111 thoughts on “Op-ed

    1. Let me know when saints start appearing on the ballot; I’ll volunteer for their slate at the Electoral College.

      Then again, consider who’s been canonized. Seems the prime criteria is to be daft & delusional. Even saints ain’t no saints.

      1. Actually, both the President and Senate races in Arizona are within the margin of error. If you were to bet, you should go with Carmona, the Democrat, defeating Flake for Kyl’s Senate seat, and for Romney defeating Obama…but you also shouldn’t be surprised if any of the three other possibilities played out.

        And the only way that we’re ever going to get any sort of proportional balloting is if the Republicans and Democrats get so terrified of third parties “spoiling” elections for them that they cave. So it’s those in battleground states who should be most emboldened to vote their consciences, not those in safe states where they’re just throwing their votes away no matter who they vote for.


        1. And the only way that we’re ever going to get any sort of proportional balloting is if the Republicans and Democrats get so terrified of third parties “spoiling” elections for them that they cave.

          There are no remotely competitive third parties in the U.S., nor any serious prospects for one. If you believe that Obama is a much better candidate than Romney, or vice versa, voting for a third party candidate is a wasted vote.

            1. Yes, and it’s not relevant here. Small, independent parties will never achieve any sort of national success if all they try to win is Presidential elections. There’s simply no way that they’re going to be taken seriously if all they’re offering is a steady succession of political novices who have no experience in office. If they want to succeed some time, they should try running candidates for local, county, and state level positions and try to build up some decent power bases around the country. Then they might have a chance of convincing the rest of us that they’re more than just another fly-by-night party who’ll be completely forgotten about by the next election.

              1. The Greens are a grassroots party, and we do have candidates at every level.

                And it’s also important when building a party to have candidates for the top spots as well as at the more local levels. A presidential candidate can lend gravitas and support and all sorts of other great things to local candidates, as well as party awareness.

                And the Greens aren’t at all a fly-by-night party at all. It’s an international party with affiliates in almost a hundred other countries, and a major player in some. The Green Party of the United States is over two decades old; if I’m not mistraken, that makes us older than any other third party in the US except the Libertarians. The international Green Party movement dates back to the 70s.

                If you knew even the first thing about Dr. Stein that the press reports about her, you’d know that this is the second time she’s run against Romney. That first time they were both running, as you say she should, for state office.

                And Romney himself is a political novice; he’s held exactly one public office, and only a single term, at that. If he’s qualified to run for president, then so is Dr. Stein.


              2. The Greens are a grassroots party

                The Greens are a *spectacularly unsuccessful* grassroots party, because their platform is so extreme and unpopular.

              3. The Greens are a *spectacularly unsuccessful* grassroots party,

                My, you really are scared of the Greens, aren’t you?

                By all means, please keep it up. Every time you lie like this, you give me an opportunity to fill in the facts.

                Such as, for example, that the Greens are so “unsuccessful” that Dr. Stein is pulling in enough individual donations to qualify for Federal matching funds, and that she’s going to be listed on at least 85% of the ballots cast in this election.

                How else would you like to help publicize Dr. Stein’s campaign?


              4. Golly, she’s going to be *listed on a ballot*. So was the Monster Raving Loony Party. You have a strange idea of what it means to be politically successful.

              5. You have a strange idea of what it means to be politically successful.

                Mr. Pot, please to meet Mr. Kettle.

                Dude, you’ve got no clue what it takes to get ballot access. Never mind all the bullshit roadblocks the duopoly are constantly throwing in the paths of third-party candidates; even duopoly candidates have a hard time getting on a ballot.

                And on a national scale? Doesn’t happen without a serious nationwide infrastructure including everybody from random schmuck volunteers all the way up to high-end lawyers and veteran political advisers.

                Keep digging, Gary — you’re really doing a great job at helping me explain the significance of Dr. Stein’s campaign!


              6. So your latest nonsensical argument is that I’m “the pot calling the kettle black” because I think political success is a matter of winning elections rather than merely getting your name on the ballot?

                When you don’t have anything meaningful to say, you say something anyway even if it makes no sense whatsoever.

              7. They’re so cute when they’re so naïve, aren’t they?

                Yes, there’s a hell of a lot more to political success than just winning elections. Winning elections is the best form of success, but far from the only form.

                Out of curiosity: how much longer before you’ll be taking that civics class in high school?


        2. Ross Perot won for Clinton
          Ralph Nader won for George W. Bush

          Voting your conscience in 2 party American is like voting your spinach. So what!

          1. Well, if you think that my vote for Dr. Stein is somehow going to elect Romney, then you might want to consider advocating for some form of preferential voting.


              1. I also just voted for Jill Stein today

                That’s one less vote for Obama.

                Governor Romney thanks you for your vote.

    2. I’m sorry, Ben, but I remember 1968 and 2000. Close your eyes and think of the Supreme Court, or of all the people who will die if the other side is elected. Then it was Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Maybe MRmoney won’t start a war with Russia, China or Iran, no matter what his advisors want, but his election would tilt the odds that way.

      1. I’m not suggesting that Romney wouldn’t be worse than Obama.

        I’m observing that there cannot possibly be change so long as everybody’s too afraid of change to challenge the status quo.

        If you don’t want the President to order the murders of civilians and American citizens, then don’t vote for the President who’s bragging right this minute about how many civilians and American citizens his flying death robots have murdered.

        We are most fortunate that our forebears gave us a political system in which peaceful revolution is not only possible, but regularly scheduled. But if you won’t exercise your right to have a peaceful say in those revolutions, then your only other options are to be complicit in the actions of those you implicitly or explicitly support or to seek non-peaceful revolution.

        Of those options, I’ll take voting my conscience — not in the least because it’s the one with greatest chance of lasting success.



        1. Changing the status quo is all well and good, but remember to keep realistic goals.

          A third party that shoots straight for President of the United States as their goal has roughly the same odds of success as if NASA had announced that it was going to have a manned Mars mission as its first program, before it had even started building prototype rockets to put unmanned objects into space.

        2. Challenging the status quo means doing so with some alternative that has a chance to work, not with some pipe dream that is immediately dismissed as ludicrous as soon as the discussions begin and is seconded as preposterous as soon as the voting ends.

          Your arguments don’t add up. In one you seem to conveniently forget that our forebears gave us this political system by killing a lot of people in multiple murderous wars of both freedom and conquest and multiple disgusting genocides on aboriginal humans they lied and said had no souls.

          Nowadays advertising is the political revolution that wins, not third party candidates who make promises they can never hope to keep. Try to get up to speed on the reality of politics; reality that succeeds always works better than dreams that make you feel good for the moment… just until the moment vanishes and the reality sets in again. Political dreamers are always and forever disappointed. It is the political pragmatists who win every time. Every wonder why? Answer: it’s politics!

          1. Your political reality is changing. Third parties aren’t going away, and they’re going to continue to be a disruptive force to the duopoly.

            If you’d like to help limit the disturbance, at least in the short term, you should advocate for some form of proportional balloting.

            But don’t expect anybody who thinks that murdering American citizens with flying death robots is really, really bad is going to vote to have Obama do that for another four years.


            1. and they’re going to continue to be a disruptive force to the duopoly.

              Huh? What “disruption?” Third parties have so little support they’re irrelevant. I’d bet not one American in fifty even knows the NAME of the Green Party candidate, let alone what she stands for.

              1. I see you’ve already forgotten the role the Green Party candidate played in the Y2K election, or what role an independent candidate played a couple elections before that.

                If you don’t think either had a disruptive role with respect to the duopoly, then you’re not qualified to engage in this discussion.


              2. If the Green Party played a role in the 2000 election, it was to help George W Bush become President instead of Al Gore. That’s the kind of “disruption” you want, is it?

              3. Yup.

                And we’re going to keep “disrupting” the duopoly in exactly that same way until we have some form of proportional balloting.

                Yes, that’s a threat. I have read you right, yes? That you respond best to threats?

                If you don’t want to see another election where the duopolists whine and bullshit about a third party somehow costing the duopoly their rightful victory, then support proportional balloting.


              4. And we’re going to keep “disrupting” the duopoly in exactly that same way until we have some form of proportional balloting.

                In other words, you’re going to keep helping Republicans to defeat Democrats. And you’ve just confirmed that this not an outcome you regret, but something you actually *want* to happen. I’m glad you’ve made that explicit.

              5. Oh, don’t worry. There’re about as many Libertarians whom the Republicans are going to blame for helping Democrats to defeat Republicans.

                Care to continue to demonstrate your ignorance of American politics?


              6. Make up your mind. Either you think Greens “disrupt” election outcomes or you don’t. If they do have that effect, they’re helping Republicans to win, not Democrats.

              7. But that’s just it.

                Will there be more Greens (who’d never vote for Obama but whom Democrats like to pretend we should) voting and thus “spoiling” the election for Obama; or will there be more Libertarians (who’d never vote for Romney but whom Republicans like to pretend they should) voting and thus “spoiling” the election for Romney? Oh — and let’s not forget: there’re others out there, too, such as Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party.

                Are you feeling lucky today, punk?


                Are you?


                Then why aren’t you supporting your only way out? You should be a poster child for proportional balloting, which would lay all your fears of spoilage to rest.


              8. But that’s just it.

                Huh? What’s “just it?” Do you think Greens are disrupting election outcomes or don’t you?

                You’ve already confirmed that you WANT Green candidates to help Republicans defeat Democrats.

    1. unfortunately, the last Gallup poll has Romney at 51%

      with a month to go in any presidential race since gallup started doing these polls, they have never been wrong as a predictor.

      Whoever was leading the poll with a month to go became the next president.

      I really, really hope that they are wrong for the first time, but regardless, half of publicly polled America fully supports someone who would happily toss them under the bus for personal gain.

      that’s the fail, right there. it doesn’t really matter who wins the presidency, if half of your constituency has become so authoritarian, so brainwashed, they will believe any lie so long as it comes from a trusted authority.

      welcome to 1984 ladies and gents. Hope you enjoy your stay, it’s likely to be a long one.

      1. XKCD to the rescue:


        Obama has never lost his lead in the electoral college, and he’s showing a definite bounce from the second debate performance. Nate Silver and the various betting houses all still have Obama as the 3:2 favorite to win the election, though not necessarily the popular vote.

        And I’ll also note that it’s only a very small fraction of the population who’ll be voting for Romney. An equally-sized but still small fraction will be voting for Obama. A significant majority won’t be voting at all. The number of registered voters isn’t all that high to begin with, and the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots is embarrassingly small.

        As I recall — and I have nothing to back this up — Obama is the overwhelming favorite amongst those who won’t be voting, and thus the population as a whole.


    1. Romney is a chronic liar with no definite attachment to objective reality. That’s clear from the record. He says whatever he needs to say to get whatever he wants at the moment. Obama has deficiencies there too, but is probably a bit better than the average politician. Seems like an easy choice to me.

    2. epigenetic brain factors…

      would those be like the lead paint chips I ate as a kid?

      or can it just be anything one can make up?

      I mean, since we’re just making stuff up here, right?

  1. Yahoo is running a story about the unlikely group switching to Obama (voted for McCain in 2008):

    Older white males!

    Reason: Romney’s episodes as a serial, unrelenting prevaricator.

      1. No, but many people won’t vote for the honest ones so they don’t make it through many election cycles. And the ones that do lie vary in the quantity. Some are as honest as they can be, given the political realities.

        My approach is: always go for the better one and don’t be expecting perfect. Even if the better one is still poor — that’s better than terrible. We’ve had more than enough terrible leaders in recent decades.

      1. A different Mitt than the one his campaign sold to the republican base? We know that segment of the population is nuts. You practically have to tell them you will found a theocracy in order to be electable as candidate for the general election. But once elected, is there a possibility that he will turn America into a big Massachusetts?

          1. The one thing that never changes about Mitt, he will always make decisions that are designed to increase his personal wealth.

  2. Lesser of two evils. And, not one woman should ever vote for Romney.

    Obama, like Clinton, wasted the first term.

  3. It may be official, but what is the real reason? The bottom set is silly, the left set is stupid, and the right set is the kind of comment I would expect from someone who really does belong in the bottom set.

  4. Lawrence Krauss wrote an interesting article on Mitt Romney – “Romney: Grounded in the Galaxy?” – which featured on the Richard Dawkins website. How anyone can believe that crap is beyond me!
    The second “m” in Mormon being silent is an apt description.

  5. To those of you considering voting for a third-party candidate (or sitting this election out) I offer a one-acronym warning: SCOTUS.

    The next Oval Office inhabitant will likely be called upon to replace two of the nine sitting Justices (and maybe more), as well as to name a large number of intermediate-appellate and trial-court judges, thereby having a major impact on the federal judiciary’s composition for years (and as to our highest court, perhaps decades) to come.

    Whatever else you think of the two major-party candidates — and you need not look especially hard to discern other material distinctions — there will be a significant difference between the set (to use the term triggered by Jerry’s Venn diagram) of potential judges Obama would nominate and the set that would be nominated by Romney — judges with the power to decide issues capable of reaching into our lives in ways real and tangible.

    Consider if you will whether this difference alone warrants your sucking it up to vote for the incumbent.

    1. A vote for Obama is a vote for the continued targeted mass murders of civilians and American citizens by Obama’s troops using indiscriminate flying death robots.

      The only way we’ll ever get rid of the first-past-the-post election system that guarantees the continued entrenchment of the duopoly is if duopolist candidates keep losing elections to third parties.

      A vote for Dr. Stein isn’t a vote for Romney; it’s a vote for Dr. Stein. A vote for Mr. Johnson isn’t a vote for Obama; it’s a vote for Mr. Johnson.

      A vote or Dr. Stein, even if she doesn’t win the election, is no more a wasted vote than a vote for Senator McCain four years ago was wasted even though he didn’t win.

      But if you really don’t want your president to murder civilians and American citizens, then a vote for Obama is wasted, indeed. Worse than wasted — you’re adding your own stamp of approval to Obama’s homicides.



      1. A vote for Obama is a vote for the continued targeted mass murders of civilians and American citizens by Obama’s troops using indiscriminate flying death robots.

        No it isn’t.

        By the way, military drones are not robots. They have human operators.

          1. REMOTE human operators

            Yes, remote human operators. And your point is….?

            – and not all drones require even that…so, yeah – robots.

            Which drones (“flying death robots”) kill people without being directed to do so by a human operator? Identify them.

            1. “Please continue, Governor.”

              Do tell us how referring to the flying death robots as “drones” makes it legal, constitutional, or morally justifiable to murder civilians, including American citizens, merely on the President’s order and without even the pretense of due process.


              1. What you are calling “flying death robots” are military attack aircraft piloted remotely instead of by a pilot sitting inside the vehicle, where he would be at risk of death or injury. Military attack aircraft have been around for a century.

                Military strikes that cause civilian casualties are not the same thing as murder.

              2. Military strikes that cause civilian casualties are not the same thing as murder.

                Bzzzt. Try again.

                The fact that it’s the military targeting the individuals is completely and totally irrelevant.


                Because no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

                If it were the military killing its own, that’d be one thing (assuming we ignore the niggling little detail that we’re not at war).

                But if you’re not in the armed forces, only a Grand Jury can sign your name to a capital warrant, and only with due process may you be deprived of life.

                Or is the Constitution just a goddamned piece of paper to you, too?


              3. Bzzzt. Try again.

                I don’t need to try again. If you think civilian casualties from military operations are the same thing as murder, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.

              4. You still haven’t learned the first rule of holes, have you, Gary?

                Anwar al-Awlaki was not a civilian bystander accidentally killed as part of a military operation.

                Mr. al-Awlaki was an American citizen who was murdered on the direct, signed order of the President.

                There was no Grand Jury indictment, no due process, no warrant, no arrest, no trial, no jury, no conviction, no sentence, no appeal, no legal defense.

                He was simply murdered because President Obama wanted him dead. And we’re supposed to think that it’s okay that the President had him murdered because Mr. al-Awalki was a very bad man who deserved to die.

                If that doesn’t simultaneously, horrify, repulse, and scare the living shit out of you, you’re a soulless idiot who deserves naught but scorn and contempt.


            2. Yes, “Please continue, Governor.”
              “Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigator, or pilot”
              – wikipedia

              1. Still waiting for a point. Yes, they’re piloted remotely, rather than by an on-board pilot. So what? And which of these “flying death robots” kill people without being directed to do so by a human operator?

              2. Your point, Gary — the one that you’re oh-so-conveniently ignoring — is the Fifth Amendment, which Obama is shitting on ever time he signs one of those orders to launch the flying death robots against a named individual.

                Why do you hate America so much that you’re celebrating the murders of civilians by soldiers acting on unconstitutional orders from the President himself?


              3. As usual with you, your comments are becoming increasingly bizarre. What does the Fifth Amendment have to do with whether an aircraft is piloted remotely instead of by an on-board pilot?

              4. The Fifth has everything to do with your pro-murder rhetorical campaign to rally support for the murders your heroic pilots are committing upon direct presidential orders from Obama.

                While we’re at it, it’s not only the Fifth that Obama is violating, but international law, as well. In more civilized times, Obama would be at the Hague right now for the war crimes he repeatedly and openly brags about committing.


              5. Is anybody going to change their minds about this, or is the discussion at an impasse?

  6. My understanding was a lot of what Obama wanted to do was blocked by a Repub-dominated government. What’s to stop the same thing happening again?

    1. The standard, obvious response to this question is that a second-term Obama won’t care about re-election and will therefore be motivated to knuckle down, buckle down and do the detailed work in the political trenches to achieve worthwhile compromises on the long-term issues that get ignored in even-numbered years (election years).

      A lot may depend on whether the slim (not-filibuster-proof) Democratic majority grows slightly, shrinks, or disappears in the voting next month.

      My response to this standard, obvious response is that the members (of both major parties) of the permanent political class are almost exclusively focused on positioning for election or re-election even in odd-numbered years. When sensible public policies do manage to get enacted and implemented, it seems to happen almost accidentially. Everything is driven by electoral politics.

  7. The two words that matter most: supreme court. If you want two or more Scalias on the bench in the next term, vote Romney. If that thought terrifies you, vote Obama.

  8. JAC, I think you are great scientist and I agree with your religious views – you are just a little bit to the right of my own thinking.
    But I fear your politics are terrible!

    I can well understand the objections to Romney’s views on religion and certain social issues, but this Obama is a closet socialist and, if re-elected, he will take the USA so far on that path that it will never ever recover again as the free-est nation in the world.

    As an outsider, the effect that will have on the free world is frightening.

    I suggest you stick to science and religion.


    1. By applying the “socialist” label to Obama, you demonstrate a complete and utter lack of understanding of even the most basic facts of sociopolitical economic theory.

      Obama is no more a socialist than the Pope is Jewish, and calling him one is just as laughably absurd.


    2. We should be so lucky that Obama were even a little bit socialist. If he were, then perhaps there would be a public option in the health care law. If he were, then he would have nationalized those big banks that had to be bailed out, then broken the damn things up so they can’t do what they are still doing.

    3. Obama is a centrist Democrat, much like Bill Clinton. Romney is a centrist Republican, much like George HW Bush. Neither of them is likely to pursue radical changes in law or policy as President. Even if they wanted to, their power is severely contrained by congress and the courts. Partisans on both sides tend to grossly exaggerate the differences between the two candidates. Third party candidates have so little support that they’re irrelevant.

      1. I was referring to religion when I said that JAC was to the right of me. As far as I can ascertain JAC is a good and strong atheist. I was one once myself and still have admiration for and a close affinity with atheists.

        But I have moved on. I now prefer to side with thinkers such as Victor Stenger who says that that there is no indication, no sign, no emanation of any kind that can even begin to indicate the existence of a godhead. This view has become known as empirical non-theism. It is not just a rejection of a godhead – as the “a” (or anti) in atheist implies. It is a total negation, clear statement of a “non-thing” that needs no consideration in our thinking and deliberation. It is based on sound scientific and logical facts and deduction.

        But politically I would probably be regarded as somewhat right-wing as I believe in freedom for individuals, freedom for nation states and peoples who regard themselves as a unique and separate group (the German word “volk” describes this better than the English “peoples” – such as the Scottish, the Basques, the Catalonians, the Flemish and of course the so long supressed Indian peoples of the Americas). I believe in free-enterprise, a free market system and compassionate capitalism and all that goes with it.

        If you do not realise that Obama and the people who advise and influence him are all far-left leaning socialistic thinkers, some even radical Marxists, you obviously do not understand clearly what is going on in your country. It might be too late when you wake up!

  9. I suppose that Obama vs Romney is kind of like a crap sandwich in artisan bread with some nice garnish vs a crap sandwich with bread made from more crap…

    As for a 3rd way. I well remember voting for Liberal Democrat (UK’s 3rd party) and we ended up with a coalition between them and the right loons, with all the policy coming from the right loons. That worked well, and doesn’t entirely encourage me to vote again.


  10. I have absentee voted. I voted for third party candidates if there was no one from my preferred party running for that particuar position. If only a member of the other party was running, I did not vote. However, I voted for one member of the other party, and have done so before. She had helped me resolve an issue with the county government when I first moved here. So that gives you some idea how to get my vote.

  11. @Gary W -“Still waiting for a point. Yes, they’re piloted remotely, rather than by an on-board pilot. So what?”

    Yes – those brave pilots putting their lives on the lines from thousands of miles away…
    and YOUR point?

    1. Yes – those brave pilots putting their lives on the lines from thousands of miles away…

      No one said that remote piloting requires “bravery.”

      and YOUR point?

      I just told you: What you are calling “flying death robots” are military attack aircraft piloted remotely instead of by a pilot sitting inside the vehicle. That reduces the risk of our military pilots being killed or injured. I think that’s a good thing.

      But “flying death robots” sounds evil-scary, which is presumably why people like you and Ben Goren favor the phrase. Rather than encouraging people to think about the issue rationally, you’re just trying to provoke a crude emotional response.

      1. Right.

        Because all those civilians that the flying death robots have killed — sorry, all those evildoers that the operators have targeted — give a flying fuck about your efforts to make the flying death robots sound like — in your very own words — “a good thing.”

        Gary, you’re evil. You’re calling official political murder “a good thing,” and there’s simply no excuse for that.

        How the fuck can you sleep at night? And how dare you, a pro-murder promoter of indiscriminate mass murders of brown people, lecture anybody on what is or isn’t “a good thing”?

        I can understand worrying about the realpolitik consequences which might lead one to reluctantly support what is seen as the lesser of two evils. But that’s not what you’re doing.

        You’re fucking cheering the fucking murders and the murdering murderers doing the murdering.

        I’m sorry, but it really doesn’t get any more evil than that.

        What next? Are you going to go all William Lane Craig on us and whine about the mental health risks of those poor murderers who have to watch brown people thousands of miles away die on TV screens after they press a couple buttons?


      2. You’re calling official political murder “a good thing,”

        One one could possibly read what I wrote and seriously claim I was calling “murder” a good thing. I wrote that remote piloting is a good thing because it reduces the risk that the pilot will be injured or killed.

        This is another thing I have observed over and over again in your comments, along with the endless and increasingly vicious personal attacks. When you have no argument, you simply lie about what other people wrote.

        1. This discussion is getting to ascerbic for my taste, with people being called liars and cursing and implying people are murderers and the like. I don’t want this tone on my site, so please knock it off or take it to private email.

          1. Jerry,

            Ben Goren keeps doing this over and over again, in discussion and after discussion. He subjects people who disagree with him to torrents of abuse and invective. He’ll stop in a particular thread when you intervene, but then he resumes the name-calling and personal attacks in the next thread.

            It’s not even as if the people he’s attacking are expressing extreme views. In this case, he’s abusing people simply because they disagree with his view that Obama is a war criminal and murderer.

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