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History Corner, With Dr. Jill Stein


Above: Spooner Woulda Won!

Jeremy Scahill spent some time tossing whiffleballs* to Dr. Jill Stein, MD., and the results are hilarious:

JS: Which part of the Constitution says that we can only have two parties in this country?

J. Stein: Well, exactly —

Let’s stop here for a second. It’s not exactly news that there’s no affirmative cases whatsoever for third party wank voting in the United States. One way you call tell this is that people who defend it will literally argue “it’s not illegal!” as a defense. Oddly, people arguing “vote for the viable candidate closest to your views” never have to say “look, nothing in the United States Code forbids you from doing it!”

Anyway, back to the Comedy Store for tonight’s amateur stand-up:

J. Stein: No. [Laughs] And in fact, you know, when we originated, we had no parties in this country. And the parties that have always been affiliated with our real progress forward have generally been independent third parties, whether you look at the abolition of slavery. So, you know, when people call these independent third parties spoilers, that’s exactly what the abolitionists were called. They were called spoilers for daring to confront a very toxic and dangerous political system that kept us stuck in a very dangerous status quo. So, you know, there’s no doubt we need to open up with this process. We need a political process that creates multi-partisan democracy. That’s really where democracies get their best shot at moving forward and solving our crises.

The abolition of slavery came about because a large brokerage party led by a moderate who wasn’t an abolitionist when he took office won two elections, not as the result of an “independent third party.” Had anti-slavery forces coalesced as an independent party competing with the Whigs they would not have accomplished anything.

But the best part is that her promised list of examples of “real progress” coming from “independent third parties” consists of slavery and…look, Hillary Clinton’s EMAILS! Strange that she wouldn’t point out that we would never had have the New Deal and Great Society had the left not recognized that FDR and LBJ were the More Dangerous Evil and acted to throw the elections to Hoover and Goldwater.

But at least Scahill totally pressed Stein on this ludicrous historical fiction…hahah sorry, I can’t even finish that sentence.

*Speaking of HARD-HITTING INTERVIEWS, in comments keta notes this gem from the Nation‘s fellation of interview with Oliver Stone:

The Nation: In terms of the history of documentaries, can you compare The Putin Interviews to nonfiction films that tackle and upend congealed narratives, such as Michael Moore’s 2004 Fahrenheit 9/11, Errol Morris’ s 1988 The Thin Blue Line and 2003’s The Fog of War, Frederick Wiseman’s 1967 Titicut Follies, Emile de Antonio and Mark Lane’s 1967 Rush to Judgment? These documentaries had countervailing points of view and helped changed public opinion. Can you put The Putin Interviews into that context?

Similarly, I hope everyone will read this blog post in the appropriate context among works of comparable influence and stature, such as Master of the Senate, Battle Cry of Freedom, and Black Reconstruction.

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  • sharculese

    I just… what?

    • tsam

      There’s a fairly common narrative out there that Lincoln, and the Republicans of that era, were a third party. (Rather than Northern Whigs).

      My Bernie4lyf bro on Facebook assures me that Lincoln was a transformative figure because he wasn’t all bout dem parties, see?

      • jmauro

        This is only true because the Whigs completely imploded just before the election and their voters completely re-aligned to either the Republicans or the Democrats.

        You can have a successful third party, but not for very long. A 3-party system is inherently unstable in a first-to-post election system meaning that if a third party starts to make any headway one of the two larger parties will slightly re-align to take it’s voters away or one of the two larger parties just implodes and the new party takes it’s place.

        • tsam

          The bigger issue is that their presentation of Lincoln is completely and utterly ridiculous. It more or less posits that Lincoln was an abolitionist who rode into office on a third party wave because even back then both sides do it, but back then the Democrats really were worse.

          • ExpatJK


            • tsam

              I’ve been informed as of late that Hillary and Robert were total besties. (I’m not lying, some fucking right wing dumbfuck really tried that on me)

              • kateislate

                I have actually heard the same thing, but from a Democratic operative who wasn’t saying it pejoratively – apparently he mentored her when she first joined the Senate. It was raised during the 2008 primary when she was doing a swing through WV.

        • mongolia

          the only other way you can have a “stable” 3-party system in first-past-the-post is if one of the parties is a minority ethnic party in a nation where the main two majority-ethnicity parties have little ability to compete with voters of the minority ethnicity. of course, how much you can call that stable is an open question, but that dynamic can last for a few decades presuming no ethnic cleansing occurs…

          • Lt. Fred

            You can also have a regional party – like a Country Party or the Quebec Is Teh Best! Party

          • ggrzw72

            What country/political party are you referring to?

      • Rob in CT

        Oh dear.

        • tsam

          Yeah. I didn’t even know where to start with that one. Thinking back, a simple wikipedia link–ah never mind. The problem with these guys is that they embrace any history narrative that confirms their biases. For context, that meme (yes, it was a meme) got hot when Sanders started losing.

          • Rob in CT

            The trouble with it is that there’s juuuuust enough there to confirm those biases.

            Like… the Republicans were a new party rising from the ashes of the Whig party.

            So you can I suppose spin some fantasy about the utter collapse of the Democratic Party so that an election cycle or two later you get a resounding victory by the new American Social Democrats (followed by civil war 2, nuclear boogaloo?).

            • so-in-so

              No, no – see, the scales drop from their eyes and the GOP all turn socialist too. Or melt into puddles of goo, or something.

              Work with Jill here…

              • Rob in CT

                I tell ya, the contemporary neo-confederates of the GOP are far, far smarter than their predcessors.

                Had the fire-eaters stayed put and gummed up the works in Congress, would Lincoln & the GOP have accomplished much of anything? Mitch McConnell > [well, there was no Senate Majority Leader in the mid-19th century apparently, but you get the idea]

            • tsam

              The trouble with it is that there’s juuuuust enough there to confirm those biases.

              Yeah? Well, I guess in the same way that early Never-Trumpers were calling him a liberal because he used to waffle on abortion and hung out with the Clintons at least once…?

    • Sly

      Farley wasted his time. Instead of researching and writing a book on all the problems created by an independent aerial warfare branch of the U.S. military, he could have just held up a copy of the Constitution and smugly asked “Tell me, where does the United States Air Force exist in this document? I mean, I see a navy here, and an army here….”

  • yet_another_lawyer

    J. Stein: No. [Laughs] And in fact, you know, when we originated, we had no parties in this country.

    Everything was going perfectly until 1792. Thanks for nothing, Dimmocratic-Rethuglicans and Faildralists.

  • Rob in CT

    The abolition of slavery came about because a large brokerage party led by a moderate who wasn’t an abolitionist when he took office won two elections, not as the result of an “independent third party.” Had anti-slavery forces coalesced as an independent party competing with the Whigs they would not have accomplished anything.

    Just to hammer this home: Free Soil Party, 1848 & 1852.

    The Free Soil candidates won 10% of the popular vote in 1848 but no electoral votes…

    The party ran John P. Hale in the 1852 presidential election, but its share of the popular vote shrank to less than 5%. However two years later, after enormous outrage over the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, the remains of the Free Soil Party helped form the Republican Party.

    • Hogan

      BIRNEY OR BUST! (copyright davenoon)

    • Peterr

      Scott, you may be judging Jill Stein too harshly. A brief tour of wiki’s description of the election of 1860 will put Stein’s thinking in a clearer light. Or as clear a light as anyone could come up with.

      In 1860, the Democrats held the first convention, to be followed later by the GOP. Per wiki, it was not pretty:

      At the Democratic National Convention held in Institute Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1860, 51 Southern Democrats walked out over a platform dispute. . . .
      [Stephen] Douglas, a moderate on the slavery issue who favored “popular sovereignty”, was ahead on the first ballot, but needed 56.5 more votes to secure the nomination. On the 57th ballot, Douglas was still ahead, but 51.5 votes short of nomination. In desperation, the delegates agreed on May 3 to stop voting and adjourn the convention.

      The Democrats convened again at the Front Street Theater in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 18. This time, 110 Southern delegates (led by “Fire-Eaters”) walked out when the convention would not adopt a resolution supporting extending slavery into territories whose voters did not want it. . . . After two ballots, the remaining Democrats nominated the ticket of Stephen A. Douglas from Illinois for president. Benjamin Fitzpatrick from Alabama was nominated for vice president, but he refused the nomination. That nomination ultimately went instead to Herschel Vespasian Johnson from Georgia.


      The Charleston bolters reconvened in Richmond, Virginia on June 11. When the Democrats reconvened in Baltimore, they rejoined (except South Carolina and Florida, who stayed in Richmond).

      When the convention seated two replacement delegations on June 18, they bolted again, now accompanied by nearly all other Southern delegates, as well as erstwhile Convention chair Caleb Cushing, a New Englander and former member of Franklin Pierce’s cabinet. This larger group met immediately in Baltimore’s Institute Hall, with Cushing again presiding. They adopted the pro-slavery platform rejected at Charleston, and nominated Vice President John C. Breckinridge for President, and Senator Joseph Lane from Oregon for Vice President.

      Gosh, what a mess.

      And then there were the Republicans:

      The Republican National Convention met in mid-May 1860, after the Democrats had been forced to adjourn their convention in Charleston. With the Democrats in disarray and a sweep of the Northern states possible, the Republicans felt confident going into their convention in Chicago.

      I’ll bet.

      [A question for the professional historians: is 1860 the first example of “Democrats in Disarray” that became a strong part of the party’s subsequent legacy? But I digress. Back to Chicago.]

      Since it was essential to carry the West, and because Lincoln had a national reputation from his debates and speeches as the most articulate moderate, he won the party’s nomination for president on the third ballot on May 18, 1860. Senator Hannibal Hamlin from Maine was nominated for vice-president, defeating Cassius Clay from Kentucky.

      The party platform promised not to interfere with slavery in the states, but suggested an opposition to slavery in the territories. The platform promised tariffs protecting industry and workers, a Homestead Act granting free farmland in the West to settlers, and the funding of a transcontinental railroad. There was no mention of Mormonism (which had been condemned in the Party’s 1856 platform), the Fugitive Slave Act, personal liberty laws, or the Dred Scott decision. While the Seward forces were disappointed at the nomination of a little-known western upstart, they rallied behind Lincoln. Abolitionists, however, were angry at the selection of a moderate and had little faith in Lincoln.

      So, what we have here is a vindication of Stein’s premise. While the GOP caved on its principles and avoided the issues of the day, it was the bold action of a small group of Democrats fixated on purity and heightening the contradictions that resulted in bringing about the end of slavery, by forcing Lincoln to leave the squishy middle. Without principled leadership from folks like Douglas and Breckinridge, we’d still have slavery around today.

      Or something like that.

      [Now could someone pass me the scotch, please? Trying to get my head around Stein’s logic has given me headache.]

  • junker

    Ain’t no rule that says a dog can’t play football.

    • Roger Ailes

      Stein/Air Bud ’20.

  • Gregor Sansa

    Stein is a dangerous crank, and as culpable as just about anyone but Comey for 2016. Her argument in this specific case is self-serving tripe.

    But this blog post swerves from that strong basis dangerously close to the idea that the US two-party system is unfixable or even a good thing. We managed to reform voting systems in several ways in the Progressive era, and the simplest and best ones stuck. Now voting theory has progressed and we have simple, good, and relatively low-risk reforms available that would end the two party monopoly. Though the two actual parties would probably manage to remain on top for some time, they’d have to work for it. We can and should do this and we shouldn’t get distracted by the temptation to be unqualified in snarking at JS’s idiocy.

    • Hob

      I don’t mind your single-minded focus on voting reform, because you actually bring information to the table. But you do your cause no favors by insulting everyone’s intelligence with this “addressing a specific bad argument that’s popular with an unfortunately large segment of the left = distraction!!! because this blogger is not choosing to write about what I want him to write about” crap. People are able to think about more than one thing per day. And the OP did not “swerve … dangerously close” to anything; Scott’s point was clearly and specifically about “third party wank voting” in the context of our current system.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Come on. This isn’t distraction because he was talking about something else. This is actively misleading:

        there’s no affirmative cases whatsoever for third party wank voting in the United States.

        …is NOT a fair summary of the link, which correctly states:

        There are really no good arguments for voting third party for president in the currently existing American electoral system.

        All I’m asking for is the latter level of accuracy; not for something which focuses on my pet issue, just for something that acknowledges it when appropriate.

        • Hob

          The only reason to think that when Lemieux says “third party wank voting”, he actually means “third-party voting even within some different, better, future electoral system where it would have a different effect” rather than “in the currently existing American electoral system”, is if you have an axe to grind. If you just read this one post by itself and had never heard any related conversation before, maybe it might be ambiguous. In context of Lemieux’s previous writing, and knowing the conversations that have already taken place here, it’s not “misleading” or unclear at all; you’re being ridiculous. (ETA: and when I say “maybe it might be ambiguous”, I don’t mean there is really a chance that a new reader would be “dangerously” “misled” as you’re saying; I mean someone might have to spend five seconds wondering about Scott’s intent before they followed that link and got the point.)

          • Gregor Sansa

            I don’t think he means something silly. Which is why I also don’t think it’s crazy to ask him to be clear about that so those who aren’t as familiar with his ouevre won’t think he means something silly.

            I’m not trying to pick a fight with Scott, just trying to move the bounds of the debate with the rhetorical tools I have. No, I donxt think shutting up would be better.

            • Hob

              Good grief – as if anyone could possibly think you would consider “shutting up.” (And this is also something I strongly dislike about your rhetoric: the implication that if someone has a bone to pick with a particular comment of yours, it means they’re telling you to “shut up.” Oh please. The oppression.)

              Again, you made a very strong claim: that this post “swerves … dangerously close to the idea that the US two-party system is unfixable or even a good thing”. You based that claim entirely on a tendentious reading of the phrase “third party wank voting” – in the context of Jill Stein, which should make it fairly clear that the kind of “wank voting” under consideration is the kind she advocated last year. Scott did not not in any way, shape, or form argue in this post that “the US two-party system is unfixable or even a good thing.” You are indeed “trying to move the bounds of the debate,” but you’re doing it in an absurd way that insults everyone’s intelligence by manufacturing a straw-man debate for you to push against. And when you do that, you make it seem like you’re less interested in talking about voting reform and more interested in making every post about you.

              • Gregor Sansa

                So what should I have done here? Honest question.

            • Hob

              So here’s a thought. If you didn’t really think Scott meant something silly, and you were really just concerned about whether newer readers would get the wrong idea… perhaps it would’ve been a good idea to mention that in your original comment? Because that isn’t how your original comment read at all. It reads very much like a complaint that Scott really is trying to push a bad idea (or at least “swerving dangerously close” to one).

              You didn’t bring up this stuff about “the older post that he linked to had a correct argument, it’s just the wording of the link I object to” until I complained to you. Your first comment in fact just served to further mislead those context-free readers you’re concerned about. It would’ve been extremely easy to just say something like “the older post at that link makes the idea clear; the link wasn’t clear” in the first place.

              That wouldn’t have served to manufacture the kind of “debate” you want to have, but I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Snarky answer: so now we all gotta be all reasonable and shit in blog comments?

                Seroius answer: I don’t see a contradiction between thinking Scott was “swerving dangerously close” to a expressing a bad idea in this post, and thinking he doesn’t actually believe that bad idea. Yes, I could have been less rhetorically confrontational at the top of this thread, and the fact that you think I was being a bit of an asshole is something I’ll take into consideration, but I also know that on lawyers “ketchup is worse than Stalin” guns and money, a bit of rhetorical overreach isn’t always out of bounds.

                Tldr: thanks, I’ll think about it.

                • Hob

                  No, we don’t “all gotta be all reasonable and shit.” But you claim to be all reasonable and shit. You’ve spoken strongly and at length about your desire to have a reasonable, fact-based discussion of certain matters. If you’re now stating that you don’t see why you shouldn’t kick off that discussion by literally trolling – because other people on the blog have sometimes used “rhetorical overreach”, so it’s all in good fun etc. – while simultaneously arguing that it’s a terribly bad thing for bloggers to neglect to re-explain their positions in adequate detail while linking to those positions – then I’ll just stop reading you, oh well.

            • djw

              The explanatory footnote you’re asking for has been conceded to many times before. I don’t think it’s necessary for every single post on 3rd party to contain the same “Of course, under different voting rules…” aside.

              • Gregor Sansa

                Just broke my arm. Imagine what I’d say if I could.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  Next morning now. They operate at 2.

          • kenjob

            The only reason to think that when Gregor says “we shouldn’t get distracted by the temptation to be unqualified in snarking”, he actually means “’addressing a specific bad argument that’s popular with an unfortunately large segment of the left = distraction!!! because this blogger is not choosing to write about what I want him to write about’ crap” rather than “this blog post [has a] strong basis, [to which I will add a followup comment as is my wont]”, is if you have an axe to grind.

        • Peterr

          So you’re telling me that Scott’s comment in this post is not a fair summary of Scott’s comment in the post to which he linked?

          OK . . .

          • Gregor Sansa

            Yes, I am. In other words, he was being more careful before, and is being more lazy now, and I know he can do better. How is that strange?

            • Peterr

              The only difference I see between the two comments is that what he says here is a tad more explicit about what was implied in the post from last September: the only truthful reason to vote third party in the 2016 presidential election is for self-gratification, and that’s not a good reason for picking someone on whom to bestow your presidential vote.

              Although to be scrupulously fair, he is only a tad more explicit today.

              After all, last September’s post did use phrases like “massive dishonesty, massive stupidity, massive ignorance, or some cocktail of the three”.

              • Gregor Sansa

                The difference, for me, is that last September he was clear that this situation had to do with the specifics of the US electoral system, but now he didn’t see that as worth mentioning. As I said above, I want to push for such a mention being de rigeur. If you and Hob are right I’m doing it wrong, and I’d like to fix that.

                • Peterr

                  Last September, he was writing more about the system and the choices that lay just a few weeks ahead. Today he is writing much more directly about the person whose candidacy is defined by self-gratification, and less so about the system. These are related, but not identical topics.

    • ExpatJK

      I agree that we should work for voting reform, but in the interim to vote against the GOP by voting for the Dem candidate when the opportunities present themselves. I will say this for the GOP, they always pull the lever regardless while the Dems…not so much. So I think that both “we need to fix the voting system” and “while we’re working to fix it, vote for the Dems instead of a 3rd party” is probably the message to try for.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Totally agreed.

    • Hob

      p.s. While I don’t think it’d be worthwhile to point and laugh at every single thing Stein says throughout the day (not that this blog comes anywhere near close to doing that), I do think it’s worth pointing out that Jeremy Scahill, who despite some bizarre blind spots is an actual journalist, is disgracing himself with this kind of thing.

      • Origami Isopod

        The company we keep very much influences our thinking. It’s a pity in the case of someone like Scahill.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      The correlation between presidential vote and congressional vote and state legislative vote is higher than ever.

      The Electoral College requires an absolute majority, which pushes towards a two-party system at the presidential level. It’s not constitutionally hard-wired for lower offices, but given the correlation above…

      Basically, what is the likelihood that trying to promote multi-party systems will work out when the most important office in the land is pushing everyone to pick one of two sides? That seems to increase the likelihood that many of the people running on those third-parties are gadflies like Stein who prefer sniping at the Democrats to working with people to pass progressive legislation (which may require compromise).

      Another worry is that third parties being more viable at lower levels would encourage people to think that voting Jill Stein for president is not an incredibly stupid thing to do. And it would remain so even if you reformed state legislative elections or senate elections, etc. because, as mentioned, the Electoral College is in the Constitution. And, assuming you want to circumvent the Electoral College (like through the NPVIC), you can’t go to a different form of balloting for president unless you can get all the states on board.

      It’s worth thinking about that, at any rate. Having different aspects of the system push towards different voting strategies is potentially problematic.

      That said, for Democratic primaries we certainly can afford to experiment with different voting methods. It might even provide a competitive advantage over Republicans.

      • Gregor Sansa

        “And, assuming you want to circumvent the Electoral College (like through the NPVIC), you can’t go to a different form of balloting for president unless you can get all the states on board.”

        Not necessarily true. I believe that the NPVIC as currently written would allow some states to use approval or even certain other methods such as 3-2-1 which are reducible ro an approval tally. It would go to court of course but the argument is pretty strong. The only people effectively disenfranchised would be… Steiny voters in plurality states, who are self-disebfranchised already.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          I’m not sure how that would work. You would simply count votes from plurality vote states as approval votes where they only voted for one candidate? While you can count votes that way, I can’t imagine the public would like to combine vote counts that way. I suppose it could work alright. The problem is that it doesn’t sound harmful while the Democrats and Republicans dominate since the main effect would be that they don’t gain the benefit of approval from some of the more rational current third-party voters (which aren’t a large bloc)… but the goal is for more parties to be viable, no? In an election with multiple viable parties, the lack of uniformity could cause a candidate to win due to the distribution of their support among states that use approval vs those that don’t.

          One issue I have wondered about though, is how many candidates is too many, even under approval voting. People have limited attention, and considering 10 candidates is probably too many. It also almost always turns debates into a parade of soundbites, whereas a one-on-one debate can be more substantive. Maybe 4 or 5 candidates is doable though…

          Either way I still have concerns about whether it’s a good idea to try to have a multi-party system for some offices while the most important office (that dominates media attention and polarizes the populace around it) can only be won by one of the two parties. The NPVIC seems unlikely to get off the ground just yet, whereas state-level reforms are doable. But I’m not sure how desirable such reforms are while the presidential system continues as it is.

          If we had the NPVIC with approval voting (or some other system which is better than FPTP or IRV) being adopted nationwide (or nearly so) first, then I’d have fewer concerns.

    • tsam

      But this blog post swerves from that strong basis dangerously close to the idea that the US two-party system is unfixable or even a good thing.

      I don’t think it does. Not speaking for Scott, but as a voter, I’d be perfectly fine with a third party that put all the work into becoming a party–like say, developing a coherent platform (based in reality in the short term, and lofty goals being long term strategic aims–like a national health plan, for instance).

      The problem is that people like Stein and Nader come along, exploit voter frustration, fire up politically unaware or foolish people, and do everything they can to sabotage the actual candidates. If Stein hadn’t spent a bunch of time portraying Hillary Clinton as being equal to or even worse than Donald Trump, then one could give a thought to taking her seriously. But since she seemed to hate Clinton even more than Trump, then why bother giving her anything other than ridicule? That’s all she’s EARNED from voters.

      • so-in-so

        She not only out and out SAID Clinton was worse (because Congress would never help Dump, seriously), staying in the race past the point it was obvious she had no hope (ooooh, maybe we can get to 5% and get matching funds next time, a LOFTY goal!). The Communist Party USA is pretty useless, but they said openly “vote Clinton, because Drumpf is too awful to take a chance”. When CPUSA has it’s shit together better than you…

        • tsam

          I didn’t even know the Communist Party still had any kind of an organization. But yeah, nobody qualified to talk about politics would ever think that Trump is better than Hillary Clinton–even factoring Congress into the mix doesn’t change that.

          • so-in-so

            Yes, they do. They have a web site. Heck, recall that there were 22 candidates for President in Colorado. All but two with essentially the same chance to win (0).

  • ForkyMcSpoon

    So now “lefties” are arguing that the Constitution is limited to only what is explicitly stated? It never says “two parties” so therefore the system set up can’t be one that pushes towards only two parties in many ways?

    We could discuss all the ways that the Constitution pushes towards a two-party system (starting with the Electoral College requiring an absolute majority), but these idiots aren’t interested…

    • Not to mention the winner-take-all presidency. Parliamentary systems commonly have more than two parties because a minority party has a chance to participate in a coalition.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Right. People like Jill Stein would still hate multi-party systems like that because they’re against the idea of being in a coalition.

        And most people in proportional-representation parliamentary democracies don’t vote for parties that have no intention of ever being in government.

        Imagine (for some reason only a three-party system) the Democrats have 40%, the Jill Stein-led Greens have 15% and the GOP have 45%… I suspect we end up with no government because Stein refuses to enter a coalition with the Democrats.

        Of course, in reality Jill Stein in the Netherlands is a member of a crank party, not one that would have much chance of being large enough to put a left-wing coalition over the top.

        • humanoid.panda

          Then again in places where greens have actual power, they are not led by people like Stein…

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            (That’s what I meant by saying that the Dutch Jill Stein would be a member of a crank party, not the Greens.)

            Russian Jill Stein is perhaps… a Putin supporter? Definitely not a Green though.

            • PohranicniStraze

              >Russian Jill Stein is perhaps… a Putin supporter?

              So, pretty much the same as the American one?

    • tsam

      When it suits their narrative, of course. Why not? It resonates with the Left/Libertarian theme.

  • D.N. Nation

    Stein keeps rolling with “a political situation that led to the Civil War helped the rise of the Republican Party; I am not a nut for thinking we should repeat that situation” as an argument in her favor for God knows why.

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Even with Dems In Disarray® and Third Parties On The March®, my home metro area of 5,700,000 people that’s only 50.7% white has exactly one non-libertarian third party candidate/elected official of any vague relevance, and 1) that’s vague relevance at best; it’s a city council position in a newly created town; and 2) he’s not even Green (he’s DemSoc). If Stein could get off her duff, stop with the HAWT TAEKS, and stop shopping for beautiful fur coats paid for by RT moolah, maybe she and her inner circle of nincompoops could solve their complete pants-crapping of a supposedly golden opportunity. But it was never about seizing any sort of opportunity, was it. Jill’s coats don’t pay for themselves.

    You know, there was a recent march down here and we couldn’t get one iota of local Green participation. Why? Because the contact info on their website was so poorly laid out, their organizational structure was so mangled and inefficient, they were so uncommitted to anything other than JILL IS GREAT, that they couldn’t even be assed to put up a table with some flyers. Even some Antifa oddballs were more organized.

  • Dr. Waffle

    Scahill, Greenwald, Taibbi, Henwood, et al.: good-to-great when they stay within their respective wheelhouses, absolute dog shit when they stray into electoral politics.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      And Greenwald’s work within his wheelhouse has been going to seed…

      Also, Reality’s leak seems to have been motivated by SIWOTI, so that lowers their replacement value quite a bit.

      • tsam

        What’s SIWOTI? I feel like I should know this, but…

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Somebody Is Wrong On The Internet, courtesy of xkcd.

          • tsam

            Ohhhh Ok. There’s a commenter here called SIWOTI, so I was wondering what big story I missed out on

            • econoclast

              You don’t think it’s a big story when somebody is wrong on the Internet?

  • Predisent Putinfluffer

    That pictufe gives me a great idea for my next Cabinet meeting.

  • SatanicPanic

    Stein and a lot of the hard left’s views on how government works remind me of my views on filling out paperwork when I was in my 20s- it’s dumb and shouldn’t apply to me, so I won’t bother trying to figure it out.

  • N__B

    That’s a pretty oldey-timey photo of Lord Buckethead.

    • rea

      Lincoln sure hung out in some disreputable company.—That’s Pinkerton and McClernand. Lord Buckethead would be an improvement.

  • jimpharo

    I listened to a chunk, which was the longest I’d ever heard Dr. Stein speak. For the life of me I don’t see what others like about her. I’ll deliver my harshest criticism: she was boring. She seemed not to know anything, had a lot of strong opinions much like a friend of mine who thinks he knows everything (and doesn’t), and wasn’t much of an ‘on-air’ presence.

    I had always read about Dr. Stein, and much of the commentary was much like that above: arguing about her significance, arguing about a proposal or something, but at no point any reflection (or argument) as to the kind of person she is. And now I know why: she’s not very interesting.

    Glad I can return to ignoring her without concern that I might be missing something….

    • mongolia

      the thing to remember is that voting 3rd party isn’t about ideology, it’s about “fuck the system,” so knowing about the candidates actually hurts the cause. that’s the reason so many voters were willing to switch easily between stein/johnson/sanders*, despite the differences in ideology/competence/message. remember, the biggest blunders stein and johnson made during the campaign was actually talking – those cnn townhalls each did were disastrous, and after stein completely sunk herself there, johnson had to make sure to sink himself with “what is aleppo.” it’s classic purity preening – don’t want to debase yourself to vote dem, so you’ll vote for whatever other asshole is out there for (insert brilliant reason here).

      * – yes, i know bernie caucuses with and is ideology affiliated with dems, but he is an I and constantly trashes dems, and was running as someone who hoped to take over the party into the image of bernie-ism, which isn’t too dissimilar to what 3rd parties try to do nationally. it’s just that he isn’t too stupid to tell his voters to vote 3rd party and help elect a republican as president.

      • Rob in CT

        the thing to remember is that voting 3rd party isn’t about ideology, it’s about “fuck the system,”

        As a former 3rd party voter (embarrassing), yup. Voted Libertarian one time. Voted Green the next. Then I got my shit together. It took until my late 20s.

        • mongolia

          im assuming this:

          As a former 3rd party voter (embarrassing), yup. Voted Libertarian one time. Voted Green the next. Then I got my shit together. It took until my late 20s.

          was meant as a response to my quote. and, while you personal story is anecdotal, it mimics my experience extremely well as someone in my early 30’s – most of my immediate age cohort were going to vote whoever the dem was, with most either voting bernie or not voting in the primary. those in the 20-25 range were pains in the ass to convince to vote hillary, with nonsensical arguments pushed about how they want to “punish” dems for not passing single payer healthcare and not immediately withdrawing from iraq and afghanistan. now, it didn’t make much of a difference (in CA, and don’t really know many people in red america), but i think the issue here is both that people in their adolescence tend to be much more willing to burn down the system, but mostly don’t realize how awful shit gets in a republican admin, and that for all its faults competent democratic technocracy from washington can generally improve their lives slightly.

          • Rob in CT

            Yes, I messed up my block quoting.

            The first Presidential election I could vote in was 1996. So yeah, “not aware of how bad things can be under Republicans” (also, Bush the Elder was the prior GOP President), coupled with “raised by Republicans” coupled with a youthful willingness to break shit…

            By 2002, our Rob was learning. Then I voted for Kerry. Then I registered Dem in ’06 (proximate cause was to fire Lieberman, but also because I realized I was a Dem) and now I’m a yellow dog Dem. GOP delenda est.

          • Hob

            don’t realize how awful shit gets in a republican admin, and that for all its faults competent democratic technocracy from washington can generally improve their lives slightly

            Unfortunately what I’m hearing from younger friends is that they do realize this is true – at least abstractly, if not from experience – but they think it’s still somehow a distraction or an evasion to mention it. Like, if Democrats were serious about wanting to do any good in the world, they would simply shut up about how Republican policies are harmful, and stop offering to “improve [our] lives slightly”, and instead engage in self-criticism sessions all day until the revolution comes.

            This is not a totally alien way of thinking to me – I was very much like Rob at that age. But I have no idea what anyone could’ve said to me then, and I have no idea what to say to them now. Literally every single thing I can think of is very easily turned around to become just more proof that I’m in loooove with the status quo and so why don’t I just go marry it.

    • D.N. Nation

      Stein’s one big media breakout in 2016 – aide from hangin’ with Flynn and Putin at the RT “We’re Great” banquet – was a Green-only town hall hosted on CNN. She bombed it for the reasons you stated above. For someone with a preposterous opinion of herself, she’s still utterly baffled when it comes to making a plainspoken case for you and your politics.

      edit: mongolia beat me to it. Even the audience that could’ve been predisposed to like Stein seemed like they were watching a car crash.

  • Justin Runia

    Where’s the Green Party candidate in GA-6? Where’s the Green Party candidate for VA governor? I’m all for third parties, but lacking a formal way to wrangle a caucus in the Legislature means I need to see you holding down some seats somewhere before I indulge in your fantasy government, and I don’t see the Greens even putting up the pretense at this point.

    What a grift.

    • Rob in CT

      I’m glad there are no Green party candidates in those elections, as they’d just hurt the Dems. But yeah.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Actually, the jungle primary in GA-06 was the perfect opportunity to prove themselves.

        As long as a Democrat still qualified for the runoff, the Green wouldn’t be consequential. In this particular election, Ossoff had enough unified support that he likely would’ve made it to the runoff either way. In other instances, however, it could result in a GOP-GOP runoff, which is bad.

        Of course, if the Green made it to the runoff, they would most likely lose. Either to the Republican in a landslide, or to the Democrat by a less predictable margin (depends on how many Republicans are willing to vote for a disgusting Democrat in order to stop a loony lefty Green).

    • NonyNony

      Far more importantly, where is the Green representation in the California state legislature? There should be at least one in a state the size of California – hell there should be several. California should be the kind of bastion state where a Green party should be able to make headway.

      The fact that there are zero Greens in friendly state legislatures and few even bother to run for seats tells you pretty much what you need to know about the effectiveness of the Green party in this country, and exactly how seriously it should be taken.

      • mongolia

        Far more importantly, where is the Green representation in the California state legislature? There should be at least one in a state the size of California – hell there should be several. California should be the kind of bastion state where a Green party should be able to make headway.

        greens have no chance at state legislature in ca – there’s 80 in the lower, and 40 in the upper house here, meaning about 1 assemblyperson per 500k person district, and 1 senator per 1M person district, mean each US Rep from CA has less constituents than each state senator.

        obviously, greens could do some local stuff, but because of the way that CA has moved faaar to the left in terms of national politics, and with the way that the top-2 jungle primary system complicates the primaries, green-esque candidates are best off trying to play inside politics in the dem party to win those primaries and then be the left candidate in the general election races

    • EliHawk

      Well, the Green Party doesn’t have a ballot line in Georgia: It’s just Dems, Republicans and Libertarians. For years Georgia had super high ballot access requirements for third parties. The Greens sued last year and had them sharply reduced…then still couldn’t get enough signatures to get on the ballot anyway.

      For the purpose of GA-06, jungle primary meant they just needed to get enough signatures to get someone on the ballot, BUT. THEY. DIDN’T. EVEN. TRY.

  • nemdam

    I literally did a spit take when I saw that Jeremy Scahill was interviewing Jill Stein about history.

    I like how Jill Stein forgets that the Republican party could only win after it became one of the two major parties and not as a third party. She also omits that the Whig party had already been abolished by the time the Republicans won an election. And there’s the fact that in 1856 when both the Republicans and the remnants of the Whig party both ran candidates, they split the vote and gave the election to the Democrats. I am shocked, SHOCKED that Jill Stein either doesn’t know or is deceiving her audience about the history of third parties.

    Also, has Jeremy Scahill always been this bad like Greenwald? I recall him doing some good reporting on national security issues but my god is he awful now.

    • Lost Left Coaster

      Yeah I thought Scahill was good but I guess he has become another hack now — easier to get paid to bloviate than to continue doing the difficult reporting he made his name on.

    • Hob

      As others have said, Scahill gets worse whenever he tries to talk about electoral politics. His most solid work was as a war reporter… although he wasn’t immune to stupid pseudo-lefty received-idea-mongering even then: while covering the Balkan wars he basically talked about Milosevic the way our current crop of assholes are talking about Putin, i.e. “Eh maybe he’s a bad guy, who’s to say, what’s really important is that the US is against him and that’s what should be the real story, because the US has only corrupt motives and Bill Clinton is the real fascist here.”

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      Other essential context left out: The Democrats were 20-30 years old in the 1850s. The Whigs only existed as a party for 20 years, after having succeeded the National Republicans who were only around about a decade. The Democratic-Republicans and Federalists had only existed 35-36 years. (There was also the Anti-Masonic Party, which sounds pretty damn stupid.)

      The entire party system had been in flux. Major parties had been coming and going. It’s not totally ridiculous to see starting a new party as a solution in that context.

      Currently the Democrats have been around ~190 years and the Republicans ~160 years. There’s no evidence that either party is on the brink of collapse (Democrats control 45% of Congress and won the presidential popular vote).

  • Moondog von Superman

    Oliver Stone on Colbert last night was … interesting.


    Is this where the entire “left” is headed?

    • No, not by a long shot.

    • Emily68

      Laughing at Stone? Yes
      Defending Putin? No

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        Well “left” is in quotes.

        • Moondog von Superman

          Yeah, to try to clarify, I guess I’m wondering if all of these assholes are really committed to this assholery. Kind of a dumb question. Who cares, right? (Do we need to care????)

  • People in this country are free to vote however they want, although the Republicans are making progress in fixing that. The case for third parties is that that they can provide some leverage to those who feel disenfranchised by the two major parties. The downside is that it makes people outsiders who might be better served fighting from within the party. My feeling is that we are a two party system, and major changes only happen within those parties. So better to be inside with a chance to be at the table than outside and on it. Bernie ran a surprisingly strong insurgent campaign within the Democratic party and parlayed that into changes in the Democratic platform. What did Jill Stein accomplish, accept contributing to the election of Donald Trump?

  • calling all toasters

    Whiffleballs can be extremely hard to hit. When thrown properly they curve like a mofo.

  • Ronan

    Have you read Rapoport and Stones ‘Three’s a Crowd The Dynamic of Third Parties?’


    I havent, though im wondering what you make of (what I take to be) their argument that third parties have a significant influence on major parties when they absorb the third parties constituencies? Is there an argument for third party influence in this respect? Obviously not where it costs one of the major parties the election, but that it changes policy preferences in the long term by making specific third party policies more salient when the mainstream party absorbs the third party’s base?

    • I think we have a pretty good example with Bernie Sanders of how insurgent campaigns can work within a party to change policy. How would a third party top that?

      • Ronan

        I don’t know personally. Really just curious about whether anyones read the book/if the argument looks plausible. Though you might be right that Bernie’s campaign makes the argument redundant.

      • efgoldman

        we have a pretty good example with Bernie Sanders of how insurgent campaigns can work within a party to change policy.

        Except… they need candidates, which they don’t have, to win a race or two at some level, which they haven’t. Ditto with the Greens. Both are vanity parties for their own grifting and advancement. They don’t give a shit about governing – not even someone who’s been in senate and congress for more than 25 years,

        • As long as things keep moving leftward, that’s good enough for me.

    • Hogan

      I’ve heard elsewhere that single-issue third parties can have that effect: they give their issue salience in a major party and then disappear once it’s been adopted (“they sting and they die”). If you think of the Reform Party as single-issue (the federal budget deficit), it pretty much worked that way, very briefly. Greens and Libertarians have larger ambitions, though.

      • Ronan

        That makes sense(and of course youre not really guaranteed positive policy changes by absorbing a collection of single issue fanatics)

        • Hogan

          Oh hell no. See, e.g., Prohibition Party.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    I blame Harvard Medical School. Take the delusion that makes doctors notoriously easy marks for bad investments*, then multiply by the Universal Law of Harvard (if it’s from Harvard, it must be leading). Zoiks.

    * (one of our neighbors is a financial planner, and when he found out two doctors were moving in, I swear his eyes nearly exited their sockets).

  • Harkov311

    It never ceases to amuse me how many people are just completely fascinated with the idea of a thord party, utterly ignoring that it is vastly easier to just take over one of the already-existing major parties. These people do realize that if the Greens were ever to come to power, they’d have to actually win majorities of the vote. Which would presumably mean making terrible, horrible compromises with those gross, smelly moderates. Assuming they could bring themselves to do these things, they’d just be the Democrats with a different name. So why bother?

    And I’m getting really tired of them trotting out the Republicans as a one-time third party. This was never true in any honest sense. The Republicans were basically just the Whigs plus antislavery and homestead farms. There’s a reason so many ex-Whigs (Lincoln, William Seward, Edward Bates, Thurlow Weed, Horace Greeley, William Dayton) were prominent in the party.

    • Hogan

      The Republicans were basically just the Whigs plus antislavery and homestead farms.

      And Know-Nothings.

    • These people do realize that if the Greens were ever to come to power, they’d have to actually win majorities of the vote. Which would presumably mean making terrible, horrible compromises with those gross, smelly moderates.

      Not if everyone just bowed to their obvious awesomeness.

  • Spider-Dan

    I always find it amusing that when people cite the Republicans as an example of how a third party can Rise Up and take over American electoral politics, it always seems to escape notice that the one instance of a third party advancing to major-party status and successfully capturing the Presidency… was the direct catalyst of a civil war.

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