Monday, June 23, 2008

McCain's YouTube Problem


I was an Obama man even before hardly anyone knew who he was, back when he was a state senator in Illinois and hadn't even run for U.S. Senate (much less President). He was already so inspiring with his knowledge, candor, and level-headedness, I pegged him at the time as someone I wished would someday run for President. Yet I dismissed that as fantasy, because he was black--as one of my friends said (a police officer in California basing his judgment on a lurking racism evident throughout even his department), "this country will never elect a black man for President."

That was years ago. Imagine my surprise when Obama actually did start a run for President! And his win, though by no means guaranteed, actually looks plausible. Except for the fact, of course, that the Republicans are Evil and will sell any lie to win, as they did in 2004 against Kerry (the Swift Boat debacle) and even against McCain, one of their very own (the Black Baby debacle--even more disgusting than the Swift Boat campaign...with friends like that, who needs enemies?). The American people shamed me with their readiness to fall for such obvious crap--are we such a nation of idiots? More recently, the racism discovered by the press even among Democrats in West Virginia this season was shocking beyond even my cynical expectations, and does not bode well for the upcoming election (see the DailyShow clip, and for more disturbing examples see this video from TheRealNews). In Georgia they even sold out T-Shirts depicting Obama as a bananna-eating monkey (I sh*t you not). Sad to say, Hillary Clinton's campaign wasn't entirely innocent of race-baiting either (intentionally or not).

But come what may, this may be the year the People took back the political process, if not their country. There are two indicators converging on that conclusion. The first is in respect to the media. The second is in respect to campaign financing. The two pillars of power: knowledge and money. I'll blog about the first one now. I'll cover the second later this week.

The first indicator of a shift in power back to the people is the fact that we are now successfully subverting the media, which has failed us through incompetence and corporate control. Video editing and distribution is now so cheap that YouTube is fast beating the corporate media at their own game. Ordinary citizens and interest groups locked out of mainstream media can now use the internet to explode myths and expose lies and deception, everything the official media is supposed to do but rarely does anymore. Now we can excerpt things politicians have said and compare them and present our findings to the public directly, bypassing the networks and news outlets that otherwise control what information is widely seen, heard, or read. Our voice can now be heard, not just theirs.

Much ado was made a few years ago about this fact being evident in the power wielded by bloggers. But I think video is the true medium of power, and that makes YouTube the true vehicle of a new era in U.S. politics. Once bloggers seized the power to produce video, then the real media revolution began. Now we have independent internet media sources like TheYoungTurks and Progressive Media USA. Though these can't yet compete with the best of the mainstream media in standards and investigatory resources, it's only a matter of time before the people start funding their own media the way they've started funding their own candidates. In the meantime, the truth is getting out.

The LA Times ran a piece recently on how John McCain Has a YouTube Problem that exemplifies what I mean. Because citizens can now afford to do what the media long ago gave up doing (actually checking the facts and comparing them, complete with video editing and archival work), politicians can no longer get away with waffling, deception, and unprincipled flip-flopping. Because we'll catch them. And show it to a hundred million people. Again and again.

You will definitely see what I mean when you see why John McCain does indeed have a YouTube problem. Just enter "John McCain" in the YouTube search engine and everything that comes up in the top twenty hits (except the one video he paid for) pretty much destroys any illusions you may have had that McCain was an honest straight-talker. Remember when we thought he was the only Republican we could trust? Goodbye to that idea. The evidence is so disturbing I can see no valid reason anyone should vote for him. And this is coming from someone who actually would have voted for him in 2004 (had Bush not smeared him out of the race in 2000 with the most shameless and disgusting dirty tricks, as noted above). I thought McCain was one of the only principled men in Congress, who actually voted his conscience and wisely saw the value of compromise and standing on principle rather than backing the party platform, someone whose positions tended to be complex and moderate, spurning the extremists on both sides. Well, that McCain evidently died some years ago. Politics destroyed his soul.

I'll guide you to the few examples in that top twenty that are most worth your time (items brief, entertaining, and informative), demonstrating that McCain is neither honest nor reliable nor, evidently, has any convictions he won't abandon to get elected. Plus a few other things you might not have known about him, including his vast wealth, ignorance of basic details of Middle East politics, eager support of the religious right, and his inability to remember things he once said (you know, things he said back when we liked him and thought he'd never sell out like this). I won't say much about his adamant denial of the right to marry or his publicly declared plan to pack the Supreme Court with judges who'll overthrow Roe v. Wade (and you know judges who'll do that, will do a lot else besides). If you haven' t heard him on those topics, just Google or YouTube them under his name.

But now back to the best of the top twenty...

First, two examples of modern satire (or is it parody?). Humor is a powerful way to send a political message...

Obama Video Spoof : A popular YouTube video a while ago reverently put a speech by Barack Obama to music and had celebrities singing the words (Yes We Can). A political comedy troupe did the same for McCain--several times (this one emphasizes his war policy, but another good one is No, You Can't on domestic policy). They're funny (and a bit scary) because they're true. McCain actually said those things. His war mongering has completely eclipsed his critical and cautious demeanor of past decades (both exemplified by the Tim Russert gotcha video mentioned below), and you don't have to be a peacenik to find that disturbing. I'm certainly no pacifist myself (e.g. Sense and Goodness without God, pp. 400-01), but I can no longer trust McCain's judgment in matters of war, and that's in the one area he's supposed to have the most competence.

He Said It First : The same comedy troupe (Public Service Administration) did this bit, which is quite funny in its own right, and to an extent true with respect to media hush about the issue, and I worry it's true even in its central posit: that John McCain called his wife a c*nt in public (warning: they don't bleep the word in the video!). Though this hasn't been confirmed (three reporters are
anonymously cited as witnesses in the original report in an anti-McCain book: see McCain Temper Boiled Over), it hasn't been denied either (neither McCain nor anyone on his staff will respond to the allegations, even to deny them: see for example Baptist Minister Asks McCain). And given hints I've seen, on many other occasions, of McCain's disturbingly hot temper and language, it doesn't seem uncharacteristic of him (especially given the old-fogey language: he also allegedly called his wife a "trollop," which seems too archaically silly for anyone to have made that up).

Now to the real stuff...

McCain's YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare : Not every example here is indefensible, but most of them are. This kind of dishonesty is what people mean when they accuse a politician of "flip-flopping." Changing one's mind for principled reasons, based on new information, by admitting you were wrong and explaining why, is no evil, in fact it's what we should most want from a President (and thus the term "flip-flopping" is often rhetorically abused to slander legitimate changes of position). But not even admitting, or attempting to conceal, the fact that you've reversed position, saying one thing in one place and another in another, without ever owning why, is a political evil, one that, when it gets as out of hand as this, should never be rewarded at the polls.

John McCain vs. John McCain : This adds to the above. Both are ultimately from the same source as the c-word allegation, so some caution is in order, but this is video, so there is no denying McCain said these things. You can't blame bias for fabricating video (just for excluding context, but it doesn't seem likely that context would help him much here). Similarly, from a different source: John McCain Debates Himself on Supporting Bush. This is a good example of what ordinary citizens can do with YouTube if they have the time, using relatively cheap technology. This and other videos like it grew out of the already-independent blogosphere, in the latter case the JedReport, another example of bypassing corporate America and the networks. We're looking at an era more like the Age of Revolution, when anyone could start his own newspaper or pamphlet press, like Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which birthed this country. Now we might see it reborn by the same phenomenon of the universal independent press, this time combined with the second most powerful innovation in political media: the video.

Fabulous Life of John McCain : This is a slick production, hardly from bottom-budget citizen media, but it's an example of an effective use of the citizen media (YouTube) by interest groups who are otherwise locked out of the corporate media, to expose facts that the mainstream media won't cover (or buries when it does). It's political slant is obvious, but the facts are correct. This example is from Progressive Media USA, which, though not a bunch of ordinary Joes, is nevertheless an example of defying the power of mainstream media on a relatively low budget. This is the sort of organization we will see more of, and which will eventually have more power over disseminating political information than the traditional media does now.

John McCain Gets Owned on Meet The Press : We'll miss Tim Russert. This clip is characteristic of his method, sadly almost unique in mainstream media: using a politician's own words against them, in the very same model as the videos above. But this clip's ready availability on YouTube (even if by piracy) is an example of how the citizen media (via YouTube) can take back political power in this country by bypassing the channels that once controlled people's access to information. Alone, Russert's show might have aired only once and never been widely seen (and then only, or at least mostly, by his dedicated, self-selecting audience). But on YouTube everyone can see it, whenever they want, anyone will find it who looks, and people like me can point you to it, the Networks be damned.

McCain and John Hagee : If you were alarmed by Obama's church minister Jeremiah Wright (who was largely misrepresented in the press, though look how Wikipedia can be cheaply and effectively used to communicate in a matter-of-fact way, to everyone in the country, just how the media was distorting the facts by leaving out crucial context), wait until you see the minister McCain chose to endorse him, John Hagee, who is a far scarier dude, whom no sensible man would have anything to do with (and in this case the context is fully shown--apparently you don't have to distort the facts to make Hagee look like a dangerous lunatic). This video compilation is from TalkingPointsMemo, another professional blog bypassing the mainstream media, although as this compilation shows, the mainstream media couldn't avoid this story, and roasted McCain over the coals because of it. Obama denounced and disowned Wright. McCain eventually did the same. At first he only said he disagreed with Hagee on "some" points (though he wouldn't say which ones). Then under pressure he finally said he repudiates Hagee's anti-Catholic remarks, and then when that didn't work, he disowned him altogether.

But the fact that McCain would happily stand by and praise Hagee's endorsement of his campaign, until someone noticed who Hagee was and embarrassed McCain by telling the rest of us, is more than a little scary. McCain's claim that he didn't know Hagee's theology and politics is either a self-serving lie (and one so egregious it disqualifies him for the Presidency) or a demonstration of McCain's dangerously naive incompetence in selecting his friends (which also
disqualifies him for the Presidency). It's lose-lose for McCain, in the eyes of any reasonable observer.

Obviously I'm a passionate Obama supporter. But I was once a fan of McCain as well. No longer. Thanks to the people's media.

42 comments:

freethoughtguy said...

I'm concerned that "the people's media" will have as much, if not more, sloppy research as the "networks." Or even outright Swift-Boat style lies. Case in point: the nagging notion that Obama is/was a Muslim. Or that he "hates America." A signifcant number of Americans believe these things.

If I had to choose between Obama or McCain, I'd probably vote for Obama; but I'm happy that I have more choices than the Demopublicans or Republicrats.

Agnostics_R_Us said...

Not to worry. Colbert's green screen challenge to make McCain interesting will smooth everything over...

Okay...now that I've watched all these anti-McCain videos, I have to go find all the anti-Obama ones...sheesh. Who is the most incompetent--flip-floppier--allied with the most evil supporters--owned on youTube-- candidate for Presidency of them all?!?!

B. Dewhirst said...

Unfortunately, Obama is now guilty of the same dishonest flip-flopping... on FISA and telecom immunity, as The Young Turks have indicated.

(eg: here Mr. Uygur dissects the Democractic support for the bill, or Obama's remarks on the bill here, with commentary. Previously, he was against telecom immunity and unconstitutional wiretapping.

The ACLU had a this to say.

The EFF (electronic freedom foundation) had this to say.

This was no compromise. This was the bill that Bush wanted passed.

Sure looks to me like he's guilty of the same thing as McCain, though admittedly there are presently fewer instances.

This is, after all, the sort of corporate-lobbyist action he is supposedly against, as he has expressed in his movement towards grass-roots funding for political campaigns.

I'm also personally disturbed at his backing of Blue Dogs, as it seems to suggest he'll be employing the Clintonian targeting-from-the-right, though this isn't consistent with his stated strategy.

As I live in a "solid blue" state, I'll be voting for a third party candidate, though I was previously an Obama donor. I do hope those who choose to continue to support him will work to keep him honest in the future.

B. Dewhirst said...

sorry, correction:

... working with Blue Dogs is consistent with his stated strategy.

Other errors don't change my intent.

JT said...

Brilliant as always.

JT

Agnostics_R_Us said...

Is there like a shit list score board somewhere where we can track who has sucombed to the dark side more? I imagine it must be McCain just because he's been in it so much longer. Although we might grade them on a density of infraction chart to make it a bit more fair...er something.

Jon said...

I'm with B. Dewhirst on this one. Youtube may be a McCain problem, but the whole of the internet is a problem for establishment politicians (which is why it won't be long before it is regulated). You can point out McCain's lies, and I loath him like a lot of rational people do, but to think Obama represents anything other than the same old establishment is wishful thinking. The late George Carlin understood this perfectly (warning on the language). All these politicians are bought and paid for, so just learn to be happy with the way things are because nothing is going to change. Elections are about giving people the impression that their vote matters, but it just doesn't and that's the way it is.

Take the issue of war for instance. The establishment wants war, but the public doesn't. So let's look at the candidates during the primary. Do you notice that not one of the top 6 candidates for the Democratic nomination actually voted against the war? Not even Biden or Dodd. There was one Democrat running that voted against it (Kucinich) and one person on the Republican side (Paul). Both strangely are painted as loons, and people accept the portrayal.

Obama spoke out against it, but the establishment understands that what matters is votes, not talk. Bush talked about not policing the world and bringing the troops home when he ran in 2000, but 10 days after his inauguration (according to Paul O'Neil) he held meetings about how he wanted to get into Iraq.

So Obama talked against the war. But how did he vote when it came to funding? He voted for funding. How does he talk when speaking to AIPAC when it comes to Iran? He's ready to use military force against them. Even Nancy Pelosi, a supposed liberals liberal, talks a great game regarding war, but when it gets down to voting she spikes language in legislation that would require Bush to get Congressional approval before attacking Iran.

Hitler's minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, said that the key to successful propaganda is government is to offer the illusion of diversity that masks an actual uniformity. You can pile on McCain and feel like your voice matters when Obama wins, but if history is a guide expect more of the same. I hope I'm wrong.

David Fitzgerald said...

Excellent post. I share your hopes and fears about Obama, and like B. dewhirst and Jon, I really, really hope Obama can live up to his potential. It's scary how starved we are for real leadership in this country...

Richard Carrier said...

Freethoughtguy said... I'm concerned that "the people's media" will have as much, if not more, sloppy research as the "networks." Or even outright Swift-Boat style lies.

Oh, yes. This is already true. There are astonishingly racist and other bizarre advocacy videos on YouTube, such as an unusually well-produced video insisting that the Constitution doesn't say anything about an income tax, even though anyone who checked would find it does: it's called the 16th amendment.

In fact, this kind of thing is actually so much more true that it has the opposite effect you think: because there are so many outrageously false things on YouTube, anyone who consults it will know outright that they must be critical of anything they view there, and thus will be on their guard, and in search of tools to distinguish what can be trusted from what can't (e.g. anyone of sense either will Google the Constitution and check what it says about income tax, or will be embarrassed by some friend or colleague who does this after they tell them about this video, and either way everyone learns both the truth and the tools to find it, in a way that would never have happened via radio, TV, or print media).

In contrast, people have assumed that because an authoritative source (like the venerable news media, a major network, a national newspaper, etc.) says something, it must be well-researched or reliable. Though that is a notion FOX news and several liberal networks have done more to kill than anyone else could over the last decade, with scandal after scandal, it still isn't dead, and there is no solution in sight--except the citizen media.

Hence people trust mainstream media too much. That will not be a problem for the citizen media. Everyone will be skeptical. As right they should be. But that will only improve the product over time, as reputation gradually accumulates to identify reliable and unreliable sources (and since the number of players is unlimited, and none are competing for significant advertising dollars, the factors that quell reliability in the mainstream won't operate outside it, at least not with as much effect).

Freethoughtguy said... I'm happy that I have more choices than the Demopublicans or Republicrats.

You don't really. A choice that has no effect is not a choice. Voting for a third party candidate is like pushing that button at intersections for the walk signal when it isn't even wired up to anything. Yet people keep pushing it, thinking it will have some effect. Like pushing a button that does nothing, a choice that can have no effect is not a real choice at all. It is only an illusion of choice. And that's worse.

Richard Carrier said...

Agnostics_R_Us said: No politician is perfect. But Obama's failings pale in comparison with McCain's. And are more often distorted. Case in point...

B. Dewhirst: I'm confused. Uygur doesn't mention Obama, and the Salon report simply shows Obama was willing to compromise. It even quotes him explaining why he changed his mind. That's a principled decision, not a flip-flop. So what are you talking about?

Also, FISA has been law since the 1970's and isn't unconstitutional, contrary to what the ACLU claims. The constitution only requires warrants, and FISA met that requirement, and the compromise bill Obama decided to vote for restored that requirement. Thus, FISA was made unconstitutional by the Patriot Act, and Obama supported a compromise that made it constitutional again. I don't see what the problem is.

Or are you complaining about the immunity provision? So is Obama. As he said, he couldn't get the bill passed without it. And that annoyed him, but it isn't his fault. It is certainly not any case of big money lobbyists influencing Obama--exactly the contrary, it's a case of those lobbyists influencing everyone else in congress and Obama not having any choice in the matter. So what's your point here?

As for the Blue Dogs, do you mean the Blue Dog Coalition? What's your beef with them? And what do you mean by his backing them? As far as I hear they've given him the cold shoulder because he accepts support from other groups they don't like. As for what Obama has actually done to secure funding, I'll blog on that later this week. But calling an office filled with potential supporters is hardly any evil.

And as for third party voting, you can push that useless crosswalk button if it makes you feel better, but it won't do the nation any good.

Richard Carrier said...

I am disturbed to see yet again people claiming there is no difference between the candidates. I saw people claiming that of Bush and Gore and again with Bush and Kerry. No difference between them? That's irrational bullsh*t. There are two new judges on the Supreme Court that are decisive proof that there was a difference and that same difference is still operating, and in fact is now far more dire, because if McCain puts even a single ultra-conservative on the Court, we're all screwed.

The one thing you can be absolutely sure of, for all the ways Obama falls short, all the mistakes he will make, all his flaws and gameplaying, all the ways he isn't entirely different from the stock politician, he will not destroy the future of this country by handing the Supreme Court to the religious right. McCain will. And I'm not guessing he will. He actually said he will.

This is far more serious than it was in the last two elections. Though it was serious then, and everyone who didn't vote for Gore or Kerry is directly responsible for the current Supreme Court. Because no matter who you voted for or even if you didn't vote at all, had you voted for Gore or Kerry you could have stopped that disaster (of a Roberts-"Scalito" Court), at the very least, though if anyone thinks there were no other disasters of the past eight years that the same vote would have stopped, they must be delusional.

But now there is just one seat away from a majority. Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas. Add one more and the religious right controls all laws in this country. The religious right decides what the Constitution says. Anyone who doesn't vote for Obama in the next election is voting for that very outcome. That's true whether intentionally or not--intentions are no excuse when the effects are known, and you cannot deny that you know what the effect will be of helping McCain win this election.

To focus on the failings of a politician, all the ways he isn't breaking the mold, to the exclusion of all the ways he is in fact different, is a bizarre kind of blindness among the American people I cannot explain. Surely you must agree that anyone given a choice between sawing off their leg and sawing off their toe, who then chooses the leg, is an idiot. Right?

Is the analogy really lost on you?

B. Dewhirst said...

I just lost a lengthy reply, in terms of time writing it and length. I'll try to hit the highpoints.

why FISA is bad -- notice that warrants were not restored, and Bush will ignore them anyway. I'm of the opinion that the ACLU is correct that FISA 2008 isn't constitutional.

Uygur wrote before Obama took his position in support of the bill, but made it very clear why it was a bad piece of legislation.

Also, that legislation is not a compromise just because it has been announced to be a compromise.

The dilemma you present is false. If told to choose between shooting one child and shooting two children, you shoot the man asking you the question. I'll not suggest you're an idiot if you don't understand my metaphor...

Foreign policy has been a bipartisan enterprise in this country for quite some time now... thus, it is you who is pressing a broken button. Similarly, there is little to no disagreement on economic policy-- neoliberal free trade is supported by both major parties. Similarly, both major parties support keeping private insurers in business in any change to national healthcare.

It seems as though a Democrat could do -just about anything- and you'd still support them, so long as there was a Republican who was worse running against them... and if that is not so, I've the right to decide for myself 'how much is too much.'

"They are too similar" is not the same thing as saying "they are the same." The former is my position. (And, as I previously indicated, it is safe for me to do so... no possible legal action of mine could result in McCain taking my state. If you think Massachusetts is likely to go for McCain... I've got a lovely bridge to sell you.)

Fear that it may some day cost them elections in safe states is the only stimulus available in a state which will vote overwhelmingly for one or the other political party.

Third party positions get incorporated into major parties in this fashion.

The antidote to this 'triangulation' strategy is to not let candidates off lightly when they depart from issues which are important to us... but that does not mean we ignore the chance someone worse will get elected.

Jon said...

This is like telling me I can have sex with either a 400 lb woman or a 450 lb woman. Yeah, I suppose 400 lbs is better, but with these choices maybe I'm not interested in sex.

And I don't see returning the issue of abortion to the states and the democratic process as such a terrible thing. This damn "living document" mentality is what got us into undeclared wars in the first place and before you know it the document will evolve to where you can't criticize Islam with a cartoon.

Hallq said...

Richard,

What have you seen of Obama that's convinced you he really knows his stuff? I've seen his speeches and writings and been generally unimpressed, even in the case of a speech that had been promoted as more substantial than most of his stuff? Anything you can point me to available for general viewing?

Pikemann Urge said...

I agree that if you vote for a third party in major elections in the USA you're wasting your vote. I loathe two-horse races immensely. But unless I can change reality I don't vote for a hopeless third party out of 'principle'.

However Americans gave themselves this problem - of course they are not the only ones.

McCain would have been better than Bush in 2000. Now I don't think he'd be worth voting for.

Loren said...

The problem with third parties is a little something called Duverger's Law -- that first-past-the-post / plurality voting converges on a two-party system. This is why we Americans have two major parties despite the US Constitution nowhere mandating that or even mentioning political parties.

So we are stuck with voting for the lesser of the two major evils unless we can have some more multicandidate-friendly voting systems in place, and there are several such systems.

* Approval Voting -- vote for as many candidates as you like; the ballots are counted as if for single votes

* Preference Voting -- rank the candidates in order; then use any of several algorithms for finding overall preferences, like Borda, Condorcet, or Instant Runoff

* Proportional Representation -- for a multiseat position, each party sends members to it in proportion to how many votes it got

Steven Carr said...

To change the subject , Internet Infidels should be making You Tube videos

B. Dewhirst said...

An article on why this constitutes warrantless, thus unconstitutional, surveillance. (Also, on why it isn't a compromise.)

Should Obama continue to triangulate rightwards, he'll have his own "youtube problems."

Rarus vir said...

McCain is a hot head, and he treats his wife badly. Two reasons I wouldnt vote for him.
His POW days has left him with a hatred of Korea, and that is dangerous, these days.

Pikemann Urge said...

I do like how McCain wants the president to face congress for questioning, much like the Westminster System works:

http://www.slate.com/id/2191691/

Richard Carrier said...

B. Dewhirst said... why FISA is bad -- notice that warrants were not restored

Yes they were. The National Prospect article you cite essentially lies through its teeth (or plays very loose with the English language). Read the bill yourself (H.R. 3773).

It only upheld warrantless surveillance of non-citizens communicating outside the U.S. (which has never been unconstitutional). It otherwise requires the government to get a warrant before knowingly collecting surveillance on citizens, and after accidentally doing so (or else the information accidentally gathered must be destroyed and can never be used). It even requires warrants to surveil comms by non-citizens when those comms are with anyone inside the U.S. And the new law establishes independent oversight and requires every act be documented (thus taking a lot of power away from the executive, and limiting his ability to ignore the law).

Excluded from all FISA provisions are all comms between parties when both of whom are inside the U.S. (which then fall under FBI warrant requirements; FISA is a law governing intelligence agencies, not law enforcement). The new FISA law also requires a complete audit of all the warrantless surveillance of this administration before this law passed (thus forcing the admin to admit everything it did and hand over all evidence of it).

The provision Obama compromised on was the granting of immunity to telecoms companies against criminal prosecution. He objected strongly to that but was willing to allow it to get the rest of the bill passed, which ended warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens. But a new bill just went up, supported by Obama, that takes that immunity away.

...and Bush will ignore them anyway.

Bush is out. So you must ask whether "McCain or Obama will ignore them anyway."

...that legislation is not a compromise just because it has been announced to be a compromise.

Did you not even read Obama's very clear explanation of what the compromise was? If that is not a compromise, then I must not know what the word means.

The dilemma you present is false. If told to choose between shooting one child and shooting two children, you shoot the man asking you the question. I'll not suggest you're an idiot if you don't understand my metaphor...

I'm sorry, the analogy fails, and fails in a way I would expect any non-idiot to recognize. You are not being told to shoot a child. You are being told to shoot an assassin. There are two assassins and you have only one shot. One assassin will kill two children, the other will kill one. Instead, you shoot the man asking you to take the shot, and three kids die. You just sawed off your leg.

Although a better analogy is: Mr. MC will kill a child, and there is only one way to stop him and that's to push another man, Mr. OB, into the spot where Mr. MC will stand to kill the kid. You push some other guy instead who doesn't make it into that spot. The kid dies. You just sawed off your leg.

But as you note, this may be moot in your case, because the College system has taken your real vote away. That's a different problem, I agree.

Foreign policy has been a bipartisan enterprise in this country for quite some time now... thus, it is you who is pressing a broken button.

Even if that were true (and it isn't), you still have to decide whether you will hand the Supreme Court to the Religious Right or not. Your call--unless your vote has been killed by the system, as is a real problem (that you get to below). But for many others, it was their call in 2000 (Roberts) and 2004 (Alito). They keep chopping off legs. They have none left. Keep this up and they'll lose something a lot worse. Who keeps pushing a button on a machine that every time hacks off a limb? Even audiences of Saw wouldn't find them a believable character.

Similarly, there is little to no disagreement on economic policy--neoliberal free trade is supported by both major parties.

That is not the sum of economic policy and you should know that. Again that weird blindness: you see only where they agree and use that as an excuse to ignore where they don't.

Similarly, both major parties support keeping private insurers in business in any change to national healthcare.

So? I'm also sure neither candidate supports legalizing prostitution and marijuana, even though they should be legal. Who cares? We're not talking about fiction. Paradise is not on the ballot. We're talking about what will actually happen to our country given what we choose to do. Again, that crosswalk button. Of course, if you're forced to push the crosswalk button...

It seems as though a Democrat could do--just about anything--and you'd still support them, so long as there was a Republican who was worse running against them...

If the Republican was worse, then yes. Any other behavior is formally irrational. It can be proved:

P1: If A is worse than B, then to let A happen instead of B is irrational.
P2: Not voting for B will let A happen instead of B.
C1: Therefore, if A is worse than B, then not voting for B is irrational.

Now, in your case, as you note, P2 is false (hopefully--nothing should ever be assumed). But that's because of a broken system we should be acting to fix. To wit...

If you think Massachusetts is likely to go for McCain... I've got a lovely bridge to sell you.)

People have said that about other states before. So I wouldn't assume anything. But if you monitor the facts up to the day and are confident it will remain true, then by all means waste your time pushing the crosswalk button knowing at least it will do no harm. But please don't sell this behavior as something people in other states should emulate. And if the race gets unexpectedly close in your state, change strategy. Please.

Personally, I would rather even people in your position vote for the best of the likely winners in order to raise the true national vote count, because if we keep doing this eventually people will get fed up with the Electoral College system that screws voters over like you by forcing you to push a crosswalk button. Then public outrage will eventually compel legislative action to abolish it. But this will only happen if the popular vote and the college vote are misaligned several times (I predict it only has to happen two more times for Congress to no longer be able to ignore public outcry), which is no guarantee in your case, but could be if McCain wins the College (and thus the Presidency) but, thanks to your help, he loses the popular vote. That at least would be a real outcome of your actions that will positively affect the future. A vote for Mr. Whothehellisthat this time around won't have any real impact on the future of this country (nor will staying home).

Fear that it may some day cost them elections in safe states is the only stimulus available in a state which will vote overwhelmingly for one or the other political party.

I'd rather take steps to destroy the College. As far as I've seen, third party candidates never get enough votes to affect anyone's policy.

Third party positions get incorporated into major parties in this fashion.

Give me a specific example. Then we'll look at the actual history and see if your rule actually is supported by it. (Ross Perot doesn't count--there isn't one in this election, nor was there in the last two--but I am serious about investigating whether trivial candidates have any effect on any major candidate's policy decisions).

Richard Carrier said...

Jon said... This is like telling me I can have sex with either a 400 lb woman or a 450 lb woman. Yeah, I suppose 400 lbs is better, but with these choices maybe I'm not interested in sex.

No, it's not, because in your analogy you can refuse both. In the real case, you can't. You must "have sex" with one of them. Nothing you do will prevent that. Thus, in that scenario what do you do? And yet this perverted analogy doesn't fit even then, since the difference between such two women would be nearly invisible. The differences between what Obama will do and what McCain will do are enormous (at least vis-a-vis the Supreme Court). Thus think of it as choosing whether these women will cut off one of your balls or both. You choose.

I don't see returning the issue of abortion to the states and the democratic process as such a terrible thing.

The real issue is what Roberts and Alito and gang will also do besides that. Don't focus on just that one issue. As I said, any judge who will overthrow Roe, will do a lot else besides. The effect will be that the Religious Right will get to decide every question of Constitutional law, not just that one.

But you clearly need to read the Roe decision. The court did return the issue of abortion to the states and the democratic process. You apparently have bought into the propaganda to the contrary. But read the actual decision itself. All states have the power under Roe to outlaw third-trimester abortion, and to regulate second-trimester abortion. And the legal issues that led to that decision actually had repercussions well outside the area of abortion.

Read it and you will see why it was a constitutionally sound decision, and not a "living document" caricature. It was indeed the only rational, evidence-based decision any court could have made. You yourself might have made it had you been on that court. Because a decision to the contrary would have had far reaching consequences against the right to privacy and religious freedom in this country.

Richard Carrier said...

Hallq said... What have you seen of Obama that's convinced you he really knows his stuff?

You'll need to be more specific. As a general question, no candidate can "know his stuff" because there is too much for any human being to know. See my blog today about that.

Hallq said... I've seen his speeches and writings and been generally unimpressed, even in the case of a speech that had been promoted as more substantial than most of his stuff?

You mean his famous race relations speech? Can you find any candidate in the past thirty years who has ever said anything as right-on-point as that on that issue? That's not a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely curious. Let me know.

Hallq said... Anything you can point me to available for general viewing?

Read all through his website's position statements. Then do the same for McCain. Then ask which one "knows his stuff" better than the other (apart from whether we agree on either's policies--I consider it extremely improbable that I will ever agree with any candidate more than 60-80% of the time, even third party candidates--but your question was knowledge, not position). You can also wade through the bills at THOMAS sponsored by Obama (though that's tedious going to find anything you actually care about--there are over a hundred and, as with most congressmen, most are resolutions, which only reflect values, not knowledge).

But see today's blog. Knowing their stuff is actually not what we should be most interested in. Since no candidate can know even a fraction of what is required, judgment matters more than knowledge (although obviously one needs at least a baseline of relevant knowledge, but all major party candidates have that).

Richard Carrier said...

Rarus Vir said... McCain is a hot head, and he treats his wife badly. Two reasons I wouldnt vote for him.

Though there is plenty of evidence he's a hothead (YouTube has videos showing this and most journalists who've been around him a lot appear to agree), but I'm not convinced yet by any of the evidence he treats his wife badly. Though there is evidence of that, it's reliability is not secure (even if the c*nt remark is true, and that's maybe 50/50, as my wife points out, they might just be a couple that kids each other that way, as my wife and I do ourselves, although I must say I'd never go that far).

His POW days has left him with a hatred of Korea, and that is dangerous, these days.

He was a POW in Viet Nam, not Korea. What makes you think his Viet Nam imprisonment has soured him on Korea? And are you aware there are two countries called Korea? And one of them probably everyone should hate?

Richard Carrier said...

Steven Carr said... To change the subject , Internet Infidels should be making You Tube videos.

That doesn't change the subject very much, IMO. You are right. And this would be another example of a citizen media action.

YouTube reaches far more people than local access cable, for example. So why aren't atheist cable shows already available on YouTube? They already exist, so making that happen shouldn't be difficult. Of course, most such programming is dull beyond any prospect of utility, and most is also too outdated. But new innovative mini-videos created just for YouTube is something I know a few atheist filmmakers are seriously thinking about. And there are already tons of amateur videos of such a kind by atheists on YouTube.

However, to sponsor such a thing themselves, II, Inc. would need a budget and specialized staff. They already have their hands full otherwise (at least so far). Though in a sense they are half-way there: since their inception the Secular Web has been in effect a cheap worldwide atheist press, an example of the citizen media on a level with the blogosphere. If they ever move into video production, they will have completely joined the revolution.

Richard Carrier said...

Loren: Thank you. I agree with you entirely. We need a better system.

I propose in my book not even having elections but a lottery among citizen college graduates who volunteer to run for congress. Then congress would have a statistical representation of the actual citizen body (roughly half would be women, hardly any would be Yale lawyers, etc.). They would then simply hire a president, who would be an employee (more like the English system). But even if we wanted to maintain elections for that office, in such a model this citizen congress could select four candidates to run for President and provide them with budgets suitable to get all the press they need (until the law of diminishing returns takes hold, such that more money won't help them).

But I am realistic: I don't think either system I suggest will ever happen any time soon. Proposals like yours are more likely to arise first. I think the American people would soonest back approval voting because it's simple to understand, though such a system would probably have to be paired with a staged election, needing at least one run-off stage after the primary election. Proportional representation is also something they might back (many nations have it), but it won't resolve our Presidential election problem.

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge said... McCain would have been better than Bush in 2000.

I agree. Indeed, Bush is so terrible, McCain would be better than Bush even now (though what a depressing choice that would be).

Pikemann Urge said... I do like how McCain wants the president to face congress for questioning, much like the Westminster System works.

I agree. When he sponsors a bill to that effect, let me know. Since both Bush and the Republican party supports McCain's presidency, there is no reason such a bill would not pass now. Unless they really don't want it to. [Such a bill can be written to take effect only with the next administration, so fear that Bush will be subject to it can be no excuse]

B. Dewhirst said...

... And how am I supposed to impact what they agree on, even if I'm in a State where my vote matters? I'm not blind to the difference between these two men, and have in fact financially supported Obama in the past.

I'm not -ignoring- that they have their differences... but if you repeatedly choose the lesser of two evils, you wind up with more evil at the end of the day. I'll (safely) use my vote to say "nuts" to that...

I'd of course act differently if I thought my state might go to an even worse candidate.

The FISA bill you cited (H.R. 3773) isn't the one being discussed. We're all talking about H.R. 6304. Even so, I'm not a lawyer, and I rely, in part, on experts such as the ACLU and EFF to inform me when my rights are being violated. I -have- reviewed H.R. 6304 to the best of my ability, however, and the specific claims you make don't seem to hold true.

I would ask you to read the full, correct bill and indicate whether you still feel that it includes the warrant requirements you cite.

( http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-h6304/text )

Suppose both candidates in our system agreed that, if elected, they would engage in an unprovoked nuclear attack on another nuclear power. At that point, you seem to be suggesting you'd still vote for the candidate who was in other respects more acceptable.

Regardless of whether you feel the present dilemma is of that kind (and I don't either, as I've indicated above), I hope you'd agree that you couldn't countenance supporting either candidate. (The Kang/Kodos problem...)

Just because one candidate is less evil does not mean that you should tolerate that evil, as you have other options. The harm done by electing either must simply be greater than the difference in harm between the two.

I'll do some research and attempt to come up with better examples than the following, but in recent memory the Republican Party has absorbed at least rhetorical elements of the Libertarian Party. Prohibition was initially promoted by a third party, still existent. The "New Deal" platform sucked away some of the support of parties further to the left, but in the living memory of those then voting, the Socialist Party had once had some quite impressive returns.

Applying the same logic as you did in how to reform the college, spoiler votes for third parties encourage the two main parties to support some for of instant run-off voting.

Although initially skeptical, I'm now for the lottery system you mention again above, but I share your skepticism as to how likely it is that it would be implemented. I'll re-read your section on politics tonight, I think, in addition to giving H.R. 6304 a second look and looking for information as to the input third parties have had in the past.

Rarus vir said...

Yeah, my mistake saying Korea. Blogging at work comes with hazards.

B. Dewhirst said...

this, which is from Washington State's Green Party, quickly presents a number of examples.

I'm at the tail end of my own dissertation, and don't really have the time for a more involved research project in this area, but they're presenting the argument I was trying to present when I suggested they can influence major parties.

CosmicMaster said...

WHAT"S GOING ON???
Almost every one of the anti-John McClone videos listed here have been pulled from YouTube. Who is doing this censorship?

Richard Carrier said...

B. Dewhirst:

On voting theory I think we're in agreement.

On the FISA amendments act, HR 6304 is HR 3773 (see FISA Amendments Act at ACLU) with the very compromise provision Obama was talking about. The elements relevant to what I was saying are otherwise not significantly changed.

Let's review. You said Obama voted for a bill that allowed warrantless surveillance. He didn't. He voted for HR 3773, which is in fact called the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008 (go look), which requires warrants for all surveillance (except comms entirely outside the U.S. and not involving any U.S. citizens), and requires independent oversight of the warrant-granting system. HR 6304 (which is now law) preserves all the relevant context of HR 3773.

You don't need to be a lawyer to understand what it says. Honestly. Read it. There is no basis for what your sources are telling you. They are "stretching the truth" in various ways.

Suppose both candidates in our system agreed that, if elected, they would engage in an unprovoked nuclear attack on another nuclear power. At that point, you seem to be suggesting you'd still vote for the candidate who was in other respects more acceptable.

False analogy. If that happened, I'd assassinate them both, even if I had to die to do it. Remember, when you choose apocalyptic scenarios, you ask for apocalyptic options. We're not talking about extremely bizarre elections that defy all probability and demand extraordinary responses. We're talking about ordinary elections.

In recent memory the Republican Party has absorbed at least rhetorical elements of the Libertarian Party.

Rhetoric is not action. This is meaningless.

As far as I can see, the Republican party rejects all the distinctive platforms of the Libertarian party, either outright (legalized drugs and prostitution and all increases in civil freedoms--the GOP only supports reduction of regulation of churches and corporations, not individuals--it instead supports increasing regulation of individuals, e.g. Defense of Marriage Act and McCain's pledge to overturn the right to have an abortion) or in practice (balanced budget, reduction of government, and spending restraint: the GOP has always spent more, borrowed more, and increased bureaucracy, and now openly argue that we don't even need a balanced budget and borrowing obscene quantities is all fine).

So in what respect has the GOP actually changed to accommodate Libertarian goals?

In contrast, Gore's government reinvention project under Clinton, which greatly streamlined bureaucracy and immensely reduced the size and cost of government, was spot-on as far as pursuing Libertarian ideals (as was Clinton's policy of balancing and paying down the budget, which he actually got going until Republicans gained power again; likewise Clinton's compromise effort to legalize gay military service).

Can you point to any GOP results comparable to that?

The examples you later point to all predate TV (in fact even the modernized party apparatus) or were the result of Perot (remember what I said?) or were already platform positions in major parties (e.g. read Goldwater for the origin of Perot's fiscal conservatism: the Republicans were singing that tune long before him, in fact even getting elected on it, yet never delivering).

Applying the same logic as you did in how to reform the college, spoiler votes for third parties encourage the two main parties to support some for of instant run-off voting.

I see no evidence it has ever had any such effect. Or even been noticed as an argument for such a reform by either party. I think you are just making this up.

The only event that gained attention for such an effort was Gore winning the popular vote but losing the college, which obviously had nothing to do with spoiler voting. In fact, deduct spoiler voting and the popular vote would have been even greater and thus the outcry against the college even greater in consequence--not the other way around.

Otherwise, third party votes only remind people of the failure of third parties, not the college. Hardly anyone seems to link these as far as I have seen.

Richard Carrier said...

CosmicMaster said... Almost every one of the anti-John McClone videos listed here have been pulled from YouTube.

Sorry, but no, they haven't. I just checked every one. They are all there. Is something wrong with your computer?

B. Dewhirst said...

Thank you for clarifying in what sense HR 3773 was HR 6304. This, in turn, clarifies to me what Pelosi et al. thought they were saying when they mentioned a compromise.

I did try to read it, but one thing I'm not qualified to do is to spot possible loop-holes. It is all a moot point anyway, as I fully expect them to illegally spy on US citizens if this bill does, in fact, make any kind of warrantless spying illegal (especially as those who've already done so won't be punished). The FISA court refused so few requests anyway that it hardly matters, even if the pundits I've cited are correct and now large batches of people can be surveilled.

Time will tell.

I agree that no Democrat or Republican has expressed concern along those lines, but if they were regularly losing 5-10% of possible votes to third parties I'm suggesting that they would. Because of electoral calculus in the United States, I agree that regularly getting even 5% is unlikely.

It happens that the issues I care most about are the ones where both parties seem to agree, which is one factor increasing my irritation. Not a sound basis for judgement, I concede.

Kim said...

Seems as if anti McCain Videos on youtube are taken down quite offen
I have been able to see some on other web sights but youtube is always("We're sorry, this video is no longer available.") Censorship seems to be the Problem

Richard Carrier said...

B. Dewhirst said... I did try to read it, but one thing I'm not qualified to do is to spot possible loop-holes.

Even lawmakers are barely qualified to do that, which is why countless laws keep having to be amended to close loopholes.

That's also why laws like this one are so complex: the reason it is so long and detailed is precisely to close every conceivable loophole--though experience shows that there may be some they didn't conceive of, and as in the past, when those are exposed, they will probably be closed, depending on circumstances at the time.

But the one thing this bill sought to accomplish was specifically to close every loophole the administration was using to claim warrantless surveillance legal. They now must have warrants, and a system is in place that forces them to document everything they do and subject it to independent audit (the latter being a particular coup, as it has been a mantra of this admin that they are immune to auditing due to executive privilege...congress just bitch slapped them with this bill, reminding them that the constitution quite plainly says who is actually in charge here).

B. Dewhirst said... It is all a moot point anyway, as I fully expect them to illegally spy on US citizens if this bill does, in fact, make any kind of warrantless spying illegal (especially as those who've already done so won't be punished).

That's a separate concern. It's one thing to denounce someone for voting for a bill requiring enforcement of the law and civil rights, and another to denounce some future person for ignoring that law. Remember, this started with you criticizing Obama's action. But Obama did the best and only thing anyone could do, so there is no grounds to criticize him here. If someone in future now violates this law, then you need to criticize them, not Obama.


B. Dewhirst said... The FISA court refused so few requests anyway that it hardly matters, even if the pundits I've cited are correct and now large batches of people can be surveilled.

Large batches of people can be surveilled. Under warrant. That has always been true, even before the Patriot Act. It is quite constitutional, when conducted under particular constraints (spelled out in meticulous detail in the new law).

My concern is not with whether FISA is approving warrants on invalid criteria (I doubt that--more likely only sound requests are even made to the court, which is why this admin tried to bypass the court with what it knew were questionable practices, by claiming it didn't need a court warrant for them), but with attempts to surveil without warrants. At least now everything is documented, so if the shit ever hits the fan, we (or the affected parties) will eventually know what the grounds were for a given warrant (and thus whether they were sound or not), and in a trial, if the warrant turns out to have been issued on invalid grounds, the evidence can't be used (and outside that context, use of the information for other unauthorized purposes, e.g. political smearing, is either illegal or tort-worthy, although such devious misuse of evidence has always been a possibility since the day the Constitution was signed, so it's not anything new to worry about).

If they were regularly losing 5-10% of possible votes to third parties I'm suggesting that they would.

Maybe. But as you note...

Because of electoral calculus in the United States, I agree that regularly getting even 5% is unlikely.

Otherwise...

It happens that the issues I care most about are the ones where both parties seem to agree, which is one factor increasing my irritation.

Getting us out of Iraq and back in to finish the job in Afghanistan, protecting the Supreme Court enforcement of civil rights by appointing moderate judges to counter the extremists now packing it, taking serious action to end oil dependency, protecting women's rights and the separation of church and state, these are not issues on which the parties agree.

Perhaps they agree on balancing the budget (though I think the Republican party has dropped that from its avowed platform, irrationally claiming national debt causes no harm), but history shows that's all talk (and there is no assurance any third party candidate means what he says about that any more than they do), although only one party has ever achieved that goal since I've been alive: the Democrats. So if you want to place bets, follow the odds on this one.

Richard Carrier said...

Kim said... Seems as if anti McCain Videos on youtube are taken down quite offen I have been able to see some on other web sights but youtube is always("We're sorry, this video is no longer available.") Censorship seems to be the Problem

If that were happening, the videos would have different URL's when put back up. They don't. They all work (I just checked again), and they are at the same URLs. So they have never been "taken down." There is no censorship.

There must be something wrong with your computer, browser, or internet connection, or with the way you are trying to access the videos.

evenhanded said...

"Except for the fact, of course, that the Republicans are Evil and will sell any lie to win, as they did in 2004 against Kerry (the Swift Boat debacle) and even against McCain, one of their very own (the Black Baby debacle--even more disgusting than the Swift Boat campaign...with friends like that, who needs enemies?). The American people shamed me with their readiness to fall for such obvious crap--are we such a nation of idiots? More recently, the racism discovered by the press even among Democrats in West Virginia this season was shocking beyond even my cynical expectations, and does not bode well for the upcoming election..."

That just about says it all. It's like you read my mind, but express it much better than I would. Your comments about the real McCain...what can I say...it's all too obvious if people bother to look for the truth. The problem with this country is that so many people are "faith based" and not "truth" based. But there are sheep or zombies everywhere in the world. So the question is this...how do we wake them from their slumber?

As I write this, the markets are crashing. What effect will that have on the election...and the electorate? Will they start to pay more attention? Will they look for the truth or will some neo-fascist capture their attention by blaming "liberals" for the problems this country faces?

Jon said...

Hey Richard. Just curious if you're happy with the way Obama is working out. I've outlined a few of the so called "changes" here.

I also just learned that he's issuing signing statements like Bush did which indicate those parts of legislation he believes he is free to ignore. There are some improvements over Bush, but as far as violence he seems worse.

freethoughtguy said...

I REALLY wanted change, and I voted that way. I still stand by my comment from a year and a half ago:

If I had to choose between Obama or McCain, I'd probably vote for Obama; but I'm happy that I have more choices than the Demopublicans or Republicrats.

Richard Carrier said...

I agree. We need a decent third party, one with some actual standards and clout. I just don't see any path from here to there.

Richard Carrier said...

Jon, most (if not all) the claims you make in that blog post are either false, inaccurate, or inapposite (when Obama already supported in his campaign the policy you now complain about).

I'll just take the first by way of example: the claim that Obama opposes the right of non-Afghani detainees in Afghan POW camps to challenge their imprisonment there. He did not. He only supported the policy that a POW camp in an active theatre of war is not under Supreme Court jurisdiction (and therefore detainees have no right to appeal to that specific venue). And he is right: it is not. It is by law under direct Presidential authority. Because it's a war zone (notably, unlike Gitmo, over which Obama accepts SC jurisdiction).

What Obama has actually done is call for a review to find out who is in the Afghan prison camps, why, and where they came from, so he can decide the proper disposition of their case. That authority was granted him by Congressional act of war. The Supreme Court has no power to circumvent that law, because the Constitution establishes Congressional authority in this matter (Article I, Section 8, paragraph k; habeas corpus can also be Constitutionally negated in time of war: Article I, Section 9, paragraph b, although habeas corpus is not being violated in this case: Obama has them in custody and is using his legal power to determine their guilt or innocence).

It would actually be wrong for Obama to allow the SC to claim jurisdiction it doesn't have. That does not mean he supports detaining unjustly held persons. It merely means he supports the legal fact that deciding that matter is (under current law) the President's sole responsibility (only an impeachment could remedy his abuse of that power).

I would prefer he establish a new law setting clearer rules for these cases and ensuring Presidential authority is not absolute (since we've seen what a bad President can do with that), but it was unrealistic to expect him to have done that in February (when he'd only been in office a few weeks), which is when the brief in question was issued.

And now his review appears to be closing, as numerous detainees have finally been released (and are now free to talk about what happened to them), and he issued an executive order prohibiting detentions of longer than two weeks (see NY Times Nov. 28). In other words, determination of status must thus be made within that time (and the subject released or transferred to a legally appropriate facility).

Obama should produce a bill to make that law, so we don't have to depend on the good character of future Presidents to continue the policy. He may yet still. But it is simply incorrect to claim it isn't his policy.

Obama also improved conditions at the detention centers, in alignment with Geneva conventions for POWs. And he has established a formal system for detainees to challenge their detention (see NY Times Nov. 15). This again he should make law. And again, he may yet do that. But even as an executive order, notice how it is exactly what you claim he didn't do.

Liberals can be just as retarded and knee-jerk and gullible as conservatives. Watch out for that. Check your facts carefully. Don't just believe what some reporter says, and make sure you don't jump to incorrect conclusions. Once you start with the a priori storyline that Obama is "just continuing Bush policy" you will blind yourself to all the evidence of exactly the contrary. Stop that. Act with more careful critical reasoning and inquiry from now on. Don't start with any storyline. Go and find out what the real story is instead. And expect it to fall short of your "ideals" but don't expect it to align with Bush's, either.