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November 7, 2004

Grieving process
Posted by Teresa at 09:01 PM *

My sorrow and sense of failure is for all the people not in the United States for whom we’ve been a beacon of democracy and the hope for something better. We’ve failed them.

Here’s where I’m angry enough to spit at the Naderites, and anyone else who practiced ineffectual politics on the bone-stupid grounds that ‘things have to get worse before they can get better’: Did it ever once cross your minds that the things that get worse include the lives of people around the globe? We were a constant referendum on and demonstration of the idea that liberty, equality, and government by the consent of the governed are not only possible, but work better than elitist kleptocracies.

Those weren’t just empty words. America really was a beacon of hope, and a constant encouragement to good guys everywhere.

If you were one of those Naderites who were out yapping about how they wanted to “vote as though it made a difference,” congratulations: You made a difference. I hope you feel all warm and fuzzy and self-actualized now, because in the reality-based world you’ve done grievous harm to the helpless, the oppressed, and every ideal you profess to stand for.

Don’t tell me I can’t blame you, because I can, and I do.

It’s not just you, either. I’m entirely out of patience with Americans whose whimpering plaint is that we Democrats brought this on ourselves because it hurt their feelings when we acted like we think they’re stupid.

To this I say: Oh, malarkey.

First response: Grow up. If they’re that big on self-esteem issues, let them go volunteer as helpers at their local elementary school, where it’ll do some good. It’s faintly nauseating to hear so many supposed adults whine.

Second: Bullshit. For the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve listened as Democrats, liberals, the French, and other groups have been treated to sneers, calumny, loutish bullying, and unashamed lies by the right. It’s been a terrible burden to the spirit, and has brought public discourse in America to hitherto unheard-of lows of infamy. Where was all this sensitivity, when that was going on? If they could bear years and years of hearing that thrown at others, with never a protest or reproof at its callous ugliness, they can surely bear up under a breath of implication that they’ve made a singularly disastrous decision.

Third, I say bullshit and malarkey again. They weren’t upset about the Democrats acting like we thought they were stupid before the election took place. It wasn’t an issue back then.

You know what’s really happening? They’re seeing our reactions, and they’re scared. It’s like that moment where someone tells you what they’ve done, and it’s disastrously wrong, a complete catastrophe; only they haven’t understood that until now, when they see you stagger and turn pale at the news. And as you’re standing there steadying yourself, feeling your heart pounding and a terrible weight descending on your shoulders … you realize that the other person is preemptively yelling at you. They still don’t quite know what’s happened, but they can tell they’ve screwed up big time, so they’re screaming that they certainly hope you aren’t going to pretend that this could somehow have been their fault, because …

They can tell we’re not just acting like we’ve lost an election. They know that politically, they haven’t been acting like responsible grownups. So now, their reaction is to raise and sharpen their voices, and say they certainly hope we aren’t going to pretend that this could somehow have been their fault …

Well, yes. It is. They’ve been stupid and self-indulgent and irresponsible. Not having to pay attention to what’s happening around you is the most expensive luxury there is; and they just went to the ballot box and wrote a blank check to cover it.

Now Bush has announced that he plans to privatize Social Security. They ought to be out standing in the middle of the street, screaming at the top of their lungs, because if that goes through a lot of them are suddenly going to be looking forward to an impoverished old age.

Beyond that, if Bush puts through more tax cuts and commits to more indiscriminate spending, the deficit’s going to go so high that it’ll break the bond market. Do they know what that’ll mean? Bonds help pay for their schools and streets, their water and power and sewage systems. An awful lot of them have bonds as a major component of their retirement savings. We’re looking at the possibility of truly ugly hard times.

But are they out in the street screaming? They are not. They’re hunkered down, nervously hoping that the destroying angel has passed them by, and this will be as bad as it gets. They won’t have to do anything. They won’t have to think about scary stuff. They can go back to dollhouse politics where you pretend that cloning, flag burning, and evolution are serious issues.

It can get much, much worse. It may well get so much worse that words like “inconvenient” will be retired in favor of words like “tragic” and “life-threatening.” Wake up now. Act now.

And for those of you who feel horribly let down by us: We’re sorry. Some of us know it and others don’t know it yet, but we messed up big time, and we’re terribly, terribly sorry.

Don’t stop believing in the ideals. Nothing about them made this outcome inevitable. They’re as good now as they ever were. When you have freedom, you have the freedom to screw up. It didn’t have to happen, but it did anyway. This is just a country. Freedom, democracy, equality under the law, and respect for the common man will go on, whether we go with them or not.

Comments on Grieving process:
#1 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:44 PM:

Tonight in my usual Sunday/Tuesday chat someone questions the 'legality' of a fact that a dear friend has nailed a flag upside down on a tree on his property (front yard). I allowed as it was a distress symbol (upside down flag) and they asked if it was legal.

I replied that freedom of expression was so far still legal and no one has a right to tell him how to fly the flag. I'm sure it will be illegal eventually if the Bushies get all their laws/regulations in.

#2 ::: Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:50 PM:

Well, in one way it already is "tragic" and "life-threatening," in the sense that there's now no chance that events in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to be governed by the fantasies of a few in the White House. In another sense, as I wrote a couple of days ago in "On compromise," it will be "tragic" and "life-threatening" very soon, as the fools get their wish for the return of deaths from illegal abortions.

(My personal opinion regarding that issue is that if they can call us "baby-killers," we can call them "murderers." Since that is their intent.)

#3 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:53 PM:

Can someone in the Making Light cosmos provide a hotlinked summary of what the rest of the world actually thinks about the results of this national election, organized in some way that will advance reasoned discussion on the topic? I, for one, find a certain incoherence in the international press, but I may be looking in the wrong places, or failing to perceive an obvious paradigm. The late-night TV gave a parody of such a response, with a series of cuts of people in exotic places, wearing exotic costumes, often accompanied by exotic animals, all doing spit-takes.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:57 PM:

Frank, I take your point entirely, but let me gently remind you that we aren't going to argue about abortion here. Not this week, not this month. Later, maybe.

Paula, what I observe about flag burning and other acts of supposed desecration is that some years it's an issue, other years it isn't, but either way the flag's still there. A flag that can be destroyed by burning is a lesser flag than the one I salute.

#5 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 10:58 PM:

Nader voters are so far down on my list of people to blame that they might as well not be on it at all. Bush voters are #1, in big red type.

Pretty far up there: Every idiot in Congress who voted for the use-of-force-in-Iraq resolution. Including the two I voted for last Tuesday.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:01 PM:

JVP, you can do research as easily as I can. What I know is that the only people out there who appear to be wholeheartedly in favor of GWB are Tony Blair and Al Qaeda.

#7 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:02 PM:

Outstanding, Teresa. I'm in full agreement on all points.

I need to do up a screed about how and why it isn't a mark of disrespect or contempt to say "I think you're wrong" and "I think I'm right". Nobody's entitled to feel that others all agree with them, and a basic part of maturity (heck, of childhood well before adolescence) should be learning to deal with people who see things differently and still get some things done.

And yes, passionately yes, about letting the world down. I grew up in the '70s and '80s with kids who'd been Vietnamese boat people, refugees from death squads of right and left in Central America, escapees from behind the Iron Curtain and from the post-colonial wars in Africa...their coming to America made sense. Right now, I'm not so sure it does. Oh, sure, we are for the moment still better in many ways than the pisspot tyrannies of the Third World. But so much of that is inertia. The rule of law has been explicitly repudiated at the top, and it's just a matter of time before it trickles on down....

One of the really moving experiences of my college years was hearing Dith Pran talk after a screening of The Killing Fields. I was at the time (mid-'80s) prone to a certain anti-American attitude. Pran's words did much to snap me out of it, reminding us all that the American ideal and experience was a key force in liberation struggles around the world, even when American practice fell short. We ought to love our potential as so many others love it, and when it failed to be real, make it so. I think of that now, and wonder what's to be done.

#10 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:09 PM:

My personal blame list begins with Bush voters and with those who didn't vote. I still think Nader voters who don't believe in the doctrine of collapse and revolution owe the rest of us an apology for helping tip things in 2000, but they seem pretty much irrelevant to the 2004 situation. These weird sore winners really bug me a lot, and mystify me.

#11 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:12 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden:

Yes, I can do research. But I think that I do it badly when I am as angry and biased as I am in this area. I like to read the Jerusalem Post, for instance, in part because of its nice URL: JP.com. Also, of course, I did not mean for YOU to do the research, but someone who has genuinely spare time and real interest. I still have a stack of exams to grade, so that I can return them to my students in 12 hours, during which time there is also dinner, sleep, commuting, and other tasks.

I admit that I have no authority to assign homework to those who did not pay to take a class of mine.

The last time I did such homework was about 3 days ago. An online editor wrote to me and asked, provocatively, if I could find a prime number of 14 digits that satisfied the pattern of a Shakespearean Sonnet (ababcdcdefefgg). I did, he posted it, but he chose not to post the Spenserian Sonnet Prime that I devised, nor my proof that there are no Petrarchan Sonnet Primes.

I may have just undercut my argument that I have no spare time...

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:12 PM:

The sin of the "idiots in Congress" who voted for the use-of-force resolution is that they believed in the good faith of the President of the United States. They thought the game was still being played by the bipartisan rules in effect during previous Administrations. Maybe they were foolish, but they were my kind of foolish; they believed that there was a frame in which they and their partisan opponents were, at the end of the day, on the same side.

The sin of the Naderites who gave us Bush in 2000 was vanity, self-regard, preening perfectionism, and Teresa is entirely right to never forgive them. Sorry if that makes anyone uncomfortable.

No, wait, not sorry at all, because I just remembered that several of those "idiots in Congress" have taken as much work and pain and risk and sheer heartache as any Nader voter I know. And certainly as much as any number of blog-comment-section after-the-fact character assassins.

#13 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:16 PM:

That utterly rocked.

More, that was liberating.

Has everyone here seen Patrick Farley's rant?

In part:

"Friends: don't despair. The Orcs who elected Bush their Savior from the Islamo-Fag Menace crave your despair like a junky craves heroin. Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, Coulter, and the yammering dipshits of Fox News are at this hour deep in their tribal gloatfest, pounding their drums and bellowing around the bonfire. Your despair is their sweet, sweet nectar -- don't give it to them. Deny the Neo-Medievalists the gift of your heartbreak. Yea verily, as the inevitable avalanche of shit rumbles down upon us all these next 4 years, get in touch with your inner Hunter Thompson, surf the insanity, become the Buddhist warrior who leaps into battle with a laughing heart. The Neo-Medievalists are a grim lot, and we won't be doing ourselves or the world any favors by sinking to their joyless depths.

Also.... after listening to right-wing hate radio these past 24 hours, I can tell you this for certain: behind their gloating, you can hear a palpable edge of terror in their voices. More on this in the next post...."

#14 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:20 PM:

My only quibble with the outstandingly talented Patrick Farley (creater of Spiders and Apokemon) is that there's nothing whatsoever "medieval" about this particular gang; indeed it shows a total ignorance of what feudalism was all about to suppose otherwise. His insight that they crave our despair, on the other hand, is exactly right. Don't feed them.

#15 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:22 PM:

I'd like to hear the folks complaining explain where they were every time "Massachusetts liberal" or similar slams were getting fired at those of us up here, and why they didn't complain about the tone of the debate then.

I don't expect to, but hey.

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:28 PM:

The sin of the "idiots in Congress" who voted for the use-of-force resolution is that they believed in the good faith of the President of the United States.

October 2002. Nineteen months into the Bush presidency, and after eight years of right-wing hardball against Clinton, how the hell could anyone with their eyes open have believed that the right was operating in good faith, or that Bush was trustworthy? You sure didn’t.

(And damn, there’s the entry I was looking for a few days back, and not finding.)

#17 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:32 PM:

And yet, I find it a lot easier to forgive Johns Kerry and Edwards for believing in the system that hitherto existed, than to forgive the preening Naderites who bequeated us Bush in 2000.

Gosh, the contradiction! What could possibly account for it?

Here's a hint: I believe in people who work hard and try to play by the rules.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:33 PM:

"I'd like to hear the folks complaining explain where they were every time 'Massachusetts liberal' or similar slams were getting fired at those of us up here, and why they didn't complain about the tone of the debate then."

Yeah.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:39 PM:

Avram, I can encompass the idea that even after the attempted extra-Constitutional power grab of the Clinton years, and the first year of the Bush administration, they didn't believe Bush & Co. would lie as brazenly as they did at the start of the war.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:45 PM:

"Things have to get worse before they get better" is an example of the post hoc fallacy.

#21 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:46 PM:

The use of force always has to be an option.

#22 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:48 PM:

There's also something to be said for continuing to be an example of honorable behavior even as one's opponents are revealing themselves to be completely rectocranially inverted. It fits with the idea I've seen recently about acting as more parliamentary opposition.

#23 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:53 PM:

Is voting for a third-party candidate a violation of some set of rules I wasn’t aware of? Did nobody campaigning for Nader work hard?

I think the Nader’s supporters (those who actually campaigned for him) were working hard for something they believed in, in the naive hope (against all existing evidence) that it would work out. I can’t see blaming Naderites for being naive about overcoming the two-party system, and then excusing the naivete of professional politicians who fail to notice a decade’s worth of lies and rules-changing going on around them.

#24 ::: Josh Wand ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 11:54 PM:

e-sheep.com appears to be down-- can someone post a URL for the Patrick Farley thing?

#26 ::: mcm ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:01 AM:

"For the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve listened as Democrats, liberals, the French, and other groups have been treated to sneers, calumny, loutish bullying, and unashamed lies by the right. It’s been a terrible burden to the spirit, and has brought public discourse in America to hitherto unheard-of lows of infamy."

Delurking to say thank you for articulating this. Yes, it has been, and remains, a "terrible burden to the spirit." I'm sick of it. I'm tired of playing nice, only to be subject to the sneering contempt and intellectual thuggishness of people who won't play by the rules.

What really makes me angry is the sense that half the country is being held hostage to the other half's willful stupidity.

#27 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:04 AM:

Patrick Farley's LiveJournal:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/pfarley/

And, DAMN, e-sheep is down!

I hope to hell that he's not having money trouble.

#28 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:06 AM:

What a brilliant post!

JVP: This isn't the round-up of opinion you're wanting but Christopher Allbritton has some pungent observations on his Back-to-Iraq blog at http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/000835.php.

To the short list of world leaders who are unambiguously delighted with the results of the US election, please add Prime Minister of Australia, the right honourable John W Howard, known variously as Bonsai (as in little bush) or Little W. He went on air saying how glad he was that someone he liked had won.

#29 ::: JeanOG ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:19 AM:

They weren’t upset about the Democrats acting like we thought they were stupid before the election took place. It wasn’t an issue back then.

Respectfully, yes, it was. It's been an issue for most of the past two decades, at a minimum. It just hasn't been talked about very much outside of groups of people who could reasonably be expected to share that resentment.

Some of us have fought it. But since we who live in the middle of it seem to be the only ones who acknowledge its existance, we've each been fighting it alone.

#30 ::: Matthew Bin ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:27 AM:

As one of the outsiders (Canadian), thanks very much for the post. It does feel better to know that there are so many people who are interested in turning this mess around. Up here, we're helpless.

What I would advise to the democrats out there, though, is to work to stop the shrill, screeching, complaining, knee-jerk criticism (of which Teresa's posts are not an example). I'm sure that it really helped to crystallize the right's vote -- and they tend to crystallize much more easily than the left, I'd say. Can you go into a bookstore, look in the politics section, and see anything but a wall of books proclaiming that Bush is a Bad Person? I'm on your side, and I'm sick of it.

I'm tired of hearing that Bush and co are evil geniuses, and then, in the next breath, that Bush is an idiot. I'm tired of hearing that this is the most corrupt, evil administration of all time -- even if it's true, I hear it so often that it's lost all meaning.

I'm not the one to know how the next four years' campaign should be run. But the message has to change, to something that isn't just a constant assertion that the other side is wrong. Being right isn't enough.

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall."

M@

#31 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:41 AM:

I think Putin endorsed Bush as well.

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:44 AM:

Matthew Bin wrote: "Can you go into a bookstore, look in the politics section, and see anything but a wall of books proclaiming that Bush is a Bad Person?"

Amigo, where were you in the 1990s? Do you not remember the spate, plethora, and torrent of hate-filled anti-Clinton books, which are still being churned out by Regnery Press? Have you not noticed that Ann Clouter's books are up at the top of the best-sellers lists?

#33 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:49 AM:

I have to agree with Jean OG here. I've been hearing "You think we're stupid," from right-wing, rural and religious folks for many years.

I suspect they've become so resentful that they feel entitled to some really outlandish insults toward the urban secular left.

#34 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:49 AM:

But are they out in the street screaming? They are not. They’re hunkered down, nervously hoping that the destroying angel has passed them by, and this will be as bad as it gets.

And by the time they realize what they have done, it may well be too late to undo it.

#35 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:03 AM:

Matthew, I just this afternoon browsed in the Politics section of a Barnes & Noble, up here in deep blue Hoboken, New Jersey, and saw a mixed pile of anti-Bush, anti-Kerry, and anti-Clinton (both Bill and Hillary) books.

#36 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:14 AM:

'"You think we're stupid,"'

And now we know for sure.

SORRY! SORRY! That was unkind and entirely uncalled for. To show how bad I feel for writing that I will now go outside in my pajamas, walk around in the cold, and perhaps pick up some crap. Which I'd do anyway around this time, being a dog owner, but I'll treat it as a penance, OK?

"All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." -- Mark Twain

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:23 AM:

Digby has some interesting thoughts on the "condescension" perception some of our Southern countrymen seem to carry around. The basic point is that it isn't anything new.

#38 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:28 AM:

Jonathan Shaw:

Thank you.

When I see something like this, from Salon.com:

"Bush receives endorsement from Iran
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Oct. 20, 2004 | TEHRAN, Iran (AP) --

The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body."

I just think: but of course. Bush is killing lots of Iraqis. Isn't that what the head of Iran's security council would want?

Then I say -- whoops, there goes your anger and bias again.

*sigh* but how can any powerful political figure support Bush unless there's something in it for him/her?

Late Friday night I ran into J. Neil Schulman, "the author of two Prometheus award-winning novels, Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza, short fiction, nonfiction, and screenwritings, including the CBS Twilight Zone episode 'Profile in Silver.'"

We were at an art show by Fantasy painter and Mythopoeic Society activist Bernie Zuber, editor of The Shire Post. Schulman was chatting with a makeup-artist-to-the-stars about an option on his theological comedy/ fantasy "Escape From Heaven."

"Neil," I said, knowing that he is member #4 of MLL (Members of the Libertarian Left). "What is the Libertarian position on the Presidential election?"

"Well," he said. "I voted for Bush."

A palpable silence fell across the packed gallery floor, as if some Red State cowboy had looked at a jar of salsa out on the range and seen "New York City."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because I like his stand on terrorism."

Steve Lamb, my last remaining ally on the Altadena Town Council, said: "Nixon. Reelected in 1972. Resigned in 1974. Be patient."

#39 ::: Björn Friðgeir ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:28 AM:

My feeling from the UK papers online was Blair wanted Kerry in. He never said so explicitly but he never endorsed Bush. Any UKer is welcome to expand/rebut.

#40 ::: Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:42 AM:

My feeling from the UK papers online was Blair wanted Kerry in. He never said so explicitly but he never endorsed Bush. Any UKer is welcome to expand/rebut.

Fwiw, and not from the UK here, the sense from Canadian media was that Blair was dead silent on Bush and re-election -- and it would certainly have been better for Blair politically had Kerry won. In fact, from our media perspective -- and perhaps I'm reading selectively -- the only person who publicly endorsed Bush before the election was Putin.

#41 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:03 AM:

Which is fairly interesting to me, Michelle. Putin is, of course, not even close to being a reformer. It's a pity, as a reformer is something Russia could really use right now, but Putin's not leaving office any time soon, so there you have it.

It's just that... well, I can't really think of a single thing Putin has to gain by Bush being in office. But then, I've had a similar attitude to Mr. Vos Post's, recently, so...

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:05 AM:

American expat in the UK here.

Blair was hedging his bets. On the one hand, he's perceived as supporting Bush (actually, he's considered Bush's poodle, and it'll be an issue in the election next year), so silence = support. On the other hand, his wife Cherie criticised Bush just before the election.

Ironically, his opponent Michael Howard was told by Karl Rove, "You can forget about meeting the president full stop. Don't bother coming." So Howard, the Conservative, is on the blacklist and the (somewhat) Socialist Blair is the new best friend. And they say there's no irony in modern politics.

(It still astonishes me that Howard made it to the top of the Tory party. We all thought his career was over when Jeremy Paxman, one of the UK's most aggressive news interviewers, asked him the same yes or no question fourteen times on live TV. After fourteen equivocations, Paxman then said, "I can see we're never going to get an answer here," and moved on. As will I, now that this digression is done.)

#43 ::: McDuff ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:15 AM:

I wasn't one of those who thought things had to get worse before they got better, but I was one of those who thought they would get worse before they got better, and thought about how we could focus on making them get better even as they were getting worse.

I suspect I am right about the former, although I also hope I'm right in thinking that Bush's second term will not be as prolific as his first. It's entirely possible that the burning of Social Security will not appeal to Congress. It's also worth looking at the "curse of the second term" syndrome, and then looking at all the different scandals that Bush has brewing. Valerie Plame, Abu Ghraib, Al QaQaa, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Perle, OH MY!

Despite the fact that I allowed myself to be convinced of a Kerry win in the weeks running up to the election, I know now that I was reflecting my own preferences more than relying on the gut instincts which turned out to be correct in the first place. I guessed that it would be close, but go eventually to Bush because of the moral issues and because of the irrational "Bush makes me feel safe" syndrome, which I have personally come across and which never, ever makes sense, even to those who walk away without changing their minds. If there is a greater example of sticking your fingers in your ears and going "LALALA" than those who believed Bush made them safer, I haven't met it.

So yes, we're going to have some trouble brewing. But 2006 is only two years away, and Bush will spend at least 60% of that time on holiday, not actually doing anything. From here on in, his policies will be of the kind that "Middle America" cannot help but notice. The economy is not looking pretty, the collapse of the dollar is looking to happen sooner rather than later, and when that happens I think we're rather more likely to see awakenings and shifts to a "reality based" worldview. It will, of course, be rather too late by then, but the silver lining will be the discrediting of the NeoCons and the Republican party for a long time.

Nobody wants another Great Depression, but if you must live in the country that votes for one, we all must work to make the best of it, and safeguard ourselves for the future following it.

#44 ::: Björn Friðgeir ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:34 AM:

abi: Paxman interviewing Bush. One can only dream...
Has Dubya, or Kerry for that matter, *ever* been interviewed in an agresseive manner on TV? Or were the handbags-at-ten-paces debates the only time they were asked anything not scripted. Oh, sorry, they *were* scripted.
And no, it's not much better where I come from.

#45 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:52 AM:

The part of my brain that wants to blame and carry anger is taking a back seat, right now, to the part that wants to mitigate disaster.

Atrios posted, recently, that he doesn't think there's much we can do right now to avert the calamities you touch on in this post. He's pretty smart, with a Ph.D in Economics, so maybe he's right.

But, my less sophisticated, less-perspicacious mind still wants to come up with something to do that might blunt the impending trainwreck.

(Pasted in from elsewhere):

In 2005 there will 44 Democrats, 55 Republicans and James Jeffords (an independent) in the U.S. Senate. I'm wondering whether it might be possible to find five Republican Senators who:

a) will join Democrats in resisting bills that privatize Social Security --

bills that authorize a reduction of 2% or more in all Social Security deductions for wage earners to invest on their own, and bills that establish a private Social Security trust fund as a preliminary to implementing the deduction reduction.


b) will join Democrats in resisting Neocon proposals to "simplify" the tax system

proposals that seek to implement a "flat tax," replace income tax with sales tax, or simply pass more lopsided tax cuts that force below $100,000/yr wage earners to make up the difference granted to above $100,000/yr earners.


c) will join Democrats in resisting the appointment of one or more Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Are these Republican Senators out there? Who are they? Once we identify the ones most likely to be receptive, perhaps we might start some letter-writing campaigns in their districts. And to accompany the list of Senators, we might provide cut-and- paste links to sound, reasoned explanations of why Bush's plans are really bad ones.

Feel free to knock this down with evidence of its impracticality -- or to email me some names of Senators you think might be likely candidates, if you think the idea has any merit. I'd like to assemble a list. It's the best thing I can think of to do, right now, with my disappointment and feelings of helplessness.

#46 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:53 AM:

Did Nader voters actually have an effect on this year's elections? I was watching CNN.com's polls and although I didn't go state-by-state, I don't remember a state where Nader had enough votes to sway the election.

Not that I disagree with the sentiment. Last night my roommate was telling me of some friends of hers from Florida who are eligible to vote (we're both in Israel) but hadn't because they couldn't decide who to vote for. She couldn't understand why I didn't think this was something to be proud of.

"It was a choice between bad and worse to them." She said. She couldn't accept my insistence that they should have chosen the lesser of two evils. Which is strange, considering that Israelies have been holding their noses in the polling booth for about a decade.

#47 ::: Scott Lynch ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:02 AM:

Case in point.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041108/ap_on_en_mu/radio_host_apology

#48 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:13 AM:

Teresa--

Both an enlightening and a depressing post, and one of the best rants I've ever read.

Thank you.

#49 ::: Yaka St.Aise ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:30 AM:

Jason wrote:
"It's just that... well, I can't really think of a single thing Putin has to gain by Bush being in office."

Well, call me simplistic, but it seems to me that Putin and the Bush administration show a common taste for authoritarian methods and a similar disdain for the rule-of-law, and both seem quite fond of teaching their select choice of muslims how to and to whom to obey.

It seemed pretty clear at the time of starting the operations in Iraq that Putin wouldn't insist too much on opposing it as long as the US looked away from Tchetchnia and other contreversial russian businesses.

Just my two eurocents.

Yaka.

PS: Oh, and don't forget to add Berlusconi to the list, as well as a couple of ex-USSR countries leaders who got shiny new toys and monies for their joining the effort of bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq...

#50 ::: morgue ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:50 AM:

Teresa said at 10.57pm:
"A flag that can be destroyed by burning is a lesser flag than the one I salute."

"Any flag worth a shit was woven from fire in the first place." - Michael Franti, in the song 'Satanic Reverses'

#51 ::: morgue ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:59 AM:

It seems the biggest explanatory message coming out of the election is that a significant, election-tipping block of voters made their decision based on their fear of terror and their evaluation of the moral values of the candidates.

The terror-fear was manufactured.

The moral evaluations are invalidated by their extremely narrow focus.

TNH said: "They’ve been stupid and self-indulgent and irresponsible." Indeed they have.

To quote my own blog:
"We are right. And that is our strength. That is what will help us grow. As we grow, our political strength increases. As our political strength increases, the political landscape will begin to change. Our task isn't to make the Bush-supporter down the street love the Dems - it is to make her see the truth about international exploitation, environmental degradation, the deceiving myths of the system's controllers."

#52 ::: Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:19 AM:

I'm sorry but the US has never been a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world, except in its own mind. Is there something about being physically in the US that seeps into the blood, that fosters this myth of moral superiority?

And why do Democrats keep saying that "they" (Republican voters) say this, or "they" say that: the US are a nation. It's "we". Every US citizen is equally responsible for the state of the nation. You cannot hijack a country without the acquiescence of the populace. If the electorate truly believed that the election had been stolen, there would be millions marching on Washington, and revolutionary fervour to take up arms and overthrow the dictator.

I don't see them. Nope, it's easier to post to blogs and bleat about how its still a wonderful country, despite all the evidence to the contrary,than to take up arms and actually defend your freedom.


#53 ::: JoshD ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:26 AM:

Teresa:

Not having to pay attention to what’s happening around you is the most expensive luxury there is; and they just went to the ballot box and wrote a blank check to cover it.

Wow. Um.

I... have a guilty feeling that this explains the result of this election, more than we might want to admit is true. Could it be that really, this came down to much of the country declaring, "I don't want to think about this anymore" and pulling the lever in defiance?

For a long time, now, a majority Americans have been personally unaffected by their government. Sure, tax rates go up or down a bit, and there are sometimes inconvenient forms to fill out, but on the whole, our political discourse has been more like choosing a sports team than anything else.

When asked to admit that this election is different, that our choice of a team could actively harm us, I don't think it's inconceivable that many of us just didn't want to believe it, and stuck with the home team to prove it to themselves.

Like the family facing an uncertain future who nonetheless goes for the bigger, more expensive car, it's possible that half of America has just engaged in some magical thinking that is going to really hurt down the road.

And while it's tempting to think that, when it does, we'll all wake up and realize that it's really our fault, and that this democracy thing really does mean that our choices impact on our future, it's likely going to take a massive effort to drive the point home so that it isn't drowned out by the right wing noise machine.

Going to be a long four years.

#54 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:35 AM:

But the problem is, Bruce, that many of those refugees, were having to come here because their countries were wrecked by our foreign policy.

Which makes it an even more pathetically-naive faith in the shiningness" of the USA on their part.

The Hmong, whom we thrice betrayed - because what was using them as soldiers in a war that we started for our own vanity and socioeconomic issues, but a second betrayal, after the first betrayal of entering Vietnam, culminating in the fraud of Tonkin?

The Central Americans, who come here in the wake not merely of Reagan policy, but of Guatemala in the 1950s and Honduras again back at the turn of the last century, all those wars for bananas and sugar and yes, oil?

The Eastern Europeans, for whom the Cold War was our entering into the Great Game, taking Britain's place at the Risk board after the grande dame got tired, facing off against Holy Russia's rebellious kids, re-enacting in a play that goes on to this our the roles made popular by Kipling in Kim and scores of other stories, just as we reenacted the Opium Wars in Southeast Asia as the night wore on--

This is a kind of voluntary Babylonian Captivity, then, as if the survivors didn't realize that it was the same warlords' cities who had sacked their own, into whose lower economic strata they were straggling and struggling to be tolerated and rebuild.

Granted, all the *nice* Americans who welcomed them (and many of the bigoted ones who didn't) weren't aware of what was being done in their name in the 50s and 60s and 70s around the world - but what kind of an excuse is ignorance, when the information is there, and you choose to believe the happy narrative that we were only "Spreadin' Freedom" and not also spreading drugs, helotry, crony capitalism, satrapy, sexual slavery and all the other traditional goods of Empire either deliberately or as "military-industrial waste" across the world, from Okinawa to the Congo, in the name of "Fighting Communism"--

This is the problem when you study not Story, but the history-that-is-written-by-the-bystanders, the overarching narratives that come into focus are *not* neat stories of reversals and rescue, retribution and happy endings, with all the evil bottled up in the dragons.

#55 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:42 AM:

I think that anyone who is sorry that Bush won has no reason to apologize for the result.

Check out these cartograms,especially the last one, for another view of Bush's "mandate".

#56 ::: Yaka St.Aise ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:00 AM:

Watching BBC world broadcasting live Allawi stating in a Castro-long speech how he plans to put Iraq under a hardcore military rule with integral curfew - in order to protect freedom and the Iraqi people.

I personally prefer my Tony Soprano sticking to fiction programs.

That's one more guy to add to the list of country rulers who are glad Bush won the election, and some more reasons for us to be sorry - and possibly apologectic - he did.

I promess I'll try to post something witty and lighhearted in the near future, I just kind of like the punch for it, right now.

#57 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:23 AM:

JVP, you can do research as easily as I can. What I know is that the only people out there who appear to be wholeheartedly in favor of GWB are Tony Blair and Al Qaeda.

No, no, Teresa. Our guys are also happily lapping up what they perceive as a victory and validation. And the so-called Italian left is actually asking itself what did it wrong: it's a sort of conditioned reflex for them, so used they are to it. Oh, and I have heard somebody in total seriousness speculate that it was Rutelli and Fassino showing up at the Democratic Congress that hurt Kerry. Who, you would ask? Right. But there's still people here who say that "fear of the Communists" helped Bush.

Now, our guys are not really very important in the great scheme of things (though they are to us, alas). But the alarming thing is that they seem to have learned the lesson. While I was away, I have been informed, the opposition at the European Parliament to the appointment of Rocco Buttiglione (on the grounds that he said that homosexuality was a sin and single mothers weren't good mothers, and that family existed so that the husband could provide and protect the wife who could raise children) has been loudly denounced everywhere as "anti-Catholic" prejudice on the part of an "anti-religious" liberal Europe.

I anticipate this trick being used with great enthusiasm by right-wing groups all over Europe - and the growing xenophobic prejudice is only going to help.

Also, America might have been seen as a material paradise, especially around Eastern Europe, but I am sorry to have to disabuse you - a champion of democracy and, most of all, justice and equality it hasn't been perceived for a long, long time. To a lot of people here in Europe Bush's re-election was positively not a surprise: it just reinforced pre-existing prejudices about the USA as a strongly right-wing, rabidly imperialistic, agressively militaristic power. And mind you, this was true even during the Clinton presidency. Due to the nature of the US foreign policy, the tolerant, progressive, liberal America is from here largely invisible. (I know all about it, but mostly because I have access to books, printed media, and blogs. And people, of course). When you see an American flag here you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that those guys flying it are to the farthest right, which is part of the reason seeing the flags over there spooks us Europeans.

I have actually had people over here trying to comfort me by saying "Well, it's not as if Kerry was much better, was it?".

(I have actually had a much harder time explaining America to people in Europe than vice versa, because the Europeans think they know all about it already.)

#58 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:51 AM:

Avram writes: "I can’t see blaming Naderites for being naive about overcoming the two-party system, and then excusing the naivete of professional politicians who fail to notice a decade’s worth of lies and rules-changing going on around them."

Here's the difference you appear to be unable to see.

(1) Believing that there's a limit to which a President of the United States would lie about war-and-peace issues has worked in the past.

(2) Believing that a left-wing third party would nudge the country in a liberal direction has never worked in the past.

"Worked in the past" versus "never worked in the past." Note the difference.

(Yes, the Republican Party platform of 1960 entailed 75% of the Socialist Party platform of 1920, but in the actual 1920s, the Socialist Party was mostly a waste of effort, drawing votes away from politicians who actually had a chance to do some small good amid the general awfulness of politics in the 1920s.)

#59 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:59 AM:

The bravely anonymous "Republic of Palau" sneers:

"I'm sorry but the US has never been a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world, except in its own mind."

Marx and Engels disagreed with you. Like innumerable other Europeans, they followed the Civil War anxiously, knowing full well that the prospects of social reform movements worldwide were widely perceived as riding on whether the Union could prevail.

You don't have to think that America is in fact somehow metaphysically exceptional (it isn't) to note that people elsewhere in the world do in fact look to it for hope and inspiration. Non-Americans have said as much right here in this thread. Are you calling them liars? From the odious tone of the rest of your post, it would appear that you are.

#60 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Obviously, plenty of people worldwide are pretty cynical about modern America, and for good reason. But it's a long way from that to the assertion that "I'm sorry but the US has never been a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world, except in its own mind."

#61 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 09:05 AM:

JVP - No one person can have any idea what "the rest of the world" thinks about anything. But you can make some informed guesses.

First off, while no other nation engages with the USA on a level playing field, most of them are so far downslope that they quite literally couldn't tell the difference btween Bush and Kerry. The more informed among them may have noticed that Edwards is a rabid protectionist, which wouldn't have recommended him to, for the sake of argument, Indian cotton growers.

In Western Europe and its outlyiers in the Pacific, many people feel desperately sorry for you (*all* of you - the crap isn't going to ask how you voted before it lands), but we question how much difference it would actually have made to us if Kerry had won. He was set up. What could he have done different in international affairs?

Obviously, there are special cases. Iraqi Kurds are generally pro-Bush, because they fear that if the US pulled out of Iraq they would be massacred in a pincer movement between the Sunni Arabs and some proxy for Turkey. They're probably right.

Likud supporters in Israel are no doubt pro-Bush. Anti-Likud Israelis are probably anti. And so on.

The number of bone headed anti-Americans who are offended by a Starbucks opening in their town or some loudmouth tourist who can't say "please" or "thank you" will be unaffected by anything you may say or do. You may continue to ignore them.

The small intellectual elite will be cheering you on all the way to 2006. Like you need it.

#62 ::: Leslie ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:04 AM:

They’re hunkered down, nervously hoping that the destroying angel has passed them by, and this will be as bad as it gets. They won’t have to do anything. They won’t have to think about scary stuff. They can go back to dollhouse politics where you pretend that cloning, flag burning, and evolution are serious issues.

Oh yes. I know people for whom daily life is exhausting and overwhelming, and that is their excuse for not delving too deeply into the realities of the Bush administration. I have some sympathy for their exhaustion, but not to the point of excusing them.

I don't know what they'll do when it all comes crashing down around them; but since there are people who still insist that Nixon and Reagan were wonderful, wonderful men, I wouldn't count on Bush supporters ever admitting their mistake. Whatever happens, it won't be Bush's fault, and it certainly won't be theirs.

#63 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:42 AM:
Feel free to knock this down with evidence of its impracticality -- or to email me some names of Senators you think might be likely candidates, if you think the idea has any merit. I'd like to assemble a list. It's the best thing I can think of to do, right now, with my disappointment and feelings of helplessness.

Chafee would be the obvious choice, as he's already been making noises about leaving the party a la Jeffords. Snowe and Collins would be my next choices. After that, I don't know. I would probably research Gregg and Sununu to see if they were likely possibilities (I seem to recall that Sununu, at least, has shown some evidence of not being a Bush lickspittle).

Outside New England, the best bets would be Republicans who have been around a long time. Warner has acted like a grownup a number of times in recent memory (and failed to in others). Lugar would be worth a look.

#64 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:46 AM:

It definitely makes sense for us to reach out and try to find five moderate Republican senators that we can build coalitions with. But it isn't simple. They won't always be the same five, depending on the issue at hand. With some issues such as civil liberties or the recent fight over media consolidation, the natural coalition is the extreme left and right together against the middle.

The other factor, which I'm afraid will make things very difficult, is the way the Republican leadership has been abusing the legislative process. Measures they want passed are crammed into a budget reconciliation bill that does not allow for amendment or adequate debate. Democrats are excluded from the House-Senate conference committee, and the final bills contain new measures not approved by either chamber.

The typical liberal inclination is to try to find a way to work things out. Maybe, if we compromise just a little bit, we can find a way to participate in the governing process and make things better. Yeah, right. The Democrats are an opposition party now, and we need to learn how to work like one. We're going to lose a lot of battles. The best we can do is use each loss as an opportunity to shine a light on Republican corruption.

#65 ::: Nyrath the nearly wise ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:53 AM:

Outstanding rant! You give me hope.

However, the current situation mysteriously reminds me of C.M. Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons."

A possible tactic:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/07/blue_state_to_reds/

#66 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:11 PM:

I live in Egypt. People here are used to the incumbent winning because he counts the votes. They don't expect elections to be free and fair. Many asked me how in the heck I could even hope for Kerry winning. When an American colleague and I were hovering over CNN on her computer at work on Nov. 3 and we finally discovered that Kerry would lose because the votes just weren't there, one Egyptian said only half in jest, "Our way is so much easier. There is no controversy because we know the result in advance." As for the shining city on a hill thing -- two things. One, people in the Middle East are angry at the U.S. and have been for many years. Two, they continue to be angry at the U.S. because they expect better from it. They expect better from it because it does indeed represent something better. They respect the U.S. for being a good place to live, for having clean and organized cities, for having productive and conscientious citizens. They hate its foreign policy and try to find reasons for it including international conspiracies, but still, I would say that people do indeed expect a lot from the U.S. and that does tell you something. If people just thought the US was a horrible country from which you could not expect anything good, they would not consistently be disappointed by it when it behaves badly.

#67 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:12 PM:
Feel free to knock this down with evidence of its impracticality -- or to email me some names of Senators you think might be likely candidates, if you think the idea has any merit. I'd like to assemble a list. It's the best thing I can think of to do, right now, with my disappointment and feelings of helplessness.

Chafee would be the obvious choice, as he's already been making noises about leaving the party a la Jeffords. Snowe and Collins would be my next choices. After that, I don't know. I would probably research Gregg and Sununu to see if they were likely possibilities


I believe that the conservatives are already sharpening their knives for PA's Arlen Specter.
#68 ::: Anna in Cairo ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:13 PM:

Also, I re-read this and are you addressing people who voted Nader in this election, or last time? Because I thought that Nader was not really that much of a factor this time.

#69 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:28 PM:

Michelle said:

I believe that the conservatives are already sharpening their knives for PA's Arlen Specter.

And this, after a very nasty primary where Specter was nearly defeated by archconservative Pat Toomey. Moderate Republicans are a vanishing species, and it's their own party that's hunting them to extinction.

All week, I've been hearing about morals, morals, morals. I haven't heard a thing about ethics. Guess which I'd rather have in my government?

#70 ::: Simstim ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:31 PM:

Speaking as a single UKer, here's my two [sub-unit of currency of choice].

Whilst it may be true that the US acts as a moral/political exemplar to the rest of the world, I think whatever importance this may have is secondary to the indisputable fact that the US is currently the only global superpower. With only about 5% of the world's population it constitutes a quarter of the world's economy and has a military budget greater than that of the next 8 largest spenders combined. Thus, whoever controls the US is well on the way to shaping the rest of the world in a decisive manner: militarily, economically and therefore politically.

From my point of view, a Kerry win would have been a return to the status quo in American foreign policy: still with a lot of problems but at least vaguely rational/realist. Given that in the UK Blair is slavishly following Bush, and that his main political rivals (Gordon Brown within the Labour Party, Michael Howard from the Conservatives) would have been even more pro-American in their foreign policy, the election in the US essentially determines our foreign policy for the next four years. Our only hope now is a hung parliament in the next general election and the Liberal Democrats extracting a rejection of Bush as their price for a coalition.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:33 PM:

This is a wonderful post. Wonderful. Burbleburble.

I'm tired of playing nice, too. I was commenting on the people who voted for Bush on "Moral Issues" even though they were against the war and like that (fortunately less numerous than early exit polls had indicated), and I said that I hate those people. One of my friends said that she was uncomfortable with that kind of talk and I more or less said tough shit. I do hate them.

That's not going to be a useful conversational position if I'm trying to persuade them to vote like something other than bigoted sshls - um, to vote in a more progressive way next time. But it's how I feel. And why shouldn't I? They hate ME, and I didn't just vote to deny them a fundamental right.

I'm not a Christian. I'm allowed to hate people and gloat when they die if I damn well want. And even the Bible says there's a time for hate. It's now; it's not the next four years, but right now it's just fine.

Avram: Matthew, I just this afternoon browsed in the Politics section of a Barnes & Noble, up here in deep blue Hoboken, New Jersey, and saw a mixed pile of anti-Bush, anti-Kerry, and anti-Clinton (both Bill and Hillary) books.

WHAT!??!?!?! You live in Hoboken, where I live too, and I had to go to Worldcon to meet you? And even there we never noticed? That's a little bizarre, don't you think?

And that's a terrible B&N, btw.

#72 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Nader was still monkeying around in certain states. He certainly didn't help, even if he wasn't necessarily the linch-pin that swung things this time.

As for "Beacon of Democracy" status, especially in the literal sense, I rather remember watching the students in Tianamen Square erecting a large styrafoam "Goddess of Democracy" with a suspicious resemblance to a certain beacon-carrying woman prominently displayed in the New York harbor.

Whether that beacon blazes as brightly as it might? Well, Bush and Ashcroft are hardly poster children for the "Come to America" vibe, but that sort of goes without saying.

#73 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:07 PM:

"Reality-based language, fraud, folly, truth, history, and knitting"

Where's the knitting?
More knitting, please.

#74 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Hi, Patrick,

You say:

(1) Believing that there's a limit to which a President of the United States would lie about war-and-peace issues has worked in the past.

It has worked, but not always.

Fulbright has been quoted (I've read it, but I can't source it at the moment) that it just didn't occur to him that LBJ might lie to him about Vietnam.

You also say:

(2) Believing that a left-wing third party would nudge the country in a liberal direction has never worked in the past.

It worked for the populists in 1896. Large chunks of their program were adopted over twenty years.

Anyway, give up on the Nader bashing. There weren't four million Nader voters out there. Possibly there's a state or two somewhere that could've been tipped by Nader. Darned if I know.

I do know this: I wouldn't feel too comfortable defending a president who lost the popular vote by four million squeaking out an electoral college victory if his supporters went into the streets. I'd do it, if it came down to it--there wouldn't be a choice--but it's a losing proposition, and after the 2000 'publican riots in Florida, I don't doubt they'd do it.

I also know something else: Over the next four hellish years, you and I and everyone we know will need all the friends we can get. Stop with the blame game already.

Finally, I reject the idea of "the worse, the better". I don't reject the idea that sometimes you have to make unpleasant choices. Sometimes you can't avoid short-term losses for long-term gains.

That's just reality-based common sense.

Life got more unpleasant for blacks during the civil rights movement. It got better later. Life got more unpleasant for those who vigorously protested the Vietnam War. It got better later.

In neither case would this have happened had they not been willing to accept tactical losses to gain strategic goals. (Some people may not have foreseen the losses. Thank goodness for that.)

#75 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:18 PM:

Teresa wrote:
It’s not just you, either. I’m entirely out of patience with Americans whose whimpering plaint is that we Democrats brought this on ourselves because it hurt their feelings when we acted like we think they’re stupid.

Serious question, not meant to inflame: who are you talking about? Can you point me to an example of this? Because I've been making a fair attempt to follow both sides in the noosphere, and all I'm seeing are the extremes: people celebrating Bush's "landslide" and taunting the Democrats (I'm amazed no one's brought up Hannity's twisted "therapy session" Friday -- am I the only one who heard it?), and people bemoaning the death of hope and the end of the City on the Hill. There's a few liberals of sterner stuff who are already talking about what to do next time, too. But I haven't seen any examples of anyone whimpering.

FWIW, I did vote for Kerry, and the few friends of mine who weren't, I did my best to persuade. I disagreed with a lot of what he said, but I'd decided during the State of the Union address in January that I could not vote for Bush. Subsequent months brought out further examples of immoral acts in the Bush administration. I never really trusted that Kerry would be effective in the office, but he seemed intelligent and sane, and his post-Vietnam record did convince me that he'd do nothing further to promote human rights violations and torture. That was enough of an improvement for me.

He lost. I'm not whimpering. I'm not grieving. I've identified the reason he lost (among many) that I'm most concerned about, and giving serious thought to a plan of action to address that reason.

Meanwhile, I think Matthew Bin is really onto something.

"Hatred will never be conquered by hatred -- it will only be conquered by non-hatred; that is the law eternal."
- Buddha (in the Dhammapada)

#76 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:19 PM:

Jon Sobel asks: Where's the knitting?

Right now, it's on Open Thread 31.

#77 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:19 PM:
I believe that the conservatives are already sharpening their knives for PA's Arlen Specter.

Yes, but he's already rolled over and shown his belly on the judicial appointments issue. I wouldn't hope for anything from him (and if he promised something, I wouldn't believe it).

#78 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:27 PM:

This weekend at BloggerCon, I spoke with Chris Nolan, who suggests that people interested in an independent judiciary, and particularly in preserving Roe v. Wade, should send hefty checks to Arlen Spector's campaign fund, which needs the help after this year's brusing races.

I'm not sure I agree with her argument, but there's good sense in it. It's worth your thought.

I see Dan Blum commented on this matter while I was previewing. When I raised exactly this point with Chris, her reply was that Spector had been engaging in CYA, not rolling over.

That's a judgement call. Josh Marshall disagrees. He has followed up on this in subsequent posts--one just a few minutes ago.

You can find links to news stories and Spector's statement in Josh's and Chris's pages and make up your own mind. I'll say this, though--bashing Spector as a wuss isn't a wise move just now.

#79 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 01:56 PM:

I'd be willing to believe it was just CYA if it were coming from someone other than Specter. Remember Clarence Thomas?

#80 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:11 PM:

Hi, Dan,

I sure do. Do you remember Robert Bork and Jeff Sessions?

The freepers are already saying that Spector is planning to bork Bush's nominations. They remember.

If you can't support him (I'm not sending him any cash--I've got other politicians to give to and limited resources), at least don't beat on him from the left while the freepers beat from the right. What do you plan to gain from it? Are you hoping to put him out of office in 2010? Do you think that'll help anything right now? Do you have a plan, or an urge?

#81 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:18 PM:

Hi, Dan,

I sure do. Do you remember Robert Bork and Jeff Sessions?

The freepers are already saying that Spector is planning to bork Bush's nominations. They remember.

If you can't support him (I'm not sending him any cash--I've got other politicians to give to and limited resources), at least don't beat on him from the left while the freepers beat from the right. What do you plan to gain from it? Are you hoping to put him out of office in 2010? Do you think that'll help anything right now? Do you have a plan, or an urge?

I'm mad, too, brother, but I want to win. We have to win.

#82 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:39 PM:

I didn't a damn thing except say that he is probably not one of the best Republican Senators to try to convince to help defeat Bush' program. And I said he has proven to be unreliable on such things in the past, which he has (it's not just the Thomas confirmation). If that's "beating on him," what exactly am I allowed to say?

#83 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Hi, Dan,

I'd leave out comments like "if he promised something, I wouldn't believe it" and "he's already rolled over and shown his belly". Those constitute beating, in my book.

#84 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:00 PM:

I registered Green when I was 18 years old. I worked as a poll watcher for the greens in 2000, and I voted for Nader in that election. My reason for doing so was that I had hoped support for the greens would move the Dems left. Patrick, as you say, a left 3rd party may never have moved the Dems leftward, but I believe that Dubya moved the Republicans to the right in reaction to his father's loss to Clinton. Republicans had split and moved right, to the cost of the white house, and it did indeed move the party rightward to recapture their votes. It is a valid strategy.

That said, I voted for Kerry, and gave the man money this time around. I'm not sure if that redeems me in Teresa's eyes or not. Perhaps I'm a flip-flopper. But the 2004 election was in a gravely different context from the 2000 election. And, for the record, I've never believed "It has to get worse before it gets better."

The Democrats gave Bush the authority to wage war, and I don't believe, as Patrick does, that they did this in good faith. I believe they did it out of cowardice because they were terrified of being branded unpatriotic, and I believe they were caught up in the same Republican bloodlust that said someone, anyone, had to pay for 9/11. That talk of only authorizing Bush to pressure the UN, not to actually make war on Iraq was mushmouthed bullshit.

To look at the catastrophe of this election, and rail on the Naderites of 2000 is merely kicking the dog. Go ahead and hate us, but when you're done, put your house in order so that we can someday turn this nightmare around. I will vote for a Democrat, any Democrat, but I sure wish they would act like an opposition party.

Why did Kerry give a gracious speech encouraging bipartisanship? Everyone knows that Bush will trample on the Democrats and give us nothing for the next four years. It's time to fight them on every single thing, and to start telling the truth. We have nothing left to lose at this point.

As a green party member who crossed party lines to support Kerry with my vote and my money, I would encourage Democrats to start acting like they really believe that greens are merely left wing Democrats and start working with them. If your leadership put half the effort into working with greens as they have into working with Republicans, you'd have more suppport.

As for 2004, I simply don't understand why anyone would support Nader. The man failed to change with the times. The world changed after 9/11, and his inability to address the crisis our country is in identifies him as an incompetent leader. I would not continue to support him, but in 2000 things looked much different.

#85 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:05 PM:

Quoth Kevin Murphy:

As for "Beacon of Democracy" status, especially in the literal sense, I rather remember watching the students in Tianamen Square erecting a large styrafoam "Goddess of Democracy" with a suspicious resemblance to a certain beacon-carrying woman prominently displayed in the New York harbor.

What, the one the Dreaded French gave us? Anyone ever propose giving it back in the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" hysteria, or was her genuine Frenchness overlooked while potatoes Julienne and Mr French's toast got Bowdlerized?

On a more serious note, I would point out that the US was not a beacon of freedom and democracy to the people who chose its most symbolic and important structures to destroy. Based on those choices, the US is a beacon of capitalism and militarism. I'm not saying they were right even in that limited context, but just that they see America differently than we Americans do.

#86 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:05 PM:

The lesson Naderites are slowly learning is that the US election process is polarizing. Without a condorcet-style voting process, all elections come down to two primary candidates. And any vote for a third-party candidate is ultimately wasted.

If people want to break the two party system, the only answer is to somehow get the two current parties to change teh system such that third parties would be allowed a fair chance to compete.

While I know of no logical argument against condorcet voting, the fact that the two main parties are in power would naturally result in them ignoring any change that would reduce their monopoly.

Until then, you really have to vote for one of the two main parties.

#87 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:05 PM:

Lenny, according to this site, the top 10 most liberal Republicans in the 108th Congress were

RHODE I R CHAFEE
MAINE R SNOWE
MAINE R COLLINS
PENNSYL R SPECTER
OHIO R VOINOVICH
OHIO R DEWINE
OREGON R SMITH, GORD
MINNESO R COLEMAN
INDIANA R LUGAR
VIRGINI R WARNER

#88 ::: Damien Neil ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:18 PM:

A few weeks ago, I went back to my home town in Connecticut for a few days. (I live in California now.) I was struck by the opinions of my family and friends there on the upcoming election: Everyone I talked to had nothing but contempt for Bush; and yet, not one had a good word for Kerry. The most frequent comment I heard was a wish for more details on what Kerry would do if elected. Almost all of them voted for him, I'm certain, but reluctantly and as the best of bad alternatives.

I was saddened but unsurprised by the election results.

I hope that next time, my family has a candidate that they can vote for with enthusiasm.

#89 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:35 PM:

JVP, you might check out

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3981527.stm

for reactions of newspapers around the world.

#90 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:39 PM:
I'd leave out comments like "if he promised something, I wouldn't believe it" and "he's already rolled over and shown his belly". Those constitute beating, in my book.

On the second one, I think that's a pretty accurate description, if you look at his statements. If it is CYA, and he doesn't mean it, then he's resorted to simple lying, since the statements are pretty clear.

On the first one, well, if he does deliver on something I'll acknowledge that, but until then, his pattern is what I go by.

Finally, I think the attitude that we have to treat anyone who might possibly vote our way, if he feels like it, with kid gloves is exactly the wrong attitude to take.

#91 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 03:54 PM:

Greg London wrote:
If people want to break the two party system, the only answer is to somehow get the two current parties to change teh system such that third parties would be allowed a fair chance to compete.

This is one reason I would have been perversely gratified by a Kerry electoral win and a Bush popular win. If both parties had been burned by the electoral college in concurrent elections, there'd have been a much better chance that they'd consider working together to do something about it. As it is? Pshaw.

Of course the best possible improvement to our election system would be instant runoff voting, a la Australia and the Hugos. That still doesn't have a chance, alas. But to have Maine and Nebraska-style proportional electors catch on across the country would be a fine start as well. It's a brilliant compromise, if only everybody would agree to use it together.

#92 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:00 PM:

Hmm. I need to write a long thoughtful essay about the significance of America in my corner of the world. If I ever get around to do it.

But I found this site endlessly endearing and very, very funny.

#93 ::: Emily ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:26 PM:

No, Ashcroft et al aren't exactly a "come to the US" advertisement. But-- I'm a Canadian citizen and I've been living in the US for much of the past decade. This is the tipping point. Here's where I must decide to either go back to Canada or become a US citizen and actually take part in this democracy thing.

So help me, I'm seriously considering the latter. I feel like I would be letting someone down if I ran off without a fight.

#94 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:34 PM:

Thank you, Emily. That's really good to hear.

Of course, I'm still considering moving to Canada. Too bad my romance with that lovely man from Halifax didn't work out.

#95 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:36 PM:

Like Sean, I voted Green in 2000, and in 2004 voted for Kerry and gave the Dems money. I would never vote for Nader again.

However, one of my reactions to the Bush victory was, "Well, maybe people will stop complaining about Nader already." But some of you still seem to hold a grudge over 2000. Dare I say, get over it? Isn't 2004 bad enough?

I could go on and on about why voting for Nader in 2000 was not a crime against humanity. I decided not to rehash that. I'll just say, we have a common enemy. And it's not Nader.

#96 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:43 PM:

Before Reagan's election, the Dead Kennedys wrote "California Uber Alles" about Jerry Brown. Afterward, they changed their tune to "We've Got A Bigger Problem Now".

Coincidence? I think not.

#97 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 04:59 PM:

Dan and Mary Kay, thanks.

I've been bookmarking links from the economists we all know in the blogging community that explicitly lay out the adverse consequences of privatized social security and "simplified" tax laws. The Supreme Court is a different issue. It may require more work to turn up arguments that are palatable to the constituents of these Senators.

There's the issue of inspiring constituents in each state to write to their Senators, and there's the issue of what kinds of arguments the Senators, themselves, would be most receptive to.

I don't have much of a clue, at this point, about the political pressure points that pertain to individual Senators. Arlen Spector, we can see, because he's in the headlines. Maybe some of the others will get their backs up at the pressure that's being applied to him, instead of being beaten into line by fear. The 2006 election will obviously be a pressure point for those up for re-election. It may be too early, at this point, to get very specific about letter-writing suggestions, since there aren't any specific bills, yet, to rebut.

Congress is in session again on November 16. What Atrios has been saying suggests that these bills won't start taking shape until the new Congress meets, after January 20th. He and several others appear to be suggesting that there's not much hope of defeating whatever the Republicans come up with -- but that Democrats should, instead, concentrate on constructing sane, solid counterproposals.

I don't know. I'd like to investigate the possibility that there are some Republicans who might, as fiscal conservaties, oppose the Social Security and Tax Reform schemes. The Supreme Court issue looks like it will be another battlefront that requires different tactics.

I don't have any ideas, right now, about the overarching, appalling war issue -- except the same old Vietnam-era ones. Someone in one of these threads was talking about Democrats "impaling themselves on the sword of the enemy" to slow them up. I've been thinking about that a bit.

#98 ::: Brett Matthews ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:02 PM:

In 2000 I voted for Nader. This year I took the bitter pill and voted for Kerry. Why? Because sometimes you have to sacrifice long-term goals for short-term gains.

The Democrats just don't understand our (the Green's) thinking; so let me try to explain…

First, we believe that the two party system has utterly failed. The system is broken. We don't have representational government anymore. Power resides not on the right or the left, but on Wall Street. Who set our energy policy? Why did the ban on assault weapons fail when both parties as well as Bush supposedly supported an extension? Explain to me the benefits of having an extreme excess of pork going to corporations in our spending and tax bills when our economy is suffering? Look at the ridiculous redistricting games both parties play. It’s shameful.

Second, we are trying to change the system through evolution rather than revolution. We are trying to show the Democrats that we are here to stay, and we are on your side if you just let us speak. But no, the Democrats don't get it. Greg London states that: "The lesson Naderites are slowly learning is that the US election process is polarizing… And any vote for a third-party candidate is ultimately wasted."

No its not. Greg himself provides the rationale himself in his next paragraph: "If people want to break the two party system, the only answer is to somehow get the two current parties to change the system such that third parties would be allowed a fair chance to compete."

Exactly! How do we force the Democrats to change the system? If we had instant runoff or preference voting in 2000, then Nader's votes would have gone to Gore, and he would be president. If the Democrats continue to lose elections because the Green party takes some of the left votes away, then eventually the Democrats will see the light and introduce legislation to allow preference voting. Then all of those "green" votes on the left will go to the Dems.

So in 2000, a short-term gain would be for me to vote for Gore. (A vote far better than Bush, but a vote that perpetuates the two-party system) But I opted for the long-term goal of breaking the two party system by voting for Nader, thus showing the Democrats that it is in their own best interest to have preference voting. But this year, I, like many Greens, gave up our long-term goals and voted for Kerry because we thought that the stakes were too high. But alas, the Democrats are clueless when it comes to beating the Republicans—this time we gave you our votes and you still lost. Get it together.

#99 ::: tiercel ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Wanted to point out sorryeverybody.com for those who haven't seen it yet. It's running pretty slow right now, but it's worth a glance.

#100 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:36 PM:

To Laura, and to many other dearly-loved friends of mine that she reminds me of:

Not repeating mistakes is good. Thank you. Being able to admit that you made them would be even better. If you want to be part of the reality-based community, you have to accept reality into your life. That means, first and foremost, understanding and admitting the real consequences of your own actions. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is important, because of who we are, and who are enemies are. If you think we are united by the policies we mutually support, you are wrong. Liberalism is not a laundry list. We are united by a commitment to reason, conscience, and fairness. Our enemies are united by their commitment to authoritarian hierarchy, which trumps reason with power and denies the consequences. You will notice I mentioned conscience, and you may feel that you voted your conscience in 2000, and I will grant you that, but you should consider that reason and fairness are sharp blades that cut both ways. Not that I am asking you to commit seppuku. It would be enough if you could stop telling us to stop blaming. It isn't like we have been blaming you for everything, and none of us are perfect or completely undeserving of blame. If we can learn from our mistakes, we can move on and not have to talk about them so much. If we can't, then it's denial and the conversation will remain stuck in it until the last of us is out. This happens to be a particularly bad time to engage in denial, because we just got run over by a major fraction of the country that is practicing deep denial as a way of life.

#101 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:36 PM:

(I seem to recall that Sununu, at least, has shown some evidence of not being a Bush lickspittle).

Actually, in the sins of the fathers department, I'd say Sununu would probably rather enjoy doing something to stymie George HW Bush's son.

#102 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:44 PM:

My grieving process is over. I'm calling for a general strike.

#103 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 05:51 PM:

TomB wrote:
Liberalism is not a laundry list. We are united by a commitment to reason, conscience, and fairness. Our enemies are united by their commitment to authoritarian hierarchy, which trumps reason with power and denies the consequences.

Funny how everybody of every ideology always says something like the above. The party of "reason," "fairness," and individuality is always your own; the other party is always committed to some form of hivethought that trumps logic.

Listen to Hannity or Limbaugh sometime and think seriously about the things they say about liberals. Of course it's all bullshit; that's not the point. The point is that the Us-and-Them rhetoric sounds the same on both sides of the fence. If your persuasion consists of "Well, we're the smarties and they're the dummies, and if you can't see that you must be a dummy," you'll never reach a single person who doesn't already agree with you.

#104 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:04 PM:

TomB again:
It would be enough if you could stop telling us to stop blaming. It isn't like we have been blaming you for everything, and none of us are perfect or completely undeserving of blame.

Oh yeah, and I was never a Nader supporter, so I don't think you were talking to me, but... Yeah. Quit blaming people already. What's the good? Even if it's what you think, it looks terrible.

The point is political reality, right? That's what y'all keep yelling at the Nader people about? I'm pretty much with Scalzi on this. Whatever you need to get out of your system, get it out. But if you're going to spend the next four years spitting venom at everyone who approaches you with a question, then 2008 is just going to be a lot more of the same.

#105 ::: James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:13 PM:

Brett:

I'm going to be perhaps exessively direct here:

Its not that we don't understand your goals. Its not that we can't understand your methods. Its that your methods are utterly at odds with the underlying realities of the american electoral system. This offends those of us in the reality based community.

(Fundamentally, third parties are non-viable in our system because the formation of our goverment is not closely coupled to the legislative elections. Note that all the nations with mulitple parties have some member of the legislature in a position of serious executive power).

The reason we get so pissy about this is because ignorance held to with sufficent determination qualifies as an act of will.

#106 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:29 PM:

Conservatives aren't dumb. They just use their intelligence to uphold the authoritarian hierarchies that they cherish so much. Liberalism isn't only about reason -- that's why I included conscience and fairness. To be more precise, I should have said individual conscience and broadly-based fairness. Conservatism isn't totally lacking in the concepts of individualism, conscience, and fairness, but they constrain it within the dictates of the hierarchy so that it never offers the same potential for good and protection from tyranny that liberalism does.

As for "never reach a single person who doesn't already agree with you", it had not occurred to me that my posting on Teresa's blog makes me an official spokes-person for the Left, with the task of bringing all the sinners and the clueless over to the light. I mean, do they even read this blog? And if they did, what makes you think that any of them are going to change their minds even if I wrote brilliantly? If you want brilliant writing, what Teresa wrote is right up there at the top. I'm just helping to put away the leftovers and tidy up.

Sheesh.

By the way, "liberalism is not a laundry list" was sparked by recent essays that the Democrats should choose some issues to give up on, specifically suggesting abortion and gay rights. I think that would be deeply wrong, that the worst thing we could do to the party would be to give up on its principles. So I guess it has principles.

#107 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:34 PM:

"I am not one of those who believe that a great army is the means of maintaining peace, because if you build up a great profession those who form parts of it want to exercise their profession."

Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 28th US president, Nobel laureate

----

from:
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War

Apathy and Enthusiasm.
(1860-1.)
by Herman Melville

I.
O the clammy cold November,
And the winter white and dead,
And the terror dumb with stupor,
And the sky a sheet of lead;
And events that came resounding
With the cry that All was lost,
Like the thunder-cracks of massy ice
In intensity of frost—
Bursting one upon another
Through the horror of the calm.
The paralysis of arm
In the anguish of the heart;
And the hollowness and dearth.
The appealings of the mother
To brother and to brother
Not in hatred so to part—
And the fissure in the hearth
Growing momently more wide.
Then the glances 'tween the Fates,
And the doubt on every side,
And the patience under gloom
In the stoniness that waits
The finality of doom....

[from his own footnotes:

"Let us pray that the terrible historic tragedy of our time may not have been enacted without instructing our whole beloved country through terror and pity; and may fulfillment verify in the end those expectations which kindle the bards of Progress and Humanity."]

#108 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 06:51 PM:

The point is political reality, right? That's what y'all keep yelling at the Nader people about?

No, the point is actual reality. We need to be able to talk about what actually happened to get us into this fix. Specifically, we need to talk about mistakes we have made, and mistakes our friends have made. It's no fun, and I understand that some people don't want to go there. That doesn't make it yelling.

When the Nader people stop lecturing me on how there is no difference between my party and a gang of slimy, utterly corrupt, dishonest, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive, violent thugs, then I will stop telling that they are mistaken.

When the Nader people stop lecturing me that I should stop blaming them for 2000, that they had absolutely nothing to do with Bush winning, and besides Gore ran a shitty campaign, then I will stop telling them that the numbers tell a different story.

I'm sorry if you don't like that. At least I'm not shrill.

#109 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:03 PM:

" We were a constant referendum on and demonstration of the idea that liberty, equality, and government by the consent of the governed are not only possible, but work better than elitist kleptocracies."

And we will be still, alas.

#110 ::: Scott Drone-Silvers ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 07:08 PM:

Thank you, Steve Eley! You have put into words some feelings that I've been having on the sub-atomic level for a while now.

I guess I've had my angry, cathartic exchanges already. It's time to move forward and do what we can do to prevent a 3rd straight Republican presidency. That means (to me, anyway) convincing more moderate Bush supporters that we have more to offer them than the other guys do. We aren't going to do that by telling them that they are idiots.

Thanks for your 'blog, Teresa. Whether I always agree with the sentiments here or not, the level of passion I see here encourages me immensely. When we stop caring, we really have lost.

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 09:45 PM:

Brett: to put it a bit more factually than a previous commenter:
- If the Democrats are out of power, they can't get runoff voting passed; the Republicans won't let them get an edge. (And if the left edge keeps peeling away or sitting out, the Democrats are unlikely ever to return to power. If the party of that name gets back to power, it won't be recognizable and it will have even less time for your beliefs.)
- If the Democrats are in power, why would they give an edge to a third party?

Can you explain how your strategy would ever work in the real world?

#112 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 10:33 PM:

I will try to explain this in good faith, i.e. from the standpint that you are actually interested in hearing what a green has to say rather than dismiss it as being out of touch with reality.

From the perspective of 2000, Gore and Bush didn't look that different. I had no idea that 9/11 would happen and that we'd be in the situation we are now? Did anyone? I mean, this truly has been a nightmare and it's getting worse daily. As soon as we had another opportunity, me and the other former Nader supporters on this thread gave money to the Dems and voted for Kerry.

Your loss has been our loss, we feel it just as poignantly as you do, and it affects us just as much as it affects you. For me, your self-righteous anger coupled with the Republican joy carries quite a sting. Again, I feel like you are coming home from a bad day at the election and kicking the dog, the only political players in this arena who are bigger losers than the Democrats are the Greens. Everything that we had hoped to accomplish has been demolished, and those of us who defected to try to limit Bush's power are pariahs in your party, despite our support in the 2004 election.

#113 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:05 PM:

Sean and others: I voted for neither Gore nor Bush in 2000, thinking them not wildly different, so I can address. Yes, the information was out there, and those of us who ignored it, we were wrong. I was wrong. I dismissed the people most informed about Bush's history and the records of the people around him as "shrill" and things like that. In some cases I said things like "that's just conspiracy-mongering", ignoring my own hard-earned knowledge that people do sometimes act in conspiratorial ways and that the category of malefactors of great wealth had not been abolished. I was too prepared to play cynical games of moral equivalency for reasons different in inspiration than those of Nader supporters, but functionally wrong in precisely the same way, and I let it distract me from even the sort of effort I put into evaluating candidates for local offices, let alone someone who's going to be boss of the biggest center of power in the world. I am not being facetious when I say that I regard some significant fraction of any good I may be able to do or support now as atonement for that terribly damaging act of unjustified cynical detachment. I wasn't the only one who fucked up big-time that way, but I'm one who did, and man do I regret it now.

Our hosts were among those who were entirely right about it, and said so, and pointed the rest of us at evidence in favor of their assertions. It wasn't lack of evidence that made some of us refuse to pay attention. It was just refusal to pay attention, an unwillingness to make distinctions in the pursuit of an ideal alternative. But it doesn't matter how noble our intentions may have been. The fact is that we turned away from reality, and yes, we were warned and informed at the time.

There is also a simple and solid logic in putting particular weight on the failure of judgment on the part of people like you and me. We are not theocrats, nor plutocrats, nor foes of modernity. We profess to want equality of opportunity, the reduction of oligarchical power, peace, security for people with minority desires and lifestyles, and a bunch else that's been savaged and will be savaged more. We were concerned with reducing the power of precisely the people who ended up in charge. We weren't indifferent to what was at stake, but we didn't back up our concerns with anything like adequate attention. We should have supported Gore and opposed Bush. We went AWOL at a time when it really mattered...and while we couldn't have seen the specifics of 9/11 or anything like that, the policies and hopes of this crew were out there to see. Bush's record as governor, the careers of Cheney and the others, it was there to know, and we let down our ideals by declining to know it and act on it.

It's certainly good we got clues later on. But we will always be in order in displaying a certain humility in listening to those who got it right the first time around.

#114 ::: Lisa Loren ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2004, 11:41 PM:

TomB said: Liberalism isn't only about reason -- that's why I included conscience and fairness. To be more precise, I should have said individual conscience and broadly-based fairness.

No matter what qualifiers you put before them, reason, conscience, and fairness aren't principles, they're rhetoric. They sound very nice--and who would say they don't believe in conscience, or fairness?--but they don't describe anything meaningful. I don't disagree that liberalism should stand for more than a messy pack of causes-du-jour, but our "principles" can't boil down to "we are the good, ethical people because we said so".

#115 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:00 AM:

Brett Matthews wrote:
(a bunch of my stuff out of context)

I know this guy, see, and at one point, he's ranting and raving about how horrible the two main candidates were. He comes up with what he considered to be the perfect solution: He wasn't going to vote at all.

his attitude was "That'll show them."

You're approach to vote for a third party is the same.

What you and my rather dense and bull-headed friend totally FAIL to acknowlege is that your actions have no effect on who actually ends up in power.

Voting for Nader DOES NOTHING to the power structure. When Bush wins, he doesn't think "oh, gee, I really shouldn't have won because 5% voted for Nader, I better be on my best behaviour"

No, if Bush wins because 5% voted for Nader and lost the election for his Democratic opponent, Bush's thought is "sorry bastards".

Naderites fail to grok the defintion of strategic voting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_voting

"a voter misrepresents his or her sincere preferences in order to gain a more favorable outcome."

In the current election system, your sincere preference may be Nader, but if you want to actually have a favorable outcome in the election, you need to vote for one of the two main parties.

That's just the way it works. That's the reality of not having a condorcet voting method. And any talk otherwise is talking against reality.

"the two party system has utterly failed." -- Uhm, yeah, so? Until you change to a condorcet system, you are not voting with reality. The reality is America has a simple majority wins system. If you vote any other way, you might as well be like my buddy and not vote at all. That'll show them.

"We are trying to show the Democrats that we are here to stay" -- Hm, interesting strategy. You burn your vote on Nader, cause the Democrats to lose the election. Put a republican in office. And your strategy is that NEXT election, maybe the democrats will come round to your line of thinking? Do you realize how nuts that is?

"I opted for the long-term goal of breaking the two party system by voting for Nader" -- HOW??? It doesn't change the voting system. It still is simple-majority-wins. It isn't condorcet. The best you could ever possibly hope to accomplish is to pull the Democrats party line slightly to the Nader point of view to try and appease some possible Nader voters. But that just means the Naderites get absorbed into the Democratic party. It's still a two-party system.

#116 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 02:40 AM:

Those weren’t just empty words. America really was a beacon of hope, and a constant encouragement to good guys everywhere.

Er, really not.

#117 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:40 AM:

I don't disagree that liberalism should stand for more than a messy pack of causes-du-jour, but our "principles" can't boil down to "we are the good, ethical people because we said so".

I really don't think I was being that simplistic or that arrogant. I've gone through a couple of drafts trying to explain what I meant, in more detail, but it keeps coming out as lecturing about things that are already obvious, and that's not what I want to do either.

The problem with the terms I used is not that they are lacking in meaning, but that you don't know whether to trust me, and you don't know whether my use of the terms is empty rhetoric or not. Maybe I am not using the right buzzwords.

If you think that conscience isn't a principle, what about religious freedom, intellectual freedom, the right to protest, the right to express yourself your own way, to be your own person regardless of what others think. Maybe it isn't the best single word. Do you have a better one? Something that isn't a rambling sentence?

To me, reason is about thinking things through, not blindly following authority. Testing assumptions, demanding evidence. Questioning ones own prejudices. Using the scientific method. Being reality-based. If you have a good buzzword for this idea complex, or can explain it better than me, please do.

I really thought fairness was a principle. The current formula seems to be "if you work hard and play by the rules," then you should get a square deal. I think that's right, even if it didn't win the election.

I think that liberalism is the best political system because I think that talent is spread essentially randomly through society, as is also the ability to make good political judgements. Liberalism optimizes the development of talent and the making of political decisions by spreading power roughly evenly. It isn't perfect, but at least it doesn't insist that concentrated power in some elite (executives, party, aristocracy, theocracy) is necessary for the proper functioning of society.

#118 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:40 AM:

Bruce, well said. I accept that and readily admit I was horribly wrong to vote Nader in 2000.

I was up last night losing sleep over this thread, a sure sign of internet craziness. But here goes.

In 2000 we "Naderites" made a grave mistake. We deserved every bit of spleen that was vented at us for the four years that ensued. I admire Teresa and Patrick and many of the posters on these blogs a great deal. In part because of the Bush calamity, and because of the well-reasoned arguments that the Goreists made, I and many others changed our positions.

I was proud to take up common cause with the Kerryists. I thought we were marching shoulder to shoulder to put Kerry in office and send Bush back to Texas. We suffered a gruesome defeat, and as the dust settles, suddenly the very people with which I had voted, marched, and contributed to the Democratic cause have turned on me "angry enought to spit" and tell me I will "never be forgiven."

Yes, I sowed the seeds of this disunity. But 2000 is over, we lost 2004 together. It's a horrible situation we're in, but we Naderites abandoned that cause and carry your standard now. I would be proud continue the struggle and get the Republicans out. Please don't spit at me.

#119 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:48 AM:

I'm still grieving also. I feel like I ought to wear a black pin, like the bereaved do, for the next four years. Does anyone know where I can get a good "mourning for america pin"? Or mourning for the world?

I voted for Kerry even though my heart belongs to the environmentalists. I think the environment has lost the most -- 4 more years of Bush's attack on the environment. I don't mean to sound callous, but people have been killing and oppressing people since forever, whereas environmental issues are quickly moving from the "important but not urgent column to the "urgent and important" column.

One of the things Lakoff points out is that the idea of a divided America plays into Republcan's hands. That's why they love "wedge" issues. I would love to see the Democrats re-uniting with the Greens and taking stronger stands on the environment.

#120 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:50 AM:

I really don't have much to add to what TomB has said here:

We need to be able to talk about what actually happened to get us into this fix. Specifically, we need to talk about mistakes we have made, and mistakes our friends have made. It's no fun, and I understand that some people don't want to go there. That doesn't make it yelling.
When the Nader people stop lecturing me on how there is no difference between my party and a gang of slimy, utterly corrupt, dishonest, racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive, violent thugs, then I will stop telling that they are mistaken.
When the Nader people stop lecturing me that I should stop blaming them for 2000, that they had absolutely nothing to do with Bush winning, and besides Gore ran a shitty campaign, then I will stop telling them that the numbers tell a different story.
I'm sorry if you don't like that.

Elsewhere, Brett Matthews explains:

How do we force the Democrats to change the system? If we had instant runoff or preference voting in 2000, then Nader's votes would have gone to Gore, and he would be president. If the Democrats continue to lose elections because the Green party takes some of the left votes away, then eventually the Democrats will see the light and introduce legislation to allow preference voting. Then all of those "green" votes on the left will go to the Dems.
Also, there'll be a lake of stew, and ginger ale too, and you can paddle all around it in a big canoe, in the big rock candy mountain. I'm sorry I can't feign respect for this kind of political fantasy, but that's life. The effects you hypothesize for your proposed actions are not the effects your actions would have.

I'm all for various procedural reforms--preferential voting is a personal favorite, not least because Teresa and I are among the small number of Americans who actually know how to administer such a system--but holding out for procedural optimization when the enemy army is building siege engines around your walls is folly.

There's a reason Teresa and I keep harping on the Nader factor, and it isn't just out of some vicious desire to kick the three-legged dog. No, Nader's votes didn't make the difference this time. But they're definitely what got us into this mess in the first place. There is a kind of Nader supporter who consistently wants to be treated as simply another species of progressive ally, extra-chromosome liberals, as it were. They're not. They, and people who think this poorly, are part of the problem. They're not allies, they're tools of the bad guys, and their willingness to be used as such means they need to be regarded with wary suspicion. I'm sorry if this is poor outreach, but a functional political "popular front" needs people who specialize in reaching out to the chronically foolish, and it also needs people who anatomize foolishness without mercy. I'm not very good at the former, much though I respect those who are. In the wake of last Tuesday I'm not very confident that my own attempts to be analytical are worth much, but I only have the one brain and that seems to be what I do.

(I am not talking about people like Sean Bosker, any more than I'm talking about Bruce Baugh. We've all cast votes we've later come to regret. The question is whether we pay attention to what happens outside our skulls, or just refine further on political fantasies with no discernable relationship to how the world works. Yes, everybody has a different view of what qualifies as what. Nobody gets a pass for meaning well.)

#121 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 10:53 AM:

"I don't mean to sound callous, but people have been killing and oppressing people since forever, whereas environmental issues are quickly moving from the 'important but not urgent' column to the 'urgent and important' column."

Immediate, non-analytical, and deeply-felt response: eeeuw.

Suddenly I'm reminded of why, in some of left-wing SF author Ken MacLeod's futures, hardcore environmentalists are among the enemy.

(Yes, climate change is important, may kill us all, etc. Still: "people have been killing and oppressing people since forever, whereas..." Eeeuw.)

#122 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:08 AM:

It's interesting that Ken MacLeod has the Greens as bad guys in some of his stuff (not all, at least one shows a cool society after a Green victory), as the last time I met Green bad guys it was in Oath of Fealty by Niven and Pournelle, who are, shall we say, not as left wing as Ken.

#123 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:12 AM:

TomB wrote:
The problem with the terms I used is not that they are lacking in meaning, but that you don't know whether to trust me, and you don't know whether my use of the terms is empty rhetoric or not. Maybe I am not using the right buzzwords.

No, the problem is that everyone is using the same buzzwords, and that sucks all the energy out of them. The conservatives give themselves the exact same praise, in exactly the same sense, and they say the liberals are the ones who are against reason, fairness, and individuality. And they have examples to support them. Really, they do. They aren't comprehensive examples, but in the right mouth they can sound pretty convincing. In general they're better at it than liberals. Anyone who sounds so confident has got to be right.

So what's a poor confused moderate to do? The only sane course is to ignore the buzzwords, and to write off everyone who paints the conflict in such simple Good Guys vs. Bad Guys terms. If you want to show someone in the middle that your philosophy is better, you need to give specific policy statements, with your reasons behind them. It's not about who's "fairest," it's about what each side intends to do and how they intend to do it.

And to address a comment of yours further upthread: yes, you are a spokesperson for the left. The conservatives have their ears perked way up right now for examples of liberal extremism or irrationality. (I've heard Barbara Streisand's entry on her Web site mocked three times this morning alone, quoting Jefferson's "reign of witches" snippet out of context.) And I can tell you they're having a field day, too, with all the finger-pointing and divisiveness.

You have no idea who's listening. Anything you say can be used against you...or might convince someone to think about something new. You may not accept the responsibility, but you have the capability.

#124 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:14 AM:

TomB said:

Not repeating mistakes is good. Thank you. Being able to admit that you made them would be even better.

I knew that was coming. Sorry. I have not sinned, I do not atone.

I made a decision to vote for Nader. Then I made another decision not to. I did not "realize my mistake." Gore won in my state, by the way. My personal vote did not damage him at all. And I considered that before I voted. Please don't lump all Nader voters together as political naifs or people who really wanted Bush to win.

If you think we are united by the policies we mutually support, you are wrong.

Well, we're not likely to be united by much else. If "we" (whoever you mean by that) can't work with people who disagree with us, we are all in big trouble. Disagreements are going to happen. For instance, I don't even agree with everything other people in the Green Party say.

Disagreements are painful and uncomfortable. I don't have the solution. But I've heard about too many movements that were destroyed by internal dissension and "trashing." It's obviously a serious problem.

Personally, I am allergic to marching in lockstep. Saying "we all have to hold exactly the same positions on everything" sounds like those hierarchical authoritarian people we all dislike so much.

When the Nader people stop lecturing me that I should stop blaming them for 2000 . . .

Unfortunately, when people start talking about blame, it turns into an all-or-nothing thing. "You blame me for everything." "Don't blame me for anything." It's hard to find any middle ground there. And it's easy to point out the flaws of others, while making excuses for our own.

Shit happened in 2000. We can all learn from it.

#125 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:18 AM:

And, you know . . . attacking each other only helps our real enemy.

#126 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 11:21 AM:

"They're not allies, they're tools of the bad guys, and their willingness to be used as such means they need to be regarded with wary suspicion."

I get this. My big mistake in supporting Nader in 2000 was not understanding the stakes. I misunderstimated Dubya, and my feeble attempt to spank Gore boomeranged. I begin to understand how the communists who voted for Hitler must have gone through when the reality of their new fuhrer dawned on them.

The fact that republicans were underwriting Nader this time around should have taught him something. I was despondent after the election, but now I'm just really pissed off. We must fight Bush together, and any Greens who still think that pulling the lever for anyone other than a Democrat is progressive, I implore you to join me. We have to do this one step at a time, we have to do the next right thing, which means eroding Republican power by building Democratic power.

#127 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 12:00 PM:

The connections between Green parties and the Left/Right is at least as strange as that between Libertarian and Left/Right.

As I understand it, in the USA, Libertarian is associated with the Right, while in Europe, Libertarian is associated with the Left.

In Europe, there are Red/Green coalitions of importance. In the USA, the Right accuses American Greens of being far-Left, while this thread in Making Light smacks of an accusation that American Greens have foolishly (if inadvertantly) aided the far-Right.

Since you mention Pournelle, I rather like the analysis that he and Posony gave of a 2-dimensional graph of State vs. Individual as one axis, and Rational vs. Irrational as the other axis. This makes much more sense to me than the 1-dimensional Left-Right analysis which goes back to seating arrangements in the French Revolution. The Pournelle-Posony analysis properly separates, for instance, Objectivists from Libertarians.

I believe that the Nielsen Haydens are at the very Rational end of the Rational vs. Irrational axis, and relatively centrist on the State vs. Individual axis. Ralph Nader, as I understand him, is also at (he thinks) the very Rational end of the Rational vs. Irrational axis, but at the just-short-of-anarchist Individualist extreme of State vs. Individual axis, having identified the State with the large Corporations at which teat Bush et al suckle more greedily than do the Democrats.

Rational vs. Irrational does NOT mean whether you yourself are one or the other, but whether you advocated Rational (debate) or Irrational (terrorist) means to achieve your ideological objectives.

To the extent that it follows Science (i.e. latest results on Global Warming), the Greens are very Rational in discourse, whereas Deep Greens who burn down buiuldings or SUVs (the Caltech Physics grad student now on trial for eco-terrorism) are very Irrational.

Does this help?

#128 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 12:04 PM:

Niven and Pournelle, who are, shall we say, not as left wing as Ken.

Hmm. Or Genghis Khan, AFAICT.

I may have "cast votes I later came to regret," but not for President. Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry. Nope, nothing to regret on any of those.

Wellll...after Clinton took my state by some huge margin in 1996, I briefly considered whether I should have showed my displeasure with him over the DOMA and DADT by voting for someone else. But I decided not.

That's not to say I have no sympathy for recovering Nader voters. I do. I particularly direct their attention to steps 8, 9, and 10. I think working hard for Kerry this time should count for SOMETHING toward "making amends."

#129 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Immediate, non-analytical, and deeply-felt response: eeeuw.

Good thing I'm not a politician, because foot in mouth and all. I did sound like I don't care about social justice, when it's one thing I do care about immensely.

Maybe this explains it better. When I lived in Manila, if I had to choose between giving my money to fighting Abu Sayyaf or cleaning up the raw sewage in the Pasig river, I'd pick the Pasig. But if I had to pick between giving my money to a street kid so she had something to eat today at least, and cleaning up the Pasig, I'd give my money to the street kid. Those two are pretty clear cut, but there a lot of gray in between. What about street kid and donating to the 3rd party election observers when one of the reasons the kid is on the street is because government is riddled with corruption and there's are no govt programs to help these kids?

The state of the environemnt now, I think, is at the point that quite soon, it will deeply impact social justice. The rich will always have enough resources to come out on top. The poor and middle-class will suffer the most. Poverty and injustice and pollution/exploitation are all partners together, in my world-view.

I don't know if that made sense.

#130 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:03 PM:

Rational (debate) or Irrational (terrorist)

Would Violent vs. Non-Violent be a clearer distinction? Something about that doesn't quite track for me.

#131 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:33 PM:

Laura Roberts:

Good question. Jerry Pournelle isn't really speaking with me lately, but I wonder too. People can differ in good faith about, for instance, would it have been rational to assassinate Hitler.

#132 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:41 PM:

JVP said:

would it have been rational to assassinate Hitler.

Good point. And reminds me somehow of the line fron Starship Troopers (paraphrased):

"Violence never solves anything."
"Tell that to the Carthaginians."

Which side of that debate is the rational one?

Now I'm wondering if the distinction is between "working inside the system" vs. "working from outside the system." Maybe that should be a third axis.

#133 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Would Violent vs. Non-Violent be a clearer distinction? Something about that doesn't quite track for me.

I like it better. Rational vs Irrational very much depends on context. It would have been irrational for Filipinos to have used debate against the Japanese when they were invaded in 1943 (although puppet president Laurel held a different opinion); but it was quite rational of them to use peaceful rallies against Marcos in 1986.

#134 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 03:43 PM:

You know, it's interesting - I've been hearing calls for the left to moderate its tone, message, manners from the "center" and the lefter-than-thou. One wants us to be more accommodating to the far right, and one to the far left.

The call from the center seems to rest on the assumption that when threatened with overwhelming financial advantage, control of the media, thuggery and the politics of personal destruction from the right, the reason politicians and voters move (incrementally) right is incivility on the left.

The call from the left seems to rest on the assumption that the reason the far right fringe is getting away with this kind of behavior is because they dare greatly, not because they spent thirty years of hard gruntwork building a political organization.

Honestly, I don't find either of those assumptions particularly compelling.

#135 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:48 PM:

julia wrote:
The call from the center seems to rest on the assumption that when threatened with overwhelming financial advantage, control of the media, thuggery and the politics of personal destruction from the right, the reason politicians and voters move (incrementally) right is incivility on the left.

Actually, this is a very good point. And no, I don't think the left's incivility made people move right. FUD did that, and everything you mention above contributes to FUD.

I do, however, think the left's incivility is going to present a barrier to people moving left. So is the fact that the left is showing a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt, exactly as the right wanted.

#136 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2004, 04:56 PM:

I wrote:
I do, however, think the left's incivility is going to present a barrier to people moving left. So is the fact that the left is showing a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt, exactly as the right wanted.

A followup thought on this.

Today's conservatives have an inherent personality advantage when it comes to public persuasion: they are very, very sure of themselves. Whatever they're saying, they can make it sound as if it's the most reasonable thing in the world. Some public liberals can pull that off too (Clinton of course, Michael Moore, most of the party's great African-American orators) but many tend to come across as being either querulous and twitchy, or purely angry. Either way, they sound like they want to argue. Conservatives just want to tell you what's what.

I voted for John Edwards in the primary because he knew how to fight FUD, keep smiling, and sound sure of himself. That may have been a mistake; he's kind of a dingbat otherwise, and the VP debates convinced me that he probably wasn't presidential material yet. But I think if he could have parried the obvious charges of inexperience, he'd have gotten in front of the public better than Kerry did.

#137 ::: Francis Deblauwe ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 12:58 AM:

My quick 2 cents as a Belgian living in the US for 10 years now. No, I never considered the US a beacon of democracy or something like that---not a totalitarian hell either. I guess I felt that the US had about as democratic a system as could be expected from a supersized country with superpower status, meaning less so than my native Belgium, small (10 million people) and with no illusions of grandeur of any kind (having been overrun by foreign armies time and again will do that to you). The larger the scale, the harder it is to be truly democratic because money and organization start to overwhelm ideas and communication and genuine compromise. Also, larger countries tend to project themselves more and more outside their borders, creating the need for more and more military assets to the detriment of more social and cultural priorities. Power concentrates in the hands of the few, inequality grows, etc.

About the Greens: lay off already, Teresa! I admire your site, Teresa, but I can't comprehend the animus about the Greens. If I had been allowed to vote, I would've considered Nader in 2000 but probably voted Gore anyway, and this year I would've definitely voted Kerry and not even given Cobb and most certainly Nader not a look. By the way, I actually did volunteer work for a political campaign for the 1st time since living in the US this time: Kerry Edwards. The anger of this horrible November 2 should be channeled in a more positive direction, away from Trotskyite factional warfare!

One more thing: yes, it's horrifying to think what harm can come to the fabric and institutions of this country but please also give more than a passing thought to what the people in Iraq have to look forward to. As I said to friends in March 2003 at the start of the war, there were no more good solutions left for Iraq, only bad ones and worse ones. Tens of 1,000s of dead later and an invaluable archaeological heritage still being destroyed site by site, I'm afraid even the solutions imagined earlier were great compared to what is still left now with the Bush policies "approved" by the ballot.

#138 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:16 AM:

I still think Nader voters who don't believe in the doctrine of collapse and revolution owe the rest of us an apology for helping tip things in 2000...

Bruce, I apologise. Had I known what the consequences of my actions would have been at the time, I would have voted for Gore. In my defense, I was younger and less worldly than I am now and I lived in a dedicated Red State (GA) and knew that my vote would be ignored due to the intricate bafoonery of our elctoral process (at least in the state of Georgia, votes for anyone but a Republican are pretty much tossed in the trash). Still, this year I voted for Kerry. For all the good it did.

Bush voters are, likewise, at the top of my list, which will make Christmas with the in-laws rather uncomfortable.

#139 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:44 AM:

I voted for John Edwards in the primary because he knew how to fight FUD, keep smiling, and sound sure of himself. That may have been a mistake; he's kind of a dingbat otherwise, and the VP debates convinced me that he probably wasn't presidential material yet. But I think if he could have parried the obvious charges of inexperience, he'd have gotten in front of the public better than Kerry did.

Steve,

A)How, exactly, is John Edwards a "dingbat"?

B)Is calling John Edwards a "dingbat" an example of the kind of civility you want from "the left" ?

#140 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 09:45 AM:

From the hated Salon:

There's something almost pathological about Democrats' fascination with Nader. As loopy as he has become, he still haunts their party like some combination of bad conscience and repressed Freudian desires. Virtually everything Nader says about the institutional Democratic Party's corruption, its soullessness and its abandonment of its roots is true. Furthermore, most Democrats to the left of Zell Miller know it's true at some level, and it is endless, self-lacerating torture for them.

That explains why I decided to join the Democratic Party this year.

#141 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 10:15 AM:

But of course, Salon. We got a good look last Tuesday at how accurate the chattering classes are in their assessment of what constitutes "orthodoxy" outside of their circle of acquaintance. No wonder our professional contrarians spend so much time fighting the power by latching on to the corrective freshness of conservative spin.

Christopher Hitchens *is* druggy old dying Elvis starring in the Ford's Dinner Theater production of The Wild Ones. What are you rebelling against? The stultifying effect of orthodoxy. I want it clearly understood, though, that I'm do not support the people I'm fighting alongside. We're just shooting at the same people.

#142 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 10:17 AM:

um, that would be I do not

#143 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 02:50 PM:

On the second coordinate of the political spectrum:

Political Compass (http://www.politicalcompass.org/) offers an Economic Left/Right scale and a Social Libertarian/Authoritarian one. The German Green Party rates economically centrist to slightly-left, social libertarian.

Just my 2 cents...

#144 ::: Eric Sadoyama ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 03:09 PM:

Ted Rall has a great entry in the "not very constructive but it feels so good to vent" column.

#145 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Lis Carey wrote:
A)How, exactly, is John Edwards a "dingbat"?

I have heard, anecdotally but from multiple sources, that he is not well-regarded in his home state because it's believed that he spent more of his one senate term working on his presidential bid than he spent working for North Carolina. I heard this from liberals, BTW.

I was also rather unimpressed with his fumbling, repetitive showing in the VP debate, and with his relative invisibility during the latter half of the campaign. Kerry distinguished himself quite a lot by including Edwards in everything he said -- "Our Plan for America," etc. Bush didn't do that. Points to Kerry/Edwards. But whereas Cheney was used quite effectively as an attack dog to say things that Bush couldn't say, I can't remember Edwards getting any messages out or doing anything to add positivity, charisma, or Southern appeal to the campaign (which was what he was picked for, wasn't it?) Perhaps I just missed it or was watching the wrong channels that day.

Don't get me wrong, I do pretty much like the guy. As I said, I supported him against Kerry. (Although by the time the Georgia primaries rolled around, there wasn't really any stopping Kerry.) I'm just concerned, in retrospect, that he wasn't much of an asset. He wasn't quite useless in the Dan Quayle sense -- I'm certain he's a lot smarter -- but he did remind me of Quayle a couple of times. And I'm not sure what he did to compensate for the easy "trial lawyer" jab from the right. He certainly didn't deflect it.


B)Is calling John Edwards a "dingbat" an example of the kind of civility you want from "the left" ?

Why not? I never said you couldn't criticize public figures. Call George Bush an idiot, call him whatever you want, so long as you have facts on hand to justify it. My point on the "civility" thing was only that it's poor tactics to call every single person who votes for Bush or Nader an idiot. At least, it is if you want them to consider voting your way next time.

#146 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 03:39 PM:

I believe the facts in the case of Mr. Bush have been more than adequately established. If we had to re-establish the point every time we called him an idiot, we'd get criticized for our relentless negativity about him.

#147 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Lis Carey wrote:
A)How, exactly, is John Edwards a "dingbat"?

Steve Eley wrote:
I have heard, anecdotally but from multiple sources, that he is not well-regarded in his home state because it's believed that he spent more of his one senate term working on his presidential bid than he spent working for North Carolina. I heard this from liberals, BTW.

Ah,yes, of course. Is this different from the story Cheney was pushing, that Edwards' "hometown newspaper" called him "Senator Gone", which turned out to be a tiny little weekly published a considerable distance across the state from the place where Edwards actually lives? And his actual hometown newspaper was quite irked at Cheney's lie?

Or, in other words, "cite, please," and no, I'm not buying anything that's functionally equivalent to "the lurkers support me in email."

Lis Carey wrote:
B)Is calling John Edwards a "dingbat" an example of the kind of civility you want from "the left" ?

Steve Eley wrote:
Why not? I never said you couldn't criticize public figures. Call George Bush an idiot, call him whatever you want, so long as you have facts on hand to justify it. My point on the "civility" thing was only that it's poor tactics to call every single person who votes for Bush or Nader an idiot. At least, it is if you want them to consider voting your way next time.

Why not? Because any expression of a belief that voting for Bush was a wrong decision is greeted with cries of "uncivil! uncivil!", while Ann Coulter calling us traitors, Rush Limbaugh claiming liberals want to legislate morality out of existence, and Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, using "Massachusetts liberal" as a sneer and an epithet are all, apparently, well within the bounds of civility, things we have no right to be offended at.

I was also rather unimpressed with his fumbling, repetitive showing in the VP debate, and with his relative invisibility during the latter half of the campaign.

You did not watch the same VP debate I did--or, indeed, most of the rest of the country, given the poll numbers on who "won" the debate.

And then, of course, there's the fact that "dingbat" doesn't usually mean either "ambitious" or "fails to show up for work". It usually has a rather different insulting meaning, and I'm still waiting for you to come up with any claims, even unsupported claims, to support the use of "dingbat."

#148 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 05:43 PM:

Bruce Baugh -

Gently, truly gently, I hope to disillusion you.

"Pran's words did much to snap me out of it, reminding us all that the American ideal and experience was a key force in liberation struggles around the world, even when American practice fell short."

Fell short? While 3 million were murdered in a failed attempt to enhance our control in SE Asia?

"Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's national security adviser, later admitted, "I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.""

I'm going to try to be level-headed here, though I know I am not. I have known many Camodians and Cambodian-Americans. Without trying to be all-knowing and based only on my many associations, these are the kindest, most generous, open and admirable culture I have ever had contact with. That the US supported the murder of 3 million of them is the most gut-wrenching acknowledgement of my life.

Please learn more about what happened then, and why, and how no one finally benefited from this holocost, half as large as Hitler's, supported by us.

#149 ::: Jerry ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 06:10 PM:

Bruce, I have read more of your comments here. I know you are open to change, learning, and willing to acknowledge it when you feel you were wrong in the past. Would that all people could be more like that. Please don't take my post above wrong. I have a personal involvement with the Cambodian tragedy, I am filled with an anger that is Western, and would not be shared by these people I have come to love. I, too, try to learn from my betters, but I haven't gotten there yet. Peace.

#150 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 08:44 PM:

Teresa wrote:
I believe the facts in the case of Mr. Bush have been more than adequately established. If we had to re-establish the point every time we called him an idiot, we'd get criticized for our relentless negativity about him.

If you ask me, then yes, absolutely. I certainly agree that he's an idiot.

But 59 million people disagreed. I'm not convinced that they're all idiots. Some are, but I think it's likely that a lot of them just didn't get the memo.

#151 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2004, 08:52 PM:

Lis Carey wrote:
Ah,yes, of course. Is this different from the story Cheney was pushing, that Edwards' "hometown newspaper" called him "Senator Gone", which turned out to be a tiny little weekly published a considerable distance across the state from the place where Edwards actually lives? And his actual hometown newspaper was quite irked at Cheney's lie?

Probably, since I first heard this during the primary season. If Cheney was pushing that story in January, I hadn't heard it.


Or, in other words, "cite, please," and no, I'm not buying anything that's functionally equivalent to "the lurkers support me in email."

Keep your money, then, it's all the same to me. I said up front that this was anecdotal.


Why not? Because any expression of a belief that voting for Bush was a wrong decision is greeted with cries of "uncivil! uncivil!", while Ann Coulter calling us traitors, Rush Limbaugh claiming liberals want to legislate morality out of existence, and Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, using "Massachusetts liberal" as a sneer and an epithet are all, apparently, well within the bounds of civility, things we have no right to be offended at.

Oh, I certainly agree that the Republicans are much more vicious about it. And much more effective, too. But the liberal voice will never be as vicious, and if you are it'll never be as effective.

I personally think your strength lies in a different direction. You're welcome to disagree.


You did not watch the same VP debate I did--or, indeed, most of the rest of the country, given the poll numbers on who "won" the debate.

I watched it. I don't form my opinions based on the poll numbers.

#152 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 02:55 AM:

Teresa,

Since the blog has changed to 'Making Light work of the Greens' I felt obliged to post.

I think your harping on Naderites is quite frankly, a pointless waste of your time and intellect.

First, it does nothing to further your inclusion in what one might call "the reality based world" because it doesn't do a damn thing to change the outcome.

Secondly, if you seriously believe that everyone who voted for Nader then and/or now is someone who believes that things have to get worse before they get better, you are quite simply wrong.

Thirdly, you are beginning to remind me of Democrats I personally know who have begun to scapegoat gays as having a lack of self-control in everything they do and couldn't wait until after the election to push for marriage rights. It appears that you just want a scapegoat like the aforementioned Democrats, except your target is politically safe amongst most liberals.

Lastly, you don't have to agree, like, or approve of someone else's vote because votes don't seek agreement, amiability, approval. You just have to allow it, and count it. To me there is a disturbing trend amongst Democrats that as a liberal you can vote for anyone you want as long as it's a Democrat. That sentiment really makes me, as one weary of ideologies, tire of the Dems as much as it turns me away from Republicans. If someone takes it as being called stupid, that is their problem. The principle of valuing democracy has to come before political parties, and when anyone acts in such a manner I have to question their commitment to democracy. Remember, democracy doesn't mean you will win, and acting otherwise will push a lot of people away - not what you want when each of them can vote.

You can have your soapbox back now.
Thanks for stirring the pot.

And since I've heard it said very little
Thank you John Kerry

#153 ::: John Hill ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:20 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote:

I believe the facts in the case of Mr. Bush have been more than adequately established. If we had to re-establish the point every time we called him an idiot, we'd get criticized for our relentless negativity about him.

I think that's backwards. A barrage of cold facts is intimidating. Calling Bush a chimp or whatever just endears him to some people.

#154 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 06:43 AM:

As I understand it, in the USA, Libertarian is associated with the Right, while in Europe, Libertarian is associated with the Left.

Hmm, no, not really. The position known as "Libertarianism" in the USA does not exist in Europe. What exists is Anarchism, once historically a very important left-wing movement, now a fringe of the Loony Left. I was basically raised in beliefs loosely based in the Anarchist tradition, and so, yes, individual freedom is very important but equally important are solidarity and outreach to opressed people. Anarchists saw themseleves as heralds of a new society, based on freedom, equality, shared ownership, and free love while we're at it, though in the context it was more the freedom of living with whom you please than polyamory. Economically, they were for communism. As a matter of fact, what they advocated wasCommunism, and their only difference from the great socialist tradition was that they didn't agree on the whole process of socialism to get there. That was why they were fired upon by the regular socialist and communists in Spain.

I don't know the libertarians equally well, but I doubt they resemble the anarchists a lot.

In Europe, there are Red/Green coalitions of importance. In the USA, the Right accuses American Greens of being far-Left, while this thread in Making Light smacks of an accusation that American Greens have foolishly (if inadvertantly) aided the far-Right.

True, but in Europe, the Left tradition is socialist in origin, while in the USA it seems to me that it tends to connect a lot more to liberalism (traditionally a centrist or even right-wing philosophy in Europe). I was actually reflecting on that a couple of days ago, when I was trying to point out that the beacon of hope and freedom in Europe was traditionally the Soviet Union (so people in the left in Europe are so used to having their ideals and aspiration betrayed and murdered by now that they're sort of jaded about it). They whole Democratic Party, as seen by European eyes, is really not very much left-wing.

#155 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 07:44 AM:

Personally, I hate the whole "Bush is a chimp" routine, because it's demeaning to chimps. I'm not actually joking.

#156 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 07:46 AM:

"Since the blog has changed to 'Making Light work of the Greens'"

Teresa has posted thousands of words here since the election, only a tiny fraction of which were about Nader's supporters. I suggest that someone here is lacking in proportionality, and it ain't Teresa.

#157 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 08:01 AM:

Anna, there is a kind of "Christian libertarian" tradition which is independent (mostly) of the Libertarian political movement as it now exists in the US, which is more strongly tied to the Anarchism movement both in spirit and historically, as it comes through what I personaly refer to as "the Oxford Movement" - people like GKC, CS Lewis, who wanted the government to butt out of telling people what they could do at home, so long as it didn't hurt the neighbors, and were opposed to socialism and to capitalism both because they didn't go far enough to help fix the broken situations that led to poverty. They saw the future in back-to-the-land, small artisans and craftsmanship - it has strong ties to William Morris, the Arts-and-Crafts movement, and to what would result eventually in the SCA.

I come partly out of this background, but since we all got coopted by the Right, without even realizing it, just as much as the "republicans who smoke dope" of the Cato Institute, starting with Chesterton himself (who didn't live to see the end of Mussolini's promise to restore an agrarian age of the Church Triumphant) - and since it had/has a deeply xenophobic, anti-Islam, resurrect the Crusades component - while the ideals of a just, creative, individualistic society are certainly worth it, the practical politics of the movement (it was always disorganized, never an organization, more of a drift) are just another failed Utopian dreaming, as it historically exists, and "part of the problem" now.

#158 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:07 AM:

Yes, Patrick, I called him a low-down dirty snake one time and then realized that I actually like snakes. Most people like snakes better than I like Bush, in fact.

My comment about not wanting to offend the Ophidian-American community WAS a joke, though.

#159 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:23 AM:

Xopher wrote:
Yes, Patrick, I called him a low-down dirty snake one time and then realized that I actually like snakes. Most people like snakes better than I like Bush, in fact.

Further, it's inaccurate. While snakes are often low-down, I have never in my life seen a dirty one. Doesn't matter how much dirt they're crawling through, their scales just don't pick it up.

So in that sense I suppose snakes would be more like Reagan.

#160 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:47 AM:

LOL Steve. And right on.

I guess Bush is more like...what? An Armadillo? Frequent roadkill in Texas, I understand...so maybe that's not so accurate, pity. But armored in willful ignorance and like that.

#161 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Greg Horn, I could make a joke of this, asking what other reason there could be to vote for Nader, if not for a belief in the salutary effects of disaster. However, doing so would falsify my own position. I have not, in fact, argued that all Nader voters supported him for that reason. Furthermore, I have never equated this year's Nader voters (whatever their persuasion) with Greens across the board.

You may recall that right after the election, I quoted a self-satisfied young lady who was working on the Nader campaign in her state as saying that she and her buds were voting the movement, not the man. Note that this is in fact a different, if equally stupid, rationale for voting for Nader.

Stashed away on this computer I have an uncompleted t-shirt design I was thinking about putting on CafePress during this year's race. It said, IF YOU VOTE FOR NADER, WE WILL TOO BLAME YOU. In the end I didn't, thinking it too distracting and divisive; but now I wish I'd done it. What in 2000 was a failure to understand the implications was by 2004 a refusal to see obvious facts.

During the 2000 race, one of Nader's most frequent claims was that there was literally nothing to choose between Bush and Gore. It wasn't true, and Nader knew it. His followers may have been naifs, but Nader himself had been involved in high-level politics for decades, and he knew better. He said it anyway. By 2004, the falsity of that claim had repeatedly been made clear -- and, as I'm sure you're aware, the Green Part took a tremendous PR hit over having been associated with it.

To have voted for Nader in 2000 required only error. To have done so in 2004 required that one vote for someone one knew was a shamelessly manipulative and irresponsible liar. I respect democracy, and I respect the voting process. I just don't respect that choice. I'll also defend to the death your or anyone else's continuing right to make stupid choices -- which, as Groucho Marx once said to a blonde, is more than you've been doing lately.

Let's see, what else ...

Thirdly, you are beginning to remind me of Democrats I personally know who have begun to scapegoat gays as having a lack of self-control in everything they do and couldn't wait until after the election to push for marriage rights.
I beg your friggin' pardon? My thinking that some of your favorite political opinions are ineffectual and dim puts me on the same level as people who are actively working to oppress gays? You have a grand opinion of your own sufferings.
It appears that you just want a scapegoat like the aforementioned Democrats, except your target is politically safe amongst most liberals.
Oh, right. I must just be looking for a scapegoat, because it's not possible for me to arrive at such a judgement by any reasonable means.
Lastly, you don't have to agree, like, or approve of someone else's vote
Yes. Obviously.
because votes don't seek agreement, amiability, approval.
Votes don't seek anything. Voters do. And you, O voter, are not sitting in a ballot box. You're in my weblog, participating in a discussion. If you truly don't seek grounds for agreement, amiability, or approval, you're unlikely to prosper as a conversationalist. If on the other hand you're just here to preach, I predict that your dignity will suffer before all this is over.

And by the way? The tendency of real electoral politics is to seek common ground. If you have an elected parliamentary body of 343 members, evenly divided between seven different factions of which each believes a different day of the week is holy, you're deadlocked. However, the minute the Wednesday and Thursday factions can agree on an "either Wednesday or Thursday" policy and start voting as a bloc, they can swing a lot of weight.

The Wednesday/Thursdayists will probably be denounced by the Friday faction, who don't want to see their favored holy day turn into "go back to work day"; but the Wednesday wing of the coalition may pick up occasional votes from the Tuesday faction, who are mindful of the benefits of being the day right before the holiday.

Meanwhile, the "Saturday or Sunday" faction is also forming. For reasons which need not be explained, they pick up the support of about half the Friday faction. These Compromising Fridayists now swing quite a lot of weight, because they're the essential component whenever the Weekendist coalition needs to push through a vote that's opposed by the Wednesday/Thursdayists. They're owed favors, and get good committee assignments.

The Hardliner Fridayists beat their breasts and wail about how the system mistreats minor parties. This gives them something to talk about, which is good, since though the legislative process isn't exactly bypassing them, they're not exactly in the thick of things, either.

Neither are the Mondayists, who've been taken over by a splinter group which holds that a policy of equal respect for all holy day preferences means they must oppose any legislation that could ever, in any way, favor one day over another. Mondayists do a lot of Denouncing, ditto Viewing With Alarm.

This state of affairs much exacerbates the irritability of the Mondayists' and Hardliner Fridayists' tempers, and leads them to get into feuds with each other. This gives them even more to talk about, which is good, but they drift further and further away from the kind of participation that results in the bills you want getting voted on and passed.

Logrolling and compromise are not a perversion of the political process. They're an integral part of it.

Onward.

You just have to allow it, and count it.
But of course. And by the way: Gore would not have rigged the elections.
To me there is a disturbing trend amongst Democrats that as a liberal you can vote for anyone you want as long as it's a Democrat.
Years after the Civil War was over, a bunch of Confederate generals got together for a reunion. When the talk turned to which commander's fault it was that they'd lost at Gettysburg, just about everyone had a theory -- except George Pickett. Finally, the others braced him: whose fault did he think it was?

"Well," Pickett replied, "I've always suspected the Yankees had something to do with it."

If Democrats are voting as a bloc, it probably has something to do with the Republicans doing the same. Pray recall 2000, when people who oh-dear-me-no-couldn't-possibly! bring themselves to vote for Gore, because he wasn't leftist enough or Greenish enough, found that as a result they'd gotten George Bush instead.

Politics are about real-world results. If they aren't, they aren't politics. They're religion or therapy or amateur theatre masquerading as politics.

That sentiment really makes me, as one weary of ideologies,
Dear me -- what a daring, never-before-articulated opinion.
tire of the Dems as much as it turns me away from Republicans.
Tough noogies. One or the other will win. This will have mortally important real-world repercussions. If an exquisite sense of ennui is the worst you suffer as a result, you'll much better off than will many others who'll also have to live with the results of the election.
If someone takes it as being called stupid, that is their problem. The principle of valuing democracy has to come before political parties, and when anyone acts in such a manner I have to question their commitment to democracy.
I can't quite tell who's doing what to whom there, nor what they're saying about it.
Remember, democracy doesn't mean you will win,
Er. I was never in doubt on that point. Quite the opposite, in fact.
and acting otherwise will push a lot of people away - not what you want when each of them can vote.
Come again?
You can have your soapbox back now. Thanks for stirring the pot.
Oh boy. Swan-and-octopus soup. My favorite.

#162 ::: Greg Horn ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 01:20 PM:

Teresa, thank you for pointing out where I misconstrued your remarks on Naderites and Greens in 2000 versus 2004.

I do not repudiate the necessity of acting politically responsible within our own two party system. Nor did I ever state that compromise isn't an integral part of politics, if it was implied, then that was poor wording on my part. This doesn't change that living in a welter of blame and despair generally doesn't draw people to your view of things. Blaming Naderites for 2000 is valid for that election because it was unrealistic, and you're right, Nader should have known better. However, harping on it because of the 2004 election isn't, because it did not make a significant difference in either the popular or electoral votes. Just as the gay-bashing Dems scapegoating isn't valid and I have taken the ones I know to task over it, as I expected to be taken to task when I spew nonsense.

"You have a grand opinion of your own sufferings"

No Teresa, I don't. I cannot think of any sufferings which I have at the moment, at most I have minor inconviences that don't deserve the words than I have just given them.

I believe that no good comes of continuing to blame Naderites for the current election. It is a waste of time and energy. Continuing to blame them, however rightfully, for 2000, is an equally useless act, as anyone who realised they goofed, admitted it and voted for Kerry. Those who didn't probably wouldn't of anyways.

I'd argue that it is best to relegate the Naderites to an ignored fringe element, and get on with something a bit more effectual.

#163 ::: Tayefeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 03:08 PM:
In the current election system, your sincere preference may be Nader, but if you want to actually have a favorable outcome in the election, you need to vote for one of the two main parties.

That's just the way it works. That's the reality of not having a condorcet voting method. And any talk otherwise is talking against reality.

Actually, the way it works is that where you are determines whether or not you can have a favorable outcome in the election. In some states (including New Jersey in 1996 and 2000, at least) I could vote for Nader or my favorite species of tree, and the state's electoral votes still went to the Democrats.

In 2000, I voted for Nader, because I hoped that he might get a large enough percentage of the vote to put the Green Party into government matching fund territory. I've since decided that the current system is too thoroughly stacked in favor of the major parties for a new party to form without coopting one of the Big Two, the way the Radical Right has. This year, I put my effort and my vote into the Democrats.

Do I think my 2000 vote was a mistake? No. (Nor do I think it was successful.) Even if all of my state's Nader voters had voted for Gore instead, Gore would not have gained a single electoral vote. So while Florida's Nader2000/2004 voters bear some blame for the disaster we face, anyone who says that all Nader voters contributed to Bush winning doesn't understand the electoral college as well as they think they do.

#164 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 04:52 PM:

Teresa, let me just say that this post rocks.

#165 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 04:58 PM:

Everybody's probably seen this already, but here it is anyway:

sorryeverybody.com

#166 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 08:30 PM:

Jerry:

Two things.

First, a nitpick that in no way detracts from your point:

"this holocost, half as large as Hitler's"

Actually, Hitler's total holocaust was considerably more than 6 million; that's ONLY the total number of Jews killed. Once you factor in everyone else the third reich killed or attempted to kill, it's a lot bigger. They're not sure exactly how much bigger, but I've seen estimates up to twenty million.

This does NOT make Cambodia less of a holocaust (or deny that the Jews are the single biggest victim of the reich by several orders of magnitude). It's just a common error that bothers me for personal reasons.

Second, and this is the important one, to all those who've been saying, "America? Preserver of freedom? only in its own mind." Well, my rather Pollyanna perspective is that this opinion took several dents in most of the latter half of the twentieth century, and for a lot of very good reasons.

But prior to that, the view of America as land of the free was not ironic. And after that, it was still better than most alternatives.

There's also a lot of people who summarize "North America" as "America" when talking about wanting to move to a land (or lands) of better opportunities. Which makes a difference as far as I'm concerned.

#167 ::: bellatrys ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 08:35 PM:

But prior to that, the view of America as land of the free was not ironic. And after that, it was still better than most alternatives.

Unless you were black, of course. Or red. Or yellow. Or worse yet, some shading of the above. "Mixed-breed" and "mongrel" are stock insults in old pulp-fiction, worse than being entirely of another ethnicity for most popular authors prior to then.

The Spanish-American War (including the Philipines conquest), the annexation of Hawai'i, and the occupation of Panama didn't put a dent in your perspective in the *first* half of the 20th century? And those are only the most obvious ones.

#168 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:11 PM:

On the other hand, the resistance mounted by citizens of the US has been a beacon: examples are myriad, but the one that always comes to my mind is the naming of the Australian Labor Party. It might not be immediately evident to US readers, but in spelling the name in this way rather than the usual Australian "labour", the founders of the party were acknowledging the influence and support of the US labor movement. The Wobblies were held in high regard over this way.

#169 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 09:33 PM:

"the view of America as land of the free"

Oh for cry eye. Whose view was this?

Who is it that's arguing that America is without flaw? Nobody who knows any American history, and the Spanish-American War is a good place to start learning American history.

It's still true that progressive people all over the world have looked to America for inspiration at many points in the last couple of centuries. It's not just ignorant, willfully spiteful, and dumb as a bag of hammers to deny this, it's also a good way to make a complete hash of your understanding of historical reality. If that seems like your kind of fun, feel free.

#170 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 11, 2004, 11:03 PM:

I was a child in the 1950s, but I remember the atmosphere created by a "law enforcement" entity of the Ashcroft/Gonzales liberty-suppressing variety. Even now, "foreign" scientists are being harassed in the US, and visa-harried into not coming here for research, lectures, and faculty appointments.

This was also central to the other book by Iris Chang, who so tragically committed suicide late this week. It deals with an alumnus of mine, from an earlier generation, who is certainly not forgotten in Pasadena.

From Library Journal:

"Few Americans remember Tsien Hsue-shen, the subject of this book. Born in China in 1911, he came to the United States during the 1930s, earned a Ph.D. at Caltech, and made major contributions to aeronautics, rocketry, and other fields. After applying for U.S. citizenship in the 1950s, however, he became an innocent target of the Red Scare and was deported. Then, instead of assuming the leadership role in America's missile and space programs for which he appeared destined, he helped create the Chinese missile and space program that later supplied the Third World with Silkworm missiles. Tsien's incredible life is the story of one of the greatest blunders ever made by the U.S. government. Chang's biography ranges across the histories of rocketry, aeronautics, nuclear weapons development, and U.S.- China relations. With Anna Fields's energetic reading, this fascinating book would make a can't-miss addition to any general audiobook collection".AKent Rasmussen, Thousand Oaks, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
[audo cassette version only]

#171 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 01:13 AM:

Jerry: Patrick has already hit on the key point but...

Precisely nothing in your post was news to me. Nor, I'd imagine, would any of it surprise someone like Dith Pran, or Vaclav Havel, or any of the other people of good will and great courage who've struggled with tyranny around the world. And it is true that despite all America's sins, there is something remarkable and admirable about the American experiment which has attracted attention and respect. In my opinion, rightly so.

Sometimes these virtues exist in greater tension with practice than other times. It seems to me that there's never been more tension between the virtues and the practice in my lifetime (born in 1965) than under this current president. But I hope to live into a time when the two are more congruent, as do many others in the country and out of it. And this hope is not at all incompatible with an awareness of our failures. I am not basing my hope on the belief that America has always been wonderful, or even always been tolerably okay.

#172 ::: Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 04:56 AM:

James Wolcott ssaid recently that America is "...becoming a meddlesome pain in the ass, a bully in the eyes of our traditional allies." The US always was a meddlesome pain in the ass and we in Yurrp have been saying so very loudly for quite some time. It's just taken y'all a while to notice.

You've noticed because of the bloggers. It's only very recently that the information which plainly shows US meddling abroad and malfeasance at home has been available to the general American public, ditto the tools to use that information to question what you're being told.

The major US media, (no matter how much individual tv, print and radio hacks try to kid themselves they're still journalists) is a corporate ally of the US administration and has acted for a very long time as government's quasi-autonomous mouthpiece. Who owns who? Who can tell? Media and government are so incestuously intertwined it can be difficult to them apart.

It's very disconcerting to those of us on the admittedly far-left in Europe to see even moderate Americans beginning to agree with us on this point. From the perspective of another continent it sometimes can be easier to see the broader trends in US politics, and this trend has intensified since the advent of the newspaper magnates like Hearst.

See, we Yurpeens have such a long history of being fucked over we don't trust anything much. It's axiomatic here that politics is corrupt. "All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". This a lesson we have learned through a long and bitter history.

It's been sad to see Americans lose their political innocence, slowly coming to see just how corrupted a government and political system can become. I feel you are also slowly realising the the mere fact of being American does not entitle you to a happy Hollywoood ending, and that is sad too in a way. It is one of the great American charms, that boundless optimism.

It's going to be truly horrible to be a US resident in a little while, and I'm very sorry for that. I like the idea of a nation with a mutually agreed constitution as the bedrock of a new society. I like the openness, energy and optimism of the American people and I'm thankful to say that many of them blog. If there's ever going to be any political resistance to the status quo, they'll have to lead it: the other media avenues are closed now.

#173 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 05:43 AM:

But prior to that, the view of America as land of the free was not ironic. And after that, it was still better than most alternatives.

Ok, let's be more specific. The USA was definetely, absolutely NOT seen as a good example and symbol of good things generally by people on the left in Italy from 1966 onward. It was seen as an imperialistic power that stood for (to quote Gene Wolfe) "so much that is wrong": that was firmly for the powerful, defending the power and profit of its corporations no matter what the cost in lives or freedom abroad. USA was the chief enemy of Socialism, which was what the Left in Europe generally was.

I'm not arguing that this was a sophisticated, deeply researched, and fundamentally right worldview. I'm just giving my witness that it was, in fact, how the USA were perceived back at home. I grew up in a very moderately Leftist family and I saw my share of cartoons and screed about the Evil American Empire. I can't speak for Africa, Asia or South America (though I have indications that the left in South America had its reasons not to love the USA).

I think part of the problem is that "progressive" means slightly different things in the USA and Europe. A lot of center and right-of-center (as these things were perceived in Europe) people did indeed see the USA as the chief bastion of the fight against Communism and therefore a good thing. They were mostly outside the socialist tradition and inside the liberal tradition of American political thought.

This is a tricky argument, because I was about to add that, transported into the current USA climate, such people would be apalled by Bush and would vote Democratic; but then I remembered that most heirs to the liberal American tradition, in Italy, are actually rabid Berlusconi - and therefore Bush - supporters.

There's also a lot of people who summarize "North America" as "America" when talking about wanting to move to a land (or lands) of better opportunities. Which makes a difference as far as I'm concerned.

Nobody argues that the commonly held opinion is not that the USA is richer and affords a better standard of living to many of its citizens than most other countries. This is not what is being discussed.

#174 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 06:24 AM:

I like the idea of a nation with a mutually agreed constitution as the bedrock of a new society.
But the US constitution wasn't ever ratified by a popular vote, was it? I'm sure someone will correct me if I've got this wrong, but I believe the US constitution can't be changed by referendum either. (The Australian constitution is one of the very few that was adopted by popular vote, and can be amended by referendum.)

#175 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 02:16 PM:

And I need to add something - well, a couple of things.

One, the fact that the USA was perceived as an imperialistic and oppressive power didn't stop people - the more to the left, the more enthusiastically - to find it deeply cool. From the forties, when the previously banned American movies, music and literature started flowing in again, Italian society enjoyed a long period of serious infatuation with American culture in all its aspects. A lot of people here - including, ahem, me, and despite an almost-degree in Philosophy - are not completely clear on the thought of the Founding Fathers, but nobody has any problem in enthusing over me having slept in a motel on Route 66. This enthusiasm might easily be perceived, from afar, as admiration for the philosophical foundation of the country, but such philosophical foundation is largely unknown and ignored here in favour of, on the positive side, a widely admired cultural production and hungrily consumed consumer culture; and on the negative side, a perceived militancy of the governing establishment in favour of a reactionary order. (Cannes' Palm d'Or to Michael Moore was inspired by both these sentiments at once: the general distaste for American policy and a heat-felt admiration for American critical thought and anti-establishment militancy.) In short, America is pretty summed up around here by The Strawberry Statement.

The second is that I am only bringing my experiences of ancestral anti-Americanism up because I keep seeing other people who testify for the USA not being perceived positively abroad dismissed. I really see no point in convincing my American friends that the world did not admire their country in the way they think it did, and I hardly think this is the best time to insist on this point anyway; but I don't feel good keeping quiet when other people's experiences are contradicted, and my own experience would corroborate them.

#176 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 05:22 PM:

(delurks briefly)

I just wanted to second (or 3rd, 4th, 5th) the compliments to Teresa for this post. The passion in it is inspiring, and this insight: "They’re seeing our reactions, and they’re scared. It’s like that moment where someone tells you what they’ve done, and it’s disastrously wrong, a complete catastrophe; only they haven’t understood that until now...", has made me very thoughtful all day.

All the comments and discussion resulting from this post have also been very uplifting--I'm currently living in a very rural, Bush-stronghold area of PA, and it's always refreshing to remember that there are those out there who are not celebrating this election.

I also wanted to very, very belatedly comment on Paula Murray's post at the very beginning. Most of you probably already know this, but the American Indian Movement chose an upside-down American flag as their symbol for the very reason that an upside down flag was an international distress symbol--and they strongly believed that American Indians at that time (and still today) were in distress.

That symbolism just seems so extraordinarily appropriate to me right now.

peace,
Heatherly

#177 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 06:14 PM:

Another post o' mine full of sweeping generalizations - remember, when one generalizes, it's not due to lack of awareness that there are exceptions. It's due to lack of textbooks on hand, and a crappy memory.

I'm not an American, and my perspective isn't from the inside. But I got that impression that America was historically the big land of the free in childhood classes. I spent most of that time wondering *why* America, with its list of atrocities and mistakes, racism and military overbearance (Not that I phrased it that way as a child), was so often painted as I quoted in my last post.

I DIDN'T say it didn't make mistakes, some purposefully. In this point, Patrick and Bruce Baugh have expressed things better than I did.

I finally decided it wasn't because they were necessarily *better*, but because they seemed to be among the first in things like the labour movement and suffrage, because of the examples set by leaders of the civil rights movement (As opposed to leaders of the country) and because their system of government was such that this kind of dissent, while not encouraged, was *possible*.

I'm pretty sure even that is a naive point of view. And I'm still not sure why they, and not someone else with a less checkered history, came out this way. I know there are other countries which are much better examples of the theory and the practice of democracy working together. (Most of them more recently democratic than the US, and thus able to see the tensions between the theory and the practice, and write their laws anticipating those problem areas earlier countries couldn't necessarily predict. heck, that may be the reason - it was one of the first to try the experiment, and one of the biggest.)

I do know the perspective was stronger in the past than it is now (Now, I think, that view is almost dead). I know it's nothing like universal, and never was, and never will be.

#178 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 07:09 PM:

Anna: That tangle of complexity in culture and politics is a familiar one, and I like your description. It's good to remember that people can like these things and dislike those, very much, at the same time, and know that they're bound together, and yet want to encourage one and not the other...life is hard sometimes. :)

#179 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 07:28 PM:

This is the cover of my local lefty weekly. The link will only be good for about a week, though.

I keep thinking it would be a nice t-shirt. United Cities of America indeed.

Here's the followup article (Urban Archipelago). I haven't read all of it yet, but they're a good paper with smart, strong opinions. I don't always agree with them, but they give me something to think about.

#180 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 08:33 PM:

I cringed when Kerry, in debate, said "I believe in Science."

I am, myself, a scientist. I knew that he meant something like: "I believe that there is global warming; I believe that evolution is a better match to the evidence than is creationism; I believe that stem cell research can save lives."

But I knew that, to a majority of Americans, this was interpreted as "I don't believe in God."

Those who voted the monster back into office sometimes have the belief that only through their God can ethically behavior be enforced.

How can we spread the word, without sounding shrill or "pointy-headed intellectual," or disgustingly urban that:

Scientific knowledge has a vital, if limited, role to play in shaping our moral values and helping us to frame wiser judgments. Ethical values are natural and open to examination in the light of evidence and reason.

The title of the essay linked to is actually "Can the Sciences Help Us to Make Wise Ethical Judgments?" by Paul Kurtz.

I know the answer that I believe. But I think that Kerry was politically tone deaf in speaking to an audience that, in the majority, feels strongly to the contrary.

#181 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 09:59 PM:

Harry, I've been reading the article in fits and starts, and finding much to like in it.

#182 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 10:41 PM:

Bruce, I don't agree with everything in the article, but it seems to be the best direction for the Democratic party (for those who don't have the time/interest to follow the link, the article urges Democrats to abandon rural issues and focus on urban ones).

It would be a bold move, though. I'm not sure the Dems are ready for it. And I don't doubt that some progressives outside of urban cores would wail about being neglected. Still, I like the concept.

When you're finished with that long article, here's a shorter one by Dan Savage: Welcome to Our World: Liberals Are the New Gays.

#183 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 10:57 PM:

From that Urban Archipelago article (emphasis mine):
Citizens of the Urban Archipelago reject heartland "values" like xenophobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia, as well as the more intolerant strains of Christianity that have taken root in this country. And we are the real Americans. They--rural, red-state voters, the denizens of the exurbs--are not real Americans. They are rubes, fools, and hate-mongers.

Aaaaaargh.

#184 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2004, 11:31 PM:

I was thinking about you when I read that, Steve.

And I agree with your frustration. But in their defense (why am I defending them? because I like the paper), this was written in the heated days following the election results, I'm sure. Lots of otherwise sensible people were given to vitriol then.

Not that these guys are exactly moderate in tone, but I hope you get my meaning.

#185 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 03:42 AM:

There is a nice short description of the way Americans regarded Europe back around the late nineteenth & early twentieth century in Barbara Tuchman's March of Folly.

When I can find my copy, I might put it here (as well as in my blog). It is interesting how it is now more like how America is seen in other parts of the world. Some of you may know the passage, or be able to find it first. I think it's at the beginning of the part about the American Colonies revolting agains Britain.

#186 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 03:45 AM:

If I had the urban archipelago article to edit, I'd slash about 20% of it, including all of the "we don't care" and "we're the real Americans" rhetoric. I do think that the positive agenda of doing at city levels what won't happen at state or national levels makes sense.

#187 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 05:47 AM:

Regarding the Urban Archipelago, I wonder: who are the Eloi, and who are the Morlocks?

Stephen Baxter's great sequel to "The Time Machine" gives the technocrat Morlock point of view.

They are city folk, right, albeit underground. They leave the unthinking rural Eloi on the surface, to frolic, and be devoured.

Yet the rural folks think that Eloi are faggy organic-food grazing kameez-wearing pacifists.

Ooooh, I'm so confused. What would H.G. Wells say? Oh, I remember, he insisted "I'm not a novelist. I'm a Socialist." Which became the Social Democratic parties in some countries. Which has something to do with Democrats here.

But the Morlocks work. That makes them Labor. Or Labour. Or the Eloi sing and dance, which makes them artists, who should be in solidarity with the workers, except that they're coopted by the owners, who are... the Morlocks?

My head hurts....

#188 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:09 AM:

Off the top of the head here I can't remember who it was who talked about Britain being Two Nations back in the late 19th Century, but I believe that is the "If this goes on ..." seed of that part of The Time Machine
The Eloi did not produce anything, but swanned around in the light and open air, not making their own clothes or cultivating food, &c. It was/is to be, in those societies, only the upper classes who had the leisure, health, education & so forth to create.
The Morlocks were confined to the dark & noisy working places, mining & producing the goods & resources that the Eloi depended on but did not acknowledge. The Eloi know this, but deny & push it aside. The Morlocks rather resent this, and both feel superior to the other, but the Eloi fear the Morlocks, where the Morlocks despise the Eloi.

Well, that was what I thought some years after reading it several times over more years. It's interesting to hear of that Stephen Baxter mirror version.

#189 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:11 AM:

Oh, JvP, I send you virtual aspirin. Wells was thinking of the underclass of the Industrial Revolution, forced to work in dark factories while the wealthy elite (hint) enjoyed foolish, frivolous lives at the expense of the working class.

In his future, the working class has indeed seized the means of production, but so late in history that they can no longer live aboveground.

Now, I'm not sure if Wells ever says that the Morlocks eat the Eloi. I only read the Classic Comics version, where it's the opinion of the Eloi for sure, but never IIRC verified -- no gnawed bones or anything. I always suspected they were actually taking them as mates, which would be Wells playing into the very WORST fears the ruling class of his time had about their slaves -- um, that is, the working class.

It may be that eating is used as a metaphor for the Fate Worse Than Death. I guess I should really read that book.

Trying to apply that to today's politics doesn't make any sense. The ridiculous 60s movie tried that -- the Morlocks, instead of hunting Eloi, simply blow air-raid sirens, which mysteriously still sound exactly the same after 800 centuries or whatever it's supposed to be, and the Eloi walk underground. "We have to go underground when the sirens blow," one of them explains.

Why don't you write your own brand-new allegorical novel about the if-this-goes-on future? I'm sure you could write 2000 pages without any trouble, and then turn them over to an editor to take the mathematical digressions out. The resulting 400-page novel would be just right! :-)

#190 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:13 AM:

Great minds, Epacris.

#191 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 10:36 AM:

Quoting myself from LiveJournal about the urban archipelago...

If I had the piece to edit and develop, I'd chop off about 20% of it, starting with all the "we hate red-state stereotypes" and "we don't care" rhetoric and moving on to a bunch of the anti-suburban rhetoric. I have precious little use for hatemongering, and like some of the folks posting in comments, I have friends, relatives, and loved ones in rural places, in rural states, with different ideas than mine, and a country that can't accommodate them as well as me isn't worth bothering with. I think that there's a real need for a better alternative news system, and part of it will be editors willing to tell themselves and their writers to cut out the crap.

(I do think it morally and tactically sound to talk about what "red state" cultures owe financially to those they're hating, and make it something to discuss with regard to eliminating dependency, not subsidizing failure, and the like.)

But on the other hand, I find the notion of an urban-focused politics deeply appealing. The federal government is on a completely unsustainable course and completely without the normal compensating mechanisms. The Democrats made some bad innovations in the field of subverting minority power, and the Republicans have made a whole more. Many states are also deeply and thoroughly screwed in the budgeting. A fair number of cities and urban areas, though, are in pretty decent fiscal health and have the space to engage in some experimentation.

This is, of course, nothing but classic federalism.

I'm a big believer in trying things out. Feeling wistful about things you might have done but didn't can turn from vaguely aggravating to deeply poisonous, if it's not untreated, particularly if (like me) you're prone to clinical depression and other complications. What's true for individuals is true for communities, too. Likewise, there's nothing like cold hard reality to make an originally promising but unviable idea seem not so hot. It's better to do and see, and best if a bunch of people do a bunch of different things so that we can actually compare. The current Republican fondness for one-size-fits-all solutions is as unappealing to me as it was when it was standard Democratic fodder. And in practical terms, the social units best equipped to try significant changes in funding and operating services are cities and urban areas.

"Cities and urban areas" is a fairly loose and awkward phrase, and it's an awkward conceptual group, too. My own feeling is that it's suburb + core that adds up to all of what I consider a city, and that even though there are folkways within that cluster that I find less than desirable, they play their part in a healthy economy and society just like the ones I do like. I strongly suspect, for instance, that providing some accommodation for people who like more sprawl than I think wise makes it easier to manage overall sprawl. Certainly eliminationist rhetoric always breeds its virulent opposite. And in practical terms there's stuff that takes big space to hold and use.

What most appeals to me in the urban archipelago screed is not so much the "fuck you" to the rest of the country as the "we can do it here" attitude. It's possible to get some possibly good things going and see how they actually work, without trying to persuade everyone else to do the same. In a moment when the larger-scale institutions seem both wrong-headed and increasingly invulnerable to tempering, that's the message that encourages me.

#192 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 11:21 AM:

Bruce --

If you haven't read Jane Jacobs' Cities and the Wealth of Nations, you might want to. Very interesting take on the role of cities in national economies.

(I shall treasure it forever for chapter 1, which calmly demolishes ever available economic orthodoxy on the road to asking 'what is really going on here?')

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 12:12 PM:

Teletubbies as Eloi.

Discuss.

#194 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 12:25 PM:

I have, Graydon, but I should re-read it. Thanks for the reminder.

#195 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 01:42 PM:

I'm tempted to quote Walter Jon Williams' City on Fire (albeit from memory): "I am announcing the establishment of the New City Party, and I would welcome your support."

Alternatively, we could call it the Metropolis (or, getting back to WJW, Metropolitan) Party.

Let's get it on MeetUp, shall we?

#196 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2004, 09:48 PM:

There's no entry on Snopes yet, but I'm suspicious of this passage, because it fits the current situation too perfectly.

In the meantime, enjoy:

On July 26, 1920 HL Mencken wrote the following in the Baltimore Evening Sun :

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

#197 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2004, 03:39 AM:

I know that you mean snopes.com, the putative debunkers of Urban Myth. Yet I like the irony in this:

Excerpt from:
Library of America: Titles

WILLIAM FAULKNER
Novels 1936-1940

Joseph Blotner and Noel Polk, editors. Absalom, Absalom!, The Unvanquished, If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem (published as The Wild Palms), and The Hamlet, the first novel of the famous Snopes trilogy. Presented in new texts prepared from Faulkner's own manuscripts and typescripts, these novels demonstrate the range of his genius, exploring the tragic, comic, and grotesque struggles of characters who must confront life in a South caught betweeen a romantic and tragic past and the corrupting enticements of the present.

1117 pages 0-940450-55-0 $35.00

Hmmmm. almost a t-shirt there: "Tragic, comic, and grotesque struggles of characters who must confront life in a South caught betweeen a romantic and tragic past and the corrupting enticements of the present." Welcome to the Red States of the Southern tier of the Hyperpower Empire, under the reign of Emperor Bush II. "Corrupting enticements" indeed!

#198 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 12:06 AM:

Unbelieveable.

This is nightmarish.

If this is true, you can feel justified in every unkind thought you've had about Bush voters:

http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny-uscia1114,0,707331.story?coll=ny-top-headlines


'CIA plans to purge its agency

WASHINGTON -- The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."'

#199 ::: Republic of Palau ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:23 AM:

A late followup, my apologies, but I have to wrest control of the PC from Martin Wisse and this is no easy task...

Yes, I erred in describing the US constitution as mutually agreed, I was insufficently precise. However, its continued existence as a governing instrument for quite some time now implies mutual consent to its contents. It has been amended but not re-written, and those amendements have had to be ratified by the states.

I can empathise with Anna's position: it is difficult, even if leftwing, not to think of US culture as cool when it's continually shoved down your throat by media conglomerates as the only way to be or to live. We are all indoctrinated; this doesn't mean we want to actually be Americans. It just means we are as susceptible to high pressure sales techniques and PR manipulation as a Americans are themselves.

Me, I adhere to both the De Tocqueville and Fanny Trollope points of view: America is a wonderful idea, but the execution is crap. Pass the spitoon please.

#200 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Stefan,
that is really, really, nausea-inducing scary.
Found way too many news articles when I googled it. Here's an NPR take on it.
And listening to Mccain's soundbite makes me gag. *spits*

Random Spec: Maybe that's what Putin and Bush talk about. Tips on how to make the KGB, er, CIA work for you.

#201 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 01:09 PM:

William Gibson dug up this tasty nugget:

http://christianexodus.org/

#202 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 05:54 PM:

And the latest is that someone set fire to himself in front of the building occupied by the Schmuck from Texas.

#203 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:08 PM:

I will try not to imagine the comments about that flying around Free Republic.

#204 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:20 PM:

Paula, about three hours later, another guy jumped the fence and was taken down by the Secret Service. Nobody knows if the incidents were related (the burned guy has 30% of his body burned -- he lit himself on fire after the SS told him he had to mail a letter to Bush, not hand it to them) although they do have the letter from the burned guy. The second guy was shouting something -- I saw most of it live because the reporters were already there -- but nobody's commented who understood it yet.

And also today, four more Cabinet resignations. I expected Powells', but not the others.

#205 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 06:32 PM:

Venneman, Abraham and Paige are malicious cyphers, nothing more, and Powell has been a terrible disappointment.

#206 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 07:03 PM:

I can empathise with Anna's position: it is difficult, even if leftwing, not to think of US culture as cool when it's continually shoved down your throat by media conglomerates as the only way to be or to live. We are all indoctrinated; this doesn't mean we want to actually be Americans. It just means we are as susceptible to high pressure sales techniques and PR manipulation as a Americans are themselves.

Well - I was only talking about the perception of the USA in my corner of the world, but for myself, and after a major exposure to USA citizens and society, I do like them, and it. I didn't before, and the first time I went rather grudgingly, so this is not propaganda.

Personally, I think that about half of America is really very cool and while I may not share their fundamental philosophical persuasions, I think they are nice people who would actually do lots of good in the world if only they could get their hands on the actual power buttons for once. And they could probably give themselves a sane health system too, while they're at it. Instead they get to spend all their free time moaning and shaking their heads with their face in their hands because of the other half.

(The other half is, alas, totally uncool and completely devoid of a sense of humor, as well as of a sense of history, and apparently innocent of any supicion of a world beyond its borders, judging from that masterpiece of self-awareness, the "Spirit of Texas" feature at the IMAX at the Museum of Texas in Austin. Go see it if you dare, it's educational.)

Still, NYC is cool. It really is. London has better bookstores and a way better subway - no offense, folk, but give them their due - but NYC definitely is cool.

San Francisco too. They don't come cooler than that.

(The Sopranos are pretty awesome too, and coming as I do from two days of intensive exposure to the fourth season, I wish to inform our hosts that I did find them quite astoundingly typically Italian, which has lead me to much gloomy meditation on our national character. They speak something that definitely is not Italian though even when they think they are. Carm-ay-n?)

#207 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 09:58 PM:

Patrick posts: Personally, I hate the whole "Bush is a chimp" routine, because it's demeaning to chimps. I'm not actually joking.

I'm with you, Patrick. I've stopped calling Bush a "moron" as that is insulting to morons, who are not responsible for their level of I.Q. Instead, I now call him what he really is: a lazy ignoramus. An ignoramus IS responsible for his own ignorance.

#208 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 10:56 PM:

"completely devoid of a sense of humor"

Now, now, that's unfair.

Although, for your own piece of mind, you're better off never seeing it in action.

#209 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2004, 11:58 PM:

Self-immolations DO get the attention of the news media.

===========

I wonder if Osama bin Laden will be carrying though on his latest threats. I wonder what locations he's targeted.

Years ago there was a novel entitled something lik _The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight_ about the world's most incompetent mobsters. The Schmuck and his associates remind me of that, regarding security and violence... doing lots of shooting but completely missing the intended victims, from a combination of skewed worldview, general incompetence and self-aggrandizement, and a very high opinon of themselves coupled, again, with massive incompetence and inability to see reality....

Anyway I have No Confidence that the Head of US Government are acting in any useful ways to promote the domestic harmony, domestic well-being, peace, prosperity, and to promote domestic security.

To me then seem more like the creaters of the Cheka and the NKVD and the Stasi...

#210 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 12:02 AM:

They have senses of humor--but their senses of humor and mine tend to be non-coincident and incompatible.

#211 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2004, 01:11 AM:

Ms. Lieberman, that would be Jimmy Breslin's novel. I read it a long time ago, and somehow my memory turned the book's subject from the Mob to Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman and the rest. The title fits for that crop of fools as well as the current one.

#212 ::: Nancy Kirsch ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2004, 11:07 PM:

A few points.

1. "Things have to get worse before they get better." Things already have gotten worse.

2. You can't assume that people who voted Nader would have voted for Kerry. There's a good chance they would have just stayed home, with the other 40+ percent of non-voting electorate.

3. Third party candidates, especially Greens, are making some gains in state and local elections. Why do you avoid any discussion of this?

4. It should not be a surprise to you that when you say people are stupid, that it hurts their feelings and they tend to not like you any more. If someone said that to you on your website, you would either delete their comment or "disemvowelled" the offensive comment.

5. Using "bullshit" and "malarky' as refuting arguments are not sound and well reasoned arguments, and will do nothing to win people to your cause.

#213 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 12:01 AM:

There are people who can bridge the "Red States" versus "Blue States" divide. At today's rainy dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, with live music by U2, attended by Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, and others (Gerry Ford was ill?), Bill Clinton said (this is a close paraphrase):

"Am I the only person in America who likes both John Kerry and George Bush?"

#214 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:08 AM:

JvP: I bet he is. Come to think of it, I bet he isn't!

#215 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 11:32 AM:

Here's the only thing that Bush has done right since the election:

President Bush Presents the 2004 Arts & Humanities Medals...

and one goes to Ray Bradbury!

#216 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Speaking of the Clinton library opening, someone posted a priceless picture over at dailykos.

#217 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2004, 10:24 PM:

A belated remark to Anna Feruglio dal Dan, who wrote on November 12:

"I am only bringing my experiences of ancestral anti-Americanism up because I keep seeing other people who testify for the USA not being perceived positively abroad dismissed."

This is a little exasperating. What I was rejecting was a categorical assertion: "I'm sorry but the US has never been a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world, except in its own mind."

I said, yes, the US has in fact been seen by various people in various times and places as a "beacon of democracy."

Obviously this is not the same as making the claim that progressive-minded people have never deplored the US.

You say you "keep seeing other people who testify for the USA not being perceived positively abroad dismissed." If you mean in this thread, please cite one instance. Note: Categorical assertions that "the US has never been a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world" are not the same thing as "testifying for the USA not being perceived positively abroad."

#218 ::: Nancy A Kirsch ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 01:29 PM:

Reagan probably would have also liked both Bush and Kerry. Kerry's joke abilities have been improving lately. He did a good job on The Tonight Show. He still has potential.

#219 ::: Eva Marisa ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 02:07 PM:

As a Portuguese citizen It's mildly comforting to read these posts in the aftermath of the US Presidential Elections. More than a beacon of Democracy the US played a far more active role in world politics. It still does.
I've felt tragically impotent on election day but had faith that Americans, or at least the majority of them, would have the wisdom and insight to remove Bush from office but as it turns out I was dead wrong. I'm so disappointed that people fail to see the true meaning of the election and make it into a personality contest of sorts instead of objectively analyzing the lobbies they'll be putting in power. This is a game of interests and of pushing the envelope to secure certain policies ... it's not a congeniality contest between two men.
Today I feel deflated and somewhat nauseous just to think about what the next 4 years of Republican rule in the US has in store for us and the impact it will have in the global ecomony, environment, energy policies, geo-political crisis. It's perplexing and somewhat scary.

#220 ::: Steve C. sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 02:55 PM:

Hitting those old threads....

#221 ::: Xopher sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2010, 01:25 AM:

Name link is to LJ "make money with A*t*bl*g" page.

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