Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Quite the Two-Step

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  • Rob Stowell,

    I'd say the man at the consulate told you exactly what they told me at the embassy in Wellington, years ago. It's not the whole legal truthy thing. But then, WE don't torture anyone- do we! Actually, I think the law has moved on and most people don't know it.
    The wikipedia entry is interesting. Seems Arnie is still a citizen of Austria.
    One of the things you're supposedly explicitly NOT supposed to do is swear allegiance to another country.(Becoming a Kiwi, you have to swear allegiance to the Queen, "God" bless her). But this State Department link states quite clearly that to lose US citizenship, you have to intend to renounce it- and that there's an assumption you don't intend that in simply becoming a citizen of another country. It's the most clearly I've seen it stated- thanks Rick!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1582 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I'm not sure if your vote being worth next to nothing is any different in Texas to anywhere else. I vote more because I feel obliged to than because I think it matters.

    I do feel that my vote in New Zealand matters much more. We are a more democratic country, with a more representative system, more than two parties, and a tiny population - plus I get two votes! Voting for President in the US is a weird, almost pointless exercise if you're in a 'safe for the other party' state (I voted once under FPP here while living in a National stronghold, and had the same kind of feeling). The only reason I even bother is for statistical reasons, so you can get a better feel for the country than simplistic red state/blue state splits (I'm always spouting on about this, but did you know that Texas voted nearly 40% Democrat in the last presidential election?). Or, as my husband put it in 2004: 'I want to be on record as having voted against that bastard twice.'

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3662 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And how could we forget Ron Paul: Can't quite make up my mind whether this is charmingly nerdy or flat out weird. (Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    I can offer no rational explanation, but there’s something a bit off about Obama.

    Although his message is different, there’s a bit too much of the Nerd Chic (think Key and Rudd) about him.

    Note: I make this observation very much from the armchair.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I wonder how a primary system would work in NZ. If you're a registered Democrat, you can still vote Republican, right? What stops people registering for somebody elses party and voting for the most useless candidate. Like, I could register as a Nat and vote for Bob "Bollox" Clarkson as leader every time.

    Most NZ parties don't even poll their paying members, do they? I think the Greens do?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    Romeny: The candidate who's declared a war on the secular state. It's only religious fascism when Muslims want it, I guess.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    If you're a registered Democrat, you can still vote Republican, right?

    Rich - it depends on the state.

    There are open primaries - anyone can vote in any primary.

    There are closed primaries - you can only vote with your registration.

    There are semi-closed primaries - independent/unaffiliated voters can choose, but republican/democrat registereds cannot.

    There have been blanket primaries - you can vote in both (e.g. in the republican presidential primary, but the democratic senatorial primary).

    Maybe a post over the summer break if lazing in the sun starts to get old? :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Yes, but in all cases, American's can vote against their registration in the final Presidential election, can't they? So a moderate Republican who decided the adopted candidate was too extreme/mad/dumb could vote Democrat.

    And a registration is just that - it isn't like joining a party, being accepted and paying a subscription?

    Or am I wrong?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I do feel that my vote in New Zealand matters much more.

    It's the feeling that counts I guess. Our electorate vote is still FPP so I get the Texas experience by being in Mt Albert Electorate. The proportional thing is certainly more representative nationally, but where a Texan might be a flea on an elephant, we're fleas on a horse. Neither one feels that mighty.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8659 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    At the end of the day it's the party vote that really matters though. Labour could field candidates that were so shitty they lost most of their electorates, but if the party vote held up, then they'd get list MPs to compensate.

    And that's as it should be. We vote for a party we want represented (in government or opposition, depending on how things pan out). One should be able to find a party (amongst the 20 or so that contest elections) to match ones ideas, and if not, anyone can start their own and many do.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Rich - you're right about that. Registration is about what you vote in (e.g. which primary?), not whom you vote for.

    The US Party system is a lot less disciplined than the NZ one - they are both very broad churches. It's true that it's near impossible for, say, a US Green Party candidate to be elected to Congress, so a serious green-inclined person will probably just seek the democratic nomination...

    Of course there's nothing to require a party member in NZ to vote with their party on election day, either.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    back to the dual US citizenship thing .... (since my family is a wonderfull mixture or all of these) - the rules are weird and various:

    - if you take US citizenship you MUST renounce any other citizenships you have - some countries (NZ included) ignore you, sensibly our country imbues us with a non-revokable citizenship at birth

    - US citizens who take other country's citizenships used to re required to give up their US one - until a court case made it to the supremes in the late 70s - now they cant provided you have a reason to keep it ("want to visit family" is a good one) there's a list of evil countries you cant take citizenship of and you may not become part of another govt

    - my kids are dual citizens, they got both citizenships by descent - it's not an issue for anyone - but the NZ govt considers the 2nd class citizens - unlike the rest of us they cant pass theirs on because they were born in the US - now they've been living in NZ for long enough we can get them naturalised - then they'll be citizens twice over

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2181 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    This just in: Huckabee makes Olbermann's Worst Person in the World.

    I shall get with my submitting immediately...

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    One should be able to find a party (amongst the 20 or so that contest elections) to match ones ideas, and if not, anyone can start their own and many do.

    20 is better than 2, but seriously there is no party that really stands for what I believe, and no point making my own party of one. I'm only interested in the issues, not the people purporting to have some shadowy agreement with me on any particular issue, and huge disagreement on many others.

    Naturally, I'd still rather have people closer to my opinions running the shop, however bad a fit it is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8659 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Although I was personally hoping that Al Gore would run, I think that both Hillary and Obama would be good Presidents. It will be interesting to see who the winner picks as their VP.

    The strategic issues facing the Democrats can be picked up at a glance with a quick visit to http://www.electoral-vote.com/

    It was encouraging to see the Democrats make progress in some traditionally red states in the mid-terms - surely obtaining filbuster and veto proof majorities must be long term objectives. As the sea of red suggests, this means connecting with people outside the traditional Democratic bastions, and finding a way to build bridges with people with views like Huckabee. If Huckabee does not get the nomination, immigration looms as the wedge issue of 2008.

    Since Nov 2006 • 616 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Hmm. It appears I'm running for president of the USA, and my name is Dennis Kucinich. Why was I not informed? Surely the liberal media should love this man to pieces.

    What I haven't been able to find: how many skull and bones members this time around? They had it sewn up either way last time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 484 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    surely obtaining filibuster and veto proof majorities must be long term objectives

    Seriously?
    [insert some joke about smoking odd things]

    If the entire US moves to the left, the Senate will never fall to 33 Republicans. The Republicans would just move with the people, and they'd be fighting over a centre that was in a different place.

    Also, party discipline is weak in the US - filibuster and veto proof majorities will happen with a different mix of senators across both parties on just about every issue they arise in.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I don't think there's too many people who don't ultimately derive all of their moral intuitions that way, so "it just feels right/wrong" isn't a vote loser, necessarily. For everyone who feels the same intuitions it's a powerful argument.

    I suspect I could without too much trouble, poke holes in my 'policies' on the whole matter, myself. Let alone someone talented who believes the opposite, who wouldn't have too much trouble either.

    I always find that policies not backed up by philosophies, can easily become contradictions.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I always find that policies not backed up by philosophies, can easily become contradictions.

    Has that ever stopped them?

    I try to get rid of contradiction where I find it, but whenever you step on moral intuitions you're pushing shit uphill to convince people of things. They just make exceptions in their principles and call it 'pragmatic'. It seems to me that our incredible minds don't help us much on this one, they are more likely to snare us into insisting we are right.

    That's not to say that good reasoning doesn't change people's minds. I would say 9 times out of 10 that is because you show them their views are not pragmatic though, rather than the any assault on their core beliefs. It's more likely to be that you just showed how the pre-existing morals are being violated in a way they hadn't really thought through, in some particular case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8659 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Has that ever stopped them?

    No, but I was talking about me, rather than anyone else's messed up world :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It was encouraging to see the Democrats make progress in some traditionally red states in the mid-terms...

    ... Well, still your beating heart WH. As Graeme pointed out, don't make the mistake of thinking the Democrats and Republicans are just the Labour and National parties writ large. You'd be surprised how big a chunk of the Democrats' House majority will be defending marginal and relatively conservative districts that didn't necessarily vote for the party of Teddy Kennedy and Nancy Perlosi, but wanted to punish the party of Ted Haggard and Mark Foley.

    And to be fair, if Romney or Huckabee win their nomination, I suspect more than a few Republican House and Senate candidates will be thinking very carefully about how close their embrace their party's nominee.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    I'm conflicted. Obama is better than Clinton on foreign policy. Clinton, for the most part, is better on domestic stuff.

    I agree on domestic policy - Clinton's policies are more generally developed and she's got far more change of getting thru her sorely needed health sector reforms.

    As for foreign policy I don't there's a lot in it. During the campaign they both of course will look for the slightest opportunity to create some sort of difference but these will be arguments about mere wording. US foreign policy will look the same with either as Pres.

    Where there will be a difference is the learning curve Obama will have to go thru on dealing with the international political community. Clinton has already been there and will know all the potential pitfalls. Her first hand observations her husband's dealings with Bosnia, North Korea, Israel/Palestine, Iran and Saddam will be a huge advantage.

    Obama's a bright guy and will respond to such a challenge well, after a time getting to grips with things. I also doubt that he wouldn't be taking allot of advice from the Clintonites.

    So I can't see any big difference between Obama and Clinton on foreign policy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    Seriously?
    [insert some joke about smoking odd things]

    I don't find that especially funny, Graeme. Do you actually know what you are talking about?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20477656/
    WASHINGTON - The last Democratic president to enjoy a filibuster-proof Senate majority was Jimmy Carter 30 years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filibuster
    The term first came into use in the United States Senate, where Senate rules permit a senator, or a series of senators, to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless a supermajority of three-fifths of the Senate (60 Senators, if all 100 seats are filled) brings debate to a close by invoking cloture.[1]

    Since Nov 2006 • 616 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    No, but I was talking about me, rather than anyone else's messed up world :)

    So was I :-) You're a good example to yourself. If you can't avoid contradiction in your own beliefs (and I can't when it comes to morals), why think anyone else can?

    I see morals now as a bunch of competing principles which each have a weighting, and any particular moral issue will have an extent to which it violates some principle. The product-sum being high means I think it's not OK.

    But that just transfers the burden of thought onto assigning the weights to the principle parts of any issue, and also the basic weights for the principles. How can we do that? If we take a bunch of examples and contrast them to each other, we get our weights, but then we've transferred the burden of thought right back to our moral intuitions on particular instances again. Why bother having gone through all the complicated philosophizing?

    Similarly with any particular instance - we can work out how much it violates, say, the principle of compassion by comparing it to other various instances, but we still have to have lined up all those instances somehow. Since we are trying to work out the principle we can't use the principle to do it. Again we fall back to our feelings.

    These thoughts have plagued me for over a decade now. It would be lovely to discover the perfect principle, or the perfect weighting for a set of principles, but any time I try, there's a good counter-example that just hits me square in the feelings. I can't just say 'bugger my feelings', when they were the source of the principles in the first place.

    OTOH, it makes the world a more interesting place when it can surprise you by giving you feelings on issues you thought you already had answers for.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8659 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I don't find that especially funny, Graeme. Do you actually know what you are talking about?

    I like to think I do - though I do probably know more about the American political system than I do about American politics.

    I am aware of what cloture is; I acknowledge that it's possible (if unlikely) that the Dems might get a filibuster-proof majority. I just think it so incredibly unlikely that they'll get a veto-proof majority (two-thirds - in both the Senate and the House), that it really can't be a long-term aim.

    The long-term aim of the democrats - to the extent that political parties (esp American ones) have long-term aims - must surely be to shift the political centre to the left, and to be in the majority for as much of the intervening time as possible, preferably with a fellow democrat in the White House for much of the time too.

    If the democrats ever look like getting veto-proof majorities, the political centre will shift and they'll find they have less of a majority, but political consensus over some of the issues they've previously been fighting over.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

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