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On not comprehending US politics

Probably it is the whole world I do not understand, but I am going to stick to not grasping it a bit at a time. It seems less daunting.

How does this work? Some commentators are saying that Senator McCain picked Governor Palin as his running-mate in order to attract supporters of Senator Clinton who are cross with Senator Obama for not giving up when he was winning the Democratic nomination.

Just who is crazy here? The Clintonites who think Obama is such a middle-of-the-road disaster for failing to appeal to the activist base that they might consider voting for a party that is over the other side of the road? And having done so, I look forward to their saying is the racism of the American public not Democratic-party petulance that has kept him out of the Whitehouse. Or the super-Clintonites who say they are mad at Obama for not being a woman? Republican strategists (if they exist) who care about what the tiny number of leftist Democratic activists think, but nevertheless think Palin will attract them, despite her being of the religious right persuasion and ideologically about as far from a leftist Democratic activist as possible? Or the commentators who assert such a strategy would make sense?

Or are there really large numbers of Americans who will vote for McCain solely because Palin is female and for no other reason of policy, personality or competence dividing the candidates and their platforms? That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?

101 comments to On not comprehending US politics

  • Kevin B

    I’ve said before that I doubt that the PUMAs are the main reason McCain picked Sarah Palin.

    Oh, I’m sure that there are a few Hilaryites who are so pissed off with the way Obama’s team treated their heroine in the primaries that they will stay home, or even cross over, rather that vote for the One, and the Palin pick might attract a few more. After all, they are mere humans, and humans are eminently capable of rationalising away some pretty wierd behaviour.

    No, Palin is aimed at the republican base(s) and the middle. She is attractive to the conservatives for her pro-life stance and to the ‘libertarian wing’ for her pro-gun and anti-corruption charges.

    The net is full of anecdotes of the “I was going to sit on my hands / vote for Obama / hold my nose to vote for Mac, but now I’m sending him money / signing up to work for his election” type.

    McCain is also pushing the “America is great! Help us make it greater!” line to oppose the Dem’s “America is the pits, only we can save you” message and Palin is a big help with that.

    Of course she will attract a lot of female voters who might have voted for Hilary but I think those commentators who are pushing the “it was all done to attract the PUMAs” line need to step back and look at the forest.

  • Just who is crazy here? …. Republican strategists (if they exist) who care about what the tiny number of leftist Democratic activists think, but nevertheless think Palin will attract them …

    I don’t think disaffected Clinton voters are the prime target, but incredibly enough a lot of them seem enthused about Palin:

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_08_24-2008_08_30.shtml#1220031014

    Or are there really large numbers of Americans who will vote for McCain solely because Palin is female and for no other reason of policy, personality or competence dividing the candidates and their platforms? That would be crazy.

    Sure it would be crazy, but who suggested that many people vote that way? The idea behind selecting Palin is to “energize the base” and tip fence-sitters over into the McCain camp.

  • Bruce Hoult

    if that would work, wouldn’t Condy be even better?

  • 1. The conservative base is now energized for McCain&Palin. They love her. 3 million dollars were donated within 8 hours of her announcement.

    2. She does represent change to the establishment of both Washington DC and the republican party as well. This heavily counter Obama’s words and choice of a 35 years DC insider.

    3. It ridicule Obama’s lack of experience. Everytime they complain about hers, people will be reminded of Obama’s own lack of experience.

    4. She is a genuine reformer.

    5. Independent, young and accomplished, she is a good role model for young women.

  • Sunfish

    Bruce,
    Condi is damaged goods this year. She’s spent eight years working for a President who hasn’t seen an approval rating above 50% since his first term. Even if she’s the most-competent member of the current administration[1] she’s tainted by being associated with the team.

    Guy,
    There are a couple of factors at work.

    1) There’s substantial hatred for Obama among the Clinton partisans. Even if the two were within arms-reach of each other on policy matters, personality counts and so does history. The Hillary partisans believe that they were screwed over by the DNC establishment[2] and many of them think that the reason was pure and simple sexism. I doubt that many of them would gravitate towards a ticket with Palin on it, but I don’t think that they’d feel threatened by her enough to show up for Obama. That is, unless their sole issue is abortion.[3][4]

    2) I think you have one thing backwards: among the anti-war voters, Obama is very much favored. Clinton was in favor of OIF before she was against it and hasn’t really been forgiven for that.

    3) There was very little love for McCain among either the ‘religious’ right or the libertarian-leaning wing of the Republican party. You may have noticed that our own Midwesterner once insisted that he would vote for HRC over McCain. I was picking up what he was laying down, at the time that he first said so. I’m going to guess that a majority of the US voters reading this blog were also thinking in those terms, at least a little bit.

    I’m more or less in the libertarian component of the ‘Republican base’ and Palin is more to my liking than virtually anybody else McCain could have picked.

    [1] Personally, I think she, Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft were the only two cabinet members in the entire eight years who weren’t a fucking embarassment, and I’m not always sure about Ashcroft.

    [2] Up until a few weeks ago, I’d have thought that the Clinton partisans WERE the DNC establishment. But there’s a lot of hate for Pelosi and Dean among the Clinton followers now.

    [3] Strangely enough, that’s about the only issue in US politics that I’ve been able to find, with a significant number of single-issue voters on both sides.

    [4] I don’t know how many PUMAs there are: I know plenty of Dems, including most of my own family, but they all seem to be Obamaniacs.

  • guy herbert

    No, Palin is aimed at the republican base(s) and the middle. She is attractive to the conservatives for her pro-life stance…

    Which is more believable. Isn’t she also a creationist? (A position I doubt a British politician could hold and be taken seriously.)

  • Foul Harold

    This isn’t Britain. The US is a FAR more religious country than the UK or the rest of Europe for that matter.

    Maybe if you guys got a little of that “ole time religion” your native births rates wouldn’t be so shockingly low and Europe wouldn’t be on the verge of demographic collapse.

    But hey, you cynical Nietzschean know-it-alls have it all figured out now, don’t you?

  • John_C

    Some other points:

    Palin also helps to undercut the “historic” narrative, now history will be made whichever candidate wins.

    Palin give the Obama campaign many opportunities to hang themselves, such as the initial response(Link) to her selection.

    Why is it a genius move?(Link) Because of two things:

    1. It will make it easier for center-right Hillary supporters to vote Republican in the fall, and

    2. (this is the genius part) It will complete the alienation of the rest of the Hillary supporters from the Obama camp. How? That’s easy — the Obamabots will do it themselves. Go read the Washington Post blog or anywhere online where the Palin pick is being discussed, and you’ll see the trademark Obama misogyny already out in full force. She’s been on the ticket for two seconds and already the Obamabots are saying she “looks like a porn star,” they’re making rude remarks about her childbearing, they’re ridiculing her intelligence.

    Keep it up, possums. Keep it up. Just when some Hillary supporters were trying to forget what misogynist freaks you all are, now you’re going to remind us all over again.

    The thing that impresses me the most is she has a history of standing up to corruption in her own party.

  • Kevin B

    Isn’t she also a creationist?

    Guy:

    From what I’ve read so far, her views on creationism, (and abortion), are a bit more nuanced than that.

    I think she’s more for school rights, parents rights and states rights on these issues.

    If not, expect to see her views presented this way in the run-up to the election.

  • RRS

    It is doubtful that Guy Herbert does not “understand” U.S. political affairs (at least as well as the American electorate, in general).

    But, his reference to commentaries points up that the U.S is suffering from an epedemic of Punditeritis that extends down to the smallest city editorialists and TV talkers who digest the broad span of more elegant publications and broadcasts in much the same way as sparrows used to follow the horse-carts in early times, and produce a similarly derived excrement.

    Consider the “diet” of the commentators, and their need for nourhment.

    Viewpoints of the U.S. electors are components of impressions and perceptions, encouraged by still recognized (but declining influence of) polling; which people are beginning to grasp is governed by the framing of the inquiries. E.g., Is America going in the “right direction?” As contrasted with “What do you feel is wrong with the current direction of America?” “Do we need change?” rather than “What changes are needed?” etc., etc.

    By and large, the “commentators” have no better grasp of what the broad electorate is thinking – and why – than do the members of that elecorate themselves.

  • Kevin B

    Sunfish / Bruce

    I think another thing that goes against Condi at this time is the suspicion that since going to State she might have ‘gone native’

  • The best way to think about the Hillary versus Obama relatiobship is to imagine the Blair Brown one, only nsatier with race and gender resentments thrown in for good measure.

    The Dem establishment was never happy with the “New Democrat” middle or the road -”The era of big government is over” talk from the Clintons.

    Mc Cain chose Palin because she reinforces his maverick image and has experience as a corruption fighter. I also suspect that she knows more about Missile Defense than most of the so-called “Defense Experts” in the Senate. After all the bulk of the GBIs are based in her state and the operators are members of the Alaska National Guard.

  • M

    Maybe if you guys got a little of that “ole time religion” your native births rates wouldn’t be so shockingly low and Europe wouldn’t be on the verge of demographic collapse.

    I read the other day that whites will be a minority in the US by 2042. That will probably the case in Europe eventually. Not sure when. Religion hardly seems to be inspiring white Americans to breed.

  • Gabriel

    I’ve never understood the idea that opinions on the origin of life represent a litmus test for political office.

    “Governor, what is your position on capital gains tax”
    “Good question, Wolf. Being a believer in guided evolution I would abolish it.”
    “And how do you think we should deal with recent Russian agression”
    “Well naturally I oppose the current Darwinian orthodoxy on this question.”

    The truth is that, while YEC is a intellectually unsustainable and disreuptable poisition, all religious people believe in some form of ID. I’ve talked to a LOT of religious people who think they believe in Darwinism and consider themselves to be oh-so-superior to the dumb hicks who don’t. However, it invariably very quickly becomes clear they believe in “guided” or “planned” evolution or something.
    If any poisition is truly moronic it is the idea that there is a providential, interventionist G-d who, such was his love for humans, became incarnated in human form … and that had absolutely zip all to do with creating them in the first place.

  • guy herbert

    Foul Harold,

    This isn’t Britain.

    I know. Which is probably why I don’t understand it, as was the main point of my post.

    Huan,

    …accomplished…

    Not very convinced by that. The US is stuffed with highly successful and educated people who are already national figures. Condi Rice has already been mentioned.

    I’m more persuaded by the suggestion that she’s been recruited for her ordinariness, and her provincialness, given the case against Obama seems to be he’s from celeb-world and foreigners like him, and that has already drawn against McCain the accusation that he too is out of touch, as a rich congressional hack.

  • Hoth

    Palin is the sugar that will make it easier for many to swallow the bitter pill that is McCain.

    I have to agree that Condi would have made an excellent choice a few years ago, but like Kevin B said, she has been badly tainted by her time in State.

  • William H. Stoddard

    The polls are showing a nontrivial fraction of Clinton supporters saying they plan to vote Republican, despite Clinton herself urging them all to vote for Obama. And I’ve seen a couple of newspaper articles where some of them said that they wanted to vote for a woman and were rejected the Democratic Party because they chose to hand the election to Obama out of misogyny, and even that they had stopped supporter various abortion rights groups that had endorsed Obama. To me that looks like a triumph of identity politics over everything else: they’d rather abandon Roe v. Wade, the most important political issue that specifically affects women, than vote for a candidate who won a nomination that they thought ought to have gone to a woman. I suspect that the Republicans are perfectly happy to gain the votes of this new bunch of useful idiots.

    The claim that the Democratic Party handed the nomination to Obama to avoid giving it to Clinton basically strikes me as loony. It looked to me as if Clinton was the party favorite, and Obama gained the nomination by an incredibly skilled and determined campaign that proves his abilities as a professional politician. I’d also say that regardless of whether misogyny was a significant factor in Clinton’s defeat—and I consider that there are plenty of reasons that somone who’s not hostile to women in general could detest Clinton—any male candidate who defeated Clinton would face exactly these charges of misogyny, precisely because of the widespread cultural impact of identity politics. For myself, I’d say that the main evidence of sexist bias in the Democratic Party was that their only woman contender got her shot at the nomination not through her own achievements, but by being married to a very influential former president.

  • “Or are there really large numbers of Americans who will vote for McCain solely because Palin is female and for no other reason of policy, personality or competence dividing the candidates and their platforms?”

    Yes. There are. And they are no different from other votists who do what they do on premises at least as irrational.

    “That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?”

    Yes. It would.

    It’s all as fucked-up as a football-bat, but otherwise sane and rational people just keep doing it time after time. I don’t know what in the world it’s going to take for them to figure it out.

  • Randy R

    Going after Clinton’s PUMA’s was way down the list of reasons for choosing Governor Palin. What she does is shore up the conservative base (which was lukewarm to McCain’s candidacy) and go after independents and blue collar workers who will find her background very attractive. Also her history as a reformer against corruption in Alaska politics allows McCain to more credibly run as the true Washington reform ticket since Obama came out of the vipers nest of Chicago’s machine politics without any evidence of him attempting to reform anything.

  • Jake

    Randy says it best:

    “her history as a reformer against corruption in Alaska politics allows McCain to more credibly run as the true Washington reform ticket since Obama came out of the vipers nest of Chicago’s machine politics without any evidence of him attempting to reform anything”.

    This is the reason she was selected.

  • Laird

    I think Kevin B (in his first post) has it exactly right.

    I have never liked McCain (as I’ve posted here before, I have not and cannot forgive him for McCain-Feingold, especially since he still believes it was a good law), and I still plan to vote for the Libertarian candidate (Bob Barr). However, to be honest part of that decision is driven by the fact that my state (South Carolina) is strongly Republican and McCain will carry it anyway. If I thought my one meager vote would have any effect upon that I might rethink my decision, and if that were the case the Palin selection would definitely help to move me in that direction.

    Still, I have nagging doubts about her judgment. What can one say about a woman who would burden her poor children with the names Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig?

  • Andrew X

    Guy – The question being how could a bunch of passionate (Democratic) Hileryites turn around and vote for McCain / Palin just because Palin is a woman.

    The answer is quite simple, and as an answer, it explains far far more than just that.

    If I may lay the foundation…. for millenia, poverty was the norm for human existence, and thus the acculmulation of wealth was literally a life or death issue. Thus by the time Marx came along, the “struggle for wealth” quite literally WAS the be all and end all goal of most humans, for most of their lives. That, and their religion. Thus, when Marx said to a lot of smart humans, “we can do better (or at least different) than this”, there was fertile ground for such ideals.

    But by well into the 20th century, wealth in Western soiciety was such that for the first time, it was no longer life and death. Even the poor were not starving, had access to hospitals, etc etc. And religion began to be discarded by them on a large scale.

    Thus something else, as powerful as the quest for wealth, began to take root. (I just accidentally wrote “poserful” instead of “powerful” for a moment, how Freudian). And what became so intensely imortant among the wealthy and middle class that it took on the role formerly held by the lifetime struggle to accumulate wealth? Simple, IT WAS THE UNCEASING AND NEVER ENDING NEED TO ‘”FEEL GOOD ABOUT ONESELF”, usually by “making things better” for a bunch of people you never met or talked to and never will. This need is every bit as relentless and insatiable as greed, and today plays every bit a large a role in Western society as greed ever did. And since opposition to “greed” is fundamental to the ideal, greed must always remain, as does Satan, responsible for all ills (Iraq war, gas prices, etc), even when it is obviously not the primary force at work.

    Anyway, reeling it back in…… jumping from Hillary to mccain / PALIN! is entirely about how those making the jump get to FEEL about Palin being in office. Any intellectual analysis about policy will fall on the deaf ears of the jumper. Feelings have trumped thinking, in a nutshell, a circumstance our acadamies have gone to great lengths to instill in the population, and I am sure take great pride in having done so. (They feel good about it, I have no doubt.)

    Feelings are more important than intellect and ideas. Simple as that.

    (And the grave of Ayn Rand is wrecked as she has clawed her way out in a desperate attempt to find another planet to spend her eternity.)

  • Sam Duncan

    Guy, KevinB: Sarah Palin and Creationism. (It’s LGF, but you don’t have to read the comments.)

    “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state’s required curriculum.

    Whether she personally believes in it or not, I don’t know. But she’s clearly not the fanatical religious nut that her opponents are trying to imply. If the “Palin wants creationism taught in schools” line is the best attack they can come up with (and curiously, it seems to be the one thing everybody “knows” about her already), she must have them worried.

  • Gabriel

    The problem with voting Bob Barr now, even in a safe state, is this. Palin is the closest thing to an anti-Washington Libertarian the Repubs have put on the ticket in ages. If Bob Barr still polls highly then the Repubs will conclude one thing: that Libertarians only care about war. The Ron Paul campaign has already made them (hell, me) suspect this already.

    Seeing as they aren’t going to become an anti-war party any time soon, they will probably decide that making concessions to Libertarians is a waste of time. Get prepared for the Huckabeeites, Neo-cons and Rockerfeller Republicans to split the patronage spoils between them for the foreseeable.

  • Brett L

    1. McCain doesn’t need huge numbers of women… He needs about 1500 each in Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Florida to swing. One thing it seems non-US observers have a hard time with is the Electoral College. (The net 3K votes would probably put him over the edge.)

    2. Only half as valuable, but far more likely, is getting 2000 voters in each of those four states who weren’t going to show up and vote to show up.

    3. RE: Creationism. The quote I saw didn’t say she believed in Creationism. Rather, it said that Palin, as the child of school teachers, had no problem with both Evolution and Creationism being taught. The statement had far more to do with her respect for local school boards than her beliefs about how humanity came to be.

    4. She’s already a net win. Instead of the chatterati discussing Sen. Obama’s speech over the long weekend, they are discussing McCain’s pick. For a bonus, the McCain campaign raised a metric shitload of money. (In technical terms)

    5. I actually believe McCain might veto a spending bill now, rather than getting railroaded by his old Senate buddies. (Though this is admittedly not at all factually based.)

  • andrewdb

    The other problem with Condi is that she had never held elective office, every, at any level. I think that is a big problem.

  • M

    I’m glad a creationist would probably be laughed out of British politics. I just wish we’d laugh people out of politics for believing in other kinds of silly rubbish. Like socialism or ‘libertarian paternalism’ for example.

  • Anne C.

    I am not alone when I say that I was going to hold my nose and grudgingly vote for McCain. There are many issues with which I do not agree with him, but it was a choice (as it always is) between bad and worse.

    I was much relieved when he chose Palin as his running mate. Aside from the fact that she’s pro-2nd Amendment and an advocate for state’s rights, she knows energy policy and has proposed real-world, long-term solutions. Something we desperately need.

    In addition (and most importantly), she delivers on her promises. While runnning for governor, she promised to take a pay cut, cut/veto pork spending, fight corruption and stand up to oil companies. From all accounts, she has honored her promises: she put the governor’s jet up on e-bay and deposited the proceeds back to the treasury, has utilized her veto powers on budget proposals, stood up to her corrupt Republican colleagues, fired incompetant/corrupt officials, took a pay cut, sued the fed. govt on absurd environmental bills, agressively advocated for drilling in ANWAR and tapping into Alaska’s renewable and non-renewable energy sources. She has a reputation for fighting for what she wants and not backing down.

    She’s authentic and I like what I’ve seen so far. Apparently, I’m not alone; she enjoys an approval rating of upwards of 80%. McCain, Biden and Obama can only dream of such numbers.

    However, I wish people (her campaign especially) would stop harping on the fact that she’s 1) a woman (skirt and red high-heels were a pretty good giveaway), got a baby with Down Syndrome, 3) a son in the military. It’s pandering and beneath her. I want to vote for the candidate not the sob story.

    And, as much as I like her, I wish some Republicans would stop fawning over her as the Democrats do over Obama. She still has yet to be tested on the national stage. She’s not the second coming, she’s a politician. Remain cautiously optimistic but still skeptical.

  • Like socialism or ‘libertarian paternalism’ for example.

    What is ‘libertarian paternalism’?

  • Anne C.

    Here are some interviews with Sarah Palin that have been posted.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/26455570

    I can hear the Elitists in NY and Europeans sneering at her accent already…

  • M

    What is ‘libertarian paternalism’?

    I haven’t much time, so I’ll leave a few links:

    Libertarian/soft paternalism

    A critique

    I brought it up because Cameron and co. seem to be impressed by this ideology. Just go to google news and search for ‘libertarian paternalism David Cameron’ and you’ll find many references to it.

  • Dale Amon

    While I like Palin, she is unfortuneately the VP candidate, and McCain is still the Presidential candidate and the one who will decide policy. A VP is a political tool to bring in constituencies during an election. Thereafter they may have an advisory role but are not really policy setters.

    The best part about Palin in that position is that she is first in the line of succession to a very elderly presidential selection… which given the wonders of the modern Western civilization the opposition despises, will very like live to be a ‘former President’.

    It still matters to me that policy will be set by the author of McCain-Feingold. it is his ideas and his beliefs that we will get. Palin changes nothing as far as I can see, except for the classical primary purpose of a VP. Bring in votes from where you are weak.

    After watching Bob Barr develop as a candidate for us, I have come to quite admire him. I may disagree on a few issues, but he is leading our party where it has never gone before: into acting like a Party that is ready to govern rather than debate about who is closest to top corner perfection.

    BTW, due to an upgrade gone terribly wrong, I am unable to post articles. Otherwise I would be covering the fun and games in Texas about neither of the McBama twins registering properly and in time under Texas law for the ballot. Of course they will get on the ballot, rules or no rules. Rules are for us, not for them, after all…

  • Gabriel

    It’s a shame that the Libertarians did not pick someone like Barr in for ’04, when there was a real chance to poach voters disgusted by Bush’s proven track record of high spending and all round big-governmentism. Instead they chose someone who came damn close to exemplifying everything that turns off normal people from the LP.

    Ah well, you snooze you lose.

  • It’s a shame that the Libertarians did not pick someone like Barr in for ’04

    Pah, the LP never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I gave up on them some time ago.

  • Anne

    Having a son in the Army is something to be proud of. Not a sob story.

  • Frederick Davies

    I am on record for not liking McCain, and since I am not American, I am glad I do not have to choose between voting for him or helping Obama by default (that one makes me sick on a very fundamental level). But I have to admit that his choosing Palin is so right in so many ways (not in order of importance):

    1. even if only 1% of PUMAs vote for McCain or even stay at home (more than the ones who were already going to), Obama is in trouble;
    2. Palin helps shore any problems McCain may have had with the Conservative base without looking pro-Bush;
    3. next time any Obamaite mentions how “historic” this election could be due to Obama’s presence, the Republicans can counterattack with their own “historic” event. I bet a shitload of ads the Obama campaign was going to run with the “historic” theme got thrown in the rubbish after the Palin-for-VP announcement;
    4. even if you think it superficial, the fact that Mrs Palin looks good also helps;
    5. even if her run as Alaska’s governor has lasted only two years, those are two years of executive power, not the legislative power all the other three candidates have. In this way, McCain’s choice is more conservative than people realize: two senators (no matter how experienced) in the same ticket was seen as a liability until pundits decided that anything Obama did had to be ordained by God, and hence right (last time it was Kennedy-Johnson, if I remember correctly);
    6. any attack against the recent Republican scandals just got blunted (read: another shitload of Obama ads in the rubbish bin);
    7. her life story is less complicated than Obama’s or McCain’s; it is easier to like her.

    All this has evened out the chances for McCain: he still has to win the election, but at least now Obama is just now another Democratic candidate, instead of the Messiah-in-waiting.

  • Lee Moore

    I agree that unless she has a serious anger management problem about Obama, a committed liberal/progressive feminist female is most unlikely to be attracted by Governor Palin. But not all women who were contemplating voting for Hillary are ideological clones of Hillary. There are lots of non ideological voters (aka normal people) both women and men who would like to see a competent female succeed. Gov Palin now has the opportunity to show whether or not she is competent in running for national office. Her sex won’t be the only reason for voting for her, but for some, it will be a relevant consideration. This is no different from some people, black and white, wanting to see a competent black man succeed. If you don’t have a particularly strong policy preference for McCain or Obama, and I expect roughly a quarter of the US electorate is on that particular fence, then voting for the black man qua black man is perfectly reasonable, if you hope that a black President will help heal the racial divide in America. And likewise with the female thing.
    Slightly less intellectually justifiable, but I suspect just as electorally powerful amongst low investing male voters, is the fact that she is indeed a bit of a hottie. I bet she wouldn’t have been elected Alaska governor if she looked like Janet Reno.

  • She is attractive to the conservatives for …

    She is attractive for everyone, conservative or not, exept Obamamaniacs. The hatred poured on her by leftist blogs and NY Times columnists is outright insane. That alone makes it an exellent choice.

    Yes, people vote on looks, and on perceptions, and on crushes. All things going for her.
    She is a self made, independent, strong willed, honest, beatiful woman. What more could one hope for? An inspired choice, on all counts. There were no better candidates available, by far.

    As for experience, if she becomes President, she can always hire Cheney as VP, no problem.

  • Anne C.

    Taylor:

    100% agree. And she and Todd should be proud of him.

    But mentioning that you have a son serving in Iraq in every speech seems, at least to me, like you’re exploiting the situation for personal gain.

    John McCain has 2 sons serving in the military and it is evident he and Cindy are extremely proud of their sacrifice and service to country. But he never talks about them when he’s out campaigning. Their silence on this, to me, is worth more than a thousand words. It tells me (genuine or not), “the McCains have always served their country. We don’t brag about it. It just is.”

    I count a person’s (especially a politician’s) actions, much more than his/her words.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    At least some of Hillary’s fans were ‘her’ fans not because of her positions, or because she’s a Democrat, but simply because she was ‘the woman in the race’. Some of these people may now be attracted to Palin for the same reason. She won’t attract diehard Democrats or ardent feminists, but she may attract more-or-less apolitical people who just think it’s about time ‘a woman’ won a major national office.

  • Hi Anne

    So far I’ve only heard her make the one speech and that was where she introduced herself and her family to the nation.

    If she does bring up her son at every whistle stop and in every stump speech I’ll agree with you 100%. She has to be careful about this.

    McCain had generations of family tradition to fall back on. I’m not sure that Palin does, was her father a veteran?

  • Midwesterner

    Taylor,

    Do you have some useful links for your comment Posted by Taylor at August 31, 2008 02:24 PM re the state’s National Guard units operating missile defense systems?

    I found something that seems to support it on Wikipedia here (the logo on the right), but I would like something more articulate and reliable. I assume the National Guard units operating the systems are directly controlled by the Feds, but the governor is cinc of the NG, and I am guessing that if it is configured that way that missile defense is a disproportionate portion of the Alaska NG forces. A budget hawk governor is probably going to be aware of how that big of a Fed budget item meshes into the state budget.

    It is not terribly significant but interesting none the less.

  • rkb

    What can one say about a woman who would burden her poor children with the names Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig?

    Well among other things one could say that she is Alaskan, surrounded by Inuit and Eskimos for whom similar types of names are quite common.

    Silly silly basis for evaluating Governor Palin.

    With regard to the role of the Alaska National Guard in ballistic missile defense, you could start with milblogger Blackhawk’s post(Link):

    Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units.

    As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden’s.

    She’s also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security’s counterterrorism plans

    Alaska borders two foreign countries: Russia and Canada.
    WRT the former, you might remember that there were a series of Russian military jet challenges to the fringes of Alaskan airspace during the last 18 months or so.

  • rkb

    Duh – that is Blackfive, not Blackhawk.

  • Hi Anne

    You might want to look at the Middile Defense Agency’s web site. they have a primer on the issue.

    The command structure is pretty complex. The overall command is part of Air Force Space Command out of Peterson AFB in Colorado they report to Startegic Command in Omaha. They rely on sensors based in Space (DSP & SBIRS) and on Earth : radars on ships and based all over including a really big X Band radar based on an oil rig type platform normally based in Alaskan waters and a land based radar on one of the Aleutians.

    Those sensors are controlled by active duty units.

    The Alaska GBI missiles are based at Fort Greely and are owned by a special Alaska National Guard unit. There was considerable difficulty setting this up so I guess was a headache for most of last year.

    hope this helps a little

  • Anne C.

    Midwesterner:

    Regarding the question about the Alaska National Guard and Palin’s responsibilities as CiC, I found this at the National Review website

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NWQ2YzMyNGViMmIyY2I0MTliYjRjYmU4MmMxOWZjODA=

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZjJiYWJmMzZjZGM5ZTIyZmFiNDNlOTRkZjFlNmZlMjI=

  • Anne C.

    Hi Taylor,

    Since I had never heard of Sarah Palin until after she was introduced as McCain’s running mate, I looked her up on YouTube for past speeches and interviews. In almost all of the tv interviews that I’ve seen (Glen Beck, Charlie Rose, C-Span, CNBC, etc), she mentions that her eldest son is in the military.

    I have no problem with her mentioning it in her debut speech in Ohio; introducing her family to America is perfectly reasonable. I just hope she doesn’t mention it everytime.

    Same goes for Joe “I’m-from-Scranton-so-my-working-class-background-lets-me-feel-your-pain” Biden (not true btw) and Barack “I-turned-down-a-lucrative-law-career-to-become-a-community-organizer-so-I-should-be-commended” Obama. Like I said in my earlier post, I’m more interested in what they’ve accomplished while in office.

    Although I will say that from what I’ve so far learned of the Palin family, I’ve admired and respected. A woman who chose to elope because she wanted to save money to start a family, who chose to compete in beauty pageants to get money for college, and who hunts her own food tells me she’s responsible with money and doesn’t abide waste.

    I don’t know much about her dad except that he was a school teacher and has my kind of humor: he has a bumpersticker on his truck that reads, “VEGETARIAN: an old Indian word for ‘Bad Hunter’”

  • any “hockey mom” who can take on a political party’s corrupt, established and entrenched incumbent and win over his own party has to be acknowledged as “accomplished”

  • guy herbert

    She is attractive for everyone, conservative or not, exept Obamamaniacs.

    Not me. But as a non-American I clearly have both a different cultural expectation and different interests.

  • mark

    McCain is showing a mastery of tacital politics that I never expected. The pick of Palin for VP is brilliant. It has worked on so many levels: 1) it is “historic” … 2) it emphasizes Obama’s lack of experience … 3) it emphasizes the hypocracy of his message of “change and hope” … 4) it has demonstrated the total cluelessness of the talking-head punditocracy … 5) it has brought out the whole baying pack of misogynist, sexist creeps that lurk on the left. It is like he threw a bomb into the Democratic camp: they’re panic-stricken and they have no idea how to respond.

  • She is a self made, independent, strong willed, honest, beatiful woman.

    And I forgot the most important part.
    She’s genuine.
    Obama, Biden, Hillary, they are phonies.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Palin’s completely unappealing to me personally. I’m not very interested in what she looks like; I care about what she thinks. Her being a creationist, if she is, just makes her a harmless nutcase, though it’s less harmless if she wants to spend tax money on teaching creationism, which is a purely religious doctrine without a shred of scientific credibility. But her total opposition to abortion makes her a monster.

  • Fiesta del Lupe

    This isn’t Britain. The US is a FAR more religious country than the UK or the rest of Europe for that matter.

    Maybe if you guys got a little of that “ole time religion” your native births rates wouldn’t be so shockingly low and Europe wouldn’t be on the verge of demographic collapse.

    But hey, you cynical Nietzschean know-it-alls have it all figured out now, don’t you?

    So we have to believe in a load of old mumbo-jumbo superstitious nonsense in order to breed now?

  • 13times

    “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state’s required curriculum.

    She opposes same-sex marriage, but one of her first acts in office was to veto a bill blocking health benefits for gay lovers of public employees.

  • cb

    The railing against religion here is hilarious.

    How’s that liberalist substituting the state for god working out for you? Have the council examined your bins this week?

    When people take the action to stop believing in a god, they don’t necessarily believe nothing before they believe anything.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    But hey, you cynical Nietzschean know-it-alls have it all figured out now, don’t you?

    Nope. Nietzsche may been against religion but he was no fan of the Enlightenment or classical liberalism.

  • Paul Marks

    Guy you have honestly stated that you do not understand American politics, so I will try to help (although my only knowledge is hardly perfect – American politics is a very difficult subject).

    About 18 million people voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democrat nomination struggle – she got rather more votes than Barack Obama got (and when Gore got more votes, nationally, than Bush got the left said…..)

    Most of these people were not Democrat “activists” (the United States would be doomed to Hell if there were 18 million plus Democrat “activists” out there) – the activists tended to vote for Senator Obama (in the Caucus events) and they voted for him because he is anything but “middle of the road”. For example in the Texas Primary Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama – but in the Caucus events (held in the evening of the same day) he defeated her.

    Is it getting clearer now?

    And many people who did not vote in the Democrat primary events also rather favour Hillary – yes because she is a women.

    These are people who do not bother to read up on policy positions – not because they are stupid (although some of them are stupid), but because one vote is not going to make a difference – so why bother with intense policy research?

    So there are many women voters who do indeed want to vote for a women.

    Just as there are many black voters who want to vote for a black person.

    After all Senator Obama does not get 90+ of the black vote because most of these people say to themselves “I really like Barack’s interpretation of Karl Marx via Saul Alinsky and Bill Ayers, it is much better than the interpretation of …….”

    I doubt that one voter in a hundred even knows that Senator Obama is a Marxist – certainly the mainstream media have not informed of this.

    They vote for him because he is black (if they are black, or have “white guilt” if white), or because he speaks well – he really does read from the machine well (especially with a nice backdrop built by Britney Spears’ team) or because he is young and “good looking” (all that working out at the gym). And so on.

  • guy herbert

    13times,

    Thanks for that. Source?

    Jacob,

    All successful politicians in a modern media democracy are phonies. It is a basic job requirement.

  • The railing against religion here is hilarious. How’s that liberalist substituting the state for god working out for you?

    You seem deeply confused. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Samizdata but folks here tend to think we less either less state and in many regards, no state at all.

    When people take the action to stop believing in a god, they don’t necessarily believe nothing before they believe anything.

    Avoiding irrationality of all sorts is a good idea.

  • mike

    “Nietzsche may been against religion but he was no fan of the Enlightenment or classical liberalism.”

    Go and read the mad old goat again Jonathan – you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Johanthan Pearce

    mike, I know exactly what I am talking about. One of the things that that nutty old German hated was the focus of the Englightenment on reason. A defender of small government he most certainly wasn’t, either.

    Back on Sarah Palin, I see that Andrew Sullivan is now ranting about the far religious right. On the basis that Sully is usually wrong about everything these days, she’s an inspired choice.

  • Just Sayin

    guy herbert,

    I found the source of her comment. It’s from a debate in 2006.

    link

    Quote:

    In an interview Thursday, Palin said she meant only to say that discussion of alternative views should be allowed to arise in Alaska classrooms:

    “I don’t think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”

    “I won’t have religion as a litmus test, or anybody’s personal opinion on evolution or creationism,” Palin said.

    Palin has occasionally discussed her lifelong Christian faith during the governor’s race but said teaching creationism is nothing she has campaigned about or even given much thought to.

  • Just Sayin

    Well I left a comment but it was Smited.

    Here’s the short version:

    Source of the creationism comment.

  • All successful politicians in a modern media democracy are phonies.

    That’s an a-priori judgement.
    Try to form an impresion of the actual person Palin, and don’t judge by stereotypes. At least if you want to rant about irrational voters.

    She struck me as genuine.

    I try to think if my favorable impression is caused, in part at least, by her being a good looking woman.
    Maybe, on the subconscious level. In general I hate women politicians, they are usually not nice.

    I think that if Palin were male, I would have liked her/him just the same. It’s the personality and the general world outlook, the acheivements.

  • Anne C.

    Interestingly enough she consistently polls better with men than women. In the most recent Rasmussen poll, 38% would more likely vote for McCain versus 32% women.

    And Hillary always has done better with women than men (the norm for most female politicians).

    Why is that? Looks? Political/social issues? Backlash against McCain? Resentment?

    Is this a rational decision or an emotional one? I came across a website from an Alaskan woman who warns not to underestimate Palin, that she has an uncanny ability to charm her way into office.

    http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/8/30/44531/1806

    Reminds me of Obama…

  • Paul Marks

    The B.B.C. said Sarah Palin was a creationist – so it must be true.

    Seriously, two of the first philosophers to show that there was nothing in evolution to threaten either Christianity or objective morality (not the same thing) were Noah Porter (1811 – 1891) and James McCosh (1811 – 1894), pity they are not more read these days.

    By the way the demand for a source from someone who then says “all successful modern politicians are phonies….” (without giving any source at all) is amusing.

    I can name quite a few politicians who both win elections (and if they are State Governors actually achieve some things) whilst saying what them mean and doing what they say.

    In what way are they phonies?

    Certainly they are a minority of politicians – but the claim was that “all” successful politicians are phonies.

    “But what about you Paul”.

    That would be a good counter attack – as I have never achieved anything much.

    However, my failure does not mean that all politicians fail.

    The problem may be me – rather than the universe.

  • Paul Marks

    Complaints the Hillary Clinton supporters had.

    “Rigged caucus events” – true the New York gang tried rigging them to, but the Durbin and co Chicago gang were better at it than the Schumer and co New York gang (and the pro Hillary gang were undermined by a few traitors in their own ranks).

    I suppose this complaint really is “they were even worse than we were” which is true, but does not seem good enough.

    “Blatent bias of the national leadership” – this is true Speaker Pelosi was in the Obama camp (no sisterhood there) and more importantly the supposedly unbiased Chairman of the party (Howard Dean) helped rig everything Obama’s way.

    However, these and all the other complaints (and there were many) were all undercut by the simple cowardice of Hillary Clinton.

    And she was a coward – I remember seeing her in debates being asked “do you think Senator Obama can win the election – beat the Republicans”.

    The Hillary campaign were saying “no, no, no” – but in public on television Hillary Clinton said “of course, certainly, without doubt…..” (thus undermining the reason to vote for her).

    All Hillary needed to say was “I think I have a better chance” but she was too gutless.

    And then there was the whole collapse at the end.

    Hillary Clinton found that the powerful people (the activists, the media, the academics who “educate” them) were all pro Comrade Obama – and she calculated that they were too powerful to fight. So she made nice and rolled over in a pathetic imitation of a cat.

    Rednecks have their faults (lots of faults), but they do nto calculate odds and give up if they are not in their favour – Rednecks fight.

    Hillary Clinton is not a Redneck.

    John McCain is a Redneck (it is nothing to do with how much money you have got) – he will fight. This is why he has a chance (in spite of the vast power the left already have -. their power in the schools, their control of the univeristies, the media, the lawyers and so on).

    And I am pleased to see he has picked another Redneck as running mate (all the signs were there – lots of children, the guns, the high I.Q. but problems in formal education, or other signs of acting on instinct).

    The Republic may still be destroyed (and the rest of the West with it) – but at least there will be a fight.

  • Anne: she polls very well with me – but then I may not be a good example.

    that she has an uncanny ability to charm her way into office.

    And this is supposed to be a liability, like not having thick ankles?

    Good punchline, BTW :-)

  • Anne C.

    Alisa,

    I like Gov. Palin too. As I mentioned in an earlier post, given her track record as Governor, Commissioner and Mayor, she delivered on most of her promises.

    She believes in small government, states’ rights, low taxes, is pro-business and knows energy policy. Standing up to take down corrupt officials simply cements her growing legend as some sort of folk hero.

    I think most women (Hillary supporters) are hostile towards her because, irrespective of social policy and party, they think McCain chose a woman specifically to get their votes. Sadly, this has prevented them from giving Sarah a fair hearing.

    I heard Obama today explaining his idea for creating “voluntary” civil service corps and literally SHUDDERED. This will include: mandatory service for middle and high school students, voluntary service for college students, and college “Serve-Study” programs. His “Plan for Universal Voluntary Citizen Service.”

    Sounds Orwellian, doesn’t it? Four more years of even more wasteful spending. Will make the Bush years seem frugal by comparison. God help us all.

  • mike

    Jonathan: no you don’t. Read him again. Nietzsche celebrated the pursuit of truth which was emblematic of the Enlightenment as it meant the death of medieval Christianity.

    Nietzsche was not a defender of small government, but to say he was ‘against reason’ is a statement of absurd crudity. Read him again.

  • Anne: absolutely. As to Hillary’s base, what about that earlier comment above, with this link? Maybe they are split (that would make sense). If so, I wonder what the percentages are.

  • Laird

    I claim no great expertise on Nietzsche, but I do think that his comcept of “slave morality” (and Christianity as a “slave religion”) is his most important contribution to philosophy (and is about as far from “against reason” as one could get).

  • Hoth

    “But her total opposition to abortion makes her a monster.”
    Posted by William H. Stoddard

    So her opposition to the murder of babies makes her a monster? I sure am glad I don’t live in your twisted world William.

  • Ian B

    I have to admit, when this was announced I almost wished I was American so I could vote for her, which is a bit sad really, isn’t it? Especially considering I think McCain’s a complete maroon. At least it reminded me how easily led I am, anyway.

    But it seems to be a pretty clever move. It’s thrown the Obama supporter base into disarray. The attack dogs laying into a woman for having a disabled child. Glorious own goals all around.

    I had a big debate here about abortion a while back in which I argued the anti-abortionist case. I am rather conflicted on the issue, truth be told, and have moved from being very pro-abortion to just being grudgingly in favour of it being legal on pragmatic grounds. I certainly think there’s a libertarian case for protecting the life of the unborn as a human being; right to life is a core libertarian value after all. I think it’s rather unfair to describe opponents of abortion as being monstrous.

  • mike

    Perhaps it is somewhat tedious to draw this out (as well as being off-topic – as such I beg the forbearance of the editors), but now that I have 5 mins to spare…

    Nietzsche’s writings have always been interpreted by different political groups for their own ends – partly this is a reflection on his idiosyncratic style, but it also reflects the fact that his interests were primarily psychological and ethical rather than political per se. I do not recall ever reading a single line of political ideology in any of Nietzsche’s books.

    To say that he ‘hated reason’ or was ‘against reason’ is merely an empty slogan for a half-remembered half-thought.

    The origin of this is the charge that, in placing ontological emphasis on power and its’ pursuit even at the expense of life itself, Nietzsche necessarily abandons reason within the ethical realm and therefore sanctions all manner of evils in the pursuit of power.

    The charge itself is an oversimplification. Nietzsche does indeed glorify war for example, but sees reason as indispensible to the acquisition of power. The point of his ethics is that each person must strive to achieve power over themselves, rather than be a slave to the surrounding Christian morality of self-sacrifice.

    Chris Matthew Sciabbarra, in his 1995 biography of Ayn Rand, presents some evidence to indicate that – contrary to her own statements, Rand was indeed influenced by Nietzsche when she attended Petrograd University. All that stuff about heroic individuals I suppose….

    As I read Nietzsche at the same time I read Popper, I grew up with a rather different perspective to Jonathan on the significance of Nietzsche.

  • guy herbert

    Just Sayin,

    Thanks. That doesn’t sound at all unreasonable as a position.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well Mike, that was a far more reasonable take on Nietsche, which perhaps you could have written in the first instance! Yes, he had an influence on Rand, but she later recoiled from what she saw as his less rational aspects. Sciabarra’s book is certainly very interesting about all this.

  • William H. Stoddard

    The phrase “the murder of babies” is of course emotionally inflammatory language, as much so as calling Palin a “monster” is. But it also makes an assertion with some cognitive content, rather than being simply an emotional expression of a negative value judgment. “Murder,” after all, has a legal definition: The intentional killing of a human being, by a human being, without justification. At least two of those elements are strongly debated: whether a fetus is a human being, and if it is, whether killing it is justifiable.

    I don’t consider “human being” in its legal usage to be purely a matter of biological fact. Different definitions are possible, and they will have different consequences. (Compare the different definitions of “death” as occurring when the heart stops beating or when the brain suffers irreversible loss of consciousness.) Pretty much any definition is going to lead to problems in some cases.

    If we define a fetus as a human being starting from the instant of implantation—and supposing we don’t grant that killing it might be justified (except, perhaps if the alternative is for both the fetus and the pregnant woman to die, as in ectopic pregnancy)—what are the consequences? Abortion becomes murder, and in fact, typically repeated murder for hire; doctors will face the death penalty, or life imprisonment. And because the person who hires a hit man is also guilty of murder, women who seek abortions will face the same penalties. There can be no exception for rape or incest; the fetus may have originated in a violation of the woman’s rights, but it did not commit that violation (it didn’t even exist when she was raped) and, as an innocent party, can’t justifiably be killed—so, as Palin reported said during her gubernatorial campaign, if her 14-year-old daughter got raped she would just have to have the baby. A woman who knows, through genetic testing, that she is pregnant with a profoundly defective child that will never function normally, and that may die quickly, still must endure the pregnancy and spend her life caring for it. No form of contraception is infallible—not barrier methods, not the pill, not even sterilization—and so women will not be able to choose sexual activity without taking their chances, without abortion as a backup; the ethic of informed consent for sexual acts will be undermined, and the religiously imposed ethic of chastity will be strengthened, even for those who, like me, have no religious beliefs and no concern for religious values. I think all of those are bad consequences; I think many of them are so extremely bad that I don’t hesitate to call the “right to life” movement monstrous.

  • llamas

    Billy Beck wrote:

    ‘Or are there really large numbers of Americans who will vote for McCain solely because Palin is female and for no other reason of policy, personality or competence dividing the candidates and their platforms?”

    Yes. There are. And they are no different from other votists who do what they do on premises at least as irrational.

    “That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?”

    Yes. It would.

    It’s all as f*cked-up as a football-bat, but otherwise sane and rational people just keep doing it time after time. I don’t know what in the world it’s going to take for them to figure it out.’

    and he hits the nail on the head.

    Sunfish makes good points also. Well, duh . . .

    Look, everyone’s looking for the one reason that McCain chose Palin. Is it so hard to figure that he chose her for a whole slew of reasons, including, but not limited to:

    - attracting those voters who would favour any woman candidate regardless
    - solidifying significant parts of the Republican core, including gun owners, the pro-life wing, porkbusters and a half-a-hundred others
    - conflicting a large-enough number of Democratic voters sufficiently that they end up not voting for Obama – the ever-predictable hard-left Democratic smear machine has already done sterling, overtime duty in achieving this goal for McCain.
    - and maybe even attracting a few formerly-Democratic voters into voting for him

    and many more besides.

    As Billy Beck notes, many people vote based on the silliest of motivations, and a surprising number more vote primarily based on one or two issues of substance. When there’s a little to choose from between the candidates, this is only what you would expect. Part of the skill of the successful candidate is attracting as many of these people as possible. That’s democracy at work – horrible, isn’t it?

    To this point, McCain is doing a far-better job at this than Obama – McCain is effectively extending his appeal, while Obama is assiduously limiting his. His complete tone-deafness to the HRC bloc at the DNC, and HRC’s lacklustre ‘support’ for Obama, was a wonder to behold – a man so wrapped-up in his own ‘chosen-ness’ that he deliberately chooses to alienate potential supporters.

    I was a hold-my-nose-and-vote-for-McCain voter – I still am, but his choice of Palin helps. Not because of her, per se – the VP goes to “weddings and funerals”, as Truman observed, and presides over the Senate, but what he/she thinks actually means very little – but because it shows McCain broadening his reach and his appeal. She will also act as a sounding board for McCain as the campaign really steps into high gear – not vbecasue of what she says herself, but because of how voters react to her. If the legendary Republican polling machine is in high gear again this year, Palin’s speeches and appearances will provide lots of course-correcting input.

    Just my 2¢-worth.

    llater,

    llamas

  • RAB

    Masterful llamas.

    The more dirt they try to dig up
    on Mrs Palin,
    The more the left look spiteful and pathetic.

    Besides, the latest,

    She was a member of the Alaska Independence Party,
    had me cheering even more.

  • The Vice President Doesn’t Matter Much


    John Nance Garner IV
    nicknamed “Cactus Jack” was the 44th Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1931-33) and the 32nd Vice President of the United States (1933-41). He served as Representative from Texas between 1902 and 1933. He was an experienced and successful politician.

    He is famous for his evaluation of the Vice Presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.”

    (Continued at

    EasyOpinions: 1 President + 1 Vice President = 1 President
    )

  • [Posted again with working links]

    The Vice President Doesn’t Matter Much


    John Nance Garner IV
    nicknamed “Cactus Jack” was the 44th Speaker of the US House of Representatives (1931-33) and the 32nd Vice President of the United States (1933-41). He served as Representative from Texas between 1902 and 1933. He was an experienced and successful politician.

    He is famous for his evaluation of the Vice Presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.”

    (Continued at

    EasyOpinions: 1 President + 1 Vice President = 1 President
    )

  • Gabriel

    No form of contraception is infallible—not barrier methods, not the pill, not even sterilization—and so women will not be able to choose sexual activity without taking their chances, without abortion as a backup

    You got that straight.

    On rare occasions one of your movement lets the cat out of the bag. This is one of them.

    You advocate a life-style that requires a million murders a year for it to remain sustainable. Because you can’t bear the consequences of ending your lifestyle (like zipping up every once in a while) you dehumanise a whole class of human beings, whilst ridiculing and abominating those who refuse to similarly let convenience trump morality.

    Don’t worry, when the game is up you can always cobble together a Confederacy.

  • Ian B

    A woman who knows, through genetic testing, that she is pregnant with a profoundly defective child that will never function normally, and that may die quickly, still must endure the pregnancy and spend her life caring for it.

    This is actually not an abortion issue, but an issue of whether mercy killing is morally acceptable. Personally, I think it is, and that applies at any stage of life. A person suffering appallingly from a terminal illness is another case. I can say personally that when my mother was dying in the most awful way from cancer, I would have euthanised her without qualms (which was what, by the end, she was begging for). A severely defective foetus without hope of any quality of life, or which will not for instance be able to experience life in any meaningful way, is another case where I think a mercy killing would be morally valid. But that’s not an abortion issue, since one is applying the criteria regardless of the stage of life the person is at.

    On the more general issue, sex carries a risk of procreation. But that is just one of many risks we knowingly undertake, often for purely recreational reasons. Going white water rafting may lead to my own death or injury, or those of my family. The possibility of that extremely undesired outcome isn’t a denial of my rights to go white water rafting, it’s just something one has to take into account when making the decision.

    On the issue of the foetus’s humanity, there simply isn’t any practical or scientific definition which can deny that status to a foetus as far as I can see. Any such definition is artificial- “a being inside another human being isn’t a human being”. Why not? A couple who have suffered a miscarriage will mourn the death of a child, because it is quite natural to think of the foetus as one.

    Ultimately, saying that people should be responsible for the consequences of their actions is not monstrous. However much you may not want to make a baby, the biological function of sex is to make babies, and there’s no way around that. Men ejaculate sperm into women because that sperm is carrying DNA to combine with the woman’s DNA in a new human being; which may or may not occur from any one instance but is inherent to the game. People may take whatever actions they wish to obstruct that occurring, but can hardly complain when it happens. It’s not as if the information on how babies are made isn’t out there in the public domain.

  • William H. Stoddard

    You advocate a life-style that requires a million murders a year for it to remain sustainable. Because you can’t bear the consequences of ending your lifestyle (like zipping up every once in a while) you dehumanise a whole class of human beings, whilst ridiculing and abominating those who refuse to similarly let convenience trump morality.

    No, at worst, I advocate a lifestyle that calls for a million abortions a year. Abortion is not murder, and hardly anyone thinks it’s murder except religious people who subscribe to the ethic of chastity. So to me it looks like a legal fiction that’s been invented to justify forcing religion and religiously based ethics on the rest of us.

    And you misstate the situation when you refer to convenience trumping morality. I’m a rigorous moralist, and my libertarianism grows out of my ethical beliefs. But my morality is different from yours; it’s the morality of informed consent and freedom of choice. And I reject and condemn your morality not because it’s inconvenient, but because it’s evil.

    And, incidentally, there is a 100% certain way to be sexually active without risking pregnancy: engaging exclusive in acts other than vaginal copulation, such as oral intercourse, anal intercourse, and manual stimulation. The Romans knew all about them. But when Christianity took over, it declared them to be sins, and eventually punished them as crimes (sodomy carried the death penalty well into the 18th century), and did its best to wipe out all knowledge of them. So I consider appeals to the sanctity of fetal life to be specious hypocrisy, since they come from a belief system that historically did its best to wipe out a whole variety of sexual practices that made abortion unnecessary.

    And, finally, according to Richard Posner, countries such as Sweden have a much higher rate of adolescent sexual activity than the United States, but a much lower rate of adolescent pregnancy, which significantly reduces the demand for abortion. If American Christians didn’t do their best to keep teenagers ignorant there might not be so many pregnant girls seeking abortions.

  • Ian B

    While I await my smitten comment to arrive…

    William, you make a statement without support, simply as a declaration. “Abortion is not murder”. But that’s not much use to the discussion, since the discussion is about whether abortion is murder. Whatever opinion a person holds, it’s surely clear that in a moral system abortion at least has a potential to be considered murder, since it seems inescapably to be the taking of a life.

    The rest of your comment is mainly about religion. Now I’m an atheist, and rather zealously so, truth be told, but I think your argument is disingenous. We’re discussing a moral issue, and what thus counts is moral argument. Saying a particular such argument can be discounted because it has a particular source doesn’t get us very far.

    Your argument is rather stridently against christianity. Gabriel is as I understand it Jewish anyway. But let’s take other moral issues. I know many christians and jews who would say that the moral prohibitions against murder, or theft, derive from the Ten Commandments, or the Bible in general. To therefore declare those moral prohibitions as irrelevant to you as an atheist misses the point. You can’t say “I am free to murder because I don’t follow your silly belief in God”. There is still a moral discussion to be had about murder, or theft. Winning an atheism vs. religion argument doesn’t help us at all.

    What this comes down to is whether foetuses are human beings. Libertarians in general believe that humans have a right to life. You thus have to demonstrate logical grounds on which that right begins to apply at some certain stage of development. Whether pro- or anti-abortion sentiment tends to predominate within certain religious or other ethical systems is neither here nor there.

    At what moment does the foetus get its rights as a human being?

    Oh, and as I remember reading that the pagan Romans rather disapproved of oral sex, since the mouth was considered an organ of oration (they were rather keen on the importance to a man’s spirit of being a good orator) and thus to wrap it around genitalia was considered rather low and distasteful, as I understand it. And adultery was a very serious crime. Those orgies of theirs were more about food and drink than sex, it seems.

  • Laird

    I think WHS’s statments here (aside from being completely OT) fall into the category of “the best defense is a good offense”. Asserting that people who oppose the destruction of human zygotes are “monsters” and their morality is “evil” is a breathtaking leap, and the attempt to conflate opposition to abortion with suppression of certain sexual practices is sophistry of a very high level.

    Personally, I support choice and the availability of early-term abortions. I don’t pretend to know when “life” begins, but I don’t accept the premise that terminating a non-viable fetus is “murder.” Still, I respect the opinions of those who do. They are not “monsters.” However, those who advocate late-term abortions are.

  • Ian B

    Laird, in my still smitten comment I raised a view that termination of non-viable foetuses, or those with no prospect of a meaningful life (e.g. those unfortunate cases of a baby born with no brain), or even of a baby doomed to a short life of suffering, are not really an abortion issue. They’re an issue of whether mercy killing is morally acceptable. They’re more part of the euthanasia debate than of the abortion debate. Personally I would favour terminating such pregnancies on compassionate grounds, and would indeed argue that bringing such a baby into the world only for it to suffer and die is itself a rather immoral, or at least selfish, act.

  • Gabriel

    Behind, the high-minded talk of the “ethics of informed consent”, we all know exactly what lifestyle it is that WHS is so keen to defend. I was at university recently enough to have had more of it shoved in my face than I care to talk about, so I certainly won’t be fooled. Whatever can be said for it, Personal Responsibility isn’t what springs most quickly to mind.

    Conservatives make no secret of abominating the contemporary comsumerist attitude to sex, the most obviously repulsive component of which is that it is utterly dependent on guilt-free abortion on demand for its continuance. Nor should they, and one need only look above for why. It is rare to that one finds someone explicitly willing to defend abortion as the only completely reliable form of birth control, so one must sincerely thank WHS for being honest. His repugnant and damnable comments are what most pro-choice adovcates cannot admit, even to themselves. When I say that there are issues that don’t map to Left-Right that are of the utmost importance and where most Libertarians are notably and vocally on the side of wickedness, this is what I mean.

    Ian B, in his own special way, nails it

    They’re more part of the euthanasia debate than of the abortion debate.

    .

    This is humanity vs. the brave new world.

    And, incidentally, there is a 100% certain way to be sexually active without risking pregnancy: engaging exclusive in acts other than vaginal copulation, such as oral intercourse, anal intercourse, and manual stimulation.

    The first two, especially the second, are acts of sexual humiliation. The last has never been extirpated, but is simply what anyone with an ounce of dignity outgrows by the time they hit 20.

    But what do I care. Do whatever the hell you want with your genitalia, just take responsibility for the decisions you choose. If biology makes the lifestyle you want impossible, that’s your damn loss. But don’t try to make up for the shortfall (and despite the proliferation of contraception, 1,000,000 a year in the U.S. alone is quite a shortfall) through bloody violence.

  • Gabriel

    I over hastily read Ian B’s comment and thought that he was referring to unwanted children. I retract anything I said critical of him, unreservedly.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Oral and anal intercourse are acts of sexual humiliation? That seems to be very much a question of taste. I personally do not find it humiliating, but rewarding, to provide oral gratification to a woman. I’m not sexually attracted to men, but that’s a question of personal taste, not of its being humiliating.

    But whatever my personal tastes, or Gabriel’s, founding universal moral judgments on them is a dubious enterprise. I find the taste and smell of coffee nasty, but I don’t propose to declare that coffee drinkers are flawed human beings. Still less do I propose to have the state prohibit the use of coffee by those who like it. Making this sort of judgment about differences of sexual taste is to my mind one of the more dubious legacies of Christianity.

    As to informed consent, abusus non tollit usum. The ethical principle of informed consent is essential to, for example, medical ethics, and more broadly to the legal concept of a valid contract. The fact that it has been distorted by politically motivated idiots is not an argument against it, any more than the abusive behavior of many businesses in present-day mixed economies is an argument against free markets.

  • William H. Stoddard

    William, you make a statement without support, simply as a declaration. “Abortion is not murder”. But that’s not much use to the discussion, since the discussion is about whether abortion is murder.

    No, it’s not. I’m responding to someone who flatly asserted that abortion IS murder, without offering any reasoned grounds for that belief. I can as legitimately assert my belief to the contrary without offering any reasoned grounds for it. There is no point in arguing with someone who does not give reasons for a position.

    Though in fact I have already suggested how I would propose to conduct such a discussion: I don’t consider “human being” in its legal usage to be purely a matter of biological fact. Different definitions are possible, and they will have different consequences. . . . If we define a fetus as a human being starting from the instant of implantation . . . what are the consequences? And I have suggested some of the consequences that I find unacceptable. I think I will point you back to that comment, and not spend further bandwidth here on debating the issue.

    The point that’s actually on topic is that Palin’s views on abortion make her unacceptable to me. And I think I’ve made that sufficiently clear so there’s no further point in discussing it.

  • Geez…I can’t think of a single woman I know who was going to vote for Hillary, who will now vote for McCain because there is a woman on the ticket. Maybe I live a sheltered life and maybe I am just lucky BUT I don’t know women who are that simple-minded and ovary-oriented.
    We hate Hillary not because she is an evil woman, but because she is an evil statist. We like Palin not because she is a Republican, but because she might shoot some more polar bears….and maybe Hillary will be wearing a white coat that day.

  • Ian B

    Thank you, Gabriel :)

  • mike

    Jonathan: it was you whose statement was wrong in the first place, not mine. You ought not to make silly statements.

  • Sean O'Callaghan

    Palin was chosen because Americans just do not vote for socialists. With McCain, the Republicans were running a risk that their candidate would not be sufficiently differentiated from the eloquent Marxist the Dems decided to go with this time (thank God they’re irredemable idiots). She is, quite simply, the American dream personified. The country has found it’s Mrs Smith and I’m pretty sure she’ll be sent to Washington in a landslide. The Dems know it too – so don’t be suprised if Biden breaks the news that a medical condition prevents his candidacy – and Hillary is tapped to come to the rescue. Not that she’ll prevent the loss – she’ll just make it less embarassing. Race and Sex will have very little to do with it – it’s Talk vs Walk and the Donks are self inflicted cripples (sorry, “thats differently abled” for those enamoured of baby talk).

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B.

    John McCain did not come over as a moron at Rick Warren’s Civil Forum at Saddleback.

    I was surprised – Rick Warren is a “moderate” (i.e. someone who tries to make friends with everyone – including those who would skin him alive if they could) and was thought likely to give Senator Obama an easy time.

    In a way he did – as the questions were straight forward and put politely (I suppose there are some advantages to not being nasty like me).

    However, Barack Obama fell apart – and John McCain did not (to put it mildy).

    I was almost optomistic for a time – till it was pointed out to be that only Fox News had actually fully covered Saddleback.

    The other stations had just taken a line here and there (out of two hours) to make Obama look good, and McCain look bad.

    There are plenty of leftists on Fox News – but the network does let non leftists have their say (at full length – for example it has a habit of covering speeches and town hall meetings). The left will solve the Fox News problem should they win the election.

    As for Nietzsche:

    Start with his “A glance at the State” and make up your own mind.

    I think that he did not reject the anti statism (or rather minimal statism) of Schopenhauer, but “I could be wrong”.

    As for Nietsche generally:

    I think the sad thing was that he almost accepted Athena (in the philosophical sense – not that he thought that such a being really existed), but then fell to Dionysious – thinking this position the only alternative to the dreams of Apollo.

  • Paul Marks

    Dionysus – of course.

    My apologies.

  • Antoine Clarke

    Some thoughts on abortion and some on atheism. I agree with Mark Steyn broadly on this subject: it doesn’t matter which you think is right, tomorrow belongs to breeders (it’s a Darwinian thing!). If people who believe in science don’t breed or convert, they might as well be Shakers.

    If I understand W.H. Stoddard correctly, it isn’t murder if HE doesn’t think the victim is human. Well bully for him!

    Would this mean that if a person believed that the rest of us were Untermenschen, that it wouldn’t be murder for that person to kill some of us? I call it a charter for sociopaths.

    I might respect W.H.S.’s views on this topic a lot more if I thought he understood the following: it would be wrong for a person, who considers an unborn child to be human, to be in favour of killing it for no particular reason.

    Can he credit people who oppose abortion with genuinely believing that it is murder? If not why not? I disagree with people who favour abortion, but I can at least believe that some of them really don’t understand that a part-birth abortion, to take an example that suits my argument, is infanticide.

    And does W.H.S. have a problem with, for example, doctors being allowed to refuse to recommend abortions without being banned from practising medicine? I don’t mind them being boycotted or even “blacklisted.”

    I’m often amused at the amount that so-called rationalists actually take on faith and how hard it is for them to come to terms with alternative views.

    To honest atheists such as Jonathan Pierce, a warning. People who have no hope for the afterlife MAY HAVE a weakness for short-term thinking (which usually means living at someone else’s expense) and the worship of substitutes for religion, including Socialism and social engineering. Does the Taliban give a s*** about passive smoking? Probably not. Not saying atheists are necessarily bad people or religious people can always be trusted, but would you prefer a Quaker or Liberal Democrat for a neighbor?

    Ayn Rand’s attacks on mysticism ring true to me, and may fit any experience she had of Russian Orthodox Judaism and Russian Orthodox Christianity, I don’t know. But to lump together St Thomas Acquinas and Karol Wojtyla with Charles Manson’s The Family cult is ridiculous.

    A Christian who accepts, subject to verification, the scientific account from Big Bang onwards, but believes God threw the switch does not strike me as sillier than the person who thinks that without religion there wouldn’t have been a Spanish Inquisition. Ha! ever heard of the Committee for Public Safety in 1793? I guess most atheists haven’t.

  • Gabriel

    Found this around and thought I might as well post because I’m nice like that

    Abortion, in the final analysis, works to the advantage of the exploitative male, not for the female. It provides an end to any and all financial, legal or social obligation which comes with childbirth by eliminating the possibility of birth. Abortion provides the ultimate rationale when pressing for sexual favors. It makes the female a perpetual and re-usable sex object. When an unwanted pregnancy occurs, the female is potentially left without any social support…

    The male can remove himself from the situation, physically or mentally because abortion is ‘her’ right. The female is left with the sole and final legal responsibility for killing their offspring. It is her body
    and mind which bear the scars of this destructive operation and experience… Abortion is a male sexual fantasy come true.

    Of course in WHS’ much mourned pre-Christian Europe, technological restrictions necessitated that the equivalent role be played by post-natal infanticide (something that Obama supports up to a point).

    Back to the topic:
    When Palin ran for Governor, the LP candidate dropped out to let her have a free pass. She won by less than the amount he would probably have polled. This is the closest thing to a Libertarian on the ticket since at least Reagan, possibly Goldwater and the best Samizdata can do after well nigh a week is this piss-poor post.

    One would almost think that being a bunch of self-righteous, elitist, atheist gourmands was more important to the Samizdatans (Paul Marks excepted) than actually fighting for some crumbs of freedom in the world. Keep looking down on the Home-Schoolers and Rednecks. After all, you can afford to, given how swimmingly the battle against the State is going in post-Christian Britain.

  • Paul Marks

    Gabriel – one would “almost” think.

    Your use of the word “almost” makes your position hard to oppose.

    Of course there are people here who dream of the Libertarian Party sweeping to power in November and who hold that there is no real difference between McCain and Obama (holding them to be twins). Such people tend to be harmless and actually rather nice – certainly nicer than me (although that is not difficult).

    However, I think you would find that most people who write for Samizdata are not waiting for the tooth fairy to leave them money under the pillow. Most people around here want McCain/Palin to win.

    This includes the athiests.