It is often said that every argument on the internet eventually boils down to a Hitler/Nazi analogy if allowed to run its course. Certainly we all have witnessed Godwin's Law in action or perhaps even fulfilled its predictions ourselves. It's time to add a corollary – perhaps named something catchy like "Gin and Tacos Law" – for discussions about presidential elections. As discussions and arguments continue, the odds of Supreme Court appointments being used to rationalize supporting an obviously uninspiring candidate approach 1.

Every discussion about the tepid vat of weaksauce that has been Obama's first term (compared to his 2008 campaign rhetoric and, unfairly, to expectations projected onto him) effectively ends with something about Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia followed by warnings about who President Romney-Santorum-Gingrich would appoint. Republicans are now engaging in the same logic to talk themselves into supporting a nominee about whom they are clearly ambivalent at the very best. We can't let that Kenyan usurper appoint another one of his Marxist academic buddies, so I guess it's time to suck it up and vote for the automaton.

The problem with this argument is not that it is wrong. It's quite obviously valid; the Supreme Court is important and the president has few restraints on who he can appoint. The problem is that resorting to the "We have to vote for Obama because Romney will appoint lunatics to the Court" argument is a glaring indication that your candidate is in trouble. It's the kind of argument of last resort that arises only when all of the arguments that would imply actual enthusiasm about the candidates have been exhaustive and, in most cases, contradicted.

I'm a big believer in the idea that presidential elections are decided by turnout. In any given election the number of persuadable ("undecided") voters is comparatively small. The outcome is more likely determined by the turnout differential between the most likely supporters of each party. In 2008, for example, Barack Obama blew McCain away because a lot of people got really, really excited about his candidacy and drove turnout to its highest level since the Sixties. Conversely, McCain was unpalatable from the beginning to some conservatives and by late October 2008 his campaign was such a debacle that even the most optimistic Republican knew what was coming.

What happens when nobody's enthusiastic on either side? Well, you get elections like 1996 or 2000, and they're usually extremely close. Turning out the base takes on additional importance in close elections, so The Faithful are rallied with every rhetorical tool at the campaign professionals' disposal. And nothing says desperation and lack of interest quite as clearly as "Well Ginsburg's probably gonna die soon, so get excited about Mitt!"

It's obviously incorrect to say that Obama has no accomplishments on which to run, but it is not a good sign that the liberal base is being fired up with hypotheticals – warnings about Mitt Romney's potential Court appointments and Obama's recent endorsement of a position on an issue that, if re-elected, he will never actually vote on. For better or worse, 2008 saw quite a bit of the kind of I Love This Guy, He's Gonna Change the Country enthusiasm that Obama's campaign is going to have to do without this time around. Clearly Romney will be going without it as well since everything about him just screams "default candidate".

So by all means, keep bringing up the Supreme Court. It's a valid point for either candidate. Be aware, though, that in doing so you're tacitly admitting that you've punted on generating actual enthusiasm for the candidate – unless, of course, you envision an electorate full of people who say things like, "Fuck yeah! We better get out and vote for Obama in case there might be a Supreme Court vacancy!" I'm a tad skeptical about how many such voters exist.

57 thoughts on “SUPREME MOTIVATION”

  • Nom de Plume says:

    I'm a tad skeptical about how many such voters exist.

    Well, you could probably add up the readership of Daily Kos and RedState and come pretty close to the total.

  • Middle Seaman says:

    Obama caused the country damage. Economically, we stopped the bleeding but we are on life support and he is the main reason for that. As inept and unintelligent as Obama is as president, he and his team know how to run campaigns. Probably the only Obama positive.

    The gay marriage bomb was designed to bury Romney at the time he intended to introduce himself. Obama probably has enough "generals" for get-out-the-vote campaign. He doesn't have the enthusiasm of the foot soldiers, i.e. the unions. I still bet that he will squash Romney the robot. He doesn't need the supreme court as a major argument.

  • I'm a little surprised we haven't heard more from the "Just wait 'til his 2nd term…" crowd. Maybe they're biding their time until the race heats up a bit.

  • I'd say in a battle of two milquetoast candidates, the incumbent has the clear advantage. Add to that the fact that Romney is as appealing as burnt toast covered in toe jam, and it's Obama's election to lose. He still could do that, but his charisma alone should fire up more of the left than Romney with the right. Also, one must never forget the make-up of the Supreme Court. I'll admit it's a punt, but punts can be strategic.

  • I'm skeptical of claims that Obama has hurt the country–unless we're talking about the injury of neglect or wasted opportunity. I am unsure how, in a culture that defers entirely to popular (i.e. loudly uninformed) opinion, and which is supported wholly by the money of self-interested corporatism (thank you, Citizens United), any elected official is supposed to accomplish anything contrary to the whims of the mob and the desires of the moneyed. Particularly when, in the case of the chief executive, he is hamstrung by a legislative body made up of the kind of people produced by either mob or money.

    The past few years have seen the unacknowledged but increasingly undeniable demise of both major political parties. (Insert long digression about the cancer of accommodation as an ideal, and the resentment of competence by the electorate.) Small wonder that the candidates who emerge from these parties are shells–figureheads of a moribund class that pretends to rule but has long since lapsed into irrelevance. So why are we shocked when A. neither candidate inspires us, when all he can offer is rhetoric untethered by any real potential, and B. once elected, he does nothing to slow the decay brought on by time and the indolence of the many combined with the corrupt aggression of the rapacious few?

    Does the Supreme Court matter? Sure. Just as the President's ability to wage undeclared war matters. But perhaps we fall back on these two powers of the office because the office is receding into irrelevance apart from those two powers. From where else are we to derive our enthusiasm? If the Presidency is reduced to the position of Dogcatcher in Chief, how are we to be motivated by anything other than his ability to catch dogs?

  • You've got a weird little blind spot about this. You've had posts saying "tha' fuck?" to the Supreme Court argument before, and you were questioning the very idea that it should matter as the basis for casting a vote.

    Now you're saying it's a valid point to make but not one that demonstrates confidence in your candidate. Which, ok. But these elections matter and get the blood all het up and everyone's going to throw everything in the vicinity of their ass up against the wall to hope it sticks. Noticing that a few of those arguments are kinda lame because they aren't about how great your candidate is but how bad the other guy is doesn't really prove anything in that context.

  • Actually, when I've used it in the past couple of years, it's more of an entreaty from a realist to a Firebagger to get over their dreams of receiving glitter-ponies and bouquets of roses from the President ("he's not your boyfriend. seriously, you guys.") and lend support to the clearly better candidate.

    Has Obama's first term been a failure? Hell no. Has it been perfect? Again, hell no. Somewhere in between. But Christ, there are activists out there who simultaneously believe themselves to be intellectually above the fray and yet seem to have taken the ideas of "hope" and "change" to places Obama never even intended. With some of those people it has seemed that the SCOTUS argument might simply be the only one that could penetrate their thick heads.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    When Obama had a short-lived Senate majority (including DINO RED Dog Democrats), and a House majority (ditto), he was able to get some badly needed things passed – equal pay for women in the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and ending DADT – among other things.
    This despite Republican's intransigence, and determination to make his presidency a failure – even before he was sworn in.

    His last two years, he's been swimming against the current Teabagging Congress's tide, specifically, the House – a collection of reactionary mook's and degenerate imbeciles, the likes of which has not been seen since before the Civil War.

    What did anyone expect him to do? He's a President, not a Dictator.

    Want to see a more liberal Obama?
    Elect more Liberals into both chambers of Congress.

    And who's the last openly Liberal person to have a legitimate run for President?

    Paul Wellstone never ran – he was killed in a plane crash before he could. And it's doubtful he'd have had a real chance.

    LBJ, who, after Kennedy's death, got both Civil Rights Act's passed, as well as Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid, didn't even run for reelection in '68 because of Vietnam.
    And that was tragic.
    And the whole reaction to Vietnam, and then women's rights, and before that, Civil Rights for African Americans, and Welfare and health programs for seniors and the poor, are the internal wars that this country has been fighting for 50 years – with no end in sight!

    Liberals became defined as supporters of the n*ggers and DFH's.

    And even Humphry, a pretty solid Liberal on most issues, ran towards the center because of the countries internal turmoil over these issues, and lost narrowly to Nixon. Now THAT was really tragic.

    After LBJ, who?
    George McGovern, then Walter Mondale?
    And how did that turn out?
    And before all of them, there was that noted orator and intellectual, Adlai Stevenson – and he lost twice to Ike.

    Since Mondale's epic loss, the Democrats with the only chance to win the candidacy, have been center, to center-right. (And please don't tell me Howard Dean is a Liberal – he just seemed like one compared to everyone else running in '04).

    And that's what Obama is, was, and will be – until we can give him a more Liberal Congress that will work WITH him, and not AGAINST him.
    Again, you want to see a more liberal Obama?
    Give him a more liberal Congress to work with.

    Obama is a far better choice than Mitt.
    And he may be the gateway to more liberal Democrats in the future, if Democrats can ever learn to NOT be afraid of what they once stood for – equal rights, equal access, and civil and economic justice for everyone.
    Saying anything like that for the last 50 years, means that you're painted as a supporter of the n*ggers and DFH's, and add other brown people to the mix.
    And the "silent majority," and "moral majority" folks don't like that.

    The 1960's have never ended.
    We're still fighting the same things we were then.
    Only now in the Middle East, and not SE Asia – though maybe with an end somewhere in sight – MAYBE…
    And we're still fighting for civil and women's rights, because of a reactionary House, and reactionary State legislatures, trying to limit the rights of "THOSE people" to vote, and severely limit the rights of women to have a "Choice."
    And "gay" is the new "black."

    We've made some progress in the last 50 years. Just not as much as we could and should have.
    "Baby Doc" Bush's epically dysfunctional and tragically evil and stupid administration set this country back decades.
    Mitt will continue the work that Nixon began, that 'The Reagan Devolution" codified, and which gave us "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Bush.
    Carter, Clinton, and now Obama, have had their work cut out for them in trying to keep this country from descending backwards into madness.

    The Conservatives on the SC, already gave us "Baby Doc" Bush v. Gore, and recently, the foul "Citizens" decision. And they will do everything they can to prevent 'citizens' from taking advantage of the nascent national health care policy that is ACA.

    SC Judges DO make a difference.
    How much better off would this country be, and have been, if the SC had a 5 v. 4 more liberals slant for the last 30+ years?
    How much better off can, and will, it be with a 5 v. 4 more liberal slant for the next 5-30 years?

    Sitting on our asses, or voting for some "Green" or other 3rd Party candidate, and we'll never know.

    End of epically long-assed word-turd rant.

  • Major Kong says:

    By all means, if you want a cabinet filled with people like John Bolton, vote for Romney.

    Personally I'd rather keep the neo-conservatives as far from the levers of power as humanly possible.

  • Why vote for Oromney?
    Two words: President Mittama.
    Wait… which guy are we supposed to vote for? The guy who wages the war on women or the guy who is turning the U.S. into a surveillance state?

  • ladiesbane says:

    Am I trying to scare potential no-shows into voting? Hell yes. They're all people who voted for Obama last time, and I need Romney not to win.

    My leftie friends think Obama's a shoo-in, so why sully their dainty paws voting for the guy who kept Gitmo open and still orders drone strikes? Some actively hate him for signing off on indefinite detention, among other things, and would vote for Judas Iscariot first.

    (Some of the little darlings voted for Nader, too, and refuse to vote for anyone they don't actually adore. Then we have the miserable rehash of "A vote for Nader was a vote for Bush," versus, "I wanted my candidate to win, and voting for someone else would have been fraudulent as well as supporting the vile two-party system." Outcomes versus principles is a depressing conversation at best.)

    But they don't properly fear the alternative: a conscienceless jerk whose moral compass always points due $$$, recently revealed to have been cruel to vulnerable humans as well as his dog, and who is butt-kissingly eager to charm the low-church right. Just let me run the business, guys! I'll finesse all the civil rights you like!

    And sorry, but a lot of the straight males I know don't worry about reproductive rights, they do think Obama has done enough for gays, and the rest of the time, was really ineffective. Some of them are stupid enough to think Romney might find everyone jobs rather than deregulate for his buddies. Sometimes the age and infirmity on the big bench is all I've got.

  • What CU said. More so, get the right ppl into the Houses. That way we can hamstring Grover, and taking up Comrade's point, who da… pens crap like the NDAA??

    Oh yeah! It was one of "ours", and he w/o any irony defended what a great piece of legislation it was. If there's one thing the TBaggers have right, is primarying the crap out of their sacred cows, maybe we should do the same to anyone who even thinks about sending up another NDAA again.

    Before our fiasco with entering Iraq, my sister confronted Dar Hooley (we've been family friends for donkey's) on her vote to bog us in that cesspit. Told her that it's a good thing she no longer lived in her constituency as she'd vote against her in a primary over it.

    We've allowed "our guys" to be complacent and complicit for far too long. Much of the frustration we see from the TBaggers is an element of ppl shat off by power structures being corrupted by things like C.Unt'd.

    So yeah perhaps primarying the crap out of 'em and putting in place our own equivalent of GangrenItch. Who will just white ant the crap out of their President, and fight for Liberal causes or shut down govt over military spending.

  • There actually isn't a ton of evidence that Obama's supporters aren't enthusiastic about him. I know the Firebagger wing of the internet doesn't like him, but overall, he's quite popular for a guy with 8% unemployment. In fact, as Nate Silver has pointed out any other politician would likely be dead in the water with these fundamentals.

  • Also why is it that if one actually intends to vote for Obama, or defends his record they're branded an "Obamabot"?

    Yeah he's cocked up a number of things, but given the economic situ that's been more than a handful for anyone.

    As for drone strikes shall I draw your attention to "The Art of War", which advocates avoiding open warfare. It's far better to work for political means, barring that don't be above assassinating your enemies if that's what's required.

    So what looks worse on your ledger? A few successful drone strikes, and the occaisional drone shot down in sovereign territory? Or ten years of war, all of those lives lost, reenacting Vietnam (on two fronts this time), the possibility of a couple helicopters going down and reenacting Tehran?
    Personally, I'll take the drones over a bombing run and an invasion any day of the week.

  • Partial Recant –

    I have carried on about how the conservatives were going to bolt the R party over an insufficiency of right wing testosterone and vote 3rd party under the Paul or Wonderwoman from Minnesota or whoever's banner.

    Now that May is here and Gary J has the Libertarian nomination which effectively seals off Ron Paul from 3rd party ballot access. And since Gov Gary is too …uh..mellow for most Rs – no fear there.

    So how can the Rs screw it up now and insure a re-elect for our young Prez?

    Ron Paul has been chewing away like a termite at all these lil' ol' caucuses and small state primaries.

    I believe he is going to accumulate enough delegates so that when the establishment finally squashes him there will be the mother of all hissy fits from the Paulistas.

    They take their ball and go home, never to vote for Mittford the Bland.

    Thus the Re-election of Obamalama (or whatever Ted Kennedy said..:-))


  • Let me just point out that attitudes manifested in comments such as xynzee's are the reason why "they hate us" so much (and this comment is actually came from a so-called 'liberal'). As if the only options ever are drone strikes on the one hand or invasion on the other (hey at least we didn't drop many atom bombs on Vietnam right?).

    I think talk of this kind of obscene tradeoff is facilitated by a relative lack of an ability to ever really empathize in situations where, for instance, a mother suddenly loses her entire family due to a drone strike (as actually happened the other day). I shouldn't write more; I really start loathing everything "liberal" when I hear "Democrats" talk like that.

  • If you vote for the lesser of two evils you're voting for evil.

    I don't vote for evil.

    Obama has moved the Supreme Court substantially to the right with his appointments, so the Supreme Court argument holds no water.

    And Obama has done substantial damage to the nation. Prior to him, liberals disliked the surveillance state, assassinating children in foreign countries, and so on. But since Obama fervently supports these things, a majority of liberals, following like sheep docilely behind their leader, now support these things as well. That damage is incalculable and unforgivable.

    See for example here:

    which details the shift in public opinion as loyal Democrats follow their leader off to Republican-land.

    You loyal Democrats realize that Obama is somewhat to the right of Ronald Reagan in his personal politics, right? You're loyally following a guy who, if he had a (R) after his name, you would profess to despise.

  • And Michael tells it like it is. Bravo!

    A vote for Obama is a vote for torture, prosecuting whistleblowers, and killing American citizens with robots without due process. Also, the continuing destruction of the middle class and the rule of law through inaction regarding rampant, documented fraud on the part of our largest banks.

    A vote for either of the two major candidates for the federal executive is simply a legitimization of an illegitimate system, an admission that tribalism trumps ethics, and a disposal of one's claims to moral authority. I'm not saying one should vote for Paul or the Greens. I am saying one should not vote for President.

  • It's a little late to be getting cold feet. If you wanted [Not-Obama], you should have started a draft [Not-Obama] movement at least a year and a half ago. But you didn't, did you?

  • "I am saying one should not vote for President."

    Well I can assure you that the far-right WILL be voting for President. You think Obama's policies are bad?

    Let's throw in an Iran war, another generous helping of supply-side and a maybe a couple more Scalia clones on the court.

    Things are never so screwed up that someone can't screw them up worse.

  • "A vote for either of the two major candidates for the federal executive is simply a legitimization of an illegitimate system, an admission that tribalism trumps ethics, and a disposal of one's claims to moral authority."

    Whoa, try not to gag on the smug, bro. Who in hell wants to claim "moral authority"?

    Oh, you don't have any college loans. Or an underwater mortgage. Or a parent with massive medical bills. Or a "job" that pays less than $22K a year. Or a need for an abortion. Or a sibling in Afghanistan.

    What I want is power. Power to tax the 1% and clean up the load of crap that's been dropped on us. You are so damn right I am going to vote, and everybody I know is getting their asses in to the polls, too, or else. And they won't be voting Republican. Not locally, not statewide, not nationwide. Ream these turds out.

    [puff, gasp…I'm feeling much better now, Dave]

  • It scares the hell out of me to think what a republican, any republican can and will do to the country, not just SC wise, but in so many other ways. I don't think the President has much real power and the corrupt congress is where people should be putting their efforts. Obama has been a disappointment overall, but he has managed to keep our heads just slightly above water economically. Obama doesn't excite me and I would prefer not to vote for him, but I do think it may be a closer election than people think.

  • Could not agree more with C U N D Gulag.

    For Bill and others: have you forgotten you're living in the United States of America? We are, and have always been, an imperialistic state that routinely brutalizes citizens who oppose the government and especially the monied interests that back that government. And so far, votes for alternatives have not panned out well. Unless and until that basic fact changes, you will ALWAYS be voting for evil—and not voting at all empowers that evil even more.

    If we want Obama (or anyone hereafter) to change course, we have to elect better candidates at the local level, WITHIN the party system. We simply do not have the institutional, traditional, or financial powers to fight the good fight by not voting or by voting for vanity candidates. Take a page from the right, who have gradually shifted the entire country rightward through this very strategy, while lefties bitch and moan, sit on their hands, etc.

    Also, Michael: your claim is both false on its face and ahistorical. It's true that Obama is not a liberal, as we might define that. He is also nowhere close to as rightwing as Reagan. Whether he is left or right of center is debatable, but your comparison is as absurd as those of my conservative relatives who liken Obama to marxists.

    What you high and mighty types are arguing is akin to saying, "Well, FDR signed off on the firebombing of Dresden and the Manhattan Project, not to mention detaining Japanese-Americans, so fuck him. I will not be throwing my support behind murderers like him. What's the difference, at the end of the day, between the Nazis and the Allied imperialists, anyway?"

    (Yep, bringing it around full circle.)

  • SEE ALSO: Empty suit Romney putting up exactly zero resistance to whatever fever dreams are cooked up by the teahadists. Your real choice isn't between Obama and Romney, it's between Obama and Eric Cantor.

  • The main reason I pulled the donkey lever in '08 was not out of enthusiasm for my Socialist Messiah, but to help spank the Republicans for fucking up the previous eight years so horribly.

    This year, I will (much more reluctantly) do the same. For their shameless obfuscation. For their nonstop petulance. For their cowardly submission to Murdoch, ALEC, Grover Norquist and the Teabaggers. The Republican party must once again be spanked and put to bed sans pudding.

    I do wish for a ballot with two boxes by each name: "approve" or "disapprove." I dearly want Mittens to lose, but I could do without either of these losers getting a "mandate."

  • c u n d gulag says:

    To all of what I call the people in "The Political Purity Police," when was the last time we had a "pure" President of a "pure" America? One that stood up for it's/our highfalutin' ideas and ideals?

    There has never been such a "pure" President, and we never had such a "pure" country.

    Sh*t, not only are we still fighting the 1960's – WE'RE STILL FIGHTING THE FECKIN' 1860's!!!

    What America has always been about is finding a balance somewhere between total mayhem, and absolute totalitarianism.
    Sanity, and madness.
    God(s), and man – and the freedom to pursue one's religion.
    Between freedom, and slavery.
    Rich, and poor.
    Wage freedom, and bondage.
    War, and peace.

    The miracle of America is that "the better angels of our nature" come out as often as they do – about once every generation or two.

    Mitt ain't an example of one of the better angels.
    Obama, for all of his faults, is.

    I think no matter how high the ideals of a new President are, once they're sworn in, the powers that be carefully explain their situation to them.
    Even someone like a Paul Wellstone, as true a Liberal as we've had in the Senate, with maybe Bernie Sanders as the other, if elected, wouldn't have been allowed to rock the boat too much.

    FDR was allowed to, because he saved capitalism from the capitalists, and FOR the capitalists.

    Today's bunch isn't nearly as scared. Or nearly as enlightened.
    And maybe it's because the Bush crew saved their asses with TARP.
    If he and Paulson hadn't, Obama might have been in a better position to talk-tough to them. But, then, we might be looking at a world in an economic depression that might have made the one in the late 20's to mid '30's look like a day at the beach.

    And even then, while FDR was putting millions of people back to work here, Fascism was rearing its ugly head overseas, leading to WWII. Without FDR, we here in America might have been ruled by a Fascist Dictator.

    So, maybe FDR is the "pure" one I was looking for?
    He interred the Japanese-Americans.
    And gave the ok to build the atom bomb, which killed tens and hundreds of thousands of people in two cities.

    Nope, sorry, FDR – you're not "pure" enough.

  • I dispute the premise that concern about Supreme Court appointments only comes up when a candidate is uninspiring or in danger of losing / failing to motivate his base. In my lifetime, the Court is always one of the primary arguments to keep the other party out of power, and to get / keep your party in power.

    I hate to say it, but this flaw in your post's central premise is a rather fatal one to the whole point you're making. Incidentally, the Court argument is a useful one in the case of a candidate like Obama, because it's one of the clearest areas of the stark difference between the conservative Democratic Party and the Neo-Confederate GOP.

  • Ah, the SCOTUS card. It always reminds me of one of my favorite near-past counterfactuals. If Thurgood Marshall had been convinced that Bush I would not be re-elected, could he have hung on long enough for Clinton to appoint his successor? If so, it almost certainly would have been someone less repellent than Clarence Thomas.

    That said – looking at the campaigns thus far, it makes me imagine a secret meeting of the World Council of 400. "Well, Barack, you have an image problem. Some potential voters see you as aloof, elite, almost arrogant. Since we can't fix YOU, we'll get an opposing candidate who is so aloof, elite and arrogant he'll make you look like Truman." Hey, it worked four years ago for the other side!

  • @cund gulag

    And of course, FDR failed on one of your recurring themes…

    FDR prayed on the radio (as D-Day ops got underway)and encouraged all Americans to join in w/ him.


  • Townsend Harris says:

    Motivate the base.
    Sway the undecideds.
    Demobilize the opposition.
    Obama will have a much harder time in 2012 turning out the youth vote. And GOP-controlled state legislatures and governors have implemented tougher voting policies to suppress youth turnout. As much as I love Ed, his post carries water on behalf of Karl Rove.

  • @tveb, Michael & Bill:

    I noticed that not one of you took up my call to arms in my first post, and I again support CU's rant (bb: FTW). He's done jack? How about the underhanded appointment of Conroy? Without whom the payday loanshark provisions of Dodd-Frank couldn't be implemented.

    There's a saying: going bald isn't a choice, being bald is. So if I'm going to be called an Obamabot, then fine I'll man up and wear the crown. Is that the best you've got? What do you have? From what I see you've got nothing, and your petulance for purity is just childish.

    So how many children were assassinated by the drone? Was it more or less than the body count of the soldier who went on his shooting spree?

    If you truly wanted [Not Obama], then you should have started 8yrs ago. Seriously, how many parties sideline their incumbent?

    At this moment the political mood certainly isn't towards that of France 1787 or Russia 1917, so don't go getting your guillotines oiled just yet. Still, the Left sure as heck doesn't have the "machinery" in place to launch let alone manage one even if it starts. The Masters running the TBaggers on the other hand do and can. Their foot soldiers literally out gun us. So it would quickly go from Lenin-Trotsky to Stalin on you. In fact given that power structure you'd merely hand them your Serfdom. So the Weimar Republic it is. What are you going to do about it? I primaried, did you?

  • @Fezzik – "Take a page from the right, who have gradually shifted the entire country rightward through this very strategy, while lefties bitch and moan, sit on their hands, etc."


    Also, I think the G&T Law would be more along the lines of: As any discussion or argument continues, the odds of a Simpsons &/or Bill Hicks quote approach 1.

  • To those engaging in personal attacks while skiing slippery slopes made of poor analogies and regressive historical comparisons:

    Go ahead and vote for Obama. It's your right, and obviously your student loan deferments, your sister's abortion, or your brother's impending deployment are more important to you than the fact that "your" incumbent is the first president in American history to publicly profess to and exercise the right to assassinate American citizens (including minors) with robots and without due process.

    "Seriously, how many parties sideline their incumbent?"

    This isn't football, you tribalist ass. And that Godwin-baiting, anti-DFH futurist rant that followed is just sick. The justifications some of you will make for voting Obama are stomach-turning.

    When Bush was in office, the left (rightly) called him a war criminal, a war profiteer, and critiqued his every fart as somehow leading us down the road to tyranny. Now that Obama is in office, you contort yourselves into pretzels to justify, excuse, and ignore his many actions continuing the same policies and in many cases exceeding and expanding them. That is disgusting.

    You are ethically no different than the self-professed conservatives who voted for Bush despite his massive federal power grabs, elective warmongering, and massive deficit spending. And in many ways, I have more respect for them and their misguided ethics because most of the conservatives I know are dumber and less politically aware than the lot of you. You all should know better and be ashamed of yourselves.

  • As I've said before, reelecting Obama is fine but then you've only bought yourself four years before the GOP comes back with a mobilized base and a candidate to the right of Santorum(if not Santorum himself). You'd better hope that judges retire/die in the next four years.

  • Bill,

    Here's a simple exercise. On the issues that you care about, is Obama better than Romney? Not "is Obama perfect," but is he better than Romney? If he is, on balance, then by staying home you help the guy you think is worse. That's perverse. You can hold your breath until you turn blue and demand purity in exchange for your vote, but all you're going to do is support the outcome you want to see happen least. Good job, champ.

  • Figs, here's another test for you. On the issues you care about, is Bush better than Obama? Not "is Bush perfect"(because of course the only two possible standards by which to judge politicians are 'complete failure/fascist' and 'perfect'), but "is Bush better?"

    I hope that demonstrates why your thought experiment fails. Here's a better one. Imagine that in 2008, you have knowledge that everything Obama has done(including the good) will be done by a victorious McCain. You have no idea that Obama will do anything whatsoever. Do you change party lines and vote for McCain, since you're so enthusiastic now about what Obama has done, or do you stick with Obama? If you would vote McCain, congratulations- at least you are honest about the policies you say you support. If no, you are following the party line.

    And if anyone here can please explain to me why the murder of foreigners is somehow worse when a Republican does it, by all means do so.

  • It's not a thought experiment. It's just reality. If you believe that one candidate is preferable to another but you don't vote for him, then you make the outcome you prefer less more likely.

    I don't know why you jump straight to the idea that anybody who supports a candidate is acting reflexively along party lines. Sometimes it happens that peoples' ideals fall roughly along party lines, and that's absolutely fine. If Obama were promising to do everything McCain had promised to do and vice versa, then sure, I would have voted for McCain, and gladly. But we would also have been living in a weird bizarro universe.

    I don't think anybody is claiming that killing people is worse when a Republican does it. If that's the only issue that matters to you, and none of the other differences between candidates has any sway with you, that's totally fine. If that's your legit position, then you have no way to make a decision. But for me, if both candidates who stand a shot at winning are promising the same loathsome policy in that area, then that area is sort of off the table for me, as far as discriminating between the candidates. I know purists love to say "the lesser of two evils is still evil," but that's reality-denying fairyland stuff. If you think on the whole one candidate is preferable to another, and you don't vote because he's not perfect, it's foolish no matter how you slice it.

  • A Romney win is positive for the country for the simple fact that it will restore scrutiny and criticism of the executive from the half of the country that isn't totally insane but rather are just tribalist stooges. It'll be comparatively positive to hear charges of "war criminal" and "tyrant" when say, Bradley Manning is executed or when Iran is bombed rather than crickets and logical contortions to excuse and explain.

  • Yes Figs, the only options are evil and "perfect." That's a fine false dichotomy you've got going there.

  • Bill,

    If you think a Romney win is a positive for the country, then go and vote for him. Otherwise you make it more likely that Obama, whose election you think would be a net negative for the country, will get elected.


    I'm not saying that there's only evil and perfect. Only that that's how the purists so often frame it. Do you really believe that the bad parts of Obama's time in office are the only parts that matter? Because Michael up above seems to think that. "If you vote for the lesser of two evils you're voting for evil. I don't vote for evil." It's not a caricature if it's just quoting exactly what he said.

  • I'm also on the fence. On the one hand, Obama has done some things that I really can't condone (i.e. the torture and indefinite detention of Bradley Manning, and not prosecuting any Bush officials or bankers). Is this a candidate I can vote for in good conscience, even if he is the lesser of two evils? On the other hand, a Romney win, however improbable, could be disastrous for the country. He'd probably appoint free market fundamentalists to head every agency of government, and not come anywhere close to extending the Bush tax cuts or doing anything about global warming. While four years of Romney might be worth it if it leads this country to wake up to the reality of the Republican party, who says it would be just four years? So I think this is one of those cases where I'm going to have to go for the known evil over the larger, unknown evil).

  • So Bill and Arslan, what are you doing to mitigate the situation as you see it? What do you propose?

    Not voting is both stupid and childish. So far you have put nothing on the table. Saying we want a revolution is also an unworkable solution for the reasons that I've already outlined. We'd get our butt whipped by the Rove's TBagging Brown shirts, probably the major downside of being DFHs opposed to firearms as long as we have, and instead of Lenin-Trotsky we'd get Stalin. Or worse we'd skip Mao and go to the enslavement that the current Chinese government has delivered its people into, the one that Mao hoped to avoid.

    So you'd like people to condemn Obama for selling out. Oh yeah we're pissed off that he gave Wall St. a Nixon pardon. If the AGs of NY and DE hadn't made such a stink they would have gotten more.

    There also comes a point of being pragmatic. We can sit here and white ant Obummer all we want, but at this moment he's what we've got. In the lead up to '92 their were a lot of factions who were opposed to Slick. How did he win them over? He called their bluff. He threw down a gauntlet saying I'm what you've got. And he lowered emissions standards and opened up the tundra to drilling.

    I have at least proposed something, you've proposed…? Nothing??

    Mine is to take a hard line towards Congress a la TBagger. That a letter writing campaign hits the desk of every Dem in Congress letting them know that if they send up another NDAA like Bill, they can kiss their job goodbye. If they won't get in line behind closing Gitmo, they can kiss their job goodbye. If they won't line up and sign into law overturning C.Unt'd. they can kiss their job goodbye. Got the idea??

    BTW: Have you voted against your neighbour? Have you voted against someone who your parents helped start their political career by working on their campaign? I have and I don't hear you making any claims to the same. All I hear from you two is whining little girly-men. Put up or shut up. And occasionally, the Left could use a bit of Machiavellianism.

    The next thing is to start working out who we want in 2016. You and all the purists have to come to the realisation that we've got a pile of shit to work with. It's altogether too late for 2012 you needed to start getting your ducks aligned 8 years ago. We sure as hell don't want Biden do we?

    For me to line up behind him then I truly would be the party Obamabot cocksucker you call me.

    Now is the time to start looking towards 2016 and ensuring that we get who we want in the drivers seat. Does this make more sense to you?

    I'm with Kong, I sure as hell don't want Bolton and the rest of his ilk anywhere near the levers of power. Do you? Imagine Wolfowitz being back in an advisory capacity. How did that turn out for us? Mittens is getting Shrubling's ol' gang back together. Maybe for the right price Rumsfeld could be coxed out of retirement? You'd like that wouldn't you?

    Even Jesus acknowledges how the world is run, he uses two examples. One in a parable of a man who's been caught out for screwing his employer, who then screws him more to cushion his landing when he's out of his job. The second is the declaration of telling the disciples to "Be as innocent as doves, but as shrewd as vipers."

    As for profiteering. WT… seriously? Last time I checked Obama hadn't been the head of an oil company that seemed to get the lion's share of contracts in Iraq. And if you thought he could shut down two battle fronts over night, you truly are naïve.

    Would I vote for McCain? No way, not with the crazy bitch one 72yo heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Now would I vote for Powell? Yes. Even with his fiasco under Shrubling, I still would vote for Powell. Now there was a man to be reckoned with and he sure as hell wouldn't be pushed around by anyone. He probably should have gotten out earlier, but occasionally there's a thing called principle that makes a man stick out a term no matter how crappy it is. Maybe you could learn a thing or two from him?

  • Oh and as for whistleblowers, how about a man who's been cut loose by his Government to pander to the US. Asange, has only been the conduit, and has effectively had his passport revoked and is facing extradition on rather convenient charges. I'm surprised that it's the Swedes that have such a reciprocal policy. The UK I could believe, but not Sweden.

  • Xynzee, your post is what is childish. You speak about the impossibility of revolution, I ask you how the hell are we supposed to even move in that direction if we slavishly line up behind every Democrat no matter how far to the right they move?

    I believe Obama will probably be reelected, and if he goes into Iran or Syria, I want to see your explanation. If states continue to pass draconian anti-abortion or anti-gay marriage laws, I want to see your excuse. When he caves into the right a dozen more times, I want to hear your excuses. I want to know why it's better that he did it and not Romney or some other GOP fucktard.

  • Townsend Harris says:

    @arslan: "I want to know why it's better that [Obama] did it and not Romney or some other GOP fucktard."

    NLRB appointments.
    SCoTUS appointments.

    Like the right-to-lifers, presidential appointments make me a single-issue constituent.

  • @Xynzee

    All I hear from you two is whining little girly-men

    I appreciate that comparing men to women and/or girls is the ne plus ultra of insults, but it ill behoves you.

    Ladiesbane is right about reproductive rights. I live thousands of miles away from doctors wielding transvaginal ultrasound probes at the behest of the state, but those news stories made an actual shiver run up my spine. I would vote for anyone who respects my physical autonomy over a candidate who doesn't, unless it was at the expense of someone else's.

  • Xynzee, your post is what is childish. You speak about the impossibility of revolution, I ask you how the hell are we supposed to even move in that direction if we slavishly line up behind every Democrat no matter how far to the right they move?

    There are 1460 days between each presidential election to work on the revolution, comrade. There's a hell of a lot you can do while waiting for your all-important chance to write in your protest vote for Paul Wellstone.

    Getting involved in the Democratic party and pushing for better candidates is one thing you could try. Maybe work with the Greens instead. Or start another party. Or some kind of NGO. Or join up with Occupy. Or Anonymous.

    Maybe you could actually learn some military strategy and tactics for when you kick off the real rloveution. Maybe go hunting for blackmail material. Or figure out some sabotage plans. Become an assassin. I sure as hell don't recommend any of these things, but at least they are things. Not voting is not a thing you do. It's the opposite. It's choosing to do nothing.

    Lots of things you can do, yet you only seem to care about not voting for Obama and talking vaguely about "the system" and "revolution".

    A vote for Obama is, if absolutely nothing else, a vote to maintain. A vote for Romney is a vote to make it worse. Make what worse? Pick something. It doesn't matter. Romney is worse on everything. If you honestly don't see that, then I must conclude that we live in parallel worlds.

    So if you're working on your big vague revolutionary plans, why the hell wouldn't you vote to maintain the status quo, if just to buy another four years?

    I mean, damn, if my choice is between the Hitler-like fascist who wants to outlaw abortion and the Hitler-like fascist who doesn't, I'll take B. If that makes me a political illiterate who loves evil, then so fucking be it. Better evil than stupid.

  • "Well Ginsburg's probably gonna die soon, so get excited about Mitt!"

    Scalia is a fat, apoplectic, octogenarian. I'm betting on him to be the first to stroke out.

  • Jrod, did it ever occur to you that many of us wacky leftist "purists" ARE involved in Occupy, with Anonymous, or our own parties and organizations? You should learn a few of their names to, so if Obama should lose, you can pin the blame on someone.

    As for your Godwin argument, there is no reason to suggest that Romney will actually ban abortion; Reagan did not, Bush Sr. did not, Bush Jr. did not. Without legal abortion what would the GOP have to rally their religious base? Few issues have done more for the GOP than abortion. Furthermore, numerous states enact all kinds of anti-abortion laws, and thus far neither Obama nor the supreme court has done a damn thing about it. And again, you had better hope some judges disappear in the next four years. Because I'm fairly certain that in 2016 you're going to end up with an even harder right Republican.

    On the matter of the status quo, it is not in our interest to preserve it. If there is still a large part of America who sincerely believes in a meritocracy and is convinced that they would be a millionaire were it not for "wasteful government spending," even after all this time, then the only way to convince them otherwise is to see that they get their wish. You can't reason with these people. Whether they wake up and start questioning their worldview after being economically devastated, or they simply starve or kill themselves, the overall effect will be positive.

    I am not necessarily trying to demand that one not vote, but what I am saying is that it won't matter, and if you pretend that it does and start spreading false hopes among the working class, you are serving the ruling class. Also, while you can claim you are voting to support the president because of X or Y(as in gay marriage, pro-choice, etc.), you must also be honest and admit your tacit approval for expanding the war, violating sovereign nations, murdering American citizens without trial, indefinite detention, the silencing and jailing of whistleblowers, and so on. Or at least you should publicly admit that you don't find these things to be so bad as to outweigh the president's allegedly positive accomplishments.

  • Arslan,

    Are those bad things you note likely to be any different under the other candidate? That is, if you vote for Romney, are you voting against the bad things that Obama has done, or is Romney likely to be as bad or worse on those things? If he's likely to be as bad on them, then it's not a legitimate argument to say that by voting for Obama you're positively voting in favor of things that you don't have a plausible alternative for.

  • Yes Arslan, it's occurred to me that leftitt purity trolls are often a part of Occupy. You know, when I'm with Occupy and hearing all this simple-minded crap.

    Did it ever occur to you that some people involved with Occupy or Anonymous or even the Green party will be voting for Obama?

    I just don't understand what you're trying to accomplish here. You say voting makes no difference, but that by voting I'm morally responsible for the outcome? How can both of these things be true? If voting is truly as pointless as you say, then how can a person possibly face any moral responsibility for doing so? It's functionally no different from twiddling my thumbs for the half-hour voting takes me, right? But if I waste my time with an Obama vote instead, I'm suddenly a blood-thirsty monster? Make up your mind.

    Oh, and please Mr. Politically Literate, tell my uninformed self which revolution which was started by the desperate poor was resolved in a way that's favorable to the people. French Revolution? Gave us Napoleon. Russian Revolution? Gave us Stalin. Every slave revolt besides Haiti? Crucified along the Appian Way. And it's not like things have turned out great for Haiti, either.

    Every successful revolution, on the other hand, was initiated and run by people who were not desperately poor. The American Revolution, the Velvet Revolution, Indian Independence; none of these were run out of dumpsters by homeless people.

    If you honestly think that America being economically devastated will lead to good outcomes, you're simply not paying attention to history. I don't blame Marx for getting this wrong, btw, but we have another 150 years of data on him. Modern leftists don't have any excuse for still believing that heightening the contradictions works in their favor. It just doesn't.

    For the record, I care a lot about every issue you listed, except that I honestly don't give a damn that al-Awlaki was killed. He would have murdered me without a moment's hesitation, so screw him. I still don't think Obama should have whacked him, but I'm not shedding any tears. And, as we've discussed before, I can already be assassinated by any random cop. Being killed on order of the President is a step up, in my opinion. At least someone might give a damn when it happens, as opposed to the hundreds gunned down by cops whose epitaphs read "musta had it coming". You also left out many other long-standing problems that Obama hasn't fixed, like the stupid drug war and voter suppression. (Funny how anyone would bother suppressing those completely useless yet morally-charged votes!)

    The thing is, I'm offered two choices for President. That should be changed. But it hasn't. So I'm taking the best option. Maybe we'll do better over the next four years, but as of right now we've failed miserably. Kicking and crying won't change that now.

    Oh, and don't tell me that Romney won't push to make abortion illegal. The state legislatures are constantly chipping that right away. It's all but illegal in many states, including my home state. You know what the states that aren't doing this all have in common? They're usually controlled by Democrats. What I'm saying is that Republicans are working to restrict abortion right now. It's not a hypothetical scenario.

    Maybe leftists could flood the Democratic party and bend it to their will? You know, that thing that the right has been doing successfully with the Republicans for two generations now? Nah, that's just silly talk. That thing that we've seen work in living memory could never work. La revolucion is the only way! And if wingnuts take over every statehouse because we lefties can't be arsed to oppose them lest we violate our sacred principles, I guess them's just the breaks.

  • Jrod, I have tried very hard to imagine a way in which I can address all the logical/historical errors in that post from every possible angle without writing a response that exceeds ten pages. Alas, I cannot. I guess we can label the historical argument in the post as what Ed called "Just Plain Bad Argument" or what Rational-Wiki calls "Not even wrong," as in, it needs significant improvement just to achieve the status of "incorrect."

    But I will make a few pointers.

    First, you would not be responsible for Obama's actions if you voted for him, especially since you might live in a solidly Republican state meaning your vote wouldn't count. However, by stumping for him, you are showing approval for these actions. Second, and this is far more important- If there is a state-level struggle over abortion rights, gay marriage, or labor laws, and there are Democratic candidates who are opposing these initiatives, then by all means, support them. It is also possible for activists to work within local and state-level Democratic parties. It's just that on a national scale it doesn't make a difference.

    Now in the constructive criticism department, let me say that arguments like yours about political reality and how Obama needs a second term to enact his grand strategy would be FAR more convincing today, were it not for his supporters four years ago constantly talking about hope, change, and so on. Back in 2008 I had people telling me that Obama was going to be the next FDR and citing all kinds of promises he never even made. I questioned them about this and people like me were treated as hopeless cynics who don't dare to dream. Strange how in four years, I and my ilk would be labeled unrealistic dreamers with our heads in the clouds, demanding ideological purity from a mainstream political candidate. One thing is for sure, I don't remember anyone in 2008 claiming that Obama might need a second term to do anything progressive.

    Lastly, one part of your poor historical analysis which deserves mention is the elitism and anti-working class tone of it. I nearly thought I was reading the screed of a Romney supporter there for a second. I would prefer that dedicated Democrats be more honest about their elitism and disdain for the workers rather than try to maintani the charade of giving a shit about the poor. Obama doesn't really even do that much anymore either, so at least we have two now. Go spread the message to the rest of the DNC!

  • And now I'm anti-worker too! Let me tally it up: I hate workers and lurve me some Mitt Romney, I love it when Democrats slaughter brown children but can't get off when Republicans do it, I think Obama has a grand strategy to be the next FDR (who is of course the man who denied social security to black people and created Japanese concentration camps and ran secret military experiments that created a doomsday weapon, which is of course why I want Obama to be like him, being pure evil and all), and the unkindest accusation of all: I'm with the DNC. Damn, that's cold-hearted. Couldn't you have stopped at calling me a genocidal hellbeast? Have some decency.

    You may not have any sort of political plan besides don't vote and then revolution and then the worker's paradise, but you do have quite a talent for demonization. Hey, next time you're fantasizing about me and Obama's evil schemes, can you say we have a death-lazer on our moonbase? That would be rad.

    Here's a little constructive criticism for you, since you were so kind as to offer some to me: "Oh, my ponderous genius couldn't possibly allow me to respond with any substance to your post, since my brilliance is too grand to be delivered in anything less than 10,000 word chunks, so I am simply forced to ignore the things you actually wrote and argue against these strawmen instead," sounds somewhat less impressive than you seem to think it does.

  • "And now I'm anti-worker too! Let me tally it up: I hate workers and lurve me some Mitt Romney,"

    Yes, your words certainly suggested that.

    " I love it when Democrats slaughter brown children but can't get off when Republicans do it,"

    Well for some bizarre reason you guys don't see this as such an important issue when a D is in the White House. Do you mean to suggest that if McCain had won, but done some of the same military actions, you'd only be criticizing him over his positions on gay marriage and abortion? I doubt it. Was that the only problem you had with Bush?

    " I think Obama has a grand strategy to be the next FDR (who is of course the man who denied social security to black people and created Japanese concentration camps and ran secret military experiments that created a doomsday weapon, which is of course why I want Obama to be like him, being pure evil and all), and the unkindest accusation of all: I'm with the DNC. Damn, that's cold-hearted. Couldn't you have stopped at calling me a genocidal hellbeast? Have some decency."

    Again, hyperbole is just your escape from having decent arguments. I wonder why the Obamabots are not able to actually work with the words we actually said. I also didn't accuse you specifically of making such claims; but rather I was merely speaking of Obama supporters in general in 2008. I didn't see anyone stumping for Obama while simultaneously lecturing everyone about "political reality" and pointing out that he might not accomplish anything until a second term.

    "You may not have any sort of political plan besides don't vote and then revolution and then the worker's paradise, but you do have quite a talent for demonization. Hey, next time you're fantasizing about me and Obama's evil schemes, can you say we have a death-lazer on our moonbase? That would be rad."

    Yup, if we don't jump on the Obama bandwagon it's because we all have fantastic dreams of immediate revolution, to pave the way for a worker's paradise where the streets are paved with gummi bears.

    "Oh, my ponderous genius couldn't possibly allow me to respond with any substance to your post, since my brilliance is too grand to be delivered in anything less than 10,000 word chunks, so I am simply forced to ignore the things you actually wrote and argue against these strawmen instead," sounds somewhat less impressive than you seem to think it does."

    Strawman and fail. Also, the classic Randian libertarian argument: "You won't answer my argument therefore it must be because you CAN'T." No, it's because your historical analysis of past revolutions was so mind-bogglingly ignorant and woefully inadequate that I would have to write ten or more pages on the subject just to do justice to each level of wrongness contained in that argument. I do not engage in such polemics on a blog. Sorry.

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