Print Story Political Troll(s) of the Week
Politics
By wiredog (Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 06:30:02 AM EST) (all tags)
From Jerry Pournelle:

I do not believe in democracy, and I never have. I believe in government by consent of the governed, and that does not mean winner take all democracy at all. In a proper republic the passions do not rule, but may prevent certain rules. Consent of the governed is always a compromise.


The lead on lm's diary supports Pournelle's view.  I think the success of the proposition movement in California (See, especially, Prop 13 and the destruction of public schools there) is why Propositions are so hard to do in other parts of the country.  Virginia, for example.  We want no part of unfettered democracy.  Makes some things harder to do, but in a semi-democracy that's a Good thing.  Overall, anyway.    I want unfettered democracy, with no limits, about as much as I want True Justice. 

The U.S. Constitution is meant to provide consent of the governed while limiting the power of the majority. It has failure modes, the two party system being one of them, but so does a Parliamentary system.  Israel being the classic example of a failure mode of Parliamentary systems.

The UK, with its extremely strong executive, demonstrates another failure mode.  In the UKian system it's impossible to have the executive controlled by one party and the legislative controlled by another.  

No system that attempts to provide some degree of democracy while preserving the rights of minorities is going to be perfect, and "it works well enough" may be the best we can hope for.



And now for some thinking out loud on the elections in the US.

As George Will pointed out:


For the first time since 1825, meaning the first time since the party system emerged, America is nearing the end of two consecutive eight-year presidencies. In six of the last seven elections, the name Reagan or Bush has been atop the Republican ticket.


Clinton and Huckabee are the least electable, in the general election (very high negatives), of the candidates.  If they both get nominated the campaign will be.  Interesting.  But Hillary still wins.

Otherwise?  If Obama or Edwards gets the nomination then I don't see any Republican beating them.  McCain, maybe, depending on his vice presidential candidate, on grounds that he is experienced and (for a politician) extremely honest.  See his recent comments on how long he thinks the US will need to be in Iraq, for example.

OTOH, 75% of the electorate wants us out in 2 years or less.



Clinton negatives:

Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush,Bush,Clinton?  24 years with just two families in the White House? That's a negative.  Also, supported the Iraq War, and continues to do so. This keeps the Democratic base at home. Finally, she brings out the Republican base.  This may be the biggest negative she has. 

Huckabee negatives:
The actual fiscal conservatives, and the rest of the Republican Establishment, don't much like Huckabee. The Mormons really don't like him. Pretty much anyone who isn't some sort of evangelical has a reason to dislike him. So they mostly stay home if he's the nominee.



If Romney finishes second in most states, and other candidates (McCain and Huckabee) keep splitting first place finishes, he could get the nomination.  Certainly he has a chance to be the decider if McCain and Huckabee are close.  In which case McCain gets the nomination. 

Rudy "A noun, a verb, and 9/11" Guiliani is too socially liberal for the religious right, and a bit too tax-and-spend for the fiscal conservatives. 



Edwards (or Obama) could be the spoiler in the Democratic race the same way that Romney could be in the Republican race. 


For me the interesting choice would be if it was Romney vs Clinton.  There's something to be said for cold and calculating competence. Primarily that it is better than the willful dishonesty and feckless incompetence which we've had for the past 8 years.  I'd have to take a close look at the rest of Romney's and Clinton's positions (and how the House and Senate campaigns were shaping up).  Still probably vote for Clinton.

Second hardest: McCain vs Clinton.  I seriously doubt I'd vote for McCain, but the right vp (and the wrong one for Clinton) could do it.

Obama or Edwards would get my vote over any Republican, and I'd prefer to have Obama.

< Mix this you rat bastard! | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Political Troll(s) of the Week | 30 comments (30 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Two things make me a big fan of the US system by lm (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 07:12:16 AM EST
  1. The filibuster. The majority needs to work with the minority in order to get anything done unless the majority is overwhelming in size.
  2. The clear separation between the legislative, judicial and executive functions. I think it is a very good thing that enforcement of laws does not lie in the hands of the same crowd that writes the laws.
As for Clinton being unelectable, quite a few conservative pundits are starting to talk Clinton up as the most Republican of the current crop of candidates. On the conservative side, I think you'll find a large overlap between Huckabee supporters and the ``no Hellary, no way'' crowd. Also, national polls are kind of interesting. More people think Obama is more electable that Clinton. But in one-on-one matchups, Clinton does better than Obama against most of the GOP crew.

That said, Clinton isn't my favorite candidate.

As for Romney, aphrael gave me a link that is changing quite a bit of my view on him. The Boston Globe asked the current crop of candidates about the limits of executive authority. Some of Romney's answers creep me out. Key points from Romney's answers: he doesn't think POTUS needs congressional authorization to use military force, signing statements are valid, interrogation techniques should be kept top secret. On the plus side: he thinks all US citizens have the right to a writ of habeus corpus.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
Filibuster by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 07:39:06 AM EST
It is good, unless you are a leftish activist who wants the US out of Iraq NOW and can't understand why Congress doesn't force the issue. Or any other activist who wants it (whatever "it" is) right now.

Well, the President doesn't need Congressional authorization to use force.  He does need Congress to pay for it when the money runs out, but not to send the military into action. 

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
War Powers Act and other such stuff by lm (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 07:53:13 AM EST
Short of retaliating against a clear and present danger, the presidency is in fact quite limited in its ability to legally use military force.

Part of the preset problem vis a vis Iraq is that the anti-war crowd in Congress lacks the cajones to filibuster in such a way as to end the war.

But the filibuster is not without its own problems. It presumes that the minority is willing to work with the majority most of the time. The present GOP minority seems set on being obstructionist in many ways rather than working with the Democrats. S-CHIP was a notable exception.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
supermajorities by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:00:03 AM EST
i'm generally in favor of the filibuster, but California's 2/3 requirement for the legislature to pass a budget (or increase taxes) is crippling.

60% is a good number. 67% is too high.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Separation of powers by Herring (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:12:17 AM EST
I like that too. In UKia, the PM effectively has all of the monarch's powers so can do stuff like wars without consulting parliament. And that's a bit crap.

The other thing I would like is the sort of phased elections they have in the senate for our upper house. The problem with making the house of lords all elected in the same way as the commons is that you end up with the same problems as the commons. Some peers, although they aren't elected, can put common sense before party - because they can't be thrown out. If they were elected in 3rds for a longer term, then they could take the longer view.

I reckon the US system could work really well if it weren't for the corruption. Also, house of reps and the commons should be on proportional representation to get rid of the 2 party stranglehold.

If this is incoherent, blame the meds.


Herring - Official HuSi diarist of the 2016 European Korfball Championship (October 22nd, Dordrecht, Netherlands)

[ Parent ]
If Hillary gets the nod... by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 07:58:06 AM EST
Democrats are probably better off holding their noses and voting Republican, to force the party to choose someone better in 4 years, rather than 8.

Jerry Pournelle? Isn't he a monarchist?

only if that republican is mccain by alprazolam (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:32:46 AM EST
the other republicans are enough to make you sick.

[ Parent ]
Now now, if Huckabee gets elected by georgeha (4.00 / 3) #7 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:38:15 AM EST
we'll send care packages to you on the infidel reservations.


[ Parent ]
that depends. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:04:36 AM EST
the republicans and the democrats are clearly different on policy this year, in a way that they weren't in 2000.

and ... after eight years of bush, who was elected in part because of liberals who wrongly decided that bush and gore were indistinguishable, i'm not very sympathetic to arguments of this kind.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Missed one on the Clinton cons: by MartiniPhilosopher (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:52:54 AM EST
She doesn't have a whole lot of cross appeal.

Considering how "close" the last couple of elections were, both parties would do well to enlist a candidate that has some.

While she has the pro-business attitude that could attract a certain type of voter, I certainly don't see her campaign using that to any great extent which isn't first used by her opponent.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

thoughts by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 08:59:20 AM EST
I'm a big believer in the utility of initiatives, as I think they're the only real safeguard the public has to deal with issues that the politicians ignore (either out of self-interest or because they've become the creatures of particular interests).

That said, the abuse of the initiative system is a big part of why California has become in effect ungovernable, and why our budget seems to be permanently broken.

---------

I really don't want Hillary to win, and would be likely to vote for either McCain or -- believe it or not -- Huckabee over her. (Huckabee is the kind of evangelical I can treat with, for one thing, and his more extreme ideas would never get through a Democratic Congress). Giuliani is not an option for me, nor is Romney.

My problems with Hillary boil down to three things:
  * I think she is likely to continue all of the things, sans sheer incompetence, which piss me off about the Bush administration (including abuse of executive power and disregard for the authority of the legislature).
  * I am certain that four or eight years of Hillary constitutes more years of having, in essence, the same political paralysis and infighting that have characterized the last 15: the same personalities, the same issues, the same argument.
  * I resent dynastic politics.

That said, she has some good aspects: she's clearly very competent and is one of, if not the, most statesman-like contenders.

--------

I'm still pissed at McCain for selling out over the MCA. That will likely remain true no matter wht happens.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

sans sheer incompetence by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:25:40 AM EST
Which might be a good thing now.  Conducting the Iraq War in a competent manner, with an actual definition of what 'victory' is?  Since we're stuck there anyway, might as well do it right.

We can get out of Iraq fast, in 2 years or less, but it'll cost us.  Money and blood. A worhtwhile cost, IMHO, but lets not pretend it isn't there.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
goddam autoformat. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:26:42 AM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
yesish by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:29:25 AM EST
certainly i'd prefer competence to incompetence.

but i'm not sure that a competent autocrat who concentrates power in the hands of the executive and ignores the legislature is a good thing. :)

on the other hand, i'm torn. i disagree with the republicans on just about every domestic policy issue (except free trade, which is only quasi-domestic) ... and yet all of the democrats seem to have this insane idea that we can just snap our fingers and come home from iraq and not pay horrible consequences for it.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
sans sheer incompetence by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:26:14 AM EST
Which might be a good thing now. Conducting the Iraq War in a competent manner, with an actual definition of what 'victory' is? Since we're stuck there anyway*, might as well do it right.

* We can get out of Iraq fast, in 2 years or less, but it'll cost us. Money and blood. A worhtwhile cost, IMHO, but lets not pretend it isn't there.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Damnit by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:55:30 AM EST
I've been trolled because this is exactly the sort of time-consuming discussion I swore off most posting for...

Anyway. You have to consider that all signs point to a large Democratic swing this year. Don't be so certain of paralysis. The Democrats won't get 60 seats in the senate, but they will likely get more than the razor thin majority they have now. Most of the polls show wide swings to the left since 2004, especially among independents. This has already played out in the primaries, where the number of the Democratic voters is significantly higher than the number of Republican voters.

The only real question is whether Hillary hatred will cause the Republican base to vote. I agree with your two bullet points.

I find it hard to believe you'd actually vote Huckabee over Hillary. While she has her faults, are you really willing to support someone who'd strip you of what little rights you have in the arena of sexual freedom? I mean, either he gets his way or we have eight years of infighting with a Democratic congress.

For me, her negatives (polarizing, authoritarian, etc.) don't come close to outweighing the negatives of all the Republican candidates, which are that they'd essentially do nothing to face the disasters that are the US health care system and the war in Iraq.

I also think that there seems to be a feminist backlash to the Hillary hatred. There's evidence that the reason Obama's support dropped in New Hampshire the day before the election was all that "Hillary cried" bullshit. I know that that incident seems to have pushed my wife entirely into the Clinton camp.

Still, I don't want her to get the nomination and will likely vote Obama. I'm not particularly pleased with that choice, but at this point he seems the best bet on either side of the aisle. (Especially now that Richardson is gone.)
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
wide swings to the left by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 09:59:59 AM EST
I think it's more that the Democrats swung to the center a bit, coupled with the Republicans going more rightwards.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
You're right by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #18 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 10:03:38 AM EST
I meant more that independents really seem to be leaning towards the Democrats this year.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I didn't use to think Hillary was electable by lm (2.00 / 0) #27 Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:35:18 AM EST
But there have been several changes.
  1. The other present mainstream candidates make Clinton look very moderate. It's pretty hard to make Clinton look like a left wing wacko when the serious competition for the Democratic nod is to her left on many issues.
  2. US public perception has changed in significant ways on some issues. In the early nineties, when Clinton's husband was running, it was still hugely controversial to have a gay character on a prime time television show. Nowadays, you've got blockbuster movies about gay cowboys and tremendously popular sitcoms like Will and Grace. Further, when Clinton first headed up a health care plan in the early nineties, the words `socialized medicine' and `universal coverage' scared a whole lot of people. Nowadays, those ideas are looking pretty good to quite a few people.
  3. It's taken a long time, but most US voters are are finally getting around to feeling more than a bit of buyer's remorse over having elected the favorite candidate of the religious right. I think we're going to have to wait for a whole new generation before significant numbers of voters pay attention to their pastor on who to vote for again.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Will someone tell me by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 11:06:50 AM EST
Why people want to vote for Hilary.

I liked Bill, and he was a success as a president, but Hilary had a poor record in the administration.

I will point out one advantage of the UK system; a UK Prime Minister can get on with the jpoob with little worries about impeachment on trivial issues. Only if he totally fucks up politically will his own party drag him down.

OTOH, I don't think I will be able to vote for either main party at the moment. I support the Conservatives economically, but can't stand either party on other issues. Labour wants to watch and control every move, and the Conservatives have an attitude to copyright that leaves me cold.


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
If she gets elected by georgeha (4.00 / 3) #20 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 11:16:00 AM EST
thousands of rabid neocons and fundies dropping dead instantly of heart attacks.


[ Parent ]
I have to wonder if that would help SocSec by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 12:33:47 PM EST

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
The senate by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu Jan 10, 2008 at 04:40:19 PM EST
Her senate career has gotten relatively high marks. It's a combination of that plus nostalgia for Bill.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Then by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #23 Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 01:46:42 AM EST
Bill should run again. I'm sure the 2 term limit can be interpreted as "consecutive terms" by some legal eagle.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
I doubt that there is room to argue `consecutive' by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 01:53:42 AM EST
The wording is ``no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.'' That's kind of blunt .

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Get him to by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #25 Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 02:19:32 AM EST
...run as Vice-president on a ticket with some doofus, but really the man in charge

Yes, cue the jokes associating Bill with Vice...


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
That doesn't work either by lm (4.00 / 1) #26 Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:26:08 AM EST
``no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States''

So once you've served two terms as president, you don't even get to be vice president. You also don't get a pony. You do, however, get a enough money in retirement to buy a whole stable of ponies. And balloons. And clowns.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Democracy by duxup (2.00 / 0) #28 Sat Jan 12, 2008 at 07:46:18 AM EST
Aside from the usual commentary that my fellow citizens are morons the one thing that makes me think that you always have to have some dude(s) in charge who decides things contrary to popular opinion or polls is what inevitably happens in my state legislature:

There are always these idiots who HATE spending any money on some big projects like transit or something because of taxes or some stupid ideology.  Then every few years one of them gets a chance to be governor and blamo they're all alone and they have to think of these issues by them self.  They don't get to be part of the cast of 1000 idiots chanting some stupid slogan and what do you know .... they change their mind because otherwise they have to individually respond to the question "well what do YOU want to do?".  They realize #### has to be done, it might not be fair,  ideal, or fun, but damn the results hork things up far worse.  I suppose that last line is giving them more credit than deserved, but you get the idea.

That's also one of my personal theories about he idiocy of the current administration.  Put simply Bush is an idiot, folks behind him are the real people in charge and also can still act as the cast of 1000s and make stupider than usual ideologically based decisions.  The result is there's no filter that I think many presidents have where when put in power alone they realize "shit, I'm not sure that's a great idea after all".
____

Do you live in NoVa? by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #29 Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 05:32:51 AM EST
Because it sure sounds like you're describing our state politics there.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
No earth by duxup (2.00 / 0) #30 Sun Jan 13, 2008 at 06:00:39 AM EST
I work best in a nitrogen oxygen atmosphere.

While on earth I spend most of my time living in Minnesota.
____

[ Parent ]
Political Troll(s) of the Week | 30 comments (30 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback