Panic on the Left? Please.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man. Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

You don’t get it. If have used the term Obamaniacs, Anointed One or Obamania in a negative fashion, then you simple miss out on the appeal of this particular person. This maybe for deeply held personal convictions or base, shallow opinions on race. Regardless, you simple do not get it, let alone grok it. Yet without understanding, or even attempting to understand, why my candidates platform, message and personality is so inspiring, you have the audacity to claim that I (and by extension other members of the so called Fringe Left) are in panic mode.


As a self-appointed spokesperson of the Liberal Agenda, I will tell you exactly what is going on.

We are not worried about the quality of our candidate. If you want real change–and not a pair of Mavericks in Name Only–the choice is simple. If you want to end partisan bickering–and not a pit bull who co-opts feminist language when it suits her needs–the choice is obvious. Our candidate’s message is clear. The methods behind the change has been proclaimed on the stump and in front of 38 Million People. We are not quaking because of message.

We are worried about an opponent who, on one hand, claims will unify the country, and in the other he releases the leash on his pit bul so she can attack community organizers. We are worried about willful ignorance. We are worried that the American people will let themselves be fooled into a false sense of change because their lives are so complicated by the reality of home (living pay check to paycheck, the threat of bank collapse, personal bankruptcy and foreclosure) that they do not have the time nor the energy to research the truth.

We are worried that Bitter Cynicism has taken over the American Dream.  That individuals who foster a false division in the American people,saying that there is only enough to go around for some of us, have destroyed the ideal that we are a country of infinite compassion and resource.

We are worried about these things and more, but we are not in panic mode. We will panic if, on November 5 we wake up and find another four years of failed policies, partisanship and Faux Mavericks. Even if such a thing occurs, the Left is not going away; however, our tactics will need to change.

What some of my friends and family on the right do not understand is that this campaign is not just a referendum on W, McCain or Obama. It is a referendum on what the American people want in government. Do we want to be lied to, made to feel unimportant and that we cannot change our fractured system, or will we be allowed to take responsiblity for ourselves and our government.

Before someone shouts, “But the Republicans are the party of Self Government!,” remember that the Republican Party, as led by Bush and Cheney, has made access to our government more difficult. They have built a society of “ownership” that creates an idea that America is finite in intellect, compassion and resources. That we cannot help our friends and neighbors because in doing so, we harm our own future.

McCain/Palin–or as some have put it, Palin/McCain–needs that cynical and simple thought process to work. They believe the world is a simple and dangerous place: That poverty can be solved by boot strapping, that terrorism can be stopped with torture and the annihilation of those who do not subscribe to our world view, that there are fundamental and permanent differences between the Fringe Left and their “Righteous Right.”

The world is not simple, nor is it as dangerous as we are made to believe it is. This is not to say that there are not people who want to kill, maim and murder others just because they are “other” (or, specifically in our case, American). Those people do exist and those people need to be handled effectively and completely–but that does not necessarily mean by bombs and bullets. Obama understand the nuances and he has a plan. McCain is out of touch with the nuances and his running mate is willfully ignorant to the reality facing us at home and abroad.

Many of these same willfully ignorant people, the same who tout their religion as a core reason to vote for the Palin/McCain ticket, use cynical pseudo-religious rhetoric when describing Obama. The Obamessiah being the most ridiculous I have seen to date. It is insulting to believers, agnostics and atheists who believe in the platform and message as stated by Obama. For believers, it is an accusation of false idolatry. For agnostics and atheists, it is a slap in the face of reason.

And that is their point: to insult reason, compromise and understanding and bolster cynicism. That is the Republican’s ticket biggest weapon. It is not a series competing ideas. To date, the only ideas they have shared go against the very bills proposed by Senator McCain.  All they have are a series of base, foolish (but “Funny”) ad-hominem attacks. To further foster their attacks, when retorts are made by the Obama campaign, the claim instant victimhood.

A wounded Pit Bull. A Maligned War Hero. This is part of their cynical strategy. They ignore their own attacks, empty promises and vitriol, and play on the side of the wounded party. That is cynicism to its very core. And they will keep these divisive comments, half-truths, lies and partisan attacks through the media, then lambast the media for not showing “due deference” when they are called out for their distorted record.

Because it is so simple, the American people, who have battered by war, economic hard ship, and the incompetence of the most partisan administration in modern history, may chose this false sense of security proffered by Palin/McCain. This is troubling, but it is not panic inducing.

Panic is a Supreme Court with a majority of UltraConservatives who believe that the Anti-Hero Jack Bauer is real.

Panic is the rise of back alley abortions caused by the appeal of Roe vs. Wade.

Panic is watching bridges collapse over Minnesota because our infrastructure is left to corporations who cut corners to boost profits.

Panic is watching our country bomb another country because of our unwillingness to engage in diplomacy.

Panic is watching our allies fall to a Bear because our own military is making the Middle East safe for Big Oil.

That, readers, is panic. A dip in the polls is a kick in the ass to get the message out. Please stop confusing the two.

(I reserve the right to make edits and proof this at a later date. In fact, another blogger has already submitted a proof. A revision is incoming.)

(Update #1:  Tweaked some language, corrected a few typos.  Thanks Shoe-Thief!)

(Update #2: At Seth’s request, I am locking comments. There will be an Open Thread to discuss whatever is going on in the comments.)

30 thoughts on “Panic on the Left? Please.

  1. Earlier today, I told Marty I was nervous about the election. He told me to read this post, and then to do something about it. So I thought for a while, and then I posted this up on Facebook. Since he doesn’t have Facebook, I’m pasting what I said there on here.


    “I always feel the need, as I write a Facebook note, to start with a disclaimer of sorts. Whether it’s to clarify for others or to make myself feel better, I’ll leave to someone else to discuss. Regardless, I will say it: I hesitate to post notes like this because I believe that all too often they are used as simply another means to gain attention. “Dear Facebook. Mood, apathetic.”, and so on.
    That said… I really do feel the need to write something, here.

    A little about me, first. I’m liberal, and anyone who talks to me for a few minutes about any political issue could probably figure that out for themselves. I’ll be voting for Obama by absentee ballot. If I thought a Third Party had a chance, I’d look into their platform, but until then, I typically vote for whichever major party gets closest to what I’d like to have done.

    Now- there’s about two months until the election and, after both conventions, the parties are essentially tied. Your Guy might have My Guy by two points in State X, or vice versa, but even the best polls have a margin of error of +/-3, so any state in which there isn’t a 5 point edge is, at the end of the day, anyone’s guess. With maybe only one or two “battleground” states leaning significantly one way or the other, I think it’s safe to assume that the country is pretty much evenly divided on their ideas of who should be leading us, come January.
    Which is, with only two really viable parties, probably how it should be. Two parties, two halves, you get the picture. I’m not trying to endorse the status quo, I’m just saying that this is something you’d expect to see.

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heavily invested in this election. I have very strong feelings about what this country should do in the next four years, and if I don’t see a result I like in November, I’m gonna be fairly upset about it. But even if my boy doesn’t get elected, this isn’t what worries me- because we could be staring down the barrel of the same scenario even if the Democrats *do* win.

    The country is getting polarized. Its been like this for… as long as I’ve been politically minded, which really started in 2000. I don’t remember it being this bad before that point, but I do recognize that it’s been getting worse since then. Much, much worse. And that’s the real danger to America, guys. Not whether Obama or McCain gets elected- those are details at this point.
    Yeah. Who holds the office of the President is an afterthought, and its because people aren’t willing to seriously work together, putting aside differences.

    The two “halves” of the country look at each other not as opponents, these days, but as enemies. We nurture the notion that the enemy is “evil” or “inherently wrong”, or “diametrically opposed to doing what’s right for America”. And I mean, aside from the few politician-scumbags that actually are out for their own good above ours, are we really so blind as to think that the actual *people* of the country are out to get us? Am I to believe that the people in Texas, or Idaho, or Ohio are buck-toothed, backwoods hicks who’d give up every other civil liberty if they were allowed to keep their guns? Are they to believe that the people in Maryland, New Jersey and California are sniveling, pinko commies that get off to raising taxes and disclaiming the existence of God? Are we REALLY going to allow the powers that be to simplify our fellow man to the lowest common denominator?

    What scares me half to death isn’t so much the idea of John McCain in office. I disagree with him on issues, but I don’t doubt he has what he believes to be America’s best interests at heart (or as much of those interests as any politician can really have). What scares me half to death is the idea that, if McCain wins, half of the country will be popping the wine bottles while the other half is wailing and gnashing their teeth. What REALLY scares me is that, once again, people will be left so bitter from this election that they will be unwilling to work together after the dust has settled. And because the election is, at the moment, a nigh dead-even split, this result could happen no matter who wins. Even if Obama takes it, half of the nation could be unwilling to work with him. And that’s what’s really dangerous, here.

    You can believe what you want about the war, taxes, the envrionment, education, health care- I’m not here to get into a debate about a specific issue, this time. I’m here to ask you, to beg you, to plead with you, REMEMBER: There are no red states or blue states. The idea that there can only be two sides to this issue is nothing more than the media’s manifested desire to make money by creating drama and tension. Once the race is over and we have a winner, we are still neighbors, co-workers, and (at the risk of sounding really hokey) still Americans. It doesn’t matter who wins if the other half of the nation is unwilling to work with them. BOTH sides have to be willing to swallow their pride, or their anger, and legitimately work to find comprimises on ALL ISSUES. I believe that we should push as hard as possible towards 100% clean fuels, but I know this is unrealistic, so I would support using American-made natural gas as an interim. That’s just an example, but you get the idea.

    Americans have always drawn their strength through the incredible diversity we have at our beck and call. Attempting to narrow our citizenship down into two polarized opposites only weakens us as a people; it prevents progress from being made and it closes our mind to new ideas. The idea that the “other side” is the enemy is one of the most poisonous positions to ever be proposed to politics in this nation. If you are reading this, and you think of yourself as a conservative, I say to you:

    If you are reading this, and you think of yourself as a liberal, I say to you:

    I leave you with this: the latin on the back of our coins reads: “E Pluribus, Unum”, which means “From Many, One.” We are all the same people. We might go about it in different, and sometimes strange, ways, but we all have the good of America at our hearts. When you vote this year, remind yourself that we are always stronger when we comprimise and find common ground, and work together, than when we cut ourselves off from one another. A year from now, ten years from now, remind yourself of this- or we will never “win” another election, no matter who gets elected.”

  2. Dan: I love your sense of communal Americanism. I could argue with it, but instead I’m going to briefly address Marty’s post:
    Marty, you wrote this post sounding like you just watched an Obama commercial marathon.
    But you ain’t wrong.
    I’m not nearly an Obama fanatic.
    I’m not a true believer.
    I haven’t watched a single speech of Obama’s, although I’ve read transcripts.
    I do not believe Obama to be a transformative figure, a messiah figure, or a polticial outsider.
    So, all that said, I’m pretty left, and I’m not panicking. Why? Well…
    I do think Obama’s highly intelligent, flexible and willing to compromise.
    But that’s not why I’m not panicking.
    I think that Obama was right about Iraq from the start, and that claims of the surge’s success are based on an oppressive government and ethnic cleansing.
    But that’s not why I’m not panicking.
    I think that Palin is a transparent attempt to draw independent women into McCain’s camp, and that most women will realize this and vote accordingly once we see the debates and watch the commercials the Obama warchest will fund revealing her shallow deceits.
    But that’s not why I’m not panicking.
    I’m not panicking because we have a housing and credit crisis that is rooted in a variety of regulatory failures that are a direct result of a Republican administration’s failures, one that currently has suppressed and threatens to repress and depress the entire American economy. I’m not panicking because all that John McCain offers right now is more voodoo economics and bluster. If the Obama campaign can recognize that it is still all about the economy (stupid,) and make this election a referendum on the average American’s pocketbook, then Obama cannot lose. (Make that, should not lose…)
    But that’s not why I’m not panicking.
    I’m not panicking because the worst case scenario is one in which we get a McCain administration hobbled by a firmly Democratic congress. I would argue we desperately need some fresh legislation to address the problems confronting us as a nation, but 4 years of nothing good from the government is better than the past 8 years of crap(py legislation and administrative decisions.
    And that’s not why I’m not panicking.
    It can’t get worse.

  3. I’m not panicking, because the polls are skewed to hell. (Click my name for more.)

    Excellent posts here, and an inspiration to write something of my own this weekend, even if it’s preaching to the choir.

  4. Okay, yes, it can get worse. It can nearly always get worse. It just doesn’t seem to be probable, because it’s so very bad already.

  5. If I ever believed that this country was capable of electing a Black man in 2008 I might be in a state of panic. But I didn’t, so I’m not. On the one hand I think to myself: fuck it, we get what we deserve. If people haven’t yet figured out that over the past 50 years “the man” has been striping wealth, power and freedom from the masses, then we deserve what we get. But then I recognize that this is the same “man” that has cauterized our ability to think deeply and critically about the world we inherit. The tools used to stunt our ability to read the world include our educational system, marketing and advertising (propaganda, brainwashing, and lies), big media, the unchallenged rule of capitalism, and the consumerism and materialism that come along with it, to name just a few.

    Our educational system does not exist for the enrichment of the populous, it exists to maintain the status quo and to keep power and wealth in the hands of the few. Kids are forced to stand and pledge allegiance daily to an inanimate object – a flag – and burn into their memory that America is a place where liberty and justice exists for all. Nonsense. It is, by the people in power who deem it so, considered blasphemy to remind folks that the educational system in Germany in the early part of the 20th century was also used to indoctrinate its citizenry… You know the rest of that story. The powerful understand that maintaining this system, and the rituals within, makes the people impotent to stand up to change by the time they finish their “education”. I should add that this is the same educational system which equates wealth with deservedness and intentionally punishes the poor, the black, the brown, immigrants and blue collar families by forcing their children into schools that are woefully underfunded and thus incapable of creating an equal playing field against their white wealthy peers. Moreover, the goal of the right is to maintain that system, but at a profit, in an effort to extract what little wealth is left in the middle and lower middle class.

    Part of this is a function of capitalistic based system. We need a class of people upon which the plutocrats can continue to build and extract wealth. We need an uneducated citizenry so that those in power can use the masses to elect someone who does not represent their interests by manipulating them with insidious lies. We need a portion of the people to be poor and struggling so we can feed the insatiably hungry military and prison industrial complexes.

    The problem is that in order for democracy to work we must have an informed electorate and we don’t. We have what the media euphemistically refers to as “low information voters”. Again, this is purposeful in that we keep our citizenry ignorant so we can manipulate them. And further, we don’t have democracy, we have a republic. So what really happens is that big moneyed interests spend some of that big money and use the tools at their disposal to brainwash a very malleable and simple-minded electorate. Once the election is over and the people have done their part by falling into the trap, those interests receive a handsome return on their investment. The politicians know who really butters their bread and who places them in their positions of power. The people are just an inconvenient hurdle that the plutocrats must deal with every couple of years. And if manipulating the people’s minds does not work there is always the manipulation of the vote counts (Florida 2000, Diebold voting machines 2004).

    People talk about polls being skewed and they sure are; they are skewed in that they don’t accurately reflect the deep deep DEEP racism that is prevalent in this country. We, and I’m mainly talk’n to the white folk now, are not ready to have a Black man run the show. Most folks don’t even understand their own racism; they’re just tired of those damn pinko, commy, liberals telling them to open their minds, hearts and embrace humanity. Multiculturalism? Ewww. Diversity? Seal the borders – especially the Mexican one! Black President? FUCK THAT! These folks would rather cling to their guns and their religion, and I should add, money.

    I’ve been told that America is better than that, but the truth is that we are not. This is propaganda we regurgitate. Some of us, however, do aspire to be. Mr. Dan said, “Americans have always drawn their strength through the incredible diversity we have at our beck and call. [And] ‘E Pluribus, Unum’, which means ‘From Many, One.’ We are all the same people”. This notion that we are one people is a) part of the propaganda we are trained to echo when socially appropriate and b) a line used by whites who have no sense of their own privilege. You really went with diversity…. “at our beck and call”?

    This is not to say that I wouldn’t love it if human beings as a whole had the capacity to embrace our common humanity, to realize that one life is just as valuable as another, but we don’t and probably won’t for another 10,000 plus years. And that estimate is predicated on us not fucking the planet so hard that it wipes us off of it before then. We are, literally, animals. And we have not evolved enough as a species yet to get beyond using our differences as a claim for why we should have more than other. We are constantly looking for those things that differentiate us from one another. Take your pick: skin color, religion, tribe, gender, sexuality, clothing brand, education level, location, and so on ad nauseam. The point is: we don’t value everyone equally – not inside our borders and not internationally.

    Those forced into the margins mainly via the criteria of race, gender and economic class, bear the weight of our society. Those who are forced to fight unjust wars based on a fictitious premise and feed the Military Industrial Complex with bodies and lives are valued by those in power as less than. Those who are slaughtered in Sudan while we watch – just a few short years after Clinton’s biggest admitted mistake during his Presidency was to ignore the genocide in Rwanda – are valued as less than by those in power. We claim to support the troops. Mostly because we feel bad about the Vietnam War and a few of us because we know that those troops are being used by the plutocrats to maintain and exacerbate their wealth, power, and influence around the world. “American interests” is what they call it. If we were so concerned about the troops we would not stand for our government sending them off to fight and then allowing those who return with physical mutilations and psychological scars to go untreated, wallow in poverty, and live homeless while we walk by and try diligently to not make eye contact with them.

    Mr. Dan said, “I think it’s safe to assume that the country is pretty much evenly divided on their ideas of who should be leading us”. With regard to the “who” Mr. Dan is exactly right. We continue to require our representatives to be mostly white men, especially higher up on the ladder. However, I think the more important question is what ideas and philosophies should those who represent us take with them if elected. When asked that question, without specific reference to a candidate (and without reference to neither skin color nor gender) what folks believe in – with a margin of roughly 4 to 1 – are the positions of the left. And that goes beyond this election. For many years this has been the case, but the right deserves credit where it is due and they are better at the war of politics. Their utter cynicism and ruthlessness allows them to capitalize on the darkest parts of the human soul and use fear as a primary campaign tactic. The Clinton’s too, for all their faults, are brilliant at the war game. Just look at some of the bile they spewed during the primary. Barack Obama did not receive the nomination from all the American people. Barack Obama was elected by the left, the liberals, the progressives, and even by the democratic base – which represents diversity far more than the country at large and certainly more than the right – by very slim margins. This is the fundamental difference between the left and the right: conservatives are willing to not only embrace the dark side of human experience, but to use it and profit from it instead of trying to reach down deep for something greater. The left is not good at the war game because most of us believe in the ideas of justice, and hold idealism as a goal for humanity.

    To be sure, Obama is connected with the system; he would have never gotten a platform in the 2004 Democratic Convention if he wasn’t playing ball with his party (which has its own set of flaws and shortcomings). But he is, ever so slightly, trying to make some changes. Part of his genius is that he recognizes that the American people are not yet ready for a revolution and the subtly with which he operates is so brilliant. What those in power understand is that Obama does want to change this country and that is why they must work to destroy him. Sick lies are being beamed into the collective mind of the electorate. The right is using media to communicate that Obama is a terrorist. Remember that we have been trained to equate Muslim with terrorist and he lived for a time and a predominately Muslim country? The right is using media to communicate that he, a Black man, wants to sexually ravage your white women. Remember the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton commercial with the giant phallic symbols in the background? The right is using media to communicate that he is a child molester, a Black child molester. The creators of that education bill ad know are trying to communicate and condense three ideas: kindergarten, sex, Black man.

    I must admit that John McCain pulled a Maverick (yes, with a capital M) move when he selected Sarah Palin to be his VP running mate. The decision had nothing to do with putting country first; in fact it was the exact opposite. Her lack of qualification is simply astonishing. That said, McCain made a great choice because he is attuned to the racist fears of white America. McCain knows that Barack cannot fight back using the same cynical methods the right uses for two main reasons: a) Obama is a more decent human being and is trying to elevate the debate, and b) it would feed negative stereotypes of black folk in the minds of white folk. McCain must know about the strange conversation taking place among women that asks the question, “who has it worse: white women or black men?” By-the-way, the answer is Black men. McCain certainly knows that because Palin was, as of two weeks ago, nobody when it comes to national politics that she would suck all the oxygen out of the room and the media would be required to focus on her. Furthermore, McCain knows that Obama must be very careful in the way that he addresses lies McCain gives Palin to spew because, again, a Black man going after a white women pinches the nerve of racism. Remember, white America has been taught (and is being constantly reminded, just watch the evening news) to keep your white women safe from animalistic Black men. McCain knew that if Obama misspoke even a syllable – regardless of context or relevancy (i.e. pig + lipstick) – that McCain could then gather the mob in the public square.

    I have changed my mind. At the beginning of this essay I said I was not panicked. The truth is that I am. I’m petrified. I’m watching a Black man, Barack Obama, in the process of being lynched for trying to move America in a more decent direction and I can’t stand it. The tools of advertising and media, fear-mongering and lies, used by the terrorist right, are the tree from which he’ll swing. And the vote of bigoted whites who have been manufactured ignorant and manipulated into a state of terror may well be the rope.

  6. Mike:

    “I have changed my mind. At the beginning of this essay I said I was not panicked. The truth is that I am. I’m petrified. I’m watching a Black man, Barack Obama, in the process of being lynched for trying to move America in a more decent direction and I can’t stand it. The tools of advertising and media, fear-mongering and lies, used by the terrorist right, are the tree from which he’ll swing. And the vote of bigoted whites who have been manufactured ignorant and manipulated into a state of terror may well be the rope.”

    So let me get this straight. Because I am a white, conservative Republican who disagrees with Barack Obama on the issues and plans to vote for John McCain, that makes me a member of the “terrorist right,” a “bigoted white” who’s been “manufactured ignorant,” and am involved in the “lynching” of a successful black man and his family, who’ll be able to regain a career as a Senator even if he loses?

    OK. I just wanted to make sure, y’know, that we weren’t getting hysterical with the hyperbole or anything.

    BTW, looking at it from the other side, I don’t think the Obama campaign is in panic mode. What I do think, however, is that they have badly gotten knocked off message and are still in the process of recovering. Axelrod and the folks that Obama has surrounded himself with are some of the best–witness the demolishing they laid on the “inevitable” Clinton campaign–but now they look like they’re flailing. How else do you explain that ad implying that McCain is so old and out of touch, he can’t send email, har har!…when simple research would show that back in 2000, his was the FIRST Republican campaign to begin to tap the power of the Internet, and that he is an inveterate reader and sender of emails with his wife Cindy typing–he just can’t do it himself because his Vietnam injuries make it painful to bend his arms into a typing position for long? Now combine that with the nutroots left–the HuffPos and DKoses and Andrew Sullivans of the world–hysterically throwing every smear at the book at Sarah Palin and watching them bounce off? It isn’t panic, but it damn sure looks like it.

    I’m waiting for some more substantive debating to occur. All this back-and-forth right now is just fluff. I want to see Obama and McCain debate, and I want to see Palin and Biden debate (oh, how I want to see Palin and Biden debate). Because y’know what? If McCain doesn’t screw it up, he CAN win on the issues. We’ll see.

  7. Lewis, I don’t grant your premise that criticisms (not just “smears”) are just bouncing off of Governor Palin. That kind of sweeping description of public perception sounds like part of a press narrative to me.

  8. Criticisms won’t bounce off of her. You can make legitimate arguments about experience with her (the same as you can with Obama). You can question her positions on policy issues (the same as you can with Obama). What I’m talking about is the hurricane of feces that erupted from the nutroots after her nomination. Y’know, Trig’s really Bristol’s baby, she had an affair, she can’t be veep because she’s a mommy, that kind of garbage.

    Now to his credit, Obama immediately declared that sort of sensationalistic stuff off-limits to his campaign, and stuck to it. But his people have still gotten knocked off their message. “Panic” isn’t the right word…I’d use “rattled”. He’s not running against Palin, he’s running against McCain, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice it lately. His campaign has the look of a football team walking off the field near the end of the third quarter after another three-and-out, looking up at the scoreboard, and wondering when the hell the game got to 24-24 because it was 24-3 at halftime.

    I’m sick of lipstick on pigs and who can and can’t type an email, just like you guys are. I WANT to see Obama and McCain debate on the issues. Because this country overall is more conservative than you think it is, and McCain is better in a debate or town-hall format than Obama is. I think McCain can grab and hold the high ground and win simply on the issues, if both sides can get their messages out to the people without spin or media interference.

  9. If we are going to talk smears, Lewis, one would be remiss if the did not mention the attacks on Obama’s faith, community organizing, his father’s family and distorting his record and platform. McCain’s surrogates do this on a daily basis, then McCain has the audacity to say, “I respect community organizers.” Let’s talk “The Obama Nation” and how IF McCain was really a stand up guy, he’d denounce it for the trash that it is.

    As for “the valid criticisms of Palin” they have not sunk in yet. Right wing pundit say she has foreign experience because one can see Russia from Alaska (not even mainland Russia, but an island CLAIMED by Russia). Her record on Alaska’s energy contribution to the US is an outright lie. Her record on reform is a half truth at best: Alaska took more federal dollars than it returned, she “flip-flopped” on the Bridge to Nowhere. She has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is.

    Her strengths as a VP are as follows: She finally energized you and the rest of the base. That is all she brings to this campaign.

    I have more to say, but I need to work on my belief post.

  10. Y’know, in my years of exceedingly occasional political activity, I’ve gotten the standard “racistsexistantigay” insult. Also “ignorant”, “bigoted”, “fascist” (def. = “anyone who disagrees with a liberal”), “racist” (ditto), “prudish”, and many variations on “you poor brainwashed tool of the machine”.

    “Terrorist” is a new one. Thanks for broadening my experience; I shall treasure it always.

  11. Funny you mention that Mommacow. In my years of liberal political activity and debate, I’ve received the “Ignorant, Faggot, dirty hippy, naive, moronic, brainwashed, immoral, terrorist lover, reverse racist, satanic communist and Anti-American.”

    I think you and Lewis both are missing Mike’s point: That we, as a society, have such deep racist and misogynistic beliefs we Don’t even recognize them anymore.

    From my interactions with you guys, I don’t feel your racist, nor do I think I am racist; yet, at the same time I recognize that there are damn-near unconscious beliefs that have been instilled in me by the education system and the media.

    In this case, I’m pretty sure Mike didn’t mean persona attacks. Having known Mike for a number of years, I can say that if he really went on the attack, I’d be asking him to cool his jets. Mike is saying that the forces of the status quo, meaning our education and political systems, are about keeping things the same with whatever tool they have at their disposal.

    I tend to agree with him on this point.

  12. Lewis, you wrote: “What I’m talking about is the hurricane of feces that erupted from the nutroots after her nomination.” It is not some virtue of Governor Palin’s that ludicrous smears do not have substance; they are ludicrous smears. This isn’t evidence that she is like Teflon, this is evidence that some smears are ludicrous.

    For reference, see also fervent and tireless attempts to distort or fear-monger by labeling Senator Obama a Muslim. Do you count those claims among the serious critical looks at the candidate? Let us not categorize all arguments the same based on their targets.

    Then you wrote this: “But his people have still gotten knocked off their message. “Panic” isn’t the right word…I’d use “rattled”. He’s not running against Palin, he’s running against McCain, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice it lately.”

    How so? I’ve read this press narrative, this general characterization, but can you show me this assertion in action? The Obama campaign had stated earlier that the post-convention season would be a time for new ads, and we’ve seen them. Yes, Governor Palin is a news item, and the campaigns are speaking on her as a subject.

    How is speaking about the news getting knocked off message? Is it “off message” when McCain speaks on the subject of Obama? Of course not.

    What I hear is an argument that Governor Palin is both a bolt of lightning to the McCain campaign and that it is inappropriate or weak to pay attention to her. This seems disingenuous to me. It says, “Look at this new person! Look! Hey, what are you doing looking at Governor Palin? That’s rude!”

    “Because this country overall is more conservative than you think it is, and McCain is better in a debate or town-hall format than Obama is.”

    The second half of your statement is straight-up opinion presented as data, so I’ll simply disagree by saying that I think Obama is a better speaker, period. (And if there’s a causal connection between America being more conservative and, thus, McCain being “better in a debate,” I don’t see it.)

    This is the second time in 24 hours that I’ve seen someone tell an Obama supporter that America is “more conservative than you think,” and I cannot for the life of me figure out what that argument is supposed to accomplish. First of all, I contest the very notion that this country’s instruments for measuring conservatism or liberalism are even calibrated correctly.

    More to the point, I wonder what the point of that argument is. Seriously: Is it to make me think that I should be more respectful of your position due to a simple majority? Is it to tamp down my presumptuous attitude that my politics are superior? Is it to conjure up the fear that I’m backing a losing candidate? Is it to demonstrate that I am out of touch with what’s “real” wherein reality is defined by majority opinion?

    The fundamental rebuttal to your argument, Lewis, is this: The majority of the country might be conservative, but the majority can also be wrong about what’s necessary to better our nation.

    If politics were just a matter of demographically reflecting the nation, then I could make the argument that it is “our turn” for power because, for almost a decade, my beliefs have not been represented by the powers that be. The gap between Sen. Obama’s and Sen. McCain’s polling numbers (what little value those numbers have) is not so great that it would make much sense to cite conservatism as a qualification for leadership unless you’re comfortable implying that fully 45% of the country should just do as it is told because this is a democracy. Is that what you mean?

    If the simple notion that a lot of Americans are conservative is supposed to counteract my political beliefs, then you tell me what I’m supposed to do: Am I supposed to shut up? Am I supposed to vote for your candidate because of demographic data? Is the idea that I should, as someone not as conservative as the supposed majority, just accept my fate as a subject of your republic?

  13. It’s pretty simple. Polling data shows that more people self-identify as conservative than either “liberal” or “progressive.” I think that means that once McCain and Obama can actually put their ideas out in front of the public without spinmeisters, McCain’s ideas can find traction.

    For God’s sake, of course I’m not telling you to shut up. I wouldn’t do that. You think we’re wrong. I think you’re wrong. Isn’t that why we’re having this whole damned insufferable election?

  14. The thing, Lewis, is that I read plenty of people telling me that, when politician’s names aren’t involved, polled Americans skew toward so-called liberal. I don’t cite those accounts, or trust much in them, because someone telling me about a poll and me seeing a poll are different things. Many polls aren’t worth the time it takes to report them anyway.

    You haven’t addressed my point about your argument, though: Even if you’re correct and “more people self-identify as conservative” (forgetting, for now, that we haven’t defined “conservatism” for our purposes), what is the function of telling me that? What is the purpose of giving me that statistic? What argument do you think it supports?

    Also, so we’re clear: I don’t know who “we” is in your schema of right and wrong, but no: My opinion of your politics is not why we have elections.

  15. I’m fairly sure he didn’t mean personal attacks as well. I just find it annoying the way both sides paint their opponents with the broadest and blackest of brushes. Being conservative, the ones that sting most are the ones aimed at “my side”, but I try to avoid them in either case.

    As for society’s racism/misogynism…obviously our experiences will differ. I grew up in the rural South. Most of the people of my grandmother’s generation were casually to severely prejudiced; my grandmother just couldn’t ever remember not to say “colored”, while a contractor my father worked with said *foul* things. Of my parent’s generation, I knew one. (Not counting my father, who started out reasonably sane but turned into a raving racist when he got tired of blaming women for everything he didn’t like.) I dated a guy from Kenya and never got so much as a cross-eyed look in the suburbs or in Atlanta proper.

    I *got* Mike’s point, though I don’t particularly agree with it; I’m just tired of having values and people I support automatically slapped with the “evil” label. I was perusing a friend’s list of blogs on Livejournal once and came across a guy using “Republicunt” and “Ann Cunter” in an everyday, casual post. All of *his* friends were applauding his witty wordplay. I have great difficulty imagining the same thing would happen with a conservative LJer using something like “niggercrat”. (And as a southerner, you wouldn’t *believe* how hard that word is just to type.)

  16. Addendum: out of curiosity, I Googled the word I mentioned above. The links I saw were to Youtube, 4chan, and Neo-Nazi sites; hardly the equivalent of the guy who posted about Ann Coulter, who was an English professor at a reasonably-sized Florida university.

  17. Polling data I referenced above, from the 10-14 August 2008 Battleground Poll:

    Scroll down to page 16.

    I think the data supports that McCain’s message–if he does a good job in the debates–as the more “conservative” candidate, can find fertile soil in the minds of Americans, more so than Obama’s. Maybe. That’s it. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. We’ll find out.

  18. Well, I love to disagree with you, Lewis. I’m going to make a check in the “wrong” column.
    Will nailed it, as usual, and I think you confirmed it in your last post, when you placed the word conservative within quotations marks. It seems that part of your premise is that people are more conservative (as per the poll you reference,) and McCain is more conservative, therefore more people will like what McCain says.
    But Will is totally right. What the Hell does conservative mean? Clearly, you are associating it with the platform McCain is espousing as the Republican candidate. If this were the same meaning of conservative that the respondents to your poll recognize, then we would likely have seen two statistics emerge: a higher number of self-identifiers as BOTH conservatives and Republicans. The poll instead shows that there are more self-identified Democrats.
    There’s a simple explanation here, and it is that the Republican marketing machine has done a great job of branding Republicans as conservatives, and branding conservativism as positive. Simultaneously, the word Liberal has been dragged through the mud.
    So, the real question is how much meaning we can attach to each term. If people identify concretely with being “conservative” as a set of governing ideals, then you’re more likely right. If they just identify it as being responsible and good, well, that’s less meaningful.
    The lack of overlap between being conservative as a nebulous term and republican with its relatively clear philosophies suggests to me that most people don’t consider them equivalent, which means any claim of “most people identify as” is irrelevant as a predictor in terms of this election.
    Interestingly, if you remove the terms that have been so heavily marketed as good or bad, and just research what people think about the issues…well, in that case, America is distinctly liberal. Oh, sorry, we don’t use that word anymore. Too contaminated. I meant to say “progressive.”
    But, also as Will pointed out, claiming the majority doesn’t have any purpose, other than to maybe convince the other side to struggle. Just because Americans are, uh, progressive doesn’t mean they won’t vote McCain in. There’s a reason that everyone thinks conservative is a good word now, and liberal is a bad word. Marketing can work. So really, it all comes down to how the campaigns market what they have.
    So we will find out. Alas, we won’t find out what ideology is more appealing, for our results are already contaminated by ugly negative campaigning. Go advertising!

    I’m sure I’ll find out, but I really want to know what issues Lewis and Mommacow really agree with McCain on.

    Sane Pacis!

  19. Lewis and Mamacow,

    Forgive my shock that you picked up on individual words and took them out of context to make a “point” in an effort to muddle the litany of points that I made. With regard to the lynching, that was a metaphor. Although there is no doubt that there are some crazies and zealots out there who would love nothing less than the literal assassination of Barack Obama. The point of the metaphor was to illustrate my prediction of the election result (Obama will lose) and methods used to obtain that result by the right (which include, but are not limited to, the selection of Palin and the nasty ads). I find it interesting that there was no response to my analysis and criticism of the tactics being used by the right. Am I to take the silence to mean that you understand and even agree with said analysis? Hell, put my amateur analysis aside, how do feel about the tactics your party is using to win? Does it get a “two thumbs up” on the Lewis and Mamacow scale?

    It seems like the word terrorist has also stirred some emotion and reaction. Are folks uncomfortable with that word unless it is being used to describe anyone wearing a keffiyeh or is of the Muslim faith?

    You would only be a member of the terrorist right, by my definition, if you were aiding and abetting – including giving financial support that pays for terrorist ads – the republican party. In and of itself, voting for a republican does not make one a terrorist. The tactics used by the right are meant to inflict terror on the minds of the citizenry in order to get them to fear Obama and vote for McCain. Those are methods of terrorism. Need I point out that the republicans, at their convention this year, used 9/11 again in part of their marketing and advertising as a reason to support McCain? That’s terrorism. Need I point out that someone, if not the republican party directly, has been sending emails that tell folks Obama is a Muslim? That’s code for terrorist among a portion of our electorate that has indeed been manufactured ignorant. These tactics strikes at people’s ignorance and fears. Yes, I’ll call that terrorism all day long. And I could continue the list of terrorist acts committed by republicans in the past 7 years but will refrain.

    Lewis… I find the fact that you pointed out that Obama will be able to have a successful career after the election very interesting. It underscores my point about the world view of those on the right, meaning that they care little to none about the whole of humanity and concern themselves instead only with the individual. I will be sad if Obama loses, not for him and not even for me, but for our country and the world. A presidential election is not about picking the guy we want to give job security to.

    Lewis said, “I’m waiting for some more substantive debating to occur. All this back-and-forth right now is just fluff.” This, combined with dismissal of all of the substantive points of my previous entry, speak clearly to your own sense of privilege as white, probably straight, male. I made, if I do say so myself, a number of points in that first essay that I feel were of substance. I’ll list them in a minute as I skim over the paragraphs I wrote, but please let me know in which way you find them to be “fluffy”?
    1) racism
    2) unequal educational system that maintains status quo
    3) indoctrination of youth and citizenry into uncritical thinkers
    4) prison industrial complex
    5) military industrial complex
    6) democracy requires an informed citizenry, but we don’t have one
    7) political culture and operation that allows politicians to be beholden not to the people, but instead to wealthy political interests
    8) raping of the planet
    9) genocide in Darfur
    10) not meeting the physical or psychological needs of our troops upon their return
    11) terrorist advertising and fear mongering
    Is this stuff fluff, Lewis, or do you just not care about any of it?

    BTW – Andrew Sullivan is a conservative with a belief system and, to my surprise, a conscience. I can’t stand his politics. However, I strongly respect the fact that he is a person of principle who is willing tell his party of choice to go fuck themselves when they stray off course and into the gutter. Andrew Sullivan was a person who watched his party fuck the world in the ass and said “Enough!” Where are you going to draw the line? What can the republicans do that would be inappropriate in your minds?

  20. Seth:

    Since you asked, here’s my take on McCain and his platform, taken from the list at the Boston Herald. (It dates from July and is incomplete, but was the first source I could find that wasn’t screamingly biased toward one side or the other.)

    *takes deep breath, prepares to get disowned by 9/10ths of the board*

    Capital punishment: Agree.

    Education: Agree, as far as I’m informed. I’ve got no intention of sending the Nublet to public school if I can help it, and therefore haven’t paid much attention to the situation. But as a rule, I favor state control of institutions over national control.

    Abortion: Agree.

    Energy: I agree in theory, but figure the practice will be more-of-the-same. Not to mention that alcohol-based fuels are doing terrible things to the food prices where I live; I’d like to see it refined to a point where it’s useful, but right now it’s just annoying the hell out of me.

    Gay marriage: I could care less who does what and to whom. I’m neutral on the marriage question but think civil unions are a good idea.

    Health care: Sounds good, probably not gonna happen.

    Immigration: Reasonable. I want stronger border control and I want it badly. It would irk me to have the illegal immigrants already here get away with a slap on the wrist, but I can live with being irked.

    Iraq: I agree on this one. I think it needed to be done, but I think it was done badly. I don’t think a strict plan/timetable for withdrawal is workable; it’s already a mess over there, we had a hand in messing it up, we should help put it back together.

    Social Security: Meh. My generation’s so totally screwed on this one that I’m just focused on saving everything that I personally can.

    Stem-cell research: Pretty much agree with this one too. For the cell lines that already exist, research makes sense (as does research into cord blood and adult cells), but I really, really dislike the idea of creating the beginnings of a human being just to be *used*.

    Taxes: Whatever it is, it ain’t gonna happen. “Transparency in government spending” would make me very happy, but again, I doubt it’d be of use. If only because something as labrynthine as the national government system is impossible to make sense of whether you know the numbers or not.

  21. With regard to the lynching, that was a metaphor.

    I have a perfectly serviceable liberal arts degree and was aware of that. I just found it to be excessive.

    I made, if I do say so myself, a number of points in that first essay that I feel were of substance.

    They are of substance insofar as they need to be discussed. If the discussion is about the Obama and McCain campaigns, which I believe it started out to be, then they’re tangential. Especially when buried in commentary about how good the left is, how bad the right is, and how terrible the American society is, which was so thickly spread that I had to reread each paragraph in order to isolate the points you referred to.

    Our society is not perfect. I think it’s one of the better ones out there.

    It underscores my point about the world view of those on the right, meaning that they care little to none about the whole of humanity and concern themselves instead only with the individual.

    The thing about “caring about the whole of humanity” is that you don’t have to DO anything, you can just care. When I worked in downtown Columbia, SC, my liberal friends cared. They cared lots. They talked lots. And then they cared some more. I gave money to local charities and bought breakfast and coffee for the homeless guys I passed on the way to work.

    I care to the degree that I have responsibility for or power over a situation. I care passionately for my family both because I love them and because I have a huge amount of responsibility toward them. I cared about my job because it was my responsibility and I wanted to do it well. I care about the election because I have a vote and therefore some responsibility for the outcome, even if it’s of the “if you didn’t vote, you don’t get to complain” variety. The fate of humanity is not something I can influence, not even to the one-vote extent of the next election.

    And last, tying Barack Obama’s campaign to the fate of humanity as a whole is why people end up using the terms like “Obamessiah” that Marty was complaining about earlier.

    It seems like the word terrorist has also stirred some emotion and reaction.

    Again, excessive. Also insulting. Dictionary definitions aside, the general image of “terrorist” is of a killer, a murderer who deliberately targets those least able to defend themselves. Charging a group of people to whom I happen to belong with terrorism…yeah, it’ll stir some emotion and reaction. Not to mention the ignorant, cynical and bigoted part.

    These tactics strikes at people’s ignorance and fears. Yes, I’ll call that terrorism all day long.

    …I believe we speak different languages, then. I consider the phrase “terroristic advertising” to be an absurdity. Your assorted essays and replies, while well-written and obviously deeply felt, seem so thoroughly entrenched in leftist jargon that they’re impossible to reply to without an English-to-Progressive dictionary close at hand.

    I’ve been trying to discuss. You seem to be trying to win. I won’t change your mind, you won’t change mine, and there’s nothing to be won but maybe some mutual understanding.

  22. I gotta say I disagree with Mommacow on the effects of “caring.” Let me explain.

    While I fully agree that one regular individual (any of us reading this) has no control and can do little to help people in dire need, I do believe that Presidents (and politicians at a national level, to varying extents) can actually make a difference.

    Things change a lot when your effect is not limited to sending a couple cans of food somewhere, or donating five bucks to help with disaster relief. Policies do change conditions, and consequentially, lives.

    I would very much like that people with actual power to help people in need would care and be interested in actually helping those people in need. Clearly the PotUS has a lot more power in helping americans in need, which after all is his duty. But they can also help people abroad.

    And yes, there is most definitely a subgroup within progressive/liberal circles that do become annoying lecturing “why do you do nothing to save the world!?” pretentious idiots. While certainly off-putting, it does not negate the fact that for some people (i.e. President, etc) it does make a huge difference if you care about helping people in need or not. I believe this is why it is a big deal for liberals/progressives to want people running for office to share this viewpoint.

    One last thing, it is certainly ludicrous to expect that one man and his administration is all the world needs to achieve nirvana. This also doesn’t mean that there can’t be a sizable, positive effect coming from an administration’s policies.

    I would also disagree that one’s vote can have no effect on what happens in the world. I am looking at you, Florida. Maybe for citizens in other countries, but for people voting in US Presidential elections, I would say very much so.

  23. I couldn’t disagree with you more, Torteya. People giving food and time and effort is greater, by far, than anything any world leader can do. What I do dislike is hearing about how the “liberals” or “conservatives” do not care, are always lecturing, or other random BS.

    Can a President make a difference? Sure he can. In the end, however, it is Congress that our attention needs to be focused on. Once again, the electorate plays attention to the dog and pony show that is the Presidential race and Congress goes about its merry way. (My personal bone right there. Not education, not the military, not coffee-drinking conservatives or liberals.)

    One vote, in the end, is meaningless. It is a mere drop in the bucket. (And popular votes, in the end, do not elect a president.)

    But one vote can mean everything, because it is an example to everyone else.

    I have an essay incoming, but I am doing a bit of work.

  24. Blargh, I was not trying to imply that food drives and that sort of stuff don’t help. They do, and a lot! I’m all for them.

    With that said, I would still say that, as far as “people’s fate” goes, appropriate policies are far better at attempting long-term solutions. I realize this was an unfair comparison, as the sort of volunteer food drives and such are usually aimed at immediate relief, and not necessarily long term goals.

    The point I poorly tried to make is that changing people’s lives is a pretty substantial endeavor that I can’t see being appropriately addressed by individual efforts.

    And yes, a person can’t aspire to a better life if he can’t survive a week due to malnutrition. Most certainly.

  25. Hey, Marty, could we maybe split this thread up some? Shift some of it over into the policy thread, and maybe start a new thread about social responsibility? This one’s getting a little broad in focus.

  26. Pingback: You keep using those words… « One Pretentious Bastard

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