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May 07, 2008


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Jussi Jalonen

Just to clarify a few things, because at the moment, I'm both confused and curious: do you actually have a right to vote in the United States, did you actually vote in the 2000 New York Senate elections, and when did you obtain the American citizenship?


J. J.

The New York City Math Teacher

What the hell? How can you ask these questions, Jussi?

Whether or not Claudia is a US citizen, she has a right to vocally support faction, candidate, party, program, whatever. Is explicit appropriate franchise the only valid permit for public advocacy?

Further, the American ballot is secret. Prying into vote preference is Not Done.


As the wife and the mother of (four) US citizens, I think I don't only have the right but the obligation to care about the next presidential election - and about US politics in general. As should, I think, pretty much everybody. It's simply healthy self interest.

As a resident of the US, I also have the right to donate to a campaign. You can guess which campaign I donate(d) for.


Hm, I also see she pledged to fight on. There goes the respect. Silliness, is what I call this.

Will Baird

"Hm, I also see she pledged to fight on."

With her personal money no less.

Jussi Jalonen

Dave, didn't you actually read my message?

As I said, I was curious and also a bit confused. That should pretty much explain why I asked the said questions.

Those are both perfectly valid reasons, by the way; when a person is already making political statements that openly, expressing further curiosity on them is, I think, by no means inappropriate. So is asking for clarification, in order to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. That should explain also _how_ I can ask these questions.

Also, I didn't "pry into her voting preference". I merely asked if Claudia had actually voted in the 2000 Senate elections; I did not (and obviously would not) ask whom she had voted for.

Claudia's specific mention of having supported Hillary Clinton back in 2000 and withdrawing her support later on gave an impression that she had actually voted in the said elections. So, that's why I asked.

Incidentally, the ballot happens to be secret also in the country that I live in. Directly asking for voting preferences is not done in this country, either; however, asking whether somebody has voted in past elections _in general_ is not considered offensive at all.

(By the way, since I also have a charming habit of reading between the lines, your statement of how the "_American_ ballot is secret" has been duly noted. Ha-ha.)


Claudia; thank you for the answer. Of course it's natural and quite reasonable to express interest and even get involved in the political life of the United States when you're married to an American. I suspected as much.

However, keep in mind that you mentioned your support for Hillary Clinton already in 2000, which was a year before your marriage in October 2001. So, you can perhaps understand why I was just a bit confused, no? Again, purely out of curiosity, were you living in New York at the time, perhaps?

Also, your first-person identification with the Democratic Party seemed quite strong, which contributed to the impression that you had actually become a citizen. I didn't know that you had a resident status, given that you both have lived outside the United States for most of these years; then again, I'm not familiar with the residency qualifications under the United States law.

So, thanks for clearing up my confusion.

But, as for your general comment on how "pretty much everybody" should care about the next American presidential elections because it's "healthy self-interest"...

... we all have our personal opinions. As far as I'm considered, the Americans are adults, and can work out their politics alone. Also, the American hegemony is a thing of the past, and these may already be the twilight years of the United States; frankly, I don't really see why I should be personally concerned by the U.S. politics any more than by the politics of any other foreign country. They're not our neighbours; nor are they EU members; and their general political significance is waning.

This isn't intended as a criticism of your opinions. As I said, it would be natural for a person who has a direct contact with the United States to feel otherwise. Also, I can also understand why, for example, 28 million Iraqis would be very much concerned by the election results.

On the realm of "self-interest", there are also other considerations. I would not be particularly fond of the idea of the United States intervening in the political life of the country that I live in (which they thankfully haven't done since the 1970s, when the CIA was still channeling money to the Social Democrats); consequently, I'm willing to extend the same reciprocal courtesy to the United States.

On the other hand, I freely admit that I'm not necessarily always consistent. For example, some people may remember that four years ago, I expressed my sympathy for general Ivan Teterin in the presidential elections of the Republic of Mari El. Eventually, general Teterin had to drop his candidacy after suffering permanent injuries in a mysterious vehicular accident.

N.B., that was something that happened in a directly neighbouring and a very influential country, whose power and significance is in the ascendancy. Same goes for yesterday's change-over. But as said, different people have different geographic priorities.


J. J.

Noel Maurer

Jussi, when people react to your tone or statements, they are correct by definition. You come across as you come across.

You came across as hostile. You've come across as hostile to me. I don't know why you've chosen to write in a manner that doesn't reflect your feelings, but it's something that I would very much like you to consider. The reason, simply, is that it is unpleasant to have to continually take deep breaths in order to converse with somebody who possesses interesting insights, knowledge, and opinions.

Please consider that.

Jussi Jalonen

Noel, I really don't follow you.

Again, I stated my feelings quite plain and honest right at the beginning of the post. I made it clear that I was confused and also curious. Read it again. What was missing?

Frankly, I don't know Claudia all that well; so in order to make things clear, I decided to ask, and I asked straight up. That's what I do. Her answer was equally straight, and clarified things quite nicely.

If you and Dave detected a "hostile tone", frankly, that would probably reflect your own expectations from me. Well, then, I can't help that.

What's important is whether Claudia felt offended. Judging by her response, I have a feeling that she didn't, and I also suspect that she's quite accustomed to people asking things from her directly.

However, _if_ she was offended by my question or regarded it as too inquisitive or inappropriate - which I doubt, given that she had already spoken of her own political inclinations quite openly and opened them up for further inquiry - well, in that case, I apologize from her.

Other than that, it's perhaps best to move back to the topic. As you may guess, I was not particularly thrilled when Obama stated that he wishes to see Finland join the NATO in the future. Since this was a minor foreign policy issue, he had the right to state it during his campaign, of course; but then again, I also have the right to feel irritated by his statement.


J. J.

The New York City Math Teacher


For me, if a rhetorical response to a statement of advocacy questions the status of the advocate, not the statements of the advocate, I perceive interlocutory hostility and resorts to fallacies of authority.

I understand your argument that the internal politics of a country are of primary concern only to the citizens of that country. That may be, but I reserve for myself the right to express any opinion I care to express on any political matter. I understand that the statement can be interpreted as overbearing and intrusive, but I am allowed to have an opinion, and to express it.

For instance, I have strong feelings about Germanophone political development. My sympathies are with Social Democratic parties generally, and against Christian Social parties generally. I have these feelings because I know the institutional history of the right vs. the SPD left in the Germanophone countries.

In 1999, I was very happy when the Reds took the Bundestag, and not the Blacks. I was very unhappy when Schussel cut his deal with Jorg Haider early the next year. I expressed my dismay. Plenty of people challenged my opinions about the isomorphisms of pre- and post- [YOU KNOW WHAT] right wing politics. No-one disputed my comments by inquiring after my status as an Austrian or German elector.

Point of personal privilege: I am not a registered member of any political party, and I will never be for philosophical and practical reasons. I did not vote in the March 4 New York primary. I have expressed my opinions regarding the present electoral process in unarchived fora, and will continue to do so forcefully.

Noel Maurer

Jussi, you /can/ help that. You do this a lot --- somebody is slightly aggravated with you, and you throw your hands up.

That's fine, as long as others want to talk to you more than you want to talk to them.

But generally communication is a two-way street. When you aggravate others unintentionally, you try to figure out why and stop it.

You can contact me off-line, assuming, of course, that you could care less about continuing fruitful communication.

Will Baird


First off, I hope you know that I hold you in very high respect and enjoy interacting with you. However, this time, like Noel and Dave, I definitely detected a hostile tone. Just voicing my opinion.

That said...

"As far as I'm considered, the Americans are adults, and can work out their politics alone."

Thank you.

"Also, the American hegemony is a thing of the past, and these may already be the twilight years of the United States..."

Foolish mortal. We just have some indigestion right now. Once its past we'll be back and better than ever. Actually, if what I am hearing is brewing in the Bay Area, then the Boom will be arriving in about two years. This one is going to be as life altering as the Dotcom/internet boom.

Assuming next ($POTUS+$NITWIT_CONGRESS) doesn't strangle it in the womb: note this strangling can be done by either party.

Nich Hills

G'day Jussi,

Love your words, love your sentiments.

Just a couple of things.

It is, of course, possible for a foreigner to take an interest in a country's politics nad leadership. As you know, I used to be a huge Tarja Halonen supporter. These days, not so much.

[And I mean supporter like I'm a Brisbane Lions supporter. Giving every assistance short of actual help.]

As you note, the American elections are primarily a matter for American voters. And whatever you and I might think about the myth of the enduring empire I'm sure most US voters see the Union as strong as ever - indeed some may think her best years are still ahead of her.

So why should we foreigners care about the electoral developments in the USA? Simply put we should care about the future trajectory of any nation armed with WMDs. We may not care about an Upper Volta. We care about an Upper Volta with rockets.

David TNYCMT has probably put it better than I in his latest post. But as a pedant I must correct his earlier post when he wrote, "The American ballot is secret." He means, of course: "The Australian ballot is secret. America uses the Australian ballot." Credit where credit's due.



Jussi Jalonen

Dave: I didn't even know what the "status of the advocate" (i.e. the status of Claudia) was. So, I thought it might be a good idea to ask.

As for the example that you gave, the reason why none of your colleagues inquired of your status as a possible Austrian or German citizen was probably because they were familiar with you and your background already. Good for them.

Again, I don't know Claudia. I know that she's from Germany and that she's married to Douglas, but that doesn't tell me anything of her exact citizenship status. Based on my own experiences as an observer of mixed marriages in this country, the odds would be 50-50 that the wife has the same citizenship as the husband.

Her direct first-person identification gave me the impression of her holding an American citizenship after marriage or perhaps even before it, so I thought it might be best to clear up my confusion.

For that matter, I did not even know that it was legal for resident non-citizens to donate to electoral campaigns in the United States. This contributed to the impression.

However, thinking back a little, there probably was a mention of Claudia having a German citizenship in one of those posts that Douglas wrote of U.S. embassies. Perhaps I should have remembered that one.

As for the argument that "the internal politics of a country are of primary concern only to the citizens of that country"... I made no such argument.

If you actually read the post, you'll note that I stated that I find it perfectly natural and understandable for resident non-citizens to express interest and get involved in the politics of the country that they are living in. In the country that I live in, resident non-citizens also have a right to vote and stand as candidates in the municipal elections.

The interest is equally natural to people who have connections with the country through family relations, to the citizens of the neighbouring states or, as I also said, to those people who live in regions under military occupation by the said country.


Noel: correct observation. Throwing one's hands up is pretty much the only thing to do when one finds himself in a situation where he's assigned views and sentiments that he doesn't have. Why bite on granite?

True enough, communication is a two-way street. Occasionally it may also be an intersection, but I don't think this is one of those situations. You may note that at the moment, I was communicating with Claudia. So, what's relevant to me is whether she felt aggravated by it.

As already said, the interpretation that you made probably reflects the impression that you have personally developed of me. I fail to see what more there is to do. What you see is what you get.

(... and given the character of some other former posters from SHWI who have appeared here and with whom you've managed to get along without misunderstandings, I somehow doubt that I'm on the far end of the curve.)

Granted, I send mixed signals every now and then, sometimes on purpose. But this was no such occasion. I asked a question because I felt that getting more information was the right thing to do. And again, I stated the reasons for my inquiry right there in the beginning of the post.

Giving "take it or leave it"-options to people is generally not the best possible idea, by the way. If there is some kind of a discursive hazard involved, I may perhaps find it best to refrain from public comments out of my own volition; and if any of the people who maintain this private forum, you included, also express such a wish, I'll definitely do so; but that would have nothing to do with my general attitude towards communication.


Will: best guess, you had heard someone else presenting a somewhat similar question to some other person in the past, and the impression of "hostility" was an echo from that experience.

And the United States is not having indigestion, but instead a full allergic reaction. Judging by your response, I take it that homeopatic treatment is still regarded preferable to antihistamines?

On the international scene, the United States is already playing a role which has deteriorated from proactive to reactive, even passive. There's no changing it.

I'm not a "mortal", by the way, but instead a reincarnated prophet. Do you want to hear a shamanistic prediction? Your next chief executive is either going to die in office, get assassinated or get impeached.


Nich: as I said, geography matters. There's already one Upper Volta with rockets right across the border. I see no personal need for me to get emotionally involved in the affairs of another one which is far away.

But as I already said, I'm sure that I'd feel differently if I was married to an American.


J. J.

Noel Maurer

Jussi, bullshit.

Email me privately. I am rather sad.

The New York City Math Teacher

Spirits are getting a little high.

I support a moratorium on this specific discussion, and a return to lightheartedness and carefree gaiety.

How about the platypus genome sequencing, huh?

Mike R.

On the lighthearted note;

"Great tits cope well with warming"


The New York City Math Teacher

Female Tits Suffer in Their Old Age


Will Baird

Dave, Mike:



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