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September 15, 2008

The war on Oprah
Posted by Avram Grumer at 01:18 AM * 76 comments

My friend Harold Feld wrote a piece on Sunday about the emerging propaganda attack on Oprah Winfrey.

Hadn’t heard about it? Neither had I, nor had Teresa when I told her. But Drudge started pushing the story on Sep 5, and the NY Post picked it up, and Harold predicts that the matter will be dominating news and talk shows this week. Here are the basic facts:

  1. Oprah had Barack Obama on her show a couple of times.
  2. This was back in 2005-06, before Obama became a presidential candidate.
  3. Oprah has publicly declared her support for Obama.
  4. Oprah has also publicly stated that she will not have any of the candidates for president or vice-president on her show until after the end of the election.
  5. Sarah Palin, who is just the sort of person Oprah would normally have on her show, has not been invited to appear.

The right-wing propaganda version of this story leaves out items 2 and 4, of course. (The Post story does include them, but somehow still claims that this counts as a snub.)

If you look at the Oprah.com web forums, you can see a forum post about it from the end of August, which probably marks the start of the propaganda campaign. Further examination forums reveals the usual sorts of crap — hordes of users who sign up just especially to rant about this one issue; users who post the same thing over and over (see these two comments by “peoriagirl”, #6 in this thread and #10 in this thread, posted within six minutes of each other), descriptions of Oprah as a “liberal sheepherder”, etc. (Anyone else ever wonder why sheepherder has a negative connotation while shepherd has a positive one?)

Read Harold’s blog post for more in-depth analysis of why this sort of naked dishonesty works so well.

Comments on The war on Oprah:
#1 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:57 AM:

I've come to suspect that the reason it's so hard to go broke underestimating the capacity of the American people in particular to swallow bullshit is that more Americans per capita make their living selling bullshit than anywhere else in the world.

We've eviscerated our manufacturing capability. Our small farmers have all been replaced with giant robot arcologies. Vast tracts of our financial industry have, for decades, been entirely constructed out of recycled, homogenized bullshit. We've spent the last thirty years plus making third-class citizens out of the cadre of people in our society that historically have had the lowest tolerance for bullshit: our scientists and educators.

The reason bullshit works so well in America is that so many of us receive paychecks that depend on our ability to swallow it.

#2 ::: George Smiley ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:06 AM:

Americans have always loved them a good heapin' plate of pipin' hot bullshit, jh. If you know your Mark Twain, you know this. The difference is that in the past, no one wanted to be told that that is what they were eatin'. If someone walked up to you and said, "so, I can see you really like what we just fed you -- but did you realize that that was bullshit? Well, those were fightin' words. But nowadays? Nowadays we are more enlightened. It is in fact a mark of one's seriousness and maturity to recognize what that stuff on the plate is before you even pick up your spork, and to enjoy it just the same. That, I humbly submit, is what's changed.

#3 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:54 AM:

I have to think -- and it may, granted, be wishful thinking -- that any attempt to tar the most popular woman in America will backfire badly.

#4 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:15 AM:

"Americans have always loved them a good heapin' plate of pipin' hot bullshit, jh."

I certainly know it, though my education is U.S. history is sadly not as thorough as I would like. I do think Americans have recently developed a capacity for swallowing bullshit that far surpasses that of people in other nations around the world. Even the British— the all-time world champions for bullshit consumption, in my narrow-minded, parochial view— seem to be more discerning than we are at this point— that's how abjectly far I think we've declined.

The moment this story made the Washington Post's campaign trail coverage was when my head exploded. I was already reeling from the one-two punch to my sanity sustained as a result of the McCain campaign choosing a bog-ignorant, pinwheel-eyed churchmonster for the #2 spot on the ticket, followed by the proceeding clown show when the vetting process was revealed to have been outsourced to the Council on National Policy, of all people.

I'm lucky I still have any hair on my head.

I contend that Americans haven't been this obsessed with making, shoveling and eating bullshit in such volumes since, jeez, what? Like, at least 100 years. Maybe more. I think you might have to go back to the Civil War era to find a political process so badly broken by professional bullshit slingers.

And, there, is your Mark Twain, I'm thinking.

Can anyone imagine a GOP presidential candidate in the last 100 years doing what McCain has done in this campaign? Crikes, even Nixon lacked the hubris these people are demonstrating. At least, he was polite enough to make up new lies when the old ones weren't operable anymore.

These days, we have to endure the double indignity of A) our politicians brazenly lying at us, and B) their further derision at the idea that lying is something we shouldn't want them to do. I don't know how it could get more demoralizing than this.

Wait: I do know. They could start openly talking about our democratic processes as if they are nothing more than a simple machine for manufacturing popular support for ratifying the elite consensus, then they could dare us to speak against that at our own risk. I think that might finally tip me over.

#5 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:49 AM:

Sorry, I've just had an epiphany as a result of this line in Mr Feld's post:

"...Bush has probably been the most supportive President of Africa in U.S. history..."

Suddenly things are so much clearer. I thought he was the President of America.

#6 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:44 AM:

He is, he just isn't very supportive of it.

#7 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 05:28 AM:

Anyone else ever wonder why sheepherder has a negative connotation while shepherd has a positive one?

I would imagine that it's because "sheepherder" just implies someone who herds sheep around -- a rather old-fashioned, low-tech job that involves manipulating and exploiting dim-witted animals -- while "shepherd" has way too much positive religious imagery and assorted metaphorical baggage attached to it. ("The Lord is my shepherd", et multiple cetera.)

#8 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 05:38 AM:

The primary linked piece points out that it's not so much about swallowing bullshit. Much more than that it's just always hearing surface glossy things which fit your preconceptions. You don't BELIEVE them (I mean... they're bullshit), but you're not hearing anything that challenges your preconceptions.
For example (in reversed political orientation, since I imagine most of the people in this thread are liberal-leaning) when Keith Olbermann calls somebody a liar for saying something which suggests an untruth... (e.g. Palin's actual quote at the deployment ceremony connecting 9/11 to Iraq was not explicitly about 9/11) you think, "Well, that wasn't actually what she SAID, but she's still bastard for saying what she DID say." (or equivalent)

The part that was most revelatory to me was: If you don't have those preconceptions, you're not just "not the audience". You're the audience, with a different desired effect. The idea that they're intentionally trying to depress/disgust the people who aren't on their side. Not trying to change their mind, not trying to break their view, but just make them stop caring. Not long ago I posted to my own dumb blog about how much I hate politics. It never occurred to me that it would be an intentional strategy.

#9 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 05:46 AM:

Has anyone else read enough of the comments at Oprah's forum to see whether anyone is saying "Well, it's your show and you get to set policy", or "There's a difference between supporting a potential candidate and presenting candidates" or even "Ok, now that the pressure is on, why not have all four candidates?"?

#10 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 06:48 AM:

Yeah, Harold Feld has nailed it. Anything can be taken as an attack as long as you pretend enough outrage about it. Republicans have mastered this, and for whatever reason, the press covers it as if it were legitimate even though they know it's an manufactured attack.

They teach the controversy, as it were. This is why, for example, the Post article includes the facts and still counts it as a snub. Republican smears wouldn't work if the press weren't complicit in them. In a sane society, news articles would point out, in each case, the ways these sorts of attacks make no sense regardless of where they come from.

No, this wouldn't be enough to convince those vested in believing the attack, but for them, nothing will ever be enough. People will believe what they really want to believe. NPR did a series on the hidden effects of race in American politics. I heard it mostly as white Americans grasping at whatever feeble excuse they could to avoid voting for Obama. i.e., when asked who they'd vote for and why, they didn't express support for McCain. They expressed discomfort for Obama usually referencing a discredited attack or the "not the absolutely perfect candidate" canard. (I mean, like McCain is?)

Ultimately, these are not the people I'm worried about. They will never vote for Obama no matter how much better off they will be if Obama is President. Their stated reasons for voting for McCain don't even make any sense. They'll vote for McCain because it will make them feel better in some fuzzy, nebulous way.

The people I'm worried about are the ones who might vote for Obama, given decent information. Unless they're doing the research, I don't know where they're getting the decent information. If there were all of these people doing the research to find the truth, our voting rate ought to be higher than it is.

I look forward to his post on counter measures. Nothing that I've seen has worked so far. The truth has appallingly little traction compared to the lie. I'll be really sad if the answer is that you have to make sure your base is larger than their base. That way, when they disenfranchise the middle, you still win.

#11 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 07:20 AM:

May all their vowels fall out. Most of these people aren't paid; they're cranks, most probably obsessed, and many probably sock-puppets. I'm going to digress a bit and remind everyone of Poul & Kornbluth's Space Merchants wherein these two former ad-men pointed out that in a large population you can find almost any human trait--in a population of 300 million there are plenty of people obsessed with Sarah Palin. No reason to let them all shout at once.

#12 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 07:30 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @9 -- She can't. Or, she could, but the minute she did, she'd be playing even more into the hands of the Republican strategists. Because she publicly claimed to support Obama, any question she asks of Palin would be characterised as an attack -- by 'the most popular woman in America'. It really is a 'damned if she does, damned if she doesn't' situation. But I think she's better off in the long run (in terms of keeping her audience and her huge income) if she doesn't.

OTOH, if she figures she's rich enough to risk giving it up ...

#13 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 08:19 AM:

I'd heard of this, and wondered about #5 (Palin is just the sort of person Oprah would normally have on her show.) Is that assertion actually defensible?

#14 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 08:37 AM:

And sure enough, the headline on CNN's page reads, Oprah Boycotted for Sarah Palin snub.

No quotes around the word "snub." Or modifiers like "alleged." Let's not even go into the whole definition of "boycott."

#15 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 08:39 AM:

Zed (#13) -- I believe that Avram was being a wee bit facetious here (that, or the rightwingosphere really has been saying that she's just the sort of person Oprah would want).

#16 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 08:53 AM:

What's the optimal defensive play for the Democrats here?

"Oprah already announced that she won't invite any candidates onto the show until after the election is over?"

"It's Oprah's show, and she gets to decide who appears, no matter how much whining is heard?"

Something else?

(I'm thinking the word "whining" has power.)

#17 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:02 AM:

In # Zed Lopez writes:

I'd heard of this, and wondered about #5 (Palin is just the sort of person Oprah would normally have on her show.) Is that assertion actually defensible?

I'm no expert on Oprah Winfrey's show, but my common sense says: Heck, yeah.

Sarah Palin has an interesting job, governor, in an interesting place, Alaska. She has been thrust into sudden prominence. In addition, some of her family's problems have become known across the nation. Her political views are far from Oprah's, but that's no barrier to a worthwhile hour of conversation of interest to the show's audience.

However, the show's stated policy is not to invite current candidates.

#18 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:03 AM:

Zed @13 & Adam @15
Take a look at
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,417523,00.html

Yes, that's Foxnews, and it's one of the puzzle pieces that Mr. Feld was talking about (you can really see it in action by visiting palinpetition.com and looking at their "media coverage" links... pretty much the usual suspects). However, the quote in question looks believable. (The quote I'm talking about is Oprah saying she'd like to talk to Palin after the campaign ends.) Which is a lot more than somebody else saying, she's the sort of person who would be on Oprah.

http://www.tmz.com/2008/09/05/oprah-to-palin-i-can-pencil-you-in-later/
Is possibly the original source of that Oprah quote, I'm not sure though.

#19 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:08 AM:

The America that was my grandparents' country and the America that is mine are radically different. In my opinion, a great many of the changes that have happened were not for the better.

I'm not sure that my generation - I'm 40 - could have reacted to a threat like World War Two the same way that generation did.

#20 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:13 AM:

WW2 wasn't a threat, it was an opportunity.

#21 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:15 AM:

I've been wondering if Oprah will eventually want to go into politics herself, and how that might play out.

#22 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:21 AM:

I could see this backfiring pretty easily. My mom marched on Washington because Oprah told her to.

#23 ::: Emi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:21 AM:

I have to say I always thought the only way the US would have either a black or a female president in the near future was if Oprah was to run.

Obviously I was mistaken

#24 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:25 AM:

JJ Foz @ 19:

I'm not sure that my generation - I'm 40 - could have reacted to a threat like World War Two the same way that generation did.

Yeah, I guess if anyone suggested that the USA as country should put all its resources and talents to work for one main purpose, and that people should make sacrificies for that, people like you would probably complain all day long about socialism and fascism and communism and all that.

Nancy Lebovitz @21:

I've been wondering if Oprah will eventually want to go into politics herself, and how that might play out.

Halp!

#25 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:26 AM:

This "War on Oprah" was first mentioned at Making Light in the comment thread at "I Knew McCain Was Hot For More Wars," back on 07SEP08 by the ever-perceptive Terry Karney.

#26 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:41 AM:

people like you

Hey now.

#27 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 10:06 AM:

Raphael #24:

You mean, like the majority of people who didn't jump on the War On Terror/Clash Of Civilizations bandwagon with both feet?

The problem is, the tendency for people to all pull together and tackle some great problem, to put aside personal goals and individualism and rights and such "for the duration," is subject to massive misuse. That makes it easier to get us all on board for a war, whether that's WW2, WW1, the Spanish-American war, the Vietnam war, or the recent invasion of Iraq. It's a source of great power for political leaders, and it seems to me that it's more often misused than used for anything decent.

Our political leaders got enough of this dynamic going after 9/11 to justify invading Iraq, adopting a policy of torturing prisoners, using high-tech spying tools against the American People, running a network of secret prisons to torture people abducted off the streets of friendly cities, claiming presidential authority to have American citizens abducted off US soil and held incommunicado indefinitely, and many other nasty things. They got extensive self-censorship by journalists. They won a couple elections on using the mass movement mentality.

I'm no historian, but it seems to me that this mass-movement kind of "let's all pull together and work as one" mentality is misused much more often than it's used for a good cause. It strikes me as a good feature of American culture that we're somewhat resistant to it, though alas, not resistant enough....

#28 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 10:10 AM:

#13: I believe when this kerfuffle was first gathering steam, Oprah released an announcement pointing out that she'd long said she wasn't having any candidates on the show, and that she would be happy to have Sarah Palin on the show after the election. So whether #5 is defensible or not, Oprah has conceded it.

#16: The word "whining" definitely has power. As TNH says, the surest way for a character to lose reader sympathy is to have him or her whine.

It might be tricky to tag McCain and his supporters as whiners without them complaining (dare I say, whining) about how the big, nasty, powerful Democrats are beating up on them. However, I think Oprah can pull it off. Texas cattlemen attempted to take on Oprah 10 years ago. She came out of it beautifully. I think she can do it again.

I mean, at this point, the McCain supporters really are whining. Oprah will have Palin on her show... after the election.

#22: But, yes, I totally hope this backfires on the Republicans. It's about time. Surely, Oprah is more powerful than the Republican smear machine?

#29 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 10:40 AM:

I have a friend who was a school teacher for fifteen years, then got her PhD and became a college professor. She used to tell me that the American educational system was based on teaching people to accept lies and become consumers. Her contention was that for decades there had been no attempt at creating citizens. I used to tell her she was cynical...

I have to dig up her address and send my apologies.

#30 ::: Manny ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 10:45 AM:

Oprah beat the Texas cattlemen in Texas and got people who had never had books in their houses reading. I'd put my money on her.

#31 ::: MM ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 11:36 AM:

I believe the countermeme to this needs to be: "Oprah has said she would be happy to have Gov. Palin as a guest after the election. In the meantime, the governor may feel free to visit Jerry Springer."

#32 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 11:41 AM:

albatross @27, the abuse of the 'all pull together in time of danger' instinct was one of the themes in Nineteen Eighty-four.

I've heard people criticise that book for getting its forecasts wrong, but I think Orwell put his finger on a great many of the destructive things that have gone on in the years since (some new, some repeated from time immemorial, but perhaps with a modern twist), even if details aren't exactly matching how it turned out.

#33 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 11:56 AM:

Manny #30: Oprah beat the Texas cattlemen in Texas

Yeah, I still haven't forgiven her for that one; the conspicuous consumption of beef is a sacred rite in Texas (at least to me), but the Mad Cow Conspiracy meme has more than four legs.

#34 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Bill Higgins #16 - how about this response?

"Well, if Oprah bankrupts herself like Ford or Lehman Brothers or WaMu, and asks the government to run her business, then someone gets to tell her who to have on her show. Until then, it's a free country."

#35 ::: Summer Storms ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 12:34 PM:

MM @ 31: You just won the internet. Please rearrange your household accordingly.

#36 ::: pixelfish ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 12:36 PM:

I can't help thinking that the propaganda machine bit off more than it can chew if it went after Oprah. This is not a woman with a little blog or even one newspaper column. She has a REALLY BIG bullhorn. If she'd been attempting to keep her stance her personal stance, and NOT inviting candidates to the show, pissing her off seems like a bad thing to do.

I hope she lays the smackdown in a big way. (Or, you know, clarifies her stance again in a way that makes the detractors look like utter schmucks. She's smart enough to do it.)

#37 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 12:37 PM:

Raph - I'm not sure if you got my point.

Looking back, self sacrifice and hard work seemed to be the norm for the majority of the people in this country.

Their success in building this country created a sense of entitlement for future generations that has had a negative effect in some areas.

As for Oprah - I've never sat through an episode - but it seems to me she has the muscle to set the record straight.

#38 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:16 PM:

re Mad Cow: I still eat beef, but Maia's classes in Beef Production, Manufacture, and the like made me less sanguine about it.

The risk is (at present) pretty low, but (and it's a big but) the way in which meat is handled isn't conducive to less worry; and the absolute aversion to any sort of practical (which is to say, thorough and accountable) testing for prevention, keeping of dairy cattle from the hamburger market, exclusion (in an actual, not legal, manner) of downer cattle from the slaughter, and a longer list of problems and failures, make dismissing the idea as a meme with more than four legs a bit less than fair.

I'm a lot pickier (for more than just reasons of taste) than I used to be.

If the Cattlemen would take a few (smallish) steps, then the "conspiracy" idea would fade.

#39 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:27 PM:

Raphael @24:
...people like you would probably complain all day long about socialism and fascism and communism and all that.

Congratulations. You've just used up your lifetime allotment of "you people" statements on this blog.

Others may take issue with what you've said (albatross did a nice, thoughtful job). I have a problem with how you've said it.

Do better.

#40 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:39 PM:

abi 39: Just so I know we're on the same page here, you do know that the "people like you" in Raphael's comment referred to JJ Fozz, right? It wasn't a generic "you people" thing in the usual sense.

#41 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:50 PM:

Dudes, where have you been? There's been an attack on Oprah from the less liberal women's side, ever since she started championing non-devout-Christian books such as A NEW EARTH: http://www.oprah.com/anewearth

These concerns became mainstream once Oprah declared her support for Obama, raising questions whether she was going to lose her white female demographic: http://blogs.kansascity.com/tvbarn/2008/08/when-exactly-di.html

So it's a lot more than her not having Palin on -- it's a concerted effort to weaken her power just when she started using it politically and domestically. (Don't forget her South African girls' school mishegas. Have the alleged child abusers been tried, yet? Who knows?)

Note that it was swell when she limited her power to drawing advertisers to donate gifts to her outrageous studio audience potlatches; it's another thing when she tells people who she's voting for, or following spiritually -- you know, when she actually uses her conscience for more than huckstering.

America will tolerate black women, butch lesbians, engaging queer guys, leering heteros, all sorts of variations in their talk show hosts -- as long as they keep selling the right things.

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Xopher @40:

The statement was making a generalization about JJ Fozz and "his ilk" that was as insulting, unbased and broad-brushed as anything a newcomer has said to us as a community. If it was not strictly a "you people" comment, the difference was due to the relative positions of the speaker and target. The fact that Raphael said it not as an outsider to an assembled crowd, but safely ensconced in the community and to a newcomer, is not a mitigating factor.

In general, JJ Fozz deserves some leeway from us as he learns the ropes of this community and decides whether or not to stay. We are prone to being too rude to incomers, particularly ones with different styles than we are used to, and we're getting too insular as a result. This is a topic we've discussed from time to time.

This comment was over the line.

#43 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:55 PM:

Xopher: I think it falls between the individual, and the group.

Yes, it was aimed at JJ Fozz, but it also lumped him into a class (which class we can't really define. I don't have a solid idea of his, overall, political leanings yet).

I'm still (to go meta here) not quite sure what to make of his lumping the polity of the US into a class which wouldn't know how to deal with something like Nazi Germany trying to swallow Europe.

The question hasn't (despite the wailings of those who think terrorism/Iran/creeping horrors in the night is the next Hitler) come up.

Nothing has arisen since the fall of Germany which seriously tried to make that sort of grab. If it does, we'll find out then. I'm not sure the problem is with, "The people" so much as with how much we'd let ourselves be hogtied by the press, and hobbled by the shortsighted interests of the people we've elected.

#44 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:59 PM:

Maybe Oprah should ask, "What part of NO CANDIDATES" did you not understand?"

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 01:59 PM:

OK. Just checking.

#46 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:03 PM:

Here is what I was trying to say:

I don't know how my generation - which is defined by marketing dorks as "X" - would have handled the call to arms - and all that it necessitated - that happened when WW2 began.

I clarified it for Raphael in comment #37. He hasn't been back to comment. Maybe he was late for his Assheads United Meeting.

#47 ::: Talia ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:10 PM:

"Maybe he was late for his Assheads United Meeting."

Aw crap, is that going on right now? I'm so late. BBL.

#48 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:11 PM:

Re the entries I put up just now in the Bring It On thread, I will re-iterate, this issue with Oprah is part and parcel of the tactics and strategies to steal the election for the third time. We get bogged down with the details of what appears to us ignorance and stupidity on their part, while they dismantle our entire house, cart it off and sell it for their profit, while putting us in prison. Don't laugh. The prison-industrial labor complex is one sector of capitalism in this nation that is in a growth cycle. You have to have prisoners for a prison-industrial labor complex.

WE're not stopping them. The press cannot for it is owned by them. The dems won't for they haven't got the ooomph to so deeply disturb their comfy nests. We won't because we are in denial, and mostly, we are too comfy ourselves as a group, perhaps. We believe so fundamentally in the power of intelligence and information, we won't admit these are irrelevant to the war in which we've been engaged without our permission, and which we prefer to think isn't being waged. But the war is being waged, and waged precisely on our kind. Obama is one of our kind in some senses, and he can't quite accept that he having war waged upon himself either, so he's flummoxed.

I say this with all respect to everyone here -- please notice I include myself in that 'we.'

If I'm wrong, nobody will be better pleased.

Love, C.

#49 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Terry Karney #38: dismissing the idea as a meme with more than four legs a bit less than fair

I know that; I am self-aware enough to realize that I am willfully allowing my lust for beef to cloud my reason. I just wish that tinned beef were as available on store shelves as tinned chicken, to go with my ramen. Hmmm, maybe thin-sliced deli beef will work if I chop it up a bit first....

#50 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:14 PM:

Albatross @ 27:
Raphael #24:

You mean, like the majority of people who didn't jump on the War On Terror/Clash Of Civilizations bandwagon with both feet?

No, I mean the majority of people who did jump on that bandwagon. Wich, I think, should have been clear from the fact that I addressed it to JJ Fozz. Yes, there was a lot of talk about a great effort to defeat "terrorism", but most of the people who supported Bush's various wars didn't make much of a contribution aside from stating their support (they often tried to make up for that by being as vile as possible in that support, though). What do you think how most of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders would react if someone asked them to sacrifice more than just a part of their spare time on some important effort? They'd probably scream "This is Commiefascoislamosocialism! It's tyranny!" at the top of their lungs.

So, I was pointing out the irony that someone who apparently belongs to the side of US politics that hates any government action that in any way interferes with their personal comfort (while loving any government action that interferes with someone else) complaining about how today's USA couldn't make a large effort like during WW2.

But you're right, I shouldn't generalize like that- generalisations are almost always bad.

#51 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:17 PM:

cgeye #41:

Has this had any significant effect on Oprah's fortunes? I honestly don't know about this stuff--if I watched TV it would cut into my pointless ranting on the internet time--but my sense is that Oprah is still an immensely popular and successful figure.

I don't doubt that there's some organized group somewhere who thinks Oprah should stop having guests and discussions that interest her, and instead take up their causes, beliefs, interests, etc. I'm sure some of them even call her nasty names. But I have my doubts that they're real effective at convincing most of her audience to stop watching.

Similarly, manufactured outrage at Oprah for backing Obama over McCain/Palin (let alone subtleties) strikes this uninformed reader as being monumentally unlikely to be a threat to her business or her success.

#52 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:22 PM:

JJ Fozz: We don't know. The question has not been asked (there was no draft, nor even a serious call to arms for Afghanistan/Iraq/The Global War on Terror[tm]).

There was an increase in both retention (no surprise) and recruitment, up to about 2003. The initial surge in recruits was not a surprise (there are always slight spikes when things like the Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, the WTC Bombings, etc. happen), but the sustained increase; into the actual occupation of Iraq, even when the gov't was saying, "go on with your normal lives, this isn't that important." The cheerleaders of the war actually said they had more important things to do... while decrying the lack of fresh recruits once the massive failure of imagination, planning and execution became obvious. Jonah Goldberg, for example, couldn't enlist because, "I can't afford the loss in pay."


I think, were a truly national; existential, crisis, people would step up. I also know that our generation, isn't the one to be doing it. I just don't think it will, necessarily, come from the groups expected. I say this because California (that bastion of the "liberal" shibboleth of the "Conservative" Right) has the largest number of Gold Stars for any state. New York isn't far behind.

But it's not our generation who will bear the heavy lifting. Front line soldiering is a young man's game. My knees are barely up for wearing the basic load. Make me hump a combat load, day in, day out, and do all the things the PBI have to do... I'd be hors de combat inside of a month.

At 41, I'm just too damned old to overcome my infirmities.

#53 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:29 PM:

Earl: The thing to do is find a safe producer.

Trade off... the meat will cost more; so one can't eat as much of it.

The meat will have more flavor, it will go further.

Truly safe meat (calves go from milk to grass, and no feed fattening at slaughter) also needs different cooking styles.

I've found it to be, by and large, worth it.

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:34 PM:

JJ 46: Maybe he was late for his Assheads United Meeting.

This is also not a good thing to say here. We tend to frown on outright namecalling. Please cut it out.

#55 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 02:51 PM:

Xopher is correct. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Three rights do make a left, however.

#56 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Semi-OT, re safer beef: All Flesh is Grass is a fascinating, eye-opening and encouraging book.

#57 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:22 PM:

Xopher and Abi, I call them like I see them.

Karney - When I see what my grandparents accomplished, and what my parents accomplished, I look at myself and my friends and think, "It's definitely been taught to us, and to a point, it's in our DNA, but we've never been tested."

If that test ever comes, I don't know if we pass.

#58 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:39 PM:

#57: Perhaps you missed the nuance there. Abi and Xopher were expressing no opinion as to whether you were correct in calling Raphael an asshead. What they were both saying is that you should not have done so. It wasn't polite. Also, given that we're elitist jerks around here, the insult direct is considered a bit crude; far better to refute someone's position so utterly that the observers are left with no choice but to agree with yours.

And, abi being a moderator, you were probably also being given a gentle warning about behaviors in which you ought not to indulge.

#59 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:57 PM:

abi #55:

A very good friend of mine once wrote a technical cryptography paper with the line (from memory, so I'll probably mess it up) "in Boolean algebra, unlike in ethics, two wrongs *do* make a right."

#60 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:58 PM:

JJ Fozz: If that test ever comes, I don't know if we pass. Neither did they.

At some levels, they failed. We have the worst dichotomy of rich and poor in the developed world. We have crappy health care, a regressive tax system and an overdeveloped sense of our national importance.

As to calling them as you see them... I've been trying to stay out of this little bit of spat: but that's not a good way to go. I've often thought of being clear with my opinions of people, and I remind myself of this bit of Shakespeare.

Hamlet: (to POLONIUS) Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

POLONIUS: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

HAMLET: God's bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

None of us manages to be good all the time. We give in to anger, sarcasm and petty spite. Better to let the trivial slings and arrows pass, and by ignoring end them; than it is to rise to arms and fan the flames of anger.

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 03:59 PM:

J.J. Fozz: "I call them like I see them."

Allow me to gently chime in and suggest that it's a good idea to listen to Abi, who is a co-blogger and moderator; and to Xopher, who has great seniority and credibility hereabouts.

Mind, I'm not saying that Raphael is incapable of being irritating.

#62 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Note to self: I could have more consistently used that bit of Shakespeare by ending it, "rather than taking arms against a sea of troubles and being washed out in the flood."

The things we see after we hit post.

#63 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:25 PM:

To all - thank for your guidance and advice.

I posted that response because I was pissed and hit the post button quickly.

I was angry because all I had done was to posit a question, not try and start a brawl.

Terry, the Bard always did give good advice.


#64 ::: Mark Temporis ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:33 PM:

Hey @49: tinned beef is kinda gross. Try the extra-cheapo deli-sliced beef for your ramen.

For a nice upscale version, take a tactic from a similar noodle soup, Vietnamese pho, and chop up real, good steak -- raw -- and let it cook in the hot broth. It's great, esp. with a couple thai dragon peppers and mint leaves.

#65 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:35 PM:

JJ Fozz @63:

I find the preview button very useful for slowing me down and making me think about what I'm going to post. Sometimes I find myself previewing and refreshing several times, until I don't have that mix of satisfaction and anger in the pit of the stomach that is my personal sign that I am out of hand.

The other thing I have done, for some time now, is think in the long term. These threads, and these conversations, go on for a while, balancing and rebalancing. I trust this community to come to justice in the end, which means I don't need to go too hard at the start. And if justice is not served, if I am unfairly left to dangle, I trust that future readers of the thread will see how right I was, though none at the time did!

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 04:38 PM:

And of course, JJ, now that I'm done writing a long post advising you further (being just a little angry meself), you've rendered almost all of it irrelevant. Here's the part that still seems postable:

We want...more [comments] like this one about your dog, Lucy. That was a great comment.
As for me, I'm sure glad I refreshed before posting my long tirade, which even before I threw out most of it ended with the part quoted above.

#67 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 09:59 PM:

Earl Cooley III @49 and Mark Temporis @64:
You know, you could use thin sliced steak -- aww, Mark beat me to it.

Also, for when you want something slightly more upscale than ramen, take-out phở broth freezes and re-heats quite well. Swap out your ramen for rice noodles; add beef and at least one of green onions, bean sprouts, and basil; and you won't have to leave the house to get delicious phở.

(Why yes, I have been craving phở recently, why do you ask?)

#68 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2008, 10:18 PM:

abi@55: Three rights do make a left, however.

What part of the Low Countries are you in? That wouldn't hold for any of the bits I remember, although I didn't see nearly everything.

That rule certainly doesn't apply in these former stockyards, where 3 rights puts you back where you started -- and if you go straight the street has five different names in a little over a mile.

#69 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 03:52 AM:

abi, #55, did you see where UPS drivers are given instructions so they make only right turns now? It saves them a fair amount of time. Not on our street/parking lot, since new drivers still get lost, but in general.

shadowsong, #67, we have no more pho restaurants in town. :::sniff:::

#70 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:40 PM:

abi @ 55

obMathGeek:

I know of at least one case where 3 rights make a right: on the perimeter of a triangle on the surface of a sphere (like the Earth, frex) all of whose angles are 90°.

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Akk! Just as I hit post I realized I'd visualized it wrong. 3 rights makes a straight (yes, I know, Xopher).

#72 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:10 PM:

Three rights...make a...lemme...

I'M CURED!!!

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:14 PM:

Hmm, I've heard that people who claim to be cured have often made a dramatic turn to the right, but I always thought that was a metaphor.

#74 ::: peggy ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2008, 08:03 AM:

it is a sad commentary indeed when our politics are decided by a talk show host. a decidly prejudiced talk show host. oprah is a master at hiding it, but she is as prejudiced as david duke. i know the "lefties" would never dream that obama & oprah were in collusion long before he "threw his hat in the ring". wake up america. if u have time to watch oprah, u have time to do some homework. as for the sarah palin "snub". Ms Palin should b honored not to b connected to winfrey.

#75 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2008, 09:53 AM:

peggy, #74: i know the "lefties" would never dream that obama & oprah were in collusion long before he "threw his hat in the ring". wake up america.

I love that "in collusion." It sounds as though, in Peggy's mind, Winfrey and Obama have been sneaking off to Legion of Doom headquarters to hold planning sessions with Lex Luthor, Sinestro, and the Riddler.

#76 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2008, 10:21 AM:

It's a sad commentary indeed when the best a drive-by can do is hook a talk show host into the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. I really expect better from the modern nutjob conspiracy theorist.

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