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November 4, 2004

“Moral values.” I don’t always agree with Amy Sullivan. But Christ, yes.
It doesn’t help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use terms like “moral values” and “moral issues” as shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a “culture of life” or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton’s eight years in office?)

“Religious” does not mean Republican. And “moral” does not mean conservative. There’s going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it’s incredibly important to make sure we’re neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize “the faithful.”

What she said. And, just in case you didn’t already click on the link, fuck you, Salon. Yes, that means every single one of you who draws a paycheck there. [12:14 AM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on "Moral values.":

Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:31 AM:

Like Salon credited it, it's an AP story, you can find it on lots of other sites with a Google News search. Can't really fault Salon just for feeding it to us.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:06 AM:

Hmmm. Salon runs a lot of newswire feed. The real question is how they surfaced the article, as a feature or as just another sidebar feed item, which they claim to present unedited.

The outlet that made my blood boil was NPR. Screw you, NPR news. Screw you, Cokie Roberts. They lapped up and parroted the GOP morality language all night long. (And screw you NPR for taking money from WalMart. Whores.)

But I think I'll still listen to Terry Gross, even though she can be annoyingly precious.

ralph ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:20 AM:

When papers use the shorthand term "moral values", it's a tribute to the success the Republicans have had in framing issues such that only issues that accord with their version of "morality" are considered moral.

George Lakoff explains the differing moralities that underlie conservative and liberal/progressive philosophy in his book "Moral Politics". He goes on at great length about the need to frame the debates on issues in ways that promote your side. This is the great success that Republicans have had, that they frame the debates in such a way that "moral values" means "no gay marriage" and such.

Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:42 AM:

As I said today at my place:

Quote:

How is it "moral" to spend the country into bankruptcy? How is it "moral" to invade a country which was no threat to us, based on lies deliberately trumped up to fit an agenda thought up by a think tank? How is it "moral" to sell out the nation's public lands to private industry? How is it "moral" to turn a blind eye to science, demanding ideological purity over empirical fact?

End quote.

The press really has just blindly followed the Republican line of "moral" as a code word for, as Kristof said today, "God and gays." (I'll leave out the "guns and grizzlies" part, because they're part of a separate equation. We cannot let the media do this. We have to call them on it every time they do.

Buzz ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:13 AM:

The goddamned democrats have been playing this dumbass game of trying to emulate republicans in hopes of fooling right-wingers. In avoiding their core values, they appear less sincere to moderates and create more disenfranchised voters. Now they're scratching their heads and wondering what the fuck happened. Go back and don't fight. Tell them you're not a liberal. Extend the patriot act. Continue to give the president all the fucking power he needs to fight the war on terror. Fuck labor. All of these concessions will pay of some day, when we're all bleeding.

Rich McAllister ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:15 AM:

I don't seem to be able to get up much indignation around this. Maybe I wore off on the word "moral" when I argued with too many Objectivists back in the '70s; they also had the habit, inherited from Ayn, of labeling everything they didn't like (taxes, no-smoking areas, rock and roll) as "immoral".

I can see that it's disgusting that the supposedly-independent "media" parrot the Republican party line on what's "moral", but the word "moral" just seems to be as burnt out as the word "fascist" to me. I suppose the trouble is it still has weight for a lot of people.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:10 AM:

Rich McCallister: Like Salon credited it, it's an AP story, you can find it on lots of other sites with a Google News search. Can't really fault Salon just for feeding it to us.

Rich, I am responsible—among other things—for selecting which stories from AP and other feeds to publish on a webzine. Occasionally, I decide, "You know, this story is about a subject that interests our readers, but I won't use it, because the story sucks."

And I routinely rewrite headlines.

I don't seem to be able to get up much indignation around this. ... but the word "moral" just seems to be as burnt out as the word "fascist" to me. I suppose the trouble is it still has weight for a lot of people.

That's precisely the trouble. "Fascist" is, for most people, a meaningless word nowadays. It's a general insult you hurl at someone you think is excessively authoritarian. Its specific meaning has been lost in historical time. It's like saying "screw you" to someone, everyone knows that you're not actually offering to have sexual intercourse.

But the word "moral" still has living meaning. When a Republican uses the word "moral," he's saying that a homosexual, or someone who has had an abortion, is someone who has done wrong, on the level of a thief or mugger. If you use the word "moral" in that context, you have conceded a significant point to the conservatives, that homosexuality and abortion are wrong.

Taxi B. ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:56 AM:

Hello my geese. Just a lurker here. But as the opportunity presents itself, I'd like to ask y'all in the USA to join with me in calling and writing yr Congresspeople, especially if they are Democrats, to fight fight fight the Bush nominations for Supreme Court which are surely coming. I have been beset with daydreams, this horrible today, of Bush, in black rubber gloves, puncturing my womb with a coat hanger; I am a very terrified young lass, and you would be doing me a favor if you'd just call your person. Probably you've done so, but calling again can't hurt, I daresay.

Taxwisdom.org ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:03 AM:

I do not believe that we lost the election because John Kerry failed to communicate the fact that he embraces religious values that are important to most Americans. I would argue that we lost because Democrats do not understand how Republican strategists use religious issues—-and every other sort of issue—-to win the only campaign that matters: the Image Campaign.

Republican strategists understand something that their Democratic counterparts do not: the state of mind of The Swing Voter. The typical Swing Voter knows that he does not understand the subtle details of the issues well enough to make a wise decision, so he relies on his “impressions” of the candidates. Is this candidate someone I can trust to rule over me? Understanding this, the Republicans focus all of their efforts on defining Democrats in the minds of the Swing Voter in a negative, vaguely threatening way. They do this by relying primarily on negative campaigning.

Republicans know that accusations and insinuations are persuasive to Swing Voters primarily because they are typically headline-readers and sound-byte-nibblers who do not seek out in-depth explanations of complex issues. If the media reports that a Republican has accused a Democrat of having a character flaw, the average Swing Voter will tend to believe it unless it is successfully answered. These attacks not only create a negative image of their opponents; they also implicitly suggest that Republicans are devoid of the character flaws they are attacking. It enables them to indirectly claim that they are noble & virtuous before the electorate.

Republicans understand precisely what they are doing when they speak disparagingly of “those Democrats.” It’s a variation of the “us vs. them” social comparisons that are so common among high school students. Throughout October, Swing Voters constantly saw video clips of George Bush standing in front of his adoring supporters, ridiculing John Kerry with his smirky smile. People do not tend---on a natural level---to want to be associated with those who are being ridiculed.

Average Americans who put Republican candidates into office with their votes do so because they are identifying with those whom they intuitively perceive to be social “winners.” They don’t understand all of the nuances of the issues, but they do have this impression that there is something “defective” with The Democrats. Once they’ve become invested in their identity with the Republican Party, they instinctively defend Republican policies even when those policies are likely to harm them. In order for the Democratic Party to win these Average Americans back, they must begin to fight fire with fire.

If they want to again become the majority party, Democrats need to define The Republican Politician as a DECEIVING, MANIPULATIVE, SCHEMING, MEAN-SPIRITED, CON-ARTIST who willfully and gleefully assassinates the character of any innocent victim that stands in the way of his rabid lust for power. They need to create an image of The Republican Politician in the minds of the Average American that is instinctively feared. In defining The Republican Politician as essentially manipulative, Democrats will also indirectly be defining themselves as The Protectors of the Average American.

Democrats tend not to want to participate in “character attacks” because they maintain an idealistic hope that a respectful debate of the issues of the day is possible in a civilized society, but they really have no choice: the Republicans have no such inhibitions. Every attack and accusation they make must be used to define them as smiling, disingenuous weasels. In doing so, Democrats must express both derision and wisdom and show an eagerness to explain what the Republicans are up to. They need to take the time to point out and explain in television commercials the misrepresentations, the deceptions, the intent, and the strategy of the Republican attacks.

It will also be important for Democrats to spend more and more time ridiculing the stupidity of Republican policies and---implicitly---those who embrace/defend them. This is necessary in order to socially isolate those who belong to the Republican Party (or to at least counteract the social pressure on Swing Voters that is created when Republicans ridicule Democrats). If the Democrats fail to do this, the Average American will not even listen to what they have to say re: “the issues.” If their image of Democrats is sufficiently negative, they won’t want to be persuaded because they’d want to protect an identity that had become very important to them.

James J. Kroeger

www.taxwisdom.org

Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:16 AM:

I could tell that URL went to an AP wire story before I even clicked on it. Don't shoot the messenger's messenger.

Ginger Stampley ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:05 AM:

I voted based on my moral values. I voted against the admnistration's immoral approval of torture and its immoral abandonment of the Constitutional values that made this country great (e.g., the "enemy combatant" canard, extraordinary rendition). Who Would Jesus Torture? is a question I want an answer for from many people who voted for Bush.

To the extent that Kerry failed to push such items as moral issues, it was a failure in his speaking to certain parts of the country and our failure on the left to define it that way--so bloggers, start defining!

Bush or Kerry being religious doesn't bother me nearly as much as Bush being a Pharisee does. Let him talk with Jesus, but let him also walk with Jesus. I grew up among people who walked with Jesus--he has all of their worse qualities, and none of their better. He should be called on it when he portrays his religious stance as a "moral value".

PZ Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:11 AM:

While you're cussing out people for conflating terms, save a little bile for Amy Sullivan, too. She's one of those people who constantly use "religion" and "morals" interchangeably, when the two seem to have almost no relationship to one another.

Sorry, that just happens to be one of my pet peeves. As someone with no religion, I'm awfully tired of people assuming that means I have no morals -- and that's precisely the kind of bigotry that hurt us in this election.

LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:54 AM:

All the blogs I read are talking about variants of this issue: that the Republicans win by having clear themes, and that Democrats lose because we come across as disagreeing with them, rather than as pushing our own agenda.

I always thought that we did have a clear, overarching moral vision: Reduce Inequality.

It applies to economic issues, racial issues, gender issues; it works on foreign policy -- we should have intervened in Rwanda to reduce the inequality between those who can count on the protection of the law and those who can't. While it doesn't depend on a religious basis, it's compatible with the beliefs of those religious people who are or might be on our side. Isn't this the kind of message we should be pushing?

Charlotte Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:13 AM:

How do we take back the vocabulary? That seems to me to be one of our biggest challenges, and call me idealistic, but can't the blogosphere be one place to begin? I'm not as wrecked as everyone else because, out here in red Montana we elected a Democratic govenor, thus ending 30 years of statehouse dominion by the extractive industries, we defeated the reintroduction of cyanide mining (a very big deal in a state where the mining industry is, as one guy in the paper said "the only place a guy with a high school education can make $75k a year"), legalized medical marijuana (!?) and voted in a long-term democratic activist on the Public Service Commission (energy -- also a big deal). On a really granular level, we contintued to win key seats on the school board and the city and county commissions. This in a county with a sizeable population of capital-C "Christians", homeschoolers, etc ... the local stuff has been 15 year ground war, and we owe our gains to a lot of good people who were willing to run hard in races they knew they'd lose. But if the tide can begin to turn here in Montana, I think there's hope. We've got to learn to appeal to folks who don't want to think long and hard about an issue, who want to make a decision and get on with it, and who essentially don't *like* the process. I'm not sure where we begin, but I'd like to hope that maybe it's in discussions like these.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:17 AM:

LizardBreath: I always thought that we did have a clear, overarching moral vision: Reduce Inequality.

Works for me, but I suspect that the "morals" crowd sees strucural inequality as an integral part of their system of morality - subservient wives, minorities who know their place, etc.

PNH - Mitch Wagner edits newsfeeds for an ezine, which is a very sensible policy. If Salon edits its newsfeeds as well, then yes, shame on them for surfacing that article at all.

Listening to NPR again this morning, it was all "moral values" all the time. I don't deserve to live in the emergent theocracy that the media is enabling, but perhaps the NPR News staff does. Ugh.

Alex R ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:18 AM:

My thought for the day:

I think that those who think that the Democrats can start winning the votes of Christian conservatives by adopting more religion-talk are wrong. (As a member of the religious left, I don't have that much against religion-talk, I just don't think it will help that much.)

I believe that for the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christian conservatives in this country, it is their *conservatism* that comes first, that shapes and guides their religion, rather than the other way around. Their are not conservative because they are evangelicals, but they adopt a certain variety of evangelicalism because they are conservative. There are certainly exceptions, and the Democrats may be able to pull some of them away, but not all that many.

If it was really evangelicalism that was driving their conservatism, then the Republicans would be more successful at picking up evangelical black voters, who are religiously pretty conservative. We could do a little better, I suspect, at keeping pro-life Catholics voting for Democrats, perhaps by doing a better job indicating how pro-choice public policies can reduce the number of abortions. But overall, we're not going to win the votes of religious conservatives without either secrificing our own values or working to change theirs. I refuse to do the first, and I'm not confident of how much luck we'll have with the second...

Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:24 AM:

Even so, fuck everyone at Salon for one editor's carelessness? Make the anger a rifle, not a shotgun.

LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:28 AM:

Works for me, but I suspect that the "morals" crowd sees strucural inequality as an integral part of their system of morality - subservient wives, minorities who know their place, etc.

You're right about some of them, I dearly hope you're wrong about most of them, but even if you're right about what they believe, they can't possibly say it. This is an area where we have the rhetorical advantage: no one can campaign in opposition to equality.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:01 AM:

Bill, I'm a human being, not an impassive tribune of infinite justice. I've read and subscribed to Salon for a long time, and I feel like Charlie Brown with the football where they're concerned: I keep hoping they'll be smart, and they keep doing things which are massively, forehead-slappingly stupid.

My central perception of Salon is that it lives and writes entirely inside the politically-dominant rhetorical frame; it's just trying to make money by marketing a niche product to a particular group which that frame defines. If Salon were to actually have any success in breaking out of the frame, they'd damage their own business model.

Bill Shunn ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:09 AM:

On top of the election, Patrick, now we learn that you're only a human being? I'm not sure how much more shaking my faith can take this week.

Seriously, the context for a remark that seemed uncharacteristically vitriolic is appreciated. (And I apologize for not having scanned the other comments closely enough before making my own.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:10 AM:

PZ Myers, you'll note I said I don't always agree with Amy Sullivan. I agree with her when she nails lazy journalists for letting right-wingers claim exclusive rights to the language of religion. I disagree with her when she wags her finger at secular progressives for being rude about religion. There are a lot of excellent reasons for being rude about religion, starting with the fact that religion is the occasion of a lot of people having been mistreated at points in their life when they were defenseless.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:32 AM:

I keep coming back to the fact that people voted based on being opposed to gay marriage even though they knew they were also voting for a "Yeehah!" foreign policy. Their children will die in Iraq and, if Bush fulfills his campaign promises, Cuba.

They hate me more than they love their own children.

They call that "Moral"? Jesus would spit on them.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:24 PM:

"I voted on Moral Issues" = "I Hate Gays"
Let's not be wishy-washy. Let's not even call it voting on religion, or "gays and X" (where X is guns, abortion, evolution, whatever).

Anyone who voted for Bush is complicit in bigotry and a homophobia. Anyone who voted for one of those anti-gay measures is a bigot and homophobe.

David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:31 PM:

"Reducing inequality" is the model that *most* energizes both the conservatives *and* the libertarians *against* the progressives. (I'm somewhere in the confusing progressive libertarian quadrant, sadly.) It would be a disastrous position for the democratic party to take as central.

But the libertarians generally oppose repressive social policies and foreign wars (non-initiation of force being the primary libertarian principle), and generally favor smaller deficits over larger ones.

And the conservatives *also* favor smaller deficits, and many of them *also* oppose wars of aggression.

And everybody except -- I don't know what the fuck they are. *Everybody* opposes torture. Don't they? And supports the rule of law? Well, everybody except Republicans, anyway.

Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:40 PM:

Spoke with a conservative friend today who voted Nader (in NYC). He is disgusted with both parties right now; he hates what "conservative" has come to stand for. He is a true conservative--fiscally responsible, believes in small govt and in govt. not getting involved in people's personal lives (in other words, he supports a woman's right to choose and doesn't think it's government's job to define marriage).

He hates that "conservative" has become right-wing, he hates that his moderate stances are considered liberal in many quarters. He's voted for centrist/moderate candidates before, including Clinton (twice), but voted for Bush in 2000, largely because of his education policy. Not this year.

But he couldn't vote for Kerry either; he didn't like Kerry's stance on military bases around the world (my friend wants to close the bases in Germany and Japan) or on taxation (my friend thinks rich people should be taxed even more than Kerry does, lol, and thinks that Kerry's plan didn't take where you live into account in defining "rich"--as he says $200,000/year doesn't got far in NYC if you have a couple of kids, especially college age).

It was an interesting conversation. He's really pissed, as much as the liberal Dems. I know.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:49 PM:

Anyone who voted for Bush is complicit in bigotry and homophobia.

Maybe so, but there’s fifty million of them, and calling them bigots isn’t going to make them change their minds or go away. That’s the real problem we on the Left have got to face up to.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:04 PM:

How good to know that someone has already sorted out "the real problem we on the Left have got to face up to"!

It seems to me one could as easily say that the fact that they're not going to go away doesn't make them any the less bigots. All of these truths are true. The problem with hectoring people to "face up to" one truth or another is that the verb "to face up to" is a big vague cloud. What does it actually mean, aside from an unpleasantly needling imputation that someone other than the morally resolute speaker has been avoiding something?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:15 PM:

Reduce Inequality And when the red rooster crows on top of the barn folks are more equal and that's a good thing today as it proved to be once upon a time? Let's hear 3 cheers for corrosive envy?

Did I miss the irony here? Democrats need to define The Republican Politician as a DECEIVING, MANIPULATIVE, SCHEMING, MEAN-SPIRITED, CON-ARTIST who willfully and gleefully assassinates the character of any innocent victim that stands in the way of his rabid lust for power And the New Class of Democrats will be so much better?

Some folks may just not go to Oklahoma much any more but if I'm with family in Wichita (actually Winfield but people wouldn't recognize Winfield as a nice little college town) I'd like to be able to shop Ponca City - hardly convenient to unite the country by strands of barbed wire across the boundaries between our newly found ethnic identities - even if you throw Kansas in with Oklahoma as a reservation for Republicans.

Does it work justice to declare lifeboat rules and throw the first class passengers out of the boat in favor of the steerage? Throw the fatcats to the wolves they'll take longer to digest?

How about a consensus on Pareto Optimality - if an opportunity exists to make somebody better off without making anybody worse off let's take it.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:38 PM:

I'm going to take this opportunity to refer you all to a blog entry by the Apostropher.

Let's call it like it is: red America (which is not bound by state borders) doesn't like blue America (similarly unbounded) and vice versa. You guys have controlled all three branches of government and a majority of the governships for years now. You are the elites, despite your cherished, illusory feelings of victimization. For every gram of liberal condescension, there is at least an equal amount of conservative condescension. At least we don't use "conservative" as an epithet.

If you're not reading him on at least a semi-regular basis, you should.

By the way, he does talk about "moral values" in the post, just not in what I've excerpted above.

JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:49 PM:

I wouldn't normally post a link to another blog. But I read something this morning that seems to be pertinent to the conversation.

It is written by a gay man in Oklahoma. He is sharing his views about how the election has shown him how America feels about him.

Here is the link: http://greenguru.typepad.com/

Just thought I would share.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:51 PM:

Oooooh, corrosive envy! People vote Democratic because they're who can't stand the thought of people getting ahead!

That's straw man bullshit, Clark.

I pull down a pretty good salary, have no debts, and a big fat 401(k), but I'm still concerned about economic inequality, because it's bad for society.

For all the brave and blithe talk about the Ownership Society and entrepreneurship, it is really, really hard for people on the bottom to get ahead. No amount of deregulation and tax cuts are going to change that.

"How about a consensus . . ."

Uh, yeah, sure. While we're at it, let's have a consensus on vigorous exercise, healthy eating, and happy babies. See? We're all one big happy family!

Brad ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:08 PM:

Please spread the word. Let's hit the bastards in the only place they understand - their wallets. I'm calling for everyone who voted against Bush to STAY HOME on the busiest shopping day of the year - the day after Thanksgiving. 43 million less shoppers might make a point. Also boycott Bush's chums like WalMart and buy from liberal friendly, overseas, or local small business. And finally - cancel your vacation to any red state destination - Florida, Kiawah Island, New Orleans and spend it instead in Maine, Wisconsin, Cape Cod, California, NYC, Chicago, etc... We don't need to pay these people to take our rights away. Please pass it on!!!

Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:14 PM:

"Reducing inequality" is the model that *most* energizes both the conservatives *and* the libertarians *against* the progressives.

What he said. Many if not most people hear "Reduce Inequality," and think "Harrison Bergeron." Well, not literally, given that most people probably haven't read it, but that's the sort of world people imagine when they hear talk of reducing inequality.

The goals are fine, but the package sucks.

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:19 PM:

Brad,
Can I recommend adding New Hampshire, now that it's officially blue?

(Please don't recommend Cape Cod--we're crowded enough out there...)

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:32 PM:

Brad:

Unless you plan to get a great many people to boycott Chirstmas, what you propose will have no finacial impact at all. It will send a message that we don't understand math.

Your second proposal is better, I suppose, although still unlike to have a huge impact; I don't know many people who choose walmart when they can aford otherwise. I may have a selection effect going on.

On the last one, the red states, saving only Florida, aren't exactly big tourism spots anyway.

Personally, and at least until I calm down, I'm going to amusing myself by hoping James Nicoll achieves success with his dreams of a Canadian superpower. If the majority populations of the economically left en mass, those remaining would have to either accept civilization to attract them back or accept life in a sudden third world hell hole. (I don't think this is a good or workable idea either, really. But I like it alot; after the 11 for 11 on gay bashing, I feel like nothing in the world so much as that my country just broke up with me).

robert west ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Patrick, David: I was listening to the radio in the car last night and found myself getting angrier and angrier at the DJ who was going on at length about how the election demonstrated just how stupid the American public really is, that the Bush victory demonstrated the ascendance of stupidity over intelligence and irrationality over reason, etc. I share the anger and understand the despair implicit in what the DJ was saying ... but at the same time, we cannot possibly win without convincing the very people he was condemning; and it's extremely difficult to convince someone of anything when you are busy calling them names.

Patrick Weekes ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:53 PM:

I'm a nondrinking, nonsmoking, churchgoing Christian, and I find the notion that God would approve of this pampered, spoiled, aggressive man initiating a war for his own purposes, using fear to manipulate the masses, and raising money by using the buzzwords of religion when he doesn't actually attend church to be stupid, offensive, and indicative of people who are deeply out of touch with what actual religion is.

Why did reporters make a deal out of Kerry possibly being excommunicated while failing to mention that Bush, who made his close personal relationship with God the cornerstone of his campaign, doesn't actually go to church? I'm not saying that you can't be moral unless you go to church, but I would have sworn that actually planting your butt in the pew for some reason other than fundraising was somehow a requirement to be Born Again.

To everyone here railing against the "stupid religious nutcases", please bear in mind that many actual religious people are just as angry at having their spiritual beliefs used as a bludgeon to coerce the fearful. Many actual religious people are in favor of any two (or more) people being able to receive government benefits for their commitment to each other. Many actual religious people are in favor of access to healthcare. Many actual religious people are pro-choice, after having seen their perfect-world ideals get dragged lengthwise through the practicalities of United States society and healthcare.

Losing the rhetoric of morals was a crucial blow for the Democrats. If they want to recover, they need to figure this stuff out. Voting for Bush was not a Christian act by any well-thought standard of measurement.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 04:24 PM:

What does it actually mean, aside from an unpleasantly needling imputation that someone other than the morally resolute speaker has been avoiding something?

It means I’m just as exhausted and miserable as you are, Patrick, and one of the things that’s further exhausting me and making me even more miserable is watching most of my friends throw up their hands and declare that the problem is that fifty million of their fellow citizens are monsters.

One friend posted in his blog that the election results changed everything. They might have changed a lot of things, but one thing they didn't change: whether they’re fifty-one percent or fifty percent or forty-nine percent or forty percent of the electorate, those people were already out there on November 1. They’d still be there even if the Ohio election had been honest.

Now, I know damn well that my 81-year-old grandmother in Nebraska voted Republican, and I also know damn well that she didn’t deliberately vote for Abu Ghraib or outsourcing torture or endless war or global warming or cutting rich folks’ takes on the backs of her grandchildren. And if our response to this election is to assume that she did, that nearly half the voting public is just irretrievably damned — I’m not saying anyone’s saying exactly that, but it seems to be the sense of the meeting — then in the long run, even if we win an election or two, we’re screwed. We might as well be voting for Nader.

I’ll shut up now, if you like.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 05:02 PM:

No need to shut up. But this may not be the optimal moment to perform the kind of analysis you're trying to perform.

We're human, too; if you poke us, we bleed, et cet. It is hardly surprising that many of us feel very alienated from 51% of America following this past Tuesday. It's an emotional reaction. Guess what: our side has emotions too.

Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 06:14 PM:

LizardBreath: I always thought that we did have a clear, overarching moral vision: Reduce Inequality.

As in, "no men are created unequal"? Unwittingly, you demonstrate part of the problem: how things are said. "Reduce inequality" is a fine and noble sentiment. It's just that, phrased that way, it has all the emotional appeal of a bank statement. "Our goal this quarter is to eliminate waste and reduce inequality." Turn it around, and make it echo the Declaration of Independence, and you get a much stronger statement: our vision is one of *promoting equality*. "All men are created equal, and all men should be treated equally, in every way." (Put it into the hands of a real writer, and you can probably get something even better.)

Which version is more likely to catch the attention of the Other 51%?

Glen Fisher

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 06:30 PM:

Clark, the only thing that's saving you right now is Patrick's liberal sense of values. Keep that in mind next time you post.

Tom S ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 06:41 PM:

To paraphrase Ghandi: That justice, freedom and love always survive and triumph over evil.

A friend who is also a columnist suggested our circumstances are similar to occupied France in 1940 -- our government is run by a combination of an Occupying Force, and our culture is rife with collaborators. We went back and forth that it was foolish to romanticize what's happened to our country, but in the end I had to agree with the image, at least in part.

I honestly believe America is two countries, now. They may be countries of the mind, but the divisions are in place and can only become clearer through time. They already are.

Read Bennet's comments ("Let the great relearning begin"). Read Adam Yoshida's ("We’ve got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and [our] boot above their head. Now’s the time to curb-stomp the bastards...That’s the future of the Democratic Party: providing Republicans with a number of cute (but not that bright) comfort women").

I have to disagree with Amy Sullivan. I don't feel like trying to reach out and dialogue with these persons. Their "values" are as disgusting and repellant to me as my beliefs are to them -- and they have no interest in dialogue, either. This is a putsch, a bellwether of very difficult times.

Bush is a masterful liar, and he will piously chatter about uniting the country while reveling in the chance to do god's will by remaking it in Ralph Reed's image. And god save the Iranians, the Koreans, and all the men to be drafted.

So, two countries.

There is the Homeland (a term I've never been comfortable hearing) of the community of the faithful, the necon and fundimentalist christian true believers, those who agree we can only be safe by bludegoning real or perceived enemies and intimdating all others; the Homeland of a stirring sense of mission for the faithful to cleanse at home, and "spread freedom" abroad.

Whether from fear or honest desire, people living in the Homeland support their leaders (Bush is only one, but there are others, from Murdoch to Kristol to Reed and Swaggart), even if they know somehow they're being used -- in part because they believe support for the powerful is the path to personal wealth, security and success.

In the Homeland, the leaders do not believe in or accept anything except active and public acceptance of their agenda; silent agreement is accepted, for the moment.

In The Homeland, gays and lesbians are tolerated, for the moment. Educators and scientists will begin to understand 'creationisim' is a valid branch of inquiry, and that research must pass through the eye of a faith-based needle in order to receive consideration for funding. People of color have to understand that poverty, drugs, underemployment, are all problems for which faith is the answer.

Those children not being 'home schooled' should be encouraged by family and frinds to pray in their classrooms; the school districts will come along in time. Police and security agencies will have to become even more vigilant for Terrorists: the outsider, the stranger, the ones who are not part of the faith-based community; and they will need more laws to make the Homeland even safer.

One day, there may be a terrible incident in a major city. It may be a tragedy manufactured by the leaders to inflame and soldify the feelings of the faithful. After all, when one believes what you're doing is directed by god, nothing is forbidden, and all is forgiven. And isn't that a basic tenent of religious terrorists?

On that day, thecommunity of the faithful will understand when Rights once taken for granted are suspended, borders closed, travel and bank accounts restricted. No one would know how long the state of emergency would last. And after that day, for those not "part of the community", arrests and detention may follow.

Then, there is America. I don't think I have to tell you what that country is like -- you and I live there, in our minds and our hearts. It's a country that hopes to live in peace, and believe in the value of a single human being, as they are, without the litmus of faith or politics, race or economics. It's my country. It's a progressive, humanist country, where lifting all boats isn't just a hollow phrase, and that literature, art and science have no imposed horizons or destinations.

It's my country.

We need to keep that vision clearly in our minds in the months ahead, until Ghandi's thought becomes real for our entire country. Meanwhile, like people in France after May of 1940, we resist.

LizardBreath ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 06:57 PM:

Glen:

You're right -- "promoting equality", "equality of opportunity" -- either one is much better than my formulation. But still, that's our vision (or it's mine, and the reason I vote Democratic is that seems like my best hope of getting there) and it's a strong, persuasive one, and one that the right can't run against. They can say that we're lying about wanting equality, but they can't say that equality is a bad thing.

(I think the "Harrison Bergeron" critique isn't all that persuasive -- there's a difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 06:59 PM:

(A small plea that we also keep the correct spelling of the standard transliteration of Gandhi's name in our minds, too. I swear, it's the commonest spelling error in the blogosphere.)

Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:12 PM:

More common than "loose"?

Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:35 PM:

That's straw man bullshit, Clark. Actually in context I'll take that as a pun. Whatever my sympathies might be for Anabaptist thought I repeat that setting fire in the thatched roof of a barn as part of a peasant's revolt does much to make people equal and much more to make them hungry.

There are the worse the better strategies to which much of this country has always echoed the immortal words so often associated with Bill Bixby - don't make me mad, you wouldn't like me when I'm mad - see any of the pundits on the Scotch-Irish-Jacksonian strain of American thought especially to include war making. As a nation we may act just as individuals do, judging ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions - but whether for that reason or any other it is a mugs game to seek to persuade the majority their own intentions are bad.

Besides everybody knows Democrats vote that way because they are all gun grabbers who envy their neighbor's guns and want to tax their ammunition outrageously.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 08:12 PM:

John Farrell, if you send tourists up our way - send them to the remote south-west, out around Keene and past, because those are the poor, rural towns who voted blue. The Lakes Region and the Ski Areas and the Seacoast are pretty and popular, but those are the ones who voted for not sharing their wealth. Except for Portsmouth and those blue towns - I don't think we should support New Castle or Newington or Newfields who voted for Bush but also Lynch, (hm, non-significant pattern there, coincidence of names.) I vow that next time I'm out there, I won't buy fish and chips or ice cream from that stand in New Castle, even though it's good. Let's not reward the wealthy townships' citizens by supporting their quest for bigger and bigger Escalades.

I can't think of any tourist places in Berlin/Gorham, but maybe I'll research some and create an "alternative/progressive vacationing listing" for us. It can be the Temperate Zone's version of ecotourism.

Oh, here's one specific outfit in NH we can support, in Walpole, a blue western township: Alysons Orchard Inn, a bed-and-breakfast which sponsored a skywriter towing an anti-Bush banner over Manchester on Sunday.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 08:13 PM:

I don't think it's a bare 51% of our nation who have supported the worst administration in my memory. It was 51% of the people who voted. In my opinion, the people who couldn't be bothered to vote also supported torture, murder, and right wing theocrats. That's way more than 51%.

MKK

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Exit polls that were grossly inaccurate during the election now tell us that "moral values" drove the Bush win?? How is this exit poll any more or less accurate than the others?

I don't buy it for a moment. 'Moral Values' my ass.. I think the media has dropped the ball on this - again. Their answer is too simple an answer, occam's razor well considered.

Folks I know in 'Red' counties insist that the war & the economy drove their votes. I'd add that perception of the candidate drove some decisions, and frankly people in middle america don't really like stuffy Senators, any more than sophisticated urbanites like coarse frat-boys from Texas or over-muscled immigrants from Austria.

I do know that the Dem party needs to be fixed, and it will take some brainpower to do it. I wish I knew where to start (well, calling 51% of the voters stupid isn't a great strategy, but what do I know??).

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:28 PM:

Well, speaking of the Dem party needing to be fixed, there's a cheerful red/blue map over at DailyKos that shows us that if the election had been up to 18-29 year olds, Kerry would have won 375 to 163. Check the map out, if you like the color blue. At the bottom of the post entitled "The Kids Did It -- Our Map Is True Blue", there's a "There's more..." link that will take you to the map.

I'd link to it here, but I'm not sure of the Local Customs re: linking blog posts, etc.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:35 PM:

This came up somewhere else on nielsenhayden.com recently--somebody being unsure whether it's okay to link to other blog posts. Of course it's okay to link to other blog posts. We do it all the time.

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:10 PM:

Ah. Kewl. Here is the cheerful map, then.

Nate ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:37 PM:

I'm a New Zealand Evangelical/Pentecostal Christian, and strongly opposed to Bush. That man has done more to move me leftward than my brother's ten-year-and-counting missionary stint doing community development in the urban slums of Brazil.

Most of the NZ church looks at Bush and winces. But some of his message resonates. The anti-gay thing... I struggle with that myself. I'm not a fan of redefining the word 'marriage', and the Apostle Paul seems pretty clear where he stands in his letters. If that and abortion were the only issues, Bush would have stood at least a 75% chance of convincing me to vote for him. But the sheer venom spewing from the GOP about gays absolutely takes me back, and as for Iraq and the WoT, Abu Ghraib pretty much nails it for me.

How these snakes convinced the American evangelical church to legitimise their war crimes I find terribly hard to believe, but I do understand. I grew up in a small dysfunctional Pentecostal church and I recognise the dynamics of abuse of power under the guise of spirituality and morality a mile away. Only this time, it's happening on a country-wide scale with global implications. If there's anything I can do to put my spanner in the Death Star's cogs, I want in. I think I know how they think -- and I think I know what God, the real one, thinks about them. The terms 'prophets of Baal' and 'brood of vipers' come to mind.

This election, even more than 9/11 or Iraq, is going to shatter the evangelical Christian church in America. There are some sane folks still among the wreckage. Jim Wallis, Tom Sine, Glen Stassen, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren - these are some of the names I trust - but I'm worried, I'm really worried now, what will happen to these dissenting voices of sanity. They're already on the margins of the American Protestant church-state complex - will their voice grow, or will there be purges and consolidation among the Bible colleges, the 'leadership schools', until anything that's not directly coordinated from Texas gets effectively excommunicated? Perhaps I'm being paranoid - America is a big place and I don't see how even an SBC/GOP combine could wage an effective cultural purge on that level - but I've been expecting the worst ever since Bush's 'for us or against us' speech got such high approval ratings, and I've yet to see the bottom of the cliff.

I think the American evangelicals can be turned. I think they don't realise yet what kind of monster they're about to unleash. They don't believe what they believe could ever become fascism. I think they'll wake up very shortly and find out, but unless there are people ready and in place to take care of them, who speak their language and feel the pain of faith gone horribly wrong - and it's a very deep and agonising pain that many glib seculars just can't begin to understand, because you can't fight this by throwing up your hands and wishing God away, no matter how you might want to, you have to wrestle through to your own convictions with Bible in hand - unless there's a net in place ready to welcome them, they'll keep fighting for the wrong side with increasing desperation.

If these people think anything like me, they'll see 'becoming a liberal' as worse than death itself, as a loss of faith so devastating as to be literally unthinkable. Crossing that chasm won't come easy. Think cult deprogramming, but without the intellectual violence.

We have to build that net, and we have to start building it now.

Zara Baxter ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:00 PM:

Sadly, Lizardbreath, the Austrailan election was losta good primer on what happens with that value set.

Reducing inequality becomes "the politics of envy"
Promoting equality becomes "reducing choice"

Because promoting equality is always done by those who want the money siphoned direct from your wallet *and* want to drag everybody down to their level of crap, thereby ruining your for success in our competitive world, don't you know. (yes, I'm being sarcastic)

Increasing inequality becomes "providing a safety net" because of course, real people need a safety net, as opposed to those dirty rotten free riders sucking your tax dollars.

..and this despite attempts to frame the "ladder of opportunity" for "aspirational voters".

(slight rant, like I'm not already ranting)
It makes me feel so bloody impotent. The only thing it seems like you can do is to predict what they will skew and skew right back. where's the room for honesty or integrity any more? It's market-driven politics and market-driven economies. When did people-driven or community-driven or society-driven become so sneer-worthy? Come to that, when did society become a dirty word?
(enough rant)

Bah. Pass me the cherry vodka.

Jane Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:46 AM:

Okay, I really like Patrick's blog, and have been reading it for months concerning the election. It's an oasis for the thinking person.

I live in Mississippi, in a county that does not even have a Democratic Party. So I understand "The Evangelicals." Never underestimate them. In fact, none of us should underestimate what ordinary good country folk are capable of when they think Jesus is on their side. And they do. Literally.

I know, this sounds pretty simplistic. My language is plain, there is no detailed analysis, and so forth.

But I know these people, the Reds. I have lived with them all my life. I see them at family reunions, at the grocery store, at the ball park, the theater, and so forth.

Ordinary folks. Nice manners. Smiles. Polite.

But they are unbending, relentless, filled with a consuming conviction and duty when it comes to what they call moral issues. They are determined to take their country back, and don't ever forget it.

I wish I lived in a Blue state or that I had one "reality" friend to share some conversation with over a cup of tea. No way, I had to go to Shelby County TN, just to find a Kerry/Edwards sign for my front lawn.

So be grateful that you live in a Blue State and have friends, and don't have to be afraid to put a political sign in your flower bed.

So the press thinks we leftwingers ought to reach out to these people. I don't think so.
They do not compromise.

Janie

Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:36 AM:

You want moral values? Here's moral values:

"Looking for a way to pick up swing voters in the Red States, former President Bill Clinton, in a phone call with Kerry, urged the Senator to back local bans on gay marriage. Kerry respectfully listened, then told his aides, "I'm not going to ever do that."

Meanwhile, they run ads so vicious and dishonest that the candidate's ex-wife is furious and wants to go to bat for him:

"By August, the attack of the Swift Boat veterans was getting to Kerry. He called adviser Tad Devine, who was prepping to appear on "Meet The Press" the next day: "It's a pack of f---ing lies, what they're saying about me," he fairly shouted over the phone. Kerry blamed his advisers for his predicament. (Cahill and Shrum argued responding to the ads would only dignify them.) He had wanted to fight back; they had counseled caution. Even Kerry's ex-wife, Julia Thorne, was very upset about the ads, she told daughter Vanessa. She could remember how Kerry had suffered in Vietnam; she had seen the scars on his body, heard him cry out at night in his nightmares. She was so agitated about the unfairness of the Swift Boat assault that she told Vanessa she was ready to break her silence, to speak out and personally answer the Swift Boat charges. She changed her mind only when she was reassured that the campaign was about to start fighting back hard."

I've criticized Kerry, a lot. But in the end I'm back where I was in September of 2002, when I trusted him absolutely to do the right thing on Iraq: he is a fundamentallly decent man and would have made a very good president, probably the best of my lifetime.

He had some very bad advisors, and he listened to them more than he should have, instead of his instincts and the better angels of his nature.

Which is getting to be a very familiar story.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:40 AM:

"I'm not a fan of redefining the word 'marriage', and the Apostle Paul seems pretty clear where he stands in his letters."

It does seem worth pointing out that this is civil, not church, marriage. This is a legal abstraction; the government in the USA is strictly forbidden from telling churches what to do and, for instance, many US civil marriages are not recognized by the Catholic church.

I think Susie Bright, of all people, nailed it when she said, "'Morals' is their code word for sex, all issues related to sex." (Via the Sideshow, of course.)

Big problem. On the one hand, who wants these people for enemies. On the other hand, we hardly want them creating the Kingdom of Gilead, which they are working to do.

Gareth Wilson ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 02:55 AM:

"Read Adam Yoshida's ("We’ve got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and [our] boot above their head. Now’s the time to curb-stomp the bastards...That’s the future of the Democratic Party: providing Republicans with a number of cute (but not that bright) comfort women")."

Adam Yoshida is a Canadian. Probably not the best example to quote if you're worried about United States Republicans. I'd like to think he's not representative of us right-wing Commonwealth types either.

McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 04:37 AM:

I wasn't a big fan of redefining the word "marriage" either, but then the putsy feminists got rid of the dowry system and replaced a well established system of social transactions with this crazy liberal stuff based on "two people's feelings for each other." Is it any wonder that gays want a piece of the action? The straight community ruined marriage for those who prefer our wives to be indentured bondslaves, like the tradition says they should be.

Fuck it, give it to the gays, they probably won't get divorced as often.

Nate Cull ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:10 AM:

The thing is, from my moral/ethical perspective, both the Democratic and Republican parties have serious problems.

If elected United States President I would ban handguns on Monday, abortion on Tuesday, nuclear weapons on Wednesday, and be assassinated Thursday morning by a bipartisan committee.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 10:18 AM:

they are unbending, relentless, filled with a consuming conviction and duty when it comes to what they call moral issues.

Funny, that describes me. There's a rule for writers: everyone thinks they are doing the right thing, or at the very least they think they're justified in doing what they're doing.

casting Bush voters as evil, mindless, flesh-eating zombies might be carthartic after losing the election, it might even be funny, (see http://www.ucomics.com/boondocks/2004/10/31/ ), but it misses the truth that poeple generally think they're doing what's best.

Lemme splain it to yall this way.

we're all "do good" robots.

The reason Bush won teh election is because his cronies wrote a program that defined "do good" that prioritized stopping gay marriages over terrorism, the economy, the environment, and civil rights.

They were then able to convince enough "do good" robots to load their program and run it.

Kerry wrote a program that defined "do good" his way. And a bunch of democrat "do good" robots loaded that program and ran it.

So, we're all unbending, relentless, filled with a consuming conviction and duty when it comes to whatever it is that we define as "doing good".

the only difference is what we define as good.

Demonizing the opposition isn't likely to win any converts. You need to convert some of those "do good" robots running the Bush program and convince them to redefine what is good.

I mentioned this before, but a common Democratic response to undecided voters leading up to Nov 2 was a disgusted rant screaming "what more do they need to know?"

That doesn't define what is good. And it doesn't convince anyone to run your "do good" program. It simply demonizes the opposition, says they are doing wrong, and goes against the "most poeple think they're doing the right thing" axiom. And if someone thinks they're doing the right thing by running the Bush "do good" program, simply screaming "You're evil!" isn't going to win converts.


Jane Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:32 AM:

"Lemme splain it to yall this way."

You just don't get it. When LBJ signed all the "Civil Rights Act," he gave up the South. But the South was really already lost, years before. If you came South and lived here awhile, you would realize--and I am giggling--that it really goes back to Abe Lincoln when he ended slavery! OMG! You are all so intelligent, but you just don't get it.

"Lemme splain it to yall this way."

These good country folk go to church every time the doors open, but when the sermon is over, and they get out to the parking lot, they talk about how "the n word," the "gays," the "socialists," and "baby killers" are destroying our country.

This mindset has always been in the South, but now it has spread west across the Big Muddy River.

So do yourself a favor and go read some Faulkner.

Jane Harrison ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:33 AM:

"Lemme splain it to yall this way."

You just don't get it. When LBJ signed all the "Civil Rights Act," he gave up the South. But the South was really already lost, years before. If you came South and lived here awhile, you would realize--and I am giggling--that it really goes back to Abe Lincoln when he ended slavery! OMG! You are all so intelligent, but you just don't get it.

"Lemme splain it to yall this way."

These good country folk go to church every time the doors open, but when the sermon is over, and they get out to the parking lot, they talk about how "the n word," the "gays," the "socialists," and "baby killers" are destroying our country.

This mindset has always been in the South, but now it has spread west across the Big Muddy River.

So do yourself a favor and go read some Faulkner.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:05 PM:

So do yourself a favor and go read some Faulkner.

perhaps you should listen to him and not just read him:

"I decline to accept the end of man."
---William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech

http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/faulkner/faulkner.html

I decline as well. I am one of those unbending, relentless, filled with a consuming conviction and duty zombies that you speak of. And I will never accept the end of man.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:33 PM:

All you prophets of doom need to wake up!

This is no time to throw yourselves on your swords. The enemy is at hand. If you want to impale yourself, do so on the sword of the enemy so you at least slow them down for the rest of us.

Get up and fight, damn you! I do not need your cheerleading in times of victory, I need you at the walls when the enemy is at hand!

I can not afford your commiseration and self pity, it will only make your prophecies of doom self fulfilling. And you're starting to piss me off.

I will not give up! Do you understand! Never! This is too important to me! I will never surrender!

Those who wish to lay down and die, there's an empty spot on the catapult sling. Put your dead weight to good use at least.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:55 PM:

A fundamental change in strategy is required. We liberals need to realize that effective social change is more important than feeling good about what we're doing or the ideals of our cause. And that it can't be enforced from above; it must be generated from the ground.

One strategy that comes to mind: Present to the red-counties that we respect your values (though we may not agree with all of them), and will find cause to help protect what's important to you (within the parameters of the constitution); in response, you must respect our values. To that end, for example, leave marriage to the religious institutions, and legal unions to the state. The state will define a legal union regardless of sex and not interfere with religious constructs. I.e., we'll keep the state out of your church if you keep the church out of the state.

Clearly, there are those on the far right and far left who won't subscribe to this; so what? If there is a vast center, which I believe there is (having lived in the midwest for 30 years), this approach has an excellent chance of working *and* of proving to be a method with which to elect Democrats to office.

This also goes toward marketing: the Repos learned that Pat Buchanen is the exactly wrong spokesman for their party in urban, liberal cities. Likewise: Hollywood elites, who whether they like it or not represent a set of values not appreciated in red-county America, are the wrong representatives for the Dems. The success of Barack Obama speaks to this; as does Mario Cuomo's speeches in conventions past.

There are plenty of people in 'flyover country' with whom there can be common-cause; if only we stop insulting them by calling them stupid, and if we believe that 'the perfect is the enemy of the good'. We can't get ALL of 'em to come to the table. We can't get all of our own folks to the table! But we don't need all.. we need enough to get our guys in office and enough to re-start social reform from the bottom-up.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Mr. Moles: What, then, was your Dear Old Granny voting for? Was she unaware of Abu Ghraib? Was she unaware of Bush's seething hatred of homosexuals? Had she been living in a hole for the past four years?

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:59 PM:

Mr. Moles: What, then, was your Dear Old Granny voting for? Was she unaware of Abu Ghraib? Was she unaware of Bush's seething hatred of homosexuals? Had she been living in a hole for the past four years?

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:10 PM:

Granny didn't care about what Bush thinks of homosexuals; Granny had visions of her church being "forced" to marry Bill & Tom from West Hollywood, or of going to services on Sunday morning to see Jane & Elaine get hitched.

Reality? Nope. But what was presented to them? And by whom? Overwhelmingly, commentary at a local level from well-meaning Dems was presented as an attack on 'stupid gay-hating evangelicals' and as attacks on religion. Not a way to convince people, is it? Can't blame this on Rove. It's easy to say "The Dems want to change the rules in your church" when they can point to articles that say exactly that. Again, for some people it was more important to feel good about bashing religion and evangelicals than it was about finding a way for genuine change. Not for all, but enough where, whether we like it or not, it was made very easy for Repos to make the argument.

We can't find common cause if all we do is bash the hell out of them & then expect them to follow us because "we know better".

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Well, I think Barack Obama is an excellent speaker, and his record in the Illinois state senate is that of a pretty smart politician, but I don't think his lopsided victory in Illinois strongly "speaks to" any conclusions about "values"; rather, it shows that Illinois is a state where demovraphics increasingly favor the Democrats and at the same time a state where the local Republicans have managed to do almost everything wrong. Which is to say, Obama would probably have won anyway, but he had a nearly perfect set of circumstances.

To his credit, he's smart enough to know that, and is pretty cannily trying to damp down expectations that he'll be Liberal Superman.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:32 PM:

tonecluster writes: "We can't find common cause if all we do is bash the hell out of them & then expect them to follow us because 'we know better'."

You know, your sense that somebody thinks they "know better" doesn't actually entitle you to put the phrase inside quotation marks as if someone had actually said such a thing. As it happens, nobody in this thread has actually said such a thing. Perhaps you're quoting someone from outside the thread. In that case, it would be well for you to cite your actual source, because as it stands, it looks a lot like you're making a false claim about other people in this conversation, and that's not very nice.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:35 PM:

BSD,

You cannot hate someone's guts at the same time you're trying to persuade them to your point of view. An election is a game of Thing and the side that is most persuasive wins. Not the side that is "right", the side that is most persuasive.

"Vote for me, you f-ing morons"

This kind of attitude ain't gonna win, no matter how right you are.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Patrick,
Agreed, his win doesn't speak to the values of people across Illinois. It does speak to success in presenting liberal platform to voters outside of traditional liberal districts.

He was able to appeal to, or to at least acknowledge, the 'values' of mid- and down-state midwestern liberals, most of whom go to church. He won counties that otherwise vote Repub or conservative-Dem. He is a very smart politician, and a part of those smarts is the ability and skill to further a liberal platform while engaging, not alienating, votes in the exurbs.

In other words, he was (and is) a good representive of the kind of 'marketing' that works without betraying his own ideals and values.

True: had the IL. RC not been joke, he'd not have won with.. what was it, 193% of the vote? He still would have won, since the Dem power of Cook County is incredible. But the fact that he was able to get the votes that a)Keyes alienated and b)Obama embraced, he still stands as a good example of how a liberal can appeal to the kinds of voters currently being blamed by some as 'stupid'.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:47 PM:

I agree that Obama is very good at breaking--and getting past--the conservative rhetorical frame. I'm delighted at his emergence. I just think he's also had some amazingly lucky breaks. (And used each one of them very skilfully, indeed.)

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:51 PM:

No one in this thread has said that; thanks for advice & clarification.

I'm recalling conversations outside of the web I've had with folks, and some op/eds in the media where Bush voters are called stupid and uneducated (the current uproar in Slate comes to mind). Comments on various weblogs, etc.(not this one, which is why I feel I can post here & enjoy intelligent conversation!!) Michael Moore comes to mind, and he'd be unimportant I think had he not been prominently displayed at the Dem Conv.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:52 PM:

No one in this thread has said that; thanks for advice & clarification.

I'm recalling conversations outside of the web I've had with folks, and some op/eds in the media where Bush voters are called stupid and uneducated (the current uproar in Slate comes to mind). Comments on various weblogs, etc.(not this one, which is why I feel I can post here & enjoy intelligent conversation!!) Michael Moore comes to mind, and he'd be unimportant I think had he not been prominently displayed at the Dem Conv.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:53 PM:

No one in this thread has said that; thanks for advice & clarification.

I'm recalling conversations outside of the web I've had with folks, and some op/eds in the media where Bush voters are called stupid and uneducated (the current uproar in Slate comes to mind). Comments on various weblogs, etc.(not this one, which is why I feel I can post here & enjoy intelligent conversation!!) Michael Moore comes to mind, and he'd be not applicable to my point I think had he not been prominently displayed at the Dem Conv.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:54 PM:

yikes... what happened? Sorry for that multiposting..

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 02:03 PM:

Get up and fight, damn you! I do not need your cheerleading in times of victory, I need you at the walls when the enemy is at hand!

for those of you at VP'04, picture John Wayne saying "On. On. On. On. To the breach. To the breach."

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Melissa Singer: Spoke with a conservative friend today who voted Nader (in NYC). He is disgusted with both parties right now; he hates what "conservative" has come to stand for. He is a true conservative--fiscally responsible, believes in small govt and in govt. not getting involved in people's personal lives (in other words, he supports a woman's right to choose and doesn't think it's government's job to define marriage).

I spoke with a conservative colleague a few months ago and felt this wonderful camaraderie with him. At last! A sensible voice!

I quickly realized that, if we had had a political conversation, say, five years ago, I would have probably disagreed so strongly with him that I would have had to restrain myself from yelling and becoming abusive.

I don't think either he or I have changed all that much. It's just that the political climate in this country has moved so far to the right under Bush that a liberal like me and a Reagan Republican like my colleague are starting to look politically superior.

Indeed, I think the Reagan Republicans are one of the great hopes for freedom in America. And that is one hell of a thing.

David Dyer-Bennet: And everybody except -- I don't know what the fuck they are. *Everybody* opposes torture. Don't they? And supports the rule of law? Well, everybody except Republicans, anyway.

Sadly, I think you're 100% wrong on these two points, David.

The Republicans have successfully moved the goal posts on both of these debates, and have made opposing torture and supporting the rule of law to appear to be naive and child-like.

These days, the common wisdom is that everybody knows that torture is unpleasant, but sometimes necessary. And the common wisdom is that everybody knows that rule of law is needed most of the time, but occasionally laws only serve to slow down police in their necessary work.

Of course, the common wisdom is insane on both those points. In reality, torture is counter-productive and evil, and the rule of law is necessary to control bad or overzealous cops (absolute power, corrupting absolutely, etc.)

Hell, even Charles Schumer—flaming liberal Democrat from New York—was quoted not too long ago, post-Abu Ghraibm as saying that of course every reasonable person knows that torture is sometimes necessary. I was flabbergasted as much as if he said, "Of course everyone knows sexual molestation of kindergartners is almost always wrong."

David Moles: Maybe so, but there’s fifty million of them, and calling them bigots isn’t going to make them change their minds or go away. That’s the real problem we on the Left have got to face up to.

Treating bigotry as difference of opinion isn't going to solve anything.

Here's a little something I wrote in my blog:

Homosexuals in America today are the Jews of 1930s Germany. Voting to take away the right of marriage--a right the overwhelming majority of homosexuals never even had in the first place--is another step down the road with camps and gas chambers at the end of it.

It's not inevitable, and we're not close to the gas chambers. But we're moving toward them, and we're a heck of a lot closer to today than we were Monday.

Homosexuals are the enemy of the party that controls the White House, the Congress, and is gaining on the courts.

People who have had, performed, or support abortions are also their enemy.

Why should you and I worry, when we are neither homosexuals nor abortionists? Well, first they came for the homosexuals, and I did not say anything because I wasn't a homosexual, then they came for the abortionists...

They'll get around to the liberals eventually.

I know how crazy all of that sounds, and yet I believe every word of it. A nation doesn't turn to genocide overnight—especially not a freedom-loving nation like the U.S.—they have to work their way toward it. It's a long process. Took at least 30 years or so in Germany.

Do I really believe it will happen? Actually, no. But I think it will be blocked by decent people standing up and point out to the bigots who they are and what they've been doing.

Tom S.'s post is excellent.

I'm having difficulty getting any sense at all from Clark's posts, except that in a general way he seems to be liberal-bashing. Is it just me?

Boycotts are nice to talk about, but they're ineffective.

Janie: So the press thinks we leftwingers ought to reach out to these people. I don't think so.
They do not compromise.

Reach out to the ones whose minds can be changed. Roll over the ones who can't or won't. What else can we do?

Gareth Wilson: "Read Adam Yoshida's ("We’ve got their teeth clutching the sidewalk and [our] boot above their head. Now’s the time to curb-stomp the bastards...That’s the future of the Democratic Party: providing Republicans with a number of cute (but not that bright) comfort women")."

Adam Yoshida is a Canadian. Probably not the best example to quote if you're worried about United States Republicans. I'd like to think he's not representative of us right-wing Commonwealth types either.

I don't know about that. I had a political conversation with a Canadian expat, living in New York, a few weeks ago; he seemed very angry and contemptuous about what he called Americans' willingness to lay down and die. He repeated the phrase several times: Americans' willingness to lay down and die.

What I did not say, but found myself thinking, was this: That's pretty big talk for a fucking Canadian, isn't it? I mean, it's not your fight, is it? If we all vote for Bush and flush America down the toilet, you can move back home to Canada and say, "Whoops."

What I also did not say is: If you think this is so fucking important, why don't you become an American citizen and vote—or, even better, enlist.

I'm not saying all Canadians are like this. I'm not even saying most are (hi, Cory!). Indeed, if I were to generalize about Canadians, I'd say that they are, on the whole, excellent people, even-tempered, laid-back, congenial, decent, intelligent. The world needs more Canadians!

But there does seem to be a uniquely vocal minority of Canadians who get off on lecturing American liberals on how worthless and weak we all are. I think there's a bit of a national inferiority complex at work here—and it's particularly wrong-headed because Canada and Canadians have absolutely nothing to feel inferior about; it is an excellent country, one I've enjoyed visiting several times and I've liked almost all of the people I've met from there.

Hell, I even liked the guy I was arguing with a few weeks ago; I just wanted to quite the immortal Warren Oates: "Lighten up, Frances."

(I needed to lighten up myself, by the way. I became exasperated with this guy's unshakeable assumption that, because I questioned the Iraqi invasion, I was therefore a dove. I started shouting at him that I wanted Saddam Hussein dead, I wanted his head on a pike in Time's Square, where I would then piss in his mouth. We were in a bar at the time. It was crowded early on. After I shouted the piss-in-his-mouth thing: not so much with the crowded.)

Greg London: All you prophets of doom need to wake up!

This is no time to throw yourselves on your swords. The enemy is at hand. If you want to impale yourself, do so on the sword of the enemy so you at least slow them down for the rest of us.

What you said. I was framing something similar, but you already got to it.

Of course, what I was going to say was more contemptuous: If you're going to fall on your sword, do it already. If you're going to expatriate to Canada, then go. Get the hell out of the way, because we real Americans have work to do.

tonecluster: "One strategy that comes to mind: Present to the red-counties that we respect your values (though we may not agree with all of them),"

I respect some of their values. Hard work, fair play, rule of law: yes. Keeping the niggers, fags, and towel-heads down: not so much.

I'll close with the words of another Patrick. I've almost committed them to memory: "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

I will not permit this nation to be destroyed by a boy prince who's never done an honest day's work and who has failed at every job he ever held. And I won't let it be destroyed by the people stupid, deluded or evil enough to support him.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 02:59 PM:

Fuck equality. Delivering a message of equality is subject to being twisted around into a Harrison Bergeron-esque message.

I would say this, instead: Liberalism is the philosophy of fair play. It is the philosophy of a good day's pay for a hard day's work. It is the philosophy that says that every human being is born with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Liberals know that the "pursuit of happiness" phrase is the one that most Americans don't really understand, and it's most often taken for granted, but it's arguably the most important phrase in that whole document.

Liberalism is the philosophy that celebrates diversity, because we know that the world is made more beautiful by variety of languages, cultures, cuisines, clothing, art forms, customs, religions, skin colors, and body and facial types. I'm a Jew, but my friends all my life have been Christians,. When I was a teen-ager my parents encouraged me to attend Christmas Mass with a Catholic friend; my parents said that (a) Christmas mass is beautiful and (b) it's important to understand other people's religions.

Liberals are tolerant of other people's religious views, political philosophies, and lifestyles, because we are humble and we know that (a) maybe we don't know everything and (b) if you tolerate other people, they tolerate you. If I work on Christmas, one of my co-workers will fill in for me on Rosh Hashannah—and, while I'm working on Christmas, maybe they'll come buy with a nice plate of turkey with the fixin's and some mince pie. Wouldn't that be nice?

Liberalism is also the philosophy of fiscal conservativism. That may not have been the case throughout 90 percent of the 20th Century, but it's certainly true during the Bush Administration. Liberals know that government provides valuable services, and we'll willingly pay for those services.

Liberals think everyone should have good health care. We know that's an impossible goal with 21st Century economics and technology, but we also know that we can come a lot closer to achieving that goal than we have now.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 03:01 PM:

Gee, I was only going to check in here for a minute while I waited to see if Outlook was going to un-hang by itself, or the process needed to be killed and re-started. Oh, well.

Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 03:33 PM:

Clark said: Besides everybody knows Democrats vote that way because they are all gun grabbers who envy their neighbor's guns and want to tax their ammunition outrageously.

Better keep an eye on your precious bodily fluids too.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 04:38 PM:

"Keeping the niggers, fags, and towel-heads down: not so much. "

Is this really among the values of people across the midwest and the south? A huge percentage of 'em just voted for a Black man in IL; I personally know of Arabs and Sikhs in the rural area of Michigan who have had no problems living amongst the farmers with Dutch and German last names; and so on.

But I hear your point: values of prejudice are not tolerable. I disagree that these values (of keeping them down) are held by the majority across the middle of America, and those people who hold on to these beliefs won't bring themselves to the discussion anyway.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 04:43 PM:

I agree that they are not in the majority, but they're becoming more commonplace.

We've recently seen serious, mainstream political discussion of establishing concentration camps in the U.S. Hell, we already have at least one. It's not a very large one, as such things go, but still, one of any size is shocking.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 04:54 PM:

And.. we may not be able to change minds; I am not comfortable that this is a reasonable goal, as much as I would love to change the minds of people to a more liberal mindset. And I can't presume that my views are so worthy of Truth that I should or can convince others to see the world my way. I can work to get them to respect my views enough to keep them from legislating away my liberty. They may not like it, but that doesn't mean they have to agree with me nor that they have the right to push for legislation.. etc. Those I can convince to a position of mutual respect and work toward social reform, hoorah! Those I can't..I can't.

I can simply make my case, and work towards a common goal that may, or will, require compromise. Some values cannot be compromised, of course, and not everyone will agree with me on what those are. Finding people also willing to come to some agreement is the key here; it is basically how our sausage-factory of a political system works.

As a matter of fact, I am less concerned with changing minds than I am with insuring civil liberties through political means.

tonecluster ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:35 PM:

OK, I just made no sense. Sorry, got distracted while I was writing & should not have hit the POST button. The last sentence of my last post should be readily ignored :)

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:37 PM:

I've been chewing on this "moral values" thing all day. I'm coming to the conclusion that this whole fascile line of argument presented as an explanation of election results is bad science and hog wash. I don't believe for a minute that the majority of Bush voters would fail to recognize this picture. They know. The reality is much more complex that the media's mode of discussion admits. Inasmuch as moral values come in to play, there are competing moral values and the Bush voters know that and have to grapple with it. I think the underlying moral value that came into play had little to do with gay marriage an a lot more to do with the patriotic necessity to support a President during war time.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:09 PM:

Wow, Mitch Wagner Is Shrill! Welcome to the zone, Mitch; pull up a chair and pop open a cold one. We'll be here a while.

I completely agree that "fair play" gets the point across better than "reduce inequality."

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:21 PM:

I am deeply honored to join the ranks of the Shrill.

(Actually, Patrick's comment was only vaguely familiar to me, so I googled "shrill" and came up with this blog, which I've now added to my regular rolls. Because, y'know, I'm really not spending enough time blogging.)

Seriously: I keep startling myself, thinking: "I've come out and said, publicly, several times, that America is on its way to becoming an authoritarian, fascist state. That's crazy. It's impossible. People are going to think I'm a lunatic."

Then I run over the facts in my head again, and come to the same conclusion. I was right. I mean: imprisonment without trials, check. Acceptance of torture, check. Interment camps for people deemed enemies of the state, check. Opposing speech intimidated into silence, check. Fatwahs called against people who oppose the ruling political regime, check. And now, a minority group demonized and stripped of some basic rights, check. Ethnic groups declared to be suspect, check.

Sure, it's only happening a little bit now. That concentration camp I mentioned? It's Guantanamo Bay. Only has 500 people in it. Still, how much fascism is all right?

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:23 PM:

And yet, y'know, life goes on. Good episode of "E.R." last night. We're almost done remodeling the house. Thinking about whether to go out for dinner tonight, but maybe we'll just order in.

It's like we're characters in On the Beach.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 07:57 PM:

I'm honored to know both of you.

Does membership come with a hat?

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:02 PM:

I'd forgotten about that T-shirt slogan of yours.

It's exactly how I feel.

Part of me is saying: "Dude, a theocracy in the U.S.? Interment camps for enemies of the state? Legalized torture? You read that novel when you were kid. Good book, but, dude, take off your Spock ears and go take a look at the real world, huh?"

But then I go over the facts again....

Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:06 PM:

Outstanding, Mitch. Thanks very much.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:29 PM:

"Keeping the niggers, fags, and towel-heads down: not so much. "

Is this really among the values of people across the midwest and the south?

A lot of them, yeah. Just a couple of years ago I sat in my parents' living room in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and listened to my mother's brother and his son, my cousin, talk about how much they hated niggers. And nobody but me took it amiss. It's not a word I've every heard my mother use and my father didn't use it anymore before he lost his mind completely, but they didn't stop him either. During the post-Thanksgiving dinner football game watching there are always lots of comments and so-called jokes about the black players. These are people who are by no means unusual in their social circles.

Several years ago my niece informed me that that homosexuality was a choice that was only supported by a decadent society and we know this because there weren't any homosexuals before the 20th century. I straightened that out right fast. She has since become involved in theatre so her attitudes there have changed pretty radically. Last time I was visiting the subject of gay marriage came up and I pointed out that it was pretty darn sad that somebody like Brittany Spears could make a mockery of the institution but people who'd lived together for years in a committed relationship wouldn't be allowed to marry because they were both the same sex. Sarah agreed and my sister and brother-in-law looked surprised as hell. The thought had never occurred to them.

My mother told me when I started dating Jordin that I was just setting myself up for heartbreak because his kind never marry outside the religion. (He's Jewish -- the cantor who performed our ceremony would have been surprised to hear this as his daughter had married a goy.) Of course, my mother also thinks it's hard to understand the speech of people of Asian descent who were born in this country.

You can't reach people like my uncle and probably not my cousin. I think they're probably a lost cause no matter how you approach them. You MIGHT be able to reach people like my sister and her husband, maybe even my mother, but you have to go in remembering that they live in a completely different world than you do. Really, they do. In their world Abu Ghraib barely exists, anyone arrested by the police is almost certainly guilty, politicians don't lie and deceive, and the Justice Department can certainly be trusted not to abuse the provisions of the Patriot Act. They've never heard of Maher Arar or extraordinary rendition. They won't believe stuff in the NY Times or the WaPo because they're too liberal.

I cannot stress enough: they do NOT live in the same world you do.

MKK

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 09:22 PM:

People, people, please spell "y'all" properly!

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Mary Kay, I wouldn't think that we'd be trying to get people like your uncle or your cousin to vote Democratic anyway (since it would never work). But there are lots of people who are more moderate than _that_ in the Midwest, no?

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 01:53 AM:

I'd like to respond to what BSD wrote here:
*quote*

"I voted on Moral Issues" = "I Hate Gays"
Let's not be wishy-washy. Let's not even call it voting on religion, or "gays and X" (where X is guns, abortion, evolution, whatever).

Anyone who voted for Bush is complicit in bigotry and a homophobia. Anyone who voted for one of those anti-gay measures is a bigot and homophobe.

*endquote*

BSD, at the risk of sounding like Archie Bunker, let me state that I have a number of gay friends. I roomed with one for several years while in the US Army.

And two of them saved my life. After I lost my beloved Aili to cancer, Dream and Dragon were the ONLY people who cared enough to keep me from eating a bullet after she died.

It's just that I don't trust Kerry to be ruthless enough to crush *MILITANT* Islam.

During the wars of religion in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was forcibly emasculated. It went reduced a power that could order your execution for defying the Pope, to little more than the equivelent of a irritating old biddy who stands outside shaking an angry finger at the noisy teenagers, rasping "You naughty, NAUGHTY boys! If you don't behave, I'll... I'll... I'll call you naughty boys a SECOND time!"

Islam hasn't yet been so emasculated. As a result, it's still a danger to the world. The anger of Muslims everywhere who feel they're losing their children, their very CULTURE, to the seductive power of American style, Hollywood issue culture, is a powerful thing.

I want to see that anger crushed. I want to see those Muslims look at their children being seduced and say "Ah, well.. nothing we can do about it. What's for dinner, dear?"

In a way, I'm reminded of FIAWOF, and FIJAGH.
"Fandom Is A Way Of Life" and "Fandome Is Just A God-Damn Hobby."

The wars that Martin Luthor started in Europe took the Roman Catholic church from "A Way Of Life" to "Just A Hobby". And I view that as a good thing.

Now, the same needs to be done to Islam.. it needs to be reduced to a point where, if an Imam preaches "Death to America", his congregation will yawn and explain that it's just too much trouble, and would he PLEASE go back to running the charity bingo game?

Granted, there are a LOT of things I find unsavory about Bush, but at least he's willing to go to war. I don't believe Kerry would unless he was personally bitten on the butt by Islam. He strikes me as too much of a Brahmin, one of the self-elected American nobility who think they're too good to get their hands dirty, and look down upon the common American as little more than an unwashed mob that needs to be told what to think, and what to do.

You may not like it, but I sincerely believe we're about to enter another century of religious wars of the same sort Luthor kicked off. And that these wars are *inevitable*. That we have only two choices - either break Islam to a bit and bridle the way the Vatican was broken, or learn to enjoy being second class citizens in a Islamic world empire. (there's also the option of BECOMING Islam... but I like to drink, and Aili would have never spoken to me again if I'd suggested she walk around several steps behind me in a properly subservient manner, wearing a veil and head-to-toe robes. And that's if she was in a good mood. My kitten had claws, and showed them often.)

No. I might be wrong, I KNOW I've been wrong before. But this strikes me as an either/or situation.. Islamic world empire, or Islam as just another religion with no worldly authority whatsoever.

I would rather it be another way... almost ANY other way, but I honestly think that this is a war of cultures, and a war that is to the death. One culture is going to die in the next century, and no compromise is possible.

And I'd prefer that it be MY culture, a nice secular (and yes, a moderately corrupt and cynical culture) culture to be the one that survives.

Selfish of me, yes. But then, that's the thing. America was founded by selfish people. I TRUST selfish people. Under most circumstances, they're nicely predictable.

It's when people get focused on what's beyond that they get unpredictable. Reverend Jim Jones, anyone? The Hale-Bop comet cult?

*shrugs*

Yeah. I'm selfish. And shallow. My motto is "What's in it for ME?" Doesn't mean I'm a monster.. I care for my neighbors because I'm clear-minded enough to realize that I need them, so I'm nice to them. Don't WANT to be, but out of self-interest, I treat them nicely anyway.

But with militant, fundamentalist Islam and its desperate, desparing need to turn back the clock to the glory days when IT was the source of all civilization... no. There's nothing I can do to get them to compromise with my needs, my lifestyle.

*shrugs*

I ramble. I do that a lot since I lost Aili. But my family's over 500 years old, and we've been mercenary soldiers for all 500 years. We tend to have something of a cynical outlook on life.

Like I said.. "What's in it for ME?"

Ed Becerra


Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 03:21 AM:

Ed - If running and hiding, which is what Bush did on 9/11 and what he did during the Vietnam War makes him bold enough to "emasculate Islam," I think that we may be living on different planets.

Maybe because Kerry was brave enough to actually put himself in harm's way in Southeast Asia, and chased down actual bad guys (as a prosecutor and and in the BCCI and Iran-Contra cases) he must be too sensitive to fight our enemies.

Your kind of personal self-interest leaves me totally astonished. Having voted for Bush will did absolutely nothing for secular culture, and can pretty easily be interpreted as an attempt to replace it with an American Christian Taliban. Exactly how different would that be from Wahhabist Islam?

By the way, your family is 500 years old?? You must have been beamed in here by aliens, since the rest of us have been around since Lucy in Olduvai Gorge.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:21 AM:

All I can say is that Ed appears to be the kind of guy who can't tell a phony tough guy from a real one.

Lot of that going around.

adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:55 AM:

One of many hopeful things about Barack Obama's election was that a good chunk of his victory is due to Alan Keyes saying out loud what most hard-right radicals only say in code.

If we can get people to hear what the 'publicans mean instead of what they say, we can beat them.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 11:20 AM:

One of the things Kerry failed to do in the 70's was he failed to clearly separate the Vietnam War from the Vietnam Warriors.

Part of that was Kerry's doing, part of that was the psycological makeup of the warriors.

Kerry's comments about atrocities and war crimes in Vietnam were loosely worded and could be easily taken out of context to mean something totally different, namely that every single american GI in southeast asia had committed war crimes.

People in the military are like every other "do good" machine I've been talking about: They think they're doing the right thing by being in the military. So, the accusations of war crimes flew in the face of the fact that soldiers thought they were doing the right thing.

Mix into that the fact that some GI's identify themselves not as just an individual warrior, but as part of a great and just army. I'm talking about a psychological aspect of self-identity here. Some GI's have their identity and their self-worth tied up into not only their individual military service, but their entire chain of command all the way up to teh president of the US of A.

Some GI's take an attack on ANY war as an attack on their personal honor.

Part of the problem was Kerry's fault. He needed ancopy editor who could have tightened up his speech a little bit and made sure the parts about war crimes were more accurate and less subject to interpretation and twisting. In attacking the war, Kerry needed to be completely clear that he was not attacking every single warrior who served.

The other part of the problem is that some of the warriors simply cannot separate an attack on their war from an attack on their personal honor. And no matter how clear Kerry might have been in his senate testimony against the vietnam war, some GI's would have taken it as a personal attack on themselves.

John O'Neill is a soldier who cannot separate an attack on the war from an attack on his own honor. He spoke opposite Kerry in the 1970's on the Dick Cavette show and he found the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004.

I'm pretty sure that Ed Becerra is another one. Ed, if you think a man who won three purple hearts, a silver star, and a bronze star is a man who can't fight, then I can only assume you have too much of your identity wrapped up in your family history of mercenary soldiers to be able to accept any criticism of a war and keep it seperate from criticism of the individuals who fought it.

If there is ANYTHING democrats should learn from this it is this:

STOP DEMONIZING INDIVIDUALS IN BROAD STATEMENTS

Not everyone from the south is a nigger hating racist. Not everyone who voted for Bush is a right wing nut job. Not everyone who is against gay marriage is a religious zealot. Not everyone who supports the war in Iraq is a warmongering neanderthal.

Say you are in a state in the south back when they still had segregation, but its around hte time that people started protesting it. If you protest by attacking every voting-age white person because they have been complicit in an evil, racist governmnet, exactly how do you plan on getting to come over to your way of thinking????

On the other hand, if you protest like Rosa Parks did, by not getting out of her seat, and by peacefully getting arrested for it, you present the problem in a way that allows enough people to run those facts through their "do good" thinking and come out with the result that there's something fundamentally wrong with what they've been doing.

Had it been Malcom X on that bus instead of Rosa Parks, no progress would have been made around segregation.

We will soon be seeing similar fights over abortion, gay marriage, human rigts, teh war on terrorism, pray in school, separation of church and state, and a laundry list of other issues.

WHen they come up, think how Rosa Parks did one simple act that cast the issue in a way that reprogrammed enough "do good" machines to drop their racism program and start running a new program of racial equality.

That simple act was far more effective than the approach some of you democrats are taking towards republicans right now. Some of you are more MalcolmX than you are Rosa Parks. Had some of you been on that bus, you might have screamed and hollered and called every white person evil for being racist or being complicit in allowing racism.

And you would have accomplished nothing in getting rid of segregation.

So, you can either be righteously indignant about the issues, or, you can be effective.


Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 11:34 AM:

Larry wrote:

*quote*

Your kind of personal self-interest leaves me totally astonished. Having voted for Bush will did absolutely nothing for secular culture, and can pretty easily be interpreted as an attempt to replace it with an American Christian Taliban. Exactly how different would that be from Wahhabist Islam?

*endquote*

It'll be MY arrogant pushy religion, catering to MY personal interests.

Like I said - the family motto is "What's in it for ME?"

As for my 500 year comment, that's how far we were able to trace back my family here in North America. It goes further, naturally, but prior to 1500 AD we weren't mercenary soldiers, we were caravan robbers and extortionists in the mountains between France and Spain.

*thoughtful blink*

Not THAT big a difference, really...

And Patrick wrote that I can't tell the difference between a real tough guy, and a phony.

I think I can... it's just that I feel we need someone willing to kill, torture, and basically do anything no matter how low and disgusting to win.

I honestly think it's time to take our cultures and morals, set them aside TEMPORARILY (as Harry did when nuking Japan), then pick them back up after fundamentalist Islam has been reduced to a proper (read: slavishly respectful of America) world citizen.

And before anyone asks, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind here, nor am I trying to troll for flames.

I'm just... tired.

I lost Tasha to the cold war. I lost Aili to cancer. I don't have much left. What do I have?

A hateful rage that insists "All of you.. ALL OF YOU! Shut UP, Sit DOWN, and quit doing ANYTHING that bothers me in the SLIGHTEST degree until after I pass away myself. It'll be soon enough, damn your eyes. THEN you barstards can slaughter each other in your tribal wars to your heart's content."

And perhaps one tired little fragment of whatever it was that my kitten saw in me, saw in me and fell in love with, that wants to talk before...

Well, before.

Ed Becerra

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 03:06 PM:

I think Ed's remark about "bit and bridle" is fairly telling, viewing militant Islam as a wild thing to be broken and beaten into submission. The trouble with that is that you end up with a beaten traumatized horse, and you often have a few cowboys with their skulls kicked in along the way.

If you want to sample nice sociable Islam, go to a Moroccan restaurant sometime. Note the wine and the bellydancing. Note also Morocco's love of tourists. Not hard math, but you make friends by visiting and spending money, and everyone knows to nod and wink and the customs of those peculiar foreigners.

Bush's Crusader strategy will make as as popular in that neighborhood as, well, the Crusaders. To succeed, we'd need a different strategy and a different president.

Not that there's much chance of that in the next four years.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 03:51 PM:

Ed: What are you doing here, talking to us whimpy editorial types when you could be out fulfilling your family destiny, killing, torturing, and basically doing anything no matter how low and disgusting? (OK, I'm joking, but what you're saying is a bit over the top.)

Quite seriously, I'm sorry to hear about your losses to cancer. Perhaps you need to take a moment and reflect on what you are posting on the Internet under your own name. Perhaps we are not the people you need to talk to.

bobcox ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 06:58 PM:

IMHO, most people are not getting the "moral values" exit poll thing right. To about 20% of the population, Jesus as God (not as a wise man or prophet) is the most important thing, infinitely more important than Iraq policy, deficits, tax cuts, their own financial wellbeing, etc. Bush speaks for them, exactly as they wish. Most of the rest of the modern world does not, and that fact bothers them a great deal. But the exit polls didn't give "talks about God" as one of the 7 choices, so "moral values" was the closest thing these people could select as their response. I've known people like this, usually very nice and decent people, and I can state assuredly that for them, "God talk" is the trump card -- wins every time.

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 08:31 PM:

Kathryn Cramer wrote -

Ed: What are you doing here, talking to us whimpy editorial types when you could be out fulfilling your family destiny, killing, torturing, and basically doing anything no matter how low and disgusting? (OK, I'm joking, but what you're saying is a bit over the top.)

-*-

No offense taken, Kath. And in answer to your question.. when it comes to doing all the things an imperialistic bastard does... why, it helps to be able to _walk_. These days, two miles an hour, that's as good as it gets for me.

*shrugs* I don't bother to fly anymore, as I find it annoying when the TSA insists on calling my family doctor, giving him the third degree over the letter explaining WHY I set off metal detectors these days.

Hypocrite much? Well, perhaps. Or maybe it's better expressed as being a grumpy old bastard with a double standard. One for me, another for everyone else.

As for why I talk here?

Family training. We've always regarded EVERYONE as a _potential_ employer, and therefor as a potential enemy. Sun Tzu - "Know your enemy, know yourself, and you will win the battle."
(Bad translation, I know.. never was good with foreign languages, oddly enough.)

When you look at the entire planet as a target, it's only sensible to get intelligence on said target. Understand the target, and you gain an advantage over it.

The more I know about people, the better I can work for them... or against them. Doesn't matter if I believe what they believe or not, just that I understand them, and can *predict* them.

By now, it's such an ingrained habit, I make intelligence assays of my pets. Hell, I wargame my OWN personality. How likely is it I'd ever find myself fighting myself? Now THAT'S being overtrained. Heh.

Besides... it's quiet now. She's gone, there's no one left. I promised her I wouldn't do anything stupid. A promise I now regret. But I *made* the promise, I'll keep it.

So it helps to talk. Even to Democrats. Or Strangers. Or Strange Democrats. Or is that a redundancy? Heh. (Me, I'm a barbarian... why isn't there a Viking Party in the US?)

Anf Kevin Andrew Murphy said:

I think Ed's remark about "bit and bridle" is fairly telling, viewing militant Islam as a wild thing to be broken and beaten into submission. The trouble with that is that you end up with a beaten traumatized horse, and you often have a few cowboys with their skulls kicked in along the way.

-*-

I think you're missing my point, Kevin. I _live_ in ranching country. Have since I retired from the military. Used to ride fence out here as a kid during the summers for a friend of the family.

Of COURSE you end up with a few dead cowboys, and lots of beaten traumatized horses.

But they're Obedient, Hard-Working beaten traumatized horses. Profit outweighs loss.

I've also known a few horses that refused to ever submit, and wound up as the bucking broncos in rodeos.

And a VERY few horses that were smart enough to realize from the start that there was no way out, they were stuck with a life of serving man, they might as well try to make the best of it.

*shrugs*

Overall, profit outweighs loss.

I think the major philosophical difference (and ONLY the major, there are many minor ones) I have with the some of the folks here who didn't want Bush in office is a very simple, yet deep one.

Y'all believe humans, all humans, are basically decent people.

I don't.

I've had the distinct displeasure of watching East German border guards killing people in cold blood. Then MEETING those guards years later and realizing ... "Hey, these guys *weren't* forced to do that killing at gunpoint, they did it of their own free will. Yet they aren't monsters, they're people just like me."

Then, of course, I turned that statement around... "If they're monsters, I'm a monster too."

And arrived from there to the realization that we're ALL thugs and barbarians under the skin. Some just have a little thicker skin, and more difficulty shedding it, making them APPEAR civilized.

Something my family had believed for centuries already. (What, you don't think mountain people with a record of either raiding caravans, or extorting "protection" money from the caravans for NOT raiding them haven't learned to be cynical?)

All that my years in the military did to me philosophically was to reconfirm what my family had already preached at me for years, but I didn't want to believe.

That 90% of the human race are barbarians. 9% are civilized, but they're basically either clueless, or dream believers who hope for the best, despite seeing the world around them. And 1% are cynical pessimistic backstabbing selfish survivors. But at least they're POLITE about it. And reasonably easy to live with under an armed truce.

Ed.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:00 PM:

Ed--

Well, that's your background. Mine is having dealt with whippet and sight hound rescue for over twenty years. I've worked to rehabilitate snarling traumatized animals into happy functional pets.

One of our dogs was rescued from some madwoman in Merced who crammed 165 dogs and 50 cats into a four bedroom ranch house. She got jail time (not enough) and after three years of kindness and coaxing, our dog's gone from snarling and hiding in a crate to bouncing around happily, begging for treats and playing with her toys.

Of course with Islam we're talking human beings, not animals, but it's still all animal behavoir. Kindness, not cruelty, is what makes for more sociable behavior. And if it's wrong to stack animals in crates and make them sit in their own filth, how much worse to do that to humans?

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:48 PM:

Uh.. Kevin? That's sort of my point. Your madwomen broke the dogs, you rebuilt them. But they had to BE broken BEFORE they could be rebuilt to specs. In this case, your specs.

Of course, with dogs, it's not really needful to break them much, animals with the gene for being tamable are pretty much pre-broken. Dogs, for one. Cats, to a lesser degree. (And yes, it IS a gene, the Russians tripped over it by accident some years ago while breeding foxes for fur... makes for interesting speculation about genetic dictatorships.)

But I digress. What I want is an Islam rebuilt to MY specs, not the specs of the desperate people who feel their culture's being seduced and diluted by America/Hollywood & the luxury available in the world today.

Military does this all the time. I'd watch as drill instructors I knew broke gang members, Klan members, ex-muggers, rednecks, farmers... you name it, and turned them into a single loyal team that turned its collective back on its former associates.

Again, I'm a hypocrite here, but I really don't mind fanatics... as long as they're fanatical in MY cause.

*waves briskly*

Remember? Selfish cynical bastard here? Hello?

I don't mind a fanatical Islam.. as long as I'm the one setting the objectives, methods and goals Islam *has*.

Of course, once I'm dead, they can do as they like.

Or, if they like, they can announce a cease-fire with the rest of the planet, including executing their OWN people for violation of the cease-fire, said cease-fire to NOT end until my NATURAL death from natural causes.

In which case they are again free to do as they damn well please, because once I'm dead, I won't care what they do.

To misquote one of L. Neil Smith's better books...

"I don't care about liberty. I don't care about justice. I just want some *personal* PEACE and QUIET, damn it!"

-- nearly every parent and policeman since the dawn of time.

Ed.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:17 AM:

Ed -- you seem to misunderstand the differences among the state abusing individuals, two states duking it out, and a state against a loose organization of loyalties. Armies can break most people (although note that they're also allowed to toss enlistees they consider un]break[able) because they are a state against an individual. (And I can point to at least one friend who demonstrates that they have no idea what happens when they try to break someone smarter than they are; they lose both the battle and the brains they need to become smarter -- and this was even before Rummy's wet dream of a techno army.) A state \may/ be able to break another state -- at a huge cost in time an effort, and at that point what's left is not tame but broken like china; you have the choice of spending even more time and money (which this administration has shown no willingness to do) to rebuild a working state (rather more difficult than rebuilding your broken horse as a Lippizaner), or leaving it as an anarchy wherein anyone with a grudge is free to act out whatever violent desires they can get the equipment for.

But you don't show any understanding of the fact that Islam is neither an individual or a state. Putting it so crudely that Jim, Teresa, and others will cringe -- I ask their patience -- the Catholic church was the result of a subversive takeover of the Roman empire; it lived by central control and fell as that central control became untenable. There is no Islamic papacy; there isn't even an Islamic patriarchate. (ObL wants to re-establish the caliphate, which has some semblances to those.) There is no central authority for you to break; you would have to break a billion people to achieve your goal of peace in your time by your methods. And since you can't break them all at once, the remainder gather more hatred and strength in the geography you don't control, because you've just blown off the rest of the world -- much of which would have supported and aided a sane goal through a moral process but is disgusted with what you're doing. Good luck.

Specifically (as I've noted previously), if this was Shrub's goal he went about it so incompetently that you should be howling for his head, not voting for him. He destroyed an established secular state just to prove his dick was bigger than his daddy's, allowing it to revert to the congeries of loyalties that it was a century ago \and/ made it a place where anybody with a grudge was welcomed to help cause trouble. Sun-Tzu would spit on Shrub as an idiotic poseur.

To take a specific example -- look at what German was \not/ able to accomplish despite overwhelming force and brutality, against people with far more to lose than most ]Moslems[, and ask yourself if it is possible for the U.S. to do better without so breaking the entire world into shards that can never be rebuilt. And then consider what would be left for you in the wreckage of a globalized world.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 02:33 AM:

Chip--

Agreed.

Ed--

What Chip said, but more than that. First off, before we invaded Iraq, there were many people in Iraq who thought we were cool. But after bombings, Abu Ghrabe, and yet more bombings--including the business in Fallujeh where we announced that we were going to bomb the hell out of the place, so women and children out, but any males age 14-45 who tried to leave would be arrested (and presumably raped and tortured in Abu Ghrabe, as per policy and perception)--and...

After that, who in their right mind would trust the US forces?

With Iraq, we were breaking something that wasn't broken, at least in regard to attacking the US. None of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi. None. Zilch. Nada. Closest thing the Iraqi's did to bombing US civilians was lob a few missiles and send martyr consolation prize checks towards Israel where there are a few dual citizens. But since almost everyone in the Middle East has attacked Israel at one time or another, that's hardly a novelty.

The people who really attacked us? A bunch of wackjob religious fanatic terrorists operating within the bounds of Saudi Arabia the exact same way that Operation Rescue (a terrorist organization) operates within the United States, with blind eyes turned by law enforcement and pet politicians because of large blocks of folks in their cheering sections.

The other problem is what Chip was saying: Islam is like Protestant Christianity. Anybody who wants to hang out a shingle and call himself mufti can do so, issue a fatwa no matter how whacked out, and if you've got enough people to follow you, cool. After the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia issued a fatwa against Pokemon cards, declaring that the possessed the minds of children (arguably true), were a form of gambling (also arguably true), and contributed to Zionism (a truly whacked-out charge), you can issue whatever fatwa you damn well please and it will hardly raise a giggle. More than that, everyone from every other sect is free to ignore you, the same as Jerry Falwell doesn't give a fig for the opinions of the Pope or the head of the Mormon church and they don't give a damn about the opinions of Jerry Falwell.

Al Quaida is like Operation Rescue: It's a political cause with terrorist tactics, plus religious trappings and inspiration. You get rid of it by careful social movements and espionage, not driving tanks through Kansas and torturing random passerby until they point you to someone who may possibly have once been a member, but aren't anymore, since they got old, fat, burnt-out, disillusioned, or just busy with life.

Last I checked, the Symbonese Liberation Army and the Weathermen were about as much of a current threat as the Gunpowder Plot, which is to say, not much. Given time, Al Quaida will suffer the same fate.

Islam is not the problem. Culture clash is.

Combine the Islamic world's bad memories of the Crusades with W's bad memory regarding the Crusades and you've got the script for the current disaster.

It's the decadent worldly types on both sides who are going to have to pick up the pieces and forge the peace once the stupid fanatics are done.

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 04:12 AM:

Okay, I can see your point, Kevin. And Chips. Though I don't think Bush did what he did (and is doing) out of needs to prove he's a bigger man than his dad.

And please don't call him Shrub... that raises echos of the whole sneering "We're liberal democrats, and you're just stupid f*cking fly-over country farmer types who should simply listen to and blindly obey your betters on the East Coast and in Hollywood." attitude. It's insulting.

Something I get MORE than enough of from Boulder, Colorado. *sigh* Farm folks out here are already calling Boulder the "People's Republic of Boulder" in a mocking reference to the (admittedly snide) nickname Berkely's picked up.

As my beloved grandfather used to put it, "If you're going to kill someone, might as well be polite about it."

Keep in mind I'm a soldier. From a family where at least one, and usually three or more, members joined up in every generation. (And in keeping with South American tradition, we also try to have at least one child in the government and one in the Church.. keeps all the bases covered that way.)

Force is ALWAYS what we turn to first. The Becerra family even has distant (and obviously quite blurred over the centuries!) legends of how the Romans were a pain in the arse. (we weren't too thrilled with that git Hannibal, either.)

But we also remember how they solved the problem of Carthage.

I'm not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox... I never was. Aili was always the smart one. I'm certain if she were here, she'd have an idea how to deal with the rage of people who are losing their culture to a more successful one. (And I use the word in the Darwinian sense, so please, don't yell at me for being racist. I'm merely trying to grope for terms that I have trouble expressing. Survival = success. It's not a value judgement. Except, perhaps, as "Survival, good. Dying, bad.")

Thing is, she's gone now, and all I have is the family tradition of "Wipe 'em all out, root and branch, adopting all the children too young to remember into the tribe, killing the rest."

Which, oddly enough, endeared us to some of the Native American tribes when we arrived here, as a number of them tended to have similar ideas on the subject. Not all, mind you, but some.

Incidentally, have you ever noticed that genocide is a relatively recent crime? I mean that as DEED, it's old. Thinking of it as a CRIME is recent. But I digress.

I honestly don't have a solution, and given that I just want these angry people to GO AWAY, I fall back on old traditions. "EDWARD SMASH PUNY IMAMS!"

Except I'm no longer in smashing form. Pun not intended. *shrugs*

I do know that I do NOT like the "All societies have value!" and "We mustn't pass judgement just because a culture has unsavory habits, perhaps the women ENJOY being stoned alive..." attitudes I come across from some of the more extreme liberal people I've met. They ask me "Who are YOU to pass judgement on these poor people?"

I ask "Who do I HAVE to be?"

This non-judgemental attitude irks me. It really does. I just don't know what to do. Wish I did.

This entire game of civilization is getting FAR too complex, blast it. *sigh*

Still and all, it's the only game in town.

Ed Becerra

Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 09:18 AM:

They ask me "Who are YOU to pass judgement on these poor people?"

I ask "Who do I HAVE to be?"

For starters, A person with moral authority. A person who does not condone murder and torture.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 09:32 AM:

Ed -

"Solved the problem" of Carthage - or created a new one?

That's the problem with oversimplistic thinkers. You never stop and ask yourselves if you're creating a worse problem that will come back and haunt your children and grandchildren.

Where, exactly, is the military and economic power of the Roman Empire today?

And stop bragging on how you're a soldier and we should all BOW BEFORE GIBLETS because of this. You're *not* the only veteran here, by a long shot - only the other ones don't brag on it all the time, don't bring it up except when its relevant, and frankly the people I know who talk about what big sojer boys with the Seals or the Rangers or the Wild Geese they were, online or IRL, usually turn out to be REMFS, fakers, or else total psychos who are a good advertisment for world pacifism (like my biological male parent, for one.) Oh, I'm a big *Mercenary,* scary scary me!

It isn't impressive, it's pathetic.

And why should we give a damn what you think, when you brag about your inveterate selfishness?

Why shouldn't we just say, since you give not a fig for the rest of the human race, then be shut to ye? You have made yourself an island, and choose to disdain the commonality of man (for all your specious populism) and therefore you have no claim upon us.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 09:52 AM:

(My family for generations on both sides helped wield nuclear weapons, which is a bit scarier than any Foreign Legion rifles, another reason I'm not impressed with all this macho posturing.)

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:42 AM:

I do know that I do NOT like the "All societies have value!" and "We mustn't pass judgement just because a culture has unsavory habits, perhaps the women ENJOY being stoned alive..." attitudes I come across from some of the more extreme liberal people I've met. They ask me "Who are YOU to pass judgement on these poor people?"

I call bullshit. I apologize to our hosts, but this is arrant nonsense. Liberals never said that to you (some shit stirring libertarian college student, maybe, but I doubt it happened at all, frankly). You heard it happened, maybe, and it makes a better story if it happened to you? Tell it to Snopes.

It was not liberals who threatened the lives of the family of the soldier who stopped the torture and killing in abu Ghraib. It sure as shit wasn't liberals who abandoned the women of Pakistan to the tender mercies of the men who are killing them and not liberals who are playing pattycake with a Saudi regime which finds it useful to exchange heart pins with squads of thugs who force girlchildren into burning buildings with clubs because - um - once you force a girlchild into a burning building with a club, you automatically become not the most powerless person you've met all day.

Kind of like eating a frog for breakfast but with dead girlchildren.

We didn't sell arms to these people to use on their own people and ours in order to get the money to put the same kind of tactics in play in South America.

Just pfui.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 12:41 PM:

What Julia said. The "liberals" that this guy sneers at have been campaigning against brutality in various Third World countries for decades, often while the American government was striking deals with those same countries' leaders. Some of them have died in fights against "female circumsision", against practices like stoning women for adultury, and so forth, long before 9/11 made it fashionable to worry about "militant Islam." The idea that American liberalism is all about some kind of quietist belief that all "cultural" practices are morally equal is a straight-out libel.

Then again, I wouldn't waste much energy on this guy. I'm pretty dubious about the colorful background he claims for himself, specifically because:

(1) I know real soldiers, veterans, and even military "contract workers", and, by and large, they're reticent, not voluble, particularly when talking to civilians. Actual tough guys are like that.

(2) I also know who sounds exactly like this: it's the burly guy in the con suite at one in the morning, full of bluster and implausible stories about family connections to sekrit national-security affairs, waving his Newcastle Brown while he explains what we're really going to have to do with the ragheads.

I won't catalog the "tells", but they're right out there on the screen.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:09 PM:

I think that just about everyone here, with the exception of the subject himself, knows what action I'm contemplating.

I'll refrain from doing it if other people in this discussion -- ones whose names I recognize -- opine that I should let him keep the whole 26-element set. Bear in mind that you'll still be able to read the extant texts.

The underlying question is whether he's adding fuel to the conversation, or whether he's becoming sufficiently unpleasant to be a drag on it. I know myself for a very irritable dragon just now.

You tell me. Speak now.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:24 PM:

He's kind of entertaining. It's like he's channeling a Heinlein character, if Heinlein had written for Two Fisted Combat Stories instead of Astounding.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:30 PM:

My $0.02: I started skimming, rather than reading, this thread, when it became the Poor Poor Pitiful Ed show, rather than a discussion of the subject at hand.

OTOH, I'm reluctant to recommend that the Action You're Contemplating be taken unless there doesn't seem to be any alternative.

Not making a recommendation, just kibitzing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:40 PM:

What a calumny on Heinlein. (Signed, unapologetic Heinlein fan.)

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Patrick--

Good thing I wasn't drinking when I read that. I would have sneezed it across the screen.

Ed--

The concept you're trying to express is called "Extreme Cultural Relativism" and it's a bear that's already been bagged, tagged, stuffed, and put on exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. It's a subject for a discussion section for any Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course you might care to take, but in short, the liberal take is this: Rape, Murder, Torture, Slavery = BAD; wearing funny clothes, eating weird shit, peculiar sexual practices and variant kinship structures = Who cares? When in Rome....

Aside from women's rights and abortion politics, about the only thing anyone argues about anymore is human body modification, especially with regards to children.

As for the Muslim world losing its culture to the West, you need to study it a bit to see that this isn't the case apart from a bunch of fundamentalist preachers going into apoplexy at the sight of bikini girls (and bikinis are perfectly acceptable wear in private anyway).

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 02:19 PM:

Teresa--

Cross-posted. Use your judgment. I'm in a rather crabby mood too, but he has at least conceded points, at least before bringing up the military pedigree back to Carthage.

As for Heinlein, I'm wondering what veterans of the current war would think of Glory Road.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:06 PM:

I thought he was channeling G.I. Joe myself. Frankly, he's not *that* entertaining, to care one way or the other myself, though it might turn that way if someone with better qualifications than I were to call him on those "tells"...then again, the reaction to the, ah, surgical strike might be amusing, too.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:20 PM:

Oh, I'm an R.A.H. fan too. Out of the interest of diplomacy I'll change that to trying to channel a Heinlein character.

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:36 PM:

Folks:

I'm not posturing. And I didn't think of it as bragging. If it comes off that way, I do apologize.

I'm just... frustrated. And trying to figure out a world I no longer understand. Rules that served my family for uncounted years don't WORK any more.

What I wouldn't give to have Aili back. She was always the brilliant one. She could always think things through and figure out the right path to take.

God, I hate cancer.

And so I fumble around, trying to find solutions I'm not even certain are THERE, Teresa.

"When you have a hammer, all your problems look like nails."

All I am IS a hammer, Teresa. And I'm too old and over-trained to ever change.

Part of why I depended so much on Aili, I suppose.. like some blind man on a seeing eye dog.
(Tho' if I ever called her a dog, my kitten probably would have been highly offended. Then she would have explained that the next time it happened I'd be clawed into 200 pounds of ground chuck steak. heh. Strange how much you can hurt, and still find the oddest things to laugh at.)

So, I talk. I talk _here_. I talk at _LGF_ I talk in forums so bloody obscure you've probably never heard of them, and likely never will.

I don't care for it, but I promised. I promised her I just wouldn't curl up and die after she left me. And I promised that I wouldn't do myself, either.

So I have to try to figure things out. Doesn't matter if I fail or not, it's the effort itself that matters. It's what she'd have expected of me.

Literally. She saw things in me that I doubt I ever had. She always thought of me as better than I really was, and I TRIED to be better than I was, for her sake. Not because I gave a damn about what other people thought of me, or even what I thought about myself. Because of what SHE thought about me. Because I wanted her to be happy and proud that she'd chosen me.

I can't give up, no matter how desperately I want to. It would be an insult to everything she ever thought of me. And to Aili, herself.

Maybe I won't change. Maybe I can't change. But I have to try, or I'd be spitting on the love she had for me.

I don't demand sympathy. I don't demand that you feel any "Oh, you poor thing..." towards me. I simply hope that you won't look at me and say "oh, looky at the bloody-handed military robot" then dismiss me out of hand.

It would be easier to just quit. So much easier. If it were just me, I would. But it's not just me.
Aili used to quote something to me - I think it's Mencken, though I'm not certain.

"For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong."

I just seem to be attracted to those solutions like some stupid moth to a flame. *sigh*

KISS principle, I suppose.

Gah. I ramble yet again. Sorry. I've been doing that these past few months. And I'll _try_ to avoid being inflamatory.

Ed Becerra

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:42 PM:

I was thinking yesterday evening it was Heinlein as re-written by an untalented admirer. It's obviously a made-up persona, and a sickly, paper-thin one at that.

I don't much care for trying to have a conversation with someone's fantasy, even when well-drawn. Which this isn't.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Ed, it's not so much what you say but the way you say it. You need a survivor's support group, and until you can come to terms with being a survivor, you're not going to see other things clearly.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 03:51 PM:

Fafblog has weighed in on the moral values question: Remember: this is your party. And you can only save it by rendering it unrecognizable and treating half of America as if it has a mental disease.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Kathryn--

Thanks for the Fafblog link. Time for some good clear-headed moral reasoning.

Ed--

Marilee's suggestion of a survivor's support group is a good one.

Beyond that, you need to define your moral compass in regards to yourself, not your family or you late wife. I'm not certain of the name for the rhetorical device, but it's the old "My momma says" argument we all encountered in grade school.

Though for the quote: "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong." This is basically talking of expedients, for which there's a nice quote by Edmund Burke "The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts...the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

The right thing to do is often difficult, complicated and unclear.

With the Iraq mess, I can't think of a moral way out of this that doesn't involve orbital mind control lasers, and even that would have some problems with the idea of free will, not to mention me looking lousy in a tinfoil hat.

bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 06:17 PM:

So, anyone here *not* lost someone dear to them, someone who mentored them, anchored them in rough times - several someones, perhaps?

I didn't think so.

Anyone else here using that as an excuse for passive-aggressive behavior, saying stuff and not claiming responsibility for the consequences?

No.

Yes, grief messes you up.

It does not alleviate you from all human responsibility, particularly if you are an adult. You're choosing to come here and interact in abusive ways, in what is someone else's virtual living room, and then playing the pity card when you go over the line.

That commands no respect from me.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:15 PM:

Thing is, Ed, do you feel embattled because all us evil forces are attacking you out here or do you feel embattled because you're facing it without support you've come to rely on?

I'm sympathetic to your situation, but I think you'll find that people you don't give the benefit of the doubt to (to the extent of factually inaccurate accusations) aren't likely to respond to you in a way that recognizes your finer points.

I'm sure your wife loved you, and I'm sure you gave her reason. I'm sure she saw the confrontational face of you as well, and I'm sure she balanced it against what you gave to her life, and I'm sure that in the end it wasn't as important to her as the rest of your lives.

Would you have only shown this face to her? Would she have let you get away with it?

We can't only be human to saints. There just aren't enough of them out there.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 08:48 PM:

."If they're monsters, I'm a monster too."

Ed,

If you've done some monstrous things in your life, then you have a great incentive to view the world at 90% barbarians.

The alternative is to view most people as decent, which strips away any external excuse for your actions, leaving you totally responsible for whatever monstrous actions you took.

If your identity is wrapped up in your family history of mercenaries, if your pride and self worth come from being from a band of thugs and highwaymen, then you have a big incentive to justify that behaviour on the grounds that 90% of people are barbarians too.

The alternative would be to view your family history as evil and something not to be proud of, which would strip away your identity and pride, and leave you with little concrete to hold onto by way of your self worth.

On the other hand, it could also be that most of what your saying is exagerations and fabrications, and you might have created all these stories in response to someone accusing you of being weak and you had to prove to yourself that they were wrong, that you were tough.

Like Patrick mentioned, my experience of people I know who've been in combat does not match your behaviour here at all.

I know someone who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam for two tours. I've known him for years. When he talks about Vietnam, he talks about how hot it was, how they didn't shower for months, how lousy the food was. He never mentioned anything about being in combat. For a long time, I just assumed he must have been flying resupply or something that kept him out of action. At one point I asked him, and it turned out he'd flown into Laos and a bunch of other crazy missions. He had been in the thick of it, and he never mentioned the horror, let alone brag about it like you do.

Either way, the assertion that 90% of people are barbarians comes from a highly questionable source in my opinion.


CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:09 PM:

Ed: Rules that served my family for uncounted years don't WORK any more.

And that's a bad thing?

Borrowing from the thread where this started: Uller Uprising is (contrary to my blanket statement) a non-fantasy in one aspect: it's based on the Sepoy Rebellion (1857, says Wikipedia). I don't know nearly enough to say whether the scene you quoted had a basis in reality or was just Piper's idea of what \should/ have been done.

But ]we[ have advanced immeasurably since that time. Life expectancy is up, we're inconceivably wealthy by the measure of those times (except, perhaps, when wealth was/is measured in terms of the number of servants one can afford), and the casual cruelties of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and a host of other vile -isms are no longer respectable in much of our world and actively despised in parts of it.

Much I despise the word, "globalization" has had a hand in this. This was the theme of one of the first pieces of SF I read that didn't come from the non-adult sections of the library, John Brunner's "Fair": it becomes a lot harder to hate other people when you begin to know them (in place of the image of them that has been created for you). Especially in view of your comments, one of the ironies of the recent Balkan wars is that they involved Serbian peasants fulminating against cosmopolitan Muslims; there is no natural law that Christians be civil or Muslims barbaric, but believing an image instead of learning the reality means you've already lost several steps.

My father was five years old when the Wright Brothers flew; he lived to see men walking on the moon. In some ways he never adjusted to the 20th century, but he knew enough (starting with his autobiographical note that his father's family was typical: 10 siblings, half dead as children and one in the Civil War) not to take the previous several centuries as his primary guide. One of the defects I saw in the abovementioned Serbs is that they defined themselves by a 600-years-past battle (worse, one that they \lost/) -- that doesn't strike me as a sane way to live.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:17 AM:

One of my authors had been in a band, and used the lead singer as a character. He once tried to explain to me what she was like in real life.

"One day," he said, "she showed up for rehearsal, late as usual, but she was also obviously upset -- slamming doors, ignoring people, all that kind of thing. We tried to ask her whether everything was all right, what the problem was, etc.; but she wouldn't talk. Then, well into the rehearsal, she fluffed/hit the wrong note/didn't come in on time" (I forget which one) "and the other band members called her on it. At that point, she snapped 'Give me a break, will ya? My cat just died!"

"Ah," I said.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:11 PM:

I'm only skimming this thread, because Ed V. reminds me of someone I used to be close to. I used to have more respect for this person than I had for anyone else in the world.

But I no longer talk to this person, and my respect turned to contempt.

This person I'm thinking of turned into a Great Superhuman Pity Sponge. He was desperate for people to feel sorry for him, for how unhappy he was, for how lonely he was, for how he just wanted to die, etc. His enormous neediness drove away just about everyone who ever loved him, including, eventually, me.

As to the point at hand: Ed appears, at the beginning, to be trying to argue that he is not a bigot, but then he demonstrates that he is a bigot of the most vile type. He views Moslems as animals, to be broken and tamed.

Me, my metaphors run more to cancer. We need to remove the cancer of Islamic fanaticism so that the healthy body of dar el Islam can grow to maturity on its own, rather than our, terms.

I look to Japan as the example of how this has happened, successfully, at least once before.

And, also, we need to kill the cancer growing in our own body politic, lest we turn out just as bad as the enemy. Unlike our excellent Blog Hosts, I think this destiny is still (thankfully) a long way off, rather than on our doorsteps or here now. But the distance of the destination is no excuse for complacency; in the election of 2004, America knowingly and definitively set its sails in the direction of religious fanaticism, fascism, and death. We can argue about when we will reach that destination, and even whether we've already reached it, but it's inarguable that that's where we're headed.

Greg ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 08:24 PM:

Oh, for God's sake, Patrick. Scott isn't a bad guy. (A zine publisher and science fiction fan from way back, btw--and my high school classmate.) I don't disagree with your main point, but chill out.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:00 AM:

No chilling out happening here. As I've said before, Salon is part of the problem.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:43 AM:

As much as Connie Cass, who wrote the article, or AP who distributed it?

Someone at Salon just posts the wire stories, trusting the idea that they're supposed to be reasonably non-partisan. Not the case with this one.

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 07:11 PM:

Kevin, like I said earlier: I don't know how they do things at Salon, but one of my responsibilities on my day job is to select which AP stories to post on an webzine. I also frequently re-write their headlines; AP's headlines are often kind of boring.

Salon may have some kind of automatic feed that posts AP stories un-edited and without human intervention, but I doubt it.

M. Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:05 PM:

An endocrinologist once told my doctor that his secretary could diagnose most of the low-testosterone men on sight: they tended to be really rude and swaggery.

I've had the privilege of being a terrible student of two amazing martial arts masters, and both gentlemen were exactly as soft-spoken as (one) stereotype would demand; the ex-S.A.S. man who was the chauffeur to the main investor in a start-up of which I was a part was supposedly pretty soft-spoken himself.

My father spent three years at war, and three years a P.o.W., and never wanted to talk much about it at all...he insisted my brothers stay the hell out of Vietnam, figuring that if his old outfit (the Legion) couldn't hold it, it wasn't possible over the long term.

He hated generals. He was in no way a "warrior"; he was something much more important, a soldier, the type of person who takes orders and wins and loses battles. In his eyes, Bush's 'tude didn't equal "tough", it screamed "clown"...so the dude has a ranch, so what?

But I digress; I originally just wanted to affirm that tough guys don't need to swagger---the closest I can think to it were the few enormously successful physicists I've known who acted Ellisonically obnoxious, and they were a distinct minority.

Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 07:21 AM:

I agree with Patrick. Salon, whilst it's an interesting read, has always trimmed its sails to the prevailing political wind. They felt the groundswell during the election, and supported (though with very bad grace and many caveats) John Kerry, because it looked like he'd win.

Now he hasn't won they're just back to their usual occupation of sucking up to power. Don't ever expect a profit-making enterprise, no matter how surfacely liberal, to be the voice of freedom. They'll always go where the money is, and atm it's with the guns, gays and God crowd.

Fuck 'em. Bloggers are the new samizdat.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 02:57 PM:

I don't think Ed is a fake. His distress and misery are quite genuine. And he didn't actually say he had been in combat himself or boast about any of his exploits, I don't believe. Neither did he start hurling insults around, like most trolls do.

Wanted to add my comment to this exchange:

Kevin said:

One of our dogs was rescued from some madwoman in Merced who crammed 165 dogs and 50 cats into a four bedroom ranch house. She got jail time (not enough) and after three years of kindness and coaxing, our dog's gone from snarling and hiding in a crate to bouncing around happily, begging for treats and playing with her toys.

Ed replied:

Uh.. Kevin? That's sort of my point. Your madwomen broke the dogs, you rebuilt them. But they had to BE broken BEFORE they could be rebuilt to specs. In this case, your specs.

No. That's the way dogs naturally are.

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Well, if we're going to digress to the nature of dogs, I've been spending more time than I ought to over the last three years getting to understand that. And no, they don't need to be "broken:" all they need is a clue, and they'll pretty much do anything that you want and they understand, so long as they wouldn't really rather do something else. And you can make them rather do whatever you want them to do with enough treats.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 10:33 AM:

I think we were trying to draw analogies between dog nature and human nature (which probably ties back to "moral values" somehow.)

Lucy's description of dog nature seems to me to apply to humans too.

What are a dog's moral values?

Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 04:20 AM:

Well, as much as I adore my dog, I don't think the dimension of morality applies to a dog. They have ideas about what is fitting, but that's about it. They feel regret when they do something that isn't approved of or that entails difficulties. They are offended when the people or other dogs do something that messes up their system of getting along in the world.

But morality -- I think that's different. But it's too late at night to figure out what it is.

Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2004, 02:58 PM:

I don't think Ed's a fake either; his web/Usenet history seems consistent, at least.

Ed, if your introductory Usenet post was correct, then you're still only 42, which I don't think is too old to change. If you were in politics, you could still have several more years of "youthful indiscretions" ahead, to nod back at the original Salon linkage.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 08:28 AM:

Just as I was once again thinking that perhaps I'm too hard on Salon, they ran this piece of substance-free imputation as their cover story last Friday.

Thanks, Salon, for going out of your way to create a good old-fashioned American moral panic about one of the few drugs that does my wife's neurological problems any good!

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 09:35 AM:

Errr...

...so I am wondering if my increasingly negative reaction to Provigil is about my own physical and mental constitution or just bad karma for using a drug in a way it's not supposed to be used.

Yeah. Bad karma because you're downing a prescription drug you have no business taking.

What an asshat.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 10:31 AM:

I've got nothing against people taking drugs that weren't prescribed for them. A lot of supposedly "recreational" drug use actually maps the failings of the official medical system; many people are self-medicating, including even some people who don't know they're doing it.

That said, if I started knocking back daily doses of, say, some kind of high-tech antidepressant that nobody had prescribed for me, and I started feeling weird and sick, I wouldn't necessarily think this was an occasion for a big What Does It All Mean thumbsucker on the front page of a national opinion magazine. Evidently Salon's crack crew of moral geniuses thinks otherwise. The idea that there might be real-world consequences to this kind of thing isn't their problem.

Remember, anything that makes the culture more polarized is A-OK, because Salon is basically Tiger Beat for intellectually mediocre blue-staters--a cultural artifact designed to cater to a niche. That's why the supposedly "provocative" non-liberal voices in Salon are all such obvious nincompoops--the idea is to sell people on the idea that they're getting challenge, while actually offering nothing but reassurance. Now as ever, one of the most effective marketing formulas is "dry on the label, sweet in the bottle."

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 01:20 PM:

"Dry on the label, sweet in the bottle"? I've never heard that before. What's it mean?

Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 01:30 PM:

Not disagreeing with you on any point.

In addition, his directional shift from "I have a problem sleeping, let's try this," to "Whee! Let's try using this as a party drug!" midway through the piece seemed particularly idiotic, especially since he was already having odd side effects.

Overall, the piece just gave me the impression that this guy thought he was a character in a Brett Easton Ellis novel. ecchh.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 02:46 PM:

"'Dry on the label, sweet in the bottle'? I've never heard that before. What's it mean?"

It means that the qualities people claim to like often aren't actually the qualities they like.

Here's another example of the principle: A lot of trade-paperback novels with very "literary" covers are in fact commercial melodramas not notably more high-mindedly literary than Peyton Place. "Dry on the label, sweet in the bottle." It's a durable and winning formula.

(I presume I don't have to explain that I have nothing against commercial melodrama. Well, then.)

Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 03:39 PM:

Patrick -- Thanks. Is that a commonplace marketing expression?

It means that the qualities people claim to like often aren't actually the qualities they like.

I just saw an article on that very subject....

Here's another example of the principle: A lot of trade-paperback novels with very "literary" covers are in fact commercial melodramas....

I've noticed, browsing the bookshelves, that the "Star Trek" books are going for more understated, tasteful covers nowadays, and I assume it is because Trek fans are an aging demographic.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 05:17 PM:

If you look at the Salon archives for other articles written by Mr. Provigil, you'll see that he's their official recreational drug tourist. Therefore, it should be no surprise that he treats Provigil like just another opportunity for some chemical-laden fun.

I don't think that this will hurt the access of people with on-label diagnoses to this drug. Since it's so amazingly expensive, I'd even predict that there should be some novel compounds rolling down the pike real soon that might be more effective with fewer side effects.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:21 PM:

I read Salon for the AP wire, the comics, and the sports coverage. Oh, and “Ask the Pilot”.