Surprise Veep Pick?

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Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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92 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
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    says:

    Huh.

    I’m not sure what I think of that as a choice, if it’s an actual choice. This race is turning out to be deuced odd.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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      says:

      Condi can’t possibly be worse than crazy uncle Joe Biden, can she?Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott
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        says:

        On stats, certainly not. But Joe was a pick with a specific purpose I understood. I’m not sure what picking Ms. Rice does for the campaign.Report

        • Avatar scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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          says:

          Gives the ticket foreign policy experience and a black female since Dem continually tell us that Repubs hate women and minorities.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to scott
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            says:

            I don’t see Condi, but oddly, it’s the Reps who are vulnerable on foreign policy this time around. [So far.] It’s an angle I’ve haven’t heard yet, but I’m sure the Obamans have something in their bag.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to scott
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            says:

            Condi can walk and talk. If the GOP is serious about black outreach, she’s got the credibility to say “here’s what you need.” (not that most black people don’t already know what they need, and aren’t also pretty conservative… just look at what the Black Panthers were really about.)

            But Condi’s a bit more of a team player than I like. If Romney would listen to me, he’d pick Paul O’Neil. Give me a truth-talker for the VEEP, someone who will tell us straight if something’s skunked.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to scott
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            says:

            > Gives the ticket foreign policy experience

            I don’t know that, “Was involved in the run-up to the Iraq war and its early execution” is the foreign policy experience you want to put on your ticket, if you’re trying to grab anybody in the middle. And if you’re trying to buttress up your core, then I don’t know that she’s a big enough buttress to matter on that score.

            > and a black female since Dem continually tell us that
            > Repubs hate women and minorities.

            And the purpose of this is what, to tell people who aren’t going to vote for you, “Nyah!”?

            Well, okay, if that’s what you want. I’d be going for a win, myself. And if I’m going for a win, I’m not putting anybody on the ticket that had any position of executive-branch authority between 2000 and 2008.

            I mean, unless you really *want* a couple dozen million dollars in ads that just show Ms. Rice at a podium saying things that in retrospect sound ridiculous about the Iraq war. Fair or not, that’s what you’d be looking at, and that sounds to me like a loser.Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    Although I fear what kind of foreeign policy president Condi Rice would be, I’d rather see her at the top of the ticket thn Mitt. At least she has real FoPo experience beyond dealing with the IOC.

    Kyl? What does he add electorally (which is really the only relevant question in a veep pick)? That’s no knock on Kyl, who would be a good heartbeat-away guy.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Who was the last VP put on a ticket to get a state or region put in play ? John Edwards? Al Gore? Bush didn’t need Cheney to pick up Wyoming. Obama wasn’t exactly sweating it over Delaware and McCain didn’t need Palin to flip Alaska. I think this isn’t the primary factor anymore.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      Condi Rice was a complete failure as a national security advisor. You don’t get caught with your pants down any farther than 9/11. Iraq? A complete botch. Afghanistan? Khalilzad had her number, he rode roughshod over Karzai.

      Condi Rice is a Russian Studies pinhead, trained to read the entrails of the old USSR. Beyond that, a big zero.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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        Even when I’m in general agreement with you, you’re need to treat others as not just imperfect but as absolutely worthless is so juvenile and off-putting that I hesitate to have anything to do with it. I’m confident that were I president I’d have neither Condi nor you in my administration.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          I find Blaise’s irascible condemnations to be amusing more often than not.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            In a sad sort of way, yes. Sort of like that guy who’s always writing letters to the editor ranting about everything under the sun. It says more about the writer than the subject.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              To be clearer, it’s a bit wearying to bring up someone and have the inevitable comment be, “that person’s a total shit.” For me the limit was here, when he said Rudy Rummel is full of shit. Rummel’s a guy who’s spent his career carefully researching cases of democide, developing the world’s most comprehensive database of the slaughter of civilians; a guy who is outraged by so many of the same things Blaise is outraged by. And Blaise’s knee jerk response is, “Rudolph Rummel is fuller of shit than a Christmas goose.”

              There’s nothing amusing about that to me. It’s not only grossly anti-intellectual, but perversely serves as an unintended defense of democide by casting aspersions on one of the world’s leading critics of it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
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                Condi Rice isn’t a total shit. She plays the piano very well. Maybe she should have gone into a career as a concert pianist. Or maybe some Russian ex/im firm. As National Security Advisor, 9/11 happened on her watch. End of story.

                Rummel is a crank. He’s completely wrong on everything. I’m sorry, he really is. He simply doesn’t understand democracy and his historical research is larded with errors from which he draws the most incredible conclusions.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Rummel is a crank. He’s completely wrong on everything. I’m sorry, he really is. He simply doesn’t understand democracy and his historical research is larded with errors from which he draws the most incredible conclusions

                Anybody can make assertions; it’s easy, no accomplishment at all. The real accomplishment is to provide an actual argument. Explain to me where Rummel’s wrong. How does he not understand democracy? (Do you know that he says, “democratic freedom … saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide.” Which case of democide does Rummel get wrong, and what’s your evidence for it?

                Give me an actual brief against Rummel, not your cheap, cowardly, un-evidence assertions.

                $100 to your favorite charity if you write a critique of Rumel that, let’s say Burt Likko, finds persuasive and unsuccessfully rebutted by me. $100 to my favorite charity if he says you’re not persuasive.

                Enough bullshit cheap talk. Put your money where you mouth is.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
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                Starting with the Greek polis democracy and working forward through time, democracies have been as or more warlike than their autocratic counterparts. The Peloponnesian war showed exactly how this went down.

                It’s hard to call Rome a democracy but it did have certain aspects of it, especially early on in the Republic. There was voting and if there wasn’t universal suffrage, we can say our own republic has its roots in that governmental form. Rome was constantly at war: it was more a colony of ants than anything else.

                The English democracy made nearly constant war. Its track record as a colonial power was one of blank autocracy toward its subject peoples.

                The United States, well, let’s just admit our democracy crushed every semblance of opposition on this continent and many of those cultures had democratic aspects. Canada, Australia, Nigeria, India, as each grew to independence, they all entered into wars, not only in the world wars but against their own native peoples. WW1 was waged by highly intelligent people reduced to barbarians by interlocking alliances which went back long before any of them became democracies and WW2 was merely picking up where the first world war left off.

                The American democracy completely failed in its own Civil War. The triumph of federalism is the lasting legacy of that war. The United States overthrew many democracies: in Guatemala, Iraq, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the list is very long. We have gone to war to support completely undemocratic regimes such as Kuwait.

                Israel, too, calls itself a democracy. Its existence is predicated on a constant state of war.

                And the term is so vague. Even Weimar Germany could be called a democracy and it descended into the hell of the Reich without a fight.

                Rummel is wrong because democracy is a veneer. It is a house made of paper. Democracy is an agreement to have gentlemanly disputes over a Constitution. If those disputes are serious enough, nations will go to war. Democracies are no impediment to war. Commerce might be an impediment to war. Democracy is a luxury item, it feeds nobody, houses nobody, it’s just a form of government.

                We like to pretend we’re substituting ballots for bullets but this is wishful thinking. Our war in Iraq has only produced another Ireland, writ large upon sectarian lines. Of the undemocratic nightmare we’re creating in Afghanistan, we are creating another narco-state there, for all intents and purposes.

                Rummel wants to sort the world on a two-tone scale, black and white, democratic and undemocratic. All nuance is lost in that argument. Democracy takes many forms, parliamentary, republican, tribal eldership, clan structures. All can be said to be democracies: they arise from the people.

                Rummel is wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Democracies cannot be said to be more peaceful than their counterparts: if the USA is the World’s Greatest Democracy, why have we been at war for this long? We may have just cause for the wars we fight: the Taliban is a dreadful enemy of the rights of men and women.

                But we are not a peaceful nation nor are our democratic allies. Japan and Germany have extensively rearmed themselves despite their pledges never to take up arms again. The USA still reserves the right to first nuclear strike. We have not abolished the use of land mines or cluster munitions.

                Not only is Rummel wrong, he is a liar of the worst sort, a man who lies to himself. Democracies, if anything, make mankind more warlike than not.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                James, on this count at least, Blaise appears to be right.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Serious question, Blaise: Do you agree to the $100 challenge? Do you have the confidence to put money on the line?

                Now here’s why I say you’re wrong. It’s tremendously easy to claim someone is wrong when you fundamentally misrepresent what they are arguing. I don’t think you are purposely misrepresenting Rummel, but I suspect you didn’t read him carefully–if you actually read him at all–and you simply don’t actually understand what he is arguing, so that your criticism is based on misunderstanding him.

                Rummel is not arguing that democracies are completely peacelike and never go to war. He is operating from the theory of democratic peace, which doesn’t say that democracies don’t go to war, but that they don’t go to war with each other, or in a less strong version, that they are less likely to go to war with each other than a) authoritarian states are and b) than democracies are to go to war with authoritarian states. While there’s still debate about the theory among political scientists, that debate is more about what the structural causes are than about the outcomes; there just seems to be fairly little dispute that the more fully developed democracies states are, the less likely they are to go to war with each other.

                Oddly, you suggest commerce might be an impediment to war–that was a view developing prior to WWI, a war which is one of your examples. And yet as everyone learned, increasingly close economic ties between those countries did not prevent that war, a war in which well-developed democracies did not fight each other.

                But to focus on war is to wholly miss Rummel’s focus, which is not war but democide, the killing by a state of the people under its authority. This is a concept broader than genocide, that incorporates genocide as as a subcategory. This frequently happens during war, but it also happens during periods when governments are not at war, such as in China during the cultural revolution.

                Democide is an important concept because throughout the 20th century–which has been Rummel’s primary focus–democide deaths have dwarfed battle deaths. In Death by Government he claims 169 million deaths by democide. More recently he has revised that estimate upward to 262 million.

                Compare that to battle deaths, which Rummel puts at 39 million. Democide deaths are 4 to 7 times as great as battle deaths. To some extent they can’t be wholly separated, since democide is so frequently connected with war, but even so they suggest that the biggest concern with war is not battle deaths, not “collateral damage” of civilian deaths, but governments non-accidental killing of civilians within the territories they control.

                Is it true that authoritarian states do this more than democracies? The evidence says so. The “megamurderers,” states that killed one million or more civilians, are:
                – USSR
                – People’s Republic of China
                – Nazi Germany
                – the Kuomintang government of China/Taiwan
                – Japan in the 1930/40s
                – Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge
                – Turkey in the early 20th century
                – Poland following WWII
                – Pakistan from the 1950s-80s
                – Yugoslavia under Tito

                How many democracies are on that list? Turkey? At best it was in the very early stages of trying to establish a democracy, one that was frequently co-opted by military regimes.

                The only democracy to appear in Rummel’s top 20 is the UK, which appears near the bottom of the list, with less than 1 million killed, and that due almost entirely to its colonialism, it’s least democratic aspect. Other democracies are imperfect, too, again, mostly because of colonialism. The French have an ugly history in SE Asia and North Africa. The U.S.’s actions in the Philippines are too little known. But these atrocities are too small to even make the list of top democides.

                The USSR killed more than 60 million civilians. The PRC killed over 70 million. The KMT, 10 million. the Khmer Rouge, only 2 million, but in a country of only 7 million.

                Noticeably, Blaise, you have not even attempted to contradict those numbers. Perhaps they’re overstated, so let’s cut them in half: they still vastly outweigh battle deaths or anything democracies, admittedly imperfect democracies, have done.

                Finally, is it true that Rummel has too simplistic a distinction between authoritarian and democratic states? No. In Death By Government he says,

                The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite, and the more it will make war on others and murder its foreign and domestic subjects. The more constrained the power of governments, the more power is diffused, checked, and balanced, the less it will aggress on others and commit democide. At the extremes of Power, totalitarian communist governments slaughter their people by the ten of millions; in contrast many democracies can barely bring themselves to execute even serial murderers.

                Rummel’s language here is clear–“more,” “less,” “at the extremes.” These are words relating to a non-dichotomous variable. And he has, in his books, a graph showing a “power curve,” with three categories, democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian. Could that be made even more finely tuned? Absolutely. We could, for example, use a Freedom House scale of free to partly free to not free. Would doing so reveal anything different about the relationship between government power and democide? There’s no evidence to suggest so; the break between clearly authoritarian and clearly democratic countries is so sharp that little increased insight is gained from the exercise.

                So, in a nutshell: Blaise misunderstands the theory of democratic peace; he misunderstands Rummel’s focus on democide rather than war; and he doesn’t even attempt a rebuttal of Rummel’s evidence that authoritarian governments kill far more civilians than democratic governments.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                I do not agree to any such bet. Democracies do go to war with each other and within themselves. Democracy as we understand it today is a feeble thing and has as many definitions as there are working democracies.

                Rummel’s thesis is that democracies are less warlike, period. You must prove he said otherwise. I maintain Rummel did says so.

                As for commerce preventing war, well, commerce creates alliances nations cannot. It might well be democracy is good for business but there can be no proof either way. Democracies are just as warlike as any other form of government and usually more so. Let the sad legacy of all the wretched colonies-turned-democracies in the wake of WW2 prove my point.

                I sense I am no longer welcome here. It is largely of my own doing. This is not exactly goodbye cruel world, for it’s been me who’s been cruel here. I thank everyone who’s responded to what I’ve had to say and those who gave me grist for the mill. I may return from time to time.

                Escapist – Never

                “He is no fugitive – escaped, escaping.
                No one has seen him stumble looking back.
                His fear is not behind him but beside him
                On either hand to make his course perhaps
                A crooked straightness yet no less a straightness.
                He runs face forward. He is a pursuer.
                He seeks a seeker who in turn seeks
                Another still, lost far into the distance.
                Any who seek him seek in him the seeker.
                His life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever.
                It is the future that creates his present.
                All is an interminable chain of longing.”

                by Robert FrostReport

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                Rummel’s thesis is that democracies are less warlike, period. You must prove he said otherwise.

                I like this. You make a claim, but you accept no responsibility for proving it. He who disputes you must bear all responsibility.

                I can’t respect that, but I can respond to it. And the response is that again you are misinterpreting things. I didn’t claim Rummel didn’t say democracies are less warlike–he does. But the ways in which they are less warlike is primarily in that they don’t go to war with other democracies and they don’t kill mass numbers of civilians subject to their control. In all, they kill fewer civilians.

                What’s most bizarre here is your refusal to address Rummel’s real focus: democide. You want to nibble at the peripheral issue, and declare him fundamentally wrong because of your disagreement there. But you shy away from what is really his fundamental argument, which is that democracies don’t kill their own citizens at anything like the rate authoritarian countries do.

                You also claim democracies do go to war with each other, but provide exactly zero examples. Even Rummel admits you might be able to find a few:

                (depending on how war and democracy are defined, some might prefer to say that [democracies] rarely fought or fight each other).

                And here, from Death By Government is his
                Table 1.1 (p.2), in which he counts the wars between democracies and non-democracies between 1816 and 1991.

                Democracies vs. democracies: 0
                Democracies vs. non-democracies: 155
                Nondemocracies vs. nondemocracies: 198

                These are empirical claims. If Rummel is wrong, it should be easy to show the evidence of where he is wrong.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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                > but that they don’t go to war with each other,
                > or in a less strong version, that they are less
                > likely to go to war with each other than a)
                > authoritarian states are and b) than
                > democracies are to go to war with
                > authoritarian states.

                That’s a hard-to-falsify statement, right there, James.

                > But the ways in which they are less
                > warlike is primarily in that they don’t
                > go to war with other democracies
                > and they don’t kill mass numbers of
                > civilians subject to their control. In
                > all, they kill fewer civilians.

                This is hard to falsify either way, either. The first statement is really hard to quantify because it’s so easy to say that mid-19th century Euro governments weren’t yet democratic enough to qualify as “real” democracies. I can smell all sorts of True Scotsman issues coming up in that debate.

                The second one is pretty easy to defend on raw numbers, but it’s a trump card and the deck is stacked quite a bit due to Stalin and Hitler and the ability of post-Industrial Revolution countries to engage in mass slaughter with a much higher degree of efficiency than previous eras. I mean, the U.S. did a plenty good job of nearly eradicating the tribes of North America without using furnaces or gulags, do they get bonus points for doing it the hard way?

                In any event, I’d have to read a *lot* of Rummel’s stuff before I’d have to say for sure, but just based upon the way you and Blaise have characterized it so far, I think I would wind up shaking my head a lot at convenient definitions of “democracies” and “allies” and “civilians under their control”.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
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                Wait, wasn’t the Nazi party voted into power democratically?

                Also the US civil war was an example of a democratic country i.e. the US killing a lot of its own.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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                Nah, the Austrian came in second and was appointed Chancellor in an attempt to create a coalition.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill in reply to BlaiseP
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                Which just goes to show: Compromise and cooperation with political opponents leads to millions of dead people.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to BlaiseP
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                The Civil War is an excellent example, Murali. Two democracies at war with each other, including instances of war on the civilian populations (Sherman in Georgia and Lee in Pennsylvania.)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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                Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking of.

                “Does Nazi Germany count as a Democracy? Well, of course not, it’s Fascist!”

                But… wait… it’s not like Hitler was a Hun who just came in and conquered the place. His rise to power in Germany was at the very least facilitated by democratic processes, and the transition to Fascism can be considered a systemic failure of the democratic process. Putting that outside the bounds of, “consequences of trying to run a democracy” is gaming the system so that democracy never fails.

                It can only be failed.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                Murali, The Nazi Party gained power semi-democratically, but there was essentially no element of democracy left in the German system by the time they went to war.

                Pat, As Rummel essentially says, even with disagreement about what counts as war and what counts as a democracy, the trend holds. And he does address the issue of the U.S. and Native Americans in his chapter on pre-20th century democide. Again, this occurred in a colonial context–those, I would hazard a guess–are democracies’ low points.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                Whether we count the U.S. Civil War as in fact a civil war or as two democracies fighting each other is a difficult question. I’d caution against a facile latching on to either interpretation.

                But in general, let me say that this is in fact the way to argue: examples, evidence, not mere assertions. To whatever extent I may disagree with interpretations (and I’m more in the position of pondering them than being certain about agreement or disagreement), this I respect.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                transition to Fascism can be considered a systemic failure of the democratic process. Putting that outside the bounds of, “consequences of trying to run a democracy” is gaming the system so that democracy never fails.

                But I don’t think anyone’s doing that. There’s no claim that democracy never fails. Particularly there’s no claim that young democracies never fail. Rather, I think Rummel would argue that the problem is precisely in the failure; had Germany’s infant democracy not failed, but managed to remain democratic, there would have been no holocaust.

                I think you’re jumping to assumptions that there are claims in play that in fact aren’t in play. Rummel is a skeptic of government power, but not an anarchist. He accepts, so far as I understand, the inevitable necessity of some government, and sees democratic governments as the least dangerous one, but not as non-dangerous.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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                > Rather, I think Rummel would argue that
                > the problem is precisely in the failure;
                > had Germany’s infant democracy not
                > failed, but managed to remain democratic,
                > there would have been no holocaust.

                Well, that’s the thing, that’s an impossible to falsify assertion. Also: it’s blurring the line between “what constitutes a democracy” and “what doesn’t” so that the bad stuff conveniently happens on the “well, that’s not a democracy” side of the line.

                > I think you’re jumping to assumptions
                > that there are claims in play that in fact
                > aren’t in play.

                Maybe, I haven’t read his stuff. But it seems to me just from the bit that I’ve read here that it’s suffering the symptoms of sociopolitical science that I find the least scientific: it’s classification by negation. I have a theory that groups that are A are less likely to X, and groups that are not like A are more likely to Z.

                There’s all sorts of jerrymandering that you can do around A, X, and Z to support that classification system, but those arguments usually boil down to “megh, this whole thing was a case of bad generalization”.

                In polysci, these are usually the least interesting theories that are subject to the most intense debate (largely because everyone is wrangling semantics).Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                I’d counter that you’re working too hard to pretend there isn’t a significant difference between democracy and Nazi Germany. Germany engaged in two major wars in the 20th century; neither happened during the periods it had a democratic government. More importantly, only its first attempt at democracy failed to prevent being supplanted by an authoritarian system. If you think there’s easy generalization going on, the proper response is not crass conflation.

                I recommend perusing his work. Is it impossible to criticize? I can’t imagine that it would be. Can you find a sustainable criticism that really undermines the essential trends he claims to have identified? That’d be worthy of a peer reviewed publication, no doubt. Sorry to doubt you, but I’m not going to hold my breath. 😉Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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                > I’d counter that you’re working too hard
                > to pretend there isn’t a significant
                > difference between democracy and
                > Nazi Germany.

                Well, of course there is. The first thing is a very general, ill-defined concept, and the second is a very specific thing.

                There would be significant differences between any two things that were of completely different classes that were compared that way, too.

                > If you think there’s easy generalization
                > going on, the proper response is not
                > crass conflation.

                Sure. But I gotta say, if something sounds suspiciously like an easy generalization to me, it’s not my job to refute it. It’s the responsibility of the guy making the suspiciously-like-easy-generalization argument to show why it isn’t.

                > I recommend perusing his work.

                In order of ranking, which are the most interesting bits of his work that you’ve read?

                > Is it impossible to criticize? I can’t
                > imagine that it would be.

                Well, sure, that’s a trivial goal to get over.

                > Can you find a sustainable criticism
                > that really undermines the essential
                > trends he claims to have identified?

                Well, until I know what essential trends he’s identified, I wouldn’t hazard a guess.

                > That’d be worthy of a peer reviewed
                > publication, no doubt.

                No doubt. However, I also wouldn’t be surprised if somebody already hadn’t actually published a peer-reviewed criticism of his work, so knowing which of his works you find most interesting will make it easiest to find the already-published possible refutations (or, at least, rejoinders) to his work, and then I’ll know if I’m re-inventing the wheel or not.

                I mean, before I did anything, I’d want to know what you think are the most compelling of his arguments so that I can see which of his most compelling arguments already have criticisms, so that I can find out what you think of *those* criticisms 🙂Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                Pat,

                I’d begin with his website, because it’s free, easily accessible, and has most nearly everything on it. For a book, I’ve been citing from Death By Goverment, which focuses directly on the democide issue, with detailed case studies. (I don’t have his Power Kills, which is more recent and focuses more on the democratic peace issue, but I suspect it’s more theoretical, less brutely empirical). He’s got a variety of papers behind academic publication firewalls, too.

                The trend he claims to identify, put simply, is that the more concentrated, less diffused and publicly accountable, government power is, the more likely it is to be used to kill people. Technically, one doesn’t even need to be able to define and identify democracy to demonstrate the trend, just to identify greater or lesser concentrations and accountability of power. And that’s where the Weimar/Nazi distinction is relevant–the Weimar government may have been incompetent to preserve itself against Naziism, but only after the diffused and accountable power was concentrated and made unaccountable did the German government begin killing.

                And, again, Rummel doesn’t say that once power is made diffuse and accountable that it will inevitably stay that way–he’s arguing for the crucial importance of working to get, and then stay at, that condition.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              You just made me choke with laughter on a nice fresh beer. Mercifully, it didn’t come out my nose. Always hate when that happens.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            It helps just to think of him as Crazy Uncle Blaise.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          It’d be kind of neat if presidential candidates were required to submit a full slate of their nominees for cabinet positions AHEAD of the election. Sort of like the Shadow Government system in Westminster systems.

          Because knowing who would be at State and who would be at OLC would be VERY telling on which side Romney is likely to fall on foreign policy. An Andrew Card OLC with say a John Bolton SecState? Run for the hills!Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Nob Akimoto
            Ignored
            says:

            The Shadow Cabinet, in general, is such a beautiful idea that it’s a wonder we haven’t claimed it as our own. Have someone from the opposition with expertise in your field double-check your every move, and then, when the party in power inevitably switches you do the same to them. It’s like political Survivor.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to trizzlor
              Ignored
              says:

              We don’t even appoint experts in their field to actual cabinet appointments, much less shadow cabinet appointments. That’s the failure in the system I would see. We also sort of have that with the committee chairpersons (who probably have more expertise than actual cabinet appointees).

              That being said, why not?Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          How I wish you would just quit trying to schoolmarm me, James. It won’t work, I’m far too old to change my ways. I’m an old guard dog who got shot at and blowed up and said goodbye to too many people he loved. It isn’t self-pity to say such things, they’re true and they made me who I am.

          Juvenile? James, whatever else is wrong with me, and that list is very long, I am not juvenile. You need a larger vocabulary, that’s your problem. You sound like some twenty year old trying to lord it over his fifteen year old brother. Juvenile, my hairy old ass. Having served this country in a losing cause and losing most of the eyesight in my left eye and part of my hearing and about a square foot of skin in the cause of this country, I remain confident I have served it enough and that you haven’t, you silly little pedant. I am equally confident we shall never see a James Hanley presidency and the extent of your political life will be to be lorded over by your department chair.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
            Ignored
            says:

            Ah yes, ol’ Blaise, he been everywhere done everything and will tell you about it again and again in his own bitter style.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
              Ignored
              says:

              I have been everywhere. Well, not Antarctica. Or New Zealand. Or Russia. Or East Germany. But pretty much everywhere else. Yeah. And sometimes I shot people, which was very unfortunate for them, this is true.

              Rest assured, Scott, an untidy little blogger like James, and now seemingly yourself, is as easily dispensed with as stepping on a beer can. Snarly little chihuahua dogs shall be snarled at, and kicked, yes, if they get close enough. Brave enough behind a keyboard, a bunch of Walter Mittys the lot of you. The very forking idea, that any of you would attempt to school me because I call Condi Rice a pinhead. Her incompetence as national security advisor led to the deaths of thousands of Americans at the WTC and the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Her bad management then and her subsequent fecklessness as Secretary of State led to the deaths of thousands more Americans and tens, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, in the prosecution of a war she knew was based on a pack of lies.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
            Ignored
            says:

            How I wish you would just quit trying to schoolmarm me, James.

            What’s funny is just how much you try to schoolmarm others in between your objections to being schoolmarmed.

            hatever else is wrong with me, and that list is very long, I am not juvenile.

            Yes, surprisingly so. Not that I’m any under illusions that I’m always the epitome of maturity, of course.

            I am equally confident we shall never see a James Hanley presidency

            Well, we’re in agreement there.

            and the extent of your political life will be to be lorded over by your department chair.
            Actually, I am the department chair, so you’ve already missed on that one. Of a two person department, no less! And god willing and the cricks don’t rise that will indeed be the extent of my political life.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Well, Kissinger once said academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. Lay off me, James. I’m meaner than you and every time you go off on me, all I do is turn the Mertilizer up to Deep Fat Fry.

              You’re not going to change me. Most people around here understand me well enough to laff at my invective. It’s just my way. Who the fuck do you think you are, trying to tell me how to behave? You’re like this with everyone. Grow the hell up.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley
      Ignored
      says:

      “At least she has real FoPo experience beyond dealing with the IOC.”

      If that is your benchmark then Condi easily outclasses Barry as well.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Scott
        Ignored
        says:

        I was opposed to Obama’s candidacy for the same reason, and would have preferred HRC, who earned her stripes on the Senate Foreign Relations committe. McCain could o easily have had my vote for FoPo reasons had he not started following the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolowitz line then selected the least FoPo qualified person in America as his running mate.

        So I generally agree with you. But please show a little class and don’t call him Barry. You just make yourself look small.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          At this point, it’s kind of hard to claim Obama doesn’t have foreign policy experience.

          And for that matter, to claim that Rice’s achievements in the Bush Administration compare even remotely favorably to the Obama Administration.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Nob Akimoto
            Ignored
            says:

            Nob:

            Condi was the national security adviser not the person in charge. I’m curious to know what exactly are Barry’s foreign policy achievements, re-setting relations with Russia or maybe dealing with Iran or N. Korea?Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Scott
              Ignored
              says:

              He did the only things most American’s care about when it come to foreign policy. He all but ended the war in Iraq (yes, I know there’s still people there) and he got Osama. The rest is right-wing screeching he hasn’t spit in Putin’s face or whatever.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse:

                All US Forces were mandated to withdraw from Iraqi territory by 31 December 2011 under the terms of a bilateral agreement signed in 2008 by President Bush. Barry just implemented the terms of Bush’s treaty. As for Osama, he continued the hunt started by Bush. Wow, those are real accomplishments, maybe he should give Bush some credit.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Scott
                Ignored
                says:

                Considering numerous Republican’s, including John McCain, said they’d stay in Iraq past that date by creating a new deal w/ the Iraqi government and the GOP slammed Obama for leaving Iraq at the time agreed by Bush, I’d get back in contact w/ other conservatives.

                As for the Obama thing, Bush shut down the office in the CIA looking for Bin Laden. There is way more than enough info that the 2nd term of the Bush Presidency wasn’t looking for Osama that hard and it wasn’t until Obama came in that things got geared back up.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Scott
              Ignored
              says:

              Other than the arms reduction treaty with Russia, nuclear disarmament summit of an unprecedented scale, there’s a host of smaller initiatives such as repairing ANZUS, securing US allied commitments in the Pacific, successfully getting the hell out of Iraq (as opposed to the people who got the country into that quagmire), G-20 fiscal issues negotiations which have helped keep financial stability, trade agreements with South Korea (the largest agreement since NAFTA, and the first major US bilateral trade agreement with an East Asian economy), Panama, Columbia, substantial progress in creating a the groundwork for a more inclusive and strong Trans-Pacific Partnership, the war in Libya….

              I mean, yes…he hasn’t yet rid the world of nuclear weapons like Superman, did in Superman V, but he’s only on his first four years.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
            Ignored
            says:

            At this point, it’s kind of hard to claim Obama doesn’t have foreign policy experience.

            Yes, but I was talking about ’08. I think he’s done better than I expected.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              Yeah, but unless I misread Scott (it’s entirely possible, I don’t speak Wingnutese) he meant that Rice’s foreign policy chops still exceed Obama’s.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, I thought you were talking to me. I can’t speak for Scott. It’s not impossible that Rice’s do, though, as she’s put a lot more time into studying FoPo; a respected scholar in the field and two full presidential terms focusing on that, while Obama has just nearly one presidential term in which he’s also had to focus on a lot of other things. So it wouldn’t be a ridiculous claim.

                The essential problem, though, is that from my perspective Condi’s fundamental approach is flawed, while Obama’s fundamental FoPo orientation is superior. So while Condi clearly knows more, I’d rather have Obama making those decisions.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Republicans have this weird habit of picking under-qualified VP candidates.

                1952: Nixon was 39, and had less than 2 years in the Senate plus 4 in the House (he turned 40 just before the inauguration.)
                1956: Nixon redux
                1968: Agnew. Governor for less than 2 years, local politician before than. No FoPo at all.
                1972: Agnew redux
                1988: Quayle Reasonably experienced (12 years in Congress), but only 41 and no one’s idea of presidential timber.
                1992: Quayle redux.
                2008: Palin

                Since all but the last were victories, obviously it doesn’t hurt them.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think you can count the reduxes. Four years as Vice President is not bad qualification for being Vice President.

                Still, I hadn’t really thought about it until you put together this list. Good point.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Good list, but you do have to give them Rockefeller and H.W.

                On the Democrats’ side, since 1960 you have;

                LBJ
                Humphrey
                Mondale
                Gore
                Biden

                In terms of pure resume, that is rather a superior list.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, the rest of the GOP picks (Lodge, Dole, Kemp, Bush pere, Cheney) were entirely qualified. (I honestly know nothing about William Miller, except that he’d been around for a long time.)Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Thanks for filling in that list. For some reason I skipped to just winners, rather than candidates.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Going backwards from 1952, the first GOP VP nominee that’s clearly unqualified is Calvin Coolidge, a local politician with two years as governor, who became famous for his demagogic and dictatorial response to the Boston police strike.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
          Ignored
          says:

          HRC, who earned her stripes on the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

          Armed Services, I believe it was. Others as well, but that’s where she earned her FoPo stripes – there and in the WH (and on a tarmac in the Balkans).Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    This is just Matt Drudge farting and everyone smelling it. Romney doesn’t want a thing to do with a besmirched presidency like Bush43, exactly as Gore didn’t want anything to do with Bill Clinton’s presidency.Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    If Romney goes with Kyl (who I never heard of until now), what do we make of this trend of Presidential candidates picking old farts as running mates? Cheney, Biden, now possibly Kyl? I don’t know how it stacks up historically or electorally, but it just seems weird to me on a lot of levels.Report

  5. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
    Ignored
    says:

    Rice is never going to be the VP pick w/ Romney. Mitt “I became pro-life when I wanted to become President” Romney and Condi “I’m mildly pro-choice” Rice as a ticket will lead to depressed turnout among conservative voters.Report

  6. Avatar Tom Van Dyke
    Ignored
    says:

    Reminder: “Although we recognize that there can sometimes be a fine line between honest but passionate debate and outright ad hominem attacks, we reserve the right to delete comments that do not appear aimed at advancing the relevant discussion.

    In general, a comment will be deemed inappropriate if it makes no attempt to address a point germane to the original post or another comment and instead contains nothing more than a blanket personal attack directed at the author or another commenter will be deleted.”

    https://ordinary-times.com/commenting-policy/Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Heard Hannity and Coulter talking VP picks today… they discussed a bunch, but focused primarily on Rubio and Rice. They were the only ones described as “smart”, “articulate”, “well-spoken”, or “bright”.

    Can we knock off the nonsense of applying those and other related terms to POCs? The Chris Rock joke is years old now… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj050bz-k9o. Hell, he made the damn thing about Colin Powell!

    And this isn’t a Right/Left thing, D/R thing… goddamn near everyone does it. Libs/Dems did it with Obama from ’04-’08. I’m only using Hannity and Coulter because I heard them today. But, seriously, knock it off. Everyone. Rice’s and Rubio’s credentials go a hell of a lot deeper than their ability to talk without jiving or an accent, respectively.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Rice is a smart accomplished woman but she is absolutely horrible as both an administrator and a political fighter. The idea that anyone would pick her for vp is absolutely ridiculousReport

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m actually conflicted about this. I think picking Rice as VP would be about as close to political suicide as when McCain picked Palin. It would transfer all the worst aspects of the Bush Admin unto Romney’s. But wrt Rice herself, it’s hard for me to say what she might have been able to accomplish if the water she was forced to carry wasn’t so poisonous.

      Acourse, there’s no reason right now to suppose that Romney won’t troll in those same poisonous waters, and picking Rice signals as much.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      But she is an expert on Russia, which is why relations with Russia were so productive on her watch. Really, what could have worked better than a combination of fawning and needless provocation? Seriously, if there’s anything Rice is good at, she’s done a great job of hiding it.Report

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