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Zer Netmouse
August 12th, 2005
12:30 pm


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flip-flops: whatever happened to being able to change your mind or elaborate on an idea?

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[User Picture]
Date:August 12th, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)
OK, I have to admit to puzzlement. Yes, everyone certainly has the right to change their minds, and argue a new position. But when they do, other people have the same right to point out that they changed their minds, and *ask* if that says anything about what weight should be given to that person's new opinion.

As for the out of context issue, yes, the last line was certainly taken out of context and misused. (Although, having read the original newspaper article now, I can understand how it could easily have been misunderstood, and I doubt that the misuse was intentional.) However, the rest of the quote seemed to me to be used perfectly in context, and makes the discussion generally valid.

And if we're going to use this as an example of "bad conservatives, bad, bad!", :) then why not compare it to another item in the news today, the NARAL anti-Roberts television ad. NARAL just pulled the ad after intense criticism, both from conservative groups AND abortion rights supporters. The ad was roundly considered to be both incorrect and incendiary (in both senses of the word - little political humor there), and designed to have viewers draw patently false conclusions.

Lastly, in regards to financial support of this person being investigated for trying to suppress "get out the vote" efforts, let me quote from a headline, and link to an article published just after election day. From SFGate.com:

Congresswoman's son, four others charged with slashing Republican van tires on Election Day
GRETCHEN EHLKE, Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 24, 2005

(01-24) 15:23 PST MILWAUKEE (AP) --

The sons of a first-term congresswoman and Milwaukee's former acting mayor were among five Democratic activists charged Monday with slashing the tires of vans rented by Republicans to drive voters and monitors to the polls on Election Day.

Full story...

Note that *these* people have been charged, not just "investigated".

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that any of the people that you are talking about are angels. What I AM saying is that you should avoid two things:

1 - Don't generalize the motives of an entire political movement because of the actions of some people. If you look for bad (and confirming!) news about those you hate or fear, you can always find them.

2 - Remember than *any* sufficiently large group of people will have a large number of unreliable, disreputable, dishonest, or just plain nuts members. They will do all kinds of objectionable things. The real question is: does the mainstream of the group notice, criticize, and attempt to police such things or not?
[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2005 08:47 am (UTC)
There is a difference between questioning something and dismissing it.

I don't defend NARAL and have never pretended to support them (That is to say, I am not a member of NARAL never have been. They always seemed too rabid to me). Just because other people on your side of the fence are acting like apes that doesn't mean that your side of the fence is bad. I'm not saying "Concervatives are bad" - I'm being specific here. I'm saying the Bush administration sucks in the way it is really coming down hard on dissent and questioning. And I'm saying the National Republican Committee has lost track of the point of the constitution, government, and elections. Either that or they are so flush with power they don't care what they have to do to hold onto it, and are knowingly stomping on peoples' rights.

Members of the democratic party may be doing that too. I don't think they're as organized about it and I don't think it's as high up. There's a big difference between some volunteers for the campaign, and a person who's in charge of the campaign for the state. Note that, from the same article you pointed me to, the reaction of the campaign committee was not to defend these people:

Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Seth Boffeli said the five were paid employees of Kerry's campaign, but were not acting on behalf of the campaign or party.

"This is not something we engage in, or encourage. We had to make it clear that this is something these individuals were doing on their own," Boffeli said.

The real question is: does the mainstream of the group notice, criticize, and attempt to police such things or not?

Are you saying they do? Do you have any evidence to say that they do? Because as far as I can tell most of the challenges to the last election are so hushed up in the media and downplayed by our own representatives -lawmakers - and the courts -law enforcers - that it speaks of systematic failure to police such things. And I think that is in part being instantiated by the powers of the political parties.

And I have never bought into arguments that attempt to distract from one instance of wrongdoing by pointing to a similar instance on the other side of the fence. I'm not saying the republican party is alone in fucking up our elective system, I'm saying our elections are fucked and the republican committee with all its money is part of the reason. So anyone who likes the ideals of justice, fairness, and participatory democracy better get on their FEET or what democracy we have enjoyed to this point is going to slip through our fingers.

Maybe we need third-party van fleets to take voters to the polls. maybe we need international observers who are really given the ability to observe the election. Maybe we need a real, effective news service that checks its facts. Maybe we need a real third party, or maybe we need to make it illegal for the person running the election to have a stake in the election (e.g. to be an active member of a political party). I don't know. But if we just let it go by uncommented and expect these good people to police themselves, then we are fools, not citizens.

[User Picture]
Date:August 13th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
Netmouse said:

"Because as far as I can tell most of the challenges to the last election are so hushed up in the media and downplayed by our own representatives -lawmakers - and the courts -law enforcers - that it speaks of systematic failure to police such things."

One thing that I can say from my own experience; I have read a number of in-depth, post-investigation reports about some of the things referred to as "irregularities" in the last [Presidential] election. In *every* case that I have read, the allegations turned out to either be inaccurate, unsubstantiatable, or a single incident presented as a "pattern" or "systematic effort". This includes some very lengthy reports on both the 2004 election events in Ohio and the 2000 election events in Florida.

Frankly, I *don't* think that the Republicans are any worse than the Democrats in this area. In fact, I might make the argument that they are actually *worse*. Specific, well-documented, and verified examples of what I'm referring to include bypassing election law in the New Jersey senatorial election of Frank Lautenberg and the senatorial election of Meg Carnahan in Missouri, the highly questionable vote handling in Mary Landrieux's senatorial election in Louisiana, and most particularly, the 2004 governor's race in Washington State, where the known and verified count of invalid or illegal ballots was greater than the margin of victory - and that margin of victory only came about on the third count of ballots, after hundreds of previously "uncounted" ballots had somehow materialized.

My point is not to defend current election practices, but instead to argue against the point that the Republican party is obviously and markedly culpable in the majority of cases, or in the more significant cases. I don't wish to spend the time going into the details of the examples I've mentioned above, I'm certainly not a professional journalist , and would only be cut and pasting what's easily available on-line.

Thanks for the temporary soapbox!
Date:August 14th, 2005 04:46 am (UTC)
sweeitie, I didn't mean to get into a debate about who's worse, the Democrats or the Republicans. I'll repeat my assertion that either way our next election is in grave jeopardy.

Date:August 14th, 2005 04:47 am (UTC)
PS I'd appreciate links to these reports you've read.
[User Picture]
Date:August 14th, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, I read so much of this stuff (and so rarely engage in a political argument), that I don't keep citations or links. However, all of the examples that I mentioned were major media stories, some Googling on the names, states, years, and some keywords should turn up references in most any major newspaper's website. As I mentioned, the Washington state race was the 2004 election, the Missouri election was in 2000 (and was with Mel Carnahan, not Meg Carnahan - sorry, my bad ), the Landrieu election in Louisiana was in 1996, and the Lautenberg election was in 2002. Hope this helps!
Date:August 13th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC)

Respectful dissents

Remember kids, Bush says questioning your government is bad. Now repeat after me: Baaad.

I guess I just don't see this. When did Bush say this? I know you don't mean he literally said it, but what has he specifically done to give this impression. I mean, she's out there, right by his ranch, causing a big embarrassment to his administration, and nothing's really happened to her. Yes, Drudge is a jerk and he's maligned her terribly, but being attacked by some rabid ideologue on a blog is a far cry from government-sanctioned suppression.

[T]he Bush administration sucks in the way it is really coming down hard on dissent and questioning...

I hear things like this a lot, but again, I'd like some specific examples. There's no lack of dissent and questioning; sometimes it seems like it's all I hear. I know in Ann Arbor you can't swing a dead cat without hitting somebody who regularly dissents (and loudly) from the Bush Administration's policies. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't see anybody coming down on it, hard or otherwise.

Drudge, Malkin, Coulter, et al, are loudmouth ideologues and not to be taken seriously (much like Moore and Chomsky on the other side of the fence). But it is possible to thoughtfully dissent from Sheehan's point of view: see here for an Iraqi's response.

Date:August 14th, 2005 04:43 am (UTC)

Re: Respectful dissents

Every time Bush travels somewhere they set up special free speech zones far away from where he's going and don't let anyone protest along the media path. They threw people out of his election-year rallies for nonconformative comments or pins - ones that disagreed with a single policy or the war, not ones that said the name of the other guy or anything like that. He has fired all the scientists in his administration who disagree with him volubly. You're not allowed to be in his camp unless you buy his mind-meld, ass over armpit.
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