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The Theory of Relativity is about Speed and Energy...

not disdain for consistent moral values.

There’s a reason that science has been such a smashing success. It’s about putting our ideas about the world to the test, by actually looking at the world to determine their truth value. Cut out the emotional BS, cut out the handwaving around the unprovable, you’re dealing with what can be proven or disproven in terms of evidence.

Einstein's theory of relativity isn't really about the laws of physics being variable. Rather, the physical laws are invariable, it's what's seen from any one perspective that changes.

But you, know it could have just all been a wild idea. Some folks like to imagine that science is all done by eccentrics locked away in basements, who come up with brilliant ideas, and then have to fight heroically against a disbelieving majority.

In reality, Einstein was not a loner, nor a crank. Bits and pieces of his theory were already in place before he wrapped them all together. He read broadly in his field, and was influenced by others.

Einstein's triumph in his theory of Special Relativity was tossing out the notion of a luminiferous aether (a mysterious substance that allowed lightwaves to move through otherwise empty space) and the notion of a state of absolute rest.

The relativity Einstein talks about was relativity between inertial frames of reference. What is an inertial frame of reference? Well, if you're walking inside a room, and somebody throws a baseball past you, we can count four frames of reference at least:

1) You, walking.
2) The Baseball, flying past you.
3) The Pitcher, throwing the ball.
4) The Room.

Now, at low speeds, even the speed of the fastest fastball, Newton's laws of physics hold. But if objects were moving at speeds approaching that of light there would be consequences, according to Einstein's theory.

Let's take you, for instance. If you were were walking around at the speed of light, Your surroundings would seem to squash as you looked to the sides. As you saw the baseball fly by, it would get squashed even more. This is what's called Lorenzian contraction. Theoretically, if you moved an eighteen foot ladder at high enough speed, it could fit within an ten foot garage. (However briefly!) Your measurement of length would change.

You, too, would seem squashed to an observer able to catch sight of you. Where you might measure yourself as having a certain breadth, your observer would disagree. What relativity would tell us is that we're each right, from our frame of reference. It's not merely an illusion, but an effect of the speed of light, which is our yardstick for all measurements, due to its constancy.

In Einstein's physics, Space and time are connected, so unsurprisingly, time dilates when space contracts. A second for you, walking near the speed of light, takes longer to elapse from the Pitcher's perspective, than it does from yours. Same thing for the baseball.

If that baseball had a twin back in the Pitcher's pocket, the baseball, after improbably returning to the Pitcher's very well-padded glove, would find it's formerly identical counterpart scuffed and worn from years of use. The closer an object's speed to lightspeed, the more intense this dilation's effect.

The speed of light also enforces, at least in one aspect, a limit on the speed of communicating information. So, if that first baseball were to suddenly turn into a pot of flowers, You would see the miracle first, while at the same time, the Pitcher would register this improbable event later, still seeing a baseball and not a petunia. Because of the limits of the speed of light on the effects of the event spreading, our observations will differ greatly in terms of how we see the space and time of the event.

But there's more that limits on the speed of light will do.

Let's get out of the house, and onto a train. The Pitcher has a baseball, and he's lent you the other baseball. He throws from the platform, you throw from the train, which is accelerated to three quarters the speed of light. You and him have good arms, so you can both throw at the same speed. Traditionally, that speed is going to add or take away depending on its relative velocity.

It's important here to register the difference between a speed and a velocity in physics. A speed is just a scalar, a value that you can move up and down. 25 mph or 250 mph.

Velocities are vectors. That means they have both a magnitude and a direction. A change in either quality is a change in velocity. If you take a curve at a constant 25 mph, it's a change in velocity.

A change in velocity is an acceleration.

Objects with mass cannot accelerate to the speed of light, much less past it. Instead of going 1.5 times the speed of light, your baseball will accelerate at an appreciably greater fraction of lightspeed, but still just a fraction.

What's more, the baseball is going to get heavier and heavier, more massive as it accelerates closer to the speed of light, and less and less energy goes into actually making the baseball move faster. As a massive object approaches lightspeed, the accumulation of mass at the expense of acceleration tends towads infinity. Even more intriguing, the relationship of energy to mass is a function of lightspeed square.

Now, having heard all this, many of you might be confused or skeptical. How do we know that Einstein's theory is valid?

The short answer is that we've seen these consequences play out in reality. We've seen particles flatten and gain mass as they are accelerated around facilities like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and the Tevatron accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. We've seen the increases in masses. We've seen muons from particle collisions in the upper atmosphere travel far further down than their known decay rates would allow them to reach, if time dilation weren't true.

Hell, if you're driving around in a car with GPS, your navigation system is working off the principle that two differently accelerated objects will experience a difference in their time frames. The Satellite and the receiver both have onboard clocks, and the difference of time's flow higher up in Earth's gravity well and back on Earth can be used to figure out distance, and triangulate your position.

When you drive a car with a GPS device, Einstein's the navigator!

You could do worse.

Point is, Einstein's theories were both verifiable and verified. Folks worked out the consequences and figured out ways to test the theory through the implications of its truth or non-truth.

Einstein's theory is not invalid because some morons out there think it means they can just act any way they please because its all about different points of view. In fact, on an analogical level, it faiils, because Einstein's theory relies in part on the proposition that some laws, particularly the speed of light in a vacuum, are inviolable.

General Relativity takes things one step further, and states gravity to be an effect of massive objects distorting the fabric of spacetime. Essentially, as a globe might make the shortest path between two lines a curve along a great circle, rather than Euclid's straight line, the curvature of space time that a massive objection brings makes the effective shortest path, given the speed of the object, a certain curve.

This deflection, even if it doesn't change the speed, changes the direction, and as I explained earlier, velocity is both direction and speed, so a change in direction alone would lead us to call this an acceleration.

This deflection, by the way, doesn't depend on an object having mass. Even light, whose photons have no rest-mass, gets deflected. This, by the way, is part of how we know General Relativity, as a theory, is at least somewhat on the right track, as we have seen and measured the light distorted and deflected by massive objects.

Science is about relationships, and relationships within the real world are what we test to test the validity and soundness of different theories. You cannot write up a theory so that it cannot be held accountable to measurements of the natural world, and expect to have it called a scientific theory, because what makes science what it is, is the ability to take the scientists speculation and use evidence to test for the presence, or the absence of a particular result that should come from nature or the lab if something's true.

Science is imperfect, and often distorted by others trying to push an agenda or a point of view, but it's better than the alternative.

The alternative is people trying to run a mechanized, high-tech society by the seat of their pants, not respecting that when it comes to a difference of opinion between you and nature, you never win the argument. In fields such as aviation, where the quality of metals and the physics of jet propulsion are crucial to the passenger's fate, the failure to take real world conditions into account, like volcanoes chucking up ash or winter storms laying down ice, can end up having fatal consequences. Heck, one plane's fate was sealed by the fact that it had square windows.

Unfortunately, some folks, some interest groups count on the rarity of some kinds of failures, or the long onset to still make money doing what they do. If we want to really talk about relativism, we can talk about the ethics of disputing scientifically sound evidence that we're experiencing some of the warmest temperatures on record that we have for thousands of years. In fact, the last ten years, almost year for year, are the hottest years every recorded for global temperature averages, contrary to what James Inhofe said. Local and incidental weather variations aside, the planet is provably getting warmer. This isn't merely some ambiguous human factors question where the answer is, "what's your preference." This is a thermodynamic system where the complexity of the effects of the newly added heat, rather than the build up of additional heat is at question.

Carbon Dioxide is one of those well understood chemicals that scientists can make some reasonable guesses about. We know for a fact, that it scatters infra-red at certain frequencies. We know for a fact that despite it's trace levels (measured in hundreds of parts per million) that it has a disproportionate effect on the ability of the atmosphere to retain heat. Heck, this was known about even at the beginning of the last century.

What the folks of that time (who already were guessing that all our carbon emissions were going to raise temperatures) did not know, or couldn't anticipate, was that both computational models and observation of temperature records were going to show that it wasn't going to be some nice, gradual warm up over the next thousand years, but that instead, the system would stress and stress and strain until it snapped, and that it could do this quickly.

Some folks remain behind the time on the science, or worse, rely on intuition, rather than any disciplined system that relied on verifiable facts. It's not a question of whether people can be right, without the help of scientific discipline, but rather, whether they know when they're wrong, whether the facts and the conditions of the real world can persuade their thinking, or whether they're just operating off their own imagination.

I know the power of the human imagination. People can dream up just about anything, make it seem as real as the world before you. But I know the limits and the potential pitfalls of it, too. Nature plays out, blindly, becoming more complex and more intricate without any need to fit its depth of complexity and wealth of information within the limits of human attention and comprehension. When human beings try to mess around without at least getting a basic understanding of the situation, nature doesn't have to bother outthinking them. Nature simply exists as it is, and overwhelms intuitive human understanding. Things like science are recent innovations of minds that were meant simply to help us survive in the world as it is. We didn't have to know so much, we didn't have any clue that we understood so little.

Those who smugly say that humans couldn't possibly derange the natural order on climate are ignorant of what small stimuli have set off changes over the course of natural history. A few degrees difference was all that it took to take the grasslands the Natufian culture knew, and make it into the Sahara. If anything illustrates the suddenness and caprice of climate, it's The Cave of Swimmers. The paintings of these caves show what the deep dry desert now makes an utter absurdity. The rocks show a culture that only lush rainfall could produce.

The world works by its own rules. We can either be humble enough to respect those rules and try and understand them on a real world basis, or we can arrogantly assume that our feelings, our limited imaginations, our relativistic assumptions about what matters dictate the course of nature, rather than nature's own implacably played out rules.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2010 10:16 AM
Comments
Comment #305604

Stephen, little of this article is of interest to regular people worrying about their jobs and how they are going to keep their homes and pay for the education of their children.

The essence of the dilemma is that we are a specialized labor force and culture utterly dependent upon the expertise of others, authors if you will, of the truth and reality that may impact our lives. The other half of this dilemma is that most people can’t trust authority in America anymore, because the ultimate authority having impact on everyone’s lives is the government and employers. And the government and increasing numbers of employers are pursuing agendas which run contrary to the interests of Americans and their families going forward. Example, the economy and devastating growth in our national debt and taxes going forward to ameliorate that debt.

What good is it, to a democratic nation, if the people can’t trust the authorities governing that nation and their vocational lives? Such a nation is in peril of dissolution, and subject to growing fracture into sects and groups as to make consensus impossible while preserving freedom and choice.

The politicians and employers have manipulated the public into supporting their destructive means and ways. Unless, the voting public turns this around and manipulates their employers and politicians to act more responsibly to the challenges and threats facing our nation, our nation will indeed fail. VOIDing Incumbents is how the voting public can accomplish this herculean feat. In the short term it will mean pain politically. But, like life saving surgery, the short term pain will be vastly outweighed by a longer lived and healthier nation as a result.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2010 2:38 PM
Comment #305608

David R. Remer-
The essence of our dilemma is that we’ve had leaders who have been primarily concerned with social reorganization towards the top, the financial elites and things like that. Part of how they do that, part of how they achieve that is that they push things like the “sound science movement”, which essentially muddies the water on real science. Over time, this has been detrimental to the authority of scientists, and people’s trust in them.

This is a society maintained, built up, and made to grow by commerce that depends on that science. Increased inefficiency, increased healthcare issues, and increased failures to develop technology are the secondary consequence of the twisting and the undermining of scientific literacy by those who want to reinstate an old order or create a new order that favors them.

What improves the discipline and quality of American scientific literacy and education, improves the freedom and fortunes of those people in turn. What undermines it, undermines the freedoms and fortunes of us all.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2010 2:57 PM
Comment #305614

Stephen, you are sidestepping the direct relationship between the people and authority. It exists between the people and their government representatives. Not between the people and the scientists. The people haven’t a clue who the scientists are. But, they generally do know who their representatives are. The loss in confidence in authority and expertise stems from the loss in confidence between the people and their representatives.

When the politicians dish out controversy over science, the public is made aware of the controversy by the media, because it then becomes a political issue. Most people in this country do NOT follow scientific news and journals. They do on a far larger scale follow the political news. The politicians have made scientific methodology and results into controversial political debate. It was wrong of them to do that. Just as it has been wrong of politicians sitting on school boards across this country to cast science and methodology into doubt amongst voters. It all stems from the political climate the Democrats and Republicans have created.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2010 4:26 PM
Comment #305618

If a Democrat is traveling at or near a progressive speed of light, and a Republican is walking at status quo, it creates a space time continuum and nothing gets done. Is that what y’all are saying?

Posted by: Marysdude at August 11, 2010 5:11 PM
Comment #305620

David R. Remer-
Look, the folks who get away with irresponsible things in Congress often get away with it by distorting the authority in the given field. In economics, they push their supply siders. In History, they push academics who push the theories of history they like.

With Scientific issues, the distortions come from folks who push folk science, pseudoscience, “sound science”, “creation science”, and the like, and they are pointedly aimed at creating uncertainty where the evidence says it shouldn’t be.

And why do they do this? To cripple and slow accountability for politicians who choose to take scientifically untenable, but decidedly lucrative stances on the issues.

If we can’t really get people to stick to the facts, if we don’t slam the door on this kind of intentional misinformation, then voters will not have so much of the proper motivation to toss irresponsible incumbents out on their ear, or at the very least, pressure political behavior towards accountability and responsibility.

Marysdude-
No, what happens is that Republicans are trying to get their 41 member nucleus to fuse with a few more nuclear particles. They hope that repeated collisions in opposition will result in a nucleus with more particles.

Somebody should tell them that such nucleus are rather unstable, when the impact doesn’t blow apart the Nucleus entirely.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2010 5:30 PM
Comment #305629

David,

If we can’t really get people to stick to the facts, if we don’t slam the door on this kind of intentional misinformation, then voters will not have so much of the proper motivation to toss irresponsible incumbents out on their ear, or at the very least, pressure political behavior towards accountability and responsibility.

Which is exactly what I am saying when I say educating the public is job #1. Having them toss out incumbents based on political and scientific ignorance is no better than the status quo. It simply encourages populism.

Posted by: gergle at August 11, 2010 8:34 PM
Comment #305632

Stephen replied: “Look, the folks who get away with irresponsible things in Congress often get away with it by distorting the authority in the given field.”

Thank you for restating what I said in my reply to you.

As I have been writing for years here at WatchBlog, education is failing in America and what you are citing are the results of that failing educational system.

I think we are in agreement on this much. At least, I hope so.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2010 9:09 PM
Comment #305633

gergle, you quoted Stephen but addressed me.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2010 9:10 PM
Comment #305634

marysdude, thank you very much for my evening chuckle. That was great.!!! So much more succinct than Stephen’s laborious article on a subject that only hinted at politics. I put forth the effort though, and found the political angle to his article, with some extrapolation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2010 9:13 PM
Comment #305650


Yes but, if you combine the power of one party with the power of the other party, you get a wormhole and faster than light, you are transported half way across the galaxy to the planet corpocracy, while three decades passed on Earth.

Heliocentric? No way.

Nova: Lord of the Ants: Edward Wilson: Sociobiology. One of the best Nova productions. An excellent introduction of the scientific method for kids and adults alike. I think you can watch it at YouTube.

Posted by: jlw at August 11, 2010 11:44 PM
Comment #305662

jlw-
The political irony of ants is that while they are typically portrayed as being autocratic, E.O. Wilson’s work, among others, has demonstrated that they’re actually completely libertarian, the lockstep order of the colony built on the ant’s mindless reaction to gradients of pheromones. Every ant is looking at (or smelling, more accurately) every other ant to see what to do.

Ants could be alternatively portrayed, given this, as being either great exemplars of behavioral order emerging out of the wisdom of crowds, or a pejorative example of the ultimate result of mindless chasing after the same.

As for Wormholes, I think the idea is not that you go faster than light, but rather space connects between two points with a shorter distance of travel than otherwise. You stay below light speed, but you take a shortcut through another kind of space.

I think your equivalency serves, rather than works against the so-called corpocracy, because the very thing that keeps them in place is that many people think that they are either supposed to be heavily influencing policy, or that it is simply unavoidable that they would. Resignation to the corruption in politics, to “political realities” is one of the most powerful forces keeping them there. Despair, not religion, is the opiate of our masses.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2010 8:39 AM
Comment #305667

Stephen D. said: “Despair, not religion, is the opiate of our masses.”

Well, that is your take, anyway. Logically, however, one can just as easily argue that Faith, the basis of religion, is in fact, the opiate of the masses, which accounts for their reelecting the same political party’s candidates who oversaw government which those same voters disapprove of. The faith is, that voting them back in office for another term will yield different results. That is an enormous leap of faith, and contrary to logic and empirical evidence to the contrary.

Voting incumbents back in office at a rate of more than 90% on average has been the historical correlation along side decades of decline in education quality, real wages, and federal government fiscal responsibility, not to mention the enormously widening wealth gap and top heavy accumulation of wealth into ever smaller percentages of the population’s hands, literally strangling the country’s access to capital at this point in time.

Reelecting Democrat and Republican incumbents correlates with all these negative outcomes. Changing parties as majority has become a game of musical chairs and has demonstrably resulted in no change in the outcomes described above.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2010 9:38 AM
Comment #305669

David R. Remer-
I find the VOID movement, while not unsympathetic, maddeningly vague. It seems nobody’s happy with their incumbents. Quite a few long-time Republicans seem on their way out, too. More than a few Democrats, as well But to be replaced by who?

You offer the possibility of a third party coming to the rescue. Fine. Personally, I would like to see both parties have to deal with them, so it encourages coalition building, and breaks up party deadlocks. But if that’s not the reality we face, if third parties aren’t taking the initiative and making a major push, what then?

What then? Over my life, I have seen the direction of politics increasingly chase the interests of image manipulation, and the political actions increasingly take the form of meaningless gesture.

Can you understand that from my perspective, any political movement that doesn’t rest itself on practical foundations is just a waste of time? Where efforts against incumbents yields an easier path for better policy, I’m all for it. But if all it’s about is punishing politicians who may not even be getting the message properly? No. That I’m not going to support.

I will continue to mainly support action against Republicans because as of right now, the folks enabling the worst of resistance to change in Washington are the Republicans. Some might point to the conservative Democrats and centrists, and say they’re at fault, but without a lockstep Republican Congress, their power to influence policy would be greatly reduced. If Fifty-nine votes could have passed healthcare, the Public Option or Medicare Buy in certainly wouldn’t have been chucked for the sake of that ass Joe Lieberman.

The Democrats have been forced to be more like Republicans by Conservative and Centrist Democrats exercising a veto power made possible by the relentless Republican obstruction. Without that obstruction, more of the do-nothing Democrats could have been told to take a hike, and our majority would have been more meaningful.

The irony is, anti-incumbent sentiment is about to make the situation worse in the Senate, make it easier for Republicans to get in the way of change. Same thing in Congress. You have to ask something: does the change you seek run through this particularly movement, or does the tactic you favor here not work towards your strategic goal.

So, let me be blunt: how we hold politicians accountable, and why we hold them accountable is as important as anything else, because that effects who we hold accountable. Do we hold accountable a party that’s been held back, or do we hold accountable the party doing the holding back? Do we reward pointless partisan warfare, or do we reward the fight to get good policy out?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2010 11:09 AM
Comment #305672

David,

I addressed you because you seem to be having some difficulty with my criticisms of VOID. My most significant criticism is that it needs to do a better job of educating the public.

Stephen,

I think this was a very relevant political point. There is a campaign of ignorance being forwarded by the Republican/ Conservatives which is very detrimental to the existence of the US. Freedom of speech is a concept that hopes rational and factual thought will supersede ignorance. A failure to recognize the importance of this, and the attacks being made on intelligent discussion is a serious mistake.

Even Obama has made some serious missteps in regards to Wikileaks.

Posted by: gergle at August 12, 2010 11:51 AM
Comment #305674


Stephen, for conservative Christians, religion is the cocaine or the stimulant of the masses.

Despair is the opiate of those who say, I don’t bother to vote because my vote won’t matter, those in power will do what they want.

It seems to me that the primary opiate of the masses is easy credit hedonistic consumerism. As long as we have a job and get that credit to buy stuff, we are fairly passive.
Not totally passive but, passive enough not to change the political system controlled by the corporations through these two corrupt political parties.

Look at the latest ploy of the Administration. The base is very disappointed in Obama. An Administration says the base is unrealistic, they don’t understand political reality. They should just shut up and support their president. Unfortunately for Obama, the base does understand the political reality and that is why they are mad.

How could they not understand the political reality? They see the political contributions, by corporations to Obama and the Democratic politicians and they have heard the, there is no quid pro quo lie more than enough times to recognize the political reality.

Obama had his opportunity to represent the people but, he chose to go along with the corpocracy to get along. As a result, the base knows they were snookered again.

If Republicans are able to regain control of one or both houses of Congress it will be because the party base understands the party’s political reality all to well.

The Republicans are only slightly more despised by the people than the Democrats.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2010 1:02 PM
Comment #305680

Stephen D. said and asked: “It seems nobody’s happy with their incumbents. Quite a few long-time Republicans seem on their way out, too. More than a few Democrats, as well But to be replaced by who?”

For anti-incumbent voters, it is not that important, who. The worst case is ineffective, incompetent, or irresponsible politicians get replaced with others of the same kind. No net loss. Moot. The point is, when getting rid of ineffective, incompetent, and irresponsible politicians, the chances are at least 50-50 that the voters get an improvement in the winning challenger. That’s better odds than keeping a know bad politician.

Second, and more important, is that asking who will replace them is a short-sighted question which fails to ask the pertinent question about the VOID movement, which is: “If the incumbent reelection rate drops from 90% to 50% on average, what challenger or incumbent ISN’T going to tell their wealthy special interest contributors to piss off in favor of that challenger or incumbent seeking to regain the vote of those anti-incumbent voters by addressing the few common objectives that bind them under the VOID umbrella?”

The objective is to force politicians to address the common demands and objectives of the voters instead of their wealthy special interest contributors. Then, and ONLY then, will politicians have the incentive to address the failing of our nation going forward and rescue it, in the absence of their having to play step ‘n fetch it to the wealthy special interests, whose short-sighted two year cycle short term greed goals no longer control our representatives. When the vote determines elections instead of the money buying the campaigns, America’s future can and will be saved, because that is the demand of the anti-incumbent voters to win back their vote for a politician seeking reelection.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2010 4:15 PM
Comment #305681

gergle said: “I addressed you because you seem to be having some difficulty with my criticisms of VOID.”

That was funny. Thanks for the chuckle. Anyone here can read for themselves that I have handled your perfunctory criticisms of VOID with exceptional agility and specificity.

I have never had any difficulty handling criticisms of VOID because no one has ever come up with Critiques of VOID which make any sense to its followers and supporters. Party loyalists and defenders have been trying for years to bring VOID down, and VOID just continues to grow in numbers and contributions. Reality speaks for itself to those who willing to open their eyes to it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2010 4:20 PM
Comment #305682

jlw said: “It seems to me that the primary opiate of the masses is easy credit hedonistic consumerism. As long as we have a job and get that credit to buy stuff, we are fairly passive.”

Was true in the past. Not true today. The WSJ/NBC poll released this morning makes this point emphatic. 4 out of 5 of disgruntled pollees have jobs and more than half are in the middle and upper middle income groups. There is a new dynamic afoot, and consumerism is no longer the opiate it once was. The perception that that consumerism may not continue into the future for their children is one of the dynamics changing the poll outcomes on this issue.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2010 4:25 PM
Comment #305692


David, unless they are willing to help create a more sustainable economy, consumerism will not be a big priority of their children.

Stephen, this is from The Nation.com.

The Corpo-Obama-Geithner-Petraeus State by Barbara Eirenreich.

“The role of the left should not be to uphold or defend a government increasingly at odds with the interests of the people, but to change it, drastically and from the ground up.”

If the Administration continues to alienate the left, Obama will get his wish, Republicans to work with.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2010 5:26 PM
Comment #305703

David,

That was funny. I read your responses as avoidance, misdirection and venom. I suppose that takes a certain kind of agility.

Posted by: gergle at August 12, 2010 6:14 PM
Comment #305723

David R. Remer-
Follow me here: The Republicans right now are using anti-incumbent sentiment against the Democrats. Are they doing that by citing real problems with Democratic Party policy? No, in fact many of the problems of those policies are their ideas! No, they’re obstructing the legislation that Democrats want to get passed, legislation that might work to the Democrat’s credit.

Result? Democrats are getting blamed for doing nothing because the Republicans aren’t letting the legislation through the Senate, and so the Republicans are set to be rewarded, at least somewhat, for getting in the way of policies that would benefit people.

There a difference between wanting something, trying for something, and actually achieving or getting something. Or put another way, things we do to try to get the things we want don’t necessary work as as planned, don’t necessarily get what we want.

Now, good government recognizes that fact, and changes policy, changes approaches to work around that. Good politics, too. When either gets unresponsive, or develops a conflict of interests in taking care of the needs and wants of the country, I believe it is time to bring change.

But how? We can talk about increasing the rate at which incumbents are tossed out, but first you have to convince people to do that.

Then, for it to work properly, the politicians have to receive the message very clearly, in terms of what caused what. Then they have to accept it, it has to become common wisdom, so on and so forth.

The goal is simple to state, incredibly complex to manifest as reality.

Even if you do raise the rate of challenger wins, what does it mean for policy? Do you and the others all have specific policies in mind, so you can say to these people, these are the policies you must support to avoid being kicked out? As somebody who’s studied Stanislavski, I can tell you what the importance is of motivation in a narrative. There’s got to be a point A, a point B, and a reason to go from one towards the other.

What are we trying to inhibit, what are we trying to encourage?

And do people have a choice in how they respond? Very often, they do!

Republicans, in the last two elections, have mostly just swept under the rug any notion that Americans might have become alienated from conservatism. Instead, they read it as a repudiation of insufficient conservatism. They’ve written themselves a narrative that fits the facts they acknowledge, in a way that suits their goals, their motivations.

This narrative, by the way, tells them that it’s alright to return to the same policy ideas that got us into trouble before, to push for the repeal of reforms that Democrats have already passed over their objections, to even move to change the constitution itself in response to a border crime-wave that doesn’t even really exist.

I’ve been blindsided these last two years by the sheer stubborn willingness of the Republican Party to deny any falling out with the public, and their toxic willingness to pollute the discourse with lies and hysteria in order to support their continued power in Washington. They’ve abused a parliamentary manuever to deny Americans the representation in Congress of the will that the votes they cast on election day spoke to. Republicans seem literally willing to tear at the fabric of our Democracy to get back into power.

Ironically enough, they seem scared, rather than sinister. They cry out, “Who will think of the children?” Their followers are lead to believe that Obama’s about to declare himself Caesar, led to believe that he’ll push the country to whatever intolerable -ism comes first to mind, and are fed lies of such absurdity that one would laugh at them if so many people weren’t taking them as true.

I look at this, and I want to say, look, you don’t have to be neutral about the corruption and incompetence in my party, but please, for the love of God, don’t call it equivalent to sheer, unadulterated madness that has overtaken the Republican Party. Don’t be neutral about that. Don’t inflict worse on yourself in an effort to punish the bad. Don’t let devotion to an idea lead you to ignore the consequences of your actions. Don’t be like the Naderites who believed that by electing Bush, they sent a message to Democrats, even as everything their leader stood for, in terms of environment, in terms of foreign policy, in terms of consumer interests, all suffered for that poorly received and understood message.

My policy is, if you want to send a message to the folks in Washington, write them a letter. If you want control over who is in charge, then vote, and vote with a mind to putting one person or another in charge, who is better than the others. If you don’t want it to be a Democrat, or a Republican, then you had better start building the structures that make it possible for a third party leader to win the office, and keep it without embarrassing themselves.

Otherwise, all your actions represent are symbolic gestures, lost in the tides of the real political action that took place. Organizations matter, people matter, just as much as ideas, and without a large reserve of folks with government experience, third parties are going to have a hard time doing anything but stirring around the marginal voters of the party.

Oh, and by the way. It’s sort of like every movie is designed from the start to be a moneymaker. So, too, do all campaigns raise money and woo contributors to put them in office. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it all depends on the judgment of the individual voter, and until they start directly buying votes, directly rigging elections, All that money can be worthless if the candidate backed by it finds the public skepticical.

All money buys in todays’s society is the chance to be heard, not the privilege to be elected, and as soon as we acknowledge that fact, we can acknowledge options for changing the political balance that today’s technology affords us.

There are some tyrannies that don’t become realities until we resign ourselves to losing certain fights. Sometimes, all it takes to change the course of events in a political campaign is one person finding the fulcrum to lever the feelings and the moods of the voters with.

But this is not some generalized thing. This is something folks have to look at fresh with each politician. Making it generalized just make it easier to shake off. I mean, there’s plenty of “politicians are crooks” and things like that floating around out there, but that hasn’t affected incumbency rates because usually these people have experience in hiding the fact or disguising it as something done in the public interest.

I think you really have to get specific in order to do real damage, and you have to have a good case. What we need are better reporters. What we need are better sources of information about candidates and incumbents and challengers, and what we also need is an open enough, critical enough mind to make a decent judgment about who we send to Washington. If we merely do things randomly, the impact of the efforts and the penetration of the message will be blunted.

If however, the politicians out there know what it is that courts voter displeasure, if they know precisely what the problem is, and voters know that their incumbent is a problem in a specific way, it will be much easier to both get rid of these people, and calibrate the understanding of those who remain as to why that incumbent got taken out.

We need directed reform and replacement of members of Congress, not the mere expression of a generalized principle we wish to apply.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2010 9:52 PM
Comment #305843

Stephen D. said: “Follow me here: The Republicans right now are using anti-incumbent sentiment against the Democrats.”

Follow me, here, Stephen, the Democrats used the anti-incumbent sentiment in 2006 and 2008 to win the majorities. It will always be the case that the minority party will attempt to play the anti-incumbent card. Nothing new in this. Has always been thus.

What’s different today is the combination of huge growth in registered independent voters combined with an anti-incumbent movement and organizations remaining active across multiple elections. That is a new dynamic.

Democrats obstructed Republican’s legislation and ideas when Republicans were the majority. Status quo, Stephen, which, increasing numbers of anti-incumbents are refusing to support anymore. The Duopoly Party has campaigned on energy independence for 40 years now, and neither party has done jack poop to give this nation and its people energy independence, all the while blaming each other for no progress. That status quo requires a game changer. The anti-incumbent movement is that game changer.

Your sophistry attempts to paint the very simple concept of democracy as something complex and nearly impossible, don’t fly, Stephen. There is nothing complex or difficult about voters refusing to vote for incumbents who failed to deliver. That is the cornerstone of democracy, and there is nothing complicated or difficult about it. The main hurdle for the anti-incumbent movement is making the simple concept common place in the culture. Thanks to the media, that is now occurring. Years ago, most voters didn’t know what an incumbent was. Today, that is not the case. The words incumbent and anti-incumbent are heard on political talk shows every day of the week, these days.

There is a cultural education taking place about the most fundamental concept of democracy, that it is logical and common sense to withhold one’s vote from those who fail to deliver government the voter can approve of. It is a lesson that should have been taught to every school child since universal suffrage occurred. But, it didn’t. That is now changing. The new media is making the common sense of the anti-incumbent logic more common place with each passing election. This constitutes a political cultural change, and it has the Parties scrambling to get a handle on it.

But, you know, there is only one handle attached to it. Giving the voters what they as a majority demand of their government and politicians. The majority of Americans demanded the Public Option for health care reform. Most of the Congressional Democrats, and Obama, told them to piss off with their sham of a health care reform law which entirely failed to address the number one issue facing the nation, the rising cost of health care and Medicare/Medicaid, which the Public Option would have addressed.

Democrats are going to pay an incumbency price for that. Just as Republicans paid an incumbency price for the Iraq War, the doubling of the national debt, and contributing to the destruction of the economy and jobs for Americans. And that is how it is supposed to work in a democracy. Thankfully, 4% more Americans are now aware of this than in the 2008 elections, revealed by the WSJ/NBC poll this week. I suspect, a couple percent were more aware of it in 2008 than in 2006, though I don’t have data to back that up.

But, there is no question that the anti-incumbent sentiment and pledges are growing in number. The media is insuring it. And it couldn’t be more timely. Your Party and the GOP will fight to the last to preserve the comfy status quo they have enjoyed playing puppets to the wealth special interests and lobbyists who can’t see past the two year election cycle for their short sighted gains. They and their bought politicians and parties therefore, are incapable of addressing the demise of this nation’s economy and viability under the weight of unsustainable debt and falling quality of life for regular American citizens.

The irony is, most of the senior politicians in both parties are acutely aware of the truth of this, and those who have left politics are now free to admit that it is not a situation which is correctable by the politicians without a significant anti-incumbent movement levied at both parties which nullifies the control of special interest money over election outcomes.

You are backing a dying horse, Stephen. Not until the Democratic Party starts delivering on the common demands of the majority of voters, can they rescue their party from certain and repeated defeats at the polls in the elections to come. The same applies to the GOP. It’s not about ideology, anymore, Stephen. It is about a rip in the fabric of the American political landscape that has not been seen since the Civil Right’s movement in the 1960’s. The Democratic Party backed the correct side of that movement eventually and sustained their party going forward. The debt and deficits and quality of worker life is the issue going forward, and so far, the GOP has dominated the rhetoric on championing the correct side of this issue of common concern to most voters. But, the polls show, the voting public has no confidence in that GOP rhetoric. So, there is still a window of opportunity for your Party, but, it was closed by the Health Care reform bill, and it will be locked to the Democratic Party if they don’t make amends, and that right quick.

Frankly, I give the Democratic leadership about 1 chance in a hundred of pulling that rabbit out of the hat. And if they don’t, the VOID movement will just continue to grow, as it must under these circumstances in a democratically elected society.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2010 3:12 AM
Comment #305876


When Dick Cheney was confronted with the evidence that a majority of Americans were opposed to a war with Iraq, his response was “So what.” To paraphrase the rest, ‘The government can’t make foreign policy based on the changing whims of the majority.’

Democrats running the government are making similar statements along with, the people don’t understand that it is hard to make changes, we are doing the best we can, the Republicans are obstructing.

Nothing but excuses, pointing the finger right at the bought off incumbents.

How could the Republicans prevent passage of single payer health care if they didn’t even get the opportunity to do so and the corporate health care passed without the Republicans. Two possibilities, enough of the Democrats were bought off or the Democrats are a great bunch of cowards. I think it is both.

Why are the Democrats, including Obama, sweeping what happened on Wall Street under the rug? Why have they left the weapons that facilitated that attack on America in the hands of those that used those weapons to attack us?

Posted by: jlw at August 15, 2010 4:35 PM
Comment #305900
Stephen Daugherty wrote: The Theory of Relativity is about Speed and Energy…not disdain for consistent moral values.
Last night, Rachel Maddow picked up on TPMmuckraker’s reporting that Conservapedia founder Andy Schlafly considers Einstein’s Theory of Relativity — which encompasses the famous equation E=mc2 — part of a liberal conspiracy. As she noted, Schlafly is in good company. Almost half of the Republican Presidential candidates in 2008 told audiences that they reject the theory of evolution; Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the chair of the House Republican Conference, believes that God created the universe and won’t venture to guess whether that’s compatible with evolution; Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) reject global warming; and Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle refuses to believe that the Constitution provides for the separation of church and state. Maddow notes that rejecting tenets of science and even history in defense of faith is becoming more and more popular among GOP candidates — and Schlafly’s rejection of physics is just one piece in a much larger puzzle.

For one moment there, it almost appeared as if there might be one article by Stephen Daugherty that wasn’t simply more partisan warfare.

If Sharron Angle refuses to believe that the Constitution provides for the separation of church and state, that’s scary, and she should carefully read the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

  • Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

However, they can call it what ever they want, as long as they do not violate the first amendment of the constitution.

As for religion, it doesn’t matter, because that’s a personal choice protected by the 1st amendment.
Religion is not the problem.
The problem arises when some people don’t seem to understand the 1st amendment, and try to force their religious beliefs on others by laws that clearly violate the 1st amendment.
The mosque in New York is a very good example of this.
While a lot of people may not like it, … “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”…
Now, on the other hand, if anyone can prove that the mosque is funded by terrorists, or being used to aid terrorists, then that’s different.

Global warming is a different matter, because it is difficult to believe that 7 billion humans, and their power plants, and factories, and trucks, and cars all spewing 24 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is insignificant, then what about when China and India are spewing as much CO2 into the atmosphere as the U.S. which is only 4.5% of the world population, but creates 28% of the CO2 emissions?.

What if China (with 1.3 billion people), India (with 1.1 billion people), with 8.3 times more people than the U.S., increase their total CO2 emissions proportionate to the U.S. ?
China, India, and the U.S. and all other nations world-wide could then be emitting 80 billion metric tons into the atmosphere (330% more than then 24 billion metric tons today).

And what if everyone world-wide had emissions per-capita equal to the average U.S. citizen (20 metric tons per year per person)?
Then there could be 136 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions world-wide (a whopping 47 times more than today).

The major difference with the global atmosphere issue is that what one country does affects the whole planet.
So, the “live and let live” rule comes into the picture, because what one nation (or possibly one person) does now significantly can affect everyone else.

The U.S. could lead in this area, but it is now so distracted, weakened, and/or bogged-down (as if trying to swim upstream with an anvil around its neck) by the following, which may be difficult to recover from for a long time (if ever):

  • massive federal debt ($13.4 Trillion; the largest federal per-capita debt ever);
  • the total per-capita federal debt is 705% larger today than it was in the Great Depression (in 2008 inflation adjusted U.S. Dollars);
  • massive nation-wide debt ($57 Trillion; the largest per-capita nation-wide debt ever);
  • total per-capita nation-wide debt is 400% larger today than it was in year 1956 (in 2008 inflation adjusted U.S. Dollars);
  • Total per-capita Federal debt is 80% larger today than it was in after World War II (in 2008 inflation adjusted U.S. Dollars);
  • increasingly expensive, but poor quality education; and increasingly unaffordable college education;
  • unemployment of 9.5% (or upto 22% by some estimates);
  • incessant inflation of 2% (or as high as 8% by some estimates);
  • low GDP of 3%, but more likely -1.5% by some estimates);
  • the declining falling U.S. Dollar;
  • an estimated $70-to-$327 billion in net losses due to illegal immigration;
  • regressive taxation;
  • declining median income;
  • election fraud;
  • wars (some most likely unnecessary);
  • constitutional violations (e.g. Article V); 6 new cases per day of eminent domain abuse; and perversion of laws to do legalize what used to be illegal;
  • and too many voters who repeatedly reward FOR-SALE, incompetent, arrogant, greedy, and corrupt incumbent politicians with 85%-to-90% re-election rates, despite dismally low 11% approval ratings for Congress;

Stephen Daugherty wrote: We need directed reform and replacement of members of Congress, not the mere expression of a generalized principle we wish to apply.
Who ever said we need “the mere expression of a generalized principle”?

Do you repeatedly mischaracterize the logic and goal of VOID, because you feel threatened by it (or anything else not-DEMOCRAT)?

First of all, I don’t think VOID merely advocates voting out ALL incumbent politicians.

I think VOID advocates voting out all FOR-SALE, incompetent, greedy, arrogant, and corrupt incumbent politicians (which may indeed be most, if not all in Congress).

After all, you or anyone list 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, or even 268 (half of 535) incumbent politicians within Congress that are sufficiently not FOR-SALE, incompetent, greedy, arrogant, and corrupt?

You’d probably be the very first to say ALL Republicans should be voted out, since you wrote the following about Republicans and Independents:

  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: What’s more, I do think that the Republican culture is by far the worse and most pressing problem.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote: They [voters] should be allying with us [Democrats].
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I don’t disdain third parties.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:d.a.n- If third parties can’t win offices, what good are they to the voter?
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:And yes, I obviously want voters to vote for Democrats.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:Being spoilers [independent/3rd party voters] only ensures being fringe…
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I do think voters should ally with Democrats.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:In my opinion, the proper people to run this party are the voters who elect Democrats.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:… as I don’t like to hear people get down on my party, …
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:As bad as Democrats were, the Republicans were worse, and unapologetically so.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:… because then your [independent/3rd] parties get blamed for sending things in a lousy direction.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:How many people curse the Green party for George W. Bush (43) getting elected?
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:It’s what Democrats like myself had to do, after all, to take back the majorities and the White House.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:You can blast me for being an unapologetic Democrat. Fine.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:They [Republicans] simply act as if it were all the Democrats fault, or the fault of people who became too liberal in Congress.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:The patience the Republicans had with corruption and greed will not be the patience Democrats will have.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I can say its wiser in my opinion to be a Democrat, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t believe the other way.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:They [Republicans] are forcibly using parliamentary procedures [e.g. filibuster] in an effort to prevent Democrats from getting legislation through on majority votes, to lower the Dem’s approval numbers.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:Democrats, though they sometimes grumble about treatment in the press, or double standards, do not play the same “media bias” game, claiming that the mainstream media cannot be trusted. We don’t want a news channel all to ourselves.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:Democrats like myself aren’t waiting on that. We’re not waiting for more problems to become critical, painful, to start the change.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:This “with Democrats help” thing [the war in Iraq] is a cop-out from the responsibility.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:The fact that I’m a Democrat who favors Democrats should not stop anybody from recognizing that this is a perfectly logical statement to make …
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:you claim to know how I feel, and keep on trying to build a case that I simply hate non-Democrats. Give it a rest.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:My generation of Democrats prides itself on not being caught blindsided by either the Republicans, or their own side’s problems. The ears [of Democrats] are to the ground, and we’re always, ALWAYS watching.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:Democrats have significantly shifted the balance of power, despite all the barriers the Republicans put in place to keep their power.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:There might have been some Democrats kicked out [in year 1933] {59 Democrats ousted; 147 Republicans ousted; total of 206 ousted in year 1933; and in year 1995, 69 Democrats ousted; a few Republicans ousted}, but they were replaced by Democrats, and then augmented by even more Democrats. That’s how FDR passed the New Deal.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I’ve been rather cross about your tendency to call the new [110th] congress a do-nothing congress …
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I think you’re underestimating the results of this last [2008] election.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:The Republicans have the choice, which I gladly let them have, of doing scuzzy things so they can make the Democrats look bad …
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:We’re obviously having problems getting the longtime Republican allies in our party to understand how things have changed. And we may just sweep out a few incumbents in the primary to teach a lesson.
  • Stephen Daugherty wrote: Stephen Daugherty wrote:I chose to be like this. However, I don’t like doing things in a way that I know is arbitrary. It offends me. My comments about third parties are valid.

Also, there’s the elections of 1929, 1931, and 1933.
Did the voters mostly vote out FOR-SALE, incompetent, and corrupt incumbent politicians?
Probably.
After all, who in years 1929, 1931, and 1933 could list 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, or even 268 (half of 535) incumbent politicians within Congress that are sufficiently not FOR-SALE, incompetent, greedy, arrogant, and corrupt?
And what about the dismal 11% approval ratings for Congress today?
But, unless someone can name at least 268 (at least half), what does that say about Congress, and the voters who repeatedly reward them with 85%-to-90% re-election rates, despite dismal 11% approval ratings for Congress?
And if the new incumbent politicians don’t learn from their predecessors’ ousting, then those incumbents should be ousted too.

  • Start __ End __ Congress _ Re-Election ___ Party Seat-Retention
  • Year ___ Year ___ # ______ Rate ________ Rate
  • 1927 ___ 1929 ___ 070st ___ 83.6% ________ 96.4% (087 incumbents ousted: 22(D), 64(R), 1(FL) )
  • 1929 ___ 1931 ___ 071st ___ 79.7% ________ 92.5% (108 incumbents ousted: 51(D), 44(R), 2(FL), 1(S) )
  • 1931 ___ 1933 ___ 072nd ___ 76.8% ________ 88.5% (123 incumbents ousted: 36(D), 87(R) )
  • 1933 ___ 1935 ___ 073rd ___ 61.2% ________ 78.7% (206 of 531 incumbents ousted: 59(D), 147(R) )
  • … … … … … … … …
  • 1989 ___ 1991 ___ 101 _____ 90.1% ________ 99.6%
  • 1991 ___ 1993 ___ 102 _____ 87.7% ________ 98.3%
  • 1993 ___ 1995 ___ 103 _____ 73.5% ________ 98.1% (142 of 535 incumbents ousted)
  • … … … … … … … …
  • 1999 ___ 2001 ___ 106 _____ 89.2% ________ 99.3%
  • 2001 ___ 2003 ___ 107 _____ 89.2% ________ 98.7%
  • 2003 ___ 2005 ___ 108 _____ 87.9% ________ 98.1%
  • 2005 ___ 2007 ___ 109 _____ 88.6% ________ 98.7%
  • 2007 ___ 2009 ___ 110 _____ 84.9% ________ 93.1% (81 of 535 incumbents ousted)
  • 2009 ___ 2011 ___ 111 _____ 86.7% ________ 93.3% (about 71 of 535 incumbents ousted)

Remember the saying “It’s the economy, stupid”?
The economy is the major barometer for the voters, and many things were very bad in the Great Depression.
And many things are very bad today (again).
And BOTH Republican and Democrat politicians, and the voters who repeatedly reward them with 85%-to-90% re-election rates are culpable.

Partisan loyalists can keep right on blaming the OTHER party if they like, but that will only serve as a distraction that helps things get worse.
The fact is, when enough voters are jobless, bankrupt, homeless (4 million foreclosures this year), and hungry, they may very likely repeat what the majority of unhappy voters did in year 1933, and vote out hundreds of FOR-SALE, incompetent, and corrupt incumbent politicians.
After all, repeatedly rewarding failure and repeatedly rewarding FOR-SALE, incompetent, and corrupt incumbent politicians doesn’t seem to be working, does it?

This appears to pain some partisan loyalists?

At any rate, the majority of voters have the government that they elect, and re-elect, and re-elect, at least, possibly, until repeatedly rewarding failure, repeatedly rewarding the duopoly, and repeatedly rewarding FOR-SALE, incompetent, arrogant, and corrupt incumbent politicians in Do-Nothing Congress with 85%-to-90% re-election rates finally becomes too painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 15, 2010 8:03 PM
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