The Scalzi Endorsement: Obama For President
Posted on October 29, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 165 Comments
This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone anywhere, but to make it official: I will be voting for Barack Obama to have a second term as President of the United States, and I think you should too.
There are, generally speaking, two reasons to give your vote to someone as president. The first is because you are inclined to vote for that person. The second is that you actively wish to deny another person the presidency. In this case, I am voting for Obama because I wish to do both: Vote for him, and vote against Mitt Romney.
Let me attend to the first of these now, and let me preface further explanation by pointing to a piece I wrote the day after the 2008 election, called “Reality Check,” in which I warned everyone who was expecting Obama to magically make everything better that, in fact, it wasn’t going to go like that. One specific thing I mentioned, which I will highlight here:
Your next president is going to disappoint you. Barack Obama does not fart cinnamon-scented rainbows. He is not trailed by angels and unicorns. Reality does not reshape itself to his wishes. Dude’s a human being, and a politician, and he’s going to have to work with other human beings who are also politicians. Per point 2, some things you want him to do he won’t be able to do, and some of the things you want him to do he won’t want to do, so they won’t get done. He will make mistakes. He will make errors. He will be caught flat-footed from time to time. He will be challenged by antagonists, foreign and domestic, who will have an interest in seeing him faceplant. He will piss most people off. His approval rating will drop below 50%. He is going to disappoint you. Get used to the idea.
Obama came into office with a burden of expectation absolutely unlike any other president, in no small part because he’s black. For the United States to have elected a black man to the presidency seemed like it had to herald a new era in our country. That made Obama a repository of a lot of hope and desire and a lot of people projected some frankly unachievable expectations on the man. The most ridiculous example of this was when Obama woke up one morning and found himself a Nobel Laureate, given the peace prize not for anything he’d done, but for who the prize committee apparently hoped he would be.
Which was nonsense. It’s not the most embarrassing Nobel Peace Prize ever given, but it’s probably in the top five, and I think crystalizes the problem Obama was saddled with, in terms of being an icon even before he was a president. To be clear, he didn’t exactly run away from the iconography that sprung up around him, because why would he? He was running to be president, and every bit helps. He was a participant in the cult of personality. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a problem.
Obama has other problems as well: the caricature of him as Spock, the emotionless and cerebral Star Trek character, is not necessarily intended to be a flattering one. I think some of people who expected him to be some sort of North American analogue to Nelson Mandela got a shock to their system when he turned out to be a prickly wonk; it also apparently didn’t help him in the chummy go-along-to-get-along world of Washington DC. Obama’s own party, which held both the House and Senate in the first two years of his presidency, was splintery and balky, which helped contribute to it losing the House in the 2010 election cycle.
And as for the Republicans, well. They’ve made it their policy to be against anything the man is for. If Obama said he liked the sunrise, the Republicans would have gone on Fox to explain how it was socialist to have sunlight distributed freely to all. The modern GOP has got a Stage IV case of Gingrichitis, in which Democrats are not just as seen as the opposing party, but the enemy of all that is good and pure in the world. This would be a problem at any point but it’s especially bad in the case of the modern GOP, for reasons I will get to later.
Obama came in burdened with unrealistic expectations, didn’t necessarily help himself on the ingratiation front, and faced both disorganized allies and a vehemently angry opposition. For all that, he managed to do a number of things that I approve of, including taking the first steps to universal health care, ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and choosing not to defend DOMA, killing Bin Laden, drawing down our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and also (and this is significant) working to keep the American economy from entirely collapsing into a hole after the economic meltdown of four years ago. Yes, things got bad. Things could have been so very much worse.
Ironically, I’ve never been notably disappointed with Obama. His policies and political inclinations are largely in line with my own, I don’t mind and indeed kind of prefer a Vulcan president, and I voted for him in 2008 cognizant of the political realities into which he was being elected. I generally like his deliberative style and his willingness to take a half a loaf rather than nothing if half loaf is realistically what’s going to be able to get. Which is to say I find him and his politics to be pragmatic, thoughtful and largely practical. The right likes to foam about how the man is a socialist, but I’m not obliged to pay attention to nonsense. Obama’s politics are “careful centrist,” and I’m fine with that.
Given what he’s accomplished in the context in which he’s had to work, I’m satisfied with Obama as president so far. That alone would enough in most election years to allow him to keep my vote in his tally. Is this the glowing, ringing endorsement that Obamaites can shout to the hills? I suppose it’s not, but this should not be confused with a lukewarm or half-hearted endorsement. This is not “you’ll do.” It’s “you’ve done well. Keep going.”
Now, to Mitt Romney. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t see Romney as an ideologue, I see him as an administrator, and in a different time, and against a different opponent, he might be a more compelling candidate to me. I don’t mind politicians who have a few core values but are also able to take the temperature of a room and say, “okay, let’s work with this.” However, I’ve already got a presidential candidate like that, whose core values are closer to mine. And there’s the little matter of the room Romney has to work in, which is to say, the modern national Republican party.
Look: The modern national Republican party is a hot mess, a simmering pot of angry reactionaries driven by selfishness and willful ignorance, whose guiding star is not governance but power, and whose policies and practices are tuned to build an oligarchy, not nurture a democracy. Its economic policies are charitably described as nonsense and its social policies are vicious; for a party which parades its association with Jesus around like a fetish, it is notably lacking in the simple compassion of the Christ. There is so little I find good or useful in the current national GOP, intellectually, philosophically or politically, that I genuinely look on it with despair and wonder when or if the grown-ups are ever going to come back to it. Before anyone leaps up to say that the modern Democratic Party has problems of its own, know that I do not disagree. But if your practical choices for governance of the country are between the marginally competent and the actively malicious, you go with the marginally competent.
In his campaign for president, Romney has embraced many of the worst elements of the modern national GOP policy thinking, up to and including choosing Paul Ryan, architect of a ruinously idiotic budget plan, as his vice-president. Romney’s run on this nonsense, and despite a late burst of tacking to the center, I think he’s beholden to it, and will be as president. I think it’s obvious that I believe it’s the wrong course for the country, economically, socially and politically.
More to the point, I think the real problem is that the actively malicious, awful and small-minded politics of the modern GOP have to be stopped. The modern GOP, simply put, has no moral center; it pays superficial obeisance to “traditional values” while yearning to implement policies whose highest moral achievement is consolidating wealth for the very few, and is perfectly happy to be as cynical as it needs to be to achieve that goal. If the GOP wins this election, it will simply become further untethered from the common good of the nation, because why shouldn’t it? There is no political reason for it to be otherwise. If mendacity continues to be rewarded, then mendacity is a legitimate strategy of power.
I would like for the GOP to be better than it is now; I’m pretty sure it was, once, and I’m pretty sure it can be again. I would like to actually feel that I can ethically give my vote to a Republican candidate at a national level. I can’t do it now. I don’t think I’ll be able to until it becomes clear to the GOP that to continue on the path it’s on now is a path to political extinction.
I have problems with Romney as a candidate — his lack of transparency regarding his taxes, his tendency to say “elect me, then I’ll tell you my plans,” his choice of VP, and the overarching sense that he wants to be president mostly because he feels like he should get to be president, and gets cross when it’s suggested that’s not a sufficient reason — but my biggest problem with Romney is the party he’s a candidate of. I can’t support it; I won’t support its candidate because of it.
So those are my reasons for Obama, and against Romney.
(And you may ask: What about a third party candidate? My answer: Dude, I’m in Ohio. Ask me to be capricious with my vote some other time. That said, of all the candidates on my electoral ballot, Obama’s the closest to my own politics. He would get my vote this year in any event.)
Update: Want to make your own presidential endorsement for 2012? I’ve created a thread for you to do it in.
Nur surprise? Consider me baffled. With your last blog entries, i expected you to run yourself ;-))).
Krissy says no to that.
Standard caveats about being polite to each other, etc., don’t make me break out the Mallet, etc., and so and so forth. Seriously, act like grownups, please, I have too much work today to have to babysit the thread 24/7. Thank you.
I am so not disappointed with your choice, and I will continue to read Whatever and buy your books with present enthusiasm. There … might as well put something in the plus column before the haters hate.
I agree with your last paragraph. Living in a swing state, one cannot afford to vote for the third party candidate that agrees most closely to one’s personal choices.
For those who live in states where the vote is likely to be meaningless, I recommend studying all of the third party candidates to see if there is one whose philosophy is closest to the voter’s views, and then make one’s statement by voting for him or her.
This endorsement is as about as surprising as finding out Bears make Scat in the woods.
That is all I’ll say.
Bot. Gonna. Happen.
But that should come as no surprise.
That would be “Not”. Sorry.
It’s not a thread about who will win. It’s a thread about who I’m endorsing.
I’m not saying who will win. You siad “I will be voting for Barack Obama to have a second term as President of the United States, and I think you should too.”
I said: “Not. Gonna. Happen.”
Or at least I tried.
I’m not looking for a savior, just someone who can nudge the ship of state in the right direction. Obama has done that, and will get my vote.
As for the inevitable “He’s gonna win/no he won’t” back-and-forth, I assume this thread is about who should win, not who will.
I grew up in an older (R) household. I had my ideas about government (We The People), and the role of said government impressed on me at an early age. My attitudes and opinions of politicians has gone down over the decades, and I see them more and more wanting to rule than lead the country. Rulers look out for themselves, Leaders try to look out for everybody. That is how I make my choice – as the Schoolhouse Rock song goes; “No More Kings”.
Fully agreed. I’m still so thrilled over everything he did for women early in this term that I can’t be disappointed.
Thank you for putting into words what I am not eloquent enough to say. If the only problem with the GOP was its archaic stance on women’s and gay rights, that would be enough of a deal breaker for me. The asenine fiscal policy is just the cherry on top.
John, I love this piece.
And I’m generally considered a republican.
I hate it that we live in a society where “moderate” is used as a slur in politics. I’m voting for Romney. I’m not voting against Barack Obama though. Obama hasn’t been a bad president. He hasn’t been good, but I don’t necessarily blame him for that. I’m voting for Romney because I think he’ll be better for the economy, and I don’t think he’s the type that will force his morality onto me when it comes to social issues. Romney strikes me, as you said, an an administrator. I don’t need somebody to rally me for a cause. I just need somebody I can trust to do a good job. I want somebody who is moderate enough to support an action on its merits alone. I think Romney can do this.
That said, I hold no ill will towards the president. I don’t believe he was a kenya-born muslim. I think he’s a bit of a nice guy who isn’t handling his opposing party especially well. I do appreciate Obama keeping moderate republicans around him, like Bob Gates and John Huntsman (whom I wanted to vote for).
I’ve been quite happy with President Obama, but I too voted for the Vulcan pragmatist because I expected him to behave like a Vulcan pragmatist. I think we need more of them in politics. I don’t understand the reported disaffection that I hear from the media, but that’s probably because I live in an area that is so blue the Smurfs vacation here. The only openly Romney voter I’ve met in years got thrown out of the bar (for groping another patron, not for being a Republican, although that didn’t do much for the reputation of his party, I have to say.)
Senator Obama was a wonk who managed to get my attention even though he wasn’t from my state; he ran a superb campaign as candidate; and as President, he’s delivered on promises that I care deeply about. So, I’m voting to extend his contract. I think he’s earned it.
Quite on the spot with how Obama has set his agenda and set out to accomplish that agenda, regardless of the obstacles he’s been up against.
Going tomorrow myself, to put in a vote for him.
The Democratic Party should just own up to the fact that it’s now the only more-or-less reality-based conservative political party in the US. Then maybe US liberals could finally get on with filling the void left by the Democrats with an honestly liberal major party.
I am in 100% agreement about the state of the GOP… I will not vote for any Republican candidate, for any office, at any level of government, until that party:
a) decides to embrace reality. Facts are facts, not ‘debatable talking points’.
b) remembers that they were ‘The Party of Lincoln’ instead of acting like ‘The Party of Strom Thurmond’. (note: I am aware that Strom used to be a Democrat, just like most of the worst racists in Congress at that time… and when LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act, they almost universally switched sides over the following years to the GOP).
c) decides that governing is important, more important than simply being in power.
As soon as a) thru c) are accomplished I’ll start voting for individuals on the basis of merit. Or I’ll wait for the GOP to finish dying out like the dinosaur it’s threatening to become, and start considering voting for candidates from whatever (rational, reasonable, and intellectually honest) party takes its place.
You could always run for president then tell Krissy you aren’t, that way you could have wacky sitcom antics trying to explain why you have the President of Russia to dinner, what the Marines are doing guarding the lawn, trying to hide ruling the free world while pretending to be a mild mannered writer… BRB; pitching “John Scalzi: Secret President” to CBS for Spring Season premiere.
Too late! I put my ballot in the drop box yesterday.
Your endorsement wouldn’t have made a difference anyway because I agree with you on every point you made and I voted for Obama.
I, too, think that a vote for Obama isn’t just a vote against the other guys. I think he has done an excellent job so far, especially considering what he’s had to work with, and I want him to keep doing what he’s doing. I consider myself an independent, but I agree with what you said about the current crop of Republicans. They are so entrenched that they won’t let moderate thinkers in the door. I did consider the candidates from both parties for every position before filling in the little bubbles on my ballot, and a couple of state-level Republican candidates garnered serious consideration. In the end, the Democratic candidates got all of my votes.
Thanks for reminding me that political thoughts don’t have to be full of frothy, reactionary anger. Watching this latest political cycle almost made me forget that!
I’ve posted your Obama “Dude’s a politician, don’t pretend you didn’t know” image more than a few times on message boards over the last four years. And while I, too, am a swing state voter, I find little compelling in either major presidential candidate.
Still, I’d be OK with an Obama victory as a rebuke to the GOP for the reasons you described, which I am in 90% agreement with. I’d also be OK with a Romney victory as a rebuke to the crony corporatist pseudo-capitalism of the Democratic party that shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of politically connected businesses and labor unions with f**k all to show for it, that expanded government regulatory power while making that power less accountable to popular control, that continued the most rotten aspects of his predecessors’ foreign policy and domestic security policy, as well as to the (IMO) creepy cult of personality that Obama seems to have attracted in certain segments of our society, a segment that apparently considers memes to be substitutes for argument.
EIther way, whoever wins, nothing much is going to change. And this is a *good* thing. Lincoln summed it up well:
We have our October Surprise.
Asked directly on the topic by CNN’s John King during the 13 June 2011 Republican presidential primary debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Governor Romney said the federal government “cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids.”
JOHN KING: You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.
Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…
My parents were Republican, if anything, but I am convinced they would be disenchanted with the party if they were still living. If only because of the recent insistence that the job of the Congress is to unseat the President, not to work to pass legislation to improve our economic problems. For me, it is a question of morality, pure and simple. I believe that we must have compassion for each other, and I want to get married which I can only do in a handful of states. I am a woman and believe that the government should keeps its hands off my body. These are my reasons for supporting President Obama. As for economics? The economy will fix itself. There is a cycle to these things and it simply takes 5-6 years to recover from a major downturn. It would have been no different if McCain had been elected. If Romney wins, he will simply reap the benefit of that cycle, unless his laissez-faire, trickle-down policies send us into another tailspin. Face it. If the wealthy we’re going to invest in jobs, they would already be doing it.
I was not even aware of Whatever in 2008 so I appreciate you posting a link to “Reality Check”. The highlighted portion at the beginning of this post was very well said, though it could be said about any president. While I will not be voting for Obama, I have to admit that he has not done as much harm as I had feared.
I think John’s point about unrealistic expectations on Obama are on the mark, and that Obama utilized them to help get elected is what most any politician would have done to ensure a successful campaign. I live in CA and there is so little presidential campaigning done here that the excesses of the radio & TV ads by Repubs & Dems are generally much less than in a swing state like Ohio. Like John says when there’s only a few candidates to choose from the likelihood of finding one that matches closely to ones preferences is slim to none. Romney is more closely matched to my preference for having a government to GDP ratio of ~20% and since so many other differences between them are minor this one settles it for me. If Obama ran on a more fiscally conservative, i.e., smaller, budget platform I think he’d be up 4+points across the board and breeze to a 2nd term like Bubba did.
warlordgrego: the republicans aren’t going to enforce their morality on you? I can’t vote for them because they sure as heck want to enforce their morality on me. Mitt Romney is not an exception to this policy (if he was he wouldn’t be their current candidate).
@MasterThief: I like your Lincoln quote, but I think that the Bush administration did injure the government pretty seriously in four years, and then he was given another four years to really twist the knife.
So what is “the most embarrassing Noble Peace Prize ever given”? I’m thinking Austen Chamberlain, myself.
Normally I do in fact vote to make a point rather than because I am hoping a given candidate will win, but, alas, things are nearly as tight in Colorado as they are in Ohio, so I am being forced into responsibly voting for Obama this year.
Obama did not close Guantanamo Bay at all, and acts like he never promised to close it.
Obama is in favor of executing American citizens with a barest hint of due process.
Obama has fought state medical marijuana tooth and nail.
I’m still voting for him, but at least for me, he has been quite the disappointment,
@DG Lewis: Henry Kissinger.
I voted a week ago.
I refuse to vote for a socially malicious party on the off chance they might get serious about economic reform for the first time in 50 years, particularly when their answer is pseudo-economist Paul Ryan. At this point the economic polices of both parties are so completely unsustainable and wasteful that I hold no hope that the wholesale economic reform we need will come from government, and that’s cause for great despair.
And I absolutely disagree with your assessment of the President’s handling of the economy. The Bush/Obama stimulus was a deal with the devil and we will all pay for it.
That said, I voted my social conscience. I don’t know if Obama and the Dems will get their act together, but I know the Rubs are going in the opposite direction from me.
Thanks, John. As usual, you articulated my position better than I can. What on Earth do people think a man who makes the President’s salary in less than five days is going to do? I do not want an LBO of America and I am certain that’s what would happen if Mitt took charge. Privatization is just another work for crony created monopolies who have no responsibility to the citizens of this country. When our Founding Fathers said, “We the People,” they were not ever thinking that Citizens United would happen.
“Ironically, I’ve never been notably disappointed with Obama”
I agree, with one exception so large I can’t vote for him this time: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/07/drone-attacks-lawsuit/
I’d be interested to hear what you think about the killing of US citizens without any judicial process. I don’t really object to the death of those individuals, I just can’t abide the precedent.
Luckily NJ will be going to Obama with or without my vote so I’m free to vote for the green party candidate who more closely approaches my own views anyway.
If I were 22 instead of 38 I am 100% certain I’d be an Obama man. Obama — as a President — would have perfectly captured everything I felt and believed at that young age. Alas, if JS sees the Republicans as a hot mess that must be stopped, I can’t take the Democrats seriously anymore because the Democrats don’t take themselves seriously on economics. The last time Democrats were serious on economics, I was voting Democrat: 1996 and 2000. Beginning in 2001 I began to drift sharply from the Dems — or did the Dems begin to drift sharply from me? The messianic cult-like popularity of Obama in 2008 merely widened the divide. The man’s credentials for the job were whisper-thin. What had he proven he was capable of? Hope and change? How about we hope in one and and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.
In 2012 I don’t think voting for Romney-Ryan is a blanket endorsement of all things Republican, nor is it tacit approval for every Republican pol going. I do think it’s a rejection of Obamanomics — which is government-centered and treats private enterprise like it’s a necessary evil: to be tolerated and taxed at best, or bought off and perverted with subsidy at worst. It’s also a sharp jab to the groin of the Democratic Party who seem prepared to raise taxes and inflate spending while hampering North American fuel resource development while saddling the country with ill-conceived legislation like the ACA — then blaming all of the country’s economic ills on Obama’s predecessor and an “obstructionist” Republican legislature which (apparently) won’t let Obama be awesome the way he was awesome for the first two years of his term.
If Obama had been a budget-balancer from Day 1 I think he’d be a shew-in for a second term. If Obama had shown tough love to the auto industry and the banks, instead of being a favor-player and favor-maker, I am sure his full 8 years would be assured. But as we close in on election day I think even the left-leaning independents and Blue Dog Democrats are having serious reservations about committing to another four years of trillion-dollar deficit spending in place of an actual private sector recovery and the lowering of the alarmingly-high unemployment rate. I cite the Des Moines Register’s Romney endorsement as a prime example of this shift. If the election were simply an election on social policy, I am sure the Register (and the L.A. Daily News, among others) would be for Obama. But even they’re not prepared to turn a blind eye to the very serious predicament we’re in.
Like the old saying goes: it’s the economy, stupid.
Romney’s not perfect. I don’t think very many people voting for him look at him as a miracle-worker. But at a time in national history when mismanagement seems to be a key culprit in our national woes — by Republicans and Democrats alike — is it so wrong to want to bring in a businessman with a fixer-upper track record?
I have never been a fan of Obama. I think he is a typical Chicago politician, a little brighter than most. however, I, too want the grownups back in the Republican party. Every time the stupid open their mouths and do not get shunned by the party and the people at the top of it, i lose a little more faith in the GOP. It has hit zero, now, and is still descending.
This is definitely GYOB territory, so:
“My knee travels that way for a reason.”
Any resemblance to the proprietor’s thoughts in unintentional, in the sense that while I find him admirable I do not actively seek to resemble him. I figure that I’m a tolerable enough guy in my own right.
JS said: And as for the Republicans, well. They’ve made it their policy to be against anything the man is for. If Obama said he liked the sunrise, the Republicans would have gone on Fox to explain how it was socialist to have sunlight distributed freely to all.
THIS is the main reason I’m planning to change my voter registration from Republican to Democrat. I did vote for Obama in 2008 and was well aware that he had a huge job ahead of him. Sadly, the current Republican-controlled Congress has fought him at every turn and their absolute refusal to WORK TOGETHER makes me ashamed to be a registered Republican.
I listen to my bosses speak the same way, that anything Obama says or does is wrong/bad/evil just because he says or does it. One keeps saying that she’s “terrified that Obama will get in”, as though he’s not already in. So she’ll vote for Romney, even though she can never even remember his name. Shouldn’t you know the name of the man you’re planning to vote for? Shouldn’t you have more reason to vote than “He’s not Obama”?
Apologies for the length of this post and for veering off topic, but that point you made really struck a chord with me and I’m happy to see that we’re voting for the same candidate for many of the same reasons.
On the subject of unrealistic expectations:
Sweet God! I just realized that this will be over in a week. I’ll finally be able to turn on my TV again.
I can only disagree on one point: I think there was an equal “burden of expectation” on the Kennedy Administration – at least that’s the way it felt to me at the time.
I live in a swing state and I AM voting FOR Obama. For me it is a question of voting for either the “Lets try this” party or the “No, no, no” party, and I choose to go with at least trying.
I’m one of those crazy liberals who can’t even fathom voting based on economics rather than civil rights, which is exactly how I feel about the other side’s stance on women’s rights, gay rights, health insurance issues, etc etc. No matter how I lean fiscally, I am almost always going to vote based on social issues because I think we have a lot of things to right when it comes to how we treat certain citizens of this country. If that means a little less money in my pocket or whatever, so be it. (And I’m not even all that convinced that anything Romney would do as president would help my family one bit.)
Stebuu–President Obama was on “The Daily Show” last week and Jon Stewart specifically asked him about Gitmo. He said he still wants to close it and he’s working on it. I do not know if it’s going to take a bill to do this or not–if it’s Congressional approval he needs, we’re all going to have to fight toe to toe with the GOP to get it done.
Another reason to vote for the incumbent: not wanting Romney and friends, such as Robert Bork, nominating Supreme Court justices for the next term.
On council, we passed a zoning law that required a fence with a lock around any pool larger than a kiddy pool and deeper than a koi pond. One of us thought it was too restrictive and costly for families who wanted those small inflatable/fillable pools you see now (fairly deep, reasonable size, structure is held up by the water inside the pool). So at their bequest we set about to amend that law and came to the conclusion we would accept such a pool without a fence if it was less that 28′ in diameter. They felt it should be any size of pool, and had had a 30′ (which at the time we passed the zoning, they fired arrows into it to deflate it rather than put up a fence). After a much contested debate (if you don’t understand the term “attractive nuisance” consider yourself lucky), they were the only one to vote “No” on the amended ordinance.
That was a lesson about people I had to learn the hard way. It’s also somewhat instructive on how some people are justifying their vote this year.
And there’s my favorite quote from your post that sums up my biggest issue with the modern GOP: “for a party which parades its association with Jesus around like a fetish, it is notably lacking in the simple compassion of the Christ.” I’m not actually a fan of of the economic policies of the Democratic party but for social issues alone, I categorically refuse to vote GOP.
I have toyed with voting for either Obama or Johnson for months.
But the Republicans lost me entirely in the debate where they were asked if they’d take a 10:1 ratio of budget cuts to tax increases and they *all* said no.
I view a vote for Romney as a vote for economic nihilism – for a plan to balance the budget by cutting everything except the military, including a probable 40-50% cut in nondiscretionary domestic spending.
Right about now, I *like* the NOAA. I’d rather see it, and other things like it, continue to function, and what I see of the Republicans in the House – whom I don’t think Romney can say no to – is that they *don’t*.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Now, I wonder, has Obama fulfilled your ideas about personal liberties? How about the war on wistleblowers? How about prosecuting war criminals in the last administration? How about ‘kill lists’? Should I go on?
What a shame it is to vote for Obama. What a great disappointment he is, indeed.
I will be voting for Mitt Romney because Obama is the worst president this nation has had in my entire life time. To get to worse presidents you need to go back to Carter or even further to FDR/Wilson (who Obama attempts to emulate).
Romney’s plan to get us energy independent, reducing the tax rate by simplifying the tax code are all common sense initiatives. Obamacare takes all of our existing problems of our healthcare system and greatly exacerbates them. It has done everything to drive healthcare cost up and it’s not even fully implemented yet, this trend will only accelerate if it’s not derailed and replaced with reform that actually addresses WHY healthcare costs so much.
Not to mention Barack Obama is one of the most deceitful men to have ever been president. Nearly everything he says is massive distortion of truth, the single pinnacle example of his outright lies “Obamacare is not a tax” and then his lawyers argued at the Supreme court that it is a tax, and the SC agreed. Obamacare is the largest middle class tax increase ever. It is also the largest government take over to have ever occurred since WWII.
Excellent endorsement! I agree whole-heartedly. As a very left of center voter, I’ve had to listen to Obama get trashed on both sides of the aisle. Those who think our president is a socialist clearly don’t know many progressives or people sitting on the far left who are also just aching for our president to fail because he’s a “secret Republican.”
I have been happy with our president, overall. I think he is an intelligent and thoughtful person who doesn’t embarrass us every time he opens his mouth. I think he’s a MODERATE, and his aloof tendencies make people sometimes think they’re dealing with someone who is a robot. But I disagree. Our president is not only human, but he’s perhaps a tad too human to come into this job and be the gregarious opportunist that politics often demands of people, and that Bill Clinton managed to do so very well.
At any rate, as a fellow Ohioan, I support your vote and I have also cast my ballot the same way. Did so back in early October, in fact.
I also forgot to add that Obama is a cold blooded murder. Having murdered US citizens in foreign lands, one of them being a teenage boy. Were they probably terrorists? Yes. Does our justice system work on probably? No. The law of our land is innocent until proven guilty.
Obama is not a monarch. He does not have the right to sentence US citizens to death without a trial. His actions are treasonous to our Constitution and an embarrassment to have a murderer as president.
“In 2012 I don’t think voting for Romney-Ryan is a blanket endorsement of all things Republican, nor is it tacit approval for every Republican pol going. I do think it’s a rejection of Obamanomics — which is government-centered and treats private enterprise like it’s a necessary evil: to be tolerated and taxed at best, or bought off and perverted with subsidy at worst. It’s also a sharp jab to the groin of the Democratic Party who seem prepared to raise taxes and inflate spending while hampering North American fuel resource development while saddling the country with ill-conceived legislation like the ACA — then blaming all of the country’s economic ills on Obama’s predecessor and an “obstructionist” Republican legislature which (apparently) won’t let Obama be awesome the way he was awesome for the first two years of his term.”
You realize that not a single word of this is true right? Obama has actually cut taxes and regulation during his time in office. Oil and natural gas production in North American has increased under the Obama administration. And the Republicans in congress made a point of saying they would never work with Obama on ANYTHING?
You do know these things right?
“If Obama had shown tough love to the auto industry and the banks, instead of being a favor-player and favor-maker, I am sure his full 8 years would be assured.”
“[…]the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the fiscal year 2009 deficit at $1.2 trillion two weeks before Obama took office. That fiscal year started Oct. 1, 2008. The fiscal year was already nearly one-third over when Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009. After Obama took office, the deficit increased to $1.4 trillion for fiscal year 2009. At the end of the fiscal year, the CBO largely blamed the 2009 deficit on the recession, specifically a sharp decline in tax revenues and an increase in spending in response to the economic crisis — first by Bush and later by Obama.”
Also, TARP was signed by Bush. Not Obama. Having said that, I’m not convinced it was a bad idea. Despite my knee-jerk reaction to decry anything Bush did, I recognize that impulse in myself and try to keep a leash on it. Whether it was a good or bad idea isn’t the point I’m focusing on, anyway. Bush authorized $700 billion to bailout the banks (part of which got redirected to the auto industry). The Dodd-Frank Act, which Obama pushed, reduced the authorized amount to $475 million.
I don’t understand all the people claiming Romney is good on economics, This is something that has no basis in reality. Also the blaming Obama for putting the debt created under bush on the books seems like willful ignorance. How can people who are so focused on “the economy” be so ignorant about it? 15 trillion dollars of the debt was there before Obama ever took office.
The paragraph beginning with “Look: the current Republican national party…” Is perhaps the most concise and scathingly accurate summation of the current GOP. That kind of articulate writing paired with critical thought is why people buy your book. ***golf clap*** Well done, sir.
I don’t at all trust the suddenly solicitous attitude R-Money is showing for the middle class these past few weeks, and the GOP in general seems to be the paradigm for cognitive dissonance. I’ll vote for Obama, for as much good as it will do here in Texas.
Anyone for whom nothing is going to change if Romney is elected is a straight male, probably upper to middle class.
If you’re a woman, and worried about choice, Romney is against it. He will appoint judges and enact policies restricting your right to an abortion. If he could manage it, he’d abolish Ro V Wade and make abortion illegal everywhere.
If you’re poor, Romney will make things harder on you in terms of federal assistance. Romney and his supporters think you chose to be poor, and that government assistance is so awesome it keeps you from bettering yourself. Also, they want to cut college grants, which you’d use to better yourself.
If you’re queer, Romney is about as vile as they come. At first i thought he was about average, but no, he actually attempted to deny same sex parents from being listed on a child’s birth certificate while he was Gov of MA. The only reason for that was that he didn’t want same sex couples raising children. He thinks its wrong and ought to be discouraged, so he decided to penalize those families.
If you’re a minority, as is standard, expect a Romney cabinet to turn EEOC and federal anti discrimination claims back to the same non responsive pro corporation jerks that Bush turned them over to, expect support for “papers please” laws for anyone looking hispanic, and so on.
@notsont, it comes from a really simplistic understanding of what “the economy” means. The thinking appears to be: Romney was able to run business that made a profit for himself and his investors, therefore he will be able to run a government which will generate a surplus.
There’s no logical connection between those two things unless one assumes some generic “money managing” power that works in government the same way as an investment firm. Or, I guess, if one doesn’t wish to spoil things with inconvenient details.
@Josh Jasper, hurting the middle class and the poor goes well past cutting federal subsidies to them. A President who sees the role of government as handmaiden to the plutocracy has enormous power to gut enforcement of laws and regulations, and to appoint activist judges who will spend decades rewriting laws in their masters’ favor.
I spent a lot of time in law school around those types. They don’t actually want government small enough to drown in the bathtub; they want it just large enough to bring back the Gilded Age.
Last election I felt forced to write in “None of the Above.” This is true. I didn’t think I could cast my vote for either party. McCain & Her Shallowness scared me. Obama is not only a politician, he’s a *CHICAGO* politician, which so many seem to have forgotten. When people whine about crony capitalism, I just think, “You knew he was from Chicago when you elected him.” Has Chicago politics somehow been washed pure since I last looked?
This year, the Repubs have me scared spitless over women’s reproductive issues, and the prospect of four new Supreme Court justices appointed by theocrats. So I will vote for Obama, though I live in California and it’s fairly moot. Obama didn’t disappoint me because I didn’t expect anything from him. I’ve been appalled at his manners overseas and seeming ignorance of protocol, and disaffection for America when he’s not actually here. Obamacare? Can we say fiasco?
But far better that, than someone who has yet to evince any notion that women are actually human beings.
I never understand so-called “former Democrats” who complain about the creeping socialism of the ACA. If you were a Democrat in 1992-2000, then the ACA is to the right of what you supported at the time. In fact, the ACA is nearly identical to the health care reform of the GOP of 1992-2000, including the individual mandate.
And as for the Des Moines Register‘s endorsement, I’ll put it the way I got an e-mail from an independent friend of mine who has worked on campaigns for both sides over the last 40 years:
“Winning the DMR endorsement was crucial for 2008’s Iowa caucus winner, President Hillary Clinton. Also, the last time they endorsed a Republican, it was Richard Nixon in 1972, and we all know how he turned out.”
BTW, she’s voting for Obama, since she said he’s the closest thing to her favorite President: Ronald Reagan. She’s a bit of an economics guru, and she thinks that Obama’s fiscal policies are a good combination of him and Clinton, who both brought economic growth, whereas Romney will do whatever damn fool thing the nuthouse (i.e. GOP Congress) tells him to do, which is essentially rerun the Bush years with an extra level of social craziness like bringing back DADT/DOMA, rolling back the Voting Rights Act, and caving into the Mourdock/Akin wing (which is the stated positions of his running mate).
“I do not know if it’s going to take a bill to do this or not–if it’s Congressional approval he needs,” GOP voted down the funding required to close Gitmo and the GOP voted for more funding to keep Gitmo open. What more could President Obama have done? Taken all the detainees back to the location of their detention and released them into the wild?? Imagine the uproar if he had done that?
I understand, and even applaud, those who hesitate to vote for Obama because of the issues relating to Gitmo and drone strikes and other increases/abuses of federal and executive power. It’s a huge problem, and a moral issue.
But if any of you think a “President Romney” would be better (on any scale used to determine “better”) on this issue than Obama, I think you’re gravely mistaken. As John put it, “The modern GOP, simply put, has no moral center; it pays superficial obeisance to “traditional values” while yearning to implement policies whose highest moral achievement is consolidating wealth for the very few, and is perfectly happy to be as cynical as it needs to be to achieve that goal.”
If you think Obama personally signing off on drone strikes is bad, just wait until Romney outsources those to Blackwater.
And as for the Republicans, well. They’ve made it their policy to be against anything the man is for. If Obama said he liked the sunrise, the Republicans would have gone on Fox to explain how it was socialist to have sunlight distributed freely to all.
Nothing else particularly good to add, but I got a huge kick out of that statement.
While I value your opinion, I’m amazed at the endorsements that are out there from people whose opinions don’t make sense. Meatloaf, Lindsay Lohan, Kid Rock. I’m surprised Snooki hasn’t weighed in on the election yet. But in all seriousness, you, along with people like Colin Powell, make sensible endorsements.
I can’t vote for Romney, mainly because as a Massachusetts resident I’ve seen how short sighted and small he can be. When a court determined gays and lesbians could marry back in 2004, Romney first tried to pressure the legislature into closing the loophole that existed to make such marriages possible. when they refused, he stepped up enforcement of an obscure regulation to limit issuing marriage licenses to Mass. Residents only, to prevent us from becoming “the Las Vegas of gay marriage.” He did this even though allowing non-residents to get married in the state would have brought millions into the state economy. Given a choice between working for the best interests of the state financially or pushing his personal morality, he chose to push his morality. Even after having said in the nineties he’d be better for gays and lesbians than Ted Kennedy.
Obama came into office with a burden of expectation absolutely unlike any other president,
Yeah. I think he really needed to run with whatever hype he could get just to overcome the amazing amount of latent racism that rose up like antibodies to the notion of anyone black being president. Seriously, I don’t think he would have won if he had set realistic expectations, but given the alternative was to let racists push the vote to “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain and his absolute bimbo of a VP selection, I can’t hold it against him for riding the wave of unrealistically high expectations. One heart attack away from the political equivalent of Caitlin Upton, but with guns? No fucking thank you.
That said, I don’t think Obama is entirely blameless either. Some of the hype was thrust upon him. Some of it was based in, you know, actual campaign promises he made and then reversed once elected. Promising to close Guantanamo, being the big one. At the very least, think that given all his speeches about being against torture, indefinite detention, and all that, that even if he didn’t close Guantanamo, he would NOT have simply moved all the torture and indefinite detention over to Bagram Airbase (Parwan facility), and increased the number of prisoners 5x.
The whole “The president can assassinate americans without due process” thing is not something Obama learned in any of his constitutional law classes. Obama owns that fuck up and can’t blame anyone but himself when the next Mayberry Machievelli right winger becomes president, looks at that rule, and says “Score!”.
Obama made speeches about the neccesity to protect whistleblowers. He’s completely reversed that and is now one of the biggest prosecuters of whistleblowers. One doesn’t need much of an imagination to see that he would have prosecuted Daniel Ellsberg with every resource available.
Obama dragged his feet in Egypt when it was clear it was either going to be a massive amount of bloodshed to keep our guys in power, or we work with the Arab Spring and get a real democracy going. He dragged his feet trying to keep Mubarak in power. When that clearly wasn’t going to work, he pushed to get Suleiman in, the vice president who worked with the CIA and was commonly known in Egypt for torturing citizens. As a result, Egyptians distrust America now even more than they distrusted us when Shrub was president.
So, he rode the wave of high expectations, and he probably needed to do that in order to overcome horrendous racism working against him. But not all of the expectations were mere thrust upon him. He made a number of campaign promises that he simply reversed once he was in office.
I’m not trolling for a fight, but asking a serious question. Would I be right to assume the “me” above is heterosexual, cis-gendered and probably not a woman? Because depending on which audience Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are speaking to at any given moment, they really really do want to force their morality on GLBT people, on women, on folks who still believe that ‘separation of Church and state’ thing isn’t just liberal malakey.
And even if I believed “President Moderate Mit” would survive past twilight on Inauguration Day (and I don’t) can I offer this reality check? He’d still have to work with the GOP on Capitol Hill, and let’s face it — you think the likes of Todd Aiken and Roger Mourdock et. al are going to moderate their extreme positions on abortion, marriage equality etc. one micron because Mitt didn’t act like Rick Santorum on crack this week? I don’t think so…
I want thank-you, John, for giving a thorough explanation of your endorsement. As a fellow Ohioan myself, I’ve had my absentee ballot sitting here next to my computer for the past few weeks with everything filled out except for the presidency. I’ve been on a very purple fence this entire year wishing I could just create a hybrid, my very own “Barack Romney, now Paul Ryan free”. But since you’ve outlined many of the same concerns I’ve had, I can finally come to terms with completing my ballot and putting into the mail.
I look forward to November 7 so we can boot all of the organizers and sympathizers out of our state.
warlordgrego: I’m voting for Romney because […] and I don’t think he’s the type that will force his morality onto me when it comes to social issues.
The only way I can parse this and make it a true statement is if you happen to be straight and male.
If I were American, I’d vote for Obama. And I’d stay far, far away from anything associated with the Republicans, who IMO starts at egoistical bastards, then goes via misogynistic nutjobs out past rabidly insane territory.
I’m very happy with my own Norwegian politics, thank you very much, though Republican in the US probably thinks of it as communism.
“Barack Obama does not fart cinnamon-scented rainbows.” OK, probably.
But how do you KNOW, John? How can you KNOW?
Jumping on the “not straight and male” bandwagon, undivided Republican government is a distinct possibility if Romney wins, and for those of us who are not straight white males, that prospect is actively dangerous. Hooray for our host endorsing someone (i.e Obama) who appears to think all of his country’s citizens are worthy of being treated as fully human.
As a libertarian leaning voter that can honestly say that he has voted for both Dems and Reps from time to time, I think you have the labels inverted. (I include the “honestly” reference because I talk to a lot of “I vote for the person not the party” types that always vote party line. But they’re open minded. Honestly…)
While I did take note of your qualifier about believing that the Dems are far from perfect, it has been my experience that any of the qualities of “Gingrichitis” were learned from Democrats that do it better and more often.
I can’t fault your choice….cause it’s yours! But I’m not seeing a whole world of difference between the two. One party wants to drive us into fiscal oblivion with their surreal policies while the other wants to drive us into a social oblivion by re-creating a mythic 1950s America with their social policies.
Join the club – down here in New Zealand, we have a center-right lead government, public schools, public hospitals and a bipartisan majority (including the Prime Minister!) recently voted to progress a marriage equality past its right reading. It’s North Korea meets Iran, I tell you! :)
Being as how I hang my head in the state of Texas, my vote for Obama does him not one bit of good. But, he got it all the same. And, like you, I didn’t go into this four years ago with any kind of high hopes. We have had the kind of Presidency I expected…Better than I hoped even.
But I have lived with the GOP idiocy for way too many years to think they would do anything different than what they spent the last four years doing. The late Molly Ivins kept me sane for the last few decades.
“I don’t mind and indeed kind of prefer a Vulcan president”: Of course, Romney is Commodore Stocker of “The Deadly Years” by comparison.
I think the main point our host made about the modern-day Republican Party – “a stage IV case of Gingrichitis” – is spot on. Having lived in the MD suburbs and worked in DC since 1994, I’m reminded of his evil influence every time I hear the words “Reagan National Airport” (he was speaker when the renaming bill originated in the House in early 1998) – the very epitome of his make-everything-partisan philosophy.
I’m shaking my head at all of the people here claiming MItt will govern as a moderate despite the things he says on the trail. You do realize that you’re basically saying you’ll vote him because he’s willing to lie to the American people on literally every issue? This was actually the central thesis of the Des Moines endorsement, puzzlingly enough.
@Gary; I hear you, my brother. Georgia will go for Misters Romney and Ryan because there’s barely daylight between Half the self proclaimed Democrats in the state and their Republican buddies. ( I swear Georgia actually has three active political parties, it’s just the two of them go by the same name.) But Vote for Obama I will, despite the lack of difference it will make in my county, much less my state. (Although, I did vote for Gary Johnston in the primaries because at least there, my vote gave a nod to my magical third party.)
I miss Molly so much.
And you, John Scalzi, I don’t suppose I could persuade you to go up and have a heart to heart with my younger brother there in Ohio, could I? I’d happily send you both out for dinner on me!
I’m embarrassed to say that I am a card carrying cynic these days. I see that we are offered two choices in which millionaires funded by billionaires are put on the table for us to choose between, and these choices, at least expressed by extremes in rhetoric, appear to be political dualism at its worst: Either have our lives run and controlled by the government through some bizarre amalgam of racially twinged socialism, Islamic Jihad, and what, Chicago politics? Or, by an oligarchy or plutocracy in which, those with the greatest wealth and influence, decide policy and direction —and, paraphrasing a line from ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ both the Battle of the Republic and Onward Christian Soldiers are sung with equal fervor. Gee, those options just taste of ass…So, based on that, the only thing I can hope for is to vote for who I think will step on me the least, and I see that as being the current president.
Gov. Romney just continually reminds me of “that one guy” I knew back in undergrad. The gang would go out on Friday night and on the way to wherever, we would encounter someone on the street asking for change or something. Not only would he always say no, but then there would be a 5 minute rant about “if only people would be willing to work, and a hand out is not helping someone, and they’d probably only spend it on crack, etc., etc.” And all the while the money that was buying his beer at the pub that night came in the form of the cash mom and dad were sending up each month. The disconnect between gratitude, recognizing being fortunate, and the lack of a sense of humility bothered me and I feel the same collective trait in the candidate.
“GOP has to be stopped” is exactly right. THey need to lose elections until they acknowledge reality and act like they want to govern the whole country, not just partition the shrinking number of haves from the growing number of have-nots.
Last time the Republicans were in power, we saw a $13 trillion dollar hole appear in the markets when the bubblethey created burst, with millions of jobs lost. It took a year to turn the economy around, but growth and jobs have come back.
Notwithstanding all the ridiculous propaganda, the truth is that America’s private-insurance health-care system was astoundingly inefficient because it was focused on supporting a bureaucracy devoted to denying coverage, not on the health of patients, with the result that the US was spending more money on health care for worse result than just about every developed country. About 45,000 Americans died each year (2% of all deaths in the US) were the result of a lack of healthcare, not to mention the economic loss of having so many potential workers be unproductive due to ongoing treatable health issues. That’s why CBO shows the cost of healthcare to go down in the long run, because preventive healthcare is much, much cheaper than emergency care.
The car industry is more productive and has a larger market share today than it did before the recession. The banks have mostly paid back the loans they were given, with a profit for the government. America’s debt level is unremarkable in international terms, and it is obvious that you pay down debt during times of prosperity, not recession; it’s Bush that got that backwards, not Clinton or Obama. If Bush hadn’t started digging a deficit hole the day he came into office, there wouldn’t have been such a massive deficit for Obama to deal with.
Some of Obama’s critics on the left are misguided. Just because a handful of America’s self-chosen enemies happen to have American passports doesn’t give them a free pass to make war on the country they came from. Jury trials don’t happen on the battlefield, in fact one only gets a trial if one agrees to be arrested, as any criminal who gets into a firefight with police can tell you. The idea that using drones is wrong because they are somehow impersonal is, to me, immoral; there is no obligation on the part of lawkeepers to put themselves in harm’s way. Yes it’s unfortunate that uncivilized warriors bring innocent civilians into their compounds, but the moral responsibility for that belongs to those who’ve initiated violence without provocation, and from a fact-based perspective, a giant smoking hole in downtown Manhattan says it’s not a war that America started or chose. The military’s job is defend America from its enemies; it’s not “assassination” to track those enemies to their hideouts. Citizenship makes no difference; civilians have recourse to the protection of the law wherever they are, but people who are engaged in violence will see the state defending its people.
I don’t like some of the compromises Obama has made. Took him longer than it should have to figure out that marriage equality and other LGBT rights were a fundamental equation of equal, inalienable rights. I’d like to see more clarity and respect for civil liberties, privacy, and basic human rights; I especially don’t like how “copyright” law has been twisted to ignore the interests of creators and consumers and is being used as a figleaf for a wider attack on freedom. But the worst Democrat is a hundred times better than the best Republican; that’s been the case since the Republicans put politics ahead of reality in the ’90s. It would be nice to have a GOP that one could have a rational debate about economics with, but now they can’t even grasp the basics of epistemology, i.e. that the world around them is real and is subject to real causes and effects. They’re not trying to go back to the 1950s, they’re trying to roll back to before the Age of Enlightenment, which was a prerequisite for the United States to happen at all. It’s not even that Romney himself is the problem. He doesn’t say crazy things, he just doesn’t repudiate others who do. The evil he tolerates and would usher in the door is the real threat to everyone outside the self-chosen elite.
I always assumed the Nobel Prize was a giant Thank You! from the rest of the world for us not electing John McCain. But of course, they can’t give the award to 350 million people, so they gave it to Obama.
As a left-leaning civil libertarian with fiscal conservative tendencies, I must disagree. The years since Regan was inaugurated have taught me one thing: on foreign policy and economic reform, both major parties make noises in opposite directions, but officials elected from both parties unerringly continue the policies that ruin our reputation abroad and pile us deeper in debt every year, and every president escalates with the sole exception of Clinton who actual showed a modicum of fiscal responsibility. Both parties are death-marching us to fiscal oblivion, and the fiscal libertarians (AKA anarcho-capitalists) live in fantasy-land while the Greens have turned ecological conservation and stewardship into a hallow secular religion of unrealistic polices with all the efficacy of a fart in the wind.
For me, that leaves social policies. I don’t support all of the Dems social policy positions – some of them are quite abhorrent to me – but, as noted, the GOP is going off the deep end. If I’m gonna vote for a nanny state, its damn well gonna be a legally egalitarian (not to be confused with fiscal equalizing) nanny state.
It’s either that, or I start the BHCLECTRRIFMCSTPOA (pronounced beklektrif’mixtpoa): Bleeding Heart Civil Libertarian Ecologically Conservative Tort-Reform Regulatory Incentivized Free-Market Capitalism, Science & Technology Party of America. Nah! Someone would probably have an accident reading the bumper sticker and sue me.
Speaking from an outsider’s perspective, I’ve long thought New Zealand was a pretty good implementation of center-right conservatism. If I was a moderate conservative, it would look about as ideal as anywhere.
Can’t agree. It doesn’t have the same impact as voting in a swing state, but the popular vote does bolster support for the party, and that can have an impact in national elections across the board. No election takes place in a vacuum, even in a solidly blue or red state.
Thank you, John. I agree 100%, both on the reason I’m not disappointed in Obama (people had insanely high hopes for him — of course he’s going to fail in some eyes) and on the reason I, a staunch Independent, am finally bending to the concept of voting for/against a party. It’s sickening that the GOP have driven me to that, but they have. I *want* to have two equally moral parties that just vary in their approach so that I can exercise my Independent voter status, but as it stands now, I’m a Democrat by Default.
I can’t vote in this election, since I’m from Canada, but there are two comments I’d like to make, if the loving mallet will keep at bay a little bit.
(1) JS is absolutely right here – the GOP seems to have their collective brains mixed up with their asses and hope that they can only capitalize on the “the voters are too dim to realize we are screwing them over” set of policies. They make me shake my head every time I watch any news report on the latest results.
However, even leftish but still massively-right-in-comparison-to-Canada Democrats can catch you by surprise, leading to my second point:
(2) Our last provincial (not federal) election had the Liberals come in and suddenly do a huge about-face on many platform points. They are currently in screwing over doctors, teachers and nurses, all in the hopes of saving the budget that came up too short from the economy booster policies of the last fewer years leaving Ontario from one of the wealthiest to poorest provinces in under 4 years. Obama (if he gets in) is not out of the woods economically for the States and may take many people for an unexpected ride. Don’t be too surprised if there are some upsets in the near future.
That said, if I could vote in the States, it’d definitely be for Obama.
Hey, folks, a quick historical note: EVERY American President has been responsible for the death of civilians. Quite a few of them have been responsible for the deaths of American civilians.
I’m sure someone at some point will explain the difference between murdering (non-American) civilians and murdering (American) civilians.
I think that’s appalling in all of those cases–including Obama’s–but he’s not doing anything unprecedented and we perhaps might move past the hissy fits about it.
Some have been responsible for their own deaths:
Nonetheless, Obama’s freewheeling use of extraordinary rendition and extrajudicial assassination of US citizens is rightly disturbing. He does NOT get a pass on that just because his predecessors abused the Constitution too. Vote for your conscience, but do it without illusions and rationalizations.
@Gulliver: I still don’t see it. Your objection seems to be that while murdering civilians *in general* is fine, if they happen to be US citizens suddenly it’s a problem. I think that’s taking US exceptionalism to ridiculous levels. I think it’s wrong to invade another country, to commit war crimes, to murder people and so on. I don’t say “except when the US does it”, or “except when Jesus tells you to” or “unless it’s profitable”. It’s just wrong.
Which means that really, the choice is pretty blunt for me as a New Zealander: endorse the looney right wing zealot who is vaguely apologetic that he rules a nation of insane warmongers; or endorse an insane warmonger who claims that the current set of war crimes is too soft and should be ramped up. Just based purely on declared foreign policy it’s not a hard choice.
@David (7:19pm)–oh, I so want to re-post your comment on my FB page….but I have made a promise to myself to NOT post anything political on my FB page….Well, this isn’t exactly political…it’s more about humanity, isn’t it?
Nonetheless, Obama’s freewheeling use of extraordinary rendition and extrajudicial assassination of US citizens is rightly disturbing. He does NOT get a pass on that just because his predecessors abused the Constitution too
I assume that you’re going to explain to me why killing US civilians is worse than killing civilians, full-stop?
This swing state garbage dominance isn’t exactly nurturing democracy either :\
You assume incorrectly. I am not going to explain why killing US civilians is worse than killing civilians because killing US civilians is not worse than killing civilians. Ignoring the Bill of Rights, however, is another evil on top of that. Injustices do not add up into greater or less wrongs because they are not quantifiable. Each is its own abuse.
Both are disturbing. US Presidents killing US citizens is disturbing for the same reasons as killing non-combatants in general. It is also disturbing because the US Constitution explicitly protects the rights of US citizens to due process and the Executive branch’s willingness to ignore those limitations on its power when they become inconvenient bodes poorly for the rule of law. That disturbance carries implications separate from the killings themselves. Government is the greatest power ever conceived by humankind. Limitation of its power is central to it being, in the balance, a benign force, and to it not devolving toward fascism.
Do not assume that being disturbed at one injustice precludes being disturbed at another. Justice is not a zero-sum pursuit.
American exceptionalism is irrelevant. No such thing exists save in the minds of unrealists. All governments and nations are only as good as the governed demand.
Nope. And a-fucking-men.
Pres. Obama is between a rock and a hard place. Even if he tried to put some legal framework in place to deal with this issue, do you think Congress, i.e. the Republicans, would have gone along?
Ignoring the Bill of Rights, however, is another evil on top of that
Would you like me to work back through all the US Presidents and the ways in which they ignored the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Highlights include the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Trail of Tears, the suspension of Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, Executive Order 9066, and so on.
My point is not to justify any of these, or excuse Obama his misbehaviors, but the Glenn Greenwald style fainting couch approach with Obama, as if what he has done is UNPRECEDENTED!, is ridiculous.
Please point to where I said it was unprecedented. I was very careful to point out that these abuses are the legacy of US Presidents, not only the latest man to occupy the office. Moreover, while the buck stops at the Resolute desk, this is not a problem localizable to the President alone. This is a systemic problem in the Executive branch of our government, and it’s more egregious and brazen occurrences have always accompanied a lack of accountability.
This is not about a single person or a single presidency. This is about whether we as a nation are willing to make excuses for what we all know is wrong. And I find that good people are most often ready to make excuses when they believe that admitting and calling out the abuses of power will somehow weaken their chosen candidate for that wielding that power and open the door for a greater evil. I’m not having it. I can vote for Obama, I can even consider him not a terrible President, without making excuses for where he has erred. And the President of the United States errs, people can and often do die. We owe each other better than that, he owes us better than that, and, because I do not believe he is an evil man, we owe him better than to praise the emperor’s new clothes.
When someone points out the transgressions of the Obama Administration, and someone else says, yeah, but all the other Presidents did it to, it does sound a little apologetic, like when certain people reply to American slavery by pointing to its counterparts abroad. Whether or not that was your intent, know how it comes across to others and why some of us take issue with it.
@Brad R. Torgersen asked “is it so wrong to want to bring in a businessman with a fixer-upper track record?”
Personally, I don’t think it is; unfortunately for that line of thought, from where I sit Mitt Romney has more of a “Stripper-Gutter ” track record and I don’t think the US needs a President whose business experience lies in the field of extracting value from a company for the benefit of outside investors. I just don’t see the benefit of applying that model to the nation as a whole.
I do not believe that Romney’s economic policies will be any better for the vast majority of Americans than Obama’s. I actually think they’ll probably be worse.
Combine that with the GOP’s absolutely unconscionable and in some cases actively evil social policies and I can’t fathom why any rational person would vote for Romney.
I voted for the fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican-turned-Independent John Anderson for my first presidential election. (There really was such a flavor of Republican, way back when.) But since the current GOP has decided they are the boss of my vagina, there is no way this side of heaven or hell I could ever vote for one of them.
How can you be not disappointed by the indefinite detention in the NDAA and other issues like drone strikes? On the most essential issues of human rights there is little difference between the major parties.
If I was a USA citizen, I’d be fighting damn hard for a preferential voting system.
I live in Texas, And back in the early 80’s, we had a republican named Clement Williams running for govenor. The next session of the legislature had to come up with a way to balance the state budget, which is mandated by the state constitution. Williams said he had a secret plan to balance the budget, which he would reveal after the election. He won the election, and then said there was no secret plan, he just said that to win the election. Sound anything like the current Republican Presidential hopeful?
“I have problems with Romney as a candidate — his lack of transparency regarding his taxes, his tendency to say “elect me, then I’ll tell you my plans,” his choice of VP, and the overarching sense that he wants to be president mostly because he feels like he should get to be president, and gets cross when it’s suggested that’s not a sufficient reason”
All reasons to have voted against Obama in ’08. He never had a concrete plan for anything spelled out (he ran and won on vagueness, which is the reason everyone had ridiculous expectations for him on the left), had a horribad VP candidate – it’s telling when Palin polled higher than him – and an overarching sense he should be president simply because he should be president.
I’m not going to vote for Romney either, since he’s another one of those “compassionate” big-government Republicans that I’ve come to hate. So I’m going to throw my vote away and vote for Gary Johnson, the only candidate polling above 1% that believes in what the Constitution actually says, as opposed to what they like to pretend it means.
Gulliver: Ignoring the Bill of Rights, however, is another evil on top of that
David: My point is not to justify any of these, or excuse Obama his misbehaviors,
Are you sure that’s not your point? Because that’s what you’re doing.
Ignoring the Bill of Rights is evil. But wait, here’s David with a list of all the other presidents who have done it before, thereby invoking an “et tu” logical fallacy which effectively can do nothing but donwplay the evilness and transform it into “everyone’s doing it”.
but the Glenn Greenwald style fainting couch approach with Obama, as if what he has done is UNPRECEDENTED!, is ridiculous.
Calling an evil act evil is speaking the truth. How exactly you managed to take someone calling a spade a spade and turn it into a “fainting couch approach”, is beyond me. What role are you playing there exactly? it sounds sort of like Colonel Jessup sneering at the idea of truth, trying to reframe right and wrong into slily ideals that real men (or real presidents) can’t be held to.
So, here’s the thing. You just justified and excused Obama’s evil acts.
Oh, and by the way, having an American president come out and publicly proclaim that he has the right to order the assassination of Americans without due process? That is fucking unprecedented (cause, hey, you know what? It’s NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE), and it is fucking EVIL. And I’m not on a fainting couch about it, I’m fucking pissed. It would be evil if Bush Jr had done it. It is evil even if Obama did it. We are not a nation of men, we are a nation of laws, and Obama’s assassination program flaunts the laws and the ideas of the laws.
dude: How can you be not disappointed by the indefinite detention in the NDAA and other issues like drone strikes?
Some of us voted for Obama and were sickened by how militaristic he has turned out to be.
If I was a USA citizen, I’d be fighting damn hard for a preferential voting system.
I loathe the majority-vote-wins system, which reinforces and rewards a two-party system. It squelches third party ideas and squelches valid criticism from close-but-not-quite-the-same parties. Nader-type third party candidates are discouraged from running by Gore-type primary candidates because they’ll split the vote. So criticism within the parties, or from nearby parties is squelched, and all we’re left with is a choice between an insance plutocrat/theocrat and a right-of-center “Democrat”.
On top of that, we have the Electoral College, which weights the votes of smaller states as more important to a president than the same number of votes from a single large state. Several small states in the south will have more power than a single large state like California because of the way electoral votes are distributed. The most common approach is to have the popular vote winner of a state to get ALL electroal votes from that state, thereby encouraging voter apathy in a large swath of voters. If you’re a republican living in massachussets, or a democrat living in texas, you probably don’t feel like you vote makes much difference. From an electoral vote count, your vote doesn’t make any difference in those situations.
The problem as I see it is that the current presidential election system is written into the constitution and we would need a constitutional ammendment to change it. And to get an ammendment, we’d need a majority of states to approve it. But the majority of states actually get an ADVANTAGE from electroral college and get MORE voting power than the fewer, remaining, large states.
This means that to get a constitutional ammendment to change the presedential election rules and get rid of the electoral college and change it to something with instant runnoff, a majority of the states have to agree to GIVE UP some of their voting power. And they’re not going to want to do that.
A tiny population state like Wyoming has a voting power of 3.1. A huge state like California has a voting power of 0.85. To pass the ammendment, we would need all the states like Wyoming to agree to give up their voting power of 3’s and take on a voting power of 1. Every state would then have a voting power of 1, every state would be equal.
But since most of the population is jammed into a few states, MOST of the states have a voting power that is greater than 1, and to pass an ammendment you need MOST of the states to approve it, and for this particular ammendment, you would need most of the states to GIVE UP their voting power and stand equal with the other states.
No one is going to want to do that.
As a woman, and a gay one, I can’t possibly vote for any Republicans running for national office (on the local and state levels, yes, we’ve got some pretty moderate, reasonable ones in WA). I used to believe the Republican party’s conservative ideals had to do with individual responsibility and non-government interference with one’s everyday life, but now it seems Republicans (mostly men) are tripping all over each other to be the first to say who would like to force a rape victim to bear her rapist’s child. I can understand that there will always be a random crazy in any party, but many of these men still enjoy the moral and financial support of the party as a whole (an endorsement).
Regarding LGBT issues, I don’t believe that a lot of Republicans actually believe that queers are the coming of the antichrist, but are rather cynically manipulating their evangelical supporters who do, probably in part to distract them from the “business as usual” massive spending, which benefits a few very wealthy defense and oil contractors. I think in about fifteen years, as more of the millennials start voting regularly, the Republican party will shift its anti-gay policies in order to not become obsolete (young people, regardless of political affiliation, are more likely to think “why not?” regarding issues like gay marriage).
I do not have respect for any politician or party who tries to benefit from the demonization of minorities or the dis-empowered, and who actively persecutes them (Romney). Romney has displayed coldness towards LGBT that can only be described as inhumane (I can name several specific examples for the curious). Leaders should look out of the well-being of the entire country, rather than attempting to score points by attacking the most vulnerable (I hope I need not quote the epidemic levels of suicide and runaway rates among LGBT youth).
I did not cast my vote for Obama solely as an “against” vote against Romney, though. Obama has kept enough of his promises — or tried to — that I feel satisfied. I’m still half-surprised he managed to pull off actual health-care reform.
I’d just like to point out that it was Republicans that got the ball rolling on the repeal of DADT. Gay Republicans, in fact. Long live the Log Cabin party.
I used to be a Republican and now I find them quite batshit insane.
Quick to the BatShit Mobile, Robin.
BatShitMan, is it really made of BatShit?
Yes, Robin. BatShit is the foundation of all Right Thinking because it is cheap and makes such good fertilizer for RightWing ideas. Why, that is how I came up with the BatShitPlane with two RightWings. Now if I can just find the correct Right Handed Wing Nut Retainer Clip to keep them on we will be able to defeat all that Wrong Thinking that insists the BatShitPlane must have a wing on the Left.
But it smells and doesn’t really do anything.
Negative thinking is harmful Robin. If you really believe the BatShit Mobile will get us to the scene of the crime it will do so. If it doesn’t its all the Democrat’s fault and we must use more BatShit. The answer is ALWAYS more BatShit. The only error is to not use enough BatShit.
Well I was wondering where the term batshit insane came from and this was what I came up with after vast and deep research.
Scalzi writes: “I would like for the GOP to be better than it is now; I’m pretty sure it was, once, and I’m pretty sure it can be again.”
The 1956 GOP platform ( http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=25838 ) contains references to things like education and science. It’s an interesting read, in no small part because the modern brain may be half-trained to expect shouts of “Socialism!” at certain parts … of the former Republican platform.
Oh, and by the way, having an American president come out and publicly proclaim that he has the right to order the assassination of Americans without due process? That is fucking unprecedented (cause, hey, you know what? It’s NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE), and it is fucking EVIL.
Sigh. Greg, without even researching, I can think of one example of that happening before now. During the Philippine-American War, American deserters had prices put on their head by the American government, wanted “dead or alive.” No due process there. If I spent more time looking, I’m sure I could come up with lots and lots of other examples.
Your shrieking (and Gulliver’s; and Gulliver, I assume given your outrage, that you’ve voted against every incumbent politician in every election since you were able? They’re all complicit in killing civilians) is exactly what I mean by the fainting couch approach. If we realize that the US government has largely always acted this way, it changes how we have to react to it. Instead of getting rid of one person (once Bush is gone, we’ll be fine! Once Obama is gone, we’ll be fine!), the changes have to be structural and wide-ranging. Your lack of understanding of that means that you will be disappointed by every President forever and wonder, vaguely, why none of them do things differently. It’s an ineffectual a response as condoning it.
By the way, Greg, keep in mind that I’m only going to read the first 250 words of your responses. Life’s too short.
So well said. These are the comments I make in my head when I read or hear others wax poetic about the GOP and Romney. Thanks for posting.
Alex: I’d just like to point out that it was Republicans that got the ball rolling on the repeal of DADT. Gay Republicans, in fact. Long live the Log Cabin party
Dude, seriously? Engaging in sodomy was grounds for discharge since the Revolutionary War. There has been a long history of gays being treated as criminals or crazy by the military. People started to successfully fight this in court in the 60’s and 70’s. In 1992, Clinton campaigned on allowing gays to serve in the military. Once he was elected, he recieved massive opposition to this idea. DADT was a compromise that improved the situation for gays in the military from having homosexuality be considered a crime or a psychological disorder, to allowing gays to serve as long as they stayed in the closet. In 2008, Obama campaigned on repealing DADT. His opponent, McCain (you know, the Republican) opposed it. When the DADT repeal bill was introduced, McCain spoke out against it. McCain also lead a fillibuster to prevent the vote on the bill.
The Log Cabin Republicans filed a lawsuit in 2004, which eventually went to trial in 2010.
I’m not sure what your point is trying to bring up the Log Cabin Republicans as getting the “ball rolling” with zero mention of Clinton’s efforts and Obama’s efforts, and with zero mention of all the people who fought for equality in the military for decades. But if I had to guess, it would be to attempt to spin history with a completely warped perspective of reality.
David: Sigh. Greg, without even researching, I can think of one example of that happening before now. During the Philippine-American War
Again, “et tu” fallacy is a fallacy. The “Everyone else is doing it” fallacy is a fallacy.
Your shrieking (and Gulliver’s; and Gulliver, I assume given your outrage,
Oh. My. God. You’re actually making the “tone” argument. Wow.
You’re downplaying whether my point is right or wrong, and trying to portray me as “shrieking” and being “outraged”. The implication is that if I’m irrationally angry as you accuse, then how can I be logically correct?
If we realize that the US government has largely always acted this way,
I can think of several founding fathers who owned slaves. Slavery started in America in Jamestown in 1619. Someone using your “everyone is doing it” fallacy might stand up in 1861, in the run up to the civil war and try to portray themselves as oh so much more worldly aware than everyone else:
the changes have to be structural and wide-ranging.
HAVE TO BE???
Systemic immoral behavior doesn’t HAVE to be taken on systemically. Sometimes, one person can just refuse to sit in the back of the bus. You know why? Because racism, even on an individual level, is still evil. Rosa Parks doesn’t have to limit her opposition to segregation to be purely on a systemic level. She can refuse to move to the back of the bus when some racist prick demands that she move for him. In that moment. Right then and there.
And she doesn’t need people like you telling her she’s “shrieking”. She doesn’t need people like you lecturing her about how “the changes have to be structural and wide-ranging” Standing up to even a single evil act makes the world a better place. You lecturing people about how they HAVE TO take on the CHANGES a certain way, is ridiculous.
A friend of mine turned me on to this site, I am not in Scalzi’s camp of political thought. My friend, an author himself, sides closely with Scalzi on political views. This friend and I argue politics on a regular basis. We both find it wonderfully grounding to face a person whom we respect and like but who is a world away politically and discuss our views and our value system that informs those views.
I was so impressed with the tone of rhetoric in these comments sections, I know a ton of it comes from JS’s decision on how to regulate and run a comments board. I thank him for that. I will be visiting in the future.
What started me coming here? This friend and I have decided to do a ‘cultural exchange’ of sorts for a week. For one week we will visit each others political news sites and watch or listen each other’s news programs. It’s been an interesting first day and this is the my first ‘other side’ article i have read. It has made me mad and sad equal parts as the Republican party described is not the one in which I attend meetings.
JS, all this being said, your arguments FOR Obama are fine, a little more muted and realistic than most. But your arguments against Romney amount to an attitude of ‘I am never voting for Republican ever again” Now i get that you feel that way. I just don’t get how you or others who feel the same way, see this as anything but a close-minded look and broad-brush generalization. At some point your vote could end up being ‘the Democrat candidate is a bad man/woman or has failed at their job but hey…they’re not Republican’ (I say this acknowledging that you started your article stating why you are FOR Obama, just saying your against statements amounted to Romney is part of the Republican party)
All that said, thanks for the article and thanks to all the thoughtful commentors, I look forward to reading many interesting things here, maybe even changing my mind when points are well made.
David and Greg:
Both of you should probably walk away from each other on this thread.
“But your arguments against Romney amount to an attitude of ‘I am never voting for Republican ever again”
Nope. It’s likely I will vote for at least a couple of Republicans next Tuesday, in local elections. I’m more wary of them on the national level, it’s true, and there will have to be a significant change in the GOP outlook before I consider voting one in as president (or, alternately, a situation where the Democrats have a solid hold on the Congress). But I have voted GOP on the national stage before, and am not opposed to doing it again.
Well outlined. Really not much more to add there.
my reasons for voting for Obama closely resemble our host’s reasons so I won’t go into redundant details. however I’ll add a few reasons why I am voting against Romeny:
1) he is decietful (even more so than many politicians) he ignores reality and reactions to DISASTERS when making debate points. He quote mones and cherry picks data (aka LIES) The cost of gasoline on the day Obama took office is indeed significantly less than it is today – it’s also significantly less than the average for months before of the average prince for months after. As a businessman he KNOWS that you can’y judge a trend in the price of a commodity by a single data point and extrapolate a trend from it- he was lying. He was lying when he implied that Obama was “anti american oil production” based solely on the number of permits for drilling on public land/water – while ignoring the BP oil spill and the needed work that the clean up/ determination of the causes of the incident etc.
2) he’s a cheat – tax records please?
3) his hideous views on social issues: someone already detailed his record in descriminating against gay parents while he was governor of MA. He also (apparently) has no problem with allowing employers to dictate if insurance should cover birth control, he has no problem de-funding anything that right-wing extremists don’t like and labeling it “not absolutely neccessary” (mammograms for the poor – not neded – but a “bridge to nowhere” created jobs? – Serously – is there any social issue where he differs from Strom Thurman? Is there any issue where he didn’t tow the GOP party line? anti LGBT, anti woman, anti science (How old is the Earth, Mitt? should we allow creationism to be taught in public schools? should taxpayer money be used for school vouchers to religious schools? etc etc)
4) his math challenged tax policy – hidden withing his vague tax plan – limits on deductions for the middle class and tax increases on the poor – the 47% that aren’t paying thier “fair share”
Both of you should probably walk away from each other on this thread.
@Gulliver When someone points out the transgressions of the Obama Administration, and someone else says, yeah, but all the other Presidents did it to, it does sound a little apologetic, like when certain people reply to American slavery by pointing to its counterparts abroad. Whether or not that was your intent, know how it comes across to others and why some of us take issue with it.
Well, I can only repeat and extend what I said earlier: all American presidents have done heinous things; they all–Obama included–deserve to be condemned for them.
I’ll direct your attention to where I said the exact opposite:
I can vote for Obama, I can even consider him not a terrible President, without making excuses for where he has erred. And the President of the United States errs, people can and often do die.
…and prior to that:
He does NOT get a pass on that just because his predecessors abused the Constitution too. Vote for your conscience, but do it without illusions and rationalizations.
I’m not sure how to say that any clearer.
No, letting it slide because it’s a tradition is tantamount to condoning it. I don’t wonder vaguely at all. I know damn well why every Administration does it…because the people let them get away with it and downplay it. If you want to interpret my unwillingness to do that as the fainting couch approach, that’s your problem.
Awesome, I’m glad we agree on something.
@Greg, Uh, Clinton was the one that signed DADT in the first place. As for Obama’s campaign promise… he didn’t do anything about it. The Log Cabin Republicans did. And if you think that there weren’t openly out homosexuals in the military before the repeal then I don’t know what to tell you. I proudly serve/served with them.
No, letting it slide because it’s a tradition is tantamount to condoning it.
Well, I’m not sure how saying “I dislike this, but I’m going to vote for the guy anyway” is useful.
My larger point in pointing out that Obama’s not alone in his actions is not to let it slide but to point out that it’s institutionalized behavior and that to change it you have to change the institution, not the person. Criticizing Obama (or Bush, or Clinton, or Reagan) is useless; it’s the government as a whole that needs to be criticized.
You’re in the position of criticizing the Pope for being anti-abortion and hoping somehow that the next Pope will be different. But it’s not the Pope that’s making that policy, it’s the Catholic Church as a whole.
Criticizing Obama isn’t wrong, it’s beside the point, and actively counterproductive. It focuses on the individuals, when what’s driving the extra-Constitutionality are the institutions.
Well said re. the GOP. How did the republican party become the Mos Eisley spaceport?
“the changes have to be structural and wide-ranging.
HAVE TO BE???
Systemic immoral behavior doesn’t HAVE to be taken on systemically. Sometimes, one person can just refuse to sit in the back of the bus. You know why? Because racism, even on an individual level, is still evil. Rosa Parks doesn’t have to limit her opposition to segregation to be purely on a systemic level. She can refuse to move to the back of the bus when some racist prick demands that she move for him. In that moment. Right then and there.
And she doesn’t need people like you telling her she’s “shrieking”. She doesn’t need people like you lecturing her about how “the changes have to be structural and wide-ranging” Standing up to even a single evil act makes the world a better place. You lecturing people about how they HAVE TO take on the CHANGES a certain way, is ridiculous.”
Just to point out, Rosa parks’s bravery brought attention to the Civil Rights struggle, but it was Lyndon Johnson driving through Civil Rights legislation that actually dismantled the legal system that institutionalized that particular evil. And doing so cost the Democratic Party the support of southern states that still hasn’t come back, which ran decidedly against Johnson’s own political instincts. Everything you’re laying at Obama’s feet deserves to be called out by citizens, just like Rosa Parks called out the institutional racism she and millions of others lived in. But what’s going to create the structural changes that actually stop those programs (as opposed to mothballing them until the next pro-war President is elected) is a legal framework reigning in the powers of the President. Given the choice in front of me, I see the best course of action is to vote for the politician I feel will be more receptive to pressure to reform. And having seen the way Romney governed here in Massachusetts, I don’t see him as being that politician.
Criticizing only the President is useless, which is why I was careful to note that the entire Administration, and their predecessors, and the Republic that lets them get away with it (that’s us) are all responsible for how our government functions or malfunctions. But pretending that the person vested with chief executive power over the entire branch of government which sets the policies in question isn’t in a unique position to overturn them is whistling Dixie.
Wouldn’t know. I’m not religious. If I recall my history books correctly, there’s something called Papal Infallibility in the Catholic dogma, but I don’t know how that works in practice so I’m not going to argue from a position of ignorance.
That’s a false dichotomy. Why do you think we elect individuals to run those institutions? Hint: the flip-side of responsibility is accountability.
Greedo shot first? *ducks for cover*
Gargleblargle! This really cheese my biscuit. Joss Whedon has become a turncoat and endorsed Romney. Goddamn it.
Alex: Uh, Clinton was the one that signed DADT in the first place.
Uh, Clinton was trying to push for a complete lifting of the ban against gays but the military opposed it. The compromise was don’t ask, don’t tell. Gays can serve, but they can’t advertise. Also, Clinton made an executive order that the UCMJ to be modified to treat as hate crimes attacks within the military against gays. Clinton made things a lot better for gays in the military.
As for whether Republicans or Democrats were bigger supporters of equality in the military, here’s the roll call vote for the Murphy Ammendment to repeal DADT.
Democrats: 229 ayes. 26 nays
Republicans: 5 ayes. 168 nays
And here’s Romney campaigning against treating gays equally before the law.
One might consider this a bit of context to which party is for equality and which is not.
That was the best campaign ad EVERS!
But pretending that the person vested with chief executive power over the entire branch of government which sets the policies in question isn’t in a unique position to overturn them is whistling Dixie.
And yet none of them have.
That’s a false dichotomy
No, it’s not. Focusing on the person at the expense of the institution simply raises people’s hopes that the next election will do it. Or the next one.
Eh, we’re just repeating points at each other now. I’ll stick with:
this as my final comment.
@Gulliver: Sorry, but you don’t get to pretend that the AUMF wasn’t passed. The reason I have little patience for the Greenwald set is because they want to start off at the predicate that terrorism should be treated as a matter of law enforcement, when that point is in fact very much in contention.
Also, I’ll start taking third parties seriously when they get serious about politics, and stop with clutching at the brass ring. I’ve yet to see a modern third party doing the downballot yeoman work to make themselves viable.
mike75: Rosa parks’s bravery brought attention to the Civil Rights struggle, but it was Lyndon Johnson driving through Civil Rights legislation that actually dismantled the … system
Sure. I agree with that. And it wasn’t my point.
I was criticizing Obama for his newly minted “assassination of american citizens without due process” program. David came back saying I was being overly emotional about it, that every american president in time has always done that, and that I can’t really criticize President Obama personally, that the changes I want have to be structural and wide-ranging.
In short: Hate the game, not the player.
As a huge fan of a democratic government that gets its power and authority from the people, I find the suggestion that we can’t criticize our politicans to be offensive. It’s like “hate the game” and then forget who makes the rules for the game.
And to portray the office of President as somehow powerless, to portray it as if Obama was forced by the ghost of President’s past to generate a program to assassinate Americans without due process, is ludicrous. One of the favorite myths that some Democratic voters like to perpetuate is that Obama gets credit for all the good things that happen while he’s in office, but he is powerless for anything bad that happens while in office. Nope. Sorry. Obama gets to be responsible for everything his office does.
I’m going to assume that either David is an Obama supporter and simply wants to deflect any criticism away from Obama any way he can. Or he’s an independent of sorts, and his whole “have to be structural and wide-ranging” was actually an indirect suggestion that the only way to fix the problem is to vote third party. Neither of these hold water.
The Iraq War Resolution is not a blanket authorization for any President to ignore the Bill of Rights or Geneva Conventions to which the US is signatory by our own treaty laws. If you think otherwise, here’s the full text of the law:
And as much as I’d love to go into the history of the Gulf and Iraq Wars, that’s a separate discussion we’ll have to have another time as I have a class to teach. Suffice it to say, my views are probably not what you would assume were you to assume you knew my views, but the Constitution remains the highest law of the land.
Not sure if the third-party dig was directed at me, but I voted for the Democratic incumbent.
Nox: The reason I have little patience for the Greenwald set is because they want to start off at the predicate that terrorism should be treated as a matter of law enforcement, when that point is in fact very much in contention.
And the reason I have little patience for a lot of pro-war hawks is because they want to start off with the notion that somehow war changes everything, even including stuff like Geneva Convention on the rules of war. Waterboarding isn’t just immoral when Japanese do it to American prisoners in WW2, and then somehow, magically it becomes moral for Americans to waterboard everyone else.
Terrorism SHOULD be primarily treated as a matter of law enforcement. When we started treating it like a war, we started waterboarding hundreds (literally) of innocent (literally) poeple in Guantanamo and quite a large number of them ended up murdered in custody. And what did that waterboarding get us? All the false information we wanted about WMD’s in Iraq, that Iraq was behind 9/11, that Iraq had biological weapons in trailers driving around the desert, yada, yada, yada.
And what did the war in Iraq get us? Well, Al Queda wasn’t there when we started, but it sure turned into a massive recruiting poster for them after we got there.
Because when it is treated as war, it seems that war for a lot of pro-war hawks also comes with the predicate that anything we do, no matter how heinous, is justified. The Geneva Convention becomes some sort of silly, outdated, irrelevant, stuffy formality that we should no longer be required to honor, because, you know, 9/11.
Rather if the FBI agents like Ali Soufan had been able to continue their interrogations, had been able to continue getting Al Queda operatives to confess, and to also hand over actionable intelligence, then we wouldn’t have wasted all those lives and years and trillions of dollars in Iraq, and Bin Laden would probably have been found years earlier. Hell, Soufan, may have been able to prevent 9/11 if the CIA had been coopertive.
But FBI criminal investigations were turned into CIA torture sessions, prisoners were transported to black sites, tortured, murdered, to extract the false information that Bush needed to justify a pointless war. All of which the hawks fell in line behind, because, booga booga, 9/11.
This has been an incredible thread. I’m a registered Independent and quite frankly I think both national partys are batshit, just different kinds of batshit. Burt Lancaster, in a movie I can’t recall the name of, had this line, “There’s a room in Washington where they play a game. The object of the game isn’t to win, the object of the game is to just keep on playing.”
On why the kill list killings are worse than random civilian killings by the US government; Don’t all western countries make a distinction between murder and manslaughter? Targeted killing of an indivdual, under our laws is murder. Killing someone accidently when the car you’re driving goes out of control is manslaughter. Okay?
Thus I believe that this administration, and every administration that has done so, should be charged with murder and tried. Obviously, I mean the indivduals involved.
I believe with Greg (never thought THAT would happen), that our current Electoral college system induces voter disintrest. I believe that the Electoral votes should be awarded based on how each congressional district votes. The winner-takes-all system most states have disenfranchises a lot of voters, moreso than the inability to get a state picture i.d.
I wasn’t referring to the AUMF that started the Iraq War, but the one against al-Qaida passed after 9/11.
You may not agree with it, but the fact is that the US more or less declared war on them.
Nox: the fact is that the US more or less declared war on them.
Did the AUMF also somehow manage to say that the rules of war did not apply to this particular war? Did the AUMF withdraw the US from the Geneva Convention on Warfare? Did the AUMF say that the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Due Process, and other such formalities were to be suspended, indefinitely, until this war was over?
Because I’m still not entirely clear that we’re talking about same AUMF. All the ones I know of, did NOT do any of that.
I think of myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I believe in equal rights and support gay marriage. I also believe in smaller government, finding a way to live in our means, and reducing our national debt. I don’t match well to either party for those reasons, but I wanted to vote in the primaries. In my dozen years since I’ve been able to vote I have found Democrats put up candidates that have a varied background and differing levels of competence. Republicans as of late put up some competent candidates but some that scare the hell out of me.
So I stopped being independent and joined the Republican party to choose who I felt was the best Republican candidate. And the candidate that fit the earlier Republican values. This year I voted for Romney, I feel he was the best candidate to lead. In the general election I will vote for Obama for nearly identical reasons that John outlined in his endorsement.
So, do we need to have a trial before we kill any declared enemy in a declared conflict? Or do we acknowledge that combatants knowingly give up their legal protection against being killed when they enter the battlefield? You can waive al-Awlaki’s citizenship around, but it’s meaningless because the question isn’t if he’s a citizen, it’s if he’s a civilian. And in the eyes of the government, the answer is no.
I think what you have now is people getting into politics — people in their 20s, their 30s — who grew up with the first rouind of Gingrichitis, with Rush Limbaugh telling them that Democrats are horrible and want what’s worst for the country. Modern media makes all the compromises and bipartisanship* actual sensible Republicans engage in unprecendentedly visible, and all the people who think of Democrats as The Enemy were horrified. So they voted them out, and voted in their own, other people who think of Democrats as The Enemy and consequently refuse to work with them in any way.
This causes all sorts of problems, most pertinently that democracy is basically about working with people who disagree with you. Compromise when necessary is built into the process. People who think compromise is always wrong are unwilling to practice democracy.
*I’m not in favor of bipartisanship as an end in itself, but it’s more important to me that things go my way than that it be done by the right people
Bearpaw @ 10/29 12:59
That’s probably the only thing thing that could get me to stop supporting the Democratic Party generally.
alex bakaev @ 10/29 14:04
What action do you think I could take that will nudge things towards a better outcome? (Ignoring that I live in a decidedly non-swing state.) I suspect that if everyone voted their ISideWith ranking, either Romney or Obama would win. I’m positive if everyone voted for the candidate they think they like best (including voters who don’t know there are other parties, or think anyone who isn’t a Democrat or Republican is a dangerous radical) either Romney or Obama would win. Given that, is any of what you mentioned a reason to prefer Romney to Obama?
Dann @ 10/29 16:43
Whenever the Republicans or a viable third party nominate a candidate who seems to better reflect my values than the Democrat in that race, that’s where I go. Until then, you’ll have to take my word for it that my vote follows my beliefs and not the other way around.
Dave544 @ 10/30 15:04
In all sincerity, I think Romney was the best of the Republicans who were actually running (I’m counting Ron Paul but not Jon Huntsmann). I think Christie would be better than a lot of politicians on either side (though perhaps not Obama), especially now.
As for Obama’s campaign promise… he didn’t do anything about it. The Log Cabin Republicans did.
Your argument that somehow Republican policies are more responsible for the end of DADT makes no sense. Only 5 GOP Representatives voted to end it via the Murphy Amendment and only 8 senators voted to end it via the DADT Repeal Act. That’s 13 out of 220 total GOP members, compared to 287 out of 314 total Democratic members.
Nox: do we need to have a trial before we kill any declared enemy in a declared conflict? Or do we acknowledge that combatants knowingly give up their legal protection against being killed when they enter the battlefield?
Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? You don’t even know the difference between “enter the battlefield” and simply being a “declared enemy”. The Geneva Convention says that if they are on the battlefield with a weapon, you can shoot them. But if they’re NOT on the battlefield, then you can’t simply “declare” them as a legal combatant.
This points to the biggest myth of the war hawks: That the Geneva Convention doesn’t work with modern warfare; that the US Constitution is a “suicide pact”. That anything legal is inherently flawed, bureacratic, bulshit. What that usually means, though, is that the person doesn’t actually know what the Geneva Convention says.
Or that there are *cough* multiple Conventions *cough, cough* updated throughout their history to deal with changing global conditions. Sorry, allergies dontchaknow.
Actually, the people you’re referring to are mostly chickenhawks, since actual soldiers are indoctrinated with the rules of war including the Conventions. Too bad the same can’t be said of the politicians who give the orders.
For me the part I wonder about is why endorse Obama? Do you enjoy chaos and domestic conflict?
1. I mean the GOP is going to keep the House (if you don’t think so, please bet, I want better odds with off shore bookies).
2. The House will vote to impeach Obama (or at least one of his cabinet officials) if he gets reelected as noted elsewhere. And since the Senate will not likely change hands, the trial will be lengthy and not much will be accomplished in the next two years.
3. The GOP won’t compromise on legislation since the Tea Party would win their seats in most cases. NOTE: DEMs in most House seats elections where they are trying to unseat a GOP would be the LEFT /non centrist types and thus a Tea Party candidate would be considered the sane choice. There are no candidates like Scalzi running as DEMs in national elections.
4. If you thought this election was a women’s choice issue, you do realize that science is on your side and that 25+% of zygotes die anyway vis miscarriage/autoabort, so we would have to hand out involuntary manslaughter charges to half of ovulating copulating women to actually meet the GOP standard on what constitutes an “abortion”. Thus not going to happen and if you say it will , there is nothing I can say except have a nice trip.
5. Unless you can convince us that the other two branches of govt will actually change their stances, why do you think electing Obama will be any different from his first term?
/and no my vote does not matter for the president because Texas is already decided.
Shorter version of your comment: “The GOP are assholes, so why don’t you just give in?”
Answer: I try not to vote for assholes.
Being an Austrian citizen and coming from a country where “socialist” doesn’t imply being the child murdering devil spawn of Joseph Stalin I would vote for President Obama for very similar reasons to your own. I like the direction Obama is pushing the country towards, both considering social issues such as women’s rights or economic decisions such as health care.
The notion that gay marriage is wrong or that women shouldn’t be allowed to have an abortion for whatever reason is absurd to me. I understand believing that life begins at conception would … impede? your willingness to have an abortion, but in that case no one is forcing you to have one. If you are against gay marriage don’t marry someone of the same sex. I don’t see the republican party petitioning for every child conceived in the USA to get the citizenship. The point is that I believe that your views concerning civil liberties shouldn’t be forced unto others, it’s far too similar to denying people work or certain rights on account of their skin color or religion.
Thinking that global warming isn’t real? Or not proven? Any sufficiently educated 10th grader should be able to explain the process behind it and how the increased CO2 output will influence our environment.
I disagree with the Republican party and it’s candidate on concerning things such as: the mockery of evolution (I am not descended from a monkey) – which might just be the inability to differentiate “descending from” to “sharing a common ancestor”; the increased base spending of the military; as well as many more but I think I’ve gone overboard.
The point I’m trying to make is that I think Obama is doing a good job and I’m hoping he will only get better. Mitt Romney may be a great person, kind, generous and intelligent, but I do not think he should lead your country, and I disagree with many of his policies.
Always a pleasure to read your articles.
Greg, whatever Clinton did or did not do, he signed DADT into effect.
Genufett and Greg, the Log Cabin Republicans got the ball rolling. That was my original point.
Whatever the Republican congressional members did or didn’t do, it was the Log Cabin Republicans that argued the issue on the judicial front and would have continued arguing it down , but the repeal made the point moot.
Alex: whatever Clinton did or did not do, he signed DADT into effect.
I’m not sure what what you’re getting at unless you’re insisting on taking a single fact of history and removing all context in which it occurred. Clinton wanted to lift the ban entirely and DADT was a compromise brought about by mliitary opposition to Clinton. He also increased the lattitude with which military courts could prosecute someone in the military for attacking someone because they were gay.
So, yes, Clinton put DADT into effect, and the overall context in which that fact fit was that Clinton made things far better for gays in the military than they were before him.
As far as Log Cabin Republicans go, if your emphasis was on “got the ball rolling”, they certainly werent the first case against the military’s ban on gays. That goes back into the 60’s, at least. If your emphasis was on “Republican”, well, I posted the voting the congressional vote on the Murphy Ammendment to repeal DADT, and it was fairly obvious that Republicans mostly opposed it, and the Log Cabin Republicans were statistical outliers from their party’s bell curve.
And regardless, Romney opposes equality for gays, and Obama doens’t, and the Log Cabin Republican’s aren’t running for President, so given that the choice is Romney or Obama, on the issue of gay rights Obama has to win that round.
Greg, whatever Clinton did or did not do, he signed DADT into effect.
As pointed out, when you choose to make statements without context, expect to get called out on them.
Genufett and Greg, the Log Cabin Republicans got the ball rolling. That was my original point.
Which was, of course, wrong. They were the ones that the Ninth Circuit chose to rule on, but they were neither the first nor were they supported by the Republican legislative and political establishments as you seemed to imply.
Whatever the Republican congressional members did or didn’t do, it was the Log Cabin Republicans that argued the issue on the judicial front and would have continued arguing it down , but the repeal made the point moot.
Again, going way out of your way to deny context hurts your point. Choosing to diminish the efforts of everyone that came before them, namely Holmes v. California National Guard and Witt v. Department of the Air Force, both of which often cited as being highly influential to the decision to rehear decisions to repeal, is quite a bit worse.
But unlike Russia, “None of The Above” is not a valid choice for our elections.
In Soviet Russia, committee elects you.
@Gulliver: In Soviet Russia, joke kills you!
Unless you can convince us that the other two branches of govt will actually change their stances, why do you think electing Obama will be any different from his first term?
Because the President does many things other than put legislation in front of the Congress.
*shrugs* You’re both spending a lot of time arguing points that I didn’t make. Furthermore, it’d be really hard for Witt vs. Department of the Air Force to come before Log Cabin Republicans vs. USA, as Witt filed in 2006, and the LCR filed in 2004. Holmes vs. National Guard was filed in 1995 and the Ninth Court struck down the summary judgement in 1997.No one is denying the impact or influence of those decisions. But it was the LCR v. USA trial that got the job done.
@Mythago, like sign executive orders…
Alex: But it was the LCR v. USA trial that got the job done.
Got the job done???
Out of curiosity, are you yourself a member of the Log Cabin Republicans? Are you a Republican?
@Alex, I’m assuming you misspoke when you referred to the Log Cabin Republicans as a “party”; they are an activist group (and a distinct minority position within their own party), not a separate political party.
That aside, while the LCR deserve credit as one of the groups pushing to overturn DADT despite overwhelming opposition from the rest of the Republican party, it’s a pretty misleading statement to say they “got the job done”, much less to suggest that they acted alone in the face of indifference from the Democrats. It’s instructive to go back and look at the timelines of both the court case and the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal act – and the actions of various legislatures in opposing or supporting them.
You’re both spending a lot of time arguing points that I didn’t make.
Only if you’re just now backtracking. Your very first point was that “Republicans got the ball rolling” on repealing DADT, which isn’t true. You then continued to follow it up with a tangled and incorrect timeline and a swipe at the Democrats via Clinton.
Furthermore, it’d be really hard for Witt vs. Department of the Air Force to come before Log Cabin Republicans vs. USA, as Witt filed in 2006, and the LCR filed in 2004.
Not really. Witt was decided in 2008, LCR in 2011.
Holmes vs. National Guard was filed in 1995 and the Ninth Court struck down the summary judgement in 1997. No one is denying the impact or influence of those decisions.
No, you’re just omitting them from your narrative entirely, same thing you did with the idea that maybe Democrats were almost entirely behind the repeal effort and Republicans almost entirely against it.
But it was the LCR v. USA trial that got the job done.
Again, no it wasn’t. It was a combination of several court cases and a legislative overturn via Congressional law signed by Obama.
Nox: you don’t get to pretend that the AUMF wasn’t passed. The reason I have little patience for the Greenwald set is because they want to start off at the predicate that terrorism should be treated as a matter of law enforcement
I don’t read Greenwald on a daily basis becuase it depresses me too much. But I caught up on it this morning. Funny article over there:
Obama is moving to make the “war” on terrorism permanent. This “war” will include the establishment of the NTSC who gets to maintain a “disposition matrix” which is a euphamism for a list of people the government is planning to kill without due process. But wait, there’s more:
So, I love how hawks like to portray criticism of this as “fainting couch” behavior, and try to pretend that it’s all stock, standard declaration-of-war procedures. Except, the war has been going on for TEN YEARS, and they’re planning for it to go at least ANOTHER TEN years. In short, declaration of war as an excuse to enact permanent bypass to due process. Yay!
Mostly off topic, but I just noticed that “The Scalzi Endorsement” sounds like the title of a Robert Ludlum novel.
As [Protagonist’s Name Here] approached the publishing company headquarters with the manuscript of his latest book on political corruption, the building exploded, flames erupting out through the shattered windows, car alarms beginning their ululations up and down the suddenly debris-filled streets! Chaos, pedestrians running from the sidewalks near the now-collapsing building, mud gushing from the overflowing storm sewers. [Protagonist] briefly joined the crowd, then ducked into a small Szechuan restaurant, though the kitchen and out into the back alley. As he ran, he was struck by the thought that he’d recognized one of the patrons, a dark Eastern European-looking man seated near the back.
Would it be OK to just stipulate that seeing DADT flushed down the crapper of history is a very good thing – and everyone who pushed for far too long to get the job done deserves their slice of the credit?
My thoughts precisely.
I’d feel a lot more indebted to the Log Cabin Republicans for their role in getting DADT repealed if they hadn’t decided to endorse Mitt Romney this year. Romney has some absolutely brutal ideas about LGBT, treated them cruelly as Governor of Massachusetts, and wants to amend the constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage (actually, that’s the part of the official party platform this year.)
For this reason, the majority of LGBT (judging from online sites) seem rather displeased with LCR, to put it mildly.
I have been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like
yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.
What freaks me out about this election is all that the main argument of the Republican Party is “Obama was unable to stop us from acting like petulant, spiteful children who would burn down the country in hopes he goes down with it,” and that argument actually resonates with sane people who disagree with everything else the Republican Party does! “Yeah, it IS Obama’s fault you’re insane!” Romney gave a speech on Friday in Wisconsin in which he warned that the Republicans will cause another debt ceiling crisis, and no one’s reaction was “Wow, guess we better vote all the Tea Partiers out of the House.”
I remember your recent “letter of a rapist” and now this one. I think I may have to start following you. There aren’t many writers who put down things I think, close to the way I think them, in modern political commentary. They’re only two posts, but maybe you’re that person. You did hit the nail on the head with explanations here as to why Obama is not the modern Christ, nor should he have ever been mistaken for such, but as a human being he’s doing OK and can always do better; and why the GOP as it’s become scares the hell out of me.
Thankfulness to my father who stated to me regarding
this webpage, this weblog is really remarkable.
[Deleted because, really? Pooping on a thread this old? What are you, stupid? – JS]