In response to the pod Rent Free or Die:

Look, I’m down with those crazy Libertarians to a point, and i say that with all due reflection–crazy like Hunter Thompson. Just like them I believe that the government should always be viewed with skepticism and not blindly trusted to do good, and I damn sure don’t want the government legislating what I do personally if it doesn’t harm anyone else (and yes, I am mostly talking about weed, but also about morality legislation in general).

Where we part ways is in the idea that we can co-exist in a society without government. Watch the video for more on that.

As an addendum, I’d like to say that I now consider the Libertarian view to be the far left of the feasible political spectrum. George Bush and his cohorts in the GOP have branded the Republicans as the party of Big Government with the size of the budget, warrantless wiretapping, and total corruption of our Justice Department. That puts people like me back in the center, who want us to be free but understand the necessity and purpose of government.

So I’m while I’m glad to have this little experiment in NH, I’d like to see it replicated en masse by people simply taking back control of their local governments. We need to enact policies that demand all our politicians are constantly, openly, and directly confronted by their constituents. No more ‘guessing’ what the public sentiment is through polls that ask ridiculous questions by an out of touch media apparatus. We have the tools to repair our government, we only need the will.


So I found the following comment from a former co-worker on a link I had posted to Facebook regarding Hillary’s slim chances of winning the nomination. Believe it or not, this is coming from a self-described liberal woman living in NYC:

if he gets the nomination i am either voting for mccain or not voting at all. the guy has nothing to say, and has done nothing. the guy went to a racist church, and frankly race relations will get even worse in this country if hes elected. everything will be black and white. any conservative democrat and most southern white ones will run the other way. if he wins the nomination the only thing its proving is that the dems are once again simply not interested in winning elections. count me as one who refuse to vote for this poor excuse for a candidate. unfortunately, ferraro was 100% correct, and anyone who isnt too PC and/or a whiny cry baby will admit that.

I’m posting this in the hopes that others will help me strengthen my response to screeds like this, and so that others might have a handy template of their own. My number one overriding goal when discussing politics is to ensure that my response keeps the discourse flowing, any criticisms of my efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Dear *****,

I’ve been thinking about your comment all day, trying to formulate the most constructive and honest response possible. I believe that the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher in this election, that it matters more than ever before that a Democrat take the White House. It is not hyperbole to say that McCain means four more years of Bush. He wants to keep the tax cuts, he wants to stay in Iraq indefinitely, and is just as determined to keep himself insulated from any and all criticism.

The tone of your comment disturbed me, because it didn’t seem to leave any room for a constructive debate regarding the strengths and weaknesses of our opposing candidates. With regard to your assumption that Barack Obama has been critically wounded by the Wright controversy, I would respectfully request that you provide me with some evidence. A CBS poll taken after Obama’s speech on race showed that 70% felt it adequately explained his relationship with the rev, and beyond that a clear majority of respondents said that the controversy bears no effect on their vote. Beyond that speech, just today, two polls came out showing Obama has whittled down Clinton’s lead in PA by 5-7 points in each.

But I didn’t write this email to focus on our disagreements regarding how race will effect this election, I want to make a much larger point. First of all, this should come as no surprise, but I have found the campaign Senator Clinton has run to be completely inept and often times completely antithetical to many of the principles I consider to be the bedrock of the Democratic party. Nevermind all of the horseshit surrogate battles over Ferraro and Powers. I’m talking about the decisions her campaign has directly made, the ones Hillary has control over. If you want me to write a detailed account of all the decisions that have put me off, I will, but that’s not the point of this email. The point is that despite my extreme disapproval of her campaign and her behavior as a candidate, I will BUST MY ASS to put her in the White House if she manages to pull off the nomination.

This is where I throw off all cordiality in this email because this shit fucking matters. We have two, TWO liberal justices on the supreme court who are hanging on to dear life. Do you really want to see the supreme court under conservative rule for the next 20 years?? What about the Justice department? That has been so thoroughly corrupted by Bush’s politicization of his appointments that to allow it to continue unchecked WILL lead of a fundamental erosion of the constitution and the rule of law. What about Iraq? I don’t think this question requires any further emphasis.

Look, I understand what it feels like to fervently support a candidate and watch their chances fade away or disappear, and while I may disagree with you that this is happening unjustly, I can certainly empathize. I gave my fucking SOUL to the Dean campaign in 2004, and you know where that went. But it matters. And if you’re seriously considering abstaining or actually voting for McCain, I just hope to god you stay in NY where it won’t make a bit of difference.


UPDATE. Here’s her response, followed by my re-rebuttal.

I realize all these things. It scares me that A) he has no idea what hes doing B) that he belonged to a church where the pastor was racist AND had him as an advisor. (among other things) That doesn’t sit well with me, and it might with other people and thats fine for them. The thing is, I am actually more of a libertarian. I am socially liberal (abortion, gay rights etc) but fiscally conservative. I believe 100% that welfare is only making things worse by creating a welfare culture, and that some people fall on hard times and deserve it, but the fact is thats not the case for most people. I think we are taking personal responsibility out of american values, and honestly, i am not sure any candidate actually will do much to help. I do believe our gov programs are out of control, but i prob couldnt vote for mccain based on social issues, and of course war. The fact is, Obama will lose. By nominating him, its obvious that that we will be in for another 4 years of republican rule.

honestly, one of my biggest things about clinton (and i dont agree with her entire campaign necessarily, nor all her policies-but at least she has solutions, obama just has hope, bc frankly he has no idea about how to do anything else) is that men have been screwing up this country for the past 300 years or whatever, and now its time to try something different.

Also I want to add that since the majority of african americans go to churches that have pastors like Wright, it should come as no surprise that by and large they continue to take no responsibility for where they are in 2008. to be sure there are other factors that they played no part in, but after a certain point, they have to do something to help themselves. but if their leaders are constantly telling them it’s someone else’s fault, well, i am not shocked that this is where they are still. It’s too bad for them that bill cosby isnt more of an influence, but people like Wright are.

I think that people will be disappointed whether its obama or mccain or even clinton in the white house unfortunately. The one thing this campaign has taught me, is that disturbingly enough, we do NOT live in a democracy. not even close

sorry for the none caps and whatnot. i get lazy:)

There’s some pretty infuriating stuff in there, but I think I did a damn good of keeping away from any righteous indignation at some of her more inflammatory statements. But you be the judge:

First off, I have to ask two things.

A.) Did you watch Obama’s speech discussing race?
B.) Did you view Wright’s speeches in context?

If you have watched either, I’m having trouble understanding the basic premise of your political views regarding both of their positions on race and responsibility. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to at least hear the whole story before you denounce the careers and veiws of these two men based on a few soundbites. It seems to me that Obama directly addressed the issues you are discussing, being the first black leader that I can recall that actually did have the temerity to say that white people’s resentment of black’s ‘disgruntledness’ is understandable and that those legitimate complaints should not be merely dismissed as racism, nor simply ignored and wished away. It is somewhat fair to say that the welfare state doesn’t always do much to lift people out of poverty, but it is also fair to say that we should not be so quick to dismiss long-term effects of the systemic oppression of blacks that existed in this country up until only about 40 years ago. And that’s just when the government ceased to ‘officially’ sanction racist policies. The lingering racism after the civil rights movement lingered on for quite a while following the enactment of actual legislation.

I urge you as someone who sounds genuinely concerned with the direction this country has headed to take a much closer look at Obama and what the man himself has actually said and done. You keep saying that the man has no accomplishments and this is simply not true at all, and even if it were, I don’t find it to be a credible argument against him. John Adams was 40, Thomas Jefferson 33, George Washington 44 when they created the United States of America. Abraham Lincoln had only served TWO years in the House of Representatives before he was elected, and the man successfully brought our country through a civil war and ended slavery. With regard to Obama’s legislative accomplishments, I’ve provided a link at the end of this message that should be pretty informative.

I haven’t gone here yet, but I have to know how you can defend Hillary’s recent complete fabrication about her Tuzla landing? I know it sounds like one of those stupid ‘gotchas’ that really shouldn’t be news, but to me it cuts right to the matter of character and decency. This wasn’t some extemporaneous remark we’re talking about, but a prepared speech given at least three times, each time she ‘misspoke’ the exact same way. When the story broke, it stoked my curiosity in the Bosnian war and I did some Wikipedia’ing. In a nutshell, it was fucking horrible, like a little mini-holocaust, which makes this fictional sniper story, made up for the sake of getting some kind of weird ‘street-cred’, all the more egregious in my view. Add to that the disparity between what she says now and what she did in the 90’s regarding her support of NAFTA, and I simply don’t understand how she hopes to maintain her credibility. Hillary already has massively high negatives in polling questions regarding credibility and authenticity, you can bet your ass the republicans know this and will be reminding everyone of every single lie she’s told in this campaign.

As to your comment about wanting a woman in charge because men have been, I could just as easily say that it’s been whites in charge for just as long. The reason I will not submit that argument is because I don’t believe either is an appropriate means of judging the character of the person seeking office. Certainly a person’s gender and ethnicity will inform some of their decisions, but a much better way to determine what type of politician someone will be is to simply look at their record of accomplishments and past statements.

As promised, here’s one of the most thorough breakdowns of both of the candidates’ legislative accomplishments I’ve found to date. It is well sourced and well worth a full read.


Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. You’re actually the first die-hard Clinton supporter I’ve really tried to have a serious discussion with, and I appreciate keeping the discourse open.


P.S. I also have a very strong libertarian streak. It’s one of the reasons I do support Obama. He has a very strong commitment to policies that foster transparency in government, most notably working with Tom Coburn (R-OK) to pass a bill to create federal searchable databases of all government contracts, loans, grants and special-interest spending commonly known as pork.

Hippie Claus

Here’s how I spent my Christmas Eve with the inlaws.

Giuliani Outside His Lair

In a stunning revelation at a press conference today, republican presidential contender Rudy Giuliani announced to the world that he possesses a vast array of mental powers, including psychic abilities, telekinesis and lightning bolts. This stunning revelation was prompted by recent reports that the taxpayer funded chauffeur services and protection she received predated the undisclosed “threats” which Giuliani claimed were the reason for her being afforded such special treatment.

The story broke early on December 7th, and a spokesman for the Giuliani campaign told reporters that a statement would be issued at 10:30 that morning. The press conference was located at the mouth of a large cave deep within central park. At 10:30 exactly a bolt of lightning struck the podium, the shock of which shorted out several reporters recording devices, and when the smoke finally cleared, Rudy Giuliani was standing at the podium.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, welcome to my central sanctum. As many of you now know, it has been revealed that I instructed the NYPD through then Police Commissioner, Bernie Kerik, to provide transportation and security Ms. Nathan well in advance of any actual threats being made on her life. I must confess the truth, I did lie to the press, but only to preserve secrets which I can keep no longer. Secrets such as the fact that I can see into the future at least enough to foretell… well, not everything, but at the very least vague threats. Whether or not they’re true… not so much, which explains the security detail. Second! Well, you saw the entrance, I guess that actually makes it first, but the point is I can shoot lightning–outdoors… if it’s cloudy… and close to my cave.

Giuliani went on for another forty minutes, describing how amazing each of of many powers are, though some in the crowd were not so impressed. Once Giuliani finished his opening remarks, reporters were invited to ask questions. This session lasted only a moment, though as the first question pertained to why Giuliani’s powers didn’t help in preventing the tragedy of 9–AAAAAHAHGGH!!!

Giuliani Killing Me

Some of the writers of the Show formerly known as Daily got together and produced this video from the front lines of the writer’s strike with a well made point:

If there’s one clip that should sink Gonzales, it’s this one. At this point can anyone reasonably refute that this country is being run by an organized crime syndicate?

Let’s turn our attention to the office of the Surgeon General for a bit… via Universal Health