Mar
6

The Cult Thing




Posted at 9:07 by HTML Mencken
obamaburger.jpg

Atrios elaborates on a sentiment that he’s frequently, but heretofore somewhat opaquely, expressed:

I don’t have a problem understanding why some people support Obama and some people support Clinton. It really puzzles me why lots of people don’t get that simple fact. The point is not that the candidates are identical and no one should be a supporter or care who wins, it’s that you should recognize that the other person’s supporters aren’t necessarily deluded or stupid. You may disagree with their reasons, but they have them.

Eh. It’s not the support or supporters I object to, it’s the enthusiasm and the fanatics. For any politician. But especially for such mediocre ones. After all, it’s not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate; they are both fairly average “liberal” politicians who are thoroughly schooled in the arts of serial triangulation. They ain’t radical; nor are they idealist; they are simply better than any Republican alternative. They’re good enough for a vote (with or without one’s nose tightly held) but that’s it. It just won’t do to mask this homely reality with fawning, drooling praise of either politician.

For the most part, the left blogosphere (Atrios in particular) has been good about reining in the fanaticism. The operational phrase lately is, “my candidate sucks” — a very healthy and sensible attitude to have, because it’s the gospel fucking truth. Then there are the exceptions: the statue-polishers, the amen-sayers, the folks who advocate in the stylized terms of a propaganda poster. And in this milieu, it’s no surprise that some wingnuts found an opportunity: ‘Aha,’ they said. ‘A bunch of liberals have formed a personality cult!’ Instead of telling these wingnuts to look in the mirror then fuck-off and die (it takes considerable chutzpah for a bunch who collectively declared their moistness and tumescence and utter submission at the sight of Dear Leader’s flight-suited package to accuse others of cultish behavior), some equally opportunistic — or inordinately paranoid — liberals, who should know better, immediately declared all discussion on the subject radioactive — worse, they deemed it “inherently rightwing.” From thereafter, to comment on the subject of creepy fealties to Obama or Clinton (but mostly the former) was to “perpetuate a rightwing meme.” Well, sorry, but when I see stuff like this positively adhesive post on Obama by Ezra Klein, my first impulse is not unlike Robert Stack’s in Airplane!‘s terminal (but not ending) scene; and my attitude ain’t “rightwing” unless I, like Stack, actually punch the fanatic proffering me a flower in the name of some personality or institution of ‘higher consciousness’:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

clintonbucket.jpg

Closely inspect this passage (it might be called the Ecstasy of St. Ezra), the fawning sentiments of which are not too hard to find expressed elsewhere (and not just about Obama — Hillary, too) on the internet. Is it not awestruck, deferential, servile, even a bit fanatically religious? And aren’t such qualities, when you get down to it, really …well, rightwing? It’s so very easy to be worshipful of a personality. That’s why wingnuts are especially prone to the personality cult. A more difficult and adult endeavor, if I may say so without being suspected of self-advertizement, is to sustain enthusiasm in the Voltairean service of ‘crushing the infamous,’ be it a personage or an idea; but then, what sort of religious emoting — or career advancement for a centristy young pundit on the make — is there in that? Silly, superficial emotions of ‘belonging’ can be experienced through this sort of idolatry (Ezra also went from ‘ZOMG Howard Dean!!’ to ‘Meh, Howard Dean‘ in fairly short order) with little cost; meanwhile, emotion is rigorously kept in check (in Charlie Peters’s wishy-washy house style which Klein has so wholly absorbed) when dealing with those wingnuts (and their villainous ideology) whose hides should be perpetually pelted with bolts of righteous anger and outrage and scorn. It’s just too perfect: passion where and when it is worse than useless; “seriousness” and “evenhandedness” exactly where and when passion is needed. Why is that?

The answer, I think, is related to that most childish desire: the security blanket. More specifically, it’s the comfort found in the will to believe, and especially believe in an authority. Or as Klein himself explains in one of those admissions that the older people who dote on him like to tell themselves are evidence of his growth but are in actuality merely reminders to all of his incredibly ill-suited (for a political animal of any substance) instincts:

[W]hat’s really warped in me is not where I stand on the political spectrum, but the trust and assumption of good faith with which I can approach the news, and the Republicans, and all the rest.

Oh, to believe again! Oh, to be able to turn the page, to forget the bad Nixon Reagan Bush years, to sacrifice vigilance and skepticism, to pretend that all the damage was an accident, an aberration and not an inevitable result of the stupidity and wickedness of the Republicans in particular and reactionary ideology in general. Oh, to go back again to the halcyon days when honest conservatives and sensible liberals honorably and civilly overcame their differences to form a trustworthy government! Yes, yes: this infantile desire is the thumb that, once placed in one’s mouth, will always become a hook.

I fear many low-information and n00b voters share Klein’s tendencies: X-candidate will restore their security blanket, after which they can go back to counting so many (other) sheep. To make an atrocious pun, they are no better than Ezra. It’s not that they want to permanently rollback the wingnuttery (which is, after all, the source of the country’s malaise); no, that would mean a long-term commitment or something, totally beyond the pale. Too radical! Instead, they find far too much to like in the personalities of fetching Mr. Obama or nice Mrs. Clinton — and, much more tragically and dangerously, find in their candidacies and shallow, tepid politics so very much symbolism to project deep and understandable feelings onto. A bunch of misplaced affection for two altogether boring and typical politicians. Enthusiasm is good in politics, but such emotion would better serve the country if, say, it took the attitude that conservatism as represented in the political arc of Goldwater-Reagan-Bush is a monstrous failure and therefore permanently unacceptable to every decent, conscientious American. (Yes, this can be construed as “going negative,” a road which many people feel themselves too good to travel. Very well, if one must be “positive,” make fucking sure it’s not in any sort of compromise whatsoever to those whom one should be against: centrism, like bipartisanship and “Moderation,” is a vice not a virtue.)

You know, we lefties can still be serious and principled while at the same time maintaining our ironic detachment from the candidates. It’s not cynicism I’m necessarily advocating here, though of course even nihilistic cynicism is preferable to naivete (not to mention gullibility); rather, what I’d prefer is something like what sophisticated and subtle Christians (let’s say, Unitarians) feel when encountering some of their more primitive brethren getting all ‘Jeeeeeeeeeezus will-ah save you-ahh’: A healthy embarrassment. Leave the cult-esque behavior to the wingnuts. And if you have to find “meaningfulness,” identity, or redemption in politics, for God’s — better, for the country’s and world’s — sake, invest long-term in ideology rather than short-term in some politician’s carefully-crafted-for-TV personality.

Finally, to sweeten my poison, here’s the only Cult I could ever recommend:

200 Comments »

  1. moondancer said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:14

    I can only speak for me, but I am not a cult follower of Obama. He was not my first choice. In fact he was my third. Where I get “rabid” is in my dislike of Clinton. I think she is a total fraud and sellout. She in my mind is a corporate shill. I dont see much difference between her and McCain and I will never vote for her.

  2. melpomenh said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:18

    Great piece. I really enjoyed reading it.

  3. Hoosier X said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:24

    Sure, Hillary Clinton sucks balls AND donkey dicks. But THIS …

    I dont see much difference between her and McCain and I will never vote for her.

    … is just mean.

    I’ll vote for her. But I admit I will have a hard time working up any ire at the people who don’t vote at all or go for Nader.

  4. Monkay said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:34

    This post elevates. It enmeshes one in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. It is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair . . .

  5. Some Guy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:49

    I’m infuriated and saddened by HTML’s blatant partisan and biased attack against the Cult of the Heartland and American Values.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDuYlRs9_Do

    This is a time when we should be coming together in our cults, not driving wedges between them, as the activity HTML is partaking in.

    That said, anyone else notice how the “M” in HTML is also present in Osama bin Laden’s name? To make no mention of the L. Now, I’m not saying that Mencken supports evil, but doesn’t it make you wonder?

  6. JK47 said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:55

    Hillary’s campaign has given new meaning to the word “uninspiring.” She had her insider friends jigger the campaign schedule to her advantage to land an early knockout blow, then failed to deliver on that blow. After weeks and weeks of getting drubbed all across the nation, we learned from Hillary how red states didn’t matter, how caucus states didn’t matter, how momentum didn’t matter and how delegates didn’t matter. Now that she’s back in the hunt after stooping to Rovian fear-mongering, we’re hearing about how important momentum is and how important red states like Texas are.

    And now it appears that she’s going to stick around to make some sort of weasel argument to the superdelegates about winning “the big states,” despite the fact that she has zero chance of catching Obama in pledged delegates.

    If she wins this thing by those kinds of shenanigans, her unfavorables are going to be through the roof. I’m as diehard a Democrat as they come, and I will have to force myself to vote for her. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.

  7. Socraticsilence said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:59

    HTML- While his policies are center-left(his policies on open government actually are pretty outstanding, as are his postions on Civil Liberties- but as a non-insane con law prof. that’s probably par for the course), there is something about Obama, that I think touches a lot of people, perhaps its the echo of past leaders who he will never approach (like King) but its hard to deny that its there in his oratory and his message.

  8. justme said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:06

    Well said, Sir. Well said.

    The circular firing squad exists for a reason, to keep us honest. Fetishizing candidates is not behavior that is healthy for the Reality Based Community. I understand that the candidates have to put up a certain amount of flash for the rubes, otherwise that all elusive “center” (read: people too lazy to want to do the political thinking for themselves, or too stupid to be able to) wouldn’t be able to latch on, but that doesn’t mean everybody should buy into it.

    Quite the contrary, the closest supporters should be the most critical. As in life in general, in politics, anybody surrounding themselves with sycophants and myrmidons is probably bad news.

    The thread a bit back (Brad’s?) about Obama being the least likely to fuck the last vestiges of breath out of the country gave me the feeling that I was largely on the right track, myself. This post is that much more confirmation. What we need is not blind, fumbling obedience. Leave that for those better trained to it. An eyes-wide-open understanding of our candidates, including the things we’d rather were different, but sort of have to be there for wider acceptance, coupled with a hearty “fuck NO you don’t AGAIN!” at the Republicans, is going to be the real strength we can wield.

    Reason? Understanding? Deliberation? Sure, no problem.
    Obeisance? Leave it to the belly-walkers.

    Let’s do remember who’s working for who.

  9. Happenstance said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:29

    But I admit I will have a hard time working up any ire at the people who don’t vote at all or go for Nader.

    Fair enough. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to listen to them sit on their useless asses and bitch for the next four years AGAIN about how nothing’s improved.

    I will have a hard time working up any ire at the people who eat a gun.

  10. Spam Spalthouse said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:46

    Again, if you think Clinton and McCain are the same, you are not using reasonable metrics.

    Heh on Ezra- like his crush died even though they only ever hung out at the Mall food court twice and go Orange Juliuses.

  11. RandomObserver said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:49

    I don’t say this often but great fucking post. This is exactly what you see in wingnuts, the belief that some sort of fatherly authority figure can make the world a wonderful place through sheer force of will.

    People believe it because they want to, because reality is too unsettling.

  12. Hoosier X said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:49

    For some reason, I’m really hungry for a gun.

    Something with a name that sounds like a pasta dish.

    Like Mannlicher Carcano.

    Delicious.

  13. Hoosier X said,

    March 6, 2008 at 10:53

    When I can’t work up any ire for the non voters or the Nader voters, I just call Ire for Hire.

  14. Lesley said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:22

    Great post!

    After Bush, you’d think people would be more skeptical, wary, distrustful of any of them. But the same blindness that resulted in him getting a second undeserving chance is driving this campaign.

    There are so many holes and you could drive a truck through most of them but ignoring reality and pursuing the fantasy of the perfect candidate – especially after Bush because he’s just so goddamn foul – feels good. Forget the fact that American voters gave him a second chance. Jesus…that was preventable!

    The vast majority of the electorate are followers. They realize Bush was a huge mistake and a change is needed but have they changed?

  15. Heretic said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:30

    I like Obama. He speaks well, and writes better. His policy proposals, should you manage to find them amidst the hype, are largely what most Americans would consider sensible.

    I don’t like Hillary Clinton. She triangulates, lies, and promises more of the 90′s, which, although they look great in hindsight, were not that great for Americans or the rest of the world. Her policy proposals are much the same as Obama’s. Thus, most Americans would find them sensible.

    Neither of these people would represent me or my ideas. Both of them are products of the noxious Chicago political machine. The Chicago machine has been proving that it is possible to both be a Democrat and fuck up the world at the same time, reliably, for a very long time. So I’m not going to vote for either of them. Nor will I vote for Nader. He’s past his sell-by date, and his followers should bathe more often and look at where he gets his money.

    A pox on all your houses, basically. Give me a candidate worth a damn, and I’ll throw him/her votes and money. Give me these people, and I’d rather have a beer and play video games. No one has even suggested anything near the kind of effort needed to change the world enough to enable continued human survival for more than fifty years. Should I eat a gun? Sometimes I think about it, but then, no.

    Lots of people believe in strategic/tactical voting. Fuck that. Represent me. I want you to cut the Pentagon budget in half and spend it on education and health care for all citizens. Do. It. Now. Or you don’t get my vote.

  16. marcolepsy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:31

    Mencken,

    you have a problem with enthusiasm? so, i don’t get it. And when did you discover this incredible power of being able to tell if a person will not be the next great president? where the hell have you been man! the FUTURE needs you! gogog

    the first blue paragraph has you pinned. stop telling me I’m crazy!

    in conclusion: i think their experience sucks, and they think my hope that someone is telling the truth for once is childish. fair enough, but your experience still sucks.

  17. slackerJAX said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:35

    Lighten up, Francis.

  18. slackerJAX said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:38

    Also, Green Day and Rancid are total sellouts, man!

  19. RandomObserver said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:44

    I do have to say that not voting is just plain stupid unless you think all the candidates are literally exactly equal. Make all the noise you want about how the candidates suck, but come election day if you aren’t pulling the lever for the least sucky among them you are just being a moron and putting your own ego over the common good.

    It really annoys me when people “stick to their guns” or “stick to their principles” in ways that hurt other people. The only reason to not vote is so you can say “I didn’t vote”, a purely selfish reason.

    I don’t care if it’s Zombie Hitler vs Ghost of Pol-Pot, I’m voting for whichever one is better. (While complaining the whole time) Because that is better than the alternative.

    Not voting for a Democrat is upping the chance that thousands of US soldiers and Iranian citizens will die. It’s one thing if you are only screwing yourself over but please don’t screw me and rest of the world just so you can be smug. It’s not about who represents you well, it’s about who represents you better. That’s the game and wishing it were different doesn’t make it so.

    Work all you want to change the system, I’m all for that. But until it changes make rational choices that minimize harm.

    I understand the urge to not vote, but in the end it’s just selfish and irrational.

  20. HTML Mencken said,

    March 6, 2008 at 11:48

    For the record I will vote for whichever Dem gets the nomination. Duh. Any Dem is better than a Rethug in this race. But not nearly so much better that they deserve to be fawned-over or even trusted.

  21. Max Renn said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:02

    Monkay said,

    March 6, 2008 at 9:34

    This post elevates. It enmeshes one in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. It is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair . .

    Buttkiss. Knob-polisher. Now HTML will have to be suspicious of HIMSELF whenever he SHAVES!

    Man, The Cult could rock a room, eh?

  22. Heretic said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:05

    To RandomObserver:

    I understand your point. Do you get mine? There’s been a lot of decent opinion articles on lefty sites recently about FDR, LBJ etc. About how the New Deal and the Great Society required the leadership to be bullied into it by we the people.

    American politics is not this great, complicated mass of people making rational compromises. At any level. It’s about child psychology and bullying, the carrot and the stick, the fucking Skinner box. Give me what I want or I won’t give you any money/support. Sorry, that’s democracy and it sucks, but I’m with Churchill. It’s not as bad as other systems, at least as far as I know. How do you think the fRight took power, although they’ve never truly had a majority? They stuck to their guns (and fetuses).

  23. Arky "I just get these headaches" The Blasphemer said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:16

    Meh. This is an excellent post but I think you’re jumping at jackalopes. I do see the loons on the Internons, (or at least I see what some people have written from the safety of their mom’s basements), but here’s what I don’t see:

    I don’t see these people in real life. I’ve seen people fresh from meeting Obama or Hillary and none of them had the glazed expressions associated with KoolAid guzzling.

    I don’t see holy wars over a particular candidate. I do see people, complete strangers no less, discussing the candidate they favor and why, which invariably becomes a discussion of how glad they’ll be when Bush is out of the White House.

    I don’t see massive numbers of bloggers and whatever the lefty equivalent of the National Review and “serious” (ie well funded) media outlets like the WSJ and FUX news pushing this sort of crap.

    I don’t see the candidates actively interacting with these people to catapult their propaganda. The same of which cannot be said for the current disaster in the White House.

    In other words, I don’t see the people who are flinging most of the spit. Check marcolepsy above. Who the fuck is he? I don’t know, other than he has access to the Internons but not the rules of grammar. Is he sincere? Is he a spoof having a laugh at your expense? Is he a troll trying to piss people off? Is he just another noisy hanger on that has found an organization that will allow him to shout “Fuckyou! You don’tcare aboutanything! You’llbesorry whentheman locksyouup!!”

    Who knows? And if he stays at his computer, does it matter?

    to sacrifice vigilance and skepticism, to pretend that all the damage was an accident, an aberration and not an inevitable result of the stupidity and wickedness of the Republicans in particular and reactionary ideology in general.

    Now this I haven’t seen. The same alleged cult-without-a-leader folks have no problem demanding that all Republicans herded into camps and shot (Irony Detector go Boom).

    If these people are sincere, or of the people who are sincere (and not just left wing radical dittoheads), I’d say that there is a large amount of guilt that they sat on their asses and typed angry screeds in a comments section instead of bugging the shit out of their representative, going to a rally, or the other hard stuff the Children of Aquarius were known for doing.

  24. HTML Mencken said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:16

    Now HTML will have to be suspicious of HIMSELF whenever he SHAVES!

    Shave? Me? And give up my DFH street-cred? No, thanks.

  25. HTML Mencken said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:20

    Arky, there’s this.

  26. melpomenh said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:20

    I don’t think you really mean this…

    I don’t care if it’s Zombie Hitler vs Ghost of Pol-Pot, I’m voting for whichever one is better.

  27. Incontinentia Buttocks said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:36

    I take HTML Mencken at his word that he’s not a grinning scarecrow, sent here to torture and manipulate us. There’s just no evidence that that is the case. As far as I know.

  28. Zombie Hitler said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:38

    Gimme more brains! Jew brains!

  29. Ghost of Pol-Pot said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:39

    I want a big pile of skulls!

  30. The Voice of Intelligent Politcal Compromise said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:47

    Now, boys, let’s try to work together here. Hitler, you can have first priority on all the brains…. and we’ll make sure we find enough Jewish ones for you. But when you’re done, you have to make sure that you give the skulls to Pol-Pot. I can is a bipartisan leadership!

  31. Anne Laurie said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:47

    Excellent post, HTML. The sort of concise and thoughtful prose that first hooked me on Sadly, No.

    Oh, to believe again! Oh, to be able to turn the page, to forget the bad Nixon Reagan Bush years, to sacrifice vigilance and skepticism, to pretend that all the damage was an accident, an aberration and not an inevitable result of the stupidity and wickedness of the Republicans in particular and reactionary ideology in general. Oh, to go back again to the halcyon days when honest conservatives and sensible liberals honorably and civilly overcame their differences to form a trustworthy government!

    My perspective? I think there are a lot of smart, educated, well-read Americans who don’t have a good place to put those striving-towards-the-higher-consciousness feelings that seem to be universal to a very large subset of the human race. No, there’s not a ‘religious gene’, or even a polygenetic factor controlling religious belief or lack thereof, but there *does* seem to be a very, very common Need to Believe that runs like a particularly nubbly weft through human history. In a simpler time and place, every individual’s tribe had a well-tested Theory of Everything that gave its members a place to put their inchoate longings for security & ecstasy & power & transcendence. Modern rationalists like Ezra know better — they’ve been trained, or trained themselves, not to believe a bunch of old stories and silly tales — but they haven’t found a safe outlet for their own desire for “something more”, not least because they can’t admit that these desires even exist. So they flip through the political channels, looking for A Hero, someone who can “transcend” mere retail wheeling & dealing, some cause Larger Than Themselves.

    And, of course, they are always bitterly disappointed when the Hero du Jour turns out to be… just another human. A professional politician in politics; a professional fundraiser in the funds business; someone whose guarantees of A Brighter Tomorrow!!!!111! eventually fail — or even worse, someone (like, say, Howard Dean) who brutually refuses to pander stoke the fires of Hope for Teh Future!!!11!…

    Ezra and his fellow Sensible Centrists are like that guy you know who is absolutely, totally, completely Not Gay. Except that he’s never had a real relationship with an adult woman, because, well, women are just so disappointing, y’know? He knows that his Perfect Woman is out there somewhere, but whenever he thinks he’s found The One, she turns out to be unavailable, or gay, or crazy, or needy, or unsympathetic, or too career-oriented, or not career-oriented enough, or just “not right”. After, say, ten years and twenty-five abortive ‘love affairs’ (not counting the one that culminated in restraining orders all round), you begin to suspect that your acquaintance… might not really be all that interested in a long-term relationship. Or possibly he’s just not interested in a long-term relationship with a woman. Because someone who’s actually turned on by the sight of a penis is never going to be happy in a sexual relationship with a woman, and someone (like Ezra) who’s looking for “transcendence” is never going to be happy in a relationship with a politician.

  32. Snorghagen said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:50

    But I admit I will have a hard time working up any ire at the people who don’t vote at all or go for Nader.

    I won’t have a hard time at all. The option is between one party that’s woefully inadequate and a second party that’s become truly evil. It’s not an thrilling choice, but it’s an obvious one. It couldn’t be more clear that another Republican presidential victory would be a catastrophe. I have near zero sympathy for anyone who claims to be a progressive but plans to sit this one out because the frigging candidates aren’t inspiring enough.

    How do you think the fRight took power, although they’ve never truly had a majority?

    By doing everything it took to get their guys into office and keeping the other guys out – including voting.

    ——————————–

    I don’t see [cult-of-personality] people in real life.

    Me neither. I’ve talked to people who more or less prefer one or the other; I’ve yet to run into anyone who rhapsodizes about any of them. Most people are not in a hero-worshipping mood right now.

  33. Prog Gold » Blog Archive » He’s Not The Messiah He’s An Ordinary Bloke said,

    March 6, 2008 at 12:56

    [...] HTML Mencken at Sadly, No sees the dangers of this political idolatry: Eh. It’s not the support I object to, it’s the enthusiasm. For any politician. But especially for such mediocre ones. After all, it’s not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate; they are both fairly average “liberal” politicians who are thoroughly schooled in the arts of serial triangulation. They ain’t radical; nor are they idealist; they are simply better than Republican alternatives. And it won’t do to mask such a homely reality with fawning, drooling praise of either politician. [...]

  34. Arky "I just get these headaches" The Blasphemer said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:01

    Really? Oookay. And I’m sure there’s a contingent of cliche-spewing HRC supporters arming for bear.

    Or say they’re arming for bear.

    You see, if it were me and I were bent on taking it to the streets/sticking it to the [wo]man/turning this mutha out, I wouldn’t broadcast my intentions to someone with media cred because I wouldn’t want the Secret Service involved, which you can bet your ass they now are and possibly the Feeb as well. Why? Because this certified shit-for-brains had to brag to someone about how big and mean and tough they are to someone outside the circle. I can’t believe he mentioned their communications system. Why don’t you just pass along your friends’ cell phone numbers while you’re at it, nOOb?

    And ooo, look they’ve got gen-u-ine Iraqi vets ready to “rock and roll” (I hope they play some Led Zep) and you know how vets are. Crazy guys with dead burnt bodies and veins in their teeth. They’ll kills ya! Especially if they get in trouble because someone had to run his face.

    Now, I was raised by hippies and I’ve spent time among the modern LeftWing Radicals and the modern LWR is a loud bully (hence the inability or RP’s friend to keep his mouth shut) which means he’s a huge pussy (hence the blah, blah, blah).

    He is also always 10 times less organized than he says he is and has the charming inability to get along with his companions in the struggle for more than five seconds. If they do have vets in their numbers, I give it about five minutes before someone mentions baby killers and oops, there goes our left flank. Kids today, I tell ya.

    Sorry, HTML, these guys are poseurs. They have probably attracted a few real scary bastards (and an undercover cop or two), but they pose a threat to themselves and possibly a few store front windows.

    I’m trying to keep everyone calm, as I just mentioned, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so.

    Translation: Despite my fiery rhetoric I will cooperative with the authorities should things actually go according to plan.

    And that is central to my point.

  35. HTML Mencken said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:03

    Thanks for that excellent analysis, AL. It’s inspired me to flesh-out a few sentences in the next to last paragraph.

    I think I’ll pass out now. I hope to wake up tomorrow to — flames!!

  36. The Frito Pundito said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:13

    People are enthusiastic about mediocre movies, music and sports team. Why should politicians be any different? You might find the enthusiasm distasteful (OMG! Such an outpouring of emotion!) but unless it harms you or hampers you in some way from expressing YOUR lack thereof, it is NOYGB. Now, I am not going to try and stop you from your Constitutionally-mandated right to be snarky but since you embody the type of person Atrios refers to, you might want to think a little harder about what he is saying.

  37. Arky "I just get these headaches" The Blasphemer said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:18

    but unless it harms you or hampers you in some way from expressing YOUR lack thereof, it is NOYGB.

    Unless we’re talking about Britney Spears fans. In which case: Fire at will!

  38. Heretic said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:21

    Snorghagen said, in response to an earlier post:

    How do you think the fRight took power, although they’ve never truly had a majority?

    By doing everything it took to get their guys into office and keeping the other guys out – including voting.

    This, indeed, is central to my point.

    No, seriously. It really is. Who are your guys? My guys don’t, in fact, exist. Or my gals either. There is no one on the national political stage who is willing to commit to radical positions like cutting the Pentagon budget in half or complete amnesty for all illegal immigrants and people who are in prison for minor drug offenses. Or a global nuclear ban. Or a complete dismantling of NATO. Or a 500% increase in the public transportation budget. No one is out there, or at least, no one who has a shot at all for important office in my area. Saying that Obama or Clinton would be better than any Republican is saying that they would be drier than the ocean. So they get nothing from me, ever, unless they at least begin to consider what I think. That is democracy. Also, while not many people may share my exact positions, there are plenty of people in America (about a third) who are so disillusioned that they never even think about voting. Why is that? I think it’s because the full range of political opinion is not at all represented in America, and there’s a lot of room that people in other countries who have parliamentary systems manage to fill, but in America, this space stands empty.

    So how do I get my guys into the program? Well, first I need to create them. I could start by agitating on the internet….

  39. Major Woody said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:45

    If you vote for my candidate, he/she will cut the Pentagon’s budget by 80%, and use the money saved to balance the budget, save the environment, and buy ponies for everybody. Oh, and brains for all the zombies, too!

    Anyway, why not vote? It doesn’t make any difference, of course, but you get to participate in the illusion of self-government. Also, it’s free, it’s good theater, and gives you the right to complain about all the stuff you don’t like. There’s almost no downside!

  40. W. Kiernan said,

    March 6, 2008 at 13:51

    Clinton: I’m going to reverse the GWB tax cuts for millionaires and attempt to eliminate or at least reduce the $400-billion-plus annual Federal deficit.

    McCain: I’m going to extend the GWB tax cuts, but by x-ing out about $20-billion in earmarks, I too plan to eliminate the $400-billion-plus annual Federal deficit. Wink wink.

    Clinton: I will start bringing U.S. soldiers home from Iraq in the first year of my administration.

    McCain: I plan to occupy Iraq for the next hundred years.

    Clinton: I’m going to nominate moderate-to-liberal judges for Supreme Court vacancies.

    McCain: I will take the advice of my good friend John Hagee about filling any vacancies on the Supreme Court.

    Yet moondancer up there can’t see any difference between Clinton and McCain. Idiocy like that makes me want to yell and throw things. It’s not hyperbolic enthusiasm that is the failing of the cultists, it’s the deliberate complete indifference to all serious matters of government policy.

    If you look at just Obama and Clinton I suppose you can make out a difference between their positions. But if you zoom out far enough to get John “four more years” McCain into the frame, you can’t see the gap between Clinton and Obama at all. And since I live in Florida and our Republican legislature refused me the right to vote in a primary this year, I don’t care at all about that microscopic, invisible gap. If the Democrats go to a brokered convention and decide on the ninety-fifth vote to nominate an inanimate object I’m not going to care. I’m gonna march into the voting booth and if I see “Fire Hydrant (D)” or “Fence Post (D)” I’m gonna pull the lever for him, I mean it.

  41. Snorghagen said,

    March 6, 2008 at 14:03

    Who are your guys?

    My guys are the candidates who aren’t total lunatics.

    It’d be wonderful if we had the luxury of abstaining from all that messy voting until a viable political party developed that could bring about meaningful change. Unfortunately, that’d take years, if it happened at all, and by then we’d be living in a shitpile.

    Goal number one is to break extreme right’s grip on power. Until that’s accomplished, nothing worthwhile can be done. If it doesn’t get accomplished, we’re screwed.

    Saying that Obama or Clinton would be better than any Republican is saying that they would be drier than the ocean.

    I don’t understand this statement. And I need to get some sleep.

  42. Lakeesha Shaidle said,

    March 6, 2008 at 14:41

    Mencken,

    You talk about cults – don’t fascists have cults of personality? Are you saying partisans of HRC and BHO are fascist? ARE YOU ACTUALLY JONAH GOLDBERG?

  43. Philly Boy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 14:57

    I agree with this post completely. In an earlier, more genteel time, both Clinton and Obama would be moderate Republicans. I don’t trust either and I don’t think either wants or is willing to do what is necessary to start rolling back the incursions that reactionaries have made into everything from government to public discourse over the last forty or so years. That’s the biggest complaint I have against Bill Clinton. He didn’t stem the wingnut tide; he merely slowed its advance, and not at a particularly noticeable rate.

    As for the enthusiasm people feel for Clinton or Obama, I think it’s idiotic. In fact, I think it’s idiotic to feel that way about any politicians, even the few who are truly great leaders. The purpose of politics is to determine public policy; if you want to feel the ecstasy of surrendering to something bigger than yourself, root for a winning sports team. It doesn’t matter whether you shut off your capacity for rational thought to do that; in fact it’s probably a plus. Shutting off your capacity for rational thought is not a good thing to do in choosing a president. And getting upset at others who refuse to join you in your political cult compounds the idiocy.

  44. Emperor U.S.A. (the naked truth) said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:00

    Awesome that you found all those Pandagon goodies! Special request, just for fun, if you have the time and desire (I’ll look myself when I can. too) – see if you can find the one where Ezra flirts with the idea of installing another malleable dictator in Iraq after getting all moist over Allawi reportedly executing several insurgents himself. Good times.

    I wasn’t aware of L,G&M at the time, but it’s not surprising to see that Farley had a similar hatred of the tie-dyed and unwashed. Fucking morons.

  45. GunTotinSteroidRabbi said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:02

    1) Either Democratic candidate is worth voting for, even if its only to deny the far right another Supreme Court appointment.

    2) Being part of the election of the first black President, or the first female President *is* worth getting excited and misty-eyed and semi-fanatical over. So long as we understand that the candidates themselves aren’t going to fix all of our problems, it really is pretty cool.

    3) ‘Rain’ is a better song.

  46. Arky "I just get these headaches" The Blasphemer said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:19

    Shutting off your capacity for rational thought is not a good thing to do in choosing a president. And getting upset at others who refuse to join you in your political cult compounds the idiocy.

    Yep, we’ve seen how well that works. I sort of agree with Annie Laurie’s analogy of the totally-not-gay-guy who never finds the perfect woman, except she’s being charitable because she imagines these guys are just confused and conflicted.

    I, on the other hand, am a cynical dick. Some of these people are drama queens who are building up their chosen one just so they can have the pleasure of tearing them down when (surprise) the CO doesn’t live up to their impossible to fulfill ideals.

    “*Sigh!* I knew s/he would/wouldn’t do [whatever thing I wanted because its all about me and damn the rest of the country/legislative process]! O, woe, once again I have been betrayed! [Fap, fap] Did I not wait in line to vote when I could have been at home watching American Idol? [Fap, fap, fap] Did I not work my fingers to the bone writing nine bazillion words singing their praises when I could have been … uh … doing something else that was really important and fun? And this, O, this, is how s/he repays me!!” [Fapfapfapfap] Why, we might … as well … still have … BUSH IN OFFICE! Ahhhh! [snore]

  47. El Cid said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:31

    I don’t mind people getting goofily enthusiastic over a prospect which might not lead to all the goals they would want.

    If such enthusiasm is somewhat controlled, if it doesn’t come wrapped in excessively utopian garb, then people should be expected to go nuts over it.

    After all, let’s look at the context: Even if a lot of people view Politician A and B as only offering “Minor But Real Life Improvements X, Y, and Z”, compared with what they have now, they may have grown used to the feeling that they might never have achieved even that.

    Did peoples’ lives change with the Red Sox winning the world series? No. But their fans who cared a great deal about the team thought it was the biggest happening evar.

    And there are certain things about Obama and his campaign organization which is quite different than any precedent. Not necessarily magical or revolutionary things, but people are allowed to get crazy excited about stuff which doesn’t directly lead to immortality or multidimensional nirvana.

    It is also possible that without this degree of goofy excitement by the partisans of change, the sorts of political volunteerism and public rhetoric required by a victory may not happen.

    It’s one reason (of many) I could never be a major figure on someone’s political campaign — because I just wouldn’t be able to be 100% in campaign mode all the time as would be required.

  48. Gary Ruppert said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:47

    The fact is, if a Demoncrap becomes President, patriots will arm themselves and overthrow this illegitimate election and restore the Constitution and our nation Under God.

  49. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 15:58

    And miss the monster truck rally on tv? Don’t be stupid.

  50. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    March 6, 2008 at 16:05

    My candidate’s black.
    My candidate’s white.
    Together they grow to see the light.

  51. Marc said,

    March 6, 2008 at 16:11

    The fact is, if a Demoncrap becomes President, patriots will arm themselves and overthrow this illegitimate election and restore the Constitution and our nation Under God.

    Well, that Democratic president will have all the awesome powers that Bush-Cheney have given to the presidency — warrantless wiretapping, lack of habeus corpus, indefinite detention without criminal charges or judicial appeal, etc. etc. I don’t think they’ll get very far.

    And guess what, Gary? President Hillary can just track you down by this blog comment, figure out where you live, and ship you off to Guantanamo for the next decade or so, just because she damn well feels like it.

    I hope you enjoy the brave new world you helped to create.

  52. Joe Bleau said,

    March 6, 2008 at 16:14

    Dammit, I worked out exactly what I wanted to say, only to find that Anne Laurie has already said it, better than I could.

    I might just add that this post provides an interesting contrast to the work that Sara is doing over at CAF . I might argue that, while it’s true that mindless fanboy crank-slurping is characteristic of the Right Wing Authoritarian mindset, it’s also true that an appreciation of this fact, and a willingess to exploit it, has been a big part of why the Republicans have been able to win, repeatedly, without having to bother with locating actual decent and competent humans to carry the banner.

    Ironic detachment simply doesn’t work for everyone; and you can’t really keep those that like to feel that little tingle in their loins out of the political process. Better, I think, to make room for them in your party and in your platform.

    I really don’t think that you’ll be able to re-frame the dialog without them.

  53. Blue Buddha said,

    March 6, 2008 at 16:28

    The bass player and drummer have mullets from hell, and as for the guitar player… is that his hair or a large piece of plastic on his head?

  54. Rugged in Montana said,

    March 6, 2008 at 16:52

    I second Gary.

  55. tb said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:00

    Saying that Obama or Clinton would be better than any Republican is saying that they would be drier than the ocean.

    Good point. If I can’t be 100% dry and toasty with perfectly balanced humidity, fuck it, drop me in the middle of the Pacific so I can drown and be eaten by sharks.

    Oh, I also get to decide for a million brown people, so the same goes for them. I have to follow my conscience.

  56. Gary Ruppert said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:00

    The fact is, if I wasn’t a moral values heartlander, and if I was gay, i’d hit Rugged in Montana.

  57. GSD said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:02

    That is the one thing that is great about the new and emboldened Unitary Executive that was cultivated by the Bush/Cheney crowd.

    It will be much easier to continue implementing the New World Order that Poppy Bush proposed and George W. Bush advanced.

    There’s a new mother nature taking over and the McVeigh/Ruppert wing of the GOP are in the crosshairs.

    -GSD

  58. Joe Bleau said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:03

    “Rugged”? “Montana”? Citing approvingly a post advocating violent insurrection against the a democratically elected Gov’mnt?

    I can name that America-hating tinfoil-domed microphallus stop-teasing-me-you-big-meanie overcompensating-for-latent-homosexual-thoughts brownshirted sheeple in three notes, George.

  59. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:04

    I second Gary.

    Do we have to know this? I don’t care if you want Gary first or second. Just use a towel and leave us out of it.

  60. Gary Ruppert said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:18

    The fact is, it is not a democratically elected government if you cheat. And Dems cheat. They let illegals and dead people vote, and torture ballots to make them say what they want. Terefore, any Democrat elected is done so fraudulently, and according to the Constitution, must be removed by force. We understand this in the heartland, you coastal elites are so full of bias you accuse Republicans of cheating, which is beyond the pale, a redeculous and immoral charge.

  61. Bruce Springsteen said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:21

    there *does* seem to be a very, very common Need to Believe that runs like a particularly nubbly weft through human history.

    It stuck me kinda funny, seems kinda funny, sir, to me.

  62. Gary Ruppert said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:22

    The fact is, any governments authority comes from God alone. You are secular and do not believe in God, try to keep Him out of government. This is why he does not like you and likes us, the real Americans, in the Heartland.

  63. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:26

    Were the ballots waterboarded? Were panties put on their heads? Stress positions?

    And I’m in Texas, gary. Where Obama sign are blooming like the azaleas.

    I can’t wait until Clinton is elected and the government is free to hunt down its Republican enemies and put them in the FEMA camps. You know she’s going to do it, gairy. First she’ going to take away all your guns. Then she’s going to give your job to brown people. (They should have pizza delivery jobs available too.) Then she’s going to indoctrinate your children. Finally she will declare the US a dictatorship and have you stoned in the public square.

    Be afraid, gairy. Be vewy, vewy, vewy, vewy afraid.

    Boo!

  64. blastro said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:42

    Clarity of vision and independence of thought are always to be valued, and the historical need to expose the hugely pernicious legacy of neoconservatism, corporate corruption, and self-serving irrationality should always be front and center. And we should always remember that the task of confronting the right is immense and long-term. But after eight years of breathtaking lies, corruption, doublespeak, and contempt for the welfare of the country, even what you call an average politician offering average “change” can appear as a blessing. No small part of the appeal of both Clinton and Obama is that they obviously operate in a world much closer to reality than the republicans. As such they become the vessels of an enormous amount of hope for the future. You have to ask, if this were not occuring, would there be any hope of changing things? Even now the institutional power pushing for McCain and the status quo is astonishing. Do you think another John Kerry candidacy, offering mediocrity and average liberalism, is going to motivate people out of the crushing misery of the Bush administration? It is also natural for people to feel emotions about politics, however vicarious that emotion is. Man is a social animal! The vast majority of the electorate is simply not going to be moved by irrepproachable ideology. That will never ever ever happen. People holding philosophy degrees may not like it, but it’s just obvious that the most powerful instrument that any politician has is his ability to appeal to people’s emotions. That’s what rhetoric is all about, and the republicans are masters at precisely this aspect of politics. I see it as a very good thing that the democrats have candidates who can inspire such passion. Much better than having Kerry or even Gore.

  65. CrazyDrumGuy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:42

    1000 points for the photo. Rly.

  66. Matt said,

    March 6, 2008 at 17:46

    “It’s just too perfect: passion where and when it is worse than useless; “seriousness” and “evenhandedness” exactly where and when passion is needed. Why is that?”

    THIS, dammit! THIS! It’s baffling to me as well. My only response is that enthusiasm for a person is easy. It only requires that you like them. Enthusiasm for ideas requires knowledge. And let’s face it, building a working knowledge of politics and economics takes a fair amount of work.

    (Oh, and top-notch troll, Gary. 9/10)

  67. Tyro said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:01

    This sort of knee-jerk skepticism of candidates that have a movement/following behind them is precisely the sort of thing that causes Democrats to nominate Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis.

    It is ok for *you*, as an individual, to decide that you don’t want to be a “believer” and maintain a sense of detachment from your candidates. You should not expect *others* to feel the same way, and you should not expect *others* to support your uninspiring technocrat. Until the Federal Government switches to a “city manager” form of government, the person who makes the decisions will also have to be the sort of person who generates a following and can create a movement.

  68. Thers said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:03

    In fairness — fairness to me — Atrios stole that, um, from me….

  69. Five of Diamonds said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:21

    As a follower of politics, I tend to judge a politician on “how they play the game.” Clinton’s politics are craven and fear-mongering. Obama’s are not. That’s how I’ll vote.

  70. Five of Diamonds said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:23

    Hi Gary! How do you type with a straight jacket on?

    By the way, do you start every post with “the fact is” because you’re trying to distract from the complete void of substance and truth?

  71. steve said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:32

    Just $.002: FDR was not elected as a transforming figure — he was actually a fairly conservative voice for his times. The forces of events, however, allowed him to become a transformative president. Presidents like TR, FDR, and JFK we able to create a sense of shared progress and burden across the country and significantly change the relationship of government to the people. I don’t believe it is laughable to hope that a future president could achieve the same type of renewal that great presidents have driven in the past.

    I always find it interesting when people go off on the “cult of Obama”. As a speaker and organizer his rhetoric and actions speak in terms of the group, not the individual — his message is not one of ‘I will save you’ — which is the Bush/Cheney/Regan message — but rather ‘we can save ourselves’. From a rhetorical point of view, this is antithetical to cult-like statements, which often promise a single leader’s vision and will to be the redemptive forces. Of course, I am not suggesting that Obama’s campaign has not been guilty at, some level, of creating a ‘personality cult’, but I don’t believe that it has utilized this element any more then any other successful presidential campaign does today, or has in the past.

    Finally, one of the greatest problems facing progressives/liberals is the fact that we have no coherent political/economic philosophy — unlike conservatives. This, of course, is because as more liberal thinkers we tend to be open to more ideas and options then our conservative counterparts — who simply believe less government is better. But this diversity of opinions has left us without a practical ideology and essentially out of power for the past 20 years.

  72. Philly Boy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:38

    As a follower of the reality-based community, I tend to judge politicians on what they do, and basically, since the 2006 elections, Clinton and Obama have done little but campaign.

    They’ve said some nice things and occasionally stood up to the Bush administration, but mostly when prodded to do so by the so-called Net Roots.

    Meanwhile, the administration has continued to shred the constitution, promote corruption and incompetence in government and carry out foreign, energy and other policies straight out of a Wingnut’s wet dream.

    Based on their actions, I think a Clinton or Obama presidency will resemble the Bill Clinton presidency, in that it will amount to, at best, a holding action against a form of irrational conservatism that has to be resoundingly defeated if this country is to continue as a democracy.

  73. Kezaro said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:40

    I must admit, I am torn between Obama and Clinton. On the one hand, I’d really like to has cheezburger, but I also really miss my bucket.

  74. being released said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:41

    Personally, I’m not looking for a leader, I’m looking for a technocrat. I want someone who worries about the policy details. Bill Clinton worried immensely about these details, which made him a good president despite the political machine side of his personality. Bush hates policy and he hates the people who have spent their lives trying to understand policy; therefore, every decision he’s made has been the wrong one.

    I don’t know whether Hilary Clinton or Obama will be the better technocrat, looking for realistic solutions to the problems, but McCain obviously isn’t even concerned with that aspect of governing.

  75. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:43

    I think a Clinton or Obama presidency will resemble the Bill Clinton presidency, in that it will amount to, at best, a holding action against a form of irrational conservatism that has to be resoundingly defeated if this country is to continue as a democracy.

    That’s a pretty sunny view of Bill Clinton.

  76. HorsesAss.Org» Blog Archive » Radio Goldy said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:57

    [...] 10AM: Will the Dems get a do-over in FL and MI? Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is urging Florida and Michigan party officials to repeat their presidential primaries, a possibility that seems increasingly likely now that it is clear that neither Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can garner enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination prior to the convention. Also… an exploration of the “cult” of Obama. [...]

  77. Jas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 18:59

    I was of much the same mind as HTML, until I read a few of the comments here.

    Now I understand that, even if it’s downright foolish to get all weak in the knees about any politician, we need those sorts of people, and that sort of feeling, to get the people to vote in the right direction. So, now, instead of berating people for being foolish sheep, I’ll egg them on while quietly feeling superior. :)

  78. Monkay said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:01

    Man, The Cult could rock a room, eh?
    Ass-kisser and Knob-polisher (actually more of a yeo-polisher; I can often be found polishing my brightly colored yeo for some idiotic festival or other) that is as may be; however, I am not a Cult fan. Seriously.

  79. stringonastick said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:07

    “…basically, since the 2006 elections, Clinton and Obama have done little but campaign.

    They’ve said some nice things and occasionally stood up to the Bush administration, but mostly when prodded to do so by the so-called Net Roots.”

    In the latter statement is where I find some real live, actual hope, something I have not felt in years with regard to politics. However, I agree that both have done nothing but campaign since 2006. While the extended primary season has the news media in a constant state of orgasmic horserace/cagematch metaphors, making it this long means making it even more ridiculously expensive, which means more pandering to corporate donors, which means corporations are getting even more of a voice in our government. Corporate power in politics is what has totally fucked up this country.

    Up to this point its been about figuring out who’s on top of the dogpile, and the rethugs got there first with the coronation of McSame. People have been upbeat and interested, even people who never much gave a rat’s ass about politics until now. My fear is that now the negative campaigning starts, and this is always where the less politically interested start getting sick of the whole thing and tune out. By the time this fall rolls around it is going to be shit city politics; I want to believe that people are pissed enough about the direction of the country that they’ll still vote even if they are sick of all the mud and spit flinging, though prior experience on this topic is not encouraging.

    The politcally indifferent have been interested in Obama because until now it has been about inspiration and inclusive rhetoric, and now that both sides are going to start going negative, we’re about to find out how deep their support really is. I wish the campaign would be about nice visually graphic commercials showing little factoids like $30,000 of national debt per man, woman or child in the US, the daily cost of the war, how the US spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined, and how this makes Social Security anything but secure, and Medicare a rapidly receeding dream of equality in health care . Graphic so people can mute the commercials, but still see the words on display. But no, instead it has to be about who you’d rather have a beer or BBQ with or some other stupid crap.

  80. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:08

    Is it worth mentioning that there appears to be no McCain cult whatsoever?

  81. stringonastick said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:10

    Yes, yes it is.

  82. What’s good for the goose…. « Donkey Punch said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:21

    [...] a combined $70 million a month, and for what?  To blow it fighting each other.  When there is not that much difference between the [...]

  83. Emperor U.S.A. (the naked truth) said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:23

    When I can’t work up any ire for the non voters or the Nader voters, I just call Ire for Hire.

    Or, as August points out, you could direct your anger at those Florida Democrats, who, not content with actually voting for Bush in 2000 (and thus doing far more than Nader to elect him), are ready to vote for McCain over Obama or Clinton this time around. Funny how this never seems to register with morons who can start snarling and foaming at the mouth within seconds of hearing Ralph’s name.

  84. Lawnguylander said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:25

    Then there are the exceptions: the statue-polishers, the amen-sayers, the folks who advocate in the stylized terms of a propaganda poster. And in this milieu, it’s no surprise that some wingnuts found an opportunity: ‘Aha,’ they said. ‘A bunch of liberals have formed a personality cult!’ Instead of telling these wingnuts to look in the mirror then fuck-off and die (it takes considerable chutzpah for a bunch who collectively declared their moistness and tumescence and utter submission at the sight of Dear Leader’s flight-suited package to accuse others of cultish behavior), some equally opportunistic — or inordinately paranoid — liberals, who should know better, immediately declared all discussion on the subject radioactive — worse, they deemed it “inherently rightwing.”

    When really what they (whoever they are) should have done was posted a bunch of links to Ezra Klein because that really proves there is indeed a cult on the left surrounding Obama. That would have been a good way to tell the right wing to fuck off and die.

  85. MrWonderful said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:26

    Snorghagen nails it:

    “The option is between one party that’s woefully inadequate and a second party that’s become truly evil.”

    People who say Hillary = McCain are, in my HO, getting petulant and missing the point. When you elect a prez, you elect the people he appoints and hires, and the people *they* appoint and hire. You go from Bush to Ashcroft to Brownie and worse. That alone is reason enough to hold however many noses you have and vote for any Dem over any Republican.

  86. Me said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:27

    It’s actually pretty simple–Bush really did accomplish his mission, which was to lower the bar down to the substrata.

  87. Travis said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:33

    2 things:

    ctrl+ F: Taylor Marsh = fail

    that doesn’t seem like the real Gary R up thar

  88. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:34

    Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:08

    Is it worth mentioning that there appears to be no McCain cult whatsoever?

    He’s got Dave Broder and the rest of the Beltway crew.

  89. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:37

    Is it worth mentioning that Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch are now pushing Hillary?

  90. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:38

    He’s got Dave Broder and the rest of the Beltway crew.

    Good point. My bad for thinking – saint-like I might add – only of the proles.

  91. Lawnguylander said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:38

    ctrl+ F: Taylor Marsh = fail

    Check “The BradRoll”.

    And that looks more like a cult than any Obama supporting site I’ve seen. I’ve read a bunch of threads there and haven’t seen a single dissenting voice. I tried to register recently but never got a confirmation email.

  92. Ken Lowery said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:54

    Very well, if one must be “positive,” make fucking sure it’s not in any sort of compromise whatsoever to those whom one should be against: centrism, like bipartisanship and “Moderation,” is a vice not a virtue.

    So, the ideal state here is “same shit, different pile”?

    We really want to behave exactly the same as the people we despise?

    Good to know.

  93. Hoosier X said,

    March 6, 2008 at 19:54

    you could direct your anger at those Florida Democrats, who, not content with actually voting for Bush in 2000 (and thus doing far more than Nader to elect him), are ready to vote for McCain over Obama or Clinton this time around.

    I, um, didn’t include them on the list because I don’t have any trouble developing any ire for them.

    Somtimes Ire for Hire is unnecessary.

  94. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:01

    have you stoned in the public square.

    I have been waiting for a candidate that will allow this. I’m tired of having to get stoned in my living room.

    Why doesn’t Annie Laurie have a blog? Or write on this blog? She rocks.

  95. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:03

    [Whimper!]

  96. Duros62 said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:04

    A bunch of misplaced affection for two altogether boring and typical politicians.

    Oh come on. Gore/ Leiberman? Kerry/ Edwards? Those were some boring politicians.

  97. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:12

    Why doesn’t Annie Laurie have a blog? Or write on this blog? She rocks.

    I think J— wisely suggested this once. A good idea.

  98. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:15

    Yes, it is a good idea.

    (But I happened to write that particular post, hence the whimper.)

  99. Duros62 said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:22

    As a follower of politics, I tend to judge a politician on “how they play the game.” Clinton’s politics are craven and fear-mongering. Obama’s are not. That’s how I’ll vote.

    Yup. See how easy that was?

  100. (Lex) Skink Tyree (Azagthoth) said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:29

    Well, some asswipe with photoshop is making charming images for the wingnut faction of cult-worriers. I don’t usually respond to this garbage, but I felt compelled in this case….

  101. Mr. Unhinged said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:34

    How anyone takes Ezra, or Kevin Drum, or Matt Yglesias or any of those liberal hawk, career-minded, war cheerleader pundits seriously, I’ll never understand.

    Seriously, fuck them. The only difference between those tools and Kevin Pollack is that Pollack got paid real money, while the above trio acted similarly for peanuts. Whether that indicates that they’re craven or stupid, I’ll leave you to decide.

  102. D.N. Nation said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:36

    The only *real* cult is, of course, that which centers around Nader. At least with Obama, you’ve got somewhat of a blank slate. Nader’s blatant neocon sins stink to high heaven, and yet his supporters (including a few choice people around here) offer just the following:

    - Nuh uh!
    - Eh, so? Democrats wanted to go to Iraq too. Or something.

  103. Bruce Springsteen said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:37

    there *does* seem to be a very, very common Need to Believe that runs like a particularly nubbly weft through human history

    It struck me kinda funny…..seemed kinda funny, sir, to me.

  104. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:41

    Nader’s the wind beneath my wings.

  105. PR said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:46

    Dear Mencken; Could you explain to me how we can have a President with poll numbers like he has and still have a candidate in his party expousing his platform remaining viable according to the latest polls? I’m very perplexed.

  106. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:49

    Could you explain to me how we can have a President with poll numbers like he has and still have a candidate in his party expousing his platform remaining viable according to the latest polls?

    Stop reminding me that I forgot about the McCain media love upthread.

  107. Rugged in Montana said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:49

    The Obama signs in Texas that you refer to are only in front of the houses of illegal aliens. All real Texans will back the Republican nominee in November and you know it.

  108. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 20:53

    DN has Nader Derangement Syndrome.

  109. Duros62 said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:04

    All real Texans will back the Republican nominee in November and you know it.

    I guess somebody has to.

  110. Lisa said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:08

    Jesus I forgot about how hot Ian Astbury used to be. I loved how he would do that little ass shake while he sang.

    Sigh.

    Oh…..you were saying something about Hillary and Barack?

  111. tb said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:13

    I have a justifiable case of Persistent Asshole Nader Voter Derangement Syndrome. It kicks in whenever some fuckhead poser tells me that there’s no difference between Dems and Republicans.

  112. Fuckhead Poser said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:17

    There’s no difference between Dems and Republicans.

  113. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:18

    Man, that dude is a fuckhead.

    And a poser.

  114. tb said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:25

    “RARRR”, I guess.

  115. Aloysius said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:29

    Ken,

    So, the ideal state here is “same shit, different pile”?

    We really want to behave exactly the same as the people we despise?

    Good to know.

    I for one do not oppose conservatives because they’re assholes who demonise and marginalise their opponents. I oppose them because they favour (in various mixtures) theocracy, kleptocracy, bigotry, panty-sniffing scoldery, authoritarianism, eternal war, torture, pervasive surveillance, and the denial of basic scientific facts about the world we live in like for example the global pattern of climate change which threatens the future of our whole fucking civilisation and the well-being of the entire goddamn human race. And so on. Conservatives are not my enemies because they’re mean, but because they’re trying to wreck my planet. People like Mencken (and presumably, and hopefully, you too!) are my allies not because they’re polite or civil but because we all share a commitment to ensuring that my planet is not in fact wrecked. Let’s not confuse style and substance.

  116. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:35

    The Obama signs in Texas that you refer to are only in front of the houses of illegal aliens. All real Texans will back the Republican nominee in November and you know it.

    This is my proof, from the Houston Chronicle. Where is yours?

  117. D.N. Nation said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:42

    DN has Nader Derangement Syndrome.

    What’s sad is that I’ve had Nadroids actually tell me this with no sense of irony.

    The talking points from Naderland and BushCo aren’t exactly polar opposites, which is, in fact, essential to my point. No, really, it is. And that Nader seems to be buddy-buddy already with McPain means the band is back together once again.

  118. Ken Lowery said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:43

    I for one do not oppose conservatives because they’re assholes who demonise and marginalise their opponents. I oppose them because they favour (in various mixtures) theocracy, kleptocracy, bigotry, panty-sniffing scoldery, authoritarianism, eternal war, torture, pervasive surveillance, and the denial of basic scientific facts about the world we live in like for example the global pattern of climate change which threatens the future of our whole fucking civilisation and the well-being of the entire goddamn human race. And so on. Conservatives are not my enemies because they’re mean, but because they’re trying to wreck my planet. People like Mencken (and presumably, and hopefully, you too!) are my allies not because they’re polite or civil but because we all share a commitment to ensuring that my planet is not in fact wrecked. Let’s not confuse style and substance.

    Mencken’s contention seems to be that centrism and bipartisanship—no qualifiers, just on their own—are vices. It sounds as if his only ambition for Democrats winning the presidency is so that we can go from kickees to kickers. That we simply want to perpetuate the mentality that HALF THE COUNTRY’S VOTERS are stupid and not worth listening to on anything, ever.

    Maybe Mencken was just referring to the politicians and not the voters, but you know what? He didn’t specify that.

    I didn’t sign on to be a Democrat so I could contribute to that kind of poisonous, self-perpetuating reasoning. I signed up because I’m better than that.

  119. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:48

    What’s sad is that

    DN, I’m just baiting you and it’s wholly juvenile. Ignore me.

  120. Keifus said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:49

    Nicely done, right down to the video.

    (I’ve got to remember to work that Voltaire quip into my online vocabulary somehow.)

  121. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:51

    Morality in the service of nothing is not exactly a virtue. Bipartisinship and centrism with people trying to ruin the country is foolish. A third of the country supports Bush, so the percentage of idiots is smaller than a half, but whatever.

    If we don’t kick out the people breaking the law we are not doing our duty to the country.

  122. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:52

    Mencken’s contention seems to be that centrism and bipartisanship—no qualifiers, just on their own—are vices. It sounds as if his only ambition for Democrats winning the presidency is so that we can go from kickees to kickers. That we simply want to perpetuate the mentality that HALF THE COUNTRY’S VOTERS are stupid and not worth listening to on anything, ever.

    I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. Bipartisanship and centrism in current practice have nothing to do with consultation of the populace and everything to do with the maintenance of an elite. Bipartisanship on Iraq means…what, ignoring 70% of the populace?

  123. Funkula said,

    March 6, 2008 at 21:54

    the only Cult I could ever recommend:

    Not Blue Öyster = FAIL

  124. pegleghippie said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:05

    Leadership studies is my minor, and I have to say, this piece really impressed me. The big theory that the world is enthralled with is transcendental leadership, and I’ve always been annoyed by some of the unbridled positive outlook that is often exhibited. This post illustrated the problems with that view perfectly.

  125. Sagra said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:06

    I don’t think it’s to anyone’s advantage for Obama to go negative.

    Let him look like the most positive, forgiving person in the world, and let him woo back all those Reagan Democrats without ever making them admit that they were wrong.

    While he’s doing that, the rest of us need to build the same kind of infrastructure that the Republicans have and do some of the heavy lifting ourselves. If heads need to be knocked and knees need to be capped, someone else is going to have to handle it outside the spotlight.

    For being a bottom-up party, Democrats sure are bad about wanting the president to be and do everything.

  126. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:10

    I just think it is funny that because I was an idealistic long haired bearded DFH in 2000 and voted for Nader means I’m all:

    Me and Nader is like BFF!!!1! OMG!!!!!!1!

    Your need to paint me with the broadest of strokes because of something I did 7 years ago would be comical if it weren’t so annoying.

  127. tb said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:29

    Your need to paint me with the broadest of strokes because of something I did 7 years ago…

    Who, me? I hope voting for Nader in a safe state in 2000 is pardonable, because I did it too. But for someone to be saying that Ds and Rs are the same after 7 years of this shit and a million dead Iraqis, prattling about voting their “conscience”- it makes me want to smash something.

  128. Ken Lowery said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:33

    I don’t think you’ve been paying attention. Bipartisanship and centrism in current practice have nothing to do with consultation of the populace and everything to do with the maintenance of an elite. Bipartisanship on Iraq means…what, ignoring 70% of the populace?

    Again, that’s a qualifier: “in current practice.” That isn’t what Mencken said. He’s dismissing bipartisanship altogether, which is as toxic as anything Hannity or O’Reilly say. As I said, same shit, different pile.

    Morality in the service of nothing is not exactly a virtue. Bipartisinship and centrism with people trying to ruin the country is foolish. A third of the country supports Bush, so the percentage of idiots is smaller than a half, but whatever.

    If we don’t kick out the people breaking the law we are not doing our duty to the country.

    In the service of nothing? I’m sorry, I thought we were talking about the immediate AND long-term future of the country here. Conduct (what someone else called “style”) is just as important as content. The ends do not justify the means.

    Yes, the people in power right now have got to go. But doing so by adopting the SAME GODDAMN TACTICS (and calling it fair because it’s our guys this time) is no victory.

  129. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:37

    Again, that’s a qualifier: “in current practice.”

    Right. When Mencken talks about bipartisanship, he’s talking about what it actually is. If you want to imagine a future in which Republican pols won’t be crazy, imagine it. But right now it’s fantasy, and again, has nothing really to do with the electorate.

  130. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:44

    Sorry, tb, I was referring to DN Nation.

  131. Ken Lowery said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:50

    Right. When Mencken talks about bipartisanship, he’s talking about what it actually is. If you want to imagine a future in which Republican pols won’t be crazy, imagine it. But right now it’s fantasy, and again, has nothing really to do with the electorate.

    The funny thing is that I don’t limit the possibilities to “what is currently going on” and “total pipe dream.”

    So the alternative is to keep the bad blood rolling? Do you suppose that’s a good way to get to a future in which Repub politicians are not reprehensible human beings and voting is not entirely defined by who you hate?

    If Obama gets elected on his platform of change, you know… of not continuing to do things as they’ve been done… then this has absolutely everything to do with the electorate.

  132. Mumphrey Bibblesnæð said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:58

    Everything you said is true.
    I don’t get the way people work themselves into a lather over Obama. I really don’t. I’ve tried to understand, just as I’ve tried to understand what it is that so many people see in Clinton.
    From what I can tell about Obama, he gave a big speech at the Democratic convention in 2004, and he’s been riding that ever since. And I don’t even think it was that great a speech. I mean, it was good and all, but that’s about as far as you can go in praising it.
    I think what really bugs me about those two is that all along, they’ve been running not to lose. And there’s no reason to think they won’t govern not to lose, either. And I don’t think that’s what we need right now. To fix what ails us in this country now, I think we’re going to have to overhaul things dramatically, and that means taking big chances.
    I guess I could be wrong about them both, and I hope I am, but I haven’t seen anything to make me believe there’s anything really noteworthy about them so far.
    And by the way, “no better than Ezra.” That’s great!

  133. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 22:58

    Yes, the people in power right now have got to go. But doing so by adopting the SAME GODDAMN TACTICS (and calling it fair because it’s our guys this time) is no victory.

    You know what’s a victory? Winning elections.

    You want bipartisanship with partisans. To conservatives, bipartisanship means doing whatever the Republicans want. That kind, we can do without.

    Their immoral acts are war and impoverishing the nation and its citizens, and taking away our legal freedoms. Our “immoral acts” are “kicking” Republicans and calling voters stupid. I think I can live with that.

  134. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:05

    So the alternative is to keep the bad blood rolling?

    If you believe that “governing without capitulating to torturers” is that, then yes.

  135. D.N. Nation said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:06

    Your need to paint me with the broadest of strokes because of something I did 7 years ago would be comical if it weren’t so annoying.

    Ahh, I forgot the Nader Option Three:

    - Meh. So long ago.

  136. Ken Lowery said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:07

    You want bipartisanship with partisans. To conservatives, bipartisanship means doing whatever the Republicans want. That kind, we can do without.

    Their immoral acts are war and impoverishing the nation and its citizens, and taking away our legal freedoms. Our “immoral acts” are “kicking” Republicans and calling voters stupid. I think I can live with that.

    I only have to swap out a few nouns to make this read exactly like anything the SN folks have pulled from message boards to mock. It’s “us vs. them,” the Left Wing edition.

    This shit makes me tired.

  137. Aloysius said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:08

    You want bipartisanship with partisans. To conservatives, bipartisanship means doing whatever the Republicans want. That kind, we can do without.

    Let’s not forget this old classic…

    “Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.”
    –Grover Norquist

  138. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:12

    Sorter DN Nation:

    I am superior to you, and will not rest in trying to prove it. Oh, and I’m not a democrat.

    ‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard.

  139. Hattie said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:13

    Thank you thank you for saying this. It’s exactly what I think.

  140. actor212 said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:16

    HTML, a more reasoned analysis I have not read this season.

    I haven’t scanned comments yet, but I anticipate you’ll get your ass chewed out royally.

    Me, I’m a full-throated Clinton supporter, but it’s not like I’d vote for McCain or even god help us, Nader, over Obama. I’m a Democrat because they are the (slightly) more progressive party that actually has a chance to win and move the country forward.

  141. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:17

    I only have to swap out a few nouns to make this read exactly like anything the SN folks have pulled from message boards to mock.

    Please do.

  142. Aloysius said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:17

    Ken,

    I only have to swap out a few nouns to make this read exactly like anything the SN folks have pulled from message boards to mock. It’s “us vs. them,” the Left Wing edition.

    Some might say those nouns are kinda important…

  143. El Cid said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:29

    All I have to do is change some of the danged words and parts of speech and sentences around here and all of a sudden you’d see that Sadly, No! reads just like some Stalinist Scientology pamphlet written by ESPN Classic.

  144. We Love America More Than Anyone. » deep thought of the day. said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:30

    [...] what mencken said: Eh. It’s not the support or supporters I object to, it’s the enthusiasm and the fanatics. For [...]

  145. Lawnguylander said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:30

    My theory is that DN Nation voted for Nader in 2000. In FL. In fact, he’s probably a Nader operative engaged in some kind of intrigue. Think about it.

  146. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:34

    Something.

    Because that horse carcass sure seems like its been beaten enough.

  147. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:36

    All I have to do is change some of the danged Hitlers and Hitlers of Hitler and Hitlers around Hitler and all of a sudden you’d see that Hitler! reads just like some Hitler Hitler Hitler written by Hitler Classic.

    It’s true!

  148. El Cid said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:37

    In fact, change a few words and stuff and suddenly I’ve written a fake autobiography of how I grew up as a member of a violent gang and lived the tough life of the street.

    Gang Memoir, Turning Page, Is Pure Fiction

    By MOTOKO RICH

    Published: March 4, 2008

    In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

    The problem is that none of it is true.

    Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.

    In all fairness, Jones came pretty close to the story she told:

    Ms. Seltzer added that she wrote the book “sitting at the Starbucks” in South-Central, where “I would talk to kids who were Black Panthers and kids who were gang members and kids who were not.”

    For those of you who missed it, ’tis the season where publishers deem fit to investigate the dramatic biographies of their writers:

    The revelations of Ms. Seltzer’s mendacity came in the wake of the news last week that a Holocaust memoir, “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years” by Misha Defonseca, was a fake, and perhaps more notoriously, two years ago James Frey, the author of a best-selling memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” admitted that he had made up or exaggerated details in his account of his drug addiction and recovery.

    Someday, when the wounds have healed, I’ll finally jot down some recollection about narrowly surviving the French & Indian war.

  149. HTML Mencken said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:53

    When really what they (whoever they are) should have done was posted a bunch of links to Ezra Klein because that really proves there is indeed a cult on the left surrounding Obama. That would have been a good way to tell the right wing to fuck off and die.

    Oh c’mon, man. There’s way more to it than that and you know it. He’s an example of the mentality of the average clueless fanatic. Totally fair to use. You know: use example to illustrate a point? Dig?

  150. t4toby said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:55

    We dig, dog.

    Or is it dig, dug?

  151. Susan of Texas said,

    March 6, 2008 at 23:56

    Ken–Let’s try!

    [Democrats'] immoral acts are war and impoverishing the nation and its citizens, and taking away our legal freedoms. [Republican] “immoral acts” are “kicking” [Democrats] and calling voters stupid. I think I can live with that.

    Hey, it doesn’t work. Why, Ken? Why?

    Could it be becasue we want the war to end and to keep our legal rights? And if we don’t fight for it we won’t be able to do that?

    You go sit over there and keep your hands clean. Anyone too delicate to take a stand against Republicans’ crimes and criticize them on the internet doesn’t belong in politics.

  152. billy pilgrim said,

    March 7, 2008 at 0:36

    Okay, HTML, for a DFH you make a lot of frickin sense.

    I just wanted to say that before we get back to poop jokes.

  153. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 7, 2008 at 0:44

    This is like the turd time this week you’ve invoked the poop joke. Shit.

  154. Susan of Texas said,

    March 7, 2008 at 0:44

    Yeah, we’re sick of that crap.

  155. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 7, 2008 at 1:11

    Whoopsies, bipartisanship in action…

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/181919.php

    “I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

    “I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

  156. RandomObserver said,

    March 7, 2008 at 1:24

    Why would compromise with criminals be a good idea?

    http://margalis.blogspot.com/2008/03/wiretap-compromise-in-works-huzzah.html

    Here is a run down on the FISA “compromise.” On one side you have people upholding the law, on the other side you have people undermining it. Why should the guards compromise with the inmates?

    Why should we compromise with people who think ignoring the Constitution is a great idea? The “compromise” we usually get is a complete cave by Democrats but even a 50/50 split makes no sense.

    Who else should we compromise with? Pedophiles and rapists? Monarchists and theocrats?

    When one side takes a very moderate position and the other side takes an extreme position splitting the difference does the public no favors. In cases like FISA and the Iraq war the “moderate” position is still to the right of MOST AMERICANS.

    As far as not voting, perfect is the enemy of good, or maybe more accurately perfect is the enemy of better. It takes a real mental laziness to say that because two things are similar they are exactly equal, be them policies or candidates.

  157. This Is Just Really, Really Smart And Funny And Good « Beware The Man said,

    March 7, 2008 at 1:33

    [...] March 6, 2008 This Is Just Really, Really Smart And Funny And Good Posted by John O under Political | Tags: cult of personality, don’t go there, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the way better, HTML Mencken, Obamamania, Obamaniacs, Sadly No! |   A lot of ground covered here, but there is no question HTML is one of the great writers and thinkers of my time.  [...]

  158. mikey said,

    March 7, 2008 at 1:35

    And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

    “I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

    What??

    Excuse me. WHAT???

    When, exactly, did she do that? Go ahead and tell us when you filled in for Bill, what, when he had a tummy ache?

    Why does she keep claiming that just LIVING IN THE SAME FUCKING HOUSE gives her the experience to be president? Somebody needs to make her say what decisions she made, what negotiations she managed, what crisis she averted. Because this is just getting beyond stupid…

    mikey

  159. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 7, 2008 at 1:52

    Obviously the nuclear threat from Iraq has been averted…

  160. John O said,

    March 7, 2008 at 2:02

    Ezra and his fellow Sensible Centrists are like that guy you know who is absolutely, totally, completely Not Gay. Except that he’s never had a real relationship with an adult woman, because, well, women are just so disappointing, y’know? He knows that his Perfect Woman is out there somewhere, but whenever he thinks he’s found The One, she turns out to be unavailable, or gay, or crazy, or needy, or unsympathetic, or too career-oriented, or not career-oriented enough, or just “not right”. After, say, ten years and twenty-five abortive ‘love affairs’ (not counting the one that culminated in restraining orders all round), you begin to suspect that your acquaintance… might not really be all that interested in a long-term relationship. Or possibly he’s just not interested in a long-term relationship with a woman. Because someone who’s actually turned on by the sight of a penis is never going to be happy in a sexual relationship with a woman, and someone (like Ezra) who’s looking for “transcendence” is never going to be happy in a relationship with a politician.

    AL, I love you, but being “one of those guys” I have to object here. I’m 49 this month, make a good buck; I’m not physically hideous, etc., but have never been married, though close twice. It isn’t sexual preference, it is a recognition that marriage is just another set of problems I don’t have now. Some of my current “problems” would, in theory, be solved by getting married, but others I don’t currently suffer would appear. Duh.

    Book suggestion for all: “Against Love, A Polemic,” by Dr. Laura Kipnis. Hilarious, brilliant, well argued, well documented, and just an all-around eye-opener and breath of fresh air for those of us who think marriage isn’t the end-all, be-all of personal life.

    As I like to say, about 51% of the time I’m happy to be single. Sue me.

    Marriage is a legal/property arrangement. Some of my best parents are married, and all of my best friends, so I don’t reject getting married myself nor being married in general. I think there are a zillion great things about it. So, too, however, about being single.

    It’s just sad that being a “centrist” is related in the way you did.

  161. OneMan said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:02

    So as usual, I’m late to the game but: point taken about cultish, febrile followers of anybody.

    That said, please do not confuse “centrism” with “triangulation.” They are not the same. A centrist, in my eyes, can see more than one side of issues (no, not all of them, the Iraq war was objectively stupid). A centrist can listen to multiple points-of-view, consider the motivations of the presenter, and (theoretically) craft a direction that is acceptable to the majority of people.

    This may involve some triangulation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it unheard-of in the political arena. There has to be some give-and-take in order to move an agenda, or part of an agenda, forward. I’m OK with that, in fact I support it. Beats the shit out of the my-way-or-the-highway attitude of the current administration.

    You can be a triangulator without being a centrist. Arguably, what upset so many people about Clinton, on both sides of the aisle, was that he fairly quickly abandoned his ideals (gays in the military, universal health care, etc.) when he met opposition (rabid as it was) in favor of triangulation without really moving the agenda forward at all. He ended up demonstrating that he didn’t really believe in anything. Mrs. Clinton seems to be playing from the same sheet music.

    Now I don’t claim to know what Obama really believes. I do know he turned down an opportunity to make himself personally wealthy in order to organize in Chicago. That’s an indicator of some ideals. I hope he’ll do what he promises, which is to work across the aisle to package proposals that are acceptable to (moderates in) both parties and that can make America a little bit better place to live.

    Finally, to you who bitch that C & O aren’t liberal enough: I will reiterate (and elaborate on) what mikey has said in other threads. You have three choices. McCain, Clinton or Obama. Pick one. Do what you can or wish to do to support your choice. Fucking participate. Quit wringing your hands about who you don’t get to choose…it serves no purpose.

  162. Lawnguylander said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:12

    Oh c’mon, man. There’s way more to it than that and you know it. He’s an example of the mentality of the average clueless fanatic. Totally fair to use. You know: use example to illustrate a point? Dig?

    I do dig and I do agree that he’s an example of a mindless fanatic so let’s make fun of him and his type. I’m questioning how representative he is. And the right wing and Clinton meme is not just that if you look you’ll eventually find some assholes like Ezra Klein out there writing creepy paeans to Obama but that the “Cult Thing” is the explanation for Obama’s success. That’s a pretty convenient explanation for the wingnuts and worth calling bullshit on because it ignores the past 7 years. I think anger not enthusiasm is the main factor that has people showing up for primaries in record numbers and voting for Democrats by huge margins. That anger has to be felt by a good chunk of the youngsters but whatever is bringing them out (and brought them out in 2006) I’ll take it. They’re a hell of a lot less likely to vote for Republicans than my generation.

  163. Tyro said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:41

    Wow. Reading this thread makes me realize that there really are people who are Democrats because they believe in a certain “political aesthetic”– they believe that being a Democrat is about being the “nice guy” rather than being a Republican who’s the “mean guy.”

    In so far as I believe in a “process” of government, that doesn’t make me a Democrat, it makes me an American. I believe in our process: one with a bicameral legislature, a strong executive, and an independent judiciary. The mechanisms of our elections have resulted in a strong, adversarial two-party system. What makes me a Democrat is because I believe in a strong national infrastructure, promoting freedom for people to live their lives as they choose, protecting people from the depredations of the more powerful, providing effective government services, and not reflexively going to war for stupid reasons. That means opposing interest groups that are against those things, not finding the “middle ground” between what I’m for and what I’m against.

    Being a Democrat does not mean “wants all solutions to come through comprised agreements.” It means “wants a specific set of solutions to be implemented.” If someone comes along who’s going to get the public to be more amenable to the policies Democrats support, that’s who I’m going to support. If that same politician makes it harder for Republican policies to get passed, then I’m in support of that, too. If you don’t care what policies are formed, as long as they’re formed in the “right way,” then you’re not supporting Democratic party values, you just happen to be against Republicans, right now. People’s lives depend on passing laws supported by the Democratic party. No one died because their rhetoric alienated Republican extremists.

  164. El Cid said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:47

    What triangulation meant by DLC Democrats was that you would specifically select a legislative initiative which could only be passed by a strong majority of Republicans and a minority of conservative Democrats, in order to isolate and sideline the liberal, labor, and progressive Democrats who might get in the way of policy passing.

    Not only was this strategy effective at getting policies passed, but it helped move the goal of isolating and weaking the liberals and labor-tied Democrats they thought were harming the party.

    NAFTA is the perfect example of that. An agreement stemming from the PRI dictator rat Carlos Salinas, negotiated under George Bush Sr., and then pushed through Congress by Bill Clinton with a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats against a majority of Democrats, in both House & Senate.

    The super-bright strategy also managed to lose the Congress for a dozen years as well as most local governments, and set the stage for Bush Jr’s absolute takeover of all branches of government from 2002 – 2006.

  165. HTML Mencken said,

    March 7, 2008 at 3:52

    Lawnguylander:

    Closely inspect this passage (it might be called the Ecstasy of St. Ezra), the fawning sentiments of which are not too hard to find expressed elsewhere (and not just about Obama — Hillary, too) on the internet.

  166. aaron aardvark said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:13

    … it’s not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate …

    You might want to review your high school history book or check Wikipedia, or something. If you do you will find that FDR was not exactly FDR … until he became president. Before that he was a more-or-less typical political hack whose respectable but relatively undistinguished career in politics could be attributed mostly to the fact that he shared to same last name as TR. No one predicted that he would become a truly great president.

  167. Smut Clyde said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:15

    “I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

    I know that this is not my business, but this does seem like an odd way to campaign. “Of the two choices for Democratic candidate, I am the one who is most like an inferior copy of the Republican candidate, so that is why you should pick me.”

    What is this “commander-in-chief threshold” that it’s imperative that candidates should be able to demonstrate they can cross?
    [verbiage removed for clarity]

  168. Tyro said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:15

    The big theory that the world is enthralled with is transcendental leadership, and I’ve always been annoyed by some of the unbridled positive outlook that is often exhibited.

    People are always interested in something bigger than themselves. Period. If you don’t over them that, someone else will. Perhaps someone more dangerous. But unless you’re willing to change the US into a monarchy with a head of state that Americans can focus their feelings of national leadership on while the PM does all the work, we’ve got to find presidential candidates that the public is going to follow in our goal towards passing more liberal policies. My experience with elections is that candidates like Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis are not those candidates.

  169. HTML Mencken said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:20

    History book? What’s that? Maybe Ezra has one I can borrow…

    Anyway, while FDR was far better than expectations, he was still in 1932 obviously far to the Left of Hoover and indeed every president prior. No, not as wonderfully radical as he turned out, but far more willing to push the envelope of his day than Obama and Clinton are willing to push in ours. But then it’s been a while since high school so for all I know FDR actually campaigned as a libertarian.

  170. Djur said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:36

    Uh, John O: The description you quoted may or may not describe you, but it certainly doesn’t say anything about getting married. It is possible to have long-term and/or meaningful relationships with women without ever being married.

  171. D.N. Nation said,

    March 7, 2008 at 4:47

    Shorter t4toby:

    Yeah, I supported setting the house on fire. But blame the matches first. Actually, don’t blame anything. Look over there. Chocolate tastes good. I like sunny days. What were we talking about, again? Caddy smells like trees.

  172. Ed Marshall said,

    March 7, 2008 at 5:18

    HTML, I’ve been biting my tongue for awhile, not with you but a bunch of people who were former Edward’s guys and I should probably still keep my mouth shut but if you really believed in the scales-fell-from-his-eyes-on-the-road-to-damascus sort of conversion where the proudly DLC Senator turned Vice-President who got up in front of the convention in 2004 and told that crowd we were going to “win” in Iraq and lost and wandered into Iowa and turned into the guy who suddenly discovered the poor and the evils of war as he campaigned in Iowa for four years to take another stab at it…I just don’t want to hear about your hard-bitten realism.

  173. HTML Mencken said,

    March 7, 2008 at 5:24

    Ed – not true. I actually had ppl in the Edwards campaign complaining about my non-endorsing semi-defenses of him.

    All I said was that at least he was saying the right things, and as long as he did and stayed in the race, it make the other two do better things. All that was right. Show me where I fawned over Edwards anywhere. Really. I didn’t even qualify as a supporter, for Christ’s sake (though maybe I should have gone that extra step in retrospect).

  174. HTML Mencken said,

    March 7, 2008 at 5:31

    Ed — post you probably remember. Show me where I stoop to the level of a religious nut in it.

    And recall that that post was part of a concerted push by many blogs with a specific result in mind. It was encouragement, not endorsement. And certainly not the I’m-feeling-the-Rapture sort of shit I’m cautioning against in this post.

  175. Heretic said,

    March 7, 2008 at 6:07

    Random Observer:

    Again, you make good points, but seem to be missing mine. Or ignoring them, which is up to you. But when you say,

    As far as not voting, perfect is the enemy of good, or maybe more accurately perfect is the enemy of better. It takes a real mental laziness to say that because two things are similar they are exactly equal, be them policies or candidates.

    I have to go back to talking about brains and skulls. Clintons like to bomb Southeast Europe, Bushes like to bomb Southwest Asia. I don’t want ANY war, and I demand socialized medicine and education. Give it to us or fuck off.

    Also, you have said nothing about my point re: other democratic systems that seem to work better because they allow for a larger range of opinions. The whole damn system is broken, and the only way we’ll ever do anything about is by not giving in until it changes.

  176. mikey said,

    March 7, 2008 at 6:11

    Hokay, I’m officially confused.

    Heretic. Describe “giving in” in terms I can understand.

    Describe “fighting back” in terms I can understand.

    Describe what you believe I should do this november in clear, stark english words.

    Then tell me why you think these things will improve the lives of regular americans, not to mention iraqis.

    mikey

  177. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 7, 2008 at 6:12

    The whole damn system is broken, and the only way we’ll ever do anything about is by not giving in until it changes.

    It’s a pretty small effort to vote AND do other things.

  178. Russell said,

    March 7, 2008 at 8:57

    Sara Robinson has been looking at the old conservative strategy that has set them up to win so many elections:

    Don’t be afraid to set ‘em on fire
    The hard, cold fact is that words and logic will never get us down to the deep, pre-rational places where people’s foundational worldviews are shaped. If we want to create change at that foundational level, we need to engage them emotionally, in the pre-verbal places where images, poetry, myths, and ritual reside.

    The first thing we need to do is lighten way up on the long recitations of facts and figures and programs and policies. Most non-wonks don’t care about this stuff — the details just make them yawn. They’re bored by promises of new programs: most Americans are pretty well convinced by now that whatever the program is or how well-funded it may be, they probably won’t see any personal benefit from it, so it comes across as an empty promise. Yet Democratic candidates all the way back to Walter Mondale have been running and losing on just this kind of dispassionate, uninspiring wonk-talk. And then we wonder why the conservatives keep whipping our asses.

    You’ll seldom catch conservatives talking wonky. They’re told from their very first candidate trainings to steer clear of anything that dwells on abstract facts or figures. People want viscerally engaging stories — emotional stories about people like them, inspiring mythic tales taken from history that express their highest ideals, vivid invocations outlining the shining details of a better future to come. They want clear-cut portrayals of good guys and bad guys that reverberate with the promise that justice will be done, and that they will be honored in the end as agents for good. We may grow up, but we never lose our childhood taste for an illustrative tale well-told. The conservatives knew this from the beginning, and turned this knowledge into a potent political strategy.

    Mitt was singularly bad at it, which explains much of his failure. (McCain’s not much of an inspirational speaker, either.) On the other hand, Obama is singularly good at it, which is why he’s doing so well — even though the emotional outpouring he inspired by hitting these buttons makes a lot of more reason-based liberals squirm and reach for words like “cult” and “mass hysteria.” It’s potent proof of just how very uncomfortable we are with this — and also that we need to get serious about getting ourselves over it. Because Obama is doing exactly what every great progressive icon of the past did — and every modern progressive needs to learn to do — if we’re going to inspire the nation and get people to commit themselves, body and soul, to our worldview.

    We’ve got a different message; but we’ve also got a long tradition of progressive speakers (Jefferson, TR, FDR, JFK, MLK) who knew how to tell our story in ways that grabbed people’s imaginations and set them on fire. It’s a proud liberal tradition that we are way past due to reclaim — and the conservatives are going to keep beating us until we do.

    Fiery rhetoric doesn’t mean surrendering all agency to some messiah-ish figure, nor does it mean abandoning all democratic responsibility. Liberals are so fucking attached to being ironically (ironically) detached from everything, coolly cynical about all politicians being evil fucking douchbags who do nothing–nothing–that isn’t in their own interest, that we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. Yeah, that view is largely true, but it’s not always. And so what? By being so cynical, you help create the apathy that drives American politics, and allows George Bush to steal elections and kill millions of civilians. If you expected more, you’d get more.

    These are the kind of ideas that win. In a democracy, nay, in human life, you’ve got to be a realist about these sorts of things, and not hole up in the nuclear bunker every time some crowd gets to cheering. Ain’t nothing wrong with getting a little wound up about someone. In fact, that’s really all you can expect. Most people (including liberals) don’t have highly detailed reasons why they support exact policies–they have a mindset that they cram everything into. Liberals’ failure to beat back the conservatives’ success in this area is one of the main reasons we are where we are.

  179. Righteous Bubba said,

    March 7, 2008 at 8:59

    Liberals are so fucking attached to being ironically (ironically) detached from everything, coolly cynical about all politicians being evil fucking douchbags who do nothing–nothing–that isn’t in their own interest

    Liberals, huh?

  180. Heretic said,

    March 7, 2008 at 9:09

    Giving in = voting for a candidate who (although slightly better than the EVIL that infests the White House) does not represent your political views.

    I didn’t talk about fighting back. My whole deal is that I’m not in to this whole struggle thing. It does not need to be a fight at all. Good government comes from rational people acting in enlightened self-interest. That, in plain English, means you want things like a smaller military budget and socialized medicine because they benefit you along with everyone else.

    If you want to improve the lives of Americans and Iraqis, as well as others, don’t vote for those thugs. If you want to vote for a thug-enabler like HRC, that’s your call. She could easily be worse. If you want to vote for Obama, again, that’s your call. He’s got a decent voting record, but I doubt he’ll do anything to radically improve anything.

    Are they both better than the Resident? Yes, obviously. Would they be better than McCain? Almost 100% positive they would. Are they the best that America’s got? I don’t think anyone here would argue that.

    I don’t believe in gradualism. I don’t believe in holding my breath and voting for someone who isn’t what I think a leader should be even though they’re marginally better. And yes, although people find ways to try to paper this over, there is truly only marginal difference between Democrats and Republicans, especially speaking from the perspective of the 95% of the world that is not American, and could not give a fuck which states allow abortion as long as the bastards don’t bomb us. There is no room right now in the American two-party system for anything but aggressive consumerist imperialism or nicer, liberal aggressive consumerist imperialism. Sorry if that’s too left for you.

  181. Adam said,

    March 7, 2008 at 9:46

    This is perhaps the most thoughtful and liberal screed I’ve read about the present election.

    And to top it off, you ended with “She Sells Sanctuary.”

    Well done.

  182. Dr Zen said,

    March 7, 2008 at 10:02

    If McCain wins in November, everyone who refused to vote for Clinton/Obama (whichever wins), gets to be called a cunt every time they show their stupid faces anywhere on the interwebnets, because we don’t deserve eight more years of these arseholes just because you decided to be a prick about your guy losing.

  183. Heretic said,

    March 7, 2008 at 10:48

    Dr Zen-

    I will happily let you call me a cunt for not voting for Obama or Clinton if McCain wins and is as awful as many people fear. But only if McCain actually wins fairly. Which is probably impossible, so he’s most likely working his connections over at Diebold right now. I repeat, the system is broken.

  184. RandomObserver said,

    March 7, 2008 at 12:19

    “Good government comes from rational people acting in enlightened self-interest”

    What you are espousing is irrational and easily demonstrated so with simple game theory.

    If you have a preferred outcome and you choose to act in a way that does not advance that preferred outcome you are behaving irrationally.

  185. RandomObserver said,

    March 7, 2008 at 12:26

    On voting day there will be exactly two possible outcomes:

    Republican victory
    Democratic victory

    If you prefer a Democratic victory then not voting Democratic is irrational. Period. And you say yourself you prefer Democratic victory.

    “Are they both better than the Resident? Yes, obviously. Would they be better than McCain? Almost 100% positive they would. Are they the best that America’s got? I don’t think anyone here would argue that.”

    What is your alternative? Not voting accomplishes what exactly?

  186. RandomObserver said,

    March 7, 2008 at 12:33

    (Triple post yay!)

    “Also, you have said nothing about my point re: other democratic systems that seem to work better because they allow for a larger range of opinions. The whole damn system is broken, and the only way we’ll ever do anything about is by not giving in until it changes.”

    I’m all for electoral change. Sorry I didn’t see your comments about this earlier. Yes, the system is broken. I just don’t see what that has to do with election day itself.

    By all means, crusade for electoral change. Fight for better candidates. Use carrots and sticks. Agitate. Threaten to withold votes.

    I’m for all those things. But on election day itself the time for those things has passed. At that point switching to another electoral system or a new set of candidates is not an option.

    You don’t have to like it, you can hate it and you can try to change it. But on election day, if it hasn’t changed, the rational thing is to vote for the best candidate. Voting is not “giving in.” Not voting doesn’t hurt the man or the system and it doesn’t affect change. In fact not voting retards change because the fewer voters there are the more the political landscape can be dominated by an insane vocal minority.

    I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool democrat. Our political process and our media is broken and both parties suck. Tis true. But until it changes I’ll vote for the better candidate because nothing else makes sense. Not voting doesn’t *accomplish* anything.

  187. pegleghippie said,

    March 7, 2008 at 16:22

    People are always interested in something bigger than themselves. Period. If you don’t over them that, someone else will. Perhaps someone more dangerous. But unless you’re willing to change the US into a monarchy with a head of state that Americans can focus their feelings of national leadership on while the PM does all the work, we’ve got to find presidential candidates that the public is going to follow in our goal towards passing more liberal policies. My experience with elections is that candidates like Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis are not those candidates.

    I don’t have a problem with the idea of calling people to something bigger than themselves, I have a problem with how little critical thought is applied to any given ‘transforming leader.’ The literature on the subject nearly universally assumes that a good transforming leader has the best interests of his/her followers at heart. The reality is that with transforming leadership, an incredibly effective, powerful method has been spelled out, with no natural checks exist to keep such a method from being corrupted. THAT, is my problem with ‘cult of personality’ type leaders.

  188. El Cid said,

    March 7, 2008 at 16:45

    The only candidate who truly represents my views is me.

    So why should I ever vote for any other sell-out and betrayal of conscience like Clinton, Obama, Nader, or anyone else, instead of writing myself in as the true candidate of my progressive change?

    Sure, I won’t get elected, and sure, the country will even get sh*ttier, but, hey, at least I voted my views — because there is nothing in the universe at all which is more important than my views.

  189. Tyro said,

    March 7, 2008 at 23:09

    My whole deal is that I’m not in to this whole struggle thing.

    Well, our system of government is adversarial, so it’s always going to be dissatisfying to you.

    Good government comes from rational people acting in enlightened self-interest.

    One of the most important realizations you can make about our two-party system is that self-interests of two opposing parties frequently collide. Sometimes there is a “win-win” situation that can be agreed upon, but in lots of cases, political policies are zero-sum for the two interest groups: one group wins and comes away with more, and one group loses and comes away with less.

    Not every solution comes through a blue-ribbon commission made up of elders statesmen and Brookings Institute scholars. To even appoint that blue-ribbon commission, you have defeat a lot of politicians who are going to be standing in the way.

  190. jayinbmore said,

    March 8, 2008 at 0:43

    I’d comment on substantively on this post but I’m busy saying “amen” and forming a personality cult around HTML Mencken. SRSLY.

  191. John O said,

    March 8, 2008 at 2:47

    Djur, you’re right, but read the book. It isn’t exclusively focused on “marriage,” it’s about “love.” And I knew the “he doth protest too much” posts were coming…I can take it because I have been the butt of “you must be gay” jokes since I was a very young man. It just doesn’t bother me, because I don’t see anything wrong with being gay, and because I know which human gender I want to get jiggy with.

    Now, on more serious matters. I vote third party in virtually every election I can when I see no difference in the outcome, or no substantive difference in the candidates. The system IS broken; I learned the hard way by trying to become a candidate in 2000 for my 10th Congressional district in IL. I needed roughly 12,000 signatures, my opponents on either side needed less than 700. That among other fun systematic things amounted to quite an eye-opener.

    But I just don’t understand the Democratic cannibalism on any level that resembles practical reality. In macro terms, comparing it to working in Corporate America, where I often say to virtual unanimous agreement, “this is Dilbert shit.” And everyone says, “Yeah,” and I say, “But it doesn’t have to be! If we know it is Dilbert shit, why don’t we avoid it?” Because we can’t, I’m starting to think.

    This campaign is the same, just in a different world. I HATED Power’s resignation; I think Obama should have, in his own eloquent way, said, “Fuck you.” The substance of it doesn’t matter, since they can still talk on the phone all the time just like Bush and Rove. It’s the optics that matter, and if Obama (whom I lean towards) wants to get elected, he’s going to have to fight in the trenches, not because that is the way it should be, but because that is the way it IS. Particulary against a great infighter like Hillary.

    I just don’t get the insane partisanship. It’s like a sports team willing to lose so one guy gets to set the records. It’s like a band willing to toss away their fame over a dispute about who gets writing credit.

    THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO WIN IN THE FALL. Hillary, IMHO, believes with all her heart and soul she can and will do a better job, and in some respects I agree that is true, but she’s behaving abhorently to win. And she’s dragging Obama down into traditional political mud to do it. I’m tired of it.

    I don’t understand the Cult of Personality that surrounds either candidate. All I want is a Democrat in the WH next January. And larger majorities in both houses.

    I find Taylor Marsh brilliant about a whole bunch of stuff, but her obsessive Obama bashing and ignoring the Clinton baggage has become insufferable to me. It makes me sad. There ARE Obama cultists, and they make me weirded-out.

    It’s all very interesting when one detaches. HC is, IMO, much better suited to flip the tiny levers of the giant black hole that is government bureaucracy much quicker than Obama. Obama, OTOH, has brought one big serious shitload of new voters into the process, and I think the down-ticket would be better under him. I WANT to be inspired, despite rationally knowing that inspiration goes just about as far as the votes you have in Congress as far as policy implementation goes. I don’t want to hear about shit that happened in the ’90′s over and over and over again, which I sincerely believe will get in the way of any “change.”

    At this exact moment, I’d like to see Obama do a speech in African-American FU idiom, while managing to make it funny and “kidding on the square” and polite and all the stuff Obama is good at, simultaneously. A tough speech to write, and deliver, no question, but I think it would show a lot of America he has the goods.

    Blah, blah, blah. We’ll see how it plays out. The only thing I can say for sure is that it will play out in macro terms without anyone being able to do anything about it.

    The Human Experience is wild.

  192. John O said,

    March 8, 2008 at 2:49

    Oh, and this is central to my thesis: Anyone who refuses to vote for either candidate is a moron. Change comes incrementally at this (the Presidential) level, always.

    As it is, so it has been, and will always be.

  193. John O said,

    March 8, 2008 at 3:11

    Just one more thing, since I doubt anyone is reading this.

    Samantha Power is teh HOT, and she can hang with me anytime she wants. I don’t think HC is a “monster,” but I sure as hell don’t think it is out of bounds to say she’s behaving like one.

    The primary difference between my Obama vote and my Clinton vote is that I’ll be holding my nose much tighter for the Clinton checkmark.

    I don’t think I’m alone.

  194. Cross Posted At S,N! « Beware The Man said,

    March 8, 2008 at 3:23

    [...] shit, Hillary v Obama, mean, the politics of winning, tough |   In response to the brilliant HTML Mencken’s post about, well, all kinds of [...]

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  196. Johnny Pez said,

    March 9, 2008 at 1:42

    After all, it’s not as if either Clinton or Obama are exactly FDR incarnate

    “A pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President.” — Walter Lippmann, on FDR, 28 April 1932

  197. a very public sociologist said,

    March 9, 2008 at 17:51

    Sitting as a bemused Brit who watches the Clinton/Obama sycophants on telly, the apparent enthusiasm/fanaticism is puzzling given how insipid both candidates are. There is no grand vision and no promise of radical breaks with the past. At least here you know anyone on TV who is enthusiastically pro-Tories/LibDems/New Labour are probably employed by one of the parties.

    My advice to lefties is give both Democrat candidates a wide berth.

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    March 10, 2008 at 2:16

    [...] the cooler heads, this instant classic has been making the rounds, by HTML Mencken at Sadly, No! The Cult Thing: Eh. It’s not the support or supporters I object to, it’s the enthusiasm and the fanatics. For [...]

  199. Sadly, No! » I Am an Anti-Semite and I Should Thank the Folks Who Tell Me So said,

    June 15, 2008 at 2:07

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