Obama Chooses Talky Joe

Send Joe Biden!

The blabbermouth Delaware senator is now one hope spasm + bullet away from the White House. What does it all mean? Who knows! My five-cent opinion is that Obama has two principal shortcomings from the tactical side of this campaign: His glaring lack of foreign policy experience at a time of war, and (to a much lesser degree, I guess) his Otherness. Biden directly addresses both points. He's also kind of a clown, with foot-in-mouth disease, so we'll see where that all ends up.

A personal anecdote: One of the few advantages in working for one of those anachronistic newspaper editorial-board thingies is that a parade of top political candidates and office-holders comes trudging through, offering a crucial opportunity for snap character assessments. During my time at the L.A. Times I saw John Edwards (insufferably insincere nancy boy), Bill Richardson (a huge disappointment: backpedaling on trade, pie-in-the-skying on Iraq, and just not particularly smart)...and then there was Joe Biden. To my great surprise, I found him pretty dang sharp, with layer upon layer of knowledge about the history, present, and future of Iraq, and also about wonky parliamentary maneuvering in the United States Senate. Afterward, the then-publisher of the paper, a Reagan Republican named David Hiller, was all hey he was pretty impressive, wasn't he? And just when you were about to say "yes" you'd remember all the horse-puckey Biden talked about economics, trade, regulation, and so on.

Some reason golden oldies on Talky Joe: Delaware Dave Weigel blogged about Biden-veepmania earlier this week, flagged an anti-gun crack back in July 2007, interviewed the target of said crack, and explained a year earlier "Why Biden, and only Biden, is mediocre enough to lead the Democrats in '08." Jacob Sullum slammed Biden's Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act back in July 2003, then noticed Biden going soft on drugs four years later. Steve Chapman argued in September 2007 that then-candidate Biden was talking more about Iraq than anyone else, and one month later Jonathan Rauch called him "the grown-up in the race."

Let's hear some analysis, commenters!

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  • ||

    Faced with his first major decision, Obama chooses mediocrity. "Change"? Yeah, right.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Apparently, McCainland already has a commercial in the can which features Biden disparaging Obama and his day-one-ready-to-rock-ness in the debates.

    I submit, for your approval, the moniker: "Gibberin' Joe"

  • Jesse Walker||

    I really regret putting all that money on Patty Hearst now.

  • ||

    Nothing says, "Administration of Change" like a Vice President who has spent half his fucking life in the Senate.

    That's a guy who can relate to the common man, I reckon.

  • ||

    I think NotEvanBayh is a great choice. NotEvanBayh, as you say, brings foreign policy cred, likeability, and regular-guyishness to the ticket.

    Obama also gets along well with NotEvanBayh, and he's shown himself to be a great surrogate to go after, and rebut, John McCain.

    NotEvanBayh isn't my dream candidate, but he's a very choice from a political perspective.

    I can totally live with NotEvanBayh.

  • Elemenope||

    He was the safe choice.

    Sebelius or Richardson would have been the "good" choice.

    But there were plenty of *worse* choices, for sure.

  • ||

    One "bullet away from the White House"? Did you write that about about John Edwards in 2004, or Dick Cheney in 2000, or Jack Kemp in 1996, or Al Gore in 1992? I thought not.

  • ||

    I think NotEvanBayh is a great choice.

    So the fact that Sen. Biden voted for the war too isn't a problem for you, joe?

    This New Republic profile of Biden has a few useful things too.

    People sometimes forget that immediately after 9/11, Sen. Biden was not only for the Patriot Act but claimed that everything in the Patriot Act was in a bill that he had proposed back after the OKC bombing that was watered down by civil libertarians in both parties.

    In the wake of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Biden did, in fact, champion an anti-terrorism bill similar to the one now before Congress (though it was, as he complains, badly watered down by anti-government conservatives and leftist civil libertarians). And Biden doesn't let you forget it. "I introduced the terrorism bill in '94 that had a lot of these things in it," he bragged to NBC's Tim Russert on September 30. When I spent the day with him later that week, Biden mentioned the legislation to me, and to several other reporters he encountered, no fewer than seven times. "When I was chairman in '94 I introduced a major antiterrorism bill--back then," he says in the morning, flashing a knowing grin and pausing for effect. (Never mind that he's gotten the year wrong.) Back in his office later that afternoon, he brings it up yet again. "I drafted a terrorism bill after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the bill John Ashcroft sent up was my bill."



    Let's see if that quote, "The [Patriot Act] John Ashcroft sent up was my bill," gets used.

  • ||

    Continuing my thoughts from the topic just beneath, I can't help thinking Jim Jones would have had most of Biden's positives and fewer of his negatives.
    Oh well...

  • Matt Welch||

    One "bullet away from the White House"? Did you write that about about John Edwards in 2004, or Dick Cheney in 2000

    An internet search proves inconclusive (I'm missing archives from my blog in 2004, and from newsforchange.com in 2000), though in 2000 I was covering Ralph Nader's run, so probably not.

    or Jack Kemp in 1996, or Al Gore in 1992?

    Definitely not in both cases, as I did not publish a single word about either election.

  • Ironic||

    Obamma chose someone who alienated alot of Indian Americans with his 7/11 comment. McCain should now choose Bobby Jindal as his VP. That would just rub it in Obama's face.

  • Casey Jones||

    Maybe he will build some Federal trains to get this economy moving again.

  • ||

    First thing that comes to mind is that it's a mistake to have two Senators on the ticket. In general, Governors tend to be more centrist and more willing to compromise than Senators, which is why I think the new trend of Presidential/Vice-Presidential candidates coming more from the Senate instead of Governor's mansions is regrettable.

  • ||

    Ironic-

    Bobby Jindal has made perfectly clear he has no desire to hitch his cart to McCain, which is smart of him.

  • Mike M.||

    I'm not a huge Biden fan, but Joey Hairplugs is a pretty solid choice for Obama. He had to pick someone like this.

    Should he somehow or another actually manage to get elected, mantras about "hope" and "change" aren't going to cut the mustard. He'll need someone there who actually has a clue and has been around for more than a few months.

  • BDB||

    He seems like a decent guy personally, but hes a big drug warrior which is a turn off. Of course that won't matter to 95% of America.

  • BDB||

    I'd thoroughly enjoy seeing him smack down Romney in a debate, though.

  • ||

    So the fact that Sen. Biden voted for the war too isn't a problem for you, joe?

    It's suboptimal, but he changed his mind earlier than most, and put forward perhaps the most insightful critique of the war and alternate direction forward of any of the candidates.

    I'm not one of those people who looks at politics as an opportunity to proclaim my purity, but to get things done. I'm not going to turn my nose up at a ticket that contains two candidates who oppose the Iraq War, instead of two candidates who have supported it all along, because one of them was late in coming to the truth.

  • ||

    A colossal disaster for Obama. Biden can only be used against him, like his quotes referenced above or some of the controversies he has engendered in his lifetime in the Senate. He tilts no state other than maybe PA (which I think will go Dem anyway with Rendell's influence). He doesn't fit the brand. And he's proven his inability to create enthusiastic support for any office outside of Delaware, which has about the same electoral votes as DC.

    The Democrats are showing such an amazing arrogance in this race its inexplicable. This party has had TWO candidates win the White House in FORTY YEARS. Choosing Obama was bad enough, Biden makes up none of that ground lost.

    This "foriegn policy experience" meme, I'm not buying it. The big issue in that realm is Iraq where Obama has a natural advantage. Besides, a lifetime in the Senate holding committee hearings on foriegn issues hardly impresses the average "joe" I should think. A general or war hero might, but not that. Ask the average mofo out of Indiana who Dick Lugar is.

  • Elemenope||

    He's kind of creepily hawkish, which after a brief re-reading of the highlights comes through pretty clearly. But, yah, him smacking around the Robomormon would be fun to watch.

  • Orange Line Special||

    I'm still strongly opposed to BHO, it just doesn't look like I can't use his choice's radicalness against him, prefering to let the nutroots do that and also pointing out that his choice's policies are those of GlobalistScum.

  • Elemenope||

    MNG,

    Anyone ever tell you you're kind of a downer?

  • BDB||

    MNG I think you are the only one sayng this is a bad pick politically.

  • ||

    LMNOP
    Realist buddy, realist.

  • ||

    It's suboptimal, but he changed his mind earlier than most, and put forward perhaps the most insightful critique of the war and alternate direction forward of any of the candidates.

    joe, do you mean when he proposed partitioning Iraq, or when he said in 2005 to the Brookings Institute that "We can call it quits and withdraw from Iraq. I think that would be a gigantic mistake. Or we can set a deadline for pulling out, which I fear will only encourage our enemies to wait us out - equally a mistake."

    So the man with the "most insightful critique" apparently called Sen. Obama's plan "a gigantic mistake," though he later re-used that phrase for describing the surge.

    Interestingly, while he said on Meet the Press in 2005 that "I've been calling for more troops for over two years, along with John McCain and others subsequent to my saying that," he did end up voting against the surge when it was about to happen and opposing it rhetorically afterwards and saying it was a failure. Of course, perhaps he simply thought it was too late.

    It's nice to see that he doesn't go along with the "Bush lied" meme too much, since he said on "Meet the Press" in 2007 that "Well, the point is, it turned out they didn't, but everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. He cataloged - they cataloged them. This was not some, some Cheney, you know, pipe dream. This was, in fact, cataloged."

  • ||

    He doesn't fit the brand.

    Well, I guess this is the big test. If Barack Obama's support comes from wide-eyed dreamy types who are attracted to the "change" rhetoric because they see the campaign of some kind of transcendent, messianic movement (as some people assert they do), this will hurt Obama among his supporters.

    If, on the other hand, they are attracted to the campaign because the "change" they wish to see is the replacement of the incompetence, neoconservatism, hyperpartisanship, dogmatism, and my-way-or-the-highway-ism that's characterized national politics for the past seven years, then this pick will help Obama among his supporters.

    I guess we'll just have to wait and see which way the polls go.

  • ||

    Safe choice... presents some problems with Sen. Biden's "foot in mouth" syndrome, but he can counter that with his genuine knowledge of foreign affairs (not necessarily intelligence, but knowledge, nonetheless). I'll be interested to see what it does to Sen. Obama's "change" theme. He could have bolstered that theme with the pick of a governor, but that would have left him open to the foreign policy critique. I think the pick of Sen. Biden limits some of Sen. Obama's "revolution of change" momentum. But, over all, I think it was the safe, and probably correct choice. It won't gain many votes, but it could slow/stop Sen. Obama's recent downturn by adding a safety valve in terms of experience.

    It makes me think Sen. McCain should go "out on a limb" and not go the safe route (i.e. Gov. Romney). A Gov. Palin -- limited-government, pro-life conservative -- could fill the hole the Republicans are looking for with Romney. But, it could also add some gender competitition/excitement. I can just picture Sen. Biden's academic-like oratory coming across as condescending to a "backwoods" Gov. Palin. It could stir up the sexism charges we saw in the Democratic primaries and generate sympathy for a McCain-Palin ticket, particularly among the small sliver of Clinton supporters McCain needs to win to turn the election his way.

    Either way, of course, we're stuck with a pretty unexciting set of choices. But, from a purely politico perspective, this is where it starts to get interesting.

    [Also, did anyone else sign up for the text message announcement? It came shortly after 3 am. If it was not intentional, might it not have been better to send it at 4 am? Some fervent gender voters will undoubtedly read into sending the message during the 3:00 hour.]

  • ||

    BDB
    The first couple of posts on this very thread brand it a bad pick.

    I have no doubt though that pundits will find good in this pick. In their mind Joe Biden is has "foriegn policy" creds. He has this with the general public though only to the extent that they are convinced by the pundits themselves because to most people chairing Senate subcommittees on foriegn relations does not make one a heavyweight on this topic. Thus my Dick Lugar quote. Hell, he couldn't wrest the "foriegn policy guy to trust" from a former first lady when he ran against her in the primary. For that matter he generated virtually no enthusiasm at all. What a choice!

    Biden will generate no enthusiasm in states that were red last election, and seeing as how the Dems cannot win the election unless they turn some states from red to blue, I don't see how he was a good pick.

  • ||

    The fun thing about Sen. Biden is that, like a lot of Senators, not only has he had a chance to be on both sides of most issues (of course depending on what it looks like today), but he likes to claim that he wrote the bill or invented the idea, or called for it first.

    Hence the claims that the Patriot Act as introduced by Ashcroft was exactly his bill from 6 years ago, or the claim that he was for additional before Sen. McCain and others came later when it looked like Bush wasn't going to send more troops-- all claims conveniently forgotten once he'd changed his mind on both topics.

  • Elemenope||

    If Barack Obama's support comes from wide-eyed dreamy types who are attracted to the "change" rhetoric because they see the campaign of some kind of transcendent, messianic movement (as some people assert they do), this will hurt Obama among his supporters.

    If, on the other hand...


    Well, when you put it that way...he's fucked.

  • ||

    If McCain chose a woman running mate without any big skeleton in her closet then he can start measuring the drapes on Penn Ave.

  • Abhishek Saha||

    My thoughts on Biden's selection here:

    http://musefree.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/obama-selects-biden-a-libertarian-perspective/

  • ||

    John Thacker,

    Obviously, I'm talking about after he turned against the war, when he was proposing a soft partition and a withdrawal.

    It's odd that you think those are two different items, as the partition proposal was part of the negotiated political settlement withdrawal strategy he was proposing in place of "just withdrawing."

    So the man with the "most insightful critique" apparently called Sen. Obama's plan "a gigantic mistake," though he later re-used that phrase for describing the surge. See, the fact that Joe Biden is unlike you, and considers the situation in Iraq in 2005 to be sufficiently different from the situation in Iraq in 2007 to 2008 to warrant modifying his policy, is a feature, not a bug. I'm supposed to count it against him that he became increasingly opposed to an American troop presence as time wore on?

    Pass, thanks.

  • BDB||

    Sarah Palin? Most county executives govern more people than she does!

  • ||

    Vice Presidential picks aren't supposed to "bring excitement." They're supposed to provide a solid backstop.

    Gimmick picks intended to swing specific constituencies don't work. They don't swing individual states, they don't swing demographic groups.

    Dick Cheney vs. the historic candidacy of Geraldine Ferarro. Bill Clinton winning big nationally with another Southerner on the ticket.

  • Warmongering Lunatic||

    "I think I have a much higher IQ than you do."

  • ||

    That's a pretty good point about Biden's propensity for ass-kicking backfiring against a female debate opponent. Ask Rick Lazio.

  • K.T.||

    Sarah Palin? Most county executives govern more people than she does!

    Precisely, it's harder to have skeletons in your closet when you don't have a very big closet to begin with. And, she has a vagina, which, along with melanin, apparently seems to matter to many people in this election.

  • Elemenope||

    Precisely, it's harder to have skeletons in your closet when you don't have a very big closet to begin with.

    Hah! Alaska is like corruption central these days.

  • Jimmy||

    Palin also seems to have some support in conservative circles.

    NRO VP Poll

  • Elemenope||

    Bill Clinton winning big nationally with another Southerner on the ticket.

    That one's muddied a bit by Perot with the assist, dontcha think?

  • *||

    Precisely, it's harder to have skeletons in your closet when you don't have a very big closet to begin with. And, she has a vagina,

    Yeah, that's probably where the skeletons are hidden. ;-)

  • Libertarians For Obama||

    How could this guy lose?


    Biden favors an American deployment of troops to Sudan in order to end the genocide in Darfur. He believes that the mission can be accomplished with 2,500 troops.

    Biden was given a 42% approval rating from the Cato Institute, revealing a mixed record on free trade.


    As chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, Biden wrote the laws that created the nation's "Drug Czar," who oversees and coordinates national drug control policy.


    Biden was given an "F" by the National Rifle Association (NRA) showing a pro-gun control voting record. He supports reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and voted against prohibition of lawsuits against gun manufacturers. He has voted to ban assault rifles and to end the "gun show loophole", stating that no one should be able to walk into a gun show and buy a gun more easily than they could at a normal store.

    He voted to provide Social Security to illegal immigrants and supports a path to citizenship.

    Biden supported the PATRIOT Act:
    He was given a 60% approval rating from the American Civil Liberties Union reflecting a mixed voting record on civil rights issues.

    Biden voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act


    Biden received a 91% voting record from the National Education Association (NEA) showing a pro-teacher union voting record. He supports abstinence education, is against student vouchers and voluntary prayer in schools.




  • ||

    I wouldn't want a gimmick pick but someone with a proven record and ability of picking up votes Obama was not already going to get would have been the standard I should think...Also, sometimes a pick can undermine the opposition, as I think McCain's pick of a woman would do. No feminist was going to vote for Reagan in 1984 come hell or high water, but I could see them voting a McCain-Some Woman ticket especially after being dissapointed with the HRC loss...

  • ||

    Hah! Alaska is like corruption central these days.

    Among Washingtonian-based Alaskans... everyone's gets a bigger closet once you arrive in the corruption capital of the world

  • BDB||

    Elemenope beat me to it.

    Plus how the hell can you claim to be for "small government" when the state you govern is a whore pimped out by the federal government?

  • ||

    By the logic of "Joe Biden undermines the change message," - setting aside the merits of that argument - this pick would open the door for McCain to pick someone exciting and new, without worrying too much about it undermining his "3AM phone call" brand.

  • ||

    See, the fact that Joe Biden is unlike you, and considers the situation in Iraq in 2005 to be sufficiently different from the situation in Iraq in 2007 to 2008 to warrant modifying his policy, is a feature, not a bug. I'm supposed to count it against him that he became increasingly opposed to an American troop presence as time wore on?

    Nope, not just 2005, joe. Here's Sen. Biden assessing Obama's Iraq plan on September 13, 2007 and opposing immediate withdrawal:

    "My impression is [Obama] thinks that if we leave, somehow the Iraqis are going to have an epiphany" of peaceful coexistence among warring sects. "I've seen zero evidence of that."



    And he certainly hasn't changed to thinking that his original vote was a mistake,given what we knew then. Meet the Press, April 29, 2007:

    "The threat [Saddam Hussein] presented was that, if Saddam was left unfettered, which I said during that period, for the next five years with sanctions lifted and billions of dollars into his coffers, then I believed he had the ability to acquire a tactical nuclear weapon - not by building it, by purchasing it. I also believed he was a threat in that he was - every single solitary U.N. resolution which he agreed to abide by, which was the equivalent of a peace agreement at the United Nations, after he got out of - after we kicked him out of Kuwait, he was violating. Now, the rules of the road either mean something or they don't. The international community says "We're going to enforce the sanctions we placed" or not. And what was the international community doing? The international community was weakening. They were pulling away."

  • K.T.||

    Plus how the hell can you claim to be for "small government" when the state you govern is a whore pimped out by the federal government?

    Ron Paul does it pretty well (i.e. he loves to load up pork for his home district.)

    But, Palin has been a vocal advocate of Alaska getting off the gravy train.

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    That one's muddied a bit by Perot with the assist, dontcha think? Most analyses show that Perot voters split their second choice right down the middle.

    MNG,

    Nobody who has not already run for President has a "proven record" of picking up any votes in a national race. However, Biden has shown an ability to pick up white, working-class Catholic votes.

    Geradline Ferraro couldn't even deliver her home state. The gimmickyness of her choice almost certainly drove away more people than it picked up.


    I can see what you're saying about a slice of the electorate that might pick McCain/Gyno-Ameircan over Obama/Biden, but it's probably pretty small (how many first-wave feminists would EVER vote for someone as anti-choice as McCain), and Obama picking a woman just to pick one would almost certainly would have hurt him more than it would help.

    Except for Hillary, who wouldn't have been seen as a gimmick pick at all, but who comes with her own baggage.

  • robc||

    joe

    If, on the other hand, they are attracted to the campaign because the "change" they wish to see is the replacement of the incompetence, neoconservatism, hyperpartisanship, dogmatism, and my-way-or-the-highway-ism that's characterized national politics for the past seven years, then this pick will help Obama among his supporters.

    Barring the surprise pick of Dick Cheney, nearly everyone would have fit this.

  • ||

    It's odd that you think those are two different items, as the partition proposal was part of the negotiated political settlement withdrawal strategy he was proposing in place of "just withdrawing."

    Yes, but he also explicitly opposed timelines and wanted a conditions-based withdrawal, and has continued to do so. That places his closer rhetorically to Bush and McCain, though obviously there's enormous room to disagree about exactly what conditions are sufficient and whether one would find conditions satisfied too easily or never.

    Speaking of the "neoconservatism" that you're upset about, isn't coming up with a plan whereby the US would unilaterally partition Iraq against the wishes of Iraqis because we believe it would lead to better things in a long run similar to neoconservatism? Sure, the fact that the Iraqis oppose it killed the plan, but you might as well note that the Bush Administration is signing agreements (condition-based) to pull out of Iraq because it's what the Iraqis want.

  • ||

    John Thacker,

    You can keep repeating that statement all you want. The fact that Joe Biden supported a negotiated withdrawal instead of a swift one doesn't bother me (I supported such a policy, too, over the Paul-Kucinich type of withdrawal, if you recall). Nor does the fact that he characterized Obama's proposal as being swifter than it actually was while running against him in a primary election.

    The fact that you need to crop the quote so closely in order to make it look like a statement in opposition to withdrawing, instead of a statement about how to withdraw, just draws attention to what you're doing. Please, I don't deliberately mislead people in the comments, and I'd appreciate a similar level of honesty from you, if you're going to keep addressing me.

  • robc||

    joe,

    They don't swing individual states

    Are you saying Bush would have won Wyoming without Cheney?

  • BDB||

    Joe, I believe you're an anti-drug war liberal. Doesn't having a fanatical drug warrior on the ticket give you pause?

  • ||

    "I can see what you're saying about a slice of the electorate that might pick McCain/Gyno-Ameircan over Obama/Biden, but it's probably pretty small"

    I think there are a lot of woman who would love to see A woman elected at the national level. And given the increasing closeness of this election you would not need too many of these.

  • Dagny T.||

    ...this pick would open the door for McCain to pick someone exciting and new, without worrying too much about it undermining his "3AM phone call" brand.

    That was my first thought, too. Combine that with almost any soundbite of Biden, might be a pretty good one-two punch for McCain.

  • ||

    Whew!

    This is not a self destructive pick. Since I actually prefer Obama to McCain, anything that avoids/delays the Democtatis proven uncanny propensity to fuck up a wet dream is appreciated.

  • ||

    That places (him) closer rhetorically to Bush and McCain

    Rhetorically, yes. Substantively, no - unless you wish to argue that the "conditions-based timeline" the Bush administration just agreed to represents their position all along.

    Obama himself never proposed a rigid timeline, wholly removed from conditions. When candidates running for the same office against each other have similar positions, they try to draw distinctions.

    isn't coming up with a plan whereby the US would unilaterally partition Iraq against the wishes of Iraqis because we believe it would lead to better things in a long run similar to neoconservatism?

    No. Neonconservatism is a term with an actual meaning, and dealing with the situation in Iraq as it existed a couple years after the invasion by separating the warring parties is not part of that definition. For one thing, a partitioned Iraq without an American troops presence can neither allow us to project power from there, nor allow our "democratic ally" to counter Iran - both of which actually are integral elements to a neoconservative foreign policy.

  • Elemenope||

    Since I actually prefer Obama to McCain, anything that avoids/delays the Democrats' proven uncanny propensity to fuck up a wet dream is appreciated.

    From your typing fingers to God's broadband sky connection.

    (He uses a Mac. The pansy.)

  • ||

    joe, but even the Bush Administration has been claiming that they wanted a negotiated withdraw based on conditions. And of course there's the draft agreement to back that up. Here's the NYT article.

    That's why I said that, rhetorically, Sen. Biden's position has been closer to that of the Bush Administration and Sen. McCain-- negotiated withdrawal, based on conditions, withdrawing too fast or without concern for conditions would be a mistake that could lead to chaos. (By contrast, Sen. Obama has claimed at times that he would withdraw quickly even if commanding officers said it would lead to chaos.)

    The key difference between the proposals, of course, is that you and others can certainly say that Biden's judgment about conditions or skill at negotiations will be better than Bush's. (And Bush Administration types can say the reverse, naturally.) That's a hugely important meaningful distinction, I certainly grant. You can absolutely consistently think that Biden's judgment will be much better on when to withdraw, and that Bush would never find conditions sufficient, etc.

    But as a matter of politics, Sen. Biden's statements are easy to use rhetorically to claim that his position on withdrawal is closer to that of Sen. McCain-- and as to the judgment question McCain's campaign has lots of quotes of Biden praising McCain's judgment, saying he'd be honored to run with him, and can compare that to Biden quotes saying that Sen. Obama is not ready.

    I certainly think that it's going to be a political issue.

  • ||

    BDB,

    Now THAT is a legitimate point about Biden - that he's a big ol' drug warrior - and I've raised that objection myself. It's good that he's backed off a bit, but he's still way too enthusiastic for my tastes.

    That, and Biden's Hillary-esque view of executive power. He's certainly not in Bush/Cheney territory, but he's further down that path that I'd like, particularly at this moment in our history (that is, in the immediate post-Bush years), are my biggest complaints. Fortunately, those are both areas where Obama actually is considerably better than average, as presidential nominees go.

  • Hoosier Daddy||

    Ask the average mofo out of Indiana who Dick Lugar is.

    One is for shootin', one is for fun?

  • ||

    And it need not be gimmicky. If you choose Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine or that guy from Iowa then you actually increase the excitement and votes from the state they are from, which in this case would constitute pick ups for the Dems. As long as that pick doesn't cost you anything then you won some votes.

    With Perot in the race Clinton was going to beat Bush in 92 unless he chose someone who subtracted votes. Mondale could have picked Gandhi and still lost.

  • BDB||

    Timmeh doesn't make anyone enthusiastic.

  • ||

    I guess choosing any of those guys would have left Obama open to the "no foriegn policy experience" charge from McCain, but I'm not sure that Biden shuts that up for anyone willing to buy it and if I were Obama I would just cough and mumble "Iraq" everytime it was brought up...

  • ||

    Substantively, no - unless you wish to argue that the "conditions-based timeline" the Bush administration just agreed to represents their position all along.

    That is what they've claimed repeatedly, joe. You don't have to believe them, but they've found the "we're for withdrawal, but only when the conditions warrant" to be a useful rhetorical claim, because it bogs the entire thing down in technical discussions of whether conditions are right and allows them to bring on generals et al. to testify about it.

    That's why you had quotes like this:

    The truth is if al Qaeda establishes a base in Iraq, all these people who talk about going into Pakistan are going to have to send your kids back to Iraq. And so the fact of the matter is it matters how we get out of Iraq.



    Of course, that quote is by Sen. Biden. Still, sounds a whole bunch like the Administration's claim here on page 2:

    The Administration strongly opposes any provision that sets an arbitrary date for beginning the withdrawal of American troops without regard to conditions on the ground or the recommendations of commanders. Precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would not bring peace to the region or make our people safer here at home. Withdrawal could embolden our enemies and confirm their belief that America will not stand behind its commitments. Setting a date for withdrawal is equivalent to setting a date for failure and could lead to a safe haven in Iraq for terrorism that could be used to attack America and freedom-loving people around the world. It is likely to unleash chaos in Iraq that could spread across the region.



    Look, like Matt Welch you can find the Bush and McCain claims earlier that they were for negotiated conditions-based withdrawal to be essentially lies because the conditions would never be satisfied. But that is the rhetorical ground that both have staked out, and they staked it out partially because Sen. Obama ceded that ground, and partially precisely because it is so easy to obfuscate, and partially because most people believe that it is the right position-- but only if paired with the right judgment.

    Once it turns into a question of judgment and nuance within the position, it might be tricky to have a running mate who has praised your opponent's judgment but said that you needed more training because the Presidency was not the sort of job that you could do with "on-the-job training."

  • ||

    I do think two Senators is a huge mistake. Especially Biden, who is just enough of a loudmouth liberal to really piss off the moderate electorate.

    I'm with MNG; the Dems are proving they really want to lose this election...and if they do, they should disband and start all over.

  • ||

    joe, but even the Bush Administration has been claiming that they wanted a negotiated withdraw based on conditions.

    They are now, that the Iraqis are imposing it on them. Is that what they were saying in 2007? Heck, it's not even what they were saying this spring. And that's just rhetorical.

    (By contrast, Sen. Obama has claimed at times that he would withdraw quickly even if commanding officers said it would lead to chaos.) Tactics vs. strategy - we've been over this ground for a couple of years now. Obama never said he would ignore commanders who said his withdrawal would lead to chaos - he said the opposite, that he'd modify his timelines in response to threats as necessary - just that his policy would remain one of withdrawing, and using the political effect of a withdrawal to influence conditions on the ground. Nor did Biden ever say that he was opposed to withdrawing, just that he would carry out a withdrawal carefully. Making withdrawal part of your strategy for influencing conditions on the ground, while retaining the option of making tactical shifts to account for unforeseen events, is not the same thing as making continued occupation your strategy. It's not even the same thing as making the achievement of certain conditions a prerequisite for your withdrawal.

    Now, that's reality. On politics, you might have a point here: But as a matter of politics, Sen. Biden's statements are easy to use rhetorically to claim that his position on withdrawal is closer to that of Sen. McCain The thing is, right now, John McCain is doing everything he can to blur the distinction between himself and Obama on withdrawal, especially now that the Bush administration has conceded on the matter.

  • ||

    I think an additional issue that as devoid of substance as Obama is perceived to be by many (I think the charge that he's basically a Rorshach test candidate...you look at him and you see what you want) is that Biden is actually going to define him.

  • ||

    "I'm with MNG; the Dems are proving they really want to lose this election...and if they do, they should disband and start all over."

    A weak economy, an unpopular 8 year incumbent from the other party and an unpopular war. This usually means cake with ice cream for a Democratic opposition run.

    But the Dems think that 2006 was such an overwhelming affirmation of their principles/denunciation of the GOP in general that they can have their cake and ice cream and eat it too. Incredible. They are screwing it up for sure.

  • ||

    how many first-wave feminists would EVER vote for someone as anti-choice as McCain

    Well, being that all the "first-wave" feminists have been dead for decades, I'd say nobody outside of Chicago or possibly the deep South has any hope of swaying them one way or the other. You're thinking of second-wave feminists.

  • ||

    MNG,

    If you choose Evan Bayh or Tim Kaine or that guy from Iowa then you actually increase the excitement and votes from the state they are from Like Gore? Like Ferarro? Like Benson?

    I don't think it works like that anymore, if it ever did. People vote based on the top of the ticket. A good VP pick makes the presidential candidate look better. If people are voting on the VP pick, it's because they're voting against it.

  • ||

    Obama chose Biden because Biden is an asshole. Obama needs an asshole to do the dirty job of taking the fight to McCain so that the Dems can stop playing defense. To that end, Biden was probably only second to Hillary in his ability to get the attacking done.

  • ||

    Three years ago the Democrats would have been ecstatic with simply a Democratic President. Ecstatic. I mean, they would have felt lucky to have Ben Nelson in there. But then they got greedy and said, well what would we ideally have? A Democrat that is also a black person. In the United States. For President. For a party that has had exactly two winning candidates in four decades.

    Then they had a chance to make up for that and they picked...

    Joe Biden from Delaware...

  • ||

    John Thacker,

    That is what they've claimed repeatedly, joe. Right, right. I thought you were talking about reality, not political spin. I thought you were arguing that there really were substantive differences on their proposals about how to go forward that should influence my opinion, not just test-driving the Republicans' spin for them. I'm flattered that you picked me to be the test course, though.

    Politically, I don't think it's going to be any more trouble for Biden to back up Obama than any other primary-opponent-turned-running-mate, like Old Bush or Johnson.

  • ||

    I mean, why didn't they just pick a black athiest who was also gay from Vermont and be done with it.

  • ||

    Here is how in the past four decades the Democrats win Presidential elections:

    1. Pick non-gay white guy from South
    2. Hope for bad economy

    And still you barely win.

    Liberals just got greedy in a McGovern-Dukakis sort of way.

  • ||

    Oh, the non-gay white guy from the South should be to the right of the national party. He can always shift to the left when governing ;)

  • BDB||

    MNG, Pennsylvania is now out of play for McCain. Biden is worth at least 3% in the Philly area, where hes been broadcasting political ads in the Philly media market for the past 30 years.

    His "home state" is as much the Delaware Valley as Delaware itself.

  • ||

    MNG,

    A weak economy, an unpopular 8 year incumbent from the other party and an unpopular war. This usually means cake with ice cream for a Democratic opposition run.

    Usually? Um, there has never been a single election held under those circumstances. There has never been an 8 year Republican incumbent while there was an unpopular war and a bad economy.

    Besides, you are misstating the incumbency advantage/disadvantage dynamic. It only applies to sitting presidents running for re-election. Swing voters in the middle - the ones who determine elections - are by definition people who "vote for the man, not the party," so their satisfaction or displeasure with a president whose term is up doesn't translate to other candidates based on party. Ask Al Gore, or the guy who was losing to Mike Dukakis by over ten points, or Richard Nixon.

  • ||

    MNG,

    How well did the Republicans' decades-long strategy for how to win elections work in 1932? Times change. Believe it or not, it isn't 1988. Can you imagine how a Barack Obama candidacy would have worked in the 80s?

    BDB,

    Pennsylvania was never in play for McCain, barring a national collapse for Obama that would have also lost him places like Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia - meaning, Pennsylvania wouldn't have mattered.

  • BDB||

    Joe he had an outside shot there, much like Obama has in North Carolina, but now its completely unreachable. His only hope is Michigan and New Hampshire as far as making blue states red.

    Mittens has to be liking his chances right now.

  • ||

    Where else than Bizzaro America can people who's job performance rating is less than 10% be considered qualified for president.

    Obama, Biden, McCain, are from that club. So

  • ||

    Scratch that last line.

  • ||

    OK, I just* noticed this on the left side of the page.

    Get Reason E-mail Updates!
    Email address:
    (optional) Your name:

    Do I dare? Will they inundate me with e-crap? Will they sell my address to Donderooooooooooooo?

    * Hey, I'm slow.

  • ||

    Or Vice-President for that matter.

  • ||

    His only hope is Michigan and New Hampshire as far as making blue states red.

    If Obama keeps his disatance from Detroit's mayor, Michigan will remain blue come November.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I mean, why didn't they just pick a black athiest who was also gay from Vermont and be done with it.

    You aren't very familiar with the demographics of Vermont, are you?

  • ||

    joe
    Each factor (economic woes or an unpopular incumbent) are factors which should give the Dems a solid advantage. Poli sci models have always recognized other factors though, such as scandal or "picking a black guy whose middle name is Hussein" that can screw up your natural advantage granted by these factors. The Democrats went and CHOSE their disadvantage. Thus they are barely leading at a time when most poli sci models would have a similarly situated Dem candidate winning.

    Having seen George Bush beat Kerry in 2004,, the last election, I don't think things have changed so much from 1988. The thing that broke the GOP in 1932 stranglehold was 25% unemployment! No, things have not changed that much since 1988...

  • ||

    BDB,

    I don't think Obama has any more a chance in North Carolina than McCain has in Pennsylvania. If Obama wins North Carolina, he'll win all the swing states and stuff like Montana to boot, in a national blowout. Maybe Virgnia is a swing state, but now PA and NC.

    We'll see.

  • ||

    You're right, it would put PA beyond any reach, even in a McCain blowout, though.

  • ||

    His only hope is Michigan and New Hampshire as far as making blue states red.

    From what I'm seeing, it's hinging on Virginia at this point. But the lovely* state of Ohio has a history of swinging wildly in the polls.

    *Disclaimer - not actually lovely.

  • BDB||

    Virginia is indeed the in the deadest of dead heats in the polls right now.

  • ||

    Speaking of that, was Mark Warner vetted for Obama's spot? young, dynamic, wealthy, entrepreneurial and in a swing state this year?

    Why was he not the ideal choice?

  • Terry Michael||

    Some lessons here: Never put your faith in a politician. Ideas matter. "Hope" and "change" are not ideas.

    I feel betrayed, once again. But should I have expected more from a young man with no discernible informing political philosophy? Choosing Joe Biden, the essence-- the embodiment--of the Washington foreign policy establishment, which gave us the criminal enterprise in Iraq, is cynical politics beyond belief for those of us who take ideas seriously. libertarian Democrat is depressed.

  • BDB||

    TAO, Warner is waiting for 2012 or 2016. He declined to be vetted, he wabts that Senate seat, which he will win in a 70 percent plus blowout.

    He was a very good governor and would be a good president, though.

  • Regis Carnifex||

    At least Biden's potential new boss will be a clean, articulate, bright and good-looking Afro-American!

  • Yahoo Aswerer||

    "The blabbermouth Delaware senator"

    Isn't this redundant? Arn't ALL senator's by definition blabbermouths? Has there ever been a mute U.S. Senator?

  • Luke Johnson||

    One "bullet away from the White House"? Did you write that about about John Edwards in 2004, or Dick Cheney in 2000, or Jack Kemp in 1996, or Al Gore in 1992? I thought not.

    I think it was said about Teddy Roosevelt.

  • ||

    MNG,
    your pessimism is bringing me down

  • Elemenope||

    Has there ever been a mute U.S. Senator?

    The closest you come is "Silent" Cal Coolidge, who was President of the Senate ex officio when he was vice-president.

  • pfjo||

    Biden is Obama's magic trick... he will keep you distracted with his buffoonishness while making you more comfortable with Obama's inexperience which prevents you from looking too closely at his actual policies and personality.

    The further away you are from Obama, the better he looks and Joe Biden will keep us all at arms length.

  • ||

    TAO, Warner is waiting for 2012 or 2016. He declined to be vetted, he wabts that Senate seat, which he will win in a 70 percent plus blowout.

    What an odd calculus. If Obama wins and Warner is a Senator (which is going to happen), that really means that Warner has to wait until 2016...unless he wants to be the freshman Senator making a primary challenge to a sitting President.

    hm...I guess I see the logic. Obama isn't a shoo-in no matter what fantasies reside in young college freshmen's bong-resin addled skulls.

  • ||

    I should clarify that Warner is obviously going to be a Senator (unless there's a "dead girl or live boy" moment) but Obama is anything but a shoo-in for the Presidency.

    So what are everyone's predictions? I've been saying that (unexpectedly enough) that once Obama was nominated, McCain was going to win. I still maintain that McCain is going to be the next President (ed. note: I am not pleased about either choice).

    What's everyone else's take?

  • stephen the goldberger||

    I think I'd still rather vote for BLOOMBERG PAUL 08

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    "So what are everyone's predictions? I've been saying that (unexpectedly enough) that once Obama was nominated, McCain was going to win. I still maintain that McCain is going to be the next President (ed. note: I am not pleased about either choice)."

    I agree, Obama is the John Kerry of 2008. He apears elite in the eyes of too many people. All we need for him to do now is say "Like I always said . . . "

  • ||

    I think we should all applaud Barack Obama for reaching out to the mediocre-American community by choosing Senator Biden for his running mate.

    Obama's sending a clear message with this decision, and the message is that a vote for Obama is a vote for business as usual in Washington.

    -jcr

  • ||

    If everything happens as This Map says, and if Virginia goes for McCain,you end up with an electoral tie.

    That'd be a fascinating result.

  • ||

    One last thought on Biden.
    Isn't it ironic that the urge to plagiarize is akin to the urge to choose Biden for your VP.
    Isn't it? The end result is expected to be similar.
    Work with me here.

  • ||

    Obama is anything but a shoo-in for the Presidency.

    Yeah, he may have already blown it. I thought that the only way he could possibly lose would be by tossing Hilary the consolation prize, but he really surprised me.

    I thought he was smart enough to keep doing what he had been doing, just spouting feel-good blather, but it looks like he got cocky and pulled a Mondale with that "national service" scheme of his.

    -jcr

  • Elemenope||

    TAO --

    Yah. If by "fascinating" you mean "riot inducing". You've got to be nuts if you think that either side of this conflict will put up with the House of fucking Representatives picking it.

  • BDB||

    An EC tie will make Florida 2000 look like a walk in the park.

    They really need to add one more EV to make ties impossible.

  • ||

    Actually, MNG, political science models of a non-incumbent race under these conditions would predict a small Democratic victory - which is where the race has been for four months now.

    If Bush was finishing his first term under these conditions, they would predict a Democratic blowout.

    Non-incumbent races are almost always tight: 2000, 1988, 1968, 1960, 1952. One big win the bunch.

  • BDB||

    1952 was a pretty big blowout along with 1988.

  • ktc2||

    Somehow the Dems always manage to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Elemenope||

    1952 was a pretty big blowout along with 1988.

    Yeah, but Adlai Stevenson was *teh worst campaigner evar*!

    That might have had an effect.

  • ||

    Many make the mistake in thinking that Biden was chosen for his policy positions,,, No - he was chosen as a Hit Man. But unlike a goon in the NHL, he actually needs to have stature.

    Biden can simultaneously stick a boot up McCain and Willard's ass - leaving the dirty work far away from Obama - who is the good cop now.

  • ||

    My take on Biden (and as a native Delawarean I've met him once or twice)is that he started out as a well-meaning guy who got corrupted by too many years in the system. (I witnessed a speech in 1977 where he urged citizens to actually take the initiative in caring for the elderly in their own families and stop relying on the government so much. Yeah, he actually said that...in 1977).

    On the other hand, I once worked with a certain WIlmington businessman with ties to Biden and that guy was as crooked as the proverbial day is long.

    Not that it blows up my skirt one way or another; the only thing that could conceivably drive me to even consider voting would be if McCain were to pick someone utterly revolting (like say, Tancredo) as his number two...

  • The Unibomber||

    But the Dems think that 2006 was such an overwhelming affirmation of their principles/denunciation of the GOP in general that they can have their cake and ice cream and eat it too.

    Yup. But they can't eat their cake and ice cream and have it too.

  • ||

    I think McCain wins. And yes, the big winner is Mark Warner, whom the Democratic Party will come limping too as it did Bill Clinton in 1992 saying "uh, yeah, we don't know how to win the Presidency from the hole in our ass, will you help us?"

    joe
    http://balkin.blogspot.com/2008/07/thinking-about-next-regime.html
    "In recent days, Kevin Drum and Dan Drezner have pointed to this essay by Clive Crook about macro-factors that tend to decide most presidential elections. They could also have cited to Ray Fair's simple model of presidential elections. These models, and others like them, suggest that we need to pay attention to the big picture, which has only a few important elements. In particular, because (1) Bush is very very unpopular, (2) the economy is not doing so well, and (3) the Republicans have held the White House for eight years, the Democrats will almost certainly win the Presidency. As Dan puts it, "if, given the current structural conditions, the Democratic Party fails to win in November, the party should simply disband."

  • ||

    OK, some stats on incumbent vs. non-incumbent elections, via joe, whose math is never, ever worng.

    There have been 12 elections since 1940 that involved an incumbent. Please note that I could have gone back to 1932 and it only would have helped by argument, so no cherry-picking.

    In 6 of those elections - 50% - the margin of victory was 8 or greater. In just one - 8% - was the margin 3 or less. The average margin of victory was 10.8%. The highest margin was 23 points, with another 22.5% race and an 18% race as well. The lowest margin was 2%, in 1976*, followed by 3.5% in 2004.

    There have been five non-incumbent elections since then. In two - 40% - the margin was eight or greater. In the other three - 60% - the margins were a tie, a tie, and. 0.5%. The average margin of victory was 3.8%. The highest margin was 10.5%.

    *A case can be made that 1976 was more like a non-incumbent election. Not only had Ford succeeded to the Presidency, but he'd never even run on a ticket with Nixon, as opposed to Johnson in 64 and Truman in 48.

  • ||

    From the essay by Mr. Cook:
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3bf5c59a-5666-11dd-8686-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1

    "Alan Abramowitz, a politics scholar at Emory University, has shown that summer head-to-head polls convey almost no information about the forthcoming election. (Subsequent head-to-head polls are not much better.) Instead, he has a simple "electoral barometer" that weighs together the approval rating of the incumbent president, the economy's economic growth rate and whether the president's party has controlled the White House for two terms (the "time for a change" factor). This laughably simple metric has correctly forecast the winner of the popular vote in 14 out of 15 postwar presidential elections.

    The only exception is 1968, when the barometer (calibrated to range between +100 and -100) gave Hubert Humphrey a wafer-thin advantage of +2; he lost, with a popular vote deficit of less than 1 percentage point. The barometer not only picks winners but pretty accurately points to winning margins, too. In 1980, Jimmy Carter had the biggest postwar negative reading (-66); Ronald Reagan beat him by nearly 10 percentage points.

    President George W. Bush's net approval rating (favourable minus unfavourable) is currently -40; the economy grew at a 1 per cent annual rate in the first quarter; and Republicans have had two terms in the White House. Plugging the numbers into Mr Abramowitz's formula gives the Republican candidate a score of -60, about as bad as it gets: second only to Mr Carter's in the annals of doomed postwar candidacies. The barometer says Mr Obama is going to waltz to victory."

  • ||

    Mr. Nice Guy, political models that treat an incumbent president the same as a nominee from the outgoing president's party are missing a great deal.

  • ||

    One wonders if the Warner/Gilmore race will have a spill-over effect into the Presidential race in Virginia, instead of the other way around.

  • ||

    shrike

    Who is Willard?

    At first I thought you were referring to McCain as "Captian Willard" from Apocalypse Now, which I thought was kinda hilarious.

  • ||

    joe
    I think we'd both like to see Obama win, for different reasons perhaps. I wish I could be as confident of this as you are. Like I've said, we've all seen the Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory too many times in the last 40 years. And his lead continues to slip slide away...

    I thought the choice of Kerry was one of the most childishly naive ones in decades (hey, we are in a war and he was in a war, so the sheeple will love him and no one will notice his liberal voting record) until this nomination. I of course deplore the fact that Obama's race will hurt him, and that his name and "Muslim background" will hurt him. That's all very stupid and I've said so here. But to ingore that such stupid things (and nonstupid things, like his inexperience) work with enough of the electorate to matter is simply realism and if liberals want to stop what the GOP has been doing for the past eight years they have to grow up and think rather than feel when they pick a nominee.

  • ||

    NMG,

    "If the Democrats don't win..."

    The Democrats are winning. The Democrats have been winning all along. Obama led McCain the day he won the nomination and has never fallen even to a tie, nevermind behind. All the evidence suggests Obama is going to win.

    The fact that Obama's lead has been modest throughout is not historically anomalous; it's right in line with the historical precedents.

    The Democrats should win - by somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.8%. You can talk about the fact that he's black and named Barack the Islamic Shock Superallah Hussein Obama as being negatives, and you're probably right. All candidates have negatives. Right now, his bundle of negatives and positives vs. McCain's has him with the narrow lead that one should expect in a race like this, and holding it much more consistently than usual.

  • ||

    And his lead continues to slip slide away...

    No, not really. One oddball Zogby poll notwithstanding.

  • Mad Max||

    "A case can be made that 1976 was more like a non-incumbent election. Not only had Ford succeeded to the Presidency, but he'd never even run on a ticket with Nixon, as opposed to Johnson in 64 and Truman in 48."

    I'm guessing you mean "never run on a ticket with the man he replaced."

  • BDB||

    Joe, you gotta admit the Democrats don't have a stellar record at winning presidential elections since 1968.

  • BDB||

    On Warner/Gilmore, Obama should make Warner his surrogate in Southwest (they love him there) since he doesn't really have to worry about Jim Gilmore.

  • ||

    After reading about his horrifying senate record in The Agitator, I'm thinking maybe this is a great thing, to get him into a do-nothing irrelevant position where maybe he can't do any more damage.

  • ||

    Nice to know that the editor of Reason thinks withdrawing from Iraq within a year is "pie-in-the-sky" fantasy. Of course, this is the same oh-so-serious clown who claims he didn't even have a position on the war at the time, yet we're supposed to be impressed that he's not one of those silly anti-war hippie types.

    Immediately moving to end a brutal military occupation that was a result of an illegal, immoral act of aggression just isn't that big a deal to Reason's hipster wannabe-pundit. And if you bother to click through to the Richardson interview, you will see the the only response from the LAT's editorial board to Richardson's sensible out-in-a-year plan for Iraq was a rehashing of the tired "but things were bad after we left Vietnam" tripe.

    Of course, with writers like Welch, Moynihan, and Michael Young, Reason really is little more than a tabloid for closeted neocons who just aren't into the whole gay-bashing, pro-life thing: witness their shilling for corporatist policies like "privatizing" prisons, so that jailing non-violent drug offenders becomes a for-profit privilege granted by the state to a select few corporations (http://www.reason.org/corrections/).

    And libertarianism's biggest image problem is Ron Paul?

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    Right, of course.

    BDB,

    The Democrats didn't have a stellar record at winning presidential elections since the year there was a national realignment that made the Republicans the majority party? You don't say. In 1968, one could just as well have said, you have to admit, the Republicans don't have a very good record winning presidential elections since 1932.

    All: do we get to drink after charlie's comment?

  • Kolohe||

    Many make the mistake in thinking that Biden was chosen for his policy positions,,, No - he was chosen as a Hit Man. But unlike a goon in the NHL, he actually needs to have stature.

    Biden can simultaneously stick a boot up McCain and Willard's ass - leaving the dirty work far away from Obama - who is the good cop now.


    I agree with this assessment; furthermore it's why I disagree with TAO's negative assessment. The above dynamic was the same one that Bush/Cheney '00 successfully use (albeit by the narrowest of margins)

  • shrike||

    Willard is the actual given name of Mitt Romney.

    I think the creep association with the rat movie drove him to adopt "Mitt" at some later date. I am not sure about the date change though.

  • BDB||

    Joe-

    If we go back to 1952 the record doesn't get much better. BUT maybe they will turn around, after all the Red Sox had a horrible record of winning the World Series, until they did.

    I think Biden fixes the blue collar white voter problem, or at least puts a band aid on it. I'm beginning to realize that was as much a factor as his foreign policy experience.

    Also, he can attack McCain and Obama won't look like the angry black guy. Good cop/bad cop.

  • ||

    charlie - thanks for that bit of verbal diarrhea and completely irrelevant "commentary".

    Scamper along now, the adults are talking.

    and yes, joe, we get to drink.

  • ||

    "Willard is a social misfit with a strange affinity for rats."

    and

    "Romney sheep, a type of sheep which is bred for meat" --- (both Wiki)

    Sorry, folks, I am absolutely fascinated with names.

  • Anti-Globalism||

    For Obama, "change" means that lobbyists now have to call in advance to schedule appointments.

    And "The People" are buying it. My money goes into Chinese stocks tonight, LOL

  • ||

    and yes, joe, we get to drink.?

    Whoa. You really are an optimist. 'kay.

    I just hope picking the only middle class person in the Senate, who has a knack for hitting it off with...let's call them Hillary voters...doesn't convince McCain to pick someone less of a plutocrat then Willard.

    Come back, Mittens! Your country needs you!

  • ||

    A-G, you're not even making any sense. Try forming a coherent thought before you post next time.

  • BDB||

    I can't tell if this makes a Romney pick MORE or LESS likely.

    On one hand, PA is safely blue now. So he needs to go for Michigan and New Hampshire. Romney has roots in Michigan (father was a governor) and is a New Englander (Gov. of Mass).

    OTOH, Biden is his perfect foil. Completely perfect.

  • ||

    Biden's elder son...is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October, 2008

    How bizarre that Delaware would deploy its AG. Does anybody else find this really strange?

    You could actually wind up with a powerful person's child in the war!

  • ||

    On one hand, PA is safely blue now.

    I'm not understanding this sentiment. I know that Biden is close enough to Philly that East-Coast Philadelphians are enamored with him, but I am sure there isn't a lot of love lost in the western part of the state, given that Pittsburgh and area are way more Midwestern, "HRC-type supporters" than East Coasters.

  • Warmongering Lunatic||

    McCain doesn't have to flip a single "blue state". If Obama wins every state that was blue in either 2000 or 2004 . . . he loses the election 264-274.

    As far as historical numbers, on August 23rd in 2004, by the Electoral-vote.com numbers, Kerry had 286 EVs. Today, Obama has 269.

    In a 269-269 EV tie, the House of Representatives votes by state, not by raw numbers, with 26 states to win. Hard to say how they'll work out exactly, but let's assume each state's delegation votes for the guy who won the state. In that case, McCain wins 28-22.

  • Elemenope||

    A-G, you're not even making any sense. Try forming a coherent thought before you post next time.

    Give it up, dude. This is a guy who accused me of fallacious logic for attacking his vaguely warmed-over social darwinist presumption that laws protect only "the weak" (whatever the hell that means).

    And he calls himself anti-Globalist and is going to "buy China stocks LOL". A few straws short of a swamp, I guess.

  • BDB||

    TAO--

    Hes a blue collar Catholic from Scranton. That and the fact hes been well known in the Philly media market for 30 some odd years means you get 2 or 3% out of that, enough to move PA out of play. All the pundits pretty much agree, I expect McCain will pull his ads and visits from that state soon unless he picks Ridge.

  • Eddy||

    I hereby predict Biden pushes New Hampshire squarely to McCain. Maybe 10 points, maybe more.

  • BDB||

    WML-

    Obama already has Iowa and New Mexico in the bag. He needs just one more state after that. It could be Colorado, it could be Virginia, it could be Ohio. But he just needs ONE. Could he lose narrowly in ALL three states? Sure, but thats not as likely as him winning at least one.

    So McCain needs to make it harder for him to get to 270 by taking away one of his states.

  • BDB||

    He has a comfortable lock on Iowa because of ethanol, and on New Meixco because the hispanic support of the Republican ticket has literally plummeted through the floor since 2004.

  • BDB||

    Does anybody else think it would be extremely good for the country if Obama and McCain would agree to concede the election to whoever won the popular vote in the case of an electoral vote tie? I'm not looking forward to the riots.

  • ||

    Bush's approval ratings are very low, and the GOP got the electoral backhand two years ago. Bush was able to beat back an opponent in a stinging campaign four years ago and his subsequent fuck ups led to people hating him and turning his party out. Yet here we are and the Dem candidate is barely leading the GOP one. And did I mention the economy, which is usually a big issue for any Dem, is hurting?

    This election could have been about whether you wanted the GOP to continue to lead or not. But with the Obama pick it is about "are you ready to pick a black man with a funny name" (don't get me wrong, HRC would have been the same problem different form, i.e., are you ready to elect a woman). Instead of a referendum on GOP executive leadership we get a referendum on Barak Obama. This was a stupid move on the Dems part because I think had the question of the election been "do you want four more years of GOP control of the executive" I think we know the Dems lead would be larger right now...

  • ||

    joe
    The 1932 realignment was the result of 25% unemployment. That tends to shake people up a bit. The 1968 realignment was the result of Dem support for Civil Rights which meant a huge reliable bloc for the Dems, the South, was lost (until this day actually).

    What in the world makes you think we've had a similar realignment back to the Dems or to liberalism? The 2006 elections? Puh-leeze!

  • Eddy||

    McCain could try to swing more hispanic vote with a VP pick like Mel Martinez. Well, the natural born citizen equivalent of Mel Martinez.

  • ||

    I'm not looking forward to the riots.

    That won't happen now that the American people are used to the force of government. Not to mention that Bush rescinded the Posse Comitatus Act as part of Homeland Security.

    I vaguely recall some spat on this - off to der google.

  • Picklestein||

    Joe Biden is liked by Clean, Black Men, now.

  • ||

    shrike - what are you talking about? Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Acts are still the laws of the land.

  • Pancho Villa||

    McCain could try to swing more hispanic vote with a VP pick .....

    McCain should have his share of the hispanic vote. He speaks Spanish, represents a heavily hispanic state, favors an immigration policy skewed to hispanics, and they don't like Black people.

  • ||

    MNG,

    But with the Obama pick it is about "are you ready to pick a black man with a funny name" (don't get me wrong, HRC would have been the same problem different form, i.e., are you ready to elect a woman).

    Haven't you picked up on the fact that there's a pattern here? The Republicans turned 1988 into a referendum on Dukakis, 1992 into a referendum on Clinton, 2000 into a referendum on Gore, and 2004 into a referendum on Kerry. I don't recall their normal names and pasty skin tones changing that fact.

    I suppose one could argue that this is a consequence of the Democrats selecting such uniquely awful candidates, including the one who was the two term president, that the Republicans were able to frame the race that way, but maybe there's another answer here.

    And you still keep confusing incumbency effects with party. They don't work that way.

  • BDB||

    But his party brand has a terrible, terrible image problem with Hispanics right now, even if McCain himself doesn't.

  • McKKKain4AmeriKKKa||

    I'm not looking forward to the riots.

    I am. I fully expect a bunch of liberals to mouth off about "taking it to the streets" if Rove/Diebold/McKKKain "steal the election" from Obama. If they are good on their threat expect the GOP to come roaring back in the 2010 midterms. Hell, about the only good thing to come from a Mccain victory will be watching the left tear itself apart.The Canadians might have to close the border.

  • ||

    TAO

    Wiki says..

    Homeland security

    In early 2006, the 109th Congress passed a bill containing controversial provisions that granted the President additional rights to use federal or state National Guard Troops and inside the United States in emergency situations. These changes were included in the John Warner Defense Appropriation Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122.ENR).

    These changes were repealed in their entirety in 2008.

    [edit] Natural disasters

    On September 26, 2006, President Bush urged Congress to consider revising federal laws so that the U.S. military could seize control immediately in the aftermath of a natural disaster, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    These changes were repealed in their entirety in 2008.


    Apparently, Leahy and Feingold turned the clock back for us freedom fighters.

  • ||

    I don't think this pick helps McCain much, but it definitely gives Barr two points right off the top!

  • BDB||

    "I am."

    Thanks for letting us know you're a jackass who would like to see cities get burned.

  • Warmongering Lunatic||

    Er, got my numbers mixed up. If Obama wins everything that went to Gore or Kerry, he loses 257-281. Toss in Iowa, and /then/ it's 264-274.

  • ||

    McKKKain4AmeriKKKa

    Homer Stokes?

  • ||

    How depressing. The CSPAN cameras don't lie; Biden isn't likable or smart.

    Oh well, let's look at the bright side. Biden's big mouth is comedy gold.

  • ||

    joe
    You're partially right. The GOP certainly works to make the elections a referendum on the candidates. Knowing this one would think that choosing candidates from (sorry) a state like Massachussets (which is simply to the left of the nation by good bit), or ones that protested US military action by throwing his war medals away (Kerry), or ACLU joining death penalty opponents (the Duk) or in the present case who have the middle name Hussein and are the product of the union of a non-citizen African American and a white lady (need I note the images this is likely to invoke in many a less enlightned voter's head?) would be a stupid thing to do. You don't see that?

    One of Bill Clinton's genuises was to take things the GOP had beat the Dems over the head with for years, like the death penalty, off the table. Nominating a candidate that would not provide such a target for the GOP's efforts to make the election into a referendum on them would, one would think, be important to a party that keeps getting its ass handed to it in national elections...

  • ||

    Biden isn't likable or smart

    That would make him a Republican. So you're wrong.

    I can't name a smart Republican - most of them are Creationists.

    ok - William Weld. He is one smart GOP Man.

  • ||

    Apparently, Leahy and Feingold turned the clock back for us freedom fighters.

    The bill (now law) that repealed those portions passed the House 369-46 and the Senate 91-3, so I don't know what you're talking about with this "Leahy and Feingold AMAZING TEAM OF FREEDOM".

    Let's not let Republican-hate get in the way of the truth, here.

  • ||

    WL,

    Gore won Iowa.

    MNG,

    They didn't have any trouble coming up with things to say about Clinton, the far-left draft dodger and criminal master-mind. No, MNG, I don't see how picking your candidate based on hoping that maybe the Republicans won't figure out how to smear them, instead of picking them based on their strengths and qualifications, is a good idea.

    Issues, that's one thing, but you're talking about race and middle names. That's nonsense.

  • ||

    The bill (now law) that repealed those portions passed the House 369-46 and the Senate 91-3

    Amazing what a change in leadership can do, inn't it?

  • Kolohe||

    Biden's elder son...is a captain in the Delaware Army National Guard, where he serves in the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps. He is set to be deployed to Iraq in October, 2008

    How bizarre that Delaware would deploy its AG. Does anybody else find this really strange?

    You could actually wind up with a powerful person's child in the war!


    I'm probably missing the joke here, but I think McCain's youngest son is an USMC PFC and has done a deployment to either afganistan or iraq.

    SD Dem Senator Tim Johnson has a son who was a staff sgt in the 101 airborne and partiicpated directly in OIF.

    And one of Jim Webb's sons is also in the Marines and was in Iraq sometime in the past two years.

    Interestingly, one of Biden's other kids is a registered lobbyist. (and was nominated for a government job by the current president!)

    This son also has a hedge fund lawsuit in progress, but doesn't appear to amount to much.



  • ||

    I can't name a smart Republican - most of them are Creationists.

    Puh-leeze shrike. If you're going to pimp yourself as a libertarian, it'd be best if you didn't have your lips permanently welded to "Team Blue", please.

    Chuck Hagel is a smart Republican, for one.
    George Voinovich certainly is another.
    Mitch McConnell is no dummy, either (I've met him). Although getting through med school certainly isn't indicative of an intellectual base, you certainly cannot be "not smart" to get through it, a la Bill Frist.

  • Scott66||

    Of course Biden was picked for many reasons, but one of them is surely to placate the angry feminist voters threatening not to vote democratic since Hillary lost. Joe Biden is extremely anti-male.

  • ||

    I'm probably missing the joke here

    I guess I shoulda said "White House Kid" in the war. I don't think we've had a Pres. or Veep's child in a conflict for a long time.

    I knew I get stung not digging around enough, though!

    Amazing what a change in leadership can do, inn't it?

    I know you're kidding with this.

  • ||

    Clinton had faced that kind of thing in Arkansas and still proved himself a consistent winner. Obama has one exactly one state wide campaign and his opponent imploded. Clinton also had the things that seem to do the trick for the Dems when running for the President: from the South and running to the right of his party. Obama has neither of these and he's a black man. We've never elected a black man as President or Vice President. We've never even come close. Race, far from being "nonsense" is a huge force in this nation, to ignore that is foolish. So this is taking a risk. Perhaps if we had 20 years of Dem dominance such a risk would be justified, but after 40 years of spankings it just seems, well, nuts.

    Did I mention that his fucking middle name is Hussein? As in the guy that got demonized to the point that in South Park he is shown fucking Satan? That's some pretty powerful cutural iconography. It's like nominating someone named "Stalin" in 1952. It's not that poor fucker's fault, but would you vote for that guy to be your party's nominee?

  • ||

    shrike
    Obviously I lean left and I can think of tons of smart and principled Republicans.

    Hagel for one. Both Senators from Maine. John Warner. Orrin Hatch, whom I disagree with on a lot, is a smart guy. And, well, John McCain is a very smart and brave guy.

    In fact, I can't think of many Dem statewide elected officials I would grant the same too. Jim Webb comes to mind.

  • BDB||

    Dick Lugar is a smart Republican. John Warner comes to mind also.

  • ||

    Give McCain some due: he stood up to the GOP and Bush several times. He could have just pandered like that spineless Romney, in fact it would have made his days easier running for Prez.

    Mitch McConnell? Jesus that guy is a fucking tool TAO.

  • ||

    Dick Lugar true dat BDB.

    And Arlen Spector.

  • ||

    Hagel, Chaffee, Weld, -- all admirable men - all ostracized by the conservative movement. I can name others.

    Let's face it - its the "culture wars" that conservatives only THINK they are winning.....its dividing this country up.

    I am pro Democracy, Markets, Science, Secularism, Civil Liberties - those are my priorities....

    Those FIVE items incite hatred in conservatives as a GROUP.

  • ||

    Mitch McConnell? Jesus that guy is a fucking tool TAO.

    What's that based on? Just 'cause there's stuff you disagree with him about doesn't make him a tool. Also, suing the FEC makes him enough of a hero in my book. You'll note it was the so-called "left" contingent of SCotUS that upheld limits on free speech.

    I am pro Democracy, Markets, Science, Secularism, Civil Liberties - those are my priorities....

    Those FIVE items incite hatred in conservatives as a GROUP.


    Ha. And how is that any better than the lip service paid to those principles by the left? The Left doesn't even like markets (as a rule)...

    Also, pure democracy isn't freedom; it's the tyranny of the mob. People dedicated to freedom support lots of complicated mechanisms and hamstrings and checks and balances and federalism...anything to diffuse power and make it harder to get.

    Amazing what a change in leadership can do, inn't it?

    I'll note too that votes against HR 4986 were almost entirely from the left-wing of the D Party (like Sanders, Feingold, Kucinich) and that neither Obama nor McCain bothered to show up.

  • Jerry||

    Biden's academic record is even worse than McCain's. Well, at least Biden didn't dump any fighter planes into the ocean; how did he manage to dodge the draft?

  • ||

    I feel ya shrike. Conservatism is about religion. W.F. Buckley once said as much, he said (I'm paraphrasing) that conservatism at the least gives deference to religion. Recently at NRO conservative athiest Heather MacDonald questioned this idea and she was taken to the woodshed and spanked for her trangressions (I exagerrate, but look it up). The founder of conservatism argued for an established church (Burke). So yes, secularism conservatives hate, and as religion is the antithesis of science they view that with suspicion too (go to any conservative scholars conference and you will be amazed at the intelligent design panels)...

    Both liberals and conservatives can have bad track records on democracy and markets and civil liberties (though I grant that the conservative hard on for "order" and it's authoritarianism lends itself for a greater disdain for many civil liberties, especially the rights of the accused).

    Having said that there are many in the GOP, some who are even conservative, who are intelligent and principled.

  • Elemenope||

    oh for the love of...Chafee is with one 'f'! ONE!!!

    Otherwise, shrike. I agree that the GOP has worked overtime to shove out anyone with even a twinkling of moderation or heterodoxy.

  • Scott66||

    "I am pro Democracy, Markets, Science, Secularism, Civil Liberties - those are my priorities....

    Those FIVE items incite hatred in conservatives as a GROUP."

    Four of those five are just as hated by liberals as conservaties.

  • ||

    "What's that based on?"

    Uhh, that the guy is a tool? As minority leader that guys job is to argue with a straight face whatever the party line is. That is hard for me to square with being smart as intellectual honesty and independence mean a lil' something doncha think?

    "Also, suing the FEC makes him enough of a hero in my book."
    He had an interest in that one, it wasn't like it was some principle of his. Have you found him to be for free speech in other contexts, like the Bong Hits for Jesus case or the NYT spilling the beans on wiretapping recently? Don't set such a low bar for your heros bro.

    "Also, pure democracy isn't freedom; it's the tyranny of the mob." Granted "pure" democracy without any protection of minority rights is a bad thing (btw-old Mitch, he stood up for a lot of minority rights when his folks were in the majority, right?). But democracy is better than any other way of picking our rules.

  • Elemenope||

    Um, scott? Liberals love science and secularism, and they're lukewarm about civil liberties.

    In any event, I doubt shrike was trying to advance an apologia for being liberal, so much as pointing out where modern conservatives are fucking stupid.; so what liberals are bad on is relatively irrelevant to his point.

  • ||

    "Four of those five are just as hated by liberals as conservaties."

    Bullshit. See supra. Both are bad, but there is a reason why liberals and libertarians both start with "liber" and conservaties doesn't.

  • ||

    Look at the Governator -(Arnold) - I think he is spot on for California. I would vote for him in a second. The $3 billion stem cell state bill was just what his state needed - among the budget cuts and other stuff... Great guy.

    How would he do nationally in a GOP primary? I think Huckabee would skunk him.

    That's sad.

  • ||

    Dick Lugar's a smart Repblican.

    Newt Gingrich has impressed me. Jeb Bush was both smart and, I'm pretty sure, a Creationist.

  • ||

    I think I would be a conservative if not for the recent embrace of the religious right and "common mannism" (GOPer's like to wear plaid shirts, drive trucks, clear brush and such these days as if wearing suits and reading books is a bad thing). Opposition to affirmative action, gun control and immigration are three of my biggest issues. But just standing near a conservative movement function makes me want to take a shower...

  • ||

    "Jeb Bush was both smart and, I'm pretty sure, a Creationist."

    I'm not going that far.

    By the way joe, an answer to my question about realignment above?

  • ||

    Huckabee's a smart guy. Maybe not book larnin' smart, but you can see it in his tactics and arguments in the debates.

  • ||

    The $3 billion stem cell state bill was just what his state needed

    Guess everybody's got a place in their heart for their statist program of choice.

  • Scott66||

    Elemenope,

    Secularism is the one of five they like. They like Darwinism but there is a lot of science liberals ignore because it does not fit their views. Liberals record on civil liberties is no better than conservities. Biden himself is a champion of the selective application of civil liberties.

    As for the rest of your post. Fair enough. I certainly am not going to defend conservities.

  • Patrick Henry||

    I question the patriotism of most commenters in this thread.Fucking liberals day on H&R.

    Obama/Biden are going to lose. MS Nice Guy is right about that. Don't worry crybabies, you can say McCain didn't play fair afterwards. That always makes you pussies feel better.

  • ||

    I think Huckabee is a smart guy (maybe not educated). And he's certainly a professed Creationist, so I retract.

    shrike
    I think you are confusing your approval of the Governator's policies with smartness (I approve of his stem cell bill btw). A horse can run fast without knowing how.

  • ||

    Opposition to affirmative action, gun control and immigration are three of my biggest issues.

    Those don't register for me. So we're speaking a different language.

    That's cool - no problem there.

    btw - I am pro 2nd - but so is Howard Dean.

    I like Tester, Conrad, Dorgan, other deficit hawks- I am very PRO-environment -- big deal for ME...


    See, Its not so bad, discussing stuff.


    I bring Democracy up because I read "The Jungle" and voting on food safety laws, child labor laws. etc --- may not be LIBertarian but they are certainly the reason democracy exists.

    Try to tell some mom that her child should be subject to the whim of the market on food and drugs.

    The market will correct itself --- AFTER she wins an award for her child's death...

    You do that - and then run for office.

  • ||

    MNG - shrike is making it apparent that you cannot simultaneously be a partisan or a follower that disagrees with him and "smart".

    Patrick Henry - go away. And change your handle, you friggin' tool.

  • BDB||

    Anyone who can lift themselves from grinding poverty to being Governor of his state and the runner up for his party's nomination (Huckabee) has to be pretty damn smart, even though his policies suck.

    Smart doesn't mean *good* though. The two smartest Presidents since WWII are Nixon and Clinton, and they were the slimiest.

  • JB||

    Joe Biden thinks gun owners are mentally ill?!

    Well, I think Joe Biden is a piece of shit.

  • BDB||

    Actually Joe Biden isn't that smart intellectually. He got poor grades in school and barely got through law school. He just has a good political sense.

  • Elemenope||

    Guess everybody's got a place in their heart for their statist program of choice.

    Yeah. Me? I'm a sucker for rural electrification.

    Liberals record on civil liberties is no better than conservities. Biden himself is a champion of the selective application of civil liberties.

    The Drug War has been corrosive to both parties' civil liberties bona fides, and Biden is sure a drug warrior par excellence. However, on balance I think over the last fifty or so years you can draw a clear line between liberals and conservatives on civil liberties, with liberals coming out decidedly on top. They almost uniformly win on search & seizure, free speech, and due process.

    Unless it deals directly with property. Yah, the conservatives can eek out a small area there where they are *sometimes* better than liberals. Sometimes.

  • ||

    Try to tell some mom that her child should be subject to the whim of the market on food and drugs.

    Ahh, the smell of intellectually devoid, emotionally-driven arguments. "IT'S FOR TEH MOMZ AND TEH CHILDRENZ!"

    "The whim of the market" has produced a nation with the most life-saving drugs, the best R&D process on the planet (DESPITE the FDA) and a nation with a grocery store on every corner with cheap, affordable, delicious food that comes in a wide variety.

    "The market" isn't a "thing" with "whims"; it's the aggregate of decisions made by adults, who should be treated as such.

  • ||

    "They like Darwinism but there is a lot of science liberals ignore because it does not fit their views."

    Scott66, if you read conservative scholars, like Strauss or Vogelin or Kirk, and the like, they identify "scientism" as an evil. Really. Look it up.

    "Obama/Biden are going to lose. MS Nice Guy is right about that. Don't worry crybabies, you can say McCain didn't play fair afterwards. That always makes you pussies feel better."

    MS Nice Guy? That's not what your Mom said last night, pussy ;).

    I don't care if McCain "plays fair" or not. Each side can do what it wants, my beef is with the stupidity of the Dems in shooting themselves in the foot.

  • ||

    By the way joe, an answer to my question about realignment above?

    OK. I don't think we're in a realignment year. I don't think big realignment elections like 1932 happen anymore. Nor did I argue as much.

    You should read "The Emerging Democratic Majority." We don't have big realignment elections like 1932 anymore. Instead, we have two-part events; a de-alignment, when the parties go to rough parity, followed by a realignment. Nixon sqeaked by in 1968, then Carter won, and it wasn't until 1980 that Reagan won a big victory and the Senate.

    The de-alignment of the Republican majority already happened. 2006 was the realignment year. McCain is just an Ike in the midst of the New Deal Coalition, outperforming his party on the strength of his independence and celebrity.

    Anyway, I didn't argue that this was a realignment year, just that the period of Republican dominance is over. Clinton ran for president four years after Reagan left office, and eight years after he won 49 states. Those days are gone.

  • ||

    Yeah. Me? I'm a sucker for rural electrification.

    Hey, that's your bag, but other types of liberals could make a very good argument that the subsidization of utilities and roads is what has led to the current amount of suburban and exurban sprawl. Developers and home-buyers do not bear the full cost of putting up the next "Weeping Willows Subdivision", which incentivizes people away from the cities.

  • BDB||

    TAO thats very true about suburban sprawl. You can add stupid zoning laws (no medium or higher density allowed, or rarely).

  • ||

    "The market will correct itself --- AFTER she wins an award for her child's death..."

    I agree there. Opposition to things like the FDA are some of the stupidest parts of libertarianism. These are the parts that exist because of the sponsors of libertarian thought...

    That a third party monitors the purity of food and drugs has made for a capitalist bonanza in this nation, expanding choice and prosperity. Noone would choose bad food or drugs unless they did not know what the FDA did, so very little free choice is lost while much choice is bolstered and utility is improved a great deal.

    I can only think what Patrick Henry must be thinking. If you're still reading this, PH, I still think that it is actually you that are probably the pussy ;)

  • ||

    Don't worry about Patrick Henry.

    He spent 2004 talking about what a blowout the election was going to be.

    Leftists have the bad habit of assuming they are the vanguard, leading the direction society is inexorably moving, but out in front. Rightists have the the opposite bad habit - they assume that they speak for "all Americans," modified to "all REAL Americans" as necessary.

    Think of how long they proclaimed that "everyone loves George Bush." Hell, they still insist that most Americans don't support withdrawing from Iraq. If you read far right, racist tracts like the Turner Diaries, there is always the unspoken assumption that of course the vast majority of white people secretly agree with them. Think of the last person you heard or read say "Oh, come on, it's what everyone thinks," and I'll be he was making some retrograde "anti-PC" comment.

  • Elemenope||

    TAO --

    I was kidding. Dryness doesn't translate well over the Intertubes. I agree with you that rural subsidized development (both electricity and roadways) has led to some unintentional consequences, like continued sprawl. But, notably, has also increased the accessibility and exploitability of a great deal of natural resource and land otherwise inaccessible and unaffordable to develop.

    I'd say the military, so far as it goes, is a not half-bad statist program so long as it is kept in check. (We've been pretty poor at that.)

  • Elemenope||

    MNG --

    My thing is, as a Constitutionalist, (which I consistently am more than a Libertarian), I find myself irritated with a government that is willing to simply arrogate the requisite amount of power to fulfill whatever policy goal it sets for itself. I agree that by-and-large the FDA has done well *on the food side of things* (though I wish they wouldn't interfere when they actually are interfering in free choice, like the raw milk debacle). I'm far less sanguine about the drug side, mind you. But either way, I see little grant for its existence in the Constitution.

    I really wish that if people wanted government to do these things, they'd get off their lazy asses and change *the owner's manual* to reflect it. Amendments to the Constitution are not, by any stretch, an impossible feat.

  • ||

    joe
    I'd bet that tendency you mention is due to what Robert Altemeyer calls "Right Wing Authoritarianism." They don't mix outside of circles that don't agree with them 100% and thus think that way. Have you read his stuff? Google him if not. Good stuff.

    Think about how hard it is to get, for example, SIV or Guy Montag to say ANYTHING bad about conservatives or to admit ANYTHING good about liberals...

  • Patrick Henry||

    Who knew my Mom was a lesbian?

    And why are many of you bitching about conservatives in an election thread?
    The only conservative running for President will be lucky to break %1 of the popular vote.

  • ||

    I regret that I have but one keyboard to fill with Cheetos dust for my country.

  • ||

    "The only conservative running for President will be lucky to break %1 of the popular vote."

    I did hear that Nader was running again.

    But seriously Pat, in answer to your other question, your Mom should be able to walk again within several weeks if my experience with these things serves me right...

  • Patrick Henry||

    You are paraphrasing Nathan Hale ya commie.
    any REAL AMERICAN would know that.

  • ||

    I cut and pasted the below from Justin Webb of the BBC.
    ..........
    There is also - if Biden performs well - the Dukakis Lloyd Bensen issue, which is, to put it delicately, Why is it this way round: why isn't the able, experienced, reassuring guy the one at the top of the ticket?

  • Patrick Henry||

    She must of tripped over your Sybian MS Nancy Guy.

    So what do you Obamatarian ladies think of this?

    Biden favors an American deployment of troops to Sudan in order to end the genocide in Darfur. He believes that the mission can be accomplished with 2,500 troops.

  • Nick||

    "Bullshit. See supra. Both are bad, but there is a reason why liberals and libertarians both start with "liber" and conservaties doesn't."

    Yeah, it's because "liberal" used to mean something completely different from what it means today. Then in the mid 1900s it got hijacked by socialists when socialism was no longer a kosher word to call yourself. In most of the rest of the world, the world retains it's original meaning. For example, the Japanese equivalent of the Libertarian Party is called the Liberal League.

  • Elemenope||

    Nick --

    Define socialism.

  • Nick||

    "Patrick Henry"

    Maybe it's because Reason is more of a left-leaning libertarian magazine that caters more to drug war opponents and secularists than gold bugs and Constitution nuts. Obama is preferable on the former, McCain is preferable on none of the above.

  • shrike||

    Ahh, the smell of intellectually devoid, emotionally-driven arguments. "IT'S FOR TEH MOMZ AND TEH CHILDRENZ!"

    Ohh, that's a sure winner for the Libertarian Party. (which should be a default position other than a goal, imo).

    Let's dump nuclear fuel in your backyard in Canton, lady. There is no fucking law against it - Cheney said so.

    Yeah - you run with that.

  • ||

    shrike, if you want to make a *principled* argument (like MNG did) for the FDA (that is, the benefits way outweigh the costs and facilitate exchange based on a minimum set of safety standards),then do that. You won't hear me mocking you then.

    Where I am going to mock you is when you couch your arguments for "moms and their little pwecious babies". I'm sick to death of that; I'm a single guy with no kids and I'm just as entitled to equal protection as everybody else, so refrain from the emotional class-warfare.

  • ||

    "In most of the rest of the world, the world retains it's original meaning. For example, the Japanese equivalent of the Libertarian Party is called the Liberal League."

    In the "rest of the world" if you put forward a conservative idea they would laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and then move on. On social matters there is no "conservatism" in the rest of the world. Reason's position is the position of "the rest of the world" when it comes to "conservatives." Please enlighten us about "conservative" parties in say the UK or Scandavia that deny evolution or call for school prayer or work against gay rights...

  • Patrick Henry||

    Nick

    Obama is preferable on the Drug War?

    So is that why Hopey McChange picked
    Biden...to shore up his War on Drugs cred?

  • ||

    Pat
    I keed, I keed.

    Liberal pols and thinkers have for some reason worked hard to gain the pussy label. But in reality studies show that conservatives were more likely to be the kid that got beat up on the playground...So watch the "pussy" epithet.

  • ||

    Obama's pronouncements on the WOD have been well documented and are favorable to McCains. Reason expert Jacob Sullum concluded that Obama was better than McCain on medical marijuana. And Obama has decried the disparate effect on blacks of the WOD. McCain? Nary a word. Try again.

  • Nick||

    Um, can you be more specific do you want? A conventional definition of socialism? An account of the burgeoning Communist movement in the early-to-mid 1900s that was killed by McCarthyism?

    The conversion of the classical term "liberalism" took a transformation when economists in the late 1800s and early 1900s began advocating for more government interference in the economy while still calling themselves liberals. Probably the turning point was when FDR ran under a fairly classical liberal platform for his first election (as Reason pointed out a while back), but when in office enacted sweeping programs that moved the US towards socialism. Combined with the growing anti-communist sentiment and the government crackdown via McCarthyism after WWII, the Left needed to call themselves something other than socialists because the term was no longer marketable. The term liberalism had gradually become perverted over the past half-century and developed an entirely different context - where it once meant hands off government and free markets, it soon mean hands on government and regulation.

    The thing is the original classical liberals were also progressives (notably Adam Smith), which is likely how the jump was able to be made between those who argued the free market would bring more equality vs. those who argued redistribution would bring more equality. Both were opposed to the regressivism of conservatism, and thus likely found themselves strange bedfellows. (This part is just a theory of mine, by the way.)

    Although they are very similar, libertarianism is distinguishable from classical liberalism because libertarianism does not see economic equality as important and tends towards social and economic Darwinism. Thus the roots of libertarianism are more of the Right and the roots of classical liberalism are more of the Left.

  • shrike||

    ok TAO,

    Your last post was sound.

    I agree - although the "pragmatic" argument for Safety laws seems simplistic to me.

    But I comprehend.

  • ||

    That a third party monitors the purity of food and drugs has made for a capitalist bonanza in this nation, expanding choice and prosperity. Noone would choose bad food or drugs unless they did not know what the FDA did, so very little free choice is lost while much choice is bolstered and utility is improved a great deal.

    I do have to say that a strictly utilitarian model of what should or should not be regulated and/or banned fails on the grounds that in order for a law or regulation to have "utility", you have to ask "Toward what goal is this law useful?"

    Without a moral undergirding, I could make a utiltarian case for anything. That is not to say I believe all things should be judged solely on their moral merits, simply because an action rooted in the proper morality should yield just and fruitful results, and just and fruitful results *should* point to an action grounded in good moral principles.

    *Whew* All that said, MNG, what's your moral basis for restricting the free sale and purchase/experimentation with pharmaceuticals?

    What do you think of the critique that FDA regulations are overburdensome, to the point where more people die waiting for drugs than those who are outright killed by unsafe ones?

  • Elemenope||

    Nick,

    I have an awfully hard time placing Keynesians and Marxists in the same category. Their theories are nearly mutually incomprehensible. Thus, I have a difficulty with it all being called "socialism".

  • ||

    Good stuff, Nick.

    I think that modern American liberalism was simply the Scope Creep of democracy.


    Hey, what harm is there in this little Social Security program? Its a penny on the dollar... then came Medicare, medicaid, HUD, etc. and now 1/2 - 2/3 your taxes go to "earned" (for real) entitlements.

  • Nick||

    Patrick,

    Only to a degree. At least he has said he will stop federal raids of marijuana clinics in states that have legalized them. McCain has always been a drug warrior, as much so as Biden.

    By the way, I think Biden is a terrible pick. He has almost zero appeal to libertarians. Bad on foreign policy, the drug war, the Patriot Act, the economy, etc. He's a hawkish and authoritarian liberal, and any libertarian support for Obama has likely just gone out the window.

  • ||

    I have an awfully hard time placing Keynesians and Marxists in the same category.

    He didn't use those terms.

  • ||

    "Although they are very similar, libertarianism is distinguishable from classical liberalism because libertarianism does not see economic equality as important and tends towards social and economic Darwinism. Thus the roots of libertarianism are more of the Right and the roots of classical liberalism are more of the Left."

    I think most libertarians would claim the title of "classical liberal." Most I read would think the liberal/libertarian split came from the negative rights (right to be left alone) vs. positive rights (right to have ones basic needs met) split.

  • Elemenope||

    what's your moral basis for restricting the free sale and purchase/experimentation with pharmaceuticals?

    That's basically my beef with the FDA as well, but it's a problem of extent rather than choice. On one hand, the FDA does well to regulate the relative purity and consistent quality of pharmaceuticals, putting to bed the legacy of 19th century snake oil salesmen and the market anarchy *that didn't benefit anyone*.

    On the other hand, the lengthy "safety" trials to bring new drugs to market, as well as restricting distribution of chemicals as only through a doctor's prescription, strike me as control for its own sake, without much utility.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    What do you think of the critique that FDA regulations are overburdensome

    My internship at a generic drug company really made me dislike the FDA. Who cares if our labels say "For Prescription Use Only" instead of the "Only For Prescription Use" that the brand drug labels were using?

  • Elemenope||

    He didn't use those terms.

    You don't have to use one word terms to unambiguously refer to something in particular.

  • ||

    "*Whew* All that said, MNG, what's your moral basis for restricting the free sale and purchase/experimentation with pharmaceuticals?"

    Lots of people would die and many, many more would be terrified by these deaths and would therefore withdraw from the market.

    Asking consumers to keep up with every producer which, after the fact (yikes) was shown to be harmful, is asking far, far too much in this, or any day and age. Having a third party of experts monitor this for us leaves us free to have confidence in products in the market and make purchases based on other qualities. It thus increases most people's freedom of choice.

  • ||

    "Define socialism."

    Redistributionism.

  • Patrick Henry||

    At least he has said he will stop federal raids of marijuana clinics in states that have legalized them.

    I believe he did say that before retracting/clarifying that he would support the Feds backing off when medical marijuana was approved by the FDA.That would be "never in hell". If Obama has clearly indicated he supports "state's rights" on medical marijuana
    you should be able to find some sort of link or citation. Obama has indicated he supports SCOTUS justices who favor the federal Government over the States when it comes to medical marijuana policy.

  • ||

    Lots of people would die and many, many more would be terrified by these deaths and would therefore withdraw from the market.

    That continues to be a utiltarian argument; you want to limit death and facilitate markets in pharmaceuticals by taking the guesswork out of it.

    But why is this your desired result? And why do you feel it is worth the corresponding loss of freedom?

    Finally, on utilitarian grounds, what again of the idea that there is more death waiting for the FDA than there is death by the actual drugs?

    Would you grant a waiver to those with terminal illnesses to try any drug they please? (Terminal illness being, for lack of a better way, statutorily defined?)...or even better, would you support an exemption category for the terminally ill that they do not have to follow the regulations?

  • Nick||

    "I have an awfully hard time placing Keynesians and Marxists in the same category."

    And rightfully so - they are different. But Keynesianism was the modus operandi that began muddying the waters as to the meaning of the term "liberalism." Keynesianism was also the modus operandi that allowed most of the Socialist Party platform of the 1930s to get passed into law.

    Classical liberalism WAS the Left of centuries past (in the sense of progressivism), but the nature of the Left changed completely and took the term "liberal" with it. Marx arose and out-Lefted classical liberalism, and Marxists in the 1800s saw liberalism as a diametrically opposed philosophy and closer to the Right than to their own. Then Keynesianism emerged as the dominant economic mindset and bridged the gap, and now even the Marxist Left are known as "very liberal."

    In countries where "socialist" never became a dirty word, like in Japan or much of Europe, liberalism is generally referred to as the classical brand.

  • ||

    "In the "rest of the world" if you put forward a conservative idea they would laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and then move on. On social matters there is no "conservatism" in the rest of the world. Reason's position is the position of "the rest of the world" when it comes to "conservatives."

    Heh. And this is why the big-L Libertarian flakes are goign to be mighty surprised to see the results of their opened borders policies.

    American Conservatism was conservative in the sense that it sought to preserve the American founding and Constitution, themselves the apotheoses of classical-liberalism. Which is why the Republican party today is many things, but hardcore conservative is not one of them. Now it more-or-less me-toos the socialist Democratic Party, with dash of religious nannyism and belligerence in foreign affairs from the Social and Neo-Conservatives.

  • ||

    A huge part of what the FDA does is make producers honest (or liable) for what they say their products are. That fits nicely under libertarian principles that fraud is wrong because it negates free consumer choice.

    I just walked to my cabinet and got out a medicine. It was literally one of about 20 in there (over the counter). It's CVS Children's Pain Relief. There is all kinds of info on the label (btw, that is all mandated by the FDA, there are all kinds of reasons why a nefarious producer may not put such information, or truthful information, on the label and just risk lawsuits for short term profits [it even happens now]). But, how am I supposed to know if this info is correct? I am supposed to sue them AFTER the act (i.e. after it harms my children?)?

    Let's say we let the "market" punish them. People hear that people who bought this product suffered and thus are less likely to buy products from the producers. Who knows what parent company owns "CVS"? I don't. I bet you don't. This stuff changes quite a bit. Or what companies distribute it, or knowingly retail it...You see what I mean. What informational costs would be imposed on everyone (I'm using economics terms because I know libertarians like that stuff). Without a FDA or the like most people would not buy anything from anyone they did not know personally. We'd be living in the stone age...

  • Elemenope||

    Asking consumers to keep up with every producer which, after the fact (yikes) was shown to be harmful, is asking far, far too much in this, or any day and age. Having a third party of experts monitor this for us leaves us free to have confidence in products in the market and make purchases based on other qualities. It thus increases most people's freedom of choice.

    Except that our practical experience with the FDA shows that they are gibbering idiots when making determinations of safety. Digitalis is way scarier than cocaine, much the same way that acetaminophen is more dangerous than marijuana. On the subject of Tylenol, it's probably more dangerous and easier to overdose on than many, if not most, prescription-only drugs.

    I think it's great for the FDA to make sure that a 20mg capsule of whatever actually contains 20mg of whatever, but their subjective ability to process danger and side-effects leaves something to be desired. And their plenary ability to place a product outside the reach of consumers by making them go through a doctor or banning it entirely seems awfully counter-productive.

  • ||

    Nick makes sense to me.

    The labels are ambiguous anyway. Hugo Chavez calls Bush a "neo-liberal" - and rightfully so.

    But to an American that makes no sense at all.

  • Elemenope||

    Nick @ 9:26 pm.

    Interesting points. I still am reticent about your "bridging" theory, but it's food for thought.

  • ||

    Nick | August 23, 2008, 9:26pm

    Ditch the false left-right dichotomy.

    Classical liberals opposed the status quo, but that does not make them 'on the left.' The redistributionists do not have a monopoly on progress, even if they're self-deluded enough to think so.

  • ||

    MNG -

    Part of the reason we have such a robust tort system in these here States is so that plaintiffs with credible claims for damages can seek monetary redress.

    Think about this: if the FDA approves a drug and you still get are harmed by it, this actually decreases your recourses for civil redress. The FDA has become a "shield" for corporations...all they have to do (usually) is point to the FDA's ruling that their drug was "safe" and they've won 90% of the case.

    However, fraud on the part of that private consumer watchdog (something akin to a pharmaceutical UL) would be subject to legal redress, either in civil OR criminal court.

    To sum up: you can't sue the FDA; you can't put them in jail for criminal negligence. This is not the case of a private products-vetting service.

    I think there's a place for the FDA in terms of verification of ingredients and weights & measures, but not for drug-vetting purposes.

  • ||

    Sorry Pat, Obama has been shown to be simly "better" on medical MJ than McCain by Reason's own expert, and no buddy of Dems, Jacob Sullum Look it up bro.

    "you want to limit death and facilitate markets in pharmaceuticals by taking the guesswork out of it.

    But why is this your desired result? "

    Yes, I want to limit death AND take the gueswork out of choices because that limits freedom of choice. I like liberty, why do you hate it ;)?

    "Finally, on utilitarian grounds, what again of the idea that there is more death waiting for the FDA than there is death by the actual drugs?"

    There is not more death that way. That's easy.

  • Nick||

    "I think most libertarians would claim the title of "classical liberal.""

    Take a Nolan chart, and divide the libertarian section in half. The half on the conservative side, I'd call "libertarian." The half on the liberal side, I'd call "classical liberal." Again, the distinction I make is whether the worldview is Darwinist/individualist vs. progressive/communitarian. You can be progressive and communitarian without being pro-government, instead arguing that community-based solutions are better than government programs and that the impact on the poor needs to be a factor in any taxation, regulation, etc. Classical liberals would also be more strongly anti-corporate. Adam Smith was a huge advocate for the poor, and he argued that corporations were inefficient institutions and perversions of a free market.

  • ||

    I want to limit death AND take the gueswork out of choices because that limits freedom of choice. I like liberty, why do you hate it ;)

    I don't. What I'm saying is that you're destroying liberty to save it. Placing products-safety enforcement in the hands of the government is a good recipe to never have any accountability when the products-safety people get it wrong.

  • ||

    In economists talk, information is not perfect and so things like the FDA are necessary. Who thinks being burdened with personally looking up the record (and where would there even be a "record" without government) of every product they buy, and then every possible combination and history of corporate cooperation which produces said product would increase freedom of choice? WTF?

  • ||

    Going on medications, MNG, is a big deal. You should know the full range of side effects and safety reports prior to ingesting chemicals. This is why god created *doctors* and *pharmacists*

    You're also presuming that without the FDA, there would be no market for a pharmaceutical safety. That's just not true. Look at UL. Look at the consumerist.com. Look at Kelly's Blue Book.

  • ||

    Your 9:40 post is the way I see things, (Nick).

    Jefferson said the corporations should have a 30-yr license and they should be required to dissolve its proceeds to shareholders then. This was the view at the time.

    I say that the mitigating factor is democracy - for all its weaknesses. It has gamed the system.

  • ||

    "Look at UL. Look at the consumerist.com. Look at Kelly's Blue Book."

    Look at the conditions that created the FDA. Why did people clamor for it? Why didn't they just let "the market" take care of their concerns? After all, "the market" had been around prior to their concerns and yet they still had them...

  • Nick||

    "Ditch the false left-right dichotomy."

    I don't really think it's false if you look at history. The easiest delineation between Left vs. Right is whether creating more economic equality is an important value and arguably a worthwhile function of government. Individualists and objectivists do not see it as important, nor do elitists or regressives. Classical liberals, Keynesians, socialists and Marxists do think economic equality is an important value, but classical liberals recognize that entrepreneurship and opportunity are the best means to get the poor out of poverty and only free trade can get capital to poor nations. I would also argue classical liberals (notably Thomas Paine and Adam Smith) are more open to the idea of public schools than libertarians, as a means to create a more level playing field and provide the poor with better skills and basic literacy. But anyway, the point is that there is a division, but it's primarily based on Darwinism vs. progressivism and not so much capitalism vs. socialism.

  • ||

    I think most libertarians would claim the title of "classical liberal."

    I think they would be wrong. There was an aspect of social equality and community to classical liberal thought that's missing from libertarianism. I can't imagine libertarians railing against noble titles if they were the status quo. If you talk like Sam Adams or Thomas Jefferson about what the good society (society, not government) looks like, libertarians call you a socialist.

  • ||

    A lot of folks, facing a short term pressure to sell, will sacrifice what are seen as long term virtues of the market.

    Ever heard of a "bad" car salesperson, who will lie to sell the car at hand? Of course you have. Well, why doesn't "the market" erase such persons? Because even in libertopia there will always be an incentive, maybe only short term, to lie to make sales.

    Making people take the time to follow every recorded bad faith seller would place an incredible burden on them. The practical result is to freeze consumption. That's not good as far as utility goes, or free choice based on voluntary exchange.

  • ||

    Look at the conditions that created the FDA. Why did people clamor for it? Why didn't they just let "the market" take care of their concerns? After all, "the market" had been around prior to their concerns and yet they still had them

    I don't know why people clamored for it and I frankly don't care, any more than I care why people "clamored for" mini-DOMAs and anti-gay constitutional amendments in 2004.

    One of the more important libertarian critiques of the regulatory schemata on utilitarian grounds is that big corporations have the finances to keep up, and small ones do not. The FDA is a perfect example of the merger of corporation and state: GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer don't mind exceptional regulatory
    burdens, as they have the cash to keep up.

    Simultaneously, however, they reduce the amount of money invested in highly dangerous, experimental drugs (for serious diseases like cancer and AIDS) because they know they'll never clear the regulatory hurdles the FDA will toss their way. People with AIDS and cancer would love to try them; drug companies would love to sell them, but just try bringing a drug that isn't completely and totally safe, and do it without making the drug cost-prohibitive to post the consumer and the company.

    It's impossible. Which is why Big Pharma is always working on drugs and products for, say, ED or weight-loss. The stakes are lower and the profit margin (thanks to the FDA on both counts) is higher. There's a significant loss in R&D, and by extension, life-saving medications, imposed on drug companies by the FDA's current form.

  • ||

    I can't imagine libertarians railing against noble titles if they were the status quo

    joe, come on...are you for real with this shit? we mock even the vaguest of noble titles: we get all riled up when someone's colloquially called a czar.

    I don't know why you feel the need to slime libertarians by conjecturing in what odious behaviors they would engage in conditions that don't even exist.

    "Libertarians would support the Sith and the Evil Empire"
    "Libertarians would support Sauron and Saurumon...this is self-evident"

  • ||

    And what's to stop jerks from selling bogus drugs to folks desperate for a cure? I mean in libertopia.

  • ||

    "People with AIDS and cancer would love to try them; drug companies would love to sell them, but just try bringing a drug that isn't completely and totally safe, and do it without making the drug cost-prohibitive to post the consumer and the company. "

    Of course this would allow jerks to sell crap that isn't "completely and totally safe" and that would not help these poor bastards a bit. They'd make a quick buck, since these people are despreate, and how would any average s.o.b. be able to track the facts of every guy who offered such a drug?

  • ||

    And what's to stop jerks from selling bogus drugs to folks desperate for a cure? I mean in libertopia.

    There's nothing stopping me from peddling sugar pills to desperate people now, MNG. People have been peddling (and other suckers have been buying) laetrile since at least the '70s.

    I'd rather those desperate people have a decent shot with a reputable company than some crappy mix of herbal supplements, crystals and homeopathy.

  • Nick||

    One last thing, I think the Nolan chart is very insightful - classical liberals and libertarians sit right next to each other because their means aren't very different. They are left and right, but the division is one of worldview more than of approach to governance.

    Same with the fascists and state socialists in the conservative and liberal halves of the authoritarian quadrant. Note Mussolini (Right) and Hitler (Left). It's kind of two sides of the same coin.

    I think the Right and Left get more polarized as they move towards the center. Historically, I believe we have travelled on a tangent based upon the prevailing view of government. Back in the days where limited government was the status quo, the Founding Fathers differed, but not exceptionally. Over time, we developed an increasingly invasive view on the role of government, and the differences between Left and Right are became pronounced because each side wants to use government power to accomplish their own means. That's why we can have a broad yet incomplete spectrum of "Left" vs. "Right," assuming the views of the Left and the Right on government power are roughly the equivalent.

    Were we to move to a pure totalitarian state, dissent would be crushed and the left-right distinction would again be a matter of worldview more than means.

    It's just a theory I thought up a year ago, but it seems to reflect the political reality that society's view on government power would determine the scope of what we see as "left" vs. "right" and that the polarity of the two "sides" is purely a reflection on the prevaling mindset on government's role. Thus the dilemma of libertarianism is how to change society's mind on the idea that the government is and should be powerful, which is far more difficult than advocating for whichever special interests groups you believe government's money should be spent on.

  • ||

    Of course this would allow jerks to sell crap that isn't "completely and totally safe" and that would not help these poor bastards a bit

    They're already dying, MNG! Don't you get that? There is a certain kind of malevolent insanity that says that terminally ill people have to be restrained...for their own safety.

    Would fraudulent and dangerous sales take place? Yes!, just like they do now. You'd still have the same avenues of redress (the courts) without the FDA standing in your way to assume control over your (rapidly ending) life.

  • ||

    I go to the store every Sunday. Tomorrow I will go and find an amazing number of choices. A number that folks in communist nations could only dream of.

    However, I can assume that everything there is fit for comsumption. I don't have to look up every the origin of very product there, and then the consumer product of every corporation of origin. I can judge each product based on other claims (is it the most meat for the money? Is it organic or not? etc). I'm FREED up to buy things that are not fraudelent. Good for me and every consumer and every honest producer. Thank goodness for the FDA.

  • ||

    Thank goodness for the FDA.

    MNG, your vision of your fellow man frightens me. I don't naturally assume that fraudulent assholes, thieves and hucksters are lurking around every corner, waiting to sell me poisoned bread, until "wait! Here comes the glorious White Knight of the FDA, here to slay this monstrous snake-oil salesman!"

    Most people make safe products 'cause they don't want to kill their customers. It's generally bad for business. And not every random incident of fraud or "hucksterism" can be regulated against.

  • ||

    TAO,

    What I wrote was, "...if they were the status quo."

    It's really not a sign of anything that you don't wish to bring bang symbols of social inequality that haven't existed for hundreds of years. More impressive would be if you demonstrated the slightest concern about social inequality and class distinctions that do exist. Or even, didn't have a McCarhtyite freakout whenever anyone does.

    Nick,

    I think you are onto something, but you're too narrow in defining the historical left-right distinction as being about economic equality itself. I describe it as being about power relations more generally. The right wishes to maintain traditional relations of power, while the left wishes to tear them down. Of course the economic dimension of power relations is a huge part of this - the Marxists would say it's the entirety of it - but it's applicable to the social, cultural, institutional, geographic, and religious realms as well.

    Are not people who want impoverished nuns to be able to become impoverished priests the left as well?

  • ||

    TAO-You're concentrating on the terminally ill. Are you OK with the FDA's functions over food? Over the counter drugs?


    The idea is that if the FDA allowed every drug for terminal people, folks without perfect information might choose total crap when there is better but less "miracle promising" stuff out there. The idea is that the FDA, composed of experts, is supposed to make up that information gap, forcibly in the case of knowingly desperate persons....

  • ||

    "Most people make safe products 'cause they don't want to kill their customers. It's generally bad for business. And not every random incident of fraud or "hucksterism" can be regulated against."

    If all people were perfectly rational as libertarianism often suggests, yes. But they are not. Many people see short term profits and don't think about the long term consequences. The market often works on large term consequences. But many people are thinkng "shit, I just want to make THIS deal."

    Adding government sanctions adds incentives to behave (over and above the "market"). You believe in the power of incentives I should think, right?

  • ||

    More impressive would be if you demonstrated the slightest concern about social inequality and class distinctions that do exist. Or even, didn't have a McCarhtyite freakout whenever anyone does.

    How circular you are! If we express any form of concern regarding these issues, you'd just call it "crocodile tears" and say that our motivations aren't what we say they are. There's no satisfying this requirement for you, joe. If libertarians couch their arguments for say, educational choice in terms of letting the poor abandon failing schools, you'd just simper that we really don't mean it that way.

    And of course! my concern for the terminally ill is just a "front" for my anti-government attitude, right joe? It couldn't possibly be because I've observed the disparate burdens that regulations place on the poor and the entrepreneurial...it must be a cover!

  • Tobacco Gigante||

    Most people make safe products 'cause they don't want to kill their customers. It's generally bad for business.

    Not if you kill them slow enough...

  • ||

    A noble title, in and of itself, doesn't coerce anyone into anything. In the absence of any ongoing state-granted privileges, it doesn't involve any coercion or state sponsorship at all.

    It would, however, generate enormous social benefits. Other individuals, particularly other nobility, would likely provide all sorts of favoritism in business. The invitations to clubs, to dinners, to join important civic organizations would provide a significant leg up. It's likely that there would be - again, wholly uncoerced - patters of social exclusivity. Not to mention the wealth - most nobles would inherit a great deal of wealth.

    So, we've got a class of people with much greater resources, who live exclusive lives, scratch each others' backs, and thereby sustain an ongoing system of social and economic inequality, but without any ongoing government coercion.

    I'll tell you the liberal critique of this situation, TAO - a critique which would be the same coming from the lips of a 1798 liberal as a 2008 liberal, when you tell me a principled, uniquely-libertarian case for why this set-up is wrong and should be resisted in the political realm.

  • ||

    The Angry Optimist | August 23, 2008, 10:37pm | #

    That was just weak, man. No substance at all.

    D+.

  • ||

    I'm not looking forward to the riots.

    We didn't have any riots last time, just a hell of a lot of bitching and moaning.

    -jcr

  • Nick||

    Joe,

    I guess you're right in the sense that I should have been more broad and said "equality" as a value instead of limiting it to specifically "economic equality." Of course, it's illusory to argue that people will ever be equal, and certainly I find redistributionism destructive and often very bad for the poor. I'd say for classical liberals, the zeitgeist would be for equal treatment under the law and creating equal opportunity for upwards mobility through free markets and education. If people choose not to use the opportunity, we shouldn't be in the business of making them do what's best for themselves or giving them whatever they want.

  • SIV||

    You can be progressive and communitarian without being pro-government

    How?

  • ||

    That was just weak, man. No substance at all.

    Truth hurts, doesn't it, joe? Anytime a libertarian makes an argument for less government regulations, or taxes, or educational choice, you just bitch about "crocodile tears". It's your MO, man...just grow the hell up and admit it.

  • ||

    A noble title, in and of itself, doesn't coerce anyone into anything. In the absence of any ongoing state-granted privileges, it doesn't involve any coercion or state sponsorship at all.

    You're an idiot. The definition of noble titles is that the nobility = government. If you're just going to make up aribtrary situations for some kind of imaginary "gotcha!" about libertarians by positing circumstances that do not now, nor ever have existed, please don't be stunned when people laugh at you, as you so richly deserve.

  • ||

    when you tell me a principled, uniquely-libertarian case for why this set-up is wrong and should be resisted in the political realm.

    Cute...by "resisted in the political realm" you mean stripping people of money they didn't coerce from anyone else? Maybe taxing them at a higher rate to facilitate some sort of fuzzy, feel-good "equality"?

    you're a joke, joe. I'm half-tempted to install a filter for you because you're such a massive, time-wasting tool.

  • ||

    Adding government sanctions adds incentives to behave (over and above the "market"). You believe in the power of incentives I should think, right?

    Alright, having successfully filtered joe, I'll move on to more substantial posters.

    MNG - the problem is that you're not "adding" incentives; regulations aren't "incentivizing" anything, they have to be complied with in order to do business. If you want to ratchet up the criminal penalties or make a move to eliminate any kind of limits to the penalty phase in a tort, I could see that.

    But regulations aren't "incentives"; incentives are why you do a behavior. Regulations are pre-reqs for doing that behavior.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Obama/Bidet 2008!!!!

  • Anti-Globalism||

    Give it up, dude. This is a guy who accused me of fallacious logic for attacking his vaguely warmed-over social darwinist presumption that laws protect only "the weak" (whatever the hell that means).

    And he calls himself anti-Globalist and is going to "buy China stocks LOL". A few straws short of a swamp, I guess.


    If you can't attack the argument... attack the messenger!

  • dpsc||

    Nick (a teen his father thought up while shaving) says: "You can be progressive and communitarian without being pro-government"

    Possibly true in theory (the communitarian part), though it's hard to avoid being a bit of a tool in the process. When I lived in Park Slope I went by the local co-op and was told that only co-op members could shop there, and that you had to do co-op work to be a member.

    Now, I grew up in and around co-ops, and delivering produce to co-ops, and the usual deal is that as a non-member you can shop, but you pay more than members. There's a simple reason for that- non-members wind up subsidizing members. This tends to work out pretty well for everyone, particularly for people who are so poor that their co-op work winds up "paying" more in discounts than working would- you generally have to be pretty poor for this to be the case.

    I was trying to save about $10.00 by buying spices in bulk at the Park Slope co-op, and maybe get at some marginally better produce than the local stores had. I made over $100.00/hr at the time, and was not interested in "communing" with the co-opers, so I was excluded, and it harmed me not at all. But the people running it, who mostly made a lot more than me, I guess, did turn down an opportunity to subsidize food their nannies and housekeepers.

    It turns out that you can get a few corporate lawyers to give $500.00 worth of work to a co-op in order to save $15.00 on the grocery bill (assuming Park Slope's co-op's prices are cheaper- I don't know). But I think you're going to find it tricky to get most people to go along with your ideals without some degree of coercion, because they fly in the face of rational self-interest, for most people.

  • Nick||

    Co-ops are but one of many examples. So are soup kitchens, homeless shelters, suicide crisis hotlines, all kinds of private charities, etc. Of course, in this day in age many of these are highly subsidized, which make people less likely to donate when they assume tax dollars are already funding it. In Victorian England, charity was a big deal because there was no government involvement in solving these social problems.

    More importantly, one can recognize that high taxation and regulation hurts small businesses. Big business has little problem implementing regulations because they have either the means to implement them or the lawyers to get them out of them. Thus big government hurts small business's ability to compete with big business. This is an issue progressives should be concerned about.

    Also - assuming there needs to be a government to protect from force and fraud, uphold rights, raise a military, and if you're feeling really statist, provide basic education for the poor - a classical liberal would support a progressive tax structure. The importance of each dollar is more heavily weighted for someone with less money, which is the reason why the flat tax still hurts the poor proportionately more than the rich. 10% of the income of someone making $18,000 a year has an enormous impact on that person's level of subsistence, where 10% of $180,000 doesn't. Many libertarians would argue that one's income should not be a factor when determining tax rates, and that everyone should pay the same percentage blind to that person's ability to pay.

    The Left mostly fails because it doesn't understand economics or how their policies hurt the poor and small business. Since they expanded government control of the economy, corporations have grown larger/more powerful and there is a correlation there. As a progressive, I'd prefer to have "nation of shopkeepers" economy like one existed before major government encroachment in every area of our economy and our lives.

  • ||

    Biden ... will keep you distracted with his buffoonishness while making you more comfortable with Obama's inexperience which prevents you from looking too closely at his actual policies and personality.

    Sounds about right. Pretty shrewd, pfjo.

  • jk||

    Even money that "Plagiarizing Joe" will lift something from someone in his speech at the Democratic Convention.

  • Elemenope||

    If you can't attack the argument... attack the messenger!

    If there is no coherent message to speak of, sure.

  • ||

    Matt,

    small quibble--i know you're throwing a bone to the folks who are trying to keep John McWhorter solvent, but isn't "obama's otherness,' to the extent that it exists, pretty much an insoluble problem? I doubt that people who prioritize this 'Otherness' above foreign policy experience (or as Terry Michael wrote above, experience in starting boondoggles like Iraq) are going to care that an east coast elite (barring multiple visits to dunk donuts) increases the acceptable whiteness levels of the Obama ticket.

  • Warmongering Lunatic||

    On social matters there is no "conservatism" in the rest of the world.

    Right. Nowhere but the USA has social conservatism. Outside of the USA, only Europe exists, and no counterexamples exist in Europe.

    See, there's no such thing as social conservatism in, say, Ireland. Sure, abortion is illegal, divorce has only been permitted for thirteen years, and homosexual sex for fifteen. But there's no such thing as social conservatism in Ireland. Or in, say, Poland, where abortion is restricted to rape, incest, and life of the mother restrictions, and divorce is quite hard to get. Nope, no social conservatism in either Poland or Ireland, and since nowhere outside of the USA and Poland exist, no social conservativism outside the USA.

  • Nemo||

    Rauch is just an idiot who is looking for the right politician's dick to suck.

    Have him and Moynihan hooked up yet?

  • ||

    I'll grant you Poland and Ireland. I was kind of talking about the Western developed world. Poland and Ireland are Europe's Mexico. And there's social conservatism in Mexico too!

  • ||

    TAO
    Thanks for the intersting debate last nite. You articulated the libertarian position well.

    In case you check in today I think regulations do provide incentives for behavior as there are civil and criminal fines for noncompliance. That is how they work, the "regulation" is the standard with which the regulated mus comply with or face a civil or criminal punishment. As you recognized that criminal or tort penalties act as incentives I think you'll have to agree with this.

    The FDA regs add an incentive to not put out unsafe food and drugs, and incentive over and above the "killing your consumers is bad business" incentive that I grant you is somewhat inherent in a "mere" market. I say somewhat because of the practical difficulty of consumers having the kind of information that would be necessary for this incentive to work properly (I elaborated on this above). Regulations help out here.

    On another note, if you are so optimistic, what makes you so angry ;)?

  • Elemenope||

    On another note, if you are so optimistic, what makes you so angry ;)?

    If you were an optimistic person, who had to live in this world, wouldn't you be angry?

    I'm pissed.

  • Fluffy||

    The FDA regs add an incentive to not put out unsafe food and drugs, and incentive over and above the "killing your consumers is bad business" incentive that I grant you is somewhat inherent in a "mere" market.

    I have to take issue with this, because it's the common way of expressing what the FDA and what other government regulations do, and it's utterly false.

    The regulations don't make it illegal to sell unsafe drugs. They make it illegal to sell drugs not approved by the FDA. This illegality is applied equally to safe and unsafe drugs. I could have the literal cure for cancer, it could have no side effects, and it could be the safest drug ever made, and it would be illegal for me to sell it if I did not first seek FDA approval.

    Any law which makes it equally illegal to sell an actual cure for cancer, and poison, is evil. Pure and simple.

    Our laws are replete with injustices of this kind. If your broke your leg and I set it, I would have committed a crime even if I set it absolutely correctly. If you were hungry and I sold you a sandwich, I would have committed a crime even if the sandwich were 100% safe and tasty to boot. If you need a haircut and I give you one, I have committed a crime even if you like the haircut and I don't accidentally cut off your head. Etcetera.

  • Fluffy||

    When you tell me a principled, uniquely-libertarian case for why this set-up is wrong and should be resisted in the political realm.

    Joe, this is pretty weak.

    A title of nobility without any concrete privilege granted by the state is about as meaningful as those dumbasses who pay to put themselves in "Who's Who".

    If people want to have a giant circle jerk and start calling themselves Emperor of Brighton and Earl of Jamaica Plain, I honestly don't give a shit. There's no libertarian case for why such circle jerkery would be wrong. It's like asking for a libertarian case for why people shouldn't be allowed to play Dungeons and Dragons and call themselves warriors and druids and other nonsense.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you talk like Sam Adams or Thomas Jefferson about what the good society (society, not government) looks like, libertarians call you a socialist.



    I've mentioned on a few occasions the need for a positive vision of a libertarian society. Non-libertarians hear that we want to get rid of a lot of government agencies, and they assume that the only changes that would happen is that the services provided would then be missing. They only see what would be lost.

    As Nick pointed out, a (more) libertarian society would have a much greater place for voluntary mutual assistance, with an increasing role for NGO's and charities. As with businesses, the fact that there would be many of these organizations would mean that would be a lot more ideas tried out than the one-size-fits-all government standard.

    I suspect this is at the root of a lot of the "libruhtarianz want poor peeples not to have ___."

  • ||

    fluffy

    The regulations provide a standard which the product must meet and there is a process wherein products are tested to see if they meet that standard. That does not strike me as an injustice.

    The alternative is buyer beware and as I noted upthread in a world where the information needed to navigate that kind of thing is simply not available or processable by folks this would lead to a much higher level of "injustices", such as someone selling you a sandwich that kills, cuts your ear ear off along with your hair, and legs set so that you become a lifelong cripple.

    I realize you think that in this world you would somehow superhumanly know the history of every producer of every product you consume and thus could safely procure what you needed without exposing yourself to harm (or just plain fraud). Of course how you would protect yourself from those who have no established and traced history of malfeasance is beyond even my imagination, and how such a "record" people could use to navigate the jungle that would be libertopia would come into being (some quasi consumers report agency for everything? Laughable) is an interesting question.

    I realize that's how many libertarians think. It's quite funny but thankfully not quite as dangerous as it could be seeing as how most people see how absurd it is.

  • ||

    "I suspect this is at the root of a lot of the "libruhtarianz want poor peeples not to have ___.""

    Actually Baked many libertarians on H&R will, after enough debate, quite plainly admit that in libertopia many people will be worse of (they think some will of course be better off). As fluffy said the other day libertopia would mean some people, i.e. the "more resourceful" would do better while others, less resourceful or bright, would do worse.

    Of course, these people tend to think they will not be in the latter group.

    Recently we had the case here of a lady who worked for Wal-mart who was injured. She collected some insurance from Wal-mart and then when she won a settlement against her injurer Wal-mart invoked a clause in her contract that made her pay back the amount of the benefits she recieved, putting her in bad straights. Many here on H&R defended the situation using one of the more commonly heard arguments made here: she should have been smarter when she signed the contract. That may of course be, but she is certainly going to be bad off now. That would happen over and over in libertopia, with people shaking their heads and saying "they should have been smarter when..." But let's not pretend that wouldn't happen quite a bit...

  • BakedPenguin||

    MNG - In the long run, most people would be better off. You are right that some people would suffer. I don't think 1) there would be as many as typically perceived, or 2) they would generally be as bad off as sometimes claimed.

    The point (made above, somewhere) about the government siphoning off a lot of incipient charity is one that doesn't get as much airplay as it should. People assume that big nanny is going to take care of whatever, and they become apathetic and uninvolved in their communities.

  • BDB||

    I actually think theres a place for social welfare for truly catastrophic situations. But it should NOT be on the federal level. It should be handled at the local level.

  • ||

    MNG - you're a decent debater, but you should stop prognosticating about what a "libertarian society" would entail.

    Removing the restraints on entrepreneurship and business would permit greater class mobility (both ways, admittedly). As it is, burdensome regulations and the monopoly of public schools keep the poor poor and the wealthy, wealthy. There's no change because government causes stagnation.

  • ed||

    Joe was just Biden his time.

    Sorry.

  • Mark||

    "The blabbermouth Delaware senator is now one hope spasm + bullet away from the White House. What does it all mean?"

    It means you're a petty, disgusting, little man.

  • Fluffy||

    The regulations provide a standard which the product must meet and there is a process wherein products are tested to see if they meet that standard. That does not strike me as an injustice.

    That's because you aren't listening.

    If I had a miracle drug that was completely ineffective but which for my own stubborn and ideological reasons I refused to submit to the FDA, if I sold that drug I could be subjected to civil and criminal penalties.

    That means that at the moment the law is being enforced, I would be being punished for selling people a drug that helped them. Period. End of sentence. End of analysis. All of this stuff you want to talk about - information disparity, market complexity, etc. - is all very nice, but it is not relevant to the question of whether or not it's just to punish me for selling a drug that helps people.

    "C'mon, man! You could just comply with the law and then sell your drug!" is not a counterargument. No. I'm not complying. Just to be a dick. By so doing I would be exposing the injustice at the root of your law.

    I realize you think that in this world you would somehow superhumanly know the history of every producer of every product you consume and thus could safely procure what you needed without exposing yourself to harm (or just plain fraud).

    How about this? Take food safety for example. Why not just make it a crime to sell food that makes people sick?

    The various systems of licensing we have don't actually do that. They make it a crime to sell healthy food, if you don't have the right permits. And it's not a crime to sell food that makes people sick, if you do have the right permits.

    That's the justice of your system for you right there. You claim to want to protect people from food that will make them sick, but your laws provide greater punishment for someone who sells healthy and sound food [if he doesn't have the right permits] than it does for someone who sells food that actually makes someone sick [if he does have the right permits].

  • Fluffy||

    Whoops.

    That should read "...was completely effective..."

    Kind of messes up that paragraph as bit.

  • ||

    TAO-I think you ignore how the government can be a leveling agent (look at Scandinavian nations that have much less inequality than we do largely due to progressive taxation and redistribution policy). And on the other hand you might be ignoring that in a minimalist government society the rich can protect their wealth through their advantage in bargaining power just fine, if not better than they do now.

    fluffy
    We had the system you speak of, tort law. It did not seem to work very well and the public clamored for regulation. It did not work well perhaps because it is reactive (only kicks in after the harm to be avoided is incurred) and information is imprefect (who or what made you sick?). Strict liability in tort was developed because of rather obvious defeciencies in standard negligence claims regarding product safety, kind of a mid point in the journey from traditional tort to positive regulation.

  • ||

    TAO-I think you ignore how the government can be a leveling agent (look at Scandinavian nations that have much less inequality than we do largely due to progressive taxation and redistribution policy).

    I want that ignored because the "leveling" of which you so euphemistically speak is taking earned wealth and giving it as unearned charity. There's virtue in giving if you want to give; there's no virtue in a society that forces us to do it.

  • ||

    This is a test post. Ignore.

  • ||

    do you really read this bilge all the way down? Like, 145 comments? T thought not

  • ||

    a classical liberal would support a progressive tax structure.

    Nope. A classical liberal would be appalled at the idea of an income tax.

    We overthrew the king over a 2% excise. If the crown had tried to tax the colonists at anything like the levels we tolerate today, every officer of the crown would have been drawn and quartered.

    -jcr

  • ||

    "slave state that fought beside the North. That's only because we couldn't figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way." - Joe Biden

    Nice.

  • Fluffy||

    Strict liability in tort was developed because of rather obvious defeciencies in standard negligence claims regarding product safety, kind of a mid point in the journey from traditional tort to positive regulation.

    I don't think they were obvious, and I think this development twisted and warped our civil courts, and turned them into a lottery in both the Lotto sense and the Shirley Jackson sense.

    And we've actually come full circle here, because down in the calorie counting thread there are posters asserting that we need regulation because in the absence of regulation there would be too many frivolous civil suits.

    So we have a broken liability system that has debauched our civil court system, and regulations that purport to "fix" dissatisfaction with our court system [from both plaintiffs and defendants] by brutally and unjustly criminalizing benign behavior.

    Great. Just great.

  • ||

    Here is what Biden asked Clarance Thomas during Thomas's nomination:

    "Are you now or have you ever been a libertarian?"

    At least that is what Cato tells me.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/08/24/joe-biden-and-limited-government/

  • ||

    """Interestingly, one of Biden's other kids is a registered lobbyist. (and was nominated for a government job by the current president!)"""

    Then the republicans should love him! ;-)

    Since when do republicans view a lobbyists as a bad thing.

  • Nick||

    Me: "a classical liberal would support a progressive tax structure."

    John C. Randolph: "Nope. A classical liberal would be appalled at the idea of an income tax"

    I don't think I ever advocated for an income tax, although if we're going to have one, it should definitely be progressive. The tax system the founding fathers implemented (tariffs) wasn't the best system either. Actually, I'd prefer a (minimal) land value tax-based system with exemptions for small, low value land over any other system - 1.) it's progressive (the poor don't usually own land, and the minimal amount they rent or own would have low taxes), 2.) it corrects inefficiencies in land speculation by forcing land owners to either productively develop or return land to a fallow state, 3.) it taxes something that tends to appreciate in value through zero labor input, and 4.) most of the valid functions of government at least have a connection with defense of land.

    I'm not sure that I agree with the idea of land ownership, because it's almost always a zero sum game. When I own valuable land, that's less valuable land for everyone else in society. The more high value land one owns, the higher the ratio of government defense required in say, a completely theoretical invasion where every area of the country was attacked equally. The high-value land under McCain's eight and a half houses require proportionately more police and fire protection and more legal protection than my duplex does. Thus, I consider such taxes to be equitable. And unlike sales taxes, they aren't regressive.

    I don't hold rigidly to this system, but I think it's preferable to an income tax. I know there are a bunch of holes in it. There's no good and fair tax systems. But MANY classical liberals, from Thomas Paine to Adam Smith to Henry George to Alexander Hamilton to Milton Friedman said it was the best system. Go research for yourself.

  • Nick||

    "I actually think theres a place for social welfare for truly catastrophic situations. But it should NOT be on the federal level. It should be handled at the local level."

    I agree with you BDB. I'm definitely not a radical libertarian, and I don't buy the libertarian notion that government is the primary evil - there are all kinds of actors in society who initiate force or fraud besides the government. On a local level, there is a lot of leeway as to what a government can do because they aren't bound to any sort of Constitutional limits of power. I consider myself more of a localist, where local governments and their citizens can decide which services they want or don't want, and then have to pay for it themselves. If you don't like the taxes, politicians, programs, regulations, etc. of your local government, moving to a new city is a viable option. Moving to a new country if you don't like federal policies, however, is NOT a very viable option. If local governments were able to compete with each other and implement the whole spectrum of programs, with some cities choosing socialism, some extreme deregulation, and many in the middle, they can compare and contrast what works best based upon experience, and the better solutions will catch fire in other cities while the bad ones will fall out of favor. It works exactly like school choice. Personally I believe libertarian ideas will win out in the end because of the laws of economics, but I don't believe there's anything necessarily wrong with a local government establishing a taxpayer-funded hospital or a public school, as long as they don't expect people on the other side of the country to pay for it and as long as people on the other side of the country don't pretend they can manage it. Communities determining the best solutions to their own problems is preferable to politicians thousands of miles away doing so.

  • Anon.||

    Talky Joe isn't really sticking.. trying Jabbering Joe. It works.

  • Sean W. Malone||

    Nick:

    "there are all kinds of actors in society who initiate force or fraud besides the government."


    True - but only government gets to do those things with the sanction of "the people". Criminals in civil society generally get punished, jailed and forced to provide recompense to their victims. Criminals (or more broadly, initiators of force & coercion) in government generally get airports named after them.

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