulnerable than the GOP on this issue. Precisely because abortion is allowed–as a practical legal matter–at any time for any reason the GOP has the luxury of claiming everyone to right of that (which is the vast majority of the country) as their own. They haven’t done that so far because the extreme pro-lifers who equate abortion with murder and refuse to consider a rape exception prevent building a bigger coalition, but the GOP has that option. Democrats, as defenders of the status quo, do not.

  202. minaria-

    Good find! I retract my attempt to be generous and give credit to libertarians that was–apparently–undeserved. I stand by my position that it’s healthy to presume that other viewpoints (I’m not a libertarian, ftr) are likely to have advantages over your own in-group.

  203. @Nathaniel Givens: Your definition of “pro-life”, whatever that may be, is not necessarily the GOP’s definition of “pro-life”. As it is stated in the party’s own platform, their “pro-life” position is absolutely more extreme than most Americans support; and while you believe that calling a pregnancy through rape “God’s will” makes somebody a big fat idiot, that big fat idiot not only calls himself pro-life but can count on his party’s endorsement (and money). The vice-presidential candidate formerly supported an extreme position and co-sponsored a bill with a rape exception that limited abortion to “forcible” rape. In other words, the problem is not that the GOP must have a pro-choice position to survive; the problem is that the particular pro-life position it has adopted, and supported through its candidates, is not one most Americans share. (And Democrats neatly jujitsu this by dropping “pro-choice” language and changing the frame to medical privacy: what decent person wants the government to barge in between a patient and her doctor, amirite?)

  204. Nathaniel: I appreciate your thoughtful reply, but I’m still flabbergasted at the central belief within it: Whatever the GOP or libertarians or anyone else can do, the Democrats already do better.

    Yes it was a thoughtful reply. I made a point to use the prefix off the top of my head, which seems to have gotten dropped from the for everything strength I see in Republicans, I think the Democrats are stronger. that followed it.

    I assume that there must be some legitimate explanation for people choosing that group instead of my group. I don’t think they are right, obviously (or I would join them), but I assume they are decent and reasonable.

    I think most people voting for Romney are voting out of their best intentions. But that’s not the same as being right. I’m willing to say sexism is flat out wrong, and a “binder full of women” reflects some messed up views of women as separate-but-equal from men rather than viewing women as true equals. I’m willing ot say homophobia is flat out wrong, and Romney is adamantly against equality for gays. I think Romney is sexist and homophobic out of his best intentions, i.e. he thinks he’s doing the “right” thing, but I think he’s flat out wrong. I can’t remember which of the Founding Fathers defended slavery by saying blacks were inferior to whites and really needed whites to take care of them. And thought that blacks and whites could never live alongside one another because of these differences, and the only other solution was to ship them all back to Africa. But the point is, he really believed that, and he really believed he was doing what he was doing with the best of intentions. But he was flat out wrong.

    I’m certain that most people against abortion think they’re doing the right thing. But outlawing abortion doesn’t reduce the number of abortions that occur. And if you want to reduce the number of abortions, then reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies by making birth control freely available. But that’s not what the Republicans do. They don’t want abortions and they don’t want birth control because they want women to stop having sexity, sex, sex. They’re willing to have women die in back alley’s and with coat hangers, and they’re using “pro life” to defend it. And I find the whole attitude to be… feudal, whcih is about as far from decent and reasonable as someone can get, even though I think they believe they’re doing the right thing out of the best of their intentions.

    And it seems totally incoherent to assume that an opposing group has people who are both relatively smart and relatively good if that group is inferior to my group in every single category.

    Well, I offered business and military as Republican strengths. And gave counter explanations as to why I though Dems were better. I also offered party obediance and political negotiating and said I thought the Dems suck at those things. So, I suppose, if you ignore the last two, and also ignore the “off the top of my head”, then yeah, that could be a pretty incoherent position.

    I am curious as to what specific strength you think the Republicans have that they have better/stronger than the Democrats. (besides the two I mentioned of party obediance and political negotiating). I’d also be curious as to how your “all things considered” manages to find ballast to counterbalance the sexism, racism, homophobia, islamophobia, and the pushing of certain religious views onto other people’s bodies, that seemed pretty obvious to me to be commonly found in the Republican party.

  205. mythago-

    I’m not sure what it is that you think that you and I disagree on right now. Your position seems to be that the GOP would do better with a more moderate stance on abortion. Not only am I telling you now, in this post, that I agree, but it’s exactly the point I was making when I indicated that the GOP has more room to maneuver because of the extreme nature of the current law.

    But contrast your argument (the GOP should be more moderately pro-life) with John’s initial statement:

    By “tolerant” I mean that we’re okay with gays marrying and women deciding what to do with their own wombs and that we think science doesn’t want to shiv Jesus in the night when no one is looking.

    I know it’s a lot of scrutiny to put on a single phrase, but you can’t square “women deciding what to do with their own wombs” with even a moderate pro-life position, either in terms of rhetoric or policy. In short: I disagree with John Scalzi’s apparent position (roughly: the GOP can’t be pro-life and win) but I agree whole-heartedly with your position (the GOP would do better to be more moderate on this issue).

    I think about the only disagreement you and I have is on this:

    (And Democrats neatly jujitsu this by dropping “pro-choice” language and changing the frame to medical privacy: what decent person wants the government to barge in between a patient and her doctor, amirite?)

    In terms of party-platform the jujitsu is just fine. And there are prominent pro-life Democrats (like the Senate Majority Leader). There are also prominent pro-choice Republicans (Giuliani off the top of my head). What that shows is that party platform is not the only or even the most important thing to look at. For the Democratic Party to actually embrace a position that even considered revisiting Roe would start a civil war. Party platform is one thing, but in terms of practice and alliance with major groups (like NARAL or PP), the Democratic Party as a whole is absolutely faithful to the status quo, and the status quo is extreme, precarious, and inflexible.

    Which is why–getting back to the original point–the abortion issue is not a loser for the GOP except to the extent that it manages to force it into a losing proposition by letting idiots run the show.

  206. John, I wrote Santa Claus to ask for the GOP to ignore all your recommendations and continue doubling down on “we only lose because we aren’t conservative enough”, resulting in a party implosion and a 2020 House of Representatives comprising 30% Democrat, 20% Libertarian, 10% Green, 10% Republican, and 30% Independent congresscritters. Please, won’t you tell Santa I’ve been a good boy?

    Greg: Funny you should say “feudal”. I just used that term in this context earlier today, in the sentence, “Yeah, Barack Obama is pretty much the voice of classical conservatism in America, what with the GOP having become the voice of howling feudal theocracy.”

  207. Greg-

    You’re still not addressing my argument head on. Let me just try to be more direct about it.

    Suppose you see people choosing between two options: A and B. The options are not simple, each one is composed of a lot of interconnected sub-parts. Now if you see only a handful of people pick and you see 1/2 pick A and 1/2 pick B that doesn’t tell you very much. It’s possible that A is strictly better, but the people are too dumb to tell. It’s possible that A includes some things that are really evil (maybe a kitten gets drowned every time you choose it), but there are just some evil people out there. Evil people form groups too. I’m not arguing for some kind of moral equivalence between groups.

    But if B is really strictly better in every sense than A, then the only explanation for people picking A is to assume some measure of stupidity / immorality.

    Now what if it’s not just a few people? What if it’s nearly 60 million people? Are you really willing to say that the 57,000,000 Americans (give or take) who voted for Romney were really just too stupid to know better? Or too evil? If every single item in option A is inferior to its counterpart in option B, then that is precisely what you are saying.

    It’s not enough to say “Well, not everything in A is terrible.” If Option A has some great things, but Option B has all the same stuff but better then we’re right back at stupid/evil.

    My fundamental assumption is that 60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil.

    So the alternative is to suppose that the choice isn’t nearly as obvious. There are things in A that are better, and there are things in B that are better. That doesn’t mean we can’t make a determination about which is better all-things-considered and we don’t have to assume some kind of moral equivalence either. It just means that there damn well ought to be something about option A that is drawing a crowd.

    Do you agree? Or do you really think that option A is just manifestly inferior in every single way, and 60,000,000 people picked it anyway. If so: how do you account for that?

    I am curious as to what specific strength you think the Republicans have that they have better/stronger than the Democrats.

    I think the GOP is much better on certain economic issues. They tend to be more friendly to free trade with other countries, for example, and support greater economic freedom internally. I also think that they do a better job of foreign policy when they aren’t letting the neo-cons run the show. Hey: this isn’t some constant force-of-nature. The parties change.

    I’d also be curious as to how your “all things considered” manages to find ballast to counterbalance the sexism, racism, homophobia, islamophobia, and the pushing of certain religious views onto other people’s bodies, that seemed pretty obvious to me to be commonly found in the Republican party.

    If a sexist, racist, homophobic, islamophobe says that 2+2=4, that doesn’t stop 2+2 from being 4. I find myself agreeing with social conservatives on the conclusions to some issues despite the fact that I think their reasoning is detestable. Does that make me doubt my position? You bet it does. It deeply concerns me. But–so far–I tend to maintain (for example) my pro-life position despite the fact that I have to sort of rub elbows with Akin and company.

    The other side of the coin is that the Democrats aren’t free from vice themselves. Anti-semitism, for example, tends to run deeper and hotter on the American Left than on the American Right. There’s assholes everywhere.

  208. There are two types of Republicans right now: Those who were bewildered by their party’s super hard right turn and those who think it just wasn’t enough. I know a lot of the former who just held their nose and voted for Romney, but quite a few just quietly (or not so quietly) voted for Obama. The latter were silent this morning, then by the afternoon they were raging and doubling down on every piece of hate they could muster.

    I think there is a small core of Americans that are so angry and scared that they have ceased to be rational. They’re sort of like wounded animals, and they can be absolutely vicious. There are a lot of tweets today about blowups from friends or family that were so brutal they left the person stunned. That deep-seated anger is what the GOP tried to sell this election cycle and while not enough people were buying, there were still plenty that bought in whole-hog. Those people scare the hell out of me. That’s the party that the GOP wants to be, I guess. Fortunately, that’s not the sort of people the majority of Americans want to be. I can only hope it stays that way.

  209. Another commenter nailed it: The GOP can’t reform because it despises the very idea of government.

    When the GOP is in charge, nothing works right. Government agencies are underfunded and understaffed, and led by people who don’t think their agency or department should even exist, and/or are supremely unqualified for the position. Policies aren’t formulated with the intent of identifying a problem or an issue and dealing with it effectively. They’re formulated to skim money, expand egos, and validate ideology.

    The GOP thinks “the common good” and “the general welfare” are communist, or socialist (while understanding what communism and socialism are no more than they understand Urdu) rather than the foundation of civic and civil society.

    This isn’t a new thing. There’s not a single issue the GOP as a whole has been on the right side of in the past 50 years. Civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, gay rights, personal autonomy, greater access and opportunities for the disabled, medical research… you name it, the GOP has dismissed it, mocked it, and obstructed its progress.

    The GOP wants to turn Social Security into a windfall for investment firms; who cares what happens to the people Social Security was designed for? It wants to defund scientific research, because science keeps saying things the GOP doesn’t want to hear. It wants to do away with every regulation that keeps financiers from robbing people blind, energy companies from despoiling every inch of land and shore, and Big Pharma from selling whatever the hell they want… because the GOP basically thinks of us as sheep for the shearing.

    I don’t want the GOP to reform. I want it to go the way of the Whigs, and die.

  210. I think the argument, advanced in several places above, that the GOP would welcome brown people, but they don’t want to join, is quite frankly bullshit.

    Fun fact: Did you know that, prior to 2008, Muslim-Americans were a reliable Republican constituency? This article has a lot to say about what changed: http://www.ranyontheroyals.com/2012/11/the-gop-and-me.html

    Nor is this unique. One of the things George W. Bush did very well was appeal to the Latino vote, who Romney lost in the primaries while attempting to court Tea Party votes. This likely cost Romney the election.

    Muslim-Americans and Latinos didn’t just wake up in 2008 and decide to vote for Obama because of the color of his skin. It certainly didn’t hurt him, but if he’d been claiming that Muslims were “taking over America,” or telling Latinos to “self-deport,” they’d have voted for whoever his opponent was. Brown people don’t vote for somebody just because they’ve got the same skin color — the person has to actually not be a dickhead.

    My suggestions for the current Republican party would be to 1) make a serious effort to bring Muslim-Americans back into the fold. This should be pretty easy, because I don’t see what legislative agenda their marginalization has been helping the Republican party advance. (Besides letting Michelle Bachmann wrap herself in a warm cocoon of hate every night.) This will mean seriously marginalizing the obnoxious xenophobe wing of the party, like the aforesaid Michelle Bachmann, who have very loud but relatively small followings, as we have seen from their failure to actually elect anyone but Michelle Bachmann this term.

    2) Stop actively opposing gay marriage. The time for this to be a wedge issue is past. Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Minnesota showed that last night. Young people “just don’t understand” the opposition to gay marriage because frankly it doesn’t make sense. Republicans can still be against this generically, but everybody’s got to be clear that the party won’t make any effort to see specific legislation passed banning it. This keeps the fundamentalist wing of the party from running but doesn’t also drive off, you know, actual gay people. (This is similar to the tack the party has taken on abortion until this most recent election — talk big in opposition, but do very little in practice. I expect this to be the same tack the party takes on abortion in the future, given the greasy smears left after the electorate finished with Akin and Mourdoch.)

    3) Pass serious immigration reform, something like the DREAM Act, bringing the Latino caucus back into the fold. This is hardest, because the GOP has been against illegal immigration for a very long time, but if you’ve got to piss off the obnoxious xenophobes to get the Muslims back, might as well go all the way.

    If the GOP does this, I expect whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2016 will have a much more interesting fight on his or her hands. Unlike our host, I don’t actually think it unlikely the Republican party will remake itself. Certainly the remaining few moderate Republicans in the House, previously huddled against the Tea Party wolves howling at their door, have to be looking at the fate the electorate gave the Tea Party favorites and trying to decide which death will be quicker. (Hint: the Tea Party are all bark and no bite.)

    We very nearly had a debt deal last term, and the DREAM Act had some life in it, and both died mostly because the Republicans hoped that killing the bills would get them the Presidency. That hope having been conclusively punctured, I think only an insane party would do the same thing again and expect a different result, and I for one hope the Republican Party isn’t insane.

  211. Nathaniel: My fundamental assumption is that 60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil.

    Your fundamental assumption is Argumentum ad numerum
    ? From the link:

    “All I’m saying is that thousands of people believe in pyramid power, so there must be something to it.”

    That’s an interesting approach. No guarantee that you’ll find solid moral ground, but interesting.

    If Option A has some great things, but Option B has all the same stuff but better then we’re right back at stupid/evil.

    I’m confused. What if “Option A” is something like racism? I only have to go back to my grandparents generation to see rampant and widespread racism in the south. Lots of people were openly racist in the South. Would you argue the argumentum ad numerum and say all those poeple can’t be stupid/evil? If I argue that racism is morally wrong and has zero redeeming qualities about it, would you chastize me for portraying “Option A” as “we’re right back to stupid/evil”?

    I think you may have good intentions in trying to see the other side of someone’s argument, trying to see someone else’s point of view, but that doesn’t give you a solid moral basis for anything. It doesn’t give you a moral compass that will always point to what is right.

    And if “Option A” is racism in the South in the 1960’s, I think its accurate to say your approach gives you entirely the wrong answer.

    The thing that I’d be curious about is whether you seeing that, whether you could admit that the problem is your “fundamental assumption” is fundamentally wrong or whether you’ll attempt to overlay caveats to try and correct for specific instances where it would fail.

    If a sexist, racist, homophobic, islamophobe says that 2+2=4, that doesn’t stop 2+2 from being 4.

    I’m not sure what 2+2=4 means. Being smart is no guarantee of being right. Fritz Haber won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for figured out a way to fix nitrogen and make fertilizer. He also happened to be known as the father of chemical warfare.

    But–so far–I tend to maintain (for example) my pro-life position despite the fact that I have to sort of rub elbows with Akin and company.

    If you’re interested, maybe you would like ot support HR-7300, a pro-life bill.

    Anti-semitism, for example, tends to run deeper and hotter on the American Left

    what is this… i don’t even….

  212. @Mythago – “The War on Women” is indeed a myth. If not wanting to buy something for you is evil, then is there a “War on Wheels” because Republicans don’t want to buy you a car?

    The debate was centered on Catholic hospitals – Biden lied and said they were exempted, when only religious orgs were exempted.

    Democrats were very successful at spinning this issue into “Republicans hate women and want to take their birth control away”, which even the illustrious John Scalzi seemed to fall for, at least a little bit.

  213. Greg,

    If I may, I suggest you read some of the research by Dr. Jonathan Haidt. His findings on the types of morality and values assigned to those types by. roughly speaking, the left and right, are very interesting. Haidt, a self-professed man of the left, came away with an appreciation for the morality that informs some of these choices. (Righteous Minds is the book version)

  214. I, too, am relieved by the election results.

    I found the 2012 GOP party platform, the party’s promises, policies, proposed, policies, and the statements of many of its candidates offensive and openly hostile to me as a woman and as a person who doesn’t worship any deities, as well as offensive and openly hostile to anyone who is LGBT, any race but Caucasian, any religion persuasion other than Christian, a single parent, poor, raped, assaulted by a spouse or parent, intellectually curious, a fan of science and/or history, a dissenting voice, a moderate, in favor of civil rights, or the victim of a natural disaster.

    I also believe that Romney and his running mate had old, tired, and very bad ideas for the economy.

  215. McCune: I suggest you read some of the research by Dr. Jonathan Haidt.

    Hadn’t heard of him. But from wikipedia.

    People are, as Haidt says, “intuitive lawyers” whose reasoning usually seeks to vindicate the person’s own intuition rather than openly assess the case from an impartial point of view.

    I’ve experienced complete and total particle reversal around the time I turned 13 or so, and again in in college. I spent several years questioning everything I had previously thought true. So, Haidt doesn’t ring true for me here.

    dentifies five (later revised to six) “foundations” that underlie morality

    1 care
    2 fairness
    3 liberty
    4 loyalty
    5 authority
    6 sanctity

    Meh. Loyalty/betrayal means remaining with a group even to your own disadvantage and even if you think the group is operating immorally. The folks who tortured people and murdered them in Guantanamo were protected because of loyalty overriding fairness

    authority is similar but hierarchical instead of a level group sense of loyalty. Resorting to authority for morality will give you such gems as “I was just following orders.”

    Sanctity is described as “avoiding disgusting things, foods, actions”. Our brains are hardwired to feel disgust towards bodily fluids. Get a clean glass, spit in it until you have an inch or so of spit, and then drink it. There is nothing in the glass that isn’t already in your mouth. but most people will resist because the “disgust of bodily fluids” hardwired trigger kicks in. This is the same trigger that makes people feel “icky” about sexity, sex, sex and want to stop people from screwing by imposing punishments (have sex? ok, then no birth control and no abortions, play around then pay the price, maybe that’ll stop you perverts from knocking boots) This is the same trigger that kicks in when people feel disgust about homophobia. It’s purely biological/evolutionary. I htink the main function of this disgust trigger was to get humans to stay the hell away from feces and urine which can have all sorts of diseases.

    Numbers 4, 5, and 6 don’t reflect morality in any way.

    Haidt found that the more politically liberal or left-wing people are, the more they tend to value care and fairness (proportionality), and the less they tend to value loyalty, respect for authority and purity. Conservatives or right-wing people, tend to value all the moral foundations somewhat equally.

    Yes, I can see that. But 4,5,and 6 are orthoganal to morality.

    Haidt was criticized for oversimplification and lenience toward moral beliefs that historically led to grave injustices.

    Duh. 4,5,6 are not morality indicators. Taking them to an extreme can result in (4) tribalism, (5) “i was just following orders” and (6) homophobia, religious craziness against sex, sexism.

    [Haidt suggested] that atheists “pollute the scientific study of religion

    (snort)

    Uhm, yeah. If this is Haidt in a nutshell, he failed to find a reliable moral compass fairly horrendously.

  216. Nathaniel –

    I think you’re using stronger terms than are called for by your position, and the implications of these terms is what is driving your incredulity.

    The two groups of people that you say would choose the strictly inferior option are the “people too stupid to know better” and the “people too evil to care”. Instead of stupid people, it would be more appropriate to say “people with stupid ideas”. This doesn’t sound like a big difference, but in practice it’s huge. There are far fewer actually stupid people out there than the Internet would have you believe, but almost everyone has some stupid ideas floating around in their head, myself included. The pernicious thing about this is that while being smart may save you from the more common variety of stupid ideas, it opens up astounding swaths of new and exciting stupid ideas. Some ideas are so stupid, it takes a genius to believe them. So, that group of supporters of Plan A can easily be larger than you think.

    As for the “evil” side, we should replace that with “people with different values than you”, and that too can cover quite a few more people with ease. Just because *I* evaluate B to be pareto optimal over A, doesn’t mean everyone does. And I’m certainly not surprised at the existence of multiple value systems in this country, even widely divergent ones. I’m not going to say I respect all of them, since I don’t, but I’m not going to call them all “evil” either.

    And finally, there’s a third group you’ve left out of your possible supporters of Plan A, and that’s the people who are estimating probabilities differently. I can certainly believe that Plan B is pareto optimal based on my best estimate of things going according to plan, but someone who has a wildly different estimate in mind can come to a different conclusion. And especially in political matters, the actual numbers just aren’t knowable to the last, or even first, decimal place. I can still think that I’m right, without really requiring that I look down on the person who disagrees. A related issue to this is differing levels of trust in the implementation of Plans A vs. B. And again, this is where honest disagreements can happen. But I can simultaneously believe that it’s possible I’m wrong, but that it’s probable I’m right.

  217. I think the GOP is much better on certain economic issues. They tend to be more friendly to free trade with other countries, for example, and support greater economic freedom internally. I also think that they do a better job of foreign policy when they aren’t letting the neo-cons run the show.

    And now I’d like to see the evidence underlying your beliefs. They don’t seem obvious to me; for instance, the largest free trade agreement in the past 30 years, NAFTA, passed both houses with bipartisan support and was signed into law by a Democratic president; so that’s strong evidence for a tie. “Economic freedom” is a squishy term but I’m sure you could make a clearer definition — I’d argue that Republican opposition to universal healthcare, for instance, is deeply anti-“economic freedom”, but of course I’m using my definition of that term and not yours. Finally, I think that your assertion that Republicans do a “better” job of foreign policy when neo-cons don’t run the show is basically a counterfactual and therefore unsupportable, since in the past 20 years the only Republican foreign policy team that has had the support of the party has been neoconservative, and had Romney been elected, that trend would have continued.

    I guess I will say that from my point of view, the Republican party of the 21st century is a stronger, no-holds-barred supporter of second amendment rights than the Democratic party; and I do admire their party discipline. On every other issue, the Democratic party is better when it is good, and when both parties are bad, the Republican party is worse. I will even say that’s true of “pro-life” politics: when Democrats are in power, abortions go down. And there is strong evidence that the contraception mandate which Obama supported and the Republicans universally opposed will prevent more abortions than abortion bans do (because abortion bans statistically don’t prevent abortions).

    So, why do 60 million people vote R? I actually think that there is a strong tribal component to it. Examples: people vote R because it’s traditional to do so; they vote R because their church is aligned with the Republican party. They vote R because they perceive changing demographics as a threat and the Republican party offers them safe haven. I think that, for large groups of people, there are good emotional reasons for voting R. (Note that a similar set of arguments can be made for why people vote D.) The logic “I am part of group X, and I perceive that party 1 will be better for my group than party 2″ is actually reasonably good as a heuristic. You can actually see it in play in this election: 88% of Romney voters were white. Obama won basically all ethnic minority groups with a substantial margin, and women (which is actually the majority group) by a respectable one. I don’t think this is stupidity or evil at work, necessarily; it may be fundamentally human nature at work. It’s not, strictly speaking, rational behavior; but on the other hand, emotional reasons for doing something are not, in general, invalid reasons, even if they’re based on wrong premises.

  218. Greg, I’m sure Professor Haidt regrets you were not around to point out the failures in his lifetime of research. Sure could have saved him some time.

  219. I’m right with you on all of your points except where you say this is not for the party members but only their leaders. When the leadership of a party becomes as bad as it has (and it really has!) then I feel you can’t absolve blame from those who continue to follow those leaders.

  220. The thing about people blaming Obama for “not compromising” is that currently, in GOP parlance, “compromise” means “roll over and give us everything we want”.

    You can’t compromise with people who refuse to budge and are not negotiating in good faith. Just as you can’t expect a party that is opposed to the concept of government to govern well.

  221. @Mythago – “The War on Women” is indeed a myth.

    Wrong. Unwanted transvaginal probes, the frontal attacks on all aspects of Planned Parenthood (not just the abortion, but the prenatal care, the checkups, EVERYTHING), the attack on sex educate are no myths,

    Don’t insult our intelligence with such foolish statements.

  222. Point number three makes me think of what used to be said about my own brown ancestors:

    “I am perfectly of your mind, that measures of great temper are necessary with [them]: and am not without apprehensions, that thro’ their indiscretion or ours, or both, great disorders and inconveniences may one day arise among us; those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant stupid sort of their own nation, and as ignorance is often attended with credulity when knavery would mislead it, and with suspicion when honesty would set it right; and as few of the [us] understand [their] language, and so cannot address them either from the press or pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain…Few of their children in the country learn English; they import many books from [their home country]… Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in [their language] and English; the signs in our streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only [theirs]: they begin of late to make all their bonds and other legal writings in their own language, which (though I think it ought not to be) are allowed good in our courts, where [their] business so encreases that there is continual need of Interpreters; and I suppose in a few years they will be also necessary in the assembly, to tell one half of our legislators what the other half say…”

    This of course is Ben Franklin in 1751 talking about all the damn Germans settling in Pennsylvania. And yes, he considered them brown: “And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. “

  223. Unwanted transvaginal probes, the frontal attacks on all aspects of Planned Parenthood (not just the abortion, but the prenatal care, the checkups, EVERYTHING), the attack on sex educate are no myths,

    The GOP want to dismantle PP for one reason only, and that’s that it promotes abortion. The probes are the same thing… it’s a way of discouraging women from going through with abortions, by making them view the baby first.

    It’s not a war on women. it’s a war on abortion.
    That would be a more accurate title.

  224. @Adam K: Lack of support, in fact direct antagonism towards, requiring PRIVATE insurance companies to offer birth control, federal level antagonism to equal pay, rape apologetics, “Mens Rights Activists” geting airplay, refusal to suport the Violence Against Women act, and so on…

    “Social conservatives” loathe feminists in general and feminism in specific. The conversations are on the Congressional record if you care to look them up. And if a Republican isn’t a social conservative, they’re either in a deeply blue state, and/or they bow and scrape to the social conservatives anyhow.

  225. The GOP want to dismantle PP for one reason only, and that’s that it promotes abortion.

    Which, of course, is a position predicated entirely on lies.

    The probes are the same thing… it’s a way of discouraging women from going through with abortions, by making them view the baby first.

    By requiring them to be penetrated (which is medically unnecessary) and have to pay money to be violated, regardless of whether they were raped or not.

    It’s not a war on women. it’s a war on abortion.
    That would be a more accurate title.

    If the GOP hadn’t made a mockery of women who take HBC for non-contraceptive uses, attacked women for using contraception in committed relationships (including marriage) spent the last year slut-shaming anyone on HBC, denied reauthorization of previously-unanimous domestic violence bills because lesbians would be protected, and equated one of the leading providers of non-procreative women’s health with the Third Reich, this might have had a sliver of truth.

    But they didn’t, and so it doesn’t.

  226. It’s not a war on women. it’s a war on abortion.

    Pshaw. If it was, they wouldn’t have gone after birth control as well.

  227. Greg-

    Your fundamental assumption is Argumentum ad numerum

    Appealing to formal logical fallacies in a real-life debate is a tricky proposition. First of all, it’s almost always gauche. Slinging around pseudo-latin phrases to try and make a point is whopping cliche at this point. Secondly–in providing a citation to strengthen your use of any given fallacy–you run the risk of appearing to violate one of the most well-known ones: argument from / appeal to authority. Thirdly, and most importantly, the Wikipedia entry on argument from authority actually doesn’t call it a fallacy (although it used to) because Wikipedia is much more nuanced than most sources.

    You’ll find “appeal to authority” listed as a top-20 fallacy in plenty of places (e.g. <a href="http://www.theskepticsguide.org/resources/logicalfallacies.aspx"The Skeptics Guide to the Universe), but Wikipedia appropriately classifies argument from authority as a form of inductive reasoning.

    Inductive reasoning is tricky because it’s uncertain and tends to be closely related to statistics (read up on the link from the argument from authority page for some examples). Since inductive reasoning is by nature uncertain, if you characterize someone’s inductive argument as being etymologically extreme you get “logical fallacy” as a freebie. This is why having people toss around various categories of formal logical fallacy on the Internet has grown so wearisome: all inductive reasoning is vulnerable (at least rhetorically) to that attack.

    But throwing out all inductive argument is, at best, naive. Imagine, for example, if we argued about whether or not the world is flat and you cited various textbooks. If my response was to mock you for appealing to authority I would be correct in a way that is both highly technical and totally useless.

    TL;DR – Citing argument from popularity (or any other attack on inductive reasoning) to defend your point is a cop-out.

    I’m confused. What if “Option A” is something like racism?

    I’m not sure why you’re confused. If Option A is something like racism and 60 million Americans pick it, then 60 million Americans are either too stupid to realize it’s racist, too evil to care, or some combination of the two.

    This is more or less exactly the position you’ve outlined so far. The GOP is racist, sexist, homophobic and islamophobic. And yet 1/2 the country voted for it. This tells me that you inhabit a universe where calling 1/2 your fellow citizens evil/stupid is a matter of routine. They are either too dumb to realize the GOP is racist or too evil to let that influence their voting. What I’m trying to do is get you to think seriously about that and decide if–in the cold light of dispassionate reason–that’s really a position you can live with.

    So far you have been unwilling to come out and say it, but you’re maintaining the position. For example, you compare the modern GOP with the segregationist South. That’s a valid response, but it amounts to “Yes, I really think that the 1/2 of the country–not relegated to the South but distributed from Alaska to Maine to Hawaii to Florida–that supports the GOP is as evil as the Southern anti-integrationists.”

    My hypothesis is that this is primarily a reaction on your part to cognitive dissonance. It’s what happens when you get up to your eyeballs in “us-vs-them” tribalism. You identify as a Democrat as part of who you are. Therefore a Republican is “the Other”. A few million years of human evolution whispers inside your mind: “The Other is bad.” So bad, in fact, that you can’t even conceive of the possibility that it could be otherwise. Case in point:

    Nathaniel (me):

    Anti-semitism, for example, tends to run deeper and hotter on the American Left

    Greg:

    what is this… i don’t even….

    So the idea that anti-semitism could be alive and well in the Democratic Left is not only something you don’t believe, but it’s apparently a thought you can’t even process. The proposition “My side is wrong” isn’t something you can even consider. Contrast that with simple reality. Stanford University Business School conducted a simple survey in which they asked the question: “Do you blame the Jews for the financial crisis?” Among Republicans, 18% said yes (which is disturbingly high). Among Democrats, 32% did. This is just a very recent, very stark example of the difference in anti-Semitic attitudes across party lines, but the connection between the American Left and anti-Semitism is long, deep, and complicated. Jewish Journal

    Look, I’m not trying to convince you that the other team is better or even as good as your team. (I happen to think that, but it’s not on the table right now.) What I’m trying to point out is that if you honestly believe that the GOP is inferior in every single way, then you can’t avoid the really extreme implications that has for how you think about 1/2 your fellow citizens. Thinking that the GOP is misguided and wrong doesn’t entail those strong implications. Thinking that the GOP is worse than the Democrats on every single issue that exists does.

    Furthermore, that rather extreme viewpoint only really makes sense as a reaction to cognitive dissonance and an expression of tribalism. Demonizing the other side is–sad to say–human nature.

  228. With reference to the Anglo-Saxon culture thread above. One of the open secrets of American history is that late 19th century/early 20th century America was full of bilingual German communities and that German is the plurality ethnic origin still today. (For the record, I am a Polak; so not exactly biased towards Germans.) Also, contrary to stereotypes, these Germans tended to be Catholic, pacifist and leftist (from an American perspective.) WWI allowed the government to shut down the non-English newspapers and make it very uncomfortabe for anyone to have (even a small) cultural identification with Germany. You can still see a lot of German influence in this country. For instance our university system is more like theirs than Oxbridge as you would suppose if we were simply the country cousins of England as is commonly mooted about. And there are many reasons why the upper Midwest is a cradle of unionism and progressive movements. Sometimes a large ethnic community drinks the Kool Aid and sometimes the Kool Aid drinks them. I would not preach too loudly that Latinos ought to depend on the greatness and traditional receptivity of our “core” culture. And obviously I would also dispute what our “core” consists of and how jealously we should defend it from any change.

    I do think that Republicans will eventually wind up being more inclusive. (Or there will be a replacement conservative party that does cater to women, gay and non-white conservatives and eventually they will compete the Republican party out of its niche.) It probably won’t happen for 2016 though.

  229. Setting aside the fact that Adam doesn’t understand the difference between provides and promotes, keep in mind that he has planted himself firmly in the Mourdock camp of ‘why isn’t that rape victim grateful that her rapist made her pregnant’? Like Mourdock, I’m sure he’s absolutely bewildered as to why this view is unpopular.

    @Nathaniel Givens: Plenty of people who describe themselves as pro-life believe that abortion is morally wrong but should not be illegal, or that it should only be illegal in certain circumstances (such as “freely available until viability”). You may disagree that such people are, by your lights, truly “pro-life”, but then I would say the same about people who think abortion should hinge on how hard the woman tried not to get pregnant.

    @shakauvm: If the GOP tried to make buying wheeled vehicles illegal, tried to cut all funds to road and highway repair, and imposed draconian regulations on car-repair shops trying to make it nigh-impossible to get an oil change, I don’t think “War on Wheels” would raise most people’s eyebrows as a descriptor.

  230. So the idea that anti-semitism could be alive and well in the Democratic Left is not only something you don’t believe, but it’s apparently a thought you can’t even process.

    The response was to you saying that anti-Semitism “tends to run deeper and hotter” on the left, not to its existence.

    Stanford University Business School conducted a simple survey in which they asked the question: “Do you blame the Jews for the financial crisis?” Among Republicans, 18% said yes (which is disturbingly high). Among Democrats, 32% did. This is just a very recent, very stark example of the difference in anti-Semitic attitudes across party lines, but the connection between the American Left and anti-Semitism is long, deep, and complicated.

    First of all, your source is a publication who touts Dennis Prager as one of their contributors, a man who claims that a Muslim Congressman taking his oath of office with Thomas Jefferson’s Koran was undermined American civilization. Perhaps not all that objective, no? Second of all, you conveniently left out that the study was a single online survey of Gentiles, not an in-person study with a representative population with historical trends. Indeed, the study was criticized by both the ADL and survey experts for being unreliable, and the authors conceded that they didn’t allow for a “none of the above” option and that they had released the study before fully analyzing the results. That doesn’t exactly strike me as a thorough exercise of the scientific method, let alone a reliable data point.

  231. Jonathan Vos Post said: ” Those who voted for Kerry, then Obama, and then Obama, are in the Democratic chaotic attractor now.”

    That wouldn’t be a chaotic attractor, but a stable one.

  232. Regarding Pareto-superiority, I agree that the Republicans are better on the second amendment, but what keeps them alive is how much better they are are *narrative*. The Democratic Party cannot tell a story to save its fucking life, and that’s partly a matter of the party discipline previously discussed, but somewhat a matter of having fewer compelling goals than they used to, with most of their major points that galvanize the most unity and action having been achieved, putting them in the position of being the actual “conservative” party (i.e. the ones who want to mostly maintain the status quo and so spend most of their time defending it), and hugely a matter of what kinds of story they aren’t *willing* to tell because they’re trying to be decent fucking human beings.

    The Republicans get tremendously more narrative leverage because there are no levers they aren’t willing to pull. They’re infinitely better at terrifying people, at drawing on deeply-rooted, deeply-horrific tribalistic impulses, of giving people a demonic enemy to hate (which has been demonstrated to have basically all the properties of addictive euphoric drugs). They’re also better at painting a picture for them of how their situation is going to improve, if mostly implicitly through the demonization (if everything that’s wrong is because of the evil Other, well, we know how to fix it, don’t we).

    They aren’t going to lose any of this ability and they certainly aren’t going to develop more scruples about how they use it. So if Democrats ever want to be able to get legislation through the House again they might need to get their shit together storytelling-wise.

  233. Gary Willis @ 4:52 Nov 7: “I want that fiscal cliff to happen despite the pain it will cause.”

    The sequestration cuts are across the board throughout the entire government. Huge numbers of federal employees will be laid off, almost certainly my husband, who is the primary breadwinner in our household & the one carrying our health care. We’ll lose 2/3 of our annual income in sequestration happens. (And in addition to sequestration, every year – sometimes 2 & 3 times a year depending on how badly the government behaves – we face uncertainty as Congress dicks around with the budget or goes down to the wire on “continuing resolutions to fund government”, because without one or the other passing, my husband faces an unpaid furlough of uncertain duration; and then there are the debt ceiling debacles where one party or the other threatens to shut down government to make their point.)

    And we’re the lucky ones. I am employed. I can get us on my company’s health care. Our house is paid off. Nonetheless, our living standard will plummet, & its going to be ungodly miserable making that adjustment. And on top of that, if my husband loses his job, after 20+ years of employment, we’ll probably end up losing access to a large portion of his (our) retirement benefits.

    Imagine all those civil servants who don’t have safety nets, who have mortgages, who have kids trying to get into college, the single ones or the ones whose spouses don’t have jobs. Couple that with vast cuts in social programs, programs that assist small business, programs that help small communities maintain their infrastructure, programs that make sure our food & water & air are safe, FEMA … on and on and on. Imagine what will happen to unemployment if sequestration happens … because there a tons of private industry jobs that are linked to government jobs, & if sequestration happens & every department in government is savaged, that’s going to ripple throughout the private sector.

    Yes, I have a personal stake in this. I’m looking at the pain right in the face. I’m scared enough without you cheering it on, wishing it on me.

    And even leaving aside the personal terror that sequestration holds for me, it would be a TERRIBLE thing for the country. It would be a nightmare for literally millions of people across the country, in both direct & indirect ways.

    I’m praying right now that Congress will get its act together & find a way to prevent the nightmare from happening. Let’s focus on finding solutions that don’t throw our country to the wolves, please.

  234. @adam K

    If it’s really a war on abortion, not only are the GOP going after it in the worst way possible, but they apparently consider women’s autonomy and health entirely acceptable collateral casualties.

    You might want to read this article; it’s a bit long but the author argues their points very well and backs them up with actual reality-based numbers — two things that the GOP really should do more if they want to win an election any time soon…

  235. So the idea that anti-semitism could be alive and well in the Democratic Left is not only something you don’t believe, but it’s apparently a thought you can’t even process.

    I suspect the reason we’re seeing these ideas fly past each other is the typical assumption on the conservative side that “Not being a whole-hearted supporter of Israel” = “Antisemitism” (which is nonsense).

  236. InDaButt:

    For future reference, when calling someone else ignorant, it helps not to make it clear you yourself are ignorant, in this case of the difference between “your” and “you’re”. These things tend to blunt your authority on the matters of who is ignorant and who is not.

  237. Nathaniel: it’s almost always gauche. Slinging around pseudo-latin phrases to try and make a point is whopping cliche at this point.

    I’ve been studying political positions and questioning my own moral positions for decades, mostly because I was horrendously wrong a long time ago about some things. So, I look to see why I believe what I believe. And if it doesn’t have a solid moral foundation, I hold it suspect. That’s me looking at my own views. And doing that over the years has required me to really understand epistomology, how do we know something. And that naturally leads to learning about logical fallacies and recognizing them when I’m doing them.

    So, no. it’s not “gauche” (ad hominem) and its not “pseudo-latin” (ad hominem) and its not “cliche” (ad hominem). If you are having aconversation about plumbing something in your house, and a real live actual plumber starts telling you about technical plumbing terms and building codes, that’s not gauche, pseudo-anything, or cliche. It’s bringing a level of rigor to the conversation where you’ve been playing fast and loose with logic.

    Secondly–in providing a citation to strengthen your use of any given fallacy–you run the risk of appearing to violate one of the most well-known ones: argument from / appeal to authority.

    I provided a citation as an example, because the example was almost identical to your words. Logic isn’t “authority”. Using logic isn’t an appeal to authority. I provided a link because people who commit logical fallacies often don’t know what they are or understand them so you could click on the link and read up about them and maybe learn something.

    Imagine, for example, if we argued about whether or not the world is flat and you cited various textbooks. If my response was to mock you for appealing to authority I would be correct in a way that is both highly technical and totally useless.

    You don’t understand logic then.

    Citing argument from popularity (or any other attack on inductive reasoning) to defend your point is a cop-out.

    It was argumentum ad numerum, which is slightly different. And disregarding the fact that you just committed a logical fallacy and trying to attack logic as “copping out” reflects on you, not me.

    In the end, you wrote several hundred words and avoided actually addressing the fallacy you committed. If you had focused on something like “Well, I admit its a fallacy, but all inductive reasoning is susceptible to errors” then maybe you would have eventually acknowledged that the entire basis for your argument is susceptible to errors.

    Instead, you ignored all that and tried to turn it into an attack on my for citing a clear logical fallacy inherent in your fundamental assumption. Me, if osmeone pointed out a logical error in my fundamental assumption, it would give me reason to pause.

    I’m not sure why you’re confused. If Option A is something like racism and 60 million Americans pick it, then 60 million Americans are either too stupid to realize it’s racist, too evil to care, or some combination of the two.

    But this directly violates your logical fallacy/fundamental assumption that I quoted earlier: My fundamental assumption is that 60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil.

    So far you have been unwilling to come out and say it, but you’re maintaining the position.

    say what?

    I think I’ve been pretty clear.

    “Yes, I really think that the 1/2 of the country–not relegated to the South but distributed from Alaska to Maine to Hawaii to Florida–that supports the GOP is as evil as the Southern anti-integrationists.”

    Well, that’s a strawman, obviously. Um, is it OK to point out strawmen because its not latin? But it’s a demonization, taking someone’s position and changing it to something even worse, then attacking the person as if they had said it.

    Is it gauche to point out that you just committed a conversational foul? Or is the foul what’s gauche?

    You identify as a Democrat as part of who you are. Therefore a Republican is “the Other”.

    Fuck me. No I don’t. I don’t actually identify as Democrat. Technically, I identify as “progressive”, but strategic voting requires that I vote for 1 of the 2 most likely to win candidates. I have a shit load of criticism for Obama and I’ve been quite willing to share it on this blog and with other people. But Romney is a far worse candidate.

    A few million years of human evolution whispers inside your mind: “The Other is bad.”

    Wow. Really? You can see the whispers in my mind?

    What I’m trying to point out is that if you honestly believe that the GOP is inferior in every single way,

    I listed, uhm, two, but I think they’re the Republicans two biggest strengths. And I explained why I think the Dems are betters. I also mentioned “Off the top of my head”, and then pointed it out again, and am pointing it out here as well, which generally means, “what follows is not a rigorous, exhaustive, fully enumerated list”.

    When you start dealling with what I actually said, let me know.

  238. Abortion is only approved by most people in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother. You do not mention the consistent abortion on demand lobby of the Democratic party.

    Homosexuality has been promoted largely on the back of the idea that it is innate – that is to say, that there is some relationship between being gay and being black or female, for example. This is a bald faced lie, and I imagine is going to eventually backfire, though when I could not tell you.

    All I know is that the reality about homosexuality is that finding it distasteful is more or less a function of nature in humans. Not all animals are hostile to bisexual or homosexual advances, but some are, and our species would appear to be one of them. If gays suffer for being “different”, it is because the way they are different is more or less hardwired into our bodies to be seen as objectionable at some level.

    Finally, while the Republicans have indeed lost their way fiscally, I would say it is mostly in not recognizing the very government-like qualities of large corporations, and the way these corporations work hand in glove with the government to make most small businesses basically their lackeys – doing things for less money so the big boys don’t have to bother with them, and paying less and offering fewer benefits besides. That’s the part of the Tea Party movement that is not going to go away. If they can be convinced to aim their ire as enthusiastically at corporate greed as they do at Federal waste, then they will be a real power. And I don’t think they are going anywhere anytime soon.

  239. David McCune, no, the part that bans ALL abortions in the Republican platform is this: ABORTION:

    The party states that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

    There is no room for exception in that. The statement that the Republican’s want to ban all abortion, without exception is well founded, and correct.

  240. mythago-

    Plenty of people who describe themselves as pro-life believe that abortion is morally wrong but should not be illegal, or that it should only be illegal in certain circumstances (such as “freely available until viability”).

    The implication you’re trying to make, I assume, is that support for actual pro-life policies is less than then 50/50 split based on self-identification would provide. This is needless speculation when the public opinion polls on the policy itself are readily available.

    As I’ve mentioned before, cumulative support for all positions that involve more regulation of abortion than currently exists is a very strong majority. Support for the current laws are an incredibly small minority (about 30%, to be generous). In other words: if there are lots of self-identified pro-lifers who don’t support actual policy changes, there must also be lots of self-identified pro-choicers who do.

    What it really comes down to is that Americans are extremely uncomfortable with abortion being used a method of birth control. This, however, is the purpose of 90%+ of abortions currently performed and the current laws are designed specifically to protect this status quo. So the potential is easily there for the GOP to create a moderate coalition aimed at gradual restrictions on abortion as birth control without touching the controversial issues of rape, fetal abnormality, etc. The Democrats are hamstrung from adopting a more moderate stance in practice because of their past victories: any move towards the middle means abandoning the gains of Roe v. wade. The GOP, by contrast, has nothing to lose.

    In the final analysis there are just two ways to evaluate the political benefit/harm of the abortion issue. In terms of rhetoric and self-identification the country is split roughly 50/50. In terms of policy, the country is overwhelmingly in support of some mixture of positions that entail policy changes in the pro-life direction. Thus, abortion is somewhere between a net-neutral and a potential substantial asset for the GOP.

  241. FWIW, if I was Obama, I would be talking with Reid and Pelosi right now on a bill that simply says that all the existing tax cuts for those making under $250k and the Medicare doc fix are reinstated. If the “fiscal cliff” happens, then all they have to do is introduce the bill on January 2 and dare the GOP to vote against it. If Boehner and McConnell (and their caucuses) back down and pass it, then the lower and middle class sees no change in their paychecks, and Grandma and Grandpa keep their doctors. If they block it, then they get to explain it to a hostile audience. Either way, Obama and the Democrats in Congress get to take credit, and Fox News anchors heads asplode.

  242. Shane Roach: So, you believe homosexuality to be a choice. Good, stake out that position. Now tell me when you chose to be attracted to the opposite sex? Was there a time when you were attracted to both, and you said, “Nope, I’m going with the opposite sex!’? I doubt it. The bottom line is, no one chooses who they’re sexually attracted to, or there’d be a lot fewer adulterous relationships.

  243. Abortion is only approved by most people in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

    Wrong.

    You do not mention the consistent abortion on demand lobby of the Democratic party.

    Because it doesn’t exist.

    Homosexuality has been promoted largely on the back of the idea that it is innate – that is to say, that there is some relationship between being gay and being black or female, for example. This is a bald faced lie, and I imagine is going to eventually backfire, though when I could not tell you.

    This is not the current thinking of any major medical group that I can think of.

    All I know is that the reality about homosexuality is that finding it distasteful is more or less a function of nature in humans. Not all animals are hostile to bisexual or homosexual advances, but some are, and our species would appear to be one of them.

    If we’re talking about lies, that there’s a big one.

  244. David: I’m sure Professor Haidt regrets you were not around to point out the failures in his lifetime of research. Sure could have saved him some time.

    I think my hourly rate is fairly reasonable, but he never called me. Oh well.

  245. @Nathaniel: No, as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m observing that simply slapping on the labels “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, even as a self-identifier, is not really a good marker of someone’s actual positions. I’m also observing that many of the positions Americans have about ‘not using abortion as birth control’ are not just inconsistent, but impossible to translate into policy. For example, the common “I think abortion is OK if the woman used the Pill and it failed, but not if she just had sex and took a chance” – how do you legislate that?

    Also, I think we both know that when you say Americans don’t want abortion to be a form of birth control, that you’re staking out a particular interpretation of that phrase that may not be as universal as you’d like. For you, ‘not birth control’ probably means ‘anything other than rape or incest or mother’s life'; for many people it means ‘not a substitute for responsible contraceptive use’.

    Democrats certainly aren’t going to win anything arguing MOAR ABORTION. Again, that’s why they’ve shifted the frame to medical privacy – which, ironically, is what Roe is pretty much all about. Americans are not comfortable with the argument that the government should be sitting in the doctor’s office telling you what treatment you’re allowed to have, and they’re able to note the contradiction in an argument that government should stay out of health care, as long as it’s health care unrelated to ladybits.

  246. Had a great dinner last night with twentysome people in the back part of a small restaurant in our neighborhood. Needed it too. That’s why I’m only getting to this now. Great piece here, John. I even learned a few cool words.

  247. Greg-

    I’m sad to see the tone of your most recent post deteroriate, so perhaps we’re nearing the end of this discussion. I’ll continue on at present, however.

    I provided three responses to your assertion that I’d committed a logical fallacy. You responded to the first two, and then claimed I hadn’t addressed your contention directly. Conspicuously absent from your post is any acknowlege of the third and longest response to your assertion where I did just that.

    To recap: the family of logical fallacies that include argument from authority and argument from popularity are frequently misunderstood and applied in a way that would rule out all inductive reasoning. Rather than actually point out a logical fallacy on my part, you committed precisely that error. To be very clear:

    1. Because lots of people (or an authority) state X, it must logically follow that X.

    2. Because lots of people (or an authority) state X, it is very likely that X is the case, even though X is not logically implied.

    The first statement is a logical fallacy. The second is not. My argument is of the second variety.

    I’m also not attributing a strawman to you, Greg. I’ve presented an argument, and I’m waiting for you to reply to it directly. The argument is simply that if Option A is inferior in every respect to Option B, than a person would never choose Option A unless they made some kind of mistake. The mistake might be amoral (e.g. ignorance or a failure to reason correctly) which I abbreviate to “stupid”. Or the mistake might be moral (e.g. they either enjoy the defects of A or are callously indifferent to them) and I abbreviate that as “evil”. Of course some people actually are stupid/evil (everyone is, to some degree), but if you have 120,000,000 people make the choice, and about 60,000,000 choose Option A it is very difficult to assume that in every case the decision is a result of stupid/evil. There’s no logical fallacy because I’m not stating that the choice of 60,000,000 Americans logically implies anything at all, merely that it is a rather tremendous reason to induce that something other than stupid/evil is at play. It’s an inference, not a logical implication, but a very, very strong one.

    Which part of this argument do you feel is incorrect?

    A few concluding remarks.

    First, when I said:

    A few million years of human evolution whispers inside your mind: “The Other is bad.”

    I was not suggesting that this is true of you in particular (e.g. I don’t claim to see whispers in your mind) but rather that this is a universal aspect of human nature. As a simple corollary, whether you identify as “Democrat” or as “progressive” is immaterial to the point that you do have a group-identification (we all do) and are therefore subject to evolved human group behavior (we all are).

    Secondly, the reason I’m wasting all these electrons going on and on about this issue is not that I have a beef with you in particular, but simply that I passionately believe that American divisiveness is corrosive to our nation. The reality is that in terms of policy you’d be hard-pressed to find a real distinction between Democrats and Republicans. Despite this, there is a perception that the other side is out to destroy the country. Republicans think Democrats are trying to turn us into a Marxist socialist state and Democrats think Republicans are trying to turn us into an oppressive authoritarian regime. Meanwhile: have fun trying to find an actual difference between what Bush and Obama did on bailouts or drone strikes.

    The Economist has a great piece that speaks to this:

    In a system governed by the logic of the median-voter theorem, one would expect to see the parties converging in policy terms to win the allegiance of voters in the centre. And you can even make a case that this is, in policy terms, what has happened in America. Realistic arguments over policy take place on relatively narrow terrain: they are arguments over a top marginal tax rate of 35% or 39.6%, over a health-insurance system with guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions but with or without a mandate, and so forth. But in ideological terms, this is not what the political divide looks like. Republicans construe the Democratic positions on these questions as socialism and international decline. Democrats construe the Republican positions as social darwinism and militant imperialism…

    Over the next four years, legislative battles are going to continue to be savage and hard-fought. Neither conservatives nor liberals are going to change their minds en masse about fundamental issues of political philosophy. The top priority is for Americans to figure out a way to keep these divisions from dividing the country into two hostile armed camps that are incapable of talking to each other.

    Demonizing the other guy is a bad idea, and I try to challenge it wherever I can (including among conservatives). Claiming that the GOP is inferior in every single way is just velvet-clad demonization that–despite the low-key rhetoric–is actually incredibly stark. That’s my purpose in challenging you on this one. You happen to have given me a great example of a behavior that I think is incredibly dangerous to our country.

  248. mythago-

    OK, I follow you. I’m happy to set aside self-identification and focus on policy for a moment, but I draw a different conclusion than you. First of all, I’m not trying to bake in any specific interpretation into “birth control”. I don’t have my super-secret recipe that I’m trying to sneak into this discussion. I’m actually very conflicted about the exact nature of my own pro-life views, so I don’t have particular definition to sneak in even if I wanted to.

    My point is simply that the GOP can take advantage politically of the ambiguity around the issue in a way that Democrats cannnot. I agree that a “abortion is OK when contraception fails” would be impossible to implement, but the GOP has already successfully fought for a number of modeate issues like parental consent or equal reguation of abortion clinics or banning partial birth abortion. There are plenty of pro-life type issues at the margin the GOP can fight for, and the GOP can sell these to their hardcore base as being at least moement in the right direction. The GOP has room to maneuver. The Democrats don’t because any movement at all from the status quo is in the wrong direction.

    Strategically: abortion doesn’t have to be a losing political issue. Empirically: I’ve seen no evidence that it is. (Contrast that to the “brown” comment from Scalzi: the failure of the GOP to connect with the Latino vote is right there in black-and-white for all to see.)

  249. MPAVictoria-

    Nathaniel do you think it is a coincidence that the GOP does so well in the Old Confederacy?

    Of course it’s not a coincidents, but there’s a lot more to the story than just “Republicans are racists”.

  250. I have certainly felt made war upon as a woman since the days of Reagan, and it’s gotten progressively worse ever election cycle since then. This cycle the so-called republican values candidates (including the queen bees who are the shilling exceptions allowed to run for office themselves in order to have dominion over other women on behalf of men — even when these candidates don’t recognize that is the case) couldn’t even be bothered to disguise how much they dislike women and find them disgusting, and want them gone gone gone from all public spaces and autonomous decision making, even about themselves and their bodies.

    Presumably that is why my very long line to vote at our polling station on Tuesday had so very many young women in it — and so many latina women and so very many other women of color. The Dems lied to us about the war upon our selves and bodies? It was just the other way around: we women told the party in no uncertain terms that war was being made upon us.

    There’s a reason all the pro-rape candidates lost. We know what these men are like because each of us has had to deal with men like them all our lives, and we don’t want them running the country or even our homes, for that matter.

    Love, C.

  251. “Of course it’s not a coincidents, but there’s a lot more to the story than just “Republicans are racists”.”

    Nathaniel I suggest that it is time for you to do some basic research regarding the history of the party you support. May I suggest googling using the key words “The Southern Strategy”? It might help you understand things more clearly.

  252. “The GOP want to dismantle PP for one reason only, and that’s that it promotes abortion. The probes are the same thing… it’s a way of discouraging women from going through with abortions, by making them view the baby first.”

    It would be nice if people would quit repeating the completely inaccurate canard that PP “promotes” abortion, rather than “provides” abortion, which, btw, is actually only 3% of all services PP actually provides. The majority of services that they provide happen to be women’s health, including STD testing/treatment (35%) and contraception provision (35%), and cancer screening (16%). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-planned-parenthood-actually-does/2011/04/06/AFhBPa2C_blog.html

    The probes, aside from being horribly invasive, are also distinctly insulting – do they seriously think all those women who wish to have abortions DON’T know what it is that they have gestating in their uteruses? What else could it possibly be but a fetus – a platypus? A alien parasite perhaps? It’s a medically needless intimidation tactic. If that’s not targeting women’s ability to comprehend just what it is they are doing, I don’t know what it is.

  253. “All I know is that the reality about homosexuality is that finding it distasteful is more or less a function of nature in humans.”

    This. Is. NOT. True. Historically or otherwise.

    But dealing in historical facts is difficult when dealing with profound historical ignorance. Just as it is impossible to discuss anything about women with candidates who are so profoundly ignorant of basic human biology, and particularly human female biology, despite them presumably living with women all their lives.

    These kinds of ignorance are not only shocking, but just — so preposterous, it’s difficult not to go into tinfoil hatlandia and think, “ooooo there’s another agenda here otherwise these men who sit on committees that fund science wouldn’t say anything this, this, this — there is no word, actually, that contains all the shock, horror and disgust such comments as ‘legitimate rape and shut that down,’ provoke in a woman’s intellect and in her gut. And it’s the same as with the comment quoted at the top.

  254. Nathaniel, I see the claim that the GOP is better on economic grounds rather a lot. The Conservative Party in the UK make similar claims. The thing that ultimately stopped me having any truck with the British Conservatives, and, now I’m a resident, the GOP, is that it just doesn’t seem to be true.

    On the whole unemployment goes down under democrats, the deficit (debt is separate) is decreased – Obama has managed to reduce it by about 25% even during the current recession -, the stock market goes up… seriously, 100% during Obama’s first term. There’s more like that.

    I didn’t believe Mr Evans my high school economics teacher when he said “I can understand people voting Conservative on social grounds, but economically speaking they’re insane” – he said that about the policies of Margaret Thatcher, he was right 25 years ago, and he’s still right today.

  255. Nathaniel meet Shane. Shane meet Nathaniel. Nathaniel, Shane is a fellow party member of yours. He is the face of the modern republican party. You should look at him very closely before you post anymore.

  256. Nathaniel,
    I’m sure I’m really not needed in this discussion, but I think you’re framing the terms unfairly.

    You are conflating being mistaken with being evil.

    I happen to think that yes, the folks who voted Republican made a mistake. There could be many reasons for this; there’s a lot of misinformation out there being shouted very loudly, other people have different values than I do, stereotypes are not the same as reality when it comes to political parties, people do have loyalty to their chosen party. I’m sure that they would think I made a mistake, too. Perhaps they would even think I’m evil.

    Being mistaken is not a sufficient condition for being judged to be evil. I think you’re taking this stance in order to argue that Democrats judging Republicans (for example) for their party affiliation is the same thing as labeling them and .judging them less competent than themselves. While this certainly happens, to assume that this is happening universally and that it only happens one way (which your posts seem to imply) is to tar all voters with the same brush, and is unfair.

    Perhaps that will ease your mind as to the direction this country is taking.

  257. Daveon:

    This might upset people, but I’m here to back you up with SCIENCE (well, MATH, but that doesn’t sound as exciting). Here’s a bunch of examples of where modern Democratic Presidents, both averaged and individually, have promoted better fiscal policy than Republicans:

    Annual GDP Growth
    Annual Employment Growth
    Unemployment Rate Change (note that Reagan is the only Republican President to have reduced unemployment)
    Change in Federal Surplus/Deficit (again, only one Republican, Eisenhower, has reduced the deficit or created a surplus)
    Income Inequality

    Bonus: Economic growth under Presidents with Democratic Congresses and Republican Congresses (SPOILER: The highest rates the economy have grown was when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress, and the lowest when there’s been a Democratic president and a split Congress)

  258. to a Democrat name one thing that the Republican party currently does better than the Democratic Party

    The Republicans historically have done a better job at controlling inflation. And IMO that’s about it.

  259. About the general exercise of finding one thing the other side does better –

    The space of possible options is huge. Unimaginably huge. It takes a finely tuned optimization process to pick out good ideas from bad ones in this space – and the better you’re already doing, the more so this is. It’s easier to optimize a Model T than it is to optimize a Civic. If the process by which you’re identifying and vetting your policy ideas isn’t up to the task, then the chances of your accidentally producing good ideas drops off precipitously.

    The Republican Party’s method of producing policy ideas is doing far far FAR better than random noise in producing good policy. And that’s even if you restrain the random noise to producing semantically valid English that’s on topic. This is not surprising, because it’s produced by humans, some of whom are smart. This is so in much the same way that Aristotle’s physics is far far FAR more accurate than a typical randomly generated alternative.

    But the Republicans’ idea-generation-and-checking method is nowhere near good enough to produce an improvement over our actual situation. Under this circumstance – no, it’s not too unlikely that we find that a party which uses a different method of producing policy ideas will do a universally better job. And it doesn’t mean republicans are dumb any more than Aristotle was dumb. It just means that the Republican Party has other things going on than applying that intelligence to the problem of optimizing public policy – or if they are, they’re not letting on, probably for strategic reasons.

    All that said…

    I’m not terribly keen on the stronger gun control provisions. Bans seem drastically excessive, so I’ll give them a slight pass on that, though it’s like trying to figure out whether Rome is closer to New York or Vladivostok.

    And I’ve run into needlessly complicated regulatory spaghetti, though in this case I’m pretty confident it’s better that we have the spaghetti than nothing, though simplifying would sure be an improvement. If Republicans could do a bit less dismantling and more simplifying while keeping the core intact, then they’d get this one too.

  260. Are all republicans racists? Of course not, however a quick look across the internet will show you a major block of them are. I am not going to post links if you want to go looking its really not hard to find it. These are not the “fringe” they are the mainstream republican voters. I for one will not miss them when they finally give up the ghost.

    Someone brought up the not wanting to buy birth control is not the same as wanting to restrict it. If a company wishes to provide insurance they do not get to pick and choose what services are offered by that insurance. This has nothing to do with religious freedom, the catholic church operates businesses those businesses are no more moral than Walmart or Kmart, their employees deserve the same protection under the law as everyone else.

  261. Tony Hursh said that the Whigs elected four presidents. No, they only elected two; both died in office and were succeeded by their VPs. In both cases the party underwent severe internal convulsions, essentially because it was faced with major decisions when it had no principles or policies other than “The Party of Not Andrew Jackson.” In fact, both the presidents it elected were war heroes, because it was easier to get elected without a platform when you could wave the flag vigorously. In the long term – by which I mean, “anything longer than winning this or that particular election,” the Whigs were a disaster. In particular, they were completely riven over the slavery issue.

  262. Sorry, John, really trying to stick to the policy issues rather than abortion per se.

    @Shane Roach: your comments about homosexuality are so not-reality-based that I am, in all honesty, wondering what you base them on.

  263. Shane, as a queer person, I have to tell you about the choice I made.

    I was in love with an amazing, intelligent beautiful woman. I had a choice, it was to tell her that I loved her and to have a life with her or to be without her and miserable without her love.

    At a later point in my life, I had another similar choice. I was in love with a charming, intelligent caring man. I had a choice. To tell him that I loved him and to have a life with him or to be without him and be miserable.

    Both times, I chose to be happy. I chose love. At no point in either relationship, did I choose to fall in love, that just happened.

  264. Anyone who suggests being gay is a choice must at the same time admit to having serious sexual attraction to people of the same sex as them.

  265. Would it be too cynical to suggest that, if it can blame the other side, either side would have us go over the fiscal cliff rather than compromise it’s principles?

  266. Sorry, you are correct. I am not a professional writer, I can see how being a grammar Nazi is easy. I will restate it properly as you pointed out (minus the fact I did not have a period) ;-)

    LOL, you are duly ignored for being ignorant.

    Better?

  267. Speaking of ignorant, did you think “InDaButt” was somehow a funny name, or was it the first thing to appeal to you as a nym?

  268. Nathaniel: I’m sad to see the tone of your most recent post deteroriate

    This from that guy who called my post gauche, pseudo-latin, whopping cliche? Color me unimpressed with your sudden concern with the deterioration of tone.

    then claimed I hadn’t addressed your contention directly. Conspicuously absent from your post is any acknowlege of the third and longest response to your assertion where I did just that.

    This???

    Inductive reasoning is tricky because it’s uncertain and tends to be closely related to statistics

    I pointed out a fallacy because it suggests you’re on questionable ground. You spent two paragraphs insulting me in various ways, and then say “inductive reasoning is tricky”??? Hey! Guess what? That means you’re on questionable ground.

    An argument can use a logical fallacy and still contain a valid conclusion, but then the argument used can’t be used to prove the conclusion. Pointing out a logical fallacy doesn’t disprove the conclusion. Pointing out a logical fallacy means the conclusion is unproven. It might be correct, but it isn’t proven.

    I said your fundamental assumption is an argumentum ad numerum fallacy. That means you’re fundamental assumption is on shaky ground. It’s not DISproved by containing a logical fallacy. But it does mean that your argument fails to PROVE it either.

    And then you talk in third person about how “inductive reasoning is tricky”? Had you actually integrated that into your “fundamental assumption” and said “my fundamental assumption is this, and I acknowlege its not something that can be proven”, then you would have acknowledged the effect of it being a logical fallacy. It isn’t proven. It might be true, but we don’t know because it isn’t proven.

    Instead of integrating this possibility of error into your own argument, instead of acknowledging that not only is inductive reasoning in general a tricky thing because it’s uncertain, but you could have acknowledged that your fundamental assumption was also uncertain, and we would have been fine.

    Instead, you throw a few personal insults my way while lecturing me about the tone deteriorating and on stuff about logical arguments that I already know, and finish by refusing to acknowlege your assumption might be flawed, or might be, as you said, uncertain.

    So, I’m going to try this again. Ready? You said this:

    Nathaniel: My fundamental assumption is that 60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil.

    This is not proven. it’s a logical fallacy which means the conclusion is unproven. The conclusion could be true, but your argument uses a logical fallacy, so your argument doesn’t prove it.

    Inductive reasoning is uncertain, so there is some uncertainty in your statement as well. But every time I point out the possibility that there is uncertainty in your fundamental assumption, that your fundamental assumption is wrong, you start lecturing me or insulting me.

    Last but not least, one can disprove a general statement with a single specific example to the contrary. “All swans are white” can be disproved by presenting a single black swan for examination. I provided the case of the South in the 50’s as a deeply racist area, and therefore deeply wrong. This is a specific, real world example that is contrary to your general statement, therefore it disproves your general statement.

    So (A) your fundamental assumption is a logical fallacy (B) from an inductive resoning point of view, your statement contains uncertainty and (C) a specific real-world example to the contrary disproves your general statement.

    Your statement is wrong. Your fundamental assumption is wrong. It does not give you any indication as to whether 60 million people are right or wrong, just that they agree with one another. You cannot drop someone down into a random social situation in some moment in time, have them take out the yardstick which is My fundamental assumption is that 60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil. , and have them reliably determine whether people are acting in a good way or not.

    You’ve been unable to acknowledge your fundamental assumption is not a useful moral indicator. And while you keep avoiding the simple fact that your fundamental assumption is wrong, you also have been insulting me, lecturing me about logic that is irrelevant, telling me that I’m suffering the effects of tribalism, that I’m a die-hard Democrat, and when I told you I’m not, you said it doesn’t matter because I must have some group identity because we all do.

    Which bring me back again to your fundamental assumption: “60 million Americans can’t be stupid/evil”. I find it interesting that you’ve tried to assert multiple times that I’m trapped in some sort of “identity” and that I’m looking at Republicans as “other”, and “other” is evil. And I find it interesting that you try to invoke this on my with the argument that everyone is stuck in some group identity. And yet, you dont’ actually apply this argument back to your original fundamental assumption. If eveyrone is operating within some group identity and will tend ot “other” people not in their group, why can’t 60 million Americans do that? Isn’t that exactly what happened in the racist South? Millions of whites “othered” blacks?

    So, you keep trying to poitn out that I must be trapped in some group identity, and that everyone does it, but you can’t seem to bring that back to your own fundamental assumption and realize that yes, in fact, 60 million Americans COULD get trapped in a group identity and “other” everyone outside that identity.

    Like straights othering gays. Men othering women. Christians othering Muslims. Whites othering brown skinned people. Seems to me that there is quite a lot of that going on in America right now.

    And not once do you take that information and roll it back into your fundamental assumption and acknoweldge that it’s not a useful yardstick in any way, and that in some circumstances it is provably wrong.

    I don’t know. Maybe you’re the one trapped in some sort of group identity and part of that group identity includes your fundamental assumption, and therefore you’re unable to truly question the veracity of that fundamental assumption. How would you know? How do you check the accuracy of your fundamental assumption? How do you continue to avoid acknowledging it is unproven and that historical examples can actually disprove it? All the while lecturing me on logic and calling me “gauche”.

    Lastly, this: I’m also not attributing a strawman to you, Greg.

    You really need to re-read this text of yours:

    This is more or less exactly the position you’ve outlined so far. The GOP is racist, sexist, homophobic and islamophobic. … This tells me that you inhabit a universe where calling 1/2 your fellow citizens evil/stupid is a matter of routine.”

    That’s a strawman. You’re doing a mind read. I skimmed through this thread and I did not find any occurrence of me using the word “evil”. I started counting how many times you used the word evil, but lost count after a while.

    You keep making this shit up. I keep pointing out to you that this is a strawman. And you keep coming back at me with more strawman bullshit.

    It’s already been pointed out to you, but maybe it’s something that can’t pierce your group identity, but I haven’t said half the nation is evil and stupid.

    I don’t know what’s going on over there on your side of the keyboard. If I had to guess, I’d guess that your “group identitty” as you like to call it is that “nobody has to be wrong, everybody has something valuable to contribute”, and if someone makes a point of saying “You are wrong” or saying “Republicans have a lot of racism in their party and are wrong for it”, you take a fact and transform it into demonization.

    I told you that you made a logical fallacy. I told you your argument is wrong. At no point did I say you were evil.

    But you keep trying to say that the only way I can say what I say is if I think every person who voted Republican is evil. No. That’s your thing.

  269. Daaayum, Greg. I don’t always find myself agreeing with you (oops, might have to give up my liberal/progressive groupthink card for that admission), but that was cogent, incisive, and epic fisking.

  270. @fiona64 wrote:
    —–
    Woodman asked: Is there a minority democrat, besides the president, that was elected in a non-racially gerrymandered district?

    Yep. Rep. Mike Honda — just to name one. You’re welcome.
    —–

    Are you talking about the 2001 restricting? He certainly wasn’t redistricted safely for 2012 – he’s represented district 15 since 2001. (I happen to live in the Eshoo/Honda split area.) The 2001 redistrict plan wasn’t so much gerrymandering as a giant muck. CA had gained one seat and Republicans were trying to avoid a major redistricting plan that would change the then 30-20 Democratic/GOP split. They eventually agreed on a plan that basically favored all the incumbents (most of whom paid the guy drawing the districts!), and many lawsuits later, was approved.

    IIRC, Honda got elected because Tom Campbell retired to run for an open Senate seat. That wouldn’t be what I call gerrymandering, but perhaps I misremember? I’m sure there is a Democrat who was gerrymandered in – perhaps in Simi Valley? they got merged with greater LA this year, I think – but I wouldn’t say it was Honda.

  271. John, I don’t believe you could be any closer on this one. Unless the republicans grow up or get a rock star to run on their behalf they will not see a presidency for a very long time.

  272. I am a moderately right-leaning, white, male, well-off, heterosexually-married, college educated centrist with a history of voting predominantly for the GOP (the notable exception being this election), and I approve of this message.

  273. Anyone who, like Shane Roach, thinks homosexuality is a choice and hostility to homosexual activity is innate must necessarily also believe that gay men feel the same intense aversion to sex with other men that straight men feel, but choose do it anyway, over and over, just to piss people off.

  274. Shane: If gays suffer for being “different”, it is because the way they are different is more or less hardwired into our bodies to be seen as objectionable at some level.

    Well, anger is a hardwired response. If you feel someone’s harmed you, getting angry is the natural evolutionary response. This can lead to revenge in the form of physical violence of one form or another.

    Folks paying attention will notice that being a hardwired response is unrelated to whether that response is right or just.

  275. Another terribly cogent analysis, John.

    Aren’t you ever curious as to what it would be like to just rant on like an idiot (and by idiot I mean Limbaugh at the top of a deep pile) and let reality and consequences be damned?

  276. Greg-

    As far as tone goes, I sense a great deal of frustration from you, and that’s a bummer. That’s all I’m saying. As far as I’m concerned this disagreement can continue to be on good terms. Yeah, I might think that a comment was gauche, but that strikes me as pretty gentle as far as Internet trash talk goes. Still, if it bothers you, I’ll drop it. That wasn’t my intention.

    As for the content of your post, I think you’re still misapplying rules of deductive reasoning to an argument that I’ve already explained is inductive.

    Here’s a sample inductive argument. Suppose I roll a 6-sided die and I get a 4. Then I roll it 4 times, and every time I get a 4. If I look at my sample of 5 successive 4’s and say, “Hmm… I think this might be a loaded die because it’s rather unlikely (0.01%) to roll that sequence of die-rolls” I am not assuming that rolling 5 4’s in a row logically implies that the die is loaded. It just makes it somewhat probable. If I keep rolling and get 10, 20, and then 40 4’s in an unbroken row, my degree of confidence in the proposition “this is a loaded die” will keep going up, but I will never be certain.

    That’s very similar to the actual argument I’m making here. Your premise is that D is better than R in every single category. So when a person decides who to vote, no matter what their basis for that vote is, they should conclude to vote for D. Does foreign policy matter? D is better. How about economic policy? D is better. What if I care about civil libeties? D is still better. So for a person to vote for R (assuming R is inferior at everything), a person must make one of two errors:
    1. They fail to understand tht D is better. So they sincerely think R is better, but they are wrong. This is an error of stupidity.
    2. They understand that D is better, but the pick R anyway. They know D has civil liberty superiority, but they *like* being bigoted. This is an error of immorality; they are evil.

    Two crucial things for you to note.

    The first is that you never said “evil”, but I’m not making a straw man. I’m making an argument based on your premise. You might consider the language harsh, but the logic seems pretty simple: when someone pulls the lever for R they are either innocently mistaken or deliberately evil.

    The second is that this inductive argument is basically the same as the die-roll example. Someone making an honest mistake is basically a random process, and finding an evil person out of a population is also like taking a random sample. So, as more and more people vote for R, your position forces us to choose between two propositions: there are a lot of stupid/evil people (mistaken/immoral, if you prefer) *OR* the starting premise (D is superior to R in everything) is mistaken.

    Because if R has some superiority (even if it is worse over all), then it’s lot easier to explain. If you’re comparing two big, complicated sets of items and there are some advantages to each, then making a mistake is easy. You happen to focus on the wrong issues, and so you pick the worse one, but your actual reasoning makes sense. You’re not an idiot, you’re just dealing with too much information. But if R has *no advantage* in *anything*, then a person just has to be really dumb to pick them beacuse no matter what they choose to look at the answer is always “D is better”.

    So we’ve got some statistical evidence (about 1/2 the country, including ~60,000,000 people) voted for R. Either
    1. D is better than R at everything, so that 60,000,000 is just all dumb/evil people
    2. D is better than R at more things than not, but R has some advantages, and so a lot of those 60,000,000 people includes a lot who made an understandable error of not looking at enough info or focusing on the wrong info, etc.

    There’s no fallacy here. There’s no straw man. I’m just askig you to tell me which you think is more likely of those two scenarios.

    So far you *seem* to be sticking with scenario 1, and you’ve cited the 1960s South as an example of a lot of people making the wrong choice. That’s a totally reasonable response, but the primary problem with it is that Jim Crowe was a perncious, evil institution that arose in a specific culture and region based on history. There might be more people voting for R than for D i the South, but the fact is that in the 2012 election we just had, R won in diverse states across the country and even in states where it lost there were still large numbers of people voting for R. In other words: 1960s South seems to be a localized and extreme exception, but you’re claiming a much more universal fact: all across the country about 1/2 the people are just incredibly stupid and/or evil.

    Last but not least: I don’t really see the upside for my tribal identity here. My concern is with civility across party lines. I believe strongly that if we work at it, we can find out that the other side is not evil/stupid. At no point have I argued that R is actually better than D, nor have I even tried to debate you on a single example of R’s stupidity/evil. If that’s tribalism, it’s a very odd variety of it.

  277. Jacquie-

    You are conflating being mistaken with being evil.

    I can see that the “evil/stupid” phrasing would give you that impression, but I’m actually keeping them seperate. See, I agree entirely with you that:

    There could be many reasons for this; there’s a lot of misinformation out there being shouted very loudly, other people have different values than I do, stereotypes are not the same as reality when it comes to political parties, people do have loyalty to their chosen party. I’m sure that they would think I made a mistake, too.

    That’s perfectly fine and reasonable, and if you think it’s a complex, difficult decision to make than if someone makes the wrong decision you have no reason to think of them as either stupid or evil. I tend to vote R. When I see someone vote D I absolutely don’t assume they are less moral or less intelligent than I am because, like you, I think it’s a complex decision and there are reasonable bases for different positions.

    The problem is that Gregg has made a very extreme claim. His claim is that no matter what issue you look at, the Democrats are always better. Now if that’s true, than it really isn’t a complicated decision because no matter what information you compare you will always have D > R.

    So I’m not actually saying that I think people who vote differently are stupid/evil. And Greg apparently doesn’t want to say it either. My argument is that it is strongly implied by Greg’s belief that D is better than R no matter what you look at, and so that unflinching belief in the total monopoly of D on being right is what I’m trying to question.

  278. Nathaniel,

    So I’m not actually saying that I think people who vote differently are stupid/evil. And Greg apparently doesn’t want to say it either.

    Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think that Greg believes that people who vote differently are stupid/evil. Stupid/Evil are very loaded, extreme words that you are using, not Greg.

    The two of you are having two different arguments, apparently. You think that Greg thinks that people who disagree with him are stupid/evil. Greg is not saying that, and you are telling him again and again that this is what he thinks even though he hasn’t said it.

  279. All Greg is saying is that the popularity of an action has no bearing on its intelligence or goodness. He’s responding to the actual assumption you described yourself making.

  280. Shawn R at 10:18 am
    I do not wish pain on your and your family personally. I am thinking in the aggregate. Our DC leadership of both parties have brought us to a place where we consistently spend more Federal dollars than we take in in tax receipts. Which means we borrow dollars and then spend them. The fiscal cliff raises taxes (gotta have the taxable income for that one to bite) and cuts spending in significant amounts (which in your family’s case bites you personally). We need our leaders to prioritize spending and only spend up to the amount of tax receipts. It is called a balanced budget, something we all have to do at the family level over the long-term. Our nation needs to do the same. Deficit spending should be reserved for wartime and deep recessions, emphasis on deep. And I am rethinking deficit spending in wartime after watching the credit card used to finance Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The fiscal cliff is already law. The two major parties must reach some sort of compromise to forestall it with new legislation signed by the President, and quickly. I am seeing this as a golden opportunity for the gridlock we have all seen and cursed in DC to continue for another few months so the fiscal cliff law kicks in and we move significantly toward balancing the Federal budget. The pain it will cause, might, just might goad the DC leaders of both parties into the realization that their job is to prioritize spending and only spend a Federal dollar if it is a tax receipt dollar. But I am cynical on that thought, as all political leaders in DC seem to think that we will NOT re-elect them if they raise our taxes ever or some of us start receiving smaller or not at all Federal treasury checks. Voters seem to punish them when they try to exercise fiscal responsibility and balance a budget eliminating borrowing.

    In the short term, I think families in your situation would be well-advised to be squirreling away every dollar you can into emergency fund savings, just in case the fiscal cliff kicks in. January 1, 2013, when the fiscal cliff will kick in (absent a new law signed by Obama) is two full years away from the next election cycle, so possibly our DC leaders can weather the storm of outcry sure to happen and accept its “gift” of significantly moving us in the right fiscally responsible direction of a balanced Federal budget. For the record, I am on the local government payroll as well. I teach school. The fiscal cliff could well bite me too before all is said and done.

    I am just so truly disgusted with our Washington leadership borrowing our nation to the hilt, that I am truly concerned my sons, and grandchildren will inherit a greatly diminished, and sickly nation. And it will be our fault, our generation, because we didn’t put the pressure on our leaders to be fiscally responsible. The fiscal cliff is already law. I am just hoping that don’t mess with it between now and the first of the year.

  281. We need our leaders to prioritize spending and only spend up to the amount of tax receipts. It is called a balanced budget, something we all have to do at the family level over the long-term.

    This misconception is at the heart of the conflict over the ‘fiscal cliff’.

    First is strictly not true that the federal government ever needs to run a balanced budget, as long as GDP growth is large enough. But even more importantly, government spending needs to be countercyclical — when there’s a boom economy and private sector demand is high, private companies are driving job growth, and tax revenues are on the increase, that is the time for government spending to back off and the government to run a surplus and pay down debt (this is what Clinton did). When there is a recession and private sector demand is suppressed, the government needs to run a budget deficit to cushion the blow. Happily, this is often also the time when bond prices are high and government interest rates are low, so borrowing money to support demand while the private sector regroups is also incredibly cheap. For instance, right now the interest rates which private investors charge the government to lend it money is at a historic low.

    Borrowing money now and investing it in, say, infrastructure improvements is actually the responsible thing to do. First, the infrastructure needs to be replaced eventually, and we should do it when our costs are low. Second, the infrastructure repair work creates jobs in an economy where unemployment is high. Third, there is a broader impact on the economy because that kind of work stimulates demand indirectly. Finally, when the economy is booming and unemployment is low but revenues are high, having the government invest in infrastructure would actually crowd out private sector demand.

  282. “All I know is that the reality about homosexuality is that finding it distasteful is more or less a function of nature in humans.”

    Have you ever even HEARD of classical ciivilization? The ancient Greeks? A culture where homosexuality was commonly and openly practiced.

    Are you at all aware of how consistently homosexuality has been practiced in a wide variety of cultures and societies across the millennia?

    Are you getting your information about the “function of nature in humans” off the back of a bubblegum wrapper?

  283. John Costello @7:41 pm
    You are dead on target John. I agree with each observation you make. And IF our leaders go the route you describe in their “fix” to the fiscal cliff, I will cheer their bipartisanship. On the other hand, I think what I am saying is that if they keep to their obstinate positions so that the gridlock continues and the fiscal cliff actually happens (since it already is the law of the land at present), then I am ready for the short-term, even mid-term pain that will result. I really worry that we are loading up the debt too high in relation to GDP so that we are diminishing the nation’s future for our children and grandchildren.
    Put another way, continuing gridlock now gets us the “gift” of the fiscal cliff, which at least will move us in the direction of being more responsible with our fiscal house. When I look at our debt level compared to our GDP now compared to historical levels and trends, I do think we are at too high a percentage of the debt/GDP ratio. The fiscal cliff will (painfully) change the ratio back to more normative levels.

  284. Nathaniel: The problem is that Gregg has made a very extreme claim. His claim is that no matter what issue you look at, the Democrats are always better.

    I have reviewed the posts in this thread and have been unable to find anything to support this assertion without resorting to (1) ignoring things actually said by me and (2) fabricating things I never actually said. In short, I have no idea who you’re disagreeing with, but it certainly isn’t me.

    If you want to paste a quote of something I said, rather than your own interpretation, then maybe you and I could start having a discussion. Perhaps for now you could restrict your quotes to complete sentences to avoid taking things out of context?

    So for a person to vote for R (assuming R is inferior at everything), a person must make one of two errors:

    This is an attempt at deductive reasoning, yes? Therefore, if I point out that you committed the logical fallacy of bifurcation, I don’t think you get to pretend it’s inductive probabilities wishy-washiness going on, right? What you did was start with a strawman version of something I said, and then give exactly and only two possibilities to come to that conclusion. Of all the myriad ways one could assert your strawman and vote for a Republican, you reduced it to 2 possibilities.

    but they are wrong. This is an error of stupidity. … This is an error of immorality; they are evil.

    If you say so, boss.

    But just to be clear, I never said that.

    Again, if you would like to have a conversation with me, I think at this point, you’re going to have to quote me and then reply to that quote. Because I have no idea who you think you’re having a conversation with right now, but it isn’t me.

  285. I’m not making a straw man. I’m making an argument based on your premise.

    But if you then attack that argument, as you’ve done, rather than the one being made, then, yes, Virginia, there is a strawman about.

    It is called a balanced budget, something we all have to do at the family level over the long-term.

    There’s also the misconception that the way a “family” manages finances is the same as the way a government does. See also: business, government is not a

  286. Very clever analysis here: The unprecedented election.
    Ace of Spades is a right wing blogger, and although it’s written more from the losers point of view (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it seemed to me), it should resonate with all sides.
    History. It rhymes a lot.

  287. I’ve had pretty much the same conversations with friends about how the Repubs need to bring themselves into modern times. I said a couple years ago that if the bigwigs would stop fighting same-sex marriage and figure out how to tighten the borders as well as bring those illegals who were holding jobs; going to school; etc into citizenship they’d get themselves a HUGE advantage in the next election.
    I grew up in Iowa in the 50s and 60s when being a Republican meant small c conservative (now known as moderate Republican) and watched as they sold out to the “social conservatives” to gain power. Now it’s biting them in the ass–too bad. I personally think that their best shot is to drop Iowa from the early caucuses so as to stop the foolishness that has been the early primaries. For myself, though, it’s such an entertaining thing to watch even if it does make my home state look like Looney Tunes.
    At least some of the higher ups are talking about how it’s time to stop wasting time and money with candidates that have no business running.

    Of course. Herman Cain is calling for a secession from the Party because they lost by not being conservative enough. So maybe this will solve itself.

  288. @Laura Resnick: Guessing that translates into “me and my bros all think gay guys are sort of gross, therefore it’s ingrained in humanity”. Because nobody with two brain cells to rub together would think that the huge popularity of “lesbian” porn and slashfic and yaoi (and the female equivalent that I can never remember the name of), let alone history or, you know, the way people actually behave, reflects some kind of deep innate human need to be 100% hetero.

    I mean, really. It’s like listening to a nine-year-old tell you that kissing is gross. You believe they really feel that way, but it’s adorable how bewildered they are that adults actually like kissing.

  289. Greg-

    I’m going to have to go ahead and serve myself a helping of humble pie on this one. In composing my response to prove that you had, in fact, claimed that Democrats were better at everything that Republicans I realized that you hadn’t. (Which, as you can imagine, is not the result I was hoping for.) What you actually said was:

    Well, that’s a different challenge. Originally you said determine what their strengths are. I think Republicans have some strengths, but <b<off the top of my head, for everything strength I see in Republicans, I think the Democrats are stronger. [emphasis added]

    Not only that, but in your next response to me you reiterated twice that you weren’t making the blanket statement that the GOP didn’t do anything better than the Democrats, but only that you couldn’t personally think of one at this time.

    I still think my logical analysis on some of the downstream stuff was right, but it would be stupid on my part to continue to argue over that when it’s quite plain that I was totally in error in my characterization of your position. My bads, Greg. I got on my high horse and rode right over what you had actually said. (And yes: I would chalk that up to exactly the kind of blind group-think I was attributing to you.) I didn’t set out to intentionally create a strawman, but the strawman which I did in fact create is no less real because it was accidental.

    You have my apology for misreading your argument.

  290. I go back and forth between thinking (a) the Republicans need to reevaluate their approach and become more inclusive and tolerant and accepting of science and reality, or they’ll keep losing; and (b) Mitt Romney was the Republican John Kerry, and the Republicans just have to wait for their next “winner” candidate. And I lean towards (b), mostly because I’m suspicious of argument that confirms my own prejudices – if I ever fall victim to epistemic closure I might as well give up.

  291. I keep hearing a desire for a “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” party from people who seem to think that’s not what Democrats are, and I honestly don’t know what planet they’re from.

  292. Isn’t “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” one of the mantras of libertarianism? And anyway I don’t think Democrats are all that fiscally conservative, on average. I can’t think offhand think of any politicians who are really great with managing money. Some are much less terrible than others, but that’s not quite the same thing.

  293. HelenS: I think the libertarian mantra is “GO AWAY LEAVE ME ALONE YOU’RE RUINING MY FORT” and is accompanied by an unhealthy amount of the weeping into a bottle style of drinking, which pretty much always happens alone and involves mumbling affectionately about the-times-that-were-but-never-actually-were.

  294. @ mythago – that is a wonderful analogy and I am squirreling it away for later.

    @ Other Bill – combined with “unfettered markets are perfect at everything!”

  295. Public Radio had a story on this morning that started with a reference to Lindsey Graham saying he’d go nuts if people said Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough and then they brought on Richard Viguerie who said just that. Viguerie’s argument was that the GOP had a very conservative platform that wasn’t mentioned after the convention and that if Romney had stuck to the conservative planks (like being strictly pro life) instead of just making it about the economy he would have won.

    Viguerie did acknowledge the problem the GOP had with minorities, but his solution was to get more candidates like Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley. He also said that the GOP had to relate better to Hispanic voters, but shouldn’t change its stance on immigration reform.

    @Mythago: Yuri?

  296. @HelenS: I don’t think “fiscal conservative” necessarily equates to “all (or most) government spending is inherently bad”, which (from my perspective) often seems to be the libertarian approach. I want government expenditures to be well-managed and transparent, but I am very, very much in favour of government spending on things like infrastructure and schools and public transit and income/housing supports.

  297. @ Other Bill

    HelenS: I think the libertarian mantra is “GO AWAY LEAVE ME ALONE YOU’RE RUINING MY FORT” and is accompanied by an unhealthy amount of the weeping into a bottle style of drinking, which pretty much always happens alone and involves mumbling affectionately about the-times-that-were-but-never-actually-were.

    As with ascribing a single mantra to liberals or conservatives, I’m afraid that misses the forest for the trees. The libertarian corner of politics isn’t a monoculture. There are anarcho-capitalist states-rights minarchists such as Paul Ryan. There are left-leaning civil libertarians such as yours truly. There are libertarian socialists such as Noam Chomsky. There are geolibertarians, black-flag anarchists, autarchists, syndicalists, anarcho-Christians, cyber-libertarians, voluntaryists, agorists, gift-economists, panachists, mutalists, consequentialists and more…

    I realize lots of otherwise politically active people, maybe even most, couldn’t give a fart in a superstorm about any of the above and the term libertarian will continue to call up thoughts of militias and stoners. And the world will keep turning. I don’t even criticize, because who am I to tell people what should be important to them. But I have hopes some will choose to broaden their horizons. As with liberalism, most Americans tend, based on our own contemporary experience, to hold a very narrow view of other political ideologies. I won’t say we’re a nation of provincialists, but…

  298. I’m not a Republican, but I voted for Romney over more trillion dollar Democratic deficits. Yes, I am still looking for the fiscally conservative and socially liberal party. Unfortunately, it does not exist. I therefore judged the fiscal issue to vastly outweigh everything else, and figured Romney was just a teensy bit better in this regard. Now, we get four more years of gridlock, so I’m planning for us to go over the ‘Cliff’ at full speed. :(

  299. CRash @ 11/7 16:59

    I wasn’t trying to equate the abortion of all pregnanies to legalized abortion. My apologies if that is how it came off. I was equating that radical stance to a similarly radical stance that there should be no abortions whatsoever (no exceptions).

    Except it’s not a similarly radical stance, because practically no one holds it, whereas the no exceptions position is held by quite a few people.

    Greg @ 11/7 17:32

    Curious: John is there any chance you could whip up a similair “what to do next time” for the democratic party? I’d quite like to see your take on that.

    Did the Dems lose?

    In the House. And you could say Obama didn’t win so much as Romney lost.

    Tony Hursh @ 11/7 18:50

    The party that promised to cut the deficit in half by now.

    Sincere question: do you believe that there are measures that Democrats believed would reduce the deficit, and that those Democrats did not attempt to implement?

    I don’t think there are, but I also think that if there are, one needs to look at why that attempt wasn’t made, and whether there’s any sign it reflects a lack of intent.

    Besides, I seem to recall Republicans promised to fix the economy in 2010.

    Greg @ 11/7 21:04

    Portraying members of the two main parties as “partisans” and third-party members as the “average” person is a space on the Third-Party bingo card.

    Is there a square for “only sheeple actually believe things”? Because I think I saw that up there somewhere too.

    Nathaniel @ 11/7 21:33

    In essence this is a simple challenge: to a Democrat name one thing that the Republican party currently does better than the Democratic Party. To a Republican, name one thing that the Democrats currently do better than the GOP.

    Politics or policy?

    I can’t think of anything on the policy side. As for politics, I think Republicans are better at capitalizing on voter anger.

    Christopher Wright @ 11/7 22:01:

    You will find the occasional Republican to vote against party lines, but they’ll immediately be targeted and punished. When Democrats vote against their party they’re immediately called “Democrats.”

    I wonder if that’s why there’s no Rush Limbaugh on the left, and why Al Franken and Lizz Winstead’s attempt to do something like that resulted only in TRMS and a Senate seat.

    On the other hand, it’s made the Democrats immune from the effects of C-SPAN. When Tea Partiers fired up with Democrats-are-traitors rhetoric see Republicans and Democrats working together in Congress, they get mad at those Republicans, while I don’t think Democrats see bipartisanship through the same lens.

    I think a lot of us actually go too far the other way, particularly Obama, but I approve of the impulse.

    Greg sees spam @ 11/8 12:01

    Anti-semitism, for example, tends to run deeper and hotter on the American Left

    what is this… i don’t even….

    Sure. Of the “that doesn’t count, you’re not disprivileged, stop claiming you’re oppressed when you’re not” variety. Also, it’s not uncommon to find anti-Zionists who assume that all Jews are completely pro-Israel without reservation. Where I live I don’t see much of the more traditional kind of antisemitism, so I can’t really compare, but antisemitism isn’t quite the taboo on the left that other forms of bigotry officially are.

    And there’s also the OWS branch that thinks all Jews are rich and has a strong overlap with the aforementioned anti-Zionists.

    forgeron @ 11/8 16:51

    Anyone who, like Shane Roach, thinks homosexuality is a choice and hostility to homosexual activity is innate must necessarily also believe that gay men feel the same intense aversion to sex with other men that straight men feel,

    I guess I’m a defective straight man, since I wouldn’t characterize it as “intense aversion” so much as “complete and utter lack of interest.” But I do think that sexual orientation isn’t as simple as neurobiological wiring (if that is what it is, as appears to be the current consensus). If someone has urges towards men and women, but ignores and supresses the same-gender urges and says “I’m straight,” I’m disinclied to say they’re not. And for that person, it was clearly a choice.

  300. I’m not a Republican, but I voted for Romney over more trillion dollar Democratic deficits. Yes, I am still looking for the fiscally conservative and socially liberal party. Unfortunately, it does not exist. I therefore judged the fiscal issue to vastly outweigh everything else, and figured Romney was just a teensy bit better in this regard.

    FWIW, Democratic Presidents, both individually and as an aggregate, have done a far better job on deficit reduction than Republicans, and nonpartisan studies showed that his fiscal plans would have been pretty bad at reducing deficits.

  301. I’m confused, JS Farrow… you were concerned about the deficit, so instead of supporting the candidate who’s reduced the deficit compared to the previous administration (nb – that’s deficit, not debt), you support the one who wants to add an average of $70,000,000,000 to that deficit every year?

  302. Hershele (and others – concerning CRash):

    “Except it’s not a similarly radical stance, because practically no one holds it, whereas the no exceptions position is held by quite a few people.”

    The way I read it, that wasn’t the point. I saw it as CRash’s way of indicating that one side is significantly less radical than the other. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it read to me.

  303. I guess I’m a defective straight man, since I wouldn’t characterize it as “intense aversion” so much as “complete and utter lack of interest.” But I do think that sexual orientation isn’t as simple as neurobiological wiring (if that is what it is, as appears to be the current consensus). If someone has urges towards men and women, but ignores and supresses the same-gender urges and says “I’m straight,” I’m disinclied to say they’re not. And for that person, it was clearly a choice.

    So your saying Shane is probably bi-sexual?

  304. I’m not a Republican, but I voted for Romney over more trillion dollar Democratic deficits. Yes, I am still looking for the fiscally conservative and socially liberal party. Unfortunately, it does not exist. I therefore judged the fiscal issue to vastly outweigh everything else, and figured Romney was just a teensy bit better in this regard. Now, we get four more years of gridlock, so I’m planning for us to go over the ‘Cliff’ at full speed. :(

    I hope your still around to answer this because I am honestly fascinated by this, I will try to be as blunt as possible without being offensive, I in no way mean to imply your stupid.

    Pretty much all evidence points to the republicans being totally fiscally irresponsible there is a post somewhere around these parts by Genufett that provides easy links to all the evidence one would need. But those links are not obscure its common data even though I know the republicans spent a lot of money trying to portray it as partisan when its clearly not.

    My question is basically this, are you whats called a “low information voter” or did you just believe fox news and Rush more than more reality based sources?

  305. Very nice thanks. Perfectly expresses how I feel as a white male upper middle class married father of three.

  306. @fiona64: … I may have had a reading comprehension failure. If Woodward was asking about a non-white Democrat elected from a distinct which was not drawn to include a plurality of voters with his/her non-white ethnicity (for example, for an African-American Democrat in a district gerrymandered to include an African-American plurality), then Mike Honda is a fine example.

  307. On “Fiscally responsible” – I forget who said that comparing George W. Bush’s spending to a drunken sailor is unfair to those of the nautical profession, but it’s actually true – those sailors are spending cash they’ve saved up while at sea, and when they run out of it, bartenders have the sense not to let them drink on credit. But Bush was happy to buy ships and planes and toy soldiers on credit, and he didn’t have to raise taxes to do it, because paying that debt back was going to be somebody else’s problem. He was even worse at it than his father, who was almost as bad as Reagan (maybe worse, depending on how much of Reagan’s term Bush was really in charge.) The closest we’ve had to a fiscally responsible Republican president since Eisenhower was Bill Clinton (who was partly smart, partly lucky to have a technology boom during his watch and Alan Greenspan still around, and partly unable to enact some of his expensive social programs because Newt Gingrich kept calling Clinton an adulterer.) It’s not that Democrats are fiscally responsible by preference, but they’re certainly fiscally responsible in comparison to the Republicans. Furthermore (to let my Libertarian biases show a bit more), when the Republicans say they want smaller government, what they mean by “smaller” is “bigger military, nastier more intrusive police, more prisons, and controlled by a smaller group of people”.

    I don’t think Obama was really up to the job of fixing the Republicans’ economic damage, partly because he kept chickening out any time the Republicans threatened to say nasty things about him or use their Senate minority position to filibuster any expression of Democratic values, but mostly because he’s a pretty naive Keynesian. Deficit spending can bring about economic benefits that might outweigh the costs of paying them back later, but to make it work you have to be as smart as Keynes; if it just worked by magic, then Dubya’s deficits would have been good for the economy instead of terrible.

  308. What has struck me about Republicans both collectively and individually (some of my best friends…) is how deeply entrenched their sense of angry and frightened victimhood had become over the last decade. This mindset sends you looking for the Big Bad that did this to you. It is not conducive to rational reflection and self-examination.

  309. I keep hearing a desire for a “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” party from people who seem to think that’s not what Democrats are, and I honestly don’t know what planet they’re from.

    That’s not what Democrats are. They like to help people and provide safety cushions and free education and protect the environment and all kinds of wonderful stuff, …. but that all means more spending. That’s the tradeoff. Doing nice things means spending money.

    The US can’t keep racking up debt. The only person with a plan to solve it is Paul Ryan. You might not like his plan but it’s the only one on the table. “taxing the rich” won’t solve it because as Ryan showed (using a thing called ‘math’), even if you tax everyone at 100 percent, the US will still run out of money quite soon.

  310. Gulliver:

    “There are anarcho-capitalist states-rights minarchists such as Paul Ryan.”

    Mostly, I was teasing. But, I want to be clear that I like absolutely everything about this sentence.

    But, uh. Honestly. I thought you Libertarian sorts were made of…wait a second. Did you call me provincialist?

  311. Other Bill,

    Upper-case Libertarians usually refers to the Libertarian Party of America. They’re kind of like the slightly more politically-connected awkward uncle of the libertarian family. The rest of us don’t usually bother identifying ourselves as libertarian any more than most conservationists identify as green. You could say it’s not so much that most libertarians are libertarians, than that we have libertarian-informed political values. I’d describe it less as an overarching ideology than a desire to balance the value of individualism against collectivism. Some libertarians are more hostile to collectivism than others. I simply regard it as something to keep in check.

    …wait a second. Did you call me provincialist?

    No. *innocent look* I would never do that. Perish the thought.

    Actually, I don’t think you’re apparently comprehensive awareness of political theory/history is especially indicative of most Americans. I realize that sounds condescending, but I just don’t think the majority of people are very interested in politics beyond their backyard. But I wouldn’t be much of a libertarian on the internet if I didn’t obliviously correct other people’s jokes :)

  312. @Adam K: I thought it was Republicans who liked spending money on ‘nice things’, as long as those ‘nice things’ were defined as the military and private business? (It’s a silly narrative either way, but the idea that only one party spends money and only spends it on being nice to people is not merely silly, but stupid.)

  313. Adam K:

    Ryan showed (using a thing called ‘math’), even if you tax everyone at 100 percent, the US will still run out of money quite soon.

    I don’t believe Ryan ever did show his math. If he had, perhaps he would not have failed. IIRC correctly, Ryan told the press, and therefore the nation, that showing the math was too hard and would take too long.

    I tried that once, back in 8th grade geometry, because c’mon, a triangle is self-evident, right? My teacher didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now. Apparently, neither did a majority of my fellow citizens. Perhaps we were all similarly traumatized by proofs…

  314. The US can’t keep racking up debt. The only person with a plan to solve it is Paul Ryan. You might not like his plan but it’s the only one on the table.

    You’re kidding me, right? There’s been a budget every year for the last 4 years.

    “taxing the rich” won’t solve it because as Ryan showed (using a thing called ‘math’), even if you tax everyone at 100 percent, the US will still run out of money quite soon.

    I’ve read his plan, and nowhere does it say this. And his “math” was quite faulty at times.

  315. The US can’t keep racking up debt.

    Actually, yes, yes it can. Especially if the debt is at negative interest rates which it currently is, and if the US economy grows.

    It can’t afford to rack up debt indefinately, although that is not entirely clear. The USA isn’t a business nor a household. It’s an entity that’s over 230 years old and, one assumes, will be here in about 230 years.

    Borrowing a trillion dollars to spend on a national high speed rail network which will last 50+ years is a sensible thing to do economically, so it spending a trillion dollars on roads that will be here in 50+ years.

    What’s broken is spending trillions of dollars on tax cuts for people who, on the whole, don’t really need them. Honestly, just speaking for myself here, I don’t really need one.

    As for Paul Ryan, his plan was rightly shown for the pile of flimsy thinking it was by many greater minds than mine.

  316. @mythago

    @Adam K: I thought it was Republicans who liked spending money on ‘nice things’, as long as those ‘nice things’ were defined as the military and private business?

    yeah, well I don’t agree with that either… the bailouts in general were a massive gift to private business, largely bipartisan, that was a shocking sop to corporates. Unlike the mainstream politicians, the Tea Party and Occupy are both against bailouts. The US should stop trying to protect the world from wars and dictators. Contract the military.

    @josh jasper:

    @Adam K: Lack of support, in fact direct antagonism towards, requiring PRIVATE insurance companies to offer birth control,

    It’s the word “require” in your sentence that should be bolded or capitalized, not “private”.
    No matter how noble the cause, no matter how seemingly insignificant the requirement, all legal requirements are done with the full force of the State… and all that that entails. If a private company wants to offer a particular suite of products, tailored in a particular way, that’s their right, and it’s the right of customers not to purchase that product. Once you have a requirement, you introduce all kinds of law enforcement possibilities upon those who refuse.

    @daveon

    Borrowing a trillion dollars to spend on a national high speed rail network which will last 50+ years is a sensible thing to do economically

    No it’s not, it’s a fantasy-powered boondoggle. The world is littered with infrastructure dreams that turned to dust, especially in rail. Planes already accomplish the task better for the US than high speed rail would. It’s just that rail has green credentials and a romantic allure that planes don’t have. Those are emotional reasons, not economic reasons, to prefer high speed rail.
    I say that reluctantly, as someone who is personally crazy about trains.

  317. Adam K.:

    The world is littered with infrastructure dreams that turned to dust, especially in rail. Planes already accomplish the task better for the US than high speed rail would. It’s just that rail has green credentials and a romantic allure that planes don’t have. Those are emotional reasons, not economic reasons, to prefer high speed rail.

    Really? Can you name one outside of China or India? Because high speed rail in Japan and Europe and part of SA works really goddamn well.

    Copying systems that work really goddamn well isn’t a boondoggle. Unless, of course, you approve it but don’t fund it, like areas of China and India. But that’s not an HST boondoggle, that’s a funding boondoggle.

  318. I personally resent the hell out of the subsidies for private transportation. Why should I pay taxes so the government can waste millions on making sure a bunch of people can drive individual cars all over the country? It’s inefficient, to say the least. NO MORE HIGHWAY FUNDING until we have a truly efficient and comprehensive rail system!

  319. Contract the military.

    Even if shifting to an entirely mercenary army were not a bugfuck insane idea….you’re arguing a contractor-based military would be cheaper that the current system, much less more efficient? That without any publicly-funded military that mercenaries would charge less than they do now?

    But really, the point was that you chose to pretend only one party spends money and only on “nice” things. Apparently we must highlight the government’s wasting money on feeding reduced-price lunches to poor children, but we don’t need to bring up how much the latest defense-contractor scandal wasted unless we really haaaave to.

  320. Adam K: “No it’s not, it’s a fantasy-powered boondoggle.”

    mythago: “But really, the point was that you chose to pretend only one party spends money and only on “nice” things.”

    EuroDisney. I think that settles that.

  321. Xopher: Holla! Fuel, auto, and road subsidies are frequently necessary, for the common weal, but the bugfuck ignorance of the people who benefit drives me batshit insane. Pardon my French.

    Adam K.: “Contract the military.”
    I’m sorry, but are you suggesting Hessians? Have you read our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Are you honestly suggesting that Blackwater was a good idea and that we should police our Union with mercenaries?

    Just… duuuuuuude. Really?

  322. Because high speed rail in Japan and Europe and part of SA works really goddamn well.

    The only high speed lines anywhere that run at a profit are Paris-Madrid and Tokyo-Osaka. And Europe and Japan have much higher population densities than the US.

  323. Adam K.: “Contract the military.”
    I’m sorry, but are you suggesting Hessians?

    oops, I meant reduce, that’s “contract” with the stress on the second syllable! In other words, I agree with you guys in that regard, although possibly with a less rosy-colored view of the consequences for medium term international peace and stability.

  324. @ mintwitch

    I’m pretty sure Adam K meant contract in the sense of draw-down and consolidate, as one contracts muscle fibers. At least, I hope that’s what he meant, because mercenaries are uniformly more expensive that regular troops.

    The modern army, with its roots in Cromwell’s New Model Army, is a fairly new historical advent. Previously, and with a few notable exceptions such as the ancient Spartans and feudal Japan, most standing armies were comprised of what we’d called reservists, usually conscripted or drawn from slave populations. These irregular troops typically aren’t trained to nearly the same pitch as professional soldiers. Mercenaries, in contrast, were elite professionals. Rather than keep them “on call” year-round, city-states and nation-states have usually found it cheaper to rent them “as needed” from outfits that would farm them out to whoever needed elite soldiers at the moment.

    The Prussians built their country’s fortune renting out the services of the notorious mercenaries of Hesse to the British Empire and other colonial powers of Europe. These Hessians supplemented the often poorly trained and badly commanded regular units with shock troops, but they were few and far between. The really modern army, mostly organized along hard lessons learned by the clusterfuck that was the Vietnam War, is a fairly radical idea of having a standing all-volunteer salaried force ready to fight most conflicts. Fielding a mercenary force on the same scale would be utterly prohibitive, even by today’s budget standards.

    On the other hand, reducing the size of the U.S.military from its two-million strength enough to seriously impact defense spending would impair our ability to play the worlds policeman which, given how ever-fucking-wonderful that’s worked out for us so far, I’m damn skippy with…not to mention it would allow us to raise recruitment standards back to pre-Iraq War levels.

    On the gripping hand, if you want to reduce defense spending and improve our nation’s fighting trim, cut spending to the pork-barrel boondoggle weapons-systems and redouble efforts on training and veteran benefits.

  325. @ Adam K

    although possibly with a less rosy-colored view of the consequences for medium term international peace and stability.

    As opposed to the NFG results our interventionist foreign policy has reaped so far?!

  326. (I’m one of those annoying partisan Libertarians, but I’d rather not go into long debates about Libertarian philosophy or even gradualism vs. absolutism here; one reason the LP isn’t very effective politically is that it thinks debate is a lot more fun than actual campaigning, and you can only do that for so long. And what Henry Kissinger said about academic politics applies there too.)

    Paul Ryan’s financial plan says that we not only can’t cut the military budget by dumping the Cold War weapons boondoggles, but we have to keep making it bigger, and he won’t consider any plan that doesn’t do that. That not only means he’s not actually serious about the deficit, and that military policy is above his pay grade, but it means he’s in favor of either spending and taxing, or spending and borrowing, or probably both. Neither major party wants to admit that there’s a serious demographic problem starting to hit Social Security as the Boomer generation starts to retire (because we had fewer kids than our parents did, and many of them don’t have as good jobs as we did in the years between recessions), and that that’s going to mean that the general budget needs to start running large surpluses to pay back the Social Security Trust Fund “investments”, and that it’s going to hurt, and require either significant increases in taxes, decreases in Social Security, or both. The Democrats keep saying “the trust fund is just fine, it won’t run out till 2036″, i.e. when the middle boomers are about 80, too old to go back to work at Walmart, but even that is only true if the general budget is running a surplus.

    And Medicare/Obamacare/etc.? One thing I haven’t heard Obama doing is putting forward a serious plan to increase the number of doctors in the US, which means making our medical schools bigger unless we’re going to meet all that need by importing foreign doctors. The population’s getting older, and a lot of our current doctors are boomers who are going to retire (which they can afford to do, being doctors.)

  327. @Adam K

    The only high speed lines anywhere that run at a profit are Paris-Madrid and Tokyo-Osaka

    At a direct financial profit, I think you mean. That ignores the wider “social profits” which enrich the country and the lives of the citizenry in all sorts of ways not related to merely hard cash. Raising the living standards, and general level of wealth, along with increasing personal aspirations for all. A country’s profits should not be limited to mere balance book figures. Some stuff which looks like a bean-counting loss can actually be wealth creators in all sorts of less quantifiable ways. Be careful of politicians who only see things as “this makes money so is good/This loses money so is bad”, chances are they aren’t terribly competent at the social side of things, which is what politicians really need to be focused on.

  328. @Bill Stewart, we’re not really short of doctors per se as we are short of primary-care providers, particularly in poor and rural areas. (Unsurprising, given the financial incentives.) I’m guessing, from the article, that the reason Obamacare didn’t address this is that it would have to increase federal subsidies for residents – that “spending on nice things” that Adam K and fellow conservatives frown upon.

    @crypticmirror: Which would include externalities. If high-speed lines reduce pollution, that reduces municipalities’ costs of monitoring, regulating and enforcing standards for pollution, as well as improving health outcomes.

    A lot of the fussing about making infrastructure “profitable” reminds me of a former employer that had high employee turnover; they did absolutely nothing to try to reduce turnover, figuring if people left they’d just hire somebody else. I asked one of the HR folks why they didn’t care about the costs of turnover; she shrugged and said “Those are numbers they won’t see.” Because it wasn’t a specific outflow on a balance sheet, to them, like salary or an electric bill, it wasn’t real to them – even though the costs were very real.

  329. Adam K.: Okay, contract as in reduce, not hire-out. Gotcha. Agreed, then, fancy that.

    In re high-speed transport, profitibility is not a metric for working well. HST reduces stress on other types of infrastructure, such as roads, facilitating transportation of commercial vehicles, like semis carrying food or tires. HST facilitates commuting, widening and diversifying the pool of workers by enlarging the 30-minute commute zone. HST reduces automobile accident deaths (~30K last year, in the US), mitigating the strain on emergency and medical infrastructure, and keeping wage-earners alive. And on, and on, and on. There are direct and secondary benefits for businesses, municipalities, and individuals, which are quantified.

    In the US, there are routes that would probably make a profit, and routes that would not. West coast, So Cal to Vancouver, for example, could be pretty damn profitable, but it would make a big dent in commuter and weekend holiday air. Similarly, along the Eastern seaboard. Detroit to Chicago to Minneapolis is another route that’s been explored. So, copying systems that work, systems with similar constraints, is a perfectly reasonable idea, and in my opinion, one that is overdue.

    Bill Stewart: “And Medicare/Obamacare/etc.? One thing I haven’t heard Obama doing is putting forward a serious plan to increase the number of doctors in the US, which means making our medical schools bigger unless we’re going to meet all that need by importing foreign doctors. The population’s getting older, and a lot of our current doctors are boomers who are going to retire (which they can afford to do, being doctors.)”

    Two things that Dems have suggested are the various student aid strategies, some already effected, and making it easier for doctors educated outside the US to practice within the US. Right now, it’s nearly impossible for foreign-educated doctors to get credentialed within the States w/o going to medical school all over again. We also have a problem in that military-qualified medical personnel are not qualified for civilian work. We need paths for both.

  330. @ Bill Stewart

    I’m one of those annoying partisan Libertarians

    You’re not annoying. It’d just be nice if the wider American public didn’t think all libertarians were Libertarians.

    Fiscally, I agree with some of what you said about Eisenhower, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Keynesian economics in practice, Republican hypocrisy and the deficit – with the caveat that there’s more to the story beyond those players and Clinton balanced the budget in part by raising taxes. My biggest point of divergence from Libertarians on the econ front is that, although I’m an unapologetic free-market capitalist, I support a social safety net and certain types of economic regulation antithetical to pure laissez faire economics, though not incompatible with marginalism, catallactics or even methodological individualism provided one takes into account factors such as market lock-in, commons resource leasing, industrial kleptocracy and other avenues of corporatocratic-government corruption. We can’t build a relatively free market until we acknowledge that the reasons we don’t have one aren’t merely because of government interference, but also because of corporate trusts and their abuse of legislative favoritism and a court system that rewards wealthier litigants. Simply removing the regulation would be an invite for large corporate interests to complete their takeover of our political system, and the Republicans want to hand it to them on a silver platter.

  331. So you want to contract the military-you do realize this is the equivalent to hiring mercenaries. Like they did in Olden times. It was also the quickest way to conquer a neighboring kingdom. Infiltrate the army your enemy hired. Granted this isn’t Olden times but when you start hiring outside contractors, how soon before you hire a group that is comprised of enemies. There are still terrorist training camps around the world right. This is just one of the many reasons why nations did away with hiring contractors and only have a standing military force to protect the country and it’s interests. Privatization is not the answer for this or so many other options that the Republican party would like. Case in point: the clinic in MA that spread the meningitis virus across the country was caused by regulations being relaxed AND not being enforced. They were cited but it was left to the company to correct the many issues. This is what happens with the smaller government that the Republicans want. Deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, slashing government agencies like the CDC and the EPA this is their supposed budget. So no the Republicans are not more fiscally responsible.

    And one more thing if the Republicans had spent hadn’t spent so much time trying to push over 60 bills to restrict or ban abortion and/or contraceptives and spent actual time on job bills and the economy maybe we would be in better shape. They were too busy pushing one of their MAIN agendas and making Obama look bad that they didn’t care about the financial well being of this country because let’s face it their already very well off.

    Thank You John for a very intelligent post, I really enjoy everything that I read here even the comments because I get to understand the OTHER side.

  332. The fact that anyone could have possibly misinterpreted “contract the military” as meaning “put the military out to contract” (something no serious person is suggesting) rather than “reduce the size of the military” shows how far you’ve all been influenced by Mike Moore style far-left ‘documentaries’.

  333. Adam K:

    ““contract the military” as meaning “put the military out to contract” (something no serious person is suggesting) rather than “reduce the size of the military” shows how far you’ve all been influenced by Mike Moore style far-left ‘documentaries’.”

    Very serious people have been arguing about the military/contractors debate for a long time now. Long enough that saying we should “contract the military” has a well established meaning.

    I know you’re aware you spoke inaccurately. So, what’s with the “it must be the Michael Moore influence what you got you” speech? Unless Michael Moore…oh my…are you sure he hasn’t gotten inside your head?

  334. Thanks Other Bill for defending me. Unfortunately I did misunderstand because as you said it has been debated for quite some time that we should “contract the military=put the military out to contract”. That is what influenced my comment Adam K not Michael Moore style far left ‘documentaries’, especially since I have never deigned to watch any of them. And the fact does remain that the U.S. does use private defense contractors overseas so I am not totally wrong in my premise to begin with.

    And one last thing I am all for cutting defense spending and the amount of men and women we have overseas.

  335. The fact that anyone could have possibly misinterpreted “contract the military” as meaning “put the military out to contract” (something no serious person is suggesting) rather than “reduce the size of the military” shows how far you’ve all been influenced by Mike Moore style far-left ‘documentaries’.

    Well, looking at the Google results for the expression “contract the military” I’m currently seeing one usage in the first 50 that matches yours, and it’s for “Expand the military in smart directions rather than contract the military in stupid directions”, which I suspect someone was prouder of than they should have been. Blaming other folks’ documentary-watching proclivities for your own idiosyncratic collocation may not be the way to go here.

  336. @ Adam K

    The fact that anyone could have possibly misinterpreted “contract the military” as meaning “put the military out to contract” (something no serious person is suggesting) rather than “reduce the size of the military” shows how far you’ve all been influenced by Mike Moore style far-left ‘documentaries’.

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t wasted time on a Michael Moore “documentary” since throwing away good money to watch the shiftfest Fahrenheit 9/11 at a theater, and someone who’s enjoyed studying geopolitical and military strategy most of my adult life, even I realized that was going to be misinterpreted when I read it. So, just something to think about before you ascribe misreading it to Michael Moore induce bias (yeesh, sounds like a bowel condition).

  337. Ja, Evette is the second person on this thread to read “contract the military” as Hessians, argh! The first was me. Why? Blackwater, CACI, Titan Corporation, Aegis Defence Services, DynCorp, et cetera. Generally, when people mean that they are for reducing the size of the military, they actually say “reduce the [size of the] military.” Or “draw down.”

    How Adam K. makes the leap from his odd usage to Michael Moore, I don’t even know. In any case, when writing on the blog of the writer, it’s probably best to be as unambiguous as you can, on the one hand, and to not blame the reader for your lack of clarity, on the other. That’s just manners.

  338. “On the other hand, I am a white, male, well-off, heterosexually-married, college educated fellow, which means according to these exit polls at least, I am the GOP “demographic” down to the last jot and tittle.”

    Except for being white, I fit into all of the remaining categories, depending on what “well-off” means to oneself. And my age-old problem with the GOP is that the singular fact of my skin color nullifies all the rest of me to the party. Until the day ever comes when my race doesn’t immediately translate into a “47% er” in the eyes of Republicans, they will never captivate my imagination nor garner my vote. (Of course they would have to care about that in the first place and it’s evident to me that they have not, are not, and probably will not going forward.)

  339. Adam K: As others have pointed out, the US has plenty of areas of dense population where High Speed Rail would make sense and take the strain off the air traffic control system. I don’t know if you fly regularly but it’s not pleasant and delays are endemic.

    I’d rather like to be able to take a train to Vancouver or Portland rather than driving. It befuddles me that those corridors are easier to drive than take a train. Likewise, taking a flight from SF to LA or SD is daft, I’d especially like to be able to take a train SF to SD when I’m doing business in the Bay and San Diego and then take a flight for the 1200 mile leg home.

    When I used to work in Paris and live in London, the Eurostar was MUCH better, even with low speed rail inside the UK, than schlepping out to LHR and then trying to get in from CDG to Paris. Yes, the flight was 45 minutes, but the total travel time by train, city center to city center was about an hour less.

    That’s aside from the costs of reduced pollution, fewer delays on flights, less traffic on the roads etc… when the US can borrow money at negative rates and needs so much in the way of infrastructure improvement. It’s criminal that it’s not being done.

  340. mintwitch: How Adam K. makes the leap from his odd usage to Michael Moore, I don’t even know.

    The method seems pretty clear. He has to either acknowlege he made a mistake or blame you for his mistake. And look which one he picked.

  341. @ Greg

    It seems to me that Adam K was doing fine until he decided to blame his audience for misunderstanding him. The whole point of an honest misunderstanding is that it’s no one’s fault, but it’s up to the communicator to straighten out the message. If I say something and it isn’t taken the way I meant, I didn’t make a mistake. There’s no objectively more correct definition of the word contract; both meanings are valid and will be taken differently depending on frame of mind and word association. But if, instead of just clarifying, I take the opportunity for some gratuitous alienating of the people with whom I’m trying to communicate, then I’ve made a mistake.

    @ Adam K

    Using a word differently than someone else: fine.
    Bashing others for not automatically recognizing what you meant: stupid.

  342. I’m shocked that anyone’s even arguing about whether it’s possible for ‘half the population’ to be stupid/evil. To misquote the great George Carlin, “You know how dumb the average person is? Well, by definition, HALF of them are even dumber than that.”

    And I see the ‘evil’ part has already been covered pretty well, and without me having to autoGodwin. So there’s that.

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