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June 24, 2009

Peeling the onion
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:58 PM * 90 comments

Has it occurred to anyone else that maybe a whole bunch of right-wing Republican moralists are engaged in some sort of weird nefarious covert political plot, and the adultery stories are a cover? ’Cause at this point, I think it’s either that or the orbital mind-control lasers.

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

Comments on Peeling the onion:
#1 ::: Elaine ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:12 AM:

My re-phrasing of this has been;

Why the fuck are they so stupid, or

I is there something going on?

#2 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:18 AM:

If I went missing for a few days to have an affair with someone, I don't think anyone would notice.

#3 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:20 AM:

They don't want us to know about the Nazi flying saucers from the hollow earth that they're communicating with. No, wait -- communication sounds like Communist....

#4 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:22 AM:

Argentina = hunting down ex-Nazis?

The press conference is fairly touching.

I think that that is the bottom line of God's law, that it's not a moral, rigid list of do's and don'ts just for the heck of do's and don'ts. It is indeed to protect us from ourselves. And the biggest self of self is, indeed, self; that sin is, in fact, grounded in this notion of what is it that I want as opposed to somebody else?
#5 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:04 AM:

My first thought: he must be mind-bogglingly stupid to think that he could possibly get away with something like this: a trip where he just disappears without warning, and then a blizzard of weird an unconvincing lies to conceal what he's doing.

My second thought: maybe he's not so stupid. Maybe I'm just being naive. Maybe he and people like him get away with stuff like this all the time. Maybe he correctly thought the chances of getting caught were very small, and he just happened to get unlucky this time.

#6 ::: Kirby ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:06 AM:

Well, some of it is that, I theorize, it's a natural personality pattern. Someone who is deeply tempted by something that they don't want (be it drugs, forbidden sex, or whatever), one of the responses is going to be to embrace a philosophy that helps you stand strong against it. In the US, an obvious choice is rightwing fundamentalism. By towing a very hard philosophical line, they hope to be able to control their own unwanted urges. I imagine many succeed, some do not, and rising to power only puts more temptations in the path.

(Which is not to say that all moralizing fundamentalists are struggling with their demons - not true. Or all people with demons take this route, also clearly false. It's just two things that actually do logically follow.)

I wish they wouldn't - it's a fairly destructive path to large swaths of humanity that have made different choices - but it's not all that surprising. And hypocrisy is really a side-effect of it, but the root cause is just simple human pain and defense mechanisms failing.

#7 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:29 AM:

My alternative hypothesis is that they're hoping to get us all so sick of hearing about sex scandals that we just stop caring, and they can go back to screwing around safely.

#8 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:33 AM:

I rather like the story that the Gov told his staff he was off for Argentinean Tail and they have bad hearing.

Which is all cover for the fact that he actually carried 20kg of cocaine as his checked baggage allowance, and would have had more but wasn't willing to pay the 2nd bag fee.

#9 ::: Jaws (CEP) ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:39 AM:

Fluoridation. The corruption of our bodily essences. Not to mention mineshaft gaps...

#10 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:40 AM:

Matt Austern @5, you might be right that usually, people, especially powerful ones, get away with this and it's mainly bad luck when they get caught, but not in this case. Getting caught after you disappeared from public view for several days while holding a major public office, with the result that half of the politically interested public wondered where you were and what had happened to you, isn't just bad luck.

#11 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:41 AM:

Y'know, I don't give a rat's ass who he was canoodling with, or where he was doing it. The reason he should be forcibly removed from office is that he left the Bridge and disappeared for 5 days without designating who had the conn!

Think about it. What if something like that DC train wreck had happened there, perhaps with a side of hazardous-chemical spill? Who would have had the authority to call for Federal help, if it was beyond what the state could handle alone?

#12 ::: Johnny Pez ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 02:11 AM:

Duh! Obviously, Sanford is the latest casualty in the ongoing Obama birth certificate cover-up. Sanford was getting too close to the truth! Obama's ACORN goons had to take him down before he revealed that our false president was actually born in Argentina!


#13 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 02:35 AM:

Here's a timeline. There was truthiness like fireflies all over the sky....

#14 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 05:16 AM:

From the NYT: Mr. Sanford and his wife had joined an intensive Bible study group for couples in the last few months, according to William H. Jones, president of Columbia International University, a conservative evangelical college.

This month, we'll be studying the commandments, one through six.

#15 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:00 AM:

He freaked out on the Ibogaine and spent a week contemplating vegetable consciousness or identification with the plant. They said he was trying to talk, but he sounded like a raccoon.

Hunter Thompson should be living at this hour; can you imagine his lede? "BAD CRAZINESS ON THE PAMPAS TRAIL; RATED GOV IN WEEKLONG FREAKOUT. South Carolina authorities Thursday confirmed they had no perception of Gov. Mark Sanford's whereabouts after the 2012 prez contender levanted to the Argentine by way of the Appalachian Trail's hillbilly hip.."

#16 ::: Thalia ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:01 AM:

Well, Ensign was blackmail, and given the timing of this mess, I expect so was Sanford. Think about it, the Argentine woman reads about the Ensign story, sees dollar signs & calls Sanford. He hightails it down to convince her not to spill the beans. Makes more sense than "couldn't wait for a week so I could announce a vacation."

#17 ::: Nina K ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:50 AM:

I suspect that this is not the first time that he's gotten away for a while, it's just the first time his wife decided she wasn't going to cover for him. She could have allayed all suspicion if she chose, she didn't.

I've read that the family money is mostly hers, so she must have decided that enough was enough.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 07:24 AM:

How many radio stations in South Carolina have been getting requests for "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"?

#19 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 07:31 AM:

I realized something was fishy with Sanford when the media started quoting his wife saying "I don't know where he is, I'm being the mother of his kids while he is gone". That sounded like a woman who has had it up to HERE with her husband's behavior, and wasn't going to take it anymore.

What's interesting is she knew about the affair for several months, had already thrown him out of the house (probably their private residence, not the Governor's), and was probably the one to have "leaked" to the local paper the news they were sitting on until just recently.

#20 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 07:49 AM:

...I wonder if it was the wife who snooped on the e-mails. Hey, maybe she works for the CIA! Or...could she perhaps have masterminded his political career & got disgusted when he fell in love with someone else?

#21 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 07:59 AM:

Matt Austern, #5: My first thought: he must be mind-bogglingly stupid to think that he could possibly get away with something like this: a trip where he just disappears without warning, and then a blizzard of weird an unconvincing lies to conceal what he's doing.

It's a truism in the modern conservative movement that government is inherently incompetent, that it can't accomplish anything as well or as efficiently as the free market, and that it must be shrunk as much as possible.

For someone who believes that, it may not take such a big leap to conclude that a state governor could just blow off his job for a week.

#22 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:16 AM:

It's almost like a bad comedy routine his behavior. And I think it goes back to what Matt said @ #5. They are so used to being able to get away with all sorts of wacky stuff that this seemed like it was possible.

It also makes me wonder how the country as a whole has been manipulated and used by these kinds of boobs for so long.

#23 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:29 AM:

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

With my tinfoil hat firmly in place, I'm going with: gaining and keeping political power by posturing to the Religious Right, proving their bonafides to same by voting to "defend marriage" with a boot to the faces of same-sex couples, and then attempting to hide the evidence that they are actually immoral thuggish hypocrites. Also, Sasquatch.

#24 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:55 AM:

"To be normal, to drink Coca-Cola and eat Kentucky Fried Chicken is to be in a conspiracy against yourself."
- Mel Gibson in 1997's Conspiracy Theory, in which Patrick Stewart gets drowned by a floor mop.

#25 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 09:20 AM:

They want to be thought of as manly men, and not boring time-servers. So they call Rent-A-Scandal.

#26 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 09:59 AM:

You know, this is widely believed to be the end of Sanford's career, but I don't know why -- has he ever had a higher profile than he does now? This stunt could be the career boost he needs, and maybe he's smart enough to have realized this.

Though I wouldn't bet money on it.

#27 ::: Sarah W ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 10:12 AM:

I wish Blagojevitch had had an affair, too.

Then maybe his wife wouldn't have shoved the whole mishegoss right over the top.

#28 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 10:42 AM:

Fragano @ 18: And how many of those calls are from you? In other words, I love the evil way you think. If I could only call the radio stations myself..

#29 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 10:51 AM:

Chris @26: IF, it is proved that Sanford used public funds to do his Argentine Tango it probably will end his career.

IIRC, adultery is a crime in South Carolina, and I believe there are grounds in SC's constitution to give the SC Congress ample reason to impeach. Plus Sanford has been real good at making enemies.

And he's been stupid enough to shoot off his mouth on the record when other politicians have been caught with their pants down -- up to and including stating that said politician(s) should resign, because that's what he would do in a similar situation.

#30 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 10:54 AM:

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

I think it may be as simple as trying to use the affair, a private matter, not a reason to loose his job, as a distraction from his neglegent misconduct of disappearing for a week without making provisions for his work to continue, something for which he should properly resign or be impeached.

Why he disappeared really isn't important. But if he can make the issue one of whether or not his reason for disappearing merits loosing his job, he's already won the argument.

#31 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 11:45 AM:

He's cracking up. It's sad to see. Based on his political statements, I think his ideology is sincere but crazy. Normally it would not be so obvious, but now it's really not working for the people of his state, and he's getting a lot of rejection. Hd didn't have to make it worse by having an affair but people do stuff like that without thinking of the consequences and then the consequences happen anyway. The affair is absolutely perfect for pissing off the last few of his supporters. He could not have done it better if he had tried.

#32 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:01 PM:

Avram: So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

Classical Greek tragedy, 'natch!

Elaine #1: Why the fuck are they so stupid,

It's not exactly "stupidity", but English doesn't have its own word to really cover it -- so we kept one from another time and place. You've probably heard this saying:

Who the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
or maybe you heard it as:
Who the gods would destroy, they first make proud.

Those are the same saying from ancient Greece, and the key word is hubris -- the pride that defies the gods, the madness that says "nobody tells me 'no'". Hubris has always been a hazard and affliction to the powerful, and over the past few decades, the Republican Party has been thoroughly corrupted by it.

And yes, one of the classic symptoms is that the afflicted lie and cheat without care or consideration -- they think that since they're In Charge, they get to decide what's right, what's true, and what people will put up with. Until reality, as always, gets the last word.

#33 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:14 PM:

Ginger #28: Unfortunately, none. I have better things to do than look up the numbers of easy listening stations in the Palmetto State.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:27 PM:

I think he was having an affair, and decided to break it off, but before he could do it, he was kidnapped by aliens. That's the only reason he would just vanish without warning for a week; since he knew everyone would think he was crazy if he told the truth, he used the affair story as a cover, and his wife backed him up in exchange for his breaking it off. The woman in Argentina isn't about to go public and say "I'm the one, and he wasn't with me." People would believe one or the other but not both!

Seriously, I don't think an affair is a good reason for impeachment (though given his public statements it certainly would show integrity* to resign); however, his abandoning his state to leaderless chaos certainly is. He ought to have left in a constitutionally appropriate way; what he did instead proves he doesn't take his oath seriously.

As Wesley pointed out in 21, the conservatives believe government doesn't work; therefore they feel no obligation to actually work when they're in government.
*a quality in short supply among today's GOP politicos

#35 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:28 PM:

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

Final Crisis.

#37 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 12:50 PM:

For your convenience next time around, Randy Mulholland has prepared a card for
Political Sex Scandal Apology Bingo

#38 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 01:27 PM:

I first saw the reference to SC law at Think Progress and, yes, adultery is a crime in South Carolina.

Goggle gives the relevant SC law.

Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses

I love the title: Offenses Against Morality and Decency.

From Think Progress:

Any man or woman who shall be guilty of the crime of adultery or fornication shall be liable to indictment and, on conviction, shall be severally punished by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than one year or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court. . . . “Adultery” is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living together of a man and woman when either is lawfully married to some other person.

Fortunately for Sanford, it is not entirely clear that the South Carolina justice system has jurisdiction over an apparent crime that he committed while traveling abroad in Argentina. His lawyers might also argue that he cannot be convicted of criminal adultery because he and his Argentine lover were not engaged in “habitual carnal intercourse” — Sanford maintains that he only traveled to Argentina to see his mistress on rare occasions. (Think Progress)

#39 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 02:07 PM:

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

[hat type=tinfoil]

Evangelicals (the "Republican base") love a reformed sinner more than anything else. Live a good life, stay out of trouble, raise decent kids, and nobody cares. The more gruesome a "reform" story you can tell, the better.

To be a Reformed Sinner, you first have to be a sinner. And if you talk about sex, people will listen. Closely. And if you're going to commit a sin, might as well pick a fun one.

Sanford can now go on the Reformed Sinner circuit and get a free pass for all the nasty stuff he's done up to now.

As to leaving the state with nobody in charge; well, Government doesn't do anything anyway. Who cares?


#41 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 03:44 PM:

Jim #36: Thanks! I'll give the list a shufti when I get home this evening.

#42 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 03:58 PM:

I don't think hubris is limited to people in power. We just track the affairs of the powerful more closely. Some of it is because they're in power, and what they do affects us. Another part of it is it's reassuring to see just how ordinary and tawdry they are when they screw up.

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 04:11 PM:

Fragano @ 40... What? They've finally stopped blaming everything on Bill Clinton?

#44 ::: sara_k ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 04:16 PM:

Erik at #2

My workplace would certainly notice if I went missing for 5 days. Hopefully I really told my family where I was going otherwise the children would be frantic.


#45 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 04:19 PM:

Serge #43: Of course. It's much easier nowadays for the Great Bonze to blame Obama.

And in the latest news, Governor Sanford's has been identified.

#46 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 05:04 PM:

Yes, there are jurisdictional issues--there are few if any crimes committed outside the U.S. that a state can reasonably prosecute for, and those would probably be of the form "sat in a bar overseas and sent emails to Americans that count as mail/wire fraud." Also, does anyone here know whether any adultery prosecution has stood up in the U.S. since Lawrence v. Texas?

#47 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 05:57 PM:

TomB #42: I don't think hubris is limited to people in power.

Of course not, but power certainly "enables" hubris -- less powerful folks are likely to get smacked down by peers or superiors ("social control") before they get onto the "grand tragedy" track. But when someone's in a situation where nobody can tell them boo, they can keep going further and further until they run into something big enough to stop them. Also, it's the folks in power whose hubris causes the most damage to other people!

#48 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:12 PM:

The post title, and context, make me think of a riddle I learned from a Japanese movie:

Cut open an apple to find the core. Cut open an onion, what do you find?

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:32 PM:

David Harmon @48:

I don't know. Cordelia Naismith's comment about peeling an onion looking for seeds keeps getting in the way of any answer I might give.

#50 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 06:39 PM:

PurpleGirl @38, wouldn't that South Carolina law have been invalidated by Lawrence v. Kansas?

Which is to say, it's still on the books, but it probably wouldn't survive a court challenge.

#51 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:05 PM:

My partner's comment on the whole thing: "Hey, at least Bill Clinton didn't outsource the position!"

#52 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:24 PM:

When I first saw the thread title, I thought it had something to do with the newspaper and website "The Onion"....

#53 ::: Madison Guy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:30 PM:

There really is a plot, the adultery stories make a great cover, and the Democrats seem to be helping. Real health care reform continues to be frittered away while we all amuse ourselves with these whack jobs and their sexual peccadillos.

By refusing to consider single-payer, Barack Obama is making the same mistake Hillary Clinton made 16 years ago. The Democrats still haven't learned anything. They're still trying to negotiate a compromise with the beneficiaries of a corrupt and broken system, one that makes Wall Street seem like a paragon of virtue and efficiency. I'm worried that it won't work, and that we'll miss a great opportunity. And then there's Charlie Gibson ...

#54 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:43 PM:

#48: I thought it was a reference to Peer Gynt's monologue about the self being like the innermost layer of an onion, you peel all the layers away and what's left?

#55 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Lee, #11, the NTSB shows up by themselves, you don't have to call them (and since they can say "I told you so" this time, I suspect they're happy about it). And DC Mayor Fenty does take off without notice sometimes. VA Governor Tim Kaine, who is also currently DNC Chairman, doesn't give out his schedule all the time, either. On the other hand, they do turn out to have been in fairly reasonable places later.

#56 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 08:59 PM:

Are we attributing to malice what can be accounted for by stupidity here?

#57 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 09:02 PM:

The answer to my riddle, ROT13'ed for future readers: Grnef. (Vg jnf n cerggl qrcerffvat zbivr.)

#58 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 09:09 PM:

Anagram someone found: Maria Belen Chapur: A Republican Harem

#59 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2009, 11:28 PM:

It's a strategy. I explained it here.

#60 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 12:54 AM:

abi (#49) I wot not Cordelia Naismith, but I wonder if people look for seeds in potatoes, turnips or carrots? They're all ground storage organs like tulip bulbs, and I can see a similarity between fruit like pumpkins and tubers like potatoes.

#61 ::: Matthew Ernest ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 02:34 AM:

"Seriously, I don't think an affair is a good reason for impeachment"

Thus the motivation to pre-emptively disclose the affair: any attempt to discuss the substantive issues of his jaunty jaunt can be deflected with a bad-faith defense that it's just retaliation against a family values defender who showed human failability.

#62 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 05:59 AM:

Erik Nelson @56: Are we attributing to malice what can be accounted for by stupidity here?


Seriously, he was a human acting as humans often do, not with every move dictated by careful calculation but as the lusts of his form so drove him.

#63 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 09:02 AM:

I tend to agree. People are not as rational as we like to think we are; sometimes they do incredibly stupid things, and there's no particular Deep Reason behind it all.

"When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras." (We really need to update that particular proverb for the post-horse age... suggestions?)

If I had to suspect a plot, it would probably have something to do with the Evil Medical Doctors doing testosterone injections to take the spotlight off something else that they're up to.

#64 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 09:30 AM:

I'm with Xopher here. They're not actually meeting with mistresses/misters. They're going off-planet to meet aliens, plotting to take over the world (trying to beat Kim Jong-Il to it!).

* * *

Last night, Stephen Colbert pointed out how many times Sanford alluded to "this (or the or that) person" before he actually said "she." What a jolly joke it'd be if he were actually canoodling with Maria's handsome neighbor, or favorite cameraman.

#65 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 10:47 AM:

#32 ::: David Harmon

I think hubris is plausible, but if we're spinning theories here, there are some gods who are out to get us. And I mean us, not just the top of the Republican party.

So do we nuke Olympus?

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 11:01 AM:

No, the Olympian gods aren't the ones who're out to get us. Mammon is one. Maybe Loki.

#67 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 12:25 PM:

So, any guesses as to what the plot is?

Nah, I got like two pages into the first chapter and gave up. Sent form rejection letter. It figures that the Republicans didn't even enclose a SASE. They're clearly jerks so I made a note on the rejection letter that MS not returned due to lack of SASE, and that they'll need to send one within the week or the MS will go to the recycle bin. I used a single one cent stamp, so the reject should get to them postage due. In a week or so.
The writing was so bad, I wanted to put Anthrax in the reject, but for some strange reason my publishing house doesn't have any in stock. I'll bring this up at the next meeting. I'm sure I'll have lots of support.

#68 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 12:29 PM:

Xopher, there do seem to be maenads &/or bacchantes around – & male variants – tho' denying the Dionysiac, yet proclaiming him as Eleutherios.

Leaving me Confused, on A Peak, but not in Darien.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 12:52 PM:

Having refused the lesser madness, they are afflicted with the greater. The Pentheids suffer the fate of their eponymous spritual ancestor, proponent of social control and foe of pleasure.

Euoi Iakchos! Euoi Iakchos! The Hunt is yours, o Agave!

#70 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 01:03 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @63 -- If I had to suspect a plot, it would probably have something to do with the Evil Medical Doctors doing testosterone injections to take the spotlight off something else that they're up to.

So, Dr. Horrible is behind it all? And/or Joss Whedon is staging a new Alernate Reality Game)?

#71 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 01:56 PM:

abi: What one finds is the base of two leaves, this year's, and next year's.

#72 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 04:55 PM:

And the WashPost tells us where they hang out while plotting: The Political Enclave That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

#73 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 05:13 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz #65: Oddly enough, I'm currently reading Melinda Snodgrass' novel The Edge Of Reason, which is basically about a Secret War against the gods.... (Hi Melinda -- I bought the book largely because when I saw it, I remembered your name from here....)

#74 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2009, 08:05 PM:

Tony Zbaraschuk @ 63: How about "When you hear an engine running, think minivans, not tanks"?

#75 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 12:08 AM:

If this is the Republicans' plot, it's not doing them a lot of good. Cuo bono?

#76 ::: jsgbs ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2009, 04:23 AM:

The acronym of the day is IOKIYAR. Spitzer burned but this guy isn't going anywhere.

Meanwhile, little problems like Iraq, Afpak, financial reform, health care, and the economic meltdown keep getting pushed out of the news cycle.

#77 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 02:55 AM:

The real secret is that radical-right Christianity is anti-family. "Father knows best" is not a conflict-resolution strategy. The sexual teachings of the various churches are hopeless at getting couples together who belong together, let alone admitting that sexuality might be a source of conflict in a marriage. Radical-right Christianity's "father knows best" morality (with a dollop of "men are such animals") aggravates conflict within a family, even if father is a saint. I don't know what a religion with a humane attitude towards families and sexuality would look like, but it's not that.

#78 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2009, 08:21 AM:

#76: Spitzer burned but this guy isn't going anywhere.

I think there's a basic difference between a long-term emotional relationship that includes sex and paying a prostitute for sex.

#79 ::: Matthew Daly ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 05:40 AM:

I agree that Spitzer's actions were far more heinous. When you decide to bust THIS prostitution service as Attorney General while frequenting THAT one, hoo boy. I know that he wasn't indicted on any charges, but the whole thing still stinks.

Still, I wonder if part of the reason that Sanford might survive is that South Carolinians are checking out David Patterson and deciding that their lieutenant governor has the same lack of political base and no common sense to boot (from what I've heard, anyways). No matter how morally outraged you are, when you don't have a good backup how enthusiastic can you get about invalidating an election just because a guy went AWOL for a long weekend?

And, since you all are so smart, what is the name for the principle that someone is a moral crusader on an issue precisely because he is plagued by that specific temptation? It's so much more interesting than hypocrisy; it's that and self-hatred and secretly forcing the community to save him from himself. And there does seem to be no lack of it in the world.

#80 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 11:33 AM:

Matthew Daly, I'd say it's a form of projection (Freudian style), where the "participant" (since he* isn't really a patient) not only recognizes the disagreeable motives for his behavior and attributes them to others, but accompanies that attribution with the harsh judgment he holds about those motives and/or acts. But you're right, it seems to be mind-set that goes far beyond hypocrisy--more like an inversion of it.

As far as "deciding that their lieutenant governor has the same lack of political base and no common sense to boot" is concerned, Bauer had enough political base to be elected to the South Carolina House and Senate for several terms, as well as being elected as Lieutenant Governor (separately, not on a ticket with Sanford). It would appear to this outsider (Texan, not S. Carolinian) that his lack of political base only lies in Sanford's mind, and he doesn't get along with much of anybody except Uncle Rush (and perhaps Texas' own jackass, Rick Perry). He's had major tiffs with legislators, constituents, governmental directors, old supporters, his wife, you name it. And unless Bauer thinks gravity makes things fall up, he's got at least as much common sense as Appalachian Trail Boy.

#81 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Matthew Daly, LMB MacAlister, keep in mind that some people might think "Hey, it's only a year and a half left anyway".

#82 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2009, 02:38 PM:

Raphael, surely you know that kind of reasoning kept many of us sane until January of this year.

#83 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 09:52 AM:

Add the Madoff circus to the mix, for distraction....

Madoff gets 150 years in prison for defrauding private investors; Cheney, Ashcroft, Ashcroft's successor, Cheney's former putative boss, Libby Scooter, Karl Rove, Alito and Roberts and Scalia and Clarence Thomas etc., get immunity AND there's that protection racket umbrella shielding them from everything from lawsuits to confiscation of property to jail sentences for THEIR high crimes and misdemeanors in:
o abrogating and defacing the US Constitution and Bill of Rights in both letter and spirit,
o causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians from an invasion and occupation implemented under false pretense and with extreme prejudice and bias--the intent existed for the invasion and
o bilking the Amercian public of many hundreds of billions of dollars pursuing the ill-conceived invasion and ill-conceived and abominable implemented and bungled incompetent occupation (during which up to 2 million of more volumes of documents ranging from irreplaceable archives going back a thousand years to university textbooks were looted--most torched apparently torched at least partially to cover up looting of specific materials; archeological sites were looted, high explosives and dumps and huge caches of other munitions and of weapons were left unguard to be collected by whomever chose to help themselves--including those in violent opposition to the invasion and occupation and anyone collaborating with it, and to anyone of a different religion/religious denomination or ethnicity.. etc. etc. etc. The sheer arrogance and incompetence might not be matched by anyone else in history--not even policing the streets, or guarding ANY facilities of the occupied country except for the Oil Ministry--no patrolling streets to ensure the security of civilians and protection from militia, disaffected former trooper, rapists, muggers, thieves, robbers, looters, the intoxicated; no security guarding military records or jail records or any other materials beside the Oil Ministry and its documents; no guarding of museums and schools... mad dogs are less dangerous.
o stripping women and non-Christians of rights for self-determination and non-interference; and harassment by evangelizing a/s/s/h/o/l/e/s True Believers intent on forcing their particular values and brand of Christianity on the world, and especially perverting the US military by promoting the religious extremists to high rank and positions of control (see e.g. the scandals regarding the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy regarding treatment of female cadets and non-Christian and even Christian chaplains objecting to the institutional support and assistance and approval the evangelizers got and the institutional marginalization of the victims/those objecting to it who refused to accede to the evangelization pressure)
o etc.

Anyway, Madoff gets life for financial bilking of private investors, and there has been NO sanctions taken and no fines, no prosecution, no impartial investigation, etc., against the effectors of the regime that outed covert operations in pure vindictiveness, that causes the murder of hundreds of thousands, that put the ENTIRE UNITED STATES into massive hock to foreign debtholders....

I don;t have a high opinion of Madoff. But if he deserves 150 years, Cheney, his boss, Alito, Scalia, Roberts, Rove, Libby, etc., deserve millennia, stripping of every financial asset they've, and being physically stripped, bound, and being hand-delivered to the women of Afghanistan and Iraq, and particularly the ones who suffered the most from widowhood, rape, having their family members kidnapped into US-run prisons and raped/tortured/murdered on claims of being "terrorists" when the reality was that they were SOLD by those collecting bounties on the basis of LYING that someone was Al Qaida.... probably a lot o the people collecting those bounties themselves were Al Qaida!

#84 ::: Antonia Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 01:03 PM:

It's part of a not-very-mainline offshoot of the Spontoon Islands furry pulp seaplane setting, bu I've been exploring what that good Catholic anarchist skunk, Alberto Gonzales, might end up doing in the Spanish Civil War.

He started out as Wolf Baginski's "oppo".

And Tom Wintringham's stuff can still be worth reading.

No, nobody is going to invade America, and the whole idea of fighting is the myth of the militias. But the key passage of that article is about not having to be told what to do. Finding something you can do, even if it is only pitching a milk bottle at a Wehrmacht motor-cyclist, makes a difference.

It's the same in politics.

You don't need to be able to be qualified to sing Jarama Valley, but bitching on the web isn't going to change things.

When does Primary Season start?

#85 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2009, 03:45 PM:

Paula Lieberman #83: especially perverting the US military by promoting the religious extremists to high rank and positions of control (see e.g. the scandals regarding the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy regarding treatment of female cadets and non-Christian and even Christian chaplains objecting to the institutional support and assistance and approval the evangelizers got and the institutional marginalization of the victims/those objecting to it who refused to accede to the evangelization pressure)

That one would bother me even if I hadn't been born into a military family.

#86 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2009, 08:46 PM:

#76: Spitzer burned but this guy isn't going anywhere.

That is, I think, one of the more disturbing aspects of IOKIYAR. Back when they were going after Spitzer, I commented on a few threads on liberal websites questioning the wisdom of going along with throwing Spitzer out quickly, without consideration of how it would affect the balance of power in the NY Senate. My concerns were mostly ignored.

The mess the senate is in right now is a direct consequence of forcing Spitzer out. The lieutenant governor became governor, and the Democrats lost the tie-breaking vote.

As long as Republicans protect politicians who have done wrong while Democrats push them out, there will be an undemocratic benefit for Republican majorities.

There needs to be some awareness on the part of Democrats that these investigations may be biased, and a willingness to push harder against Republicans who have done wrong and to protect Democrats who may be the targets of investigations/smear campaigns intended to upset legislative balance.

#87 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2009, 10:19 PM:

Antonia Tiger: Bitching helps, in person, or on the web. Silence equals assent. It might be better to have a bully pulpit, but any pulpit will do.

I offer myself as living proof.

#88 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 09:12 AM:


So, if the Republicans knowingly let their leaders get away with felonies and corruption, the Democrats must do the same, on grounds of strategy? Why does the term "race to the bottom" come to mind, here?

#89 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 10:24 AM:

Albatross: I'd say it's rather more important that the Dems not cut Republican offenders any slack whatsoever, and expose all cover-up attempts. Unfortunately, that would require the Dems to actually stand with their party, and they're not so good at that. (See also, Joe Lieberman.)

#90 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2009, 12:17 PM:

Albatross @ 88:

No, I'd merely say that Democrats need to be careful about rushing to judgement ahead of the facts, and aware of who is making accusations and what their ulterior motives may be.

The problem with Spitzer's situation was that no one on the Democratic side was asking the questions about political motives and the political implications of the removal.

Which left them blindsided for the actions of the past few weeks. They should have seen the possiblity of the senate coup, and taken steps to keep a close watch over the various senators, to cut off any attempts to lure them to the other side.

There is also the problem that if Republicans protect their own, but Democrats will throw you under a bus, there is a strong motive for a politician facing an inquiry (whether guilty or not) to be tempted to side with those who will protect them. Which may have also been a factor in the senate mess, as the two Democrats who switched sides were both facing career-threatening problems.

It is good for Democrats to insist that their members be effective and not corrupt. It isn't good for Democrats to be in a position where they are easily manipulated out of power because their ideals lead them to overlook blatent political manipulation.

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