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12201  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: John Edwards says Americans should "sacrifice their SUVs" on: August 29, 2007, 08:56:07 pm
Errr, it's never a good idea to ask us to sacrifice anything.

That's one area where Bush has gotten the right answer.
12202  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / Re: The Electoral College: Arguments on: August 27, 2007, 09:42:50 pm
3.) The claim that the Electoral College is like baseball.

The game of baseball, as has been pointed out above, is an exercise in recreation in which the most important unit of victory is the "game". It is not designed to measure how good a team's athletes are to the optimal level of perfection. If one team won a 7 game series by 4-3 but the losing team had numerous injuries and won their 3 games by huge margins while those injuries cost them the decisive 1 game, who would the money-changers rank as the best game if the teams were to face each other again, or in the next season without any trades? Even in baseball, those who are seriously studying the statistics do not just look at games won but RBIs, ERAs, etc. etc.

Furthermore, the analogy obscures that all states, unlike all games, are not equal. In fact, 80% of states are foregone conclusions. What if there was a rule that said that a team could only field its best players in game 1, while in games 2-5 it could only field two or three bad pitchers and its worst hitters? Such would be a game that was a foregone conclusion, and no baseball fan would stand for such rules.

4.) The claim that the College requires the the eventual winner perform well across a broader spectrum.

On the contrary, the College requires the eventual winner to perform across a NARROWER spectrum, geographically. He or she can get demolished in Nebraska, Montana, Texas, and Utah, but still win a victory by eking out tiny margins in Ohio and Florida. In fact, only the Electoral College allows the winner to win with less than a majority of the vote. By definition, it leaves more room for winners who leave more American voters behind than the popular vote.

5.) The claim that we would not be able to talk about the "President of the United States" but we'd have the "President of California, New York and Florida"

Does the author of this objection really think George W. Bush, the current President, really has 'wide geographical support' encompassing all areas of the country? Hardly. The President elected by the Electoral College has been one of the most polarizing Presidents in recent history. To many, he's the President of "Texas, Texas, and Texas". He's made absolutely no effort to reach out to the people or areas that did not support him, as evidenced by his win in 2004 again losing almost exactly the same states.

6.) The claim that the electorate would largely be polarized along geographic lines: the large population centers are mostly coastal, while the sparser areas lie in the nation's interior.

Again, the electorate is currently polarized (geographically) along roughly those lines. The author is merely describing the status quo. The only difference is that the author (apparently) imagines that this time it would be the coastal areas in the majority. This assumption is wrong-- as the Slate writer pointed out, Kerry, who had more support among coastal areas, would have been put at a disadvantage in a national popular vote situation.

7.) The claim that the Electoral College empowers small states while disempowering large ones.

Simply incorrect. The Electoral College empowers SWING states while disempowering non-swing states. Hence Florida, the 4th-largest out of 50 states (and hence in the top 8% percentile) decisively swung the 2000 elections due to the electoral college, while the much smaller states of Oregon and New Mexico were unable to do so. The small states like Montana and the Dakotas are DOUBLY punished by the Electoral College: not only do they have less people but they are not swing states. Hence, they receive even LESS attention than they would under a national popular vote.

8.) The notion that the Electoral College goes against the 'tyranny of the majority' like bicameral Congress, with representation apportioned equally to all states in one house and apportioned by population in the other, makes the same trade-off in a far more explicit fashion, and in doing so provides an effective check against tryanny by the majority.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how Congress's structure protects against tyranny of the majority. It does so by dividing powers among different parties, such as the two Houses of Congress; by staggering elections in the Senate, and by giving certain protections to the minority, regardless of which minority that is.

The Electoral College on the other hand, serves only to introduce an arbitrary element of bias into the system. It does not divide the Presidential power; whomever is elected President still has all the same unified powers. That makes the bicameral and staggering elements of Congressional diffusion irrelevant. Secondly, it does not give certain protections to the minority regardless of who is in the minority. It only protects the minority under certain, arbitrary cases. When the 'tyranny of the majority' benefits from the Electoral College (which is most of the time), it actually artificially enhances the stature of a smaller win by making it seem larger than it was.

In short, the claims made above are invalid; it is not impossible to defend the Electoral College, but they cannot be made under the grounds given above.
12203  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Process / The Electoral College: Arguments on: August 27, 2007, 09:42:18 pm
Or more specifically, why some arguments for keeping it don't work. Over at The Fray there is an interesting discussion going on on the Electoral College.

It's understandable, but wrong, to lay the blame for "swing states" on the Electoral College system; the possibility of a swing state is just as real in any proposed alternative which tries to mimic a direct national vote, because concentrated regional blocs of voters can easily be numerous enough to swing such an election. The only difference is that the "swing state" has to have a large population, or has to become a "swing region" made up of several states.

It's also understandable -- but also wrong -- to dismiss the Electoral College, and the winner-take-all system most states use to apportion their electoral votes, as flawed. Perhaps the best explanation of why that's wrong is an analogy coined by mathematician Alan Natapoff. Think of another quintessentially American institution: baseball. The champion of each major-league season is decided, ultimately, by the World Series, a best-of-seven contest.

We understand on a pretty fundamental level that this is a pretty good way to pick a winner: by requiring the eventual champion to perform consistently well over multiple games, we're doing away with flukes introduced by isolated, one-sided blowouts. The analogy to various direct-vote emulation schemes would be a series which always goes seven games, and where the team with the most total runs over those games wins. But this opens the door to, say, a "champion" who had a 7-0 victory in Game 1, followed by six straight 1-0 losses. Any baseball fan would immediately say that such a team is no "champion", and that the "losers" who won six out of seven games should be the ones getting the ticker-tape parade.

The Electoral College imposes a similar requirement of consistency on a potential President: by essentially creating many separate Presidential elections, the College requires the eventual winner perform well across a broader spectrum. If not for this, we wouldn't be able to talk about electing the "President of the United States" with a straight face; most of the time, a few populous regions would elect a President, and the rest of us would be along for the ride. We'd have the "President of California, New York and Florida", who'd incidentally end up as chief executive of all forty-seven other states. And that would be nothing short of disastrous: the only response possible from the more sparsely-populated states would be to band together into a massive voting bloc, and we'd end up with an even more polarized electorate.

What's worse, it would largely be polarized along geographic lines: the large population centers are mostly coastal, while the sparser areas lie in the nation's interior. The last time we were divided that sharply along a roughly geographic boundary, we fought a four-year civil war and got a lasting legacy of regional enmity thrown into the bargain. Keep the Electoral College, on the other hand, and the larger population centers lose some of their clout, the less-populated states gain a bit of power and a successful candidate is placed in a situation of needing to appeal to both.

An analogy can be drawn to the structure of the Federal legislative branch: the bicameral Congress, with representation apportioned equally to all states in one house and apportioned by population in the other, makes the same trade-off in a far more explicit fashion, and in doing so provides an effective check against tyranny by the majority. The Electoral College was not, so far as I'm aware, conceived with any such goal in mind, but nonetheless accomplishes much the same thing for the executive branch, ensuring -- for all its perceived faults and antiquated notions about representative democracy -- that a candidate for the Presidency cannot glide in on a single blowout any more than a team in the World Series can ride a single game's run tally through to the end.

1.) The claim that the possibility of a swing state is just as real in any proposed alternative which tries to mimic a direct national vote, because concentrated regional blocs of voters can easily be numerous enough to swing such an election.

The concept of a swing state is predicated on the notion that a small change in the proportion of the vote within the state (say a 51-49 Pennsylvania instead of a 49-51 Pennsylvania) can produce a disproportionate result. Without that dynamic the concept of a swing state (or swing region) is meaningless, as it does not matter who wins this or that region, it only matters who wins the overall most votes. This would be a recipe for LESS regional polarization, not more.

2.) The Article "Math Against Tyranny" does not refute any of the criticisms of the Electoral College as it now stands- its marginalization of non-swing states, its anti-democratic nature, its anachronistic character, and it's arbitrariness. It is predicated solely on the idea that one's likelihood of influencing the outcome of the election by your vote alone is increased from a vanishingly nonexistent amount to a slightly less vanishingly nonexistent amount. In other words, an interesting theoretical exercise, but no more, and certainly does not lead one to the conclusion of the present College.
12204  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: What makes you Dem/Repub/Indep? on: August 23, 2007, 08:43:40 pm
All political parties (and all politics, frankly) are based around interest groups of some sort. That's the whole point.

What about valence issues?
12205  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Asian Vote by State on: August 21, 2007, 09:05:19 pm
Most Indian-Americans I know are Democrats. Indian-Americans also give a lot more money to Democrats. Who knows what will happen when Bobby Jindal is elected in Louisiana? I suppose it won't make much difference as it doesn't change the big issues, plus Jindal is a Catholic. But there are theories in political science that say that minority ethnic groups tend to go over to which ever party one of their own is first elected to high office from; based on studies of Connecticut politics and Irish and Italian immigrants in the first half of the 20th century. It would be interesting to see if Jindal turns around Louisiana. I can see him running for President in 2012 or 2016 if he does.
12206  Election Archive / 2008 Elections / Re: The Super Bowl and Super "Duper" Tuesday on: August 21, 2007, 08:57:10 pm
Hmm the Super Bowl is late this year. I wonder whether it'll screw with people's minds... or maybe thinking about it too hard is screwing with mine.
12207  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Where is the Bible Belt? on: August 21, 2007, 08:50:26 pm

The Bible Belt doesn't cover every religious conservative area.
12208  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is opposing gambling a liberal or conservative issue? on: August 19, 2007, 05:11:25 pm
In Maryland it's really neither. Everyone wants the revenue the state could get, but no one wants to actually live near a casino. If anything, Democrats are more against it because they don't want it around their neighborhoods. Online gambling, on the other hand- Republicans come down a lot harder on.
12209  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: In case anyone still thinks Iraq was involved in 9/11. on: August 06, 2007, 10:05:25 pm
Corruption's not all bad, people. How's the poor man who steals from a store to feed his family going to stay out of jail? Corruption.  How's the poor farmer in India going to get the government to listen to him? Corruption. How did Don Cheadle keep those people alive in Hotel Rwanda?

(bellows) Corr-uption! Oh corr-uption, how won-der-ful is thee!
12210  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Chavez seeks indefinite rule on: August 06, 2007, 09:43:35 pm
Reality check. He's abolishing term limits. Not trying to be elected president for life. End of reality check.

Oh come on Lewis.  Yes technically the measure doesn't make him President for life.  But I can't see you arguing/don't believe you would dispute that he would win every election for president that he stood for.

Indeed, it would be an interesting question... what drives authoritarian regimes to give up power voluntarily? The Pincohet and Franco regimes, while horrible, gave way to free elections without the need for much political struggle. The Communist regimes on the other hand gave way only when their hands were forced by an unwilling military. Is that accurate to say? It seems so.
12211  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Chavez seeks indefinite rule on: August 06, 2007, 09:23:45 pm
Alas, dictators today must at least pretend to observe the will of the people to be accepted internationally.

12212  General Politics / Individual Politics / The Washington Post's columnists today... on: August 06, 2007, 09:05:12 pm
I rarely have a chance to sit down and read the editorial page, which I did today. Ironically, the most unbiased and fascinating article was written by Robert Novak.

While the article serves to highlight conservative proposals, Novak ("A GOP Tax Fight") was mostly describing two alternative conservative proposals for the SCHIP increase passed last week, one backed by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, which insisted that any proposal be tax-neutral, and another backed by the Heritage Foundation, which was willing to accept (as argued by Norquist) an effective tax and spending increase rather than cut the AMT (as favored by Democrats) so that the AMT could be used by the GOP as a bargaining chip down the road for concessions in other areas.

Jackson Diehl ("Lame Duck Diplomacy") notes that the Bush administration is now trying to salvage its legacy through pushing for a peace agreement in the Middle East and reapproachement with North Korea. He says this is a dangerous path because it's what Clinton tried to do in his last years, and Clinton's detractors were "proven right" because Arafat wasn't ready to make peace, and North Korea wasn't negotiating in good faith. This is only part of the story, and Jackson Diehl is rewriting history once again. While it's true that one of the biggest mistakes of Arafat's life was probably to reject the 2000 Camp David accords, one cannot blame President Clinton for trying. In the end Israelis and Palestinians will have to live next to one another, or else one to genocide the other; and if they must live next to one another it would be better to be at peace than otherwise. The Camp David meeting was a failure, but it's was a failure on Arafat's part in that he was insufficiently dovish, not that Clinton was too dovish. And while some doubts have been cast on North Korea's uranium enrichment, it has been pointed out time and time again that this was far more benign that plutonium enrichment, which has already produced nuclear weapons; and did not violate the letter of the Agreed Framework, which the US also did not implement. Rarely are these qualifications made in the press, and here the Washington Post is again misleading. Furthermore, the Sunshine diplomacy momentum built up by January 2001 was strong enough such that the nuclear program may well have been rendered irrelevant anyway. The Bush administration did not inherent a disaster but a budding solution in this area; it bludgeoned the situation into a disaster.

But suppose that Diehl is correct. In this case, I'll vote for him to become President. In a few years we'd see what happens, but with little doubt he would be trying to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace and an agreement with North Korea, as well. There could be no more stubborn or anti-Clinton foreign policy administration than that of George W. Bush, yet after 6.5 years, where is he? Right back where Clinton was in 2000. What needs to be said is not the dangers of this path, but the utter lack of alternatives and the sad waste of both resources and human life that it has taken for the Bush administration to admit to itself that Clinton was basically correct in 2000. I hope the best for the Bush administration as it tackles these problems.

Sebastian Mallaby writes about hedge funds and about how the "consensus" is shifting away from anti-globalization, basing his argument largely upon the fact that there is a limitless supply of lending that foreign investors do to the United States, thus providing a global liquidity glut that can overcome the failures of a few U.S. lenders. What this supposedly means is according to Mallaby is that the financial globalization of the "Washington Consensus" was basically right, only that countries did not know how to "handle" marketization correctly in the 1990's. But Mallaby doesn't answer his own points. He notes that, in the 1990's, due to financial crises in Asia and Russia, the correlation between economic growth rates and free economies disappeared. The fact of global economic growth in the 2000's faster than the 1990's does not vindicates the Washington Consensus, it vindicates it's opponents. Among the fastest-growing economies today, they include Russia, which has turned heavily authoritarian and nationalized a good deal of its industries in recent years, Latin American countries from Venezuela and Argentina, which have adopted variants from moderate Keynesianism to Socialism, China, which remains heavily authoritarian in many areas and is not yet a 'market economy', the U.S., which has spent heavily and expanded the size of its government at the fastest rate since the 1960's... and on and on and on. Meanwhile, while many European countries have reformed their old welfare economies, none has come close to Thatcherism; yet European unemployment is slowly coming down and its growth has remained resilient. While finance has certainly remained global since the 1990's, many (though not all) governments have kept big-spending, big-government in place... successfully. The lesson of the 2000's is that what's needed is neither more nor less government, but simply an abundance of credit, investment, capital, and consumption.

Then there is an article by Arlen Specter basically rehashing the President's immigration plan (seriously, I am aware of the '60s overtones to this rhetorical question, but can you think of anything more pro-establishment? To the extent that Americans think about immigration we simply want the laws enforced.)

These columnists, pretty much all represent the Washington establishment. Marginally conservative-learning, especially on economics, and generally parroting the same old conventional wisdom that you might have picked up 6 or 7 years ago reading the same paper. Then again I probably just picked up the paper on the wrong day. If I read the Post every day, I'd know better. And they're smart people though, I'll give em that.
12213  Election Archive / 2008 Elections / Re: Edwards vs. Giuliani on: August 06, 2007, 12:11:48 pm
12214  General Politics / Individual Politics / House drops tougher auto fuel economy on: August 01, 2007, 08:06:42 pm
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 7 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - After weeks of uncertainty, House Democrats have decided against a confrontation over automobile fuel economy when they take up energy legislation later this week.
Two proposals to boost the required mileage for new automobiles were submitted Wednesday for consideration as amendments to the energy legislation, but they were withdrawn by their Democratic sponsors.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., sponsor of a proposal to boost vehicle mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2019, said he decided not to pursue the matter after consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi in a statement said she supported requiring automakers to make more fuel efficient vehicles but that the issue was deferred "in the interest of promoting passage of a consensus energy bill."



A victory for lobbyists. What's especially absurd is that the auto industry ran shallow ads running against the decade of the '70s, not any particular policy. Dependence on oil and gas-guzzling cars are what made us especially vulnerable to the oil shocks in the first place in the '70s. These 45-second spots ran constantly on the local Arbitron channel, WTOP, attempting to influence people's views with simplistic and misleading demagoguery. It looks like they succeeded, as ther was no one as powerful lobbying the other way.
12215  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Would you cross a picket line? on: August 01, 2007, 08:02:06 pm
May the victory be ours.

Ehhh, whatever that means, I'm all for it :p
12216  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Would you cross a picket line? on: August 01, 2007, 07:51:14 pm
I don't have a high opinion of unions, their strongarm tactics, and their antagonistic ways.

Unions aren't always antagonistic. Although the antagonistic moments invariably get most of the coverage, most of the time union and management have a cooperative, symbiotic relationship. As a manager of a company or division, I would actually want to have a worker's representative organization that could provide some kind of view into what the mood and opinion of my workers really were.

On the other hand, the credible threat of strongarm tactics, no matter how rarely used, is completely inseperate from the existence of collective bargaining. In average circumstances, one cannot have collective bargaining without authoritarianism, just as one cannot have collective action without it. The very existence of law is a testament to that; after all, we would all be better living in a well-behaved society than a poorly behaved one.
12217  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Presidential Election Trends / Re: The Republican Party has to become more competitive in blue states? on: July 31, 2007, 09:12:33 pm
The globalized economy is a house of cards and has been since the 70s when globalization began. When it has a big enough shock... say goodbye to globalization and a return to regional trade blocs.

A 'return' to regional trade blocs? The time when free trade was not powerful, during the 1930s--1970s, it was equally curtailed for both neighbors and distant nations. The whole 'regional bloc' phenomenon is a currently emerging one.
12218  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: 71% of Americans favor increased use of surveillance cameras on: July 31, 2007, 09:03:47 pm
Eh, it just seems like more and more authoritarian laws get enacted all the time. Recently Virginia tried to enact some law which would give outrageously high fines for relatively minor driving infractions. As someone who leans left, it's hard to identify as "libertarian", but maybe something like left-libertarianism would appeal to me.
12219  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Would you cross a picket line? on: July 31, 2007, 08:51:35 pm
No, I would not respect a picket line if a member of my family needed life saving medication and the only way to get it was to cross it, no.
12220  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Would you really move? on: July 30, 2007, 08:45:02 pm
It depends how things were in the other country. In the Commanding Heights, there is a story about how Keith Joseph moved to Boston in 1975 only to run right into a riot over busing. Deciding the US was in no better shape than the UK he promptly moved back.
12221  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Bush May Get Another Justice on: July 30, 2007, 08:20:32 pm
If it goes anything like recent history, there will be overblown predictions of high drama in the Senate. Bush will nominate a bland judge with no significant record. There will be formulaic hearings in which the judge goes through the motions of promising to uphold precedent and claiming to have no opinions on any significant cases. A few senators will put up symbolic gestures of defiance. The American people yawn, and at the end of hearings polls show 50 percent still don't know enough to have an opinion. He will be confirmed by something like 55-45, and go on towards ultraconservative jurisprudence, as usual.
12222  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: U.S. Plans New Arms Sales to Gulf Allies on: July 29, 2007, 08:23:58 pm
Saudi Arabia is a bastion of freedom because it doesn't allow women to drive, unlike Saddam's Iraq. Also, 15 none of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, compared to the 0 lots from Iraq. Bin Laden himself was from Saudi Arabia Iraq.

If we don't do the Kingdom's bidding they....




(woman screaming in horror)
12223  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Evangelical Coalition Supports Palestinian Statehood on: July 29, 2007, 12:01:35 am
Clearly a bunch of anti-semitic terrorist sympathizers.
12224  Election Archive / 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary Election Polls / Re: KCCI-TV/Research 2000 poll: Edwards and Romney continue to lead in IA on: July 28, 2007, 04:55:25 pm
I now found the General Election polls from Iowa:

Clinton vs. Giuliani: 41-37
Clinton vs. McCain: 42-36
Clinton vs. Romney: 42-34
Clinton vs. Thompson:41-31

Obama vs. Giuliani: 45-36
Obama vs. McCain: 44-36
Obama vs. Romney: 44-34
Obama vs. Thompson: 43-29

Edwards vs. Giuliani: 43-36
Edwards vs. McCain: 43-36
Edwards vs. Romney: 45-34
Edwards vs. Thompson: 45-28


Approve: 27%
Disapprove: 71%

Impeach: 45%
Not Impeach: 46%


Impeach: 54%
Not Impeach: 40%


Wow Obama and Edwards really kick ass in the general election.

Don't know about you, but in my book you have to be above 45 to qualify as 'kick ass'
12225  Election Archive / 2008 Elections / Re: Question mainly for Democrats on: July 23, 2007, 10:14:49 pm
Of course, but you must realize that non-interventionism is an authentically conservative ideology. Notice under which party's banner that the WWI, WWII, Korea, Nam, Bosnia, and Kosovo have happened under. Iraq just happens to be an exception because our Republican president is a "neocon" (definition: "Liberalism under a Republican administration"). Democrats never learn from their mistakes.

Neoconservatism is very conservative, although it emphasizes the authoritarian aspect of conservatism over the libertarian aspect.

we pull out of Iraq, there's a great risk that many civilians will be slaughtered. Yet the Democrats dont seem to care about what will happen to the Iraqis when we leave, but many of them are all gung ho for us to go into Darfur and prevent a genocide from taking place. So, they want our troops out of Iraq which might fall into a genocide when we leave and they want to put them into Darfur to prevent another Genocide. Im sorry, but it just makes no sense to me. I think we should stop interfering in situations overseas period. Whats the point of pulling out of Iraq if were just sending our troops to another area where their presence incites hatred towards America?

I would only consider supporting sending troops to Darfur under the assumption that our intervention in Darfur would be far more successful than our intervention in Iraq has been, and is likely to be. There is certainly precedent for a successful intervention. During the Kosovo war which Republican heavily opposed, we lost not a single US military life to ground combat (possibly 1 airman was killed, according to the movie Behind Enemy Lines).  It took just 78 days. The result was not to 'incite hatred' towards America but tremendously improve America's influence and prestige in the Balkans. In the year 2000, one year after we humiliated Slobodan Milosevic's government, his own people rose up and overthrew him in a peaceful revolution. But yeah, for ground intervention I think it should be primarily the UN, not the US, although we could contribute to such a force.
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