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October 17, 2003

Cri de coeur
Posted by Teresa at 05:32 PM *

Becky Miller is a longtime Oregon conservative who’s read Al Franken’s Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them. Her review of it in the Oregonian is a straightforwardly amazed reaction from someone whose worldview has just turned upside-down:

I must say that only once before in my life have I ever felt as utterly shocked as I am at this moment. The time before was when I first realized that my boss at the time, Bill Sizemore, was greedy and dishonest. The foundations of my universe shook. What has utterly shocked me today is Al Franken’s latest book, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”

I read the book in one sitting. It is an amazing book, and—if you’re a decent, honest, hard-working, patriotic, true-blue conservative who listens to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and watches Fox News—an earth-shattering book. …

Until I read this book, I believed the Bill Sizemore/Oregon Taxpayers United mess was a bit of a fluke. (In 2002 I testified against him in a civil trial in which a Multnomah County jury found that his charitable foundation and political action committee had committed fraud and forgery, and that Oregon Taxpayers United had engaged in a pattern of racketeering to obtain signatures on initiative petitions for tax measures drafted by Sizemore.) The spin, the lies, the greed, the disregard for the everyday person—I thought it was all just a fluke and really limited to this one little pustule of filth that had festered in a little storefront in Clackamas, Oregon. Boy, was I wrong.

I believe Franken is telling the truth in his book because it meshes perfectly with what I personally have observed. And I think every decent, honest, hard-working, patriotic, true-blue conservative owes it to himself to read it. Hold your nose if you must—Franken is as foul-mouthed and crass as his reputation would lead you to believe (and quite mistakenly believes Christians love Israel because it is the center of prophecies that include the fiery deaths of all Jews)—but read it anyway.

The other day on talk radio, I heard a guy tell an incredulous Lars Larson that he wouldn’t believe Rush Limbaugh was a drug addict involved in a drug ring even if Limbaugh himself admitted it. If you’re that guy, don’t bother reading Franken’s book. You will really just drive yourself even more crazy.
When you’re totting up the victims of the Conspiracy to Reestablish the Class System, pause a moment to remember the decent old-line traditionalist conservatives, who’ve been cynically seduced and abandoned by that lot more times than I like to think about.
Comments on Cri de coeur:
#1 ::: JeremyT ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 05:56 PM:

I dig this. Thanks for linking to it, Teresa.

I've wonder why there aren't more conversions between ideologies in politicians and pundits. I know that this person is not suddenly calling herself a liberal, but it's got me thinking about that. It seems the high profile instances of a person changing their views to is always liberal to conservative, and not the other way around.

Most people hold the belief that humans get more conservative with age. I'm curious what people think is the explanation behind that.

Then again-- I guess it wouldn't be an "ideology" if you changed it easily. And I could be laboring under a misconception, and such switches are more common than I know. But at least in my admittedly short lifespan, I rarely see the two sides agree on anything of substance, and I rarely see anyone conceding a point to the other side.

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 06:09 PM:

Time for me to write that post on "Thing Liberals Know, Things Conservatives Know, Things Libertarians Know, and Things Socialists Know." All of which would be true things.

#3 ::: Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 06:18 PM:

There is so much background here I don't know where to start. That Ms. Miller herself participated willingly for months if not years in the fraud that was the subject of the lawsuit is only the beginning. Although her testimony at the RICO trial was inspiring (I was there for part of it and have read the transcript of her testimony), I suspect this battlefield conversion is to protect her self-image and remediate (at least in her own mind) some of the damage she and her employer did to the initiative process in this state.

I hope her op-ed gets *wide* distribution and affects the people she intends to affect.

#4 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 07:02 PM:

Kris obviously knows a lot more than I do - the thing about the Internet is that if I don't read the paper first thing in the morning, I wind up learning about its contents from someone three thousand miles away. Pfah.

[Insert my own The Only Thing Stopping This Native Oregonian From Hating That Sonofabitch Is Principle rant here]

The book is earthshattering because of its publicity, and because it's a rare creature - a comparatively coherent yet readable narrative of the kind of stunts that get pulled.

Don't be mistaken - liberals get their fingers into the same pies. (See also unions and casinoes.) Conservatives rant about it all the time.

My takeaway is that politics is a dirty game... that just happens to affect our day to day lives more often than it ought. ::frown::

I giggle, because if Fox News had had the good sense to let it go, it probably would've been lumped in with other notable contemporary tracts, instead of being skylined against them... but now the inquisitive are reading it, wondering what lies between its pages, that frightens people so much.

#5 ::: Kris Hasson-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 07:11 PM:

Ben, I'm also a Native Oregonian. My boss brought the op-ed to me to photocopy for our files. When I think about how hard we had to work to get her to agree to testify -- grrrrr. Phone calls and letters and more. It is part of the court record that she was granted immunity from criminal prosecution at least in part so she would testify against Sizemore.

#6 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 07:58 PM:

When you've made public political commitments, it's hard to change your mind.

#7 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 09:21 PM:

I don't think John Dean has exactly announced that he's a liberal, either, but there's much the same phenomenon there, of someone who was just an ordinary conservative and suddenly seems to have discovered that he was working for the bad guys.

But you know, I think anyone in that position would be pretty scared to testify, especially considering how much it usually ends up costing even innocent bystanders.

Of course we all get more conservative as we age, in the sense that we would generally prefer to keep the good things we grew up assuming would always be there. And many of us do remember that not all politicians are as shif'less and greedy as the present administration. In fact, most of them never tried this stuff.

#8 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 09:26 PM:


I have heard it posited that men get more conservative as they grow older while women get more liberal. Probably as accurate as any other generalization.


#9 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 09:27 PM:

OOPS. Hit wrong button. Meant to add to previous post.

This isn't because one or the other is better or worse. But because, as a rule, older men tend have power to preserve and older women don't.


#10 ::: Greg Greene ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 10:42 PM:

Many prominent examples go from left to right, but not all:

  1. Arianna Huffington?
  2. Michael Lind?
  3. David Brock?
Just some food for thought. I'd wager that more people have gone ex-conservative than most of us think.

#11 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 11:08 PM:

Oh, there are conversions both ways. I tend to suspect them; some people are highly prone to dramatic conversion experiences and have them all the time. But they do happen, especially when it's lost trust in people rather than in ideas.

I've seen people on the net say they turned from liberal to conservative because of the Sept. 11 attacks. Which is very strange to me; why that would change your ideas about all the many disparate things we think of as liberal/conservative thought is beyond me (as opposed to a more ideologically limited conversion, like a shift away from some radical pacifism, which I can certainly understand).

Maybe these people were already evolving in that direction and just needed to let go of some remaining blocks to the conversion. Or maybe their liberal/conservative orientation actually consisted mostly of a strongly held single-issue belief that could be shattered by one terrible counterexample.

I think I did shed some reflexive partisanship as a result of watching all the hyperventilating on all sides during the 2000 election fiasco. Now I'm regaining some of it because the people in office are just that bad. But there are different kinds of radicalization; I'm hoping that I don't end up consciously letting go of a preference for honesty, or giving people an automatic presumption of truth because they're playing on my team, or spiraling into more and more extreme beliefs.

#12 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 11:38 PM:

It has been said:

A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

It has been counter-said:

A liberal is a conservative who's lost his job.

Matt, the existence of people who claim to have turned from liberals to conservatives as a result of 9/11 doesn't surprise me, given that our very own unelected government [it should not offend anyone to call it that, as its very own generals are now claiming that Bush wasn't elected, he was appointed by God] has been justifying its manic post-9/11 shellacking of the entire world on the grounds that they'd never before realized that the U.S. was vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Where have they been?

I sympathize with Becky Miller's dismay, but I also wonder where she's been. Oh yeah - working for Bill Sizemore.

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 11:55 PM:

Simon, I heard "A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested." More apropos, I think, of the current situation...

All I know is, my political beliefs have not changed as a result of 9/11, except for believing that Constitutional protections meant something.

#14 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 12:56 AM:

Good alternative, Xopher, and yes, it's more relevant.

Have my political beliefs changed? The last two years have added a few hundred percent to the number of reasons I hate Bush, if that counts.

#15 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 12:57 AM:

(Yes, conservative trolls, I hate terrorists too! Jesus!)

#16 ::: colin roald ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 01:19 AM:

Simon writes: (Yes, conservative trolls, I hate terrorists too! Jesus!)

You hate Jesus?!

#17 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:33 AM:

'Conspiracy to Reestablish the Class System', Teresa? But the US has *always* had a class system and it never went away. That a lot of Americans have never liked acknowledging this doesn't make it any less true. What seems to be happening at the moment looks more like an attempt to create an aristocracy in all but name.

#18 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:52 AM:

"I suspect this battlefield conversion is to protect her self-image and remediate (at least in her own mind) some of the damage she and her employer did to the initiative process in this state."

There are worse reasons for conversion. I suspect part of the reason Earl Warren become one of the Supreme Court's great liberals was because of guilt over his support of internment of Japanese-Americans during the second World War. At least she is willing to publicly change her mind; I hope she sticks with it.

I am glad to see that some conservatives are at last jumping ship. May it be enough to matter.

#19 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 08:20 AM:

Ben wrote: "My takeaway is that politics is a dirty game... that just happens to affect our day to day lives more often than it ought. ::frown::"

Which reminds me of a letter I received in the mail the other day. It was from the American Friends Service Committee, and it was the best political initiative letter (in terms of being straightforward and believable, yet inspiring at the same time) that I've seen recently. It was about aiming to re-introduce honesty into American politics.

The example of dishonesty they started with was the US' backing out of some 30 international treaties and agreements under this administration, including Nuclear testing/nonproliferation, Childrens rights, Kyoto, The International Court, and a bunch of others. They argued that we as a country have given up on the idea that we have any say in our own government, so now when our government breaks treaties and backs away from institutions we helped define, dramatically changing our international diplomatic position for the worse, we shrug our shoulders and say "politics is a dirty game. What can you do?"

Sometimes it seems like the problem isn't that politics affects our lives more often than it ought... it's that our lives affect politics less often than they ought.

The AFSC is a group with a long history. they approached the Nazis and asked for permission to help Jews emigrate, and got it. THey saved thousands of lives. Who knows, maybe they can make a difference now in American politics. I don't really believe it, but I want to.

#20 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 09:39 AM:

Every time they make you think "Politics is a dirty game" or "They're all as bad as each other" or "It doesn't matter who you vote for the government get in" you're handing them the victory.

Power does not corrupt inevitably -- look at Solon, Sulla, Diocletian, Ivan the Terrible, George Washington -- they all laid down something like absolute power. Power can corrupt, but there are things you can do to make that easier or harder. Believing that politics is a dirty game and anyone who goes into it is already corrupted by definition is really not going to encourage honest people to get into it.

It matters.

Despair can be very comforting -- my reflexive response to reading the news is often Auden's "Our sun has warmed to birth / a race of promise that will never prove its worth". But there is in fact still something worth winning and losing, and history is going to judge us for just sitting here and giving up.

#21 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 10:05 AM:

Lois McMaster Bujold puts this in the mouth of one of her characters - I'd substitute 'despair' for 'cynicism', but let's quote it verbatim:

"Now, there's this about cynicism, Sergeant. It's the universe's most supine moral position. Real comfortable. If nothing can be done, then you're not some kind of shit for not doing it, and you can lie there and stink to yourself in perfect peace."

#22 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 10:33 AM:

Politics is not an inherently dirty business. It is a business that involves a lot of compromise. I'm currently actively working on getting massage regulated at the state rather than the local level in CA -- the bill we have is not quite what I'd want, but it's a f**k of a lot better than the patchwork of local regulations that exists now. And we've got a lot of support from people who have traditionally opposed state regulation because we were willing to compromise.

It's also a lot of work. I've put in many hours helping to write the sunrise document, noodling on bill language, massaging attendees at the California League of Cities conference, and just talking on the telephone with various stakeholders (and taking meeting minutes and getting them out to people within an hour of meeting's end -- the internet does have some advantages!). With luck, we'll get a reasonable bill passed next year. If not, we get to try again until we can get enough people to agree with us.

At the state and local levels, this isn't rocket science. It's about showing up. I expect the same is true at the national level, but it's a lot harder to show up in Washington DC when one lives on the West Coast. Or has a job.

And it's a hell of a lot easier to keep going when I'm working with others, rather than working alone. That's just something about me, but it may be very true for some of you as well. If you care about changing something, find a bunch of other folks who also care, and work with them. You may not succeed at the change you want, but you'll change something.


#23 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 12:54 PM:

Thank you, Jo. I needed that reminder.


#24 ::: Tom Becker ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 01:45 PM:

When someone makes a general statement about politics, before you believe it, think about who might be helped and who might be hindered by it. In the case of "politics is corrupt," if we believe it, it gives an "everyone does it" pass to those politicians who really are corrupt, and it only makes things harder for those politicians who really are honest. Therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude that the "politics is corrupt" meme was started by corrupt politicians or by their friends, and it should be rejected as harmful.

#25 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 02:35 PM:

"Politics is not an inherently dirty business. It is a business that involves a lot of compromise."

A lot of people don't like to compromise; not very surprisingly they sneer at politics. People who feel that the ground has shifted under their feet, who are grasping for certainties, especially don't like compromise. That's really what's behind a lot of the recent changes in the US political system.

#26 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:23 PM:

In the case of 'politics is corrupt,' if we believe it, it gives an 'everyone does it' pass to those politicians who really are corrupt, and it only makes things harder for those politicians who really are honest.

Here's the malfunction: politics as it's played in the States at the federal level is to a great degree a closed loop. Nader was shut out of the '00 primaries; Perot in '92 was a constant target of ridicule from both sides.

Now we have Dean running, and indications that (at least some) Democrats are closing ranks against him.

The Republicans, meanwhile, tell people who want to be told what they ought to think, what they ought to think, and have been for upwards of thirty years.

At least, that's what I see: a cynical process, driven by manipulation of mass media.

That is why I shrug and wait to be convinced. Or maybe I'm just burnt out for now when it comes to giving a damn.

#27 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:34 PM:

Patrick, that sounds like an excellent post, do please write it.

There's a relevant Auden poem, but I can't remember the first line. Speaking of a political opposite, he says something like:

He reminds me that there must be blood
I remind him that it must be innocent
But without the blood, the wall will not stand.
#28 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:42 PM:

PNH says: Time for me to write that post on "Thing Liberals Know, Things Conservatives Know, Things Libertarians Know, and Things Socialists Know." All of which would be true things.

Yes indeed.

Some time in the second half of the 1970s, in Encounter, Leszek Kolakowski wrote an article titled 'How to be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist'. It made quite a lot of sense (as you'd expect from Kolakowski, if not necessarily from Encounter).

#29 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 04:48 PM:

JeremyT, lots of politicians become more liberal and less conservative. They're just less likely to say so, because there's always that fraction of the electorate that believes that any departure from strict conservatism signals the imminent end of all that's good and moral in the universe.

It's a silly belief system, but those voters are a consistent presence, so politicians try not to upset them. These guys respond more to labels than anything else. If you tell them that funding social programs, respecting human diversity, and holding democratic elections are an indispensable part of our American system, they'll be for them. If you tell them that anything is a dangerously radical departure from traditional practice, they'll be sure it's the work of evil conspirators, and must be stamped out.

(This, by the way, explains two things. One is why referring to our country as "Amerikkka" and taking a "down with everything" stance, is just plain stupid: There's nobody out there whose support you'll automatically get for doing it, aside from other idiots like yourself; and you'll step right into the role of villain in the melodrama. Smooth move! ... The other thing this explains is why the bad guys first demonized the word "liberal" -- a label many of these voters' parents and grandparents were happy to wear -- and then started slapping it onto everything in sight, including a lot of essential centrist programs and positions. That stuff isn't liberal, and they themselves aren't conservative -- in fact, they're an aggressively power-hungry radical faction -- but for a while the people who only pay attention to labels will go along with them.)

About those voters: As far as I've ever been able to make out, they mostly seem to be people who feel that they have less control of their world than they should, and feel that they're entitled to that greater degree of control. Many of them are elderly, which only makes sense. But for some reason a fair number of them are pudgy, balding white guys in their 30s and 40s who suffer from a lot of unfocused anger. I don't know what motivates them --they're safe, healthy, prosperous, decently educated, well-employed, politically powerful, and have grown up enjoying all the benefits of our democratic society -- but to listen to them, they're horribly oppressed on all sides. I swear, they're the whiniest bunch of guys on this planet.

Kris, I have to believe that repentance is a real option, or I'll be stuck with my own lifetime's worth of sins and stupid errors. Maybe Becky Miller wasn't as squeaky clean as she'd like to sound during the time she was working with Sizemore. If she's still in the fight, I'd rather have her swearing allegiance to the light side of the force. Recall that if the bad guys' coalitions start breaking down, we're going to see a lot of defectors with records like hers. We should start getting used to it. You don't have to forget and forgive, but defecting is good, and we want to encourage more people to do it.

And if whatever-it-is she's doing at the moment is good, then it's good, no matter who's doing it or why. That's the great thing about doing good: Anyone can do it, any time,
no waiting periods or batteries required.

Ben, I'm going to have to argue with you about two things. First, this isn't really a conservatives-versus-liberals thing. See my remarks above. What Becky Miller has discovered, or has professed to discover, is that these guys aren't the least bit conservative. No real American, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, would dream of dispensing with free and democratic elections. Neither would they run a government on secrets and lies. Every government has some of those -- but when those in office are systematically lying all the time, about major issues like "why are we going to war", it means they're cutting the American people out of the game. We don't enjoy self-government if we don't have the right to know what's going on.

The other point on which I'll disagree is the idea that politics is inherently a dirty business, and that the left does it just as much as the right. Other people here have spoken to the matter of politics not being inherently dirty. What I'll say is that there isn't parity between what the left and right are doing. That may have been true in your father's or grandfather's day, but it's not true now.

The attack on Clinton's presidency was supposedly motivated by his messy personal life. It wasn't. You don't have to believe Clinton was a saint, because he wasn't and isn't. But very few of the powerful Republicans in Congress who were going after him had personal lives anywhere near as clean as his. This isn't a matter of opinion. This is known. Their finances wouldn't stand up to the kind of scrutiny we saw in the Whitewater investigation -- some of them wouldn't stand up to a junior accountant with a pocket calculator -- and in many cases their sex lives have been far more lurid.

The reason they pretended that Clinton's personal finances and sexual peccadillos were something extraordinary was because he'd won the election. He was the duly elected President of the United States, and they were doing everything in their power to take him down. That was seriously not politics-as-usual. You can call it treason, or you can call it an attempted coup, but it's way outside the magnitude and nastiness of past political infighting.

What happened in Florida was even more shocking. There wasn't a country in the world that couldn't tell what was going on there. It isn't normal electoral dirty tricks when one side is doing everything in its power, legal or otherwise, to keep the votes from being counted.

The vicious, cold-blooded trashing John McCain got in the South Carolina primary was wholly vile and frighteningly underreported; but it doesn't end there. The attack wasn't just on McCain and his candidacy. There was all kinds of nastiness thrown at his family members and close associates. There are two reasons to do that to someone. One is that people are more infuriated by attacks on their loved ones than on themselves. McCain was so angry that it threw him off balance. The other reason is the message it sends: Stand in my way, and I won't just defeat you. I'll destroy you, and grind you underfoot.

The far right radicals have built a lie-generating machine so shamelessly indiscriminate that will brand as "unpatriotic" a man who lost three limbs in his country's service, when he's running against a man who never served at all. That isn't an isolated incident. What they've put into place is a network of professional liars. That's what Al Franken's book is about.

There is no parity. This is something different. It's genuinely scary.

#30 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 05:06 PM:

Mary Kay, that is a strikingly astute point.

Rob, we're in agreement. We only differ on terminology.

It's so frustrating. The big guys are building a walled castle, and there are all these little guys helping them do it. They leaning their ladders up against the outside of the wall and climb up with load after load of stone, doing all the real work. The little guys think they'll wind up on the inside -- after all, they have their ladders! They don't realize that what ruling classes do best is pull the ladders up after themselves.

Jo: Well said. Me, I think life is like baseball: The outcome is never a foregone conclusion, though the likelihood of some outcomes recedes as events accumulate. And win or lose, it all counts toward the overall stats.

Tom, you too. Someone who refuses to accept the possibility of compromise isn't doing politics.


"A lot of people don't like to compromise; not very surprisingly they sneer at politics. People who feel that the ground has shifted under their feet, who are grasping for certainties, especially don't like compromise. That's really what's behind a lot of the recent changes in the US political system."
Yes, but they all seem to think the uncompromising positions that result will be theirs. They are fools.

#31 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 05:13 PM:

What clew and Ken said, Patrick. Write that post.

Well said, Teresa. I agree with you about redemption, and I also like "win or lose, it all counts toward the overall stats."


#32 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 06:09 PM:

I'm currently in the process of alienating a lot of my old friends in the left back home. I'm using the words 'love' and 'brother' a lot more than I'm comfortable doing, and meaning them sincerly.

It's not that I've changed my mind on the most basic things, like how people should be treated, both individually and collectively, but that I've become convinced the tactics they use are counterproductive, and the ideologies which inform those tactics are in tension, if not outright contradiction, with the same basic human values we share.

Let me give one example:

A dear friend of mine, someone who has always been most generous to me, both personally and politically, is heavily involved with indigenous people's issues, both in the US and elsewhere.

We were talking one day about the Confederate flag and southern heritage--a subject on which I was surprised not to find us in agreement--when he popped up with the remarkable statement that the Confederacy was okay by him. Why? Well, they'd made alliances with some of the tribes and, unlike the United States, they'd kept their word, didn't break treaties, and so on. What to say to that?

There are many, many more examples I could give, most of them more typical, but I mention this one because it was so utterly unexpected and downright surreal.

It's hard to change your mind. I think it's hardest when you're changing a little bit, like I am, but staying in fundamental--I think. I hope!--agreement with your old friends. If I were just changing sides, that'd be easy--I'd have a whole new set of friends to agree with. Instead, I have many old friends with whom I am always in conflict. That's really unpleasant. It can hurt.

There's also a strong element of self-doubt in this. When have I changed my mind on something so important that I've become a hypocrite? Am I selling out? Buying in? Giving up?

There's a cartoon I saw in Funny Times years ago, by Piraro, I think, showing a guy in front of a desk with a gun, and another guy rushing into the room. Behind the desk a pair of legs sticks up into the air. The gun is smoking. The man holding the gun says to the man rushing in, "I'm an old friend of his from the sixties. He asked me, if he ever sold out, to shoot him."

I keep expecting that guy to show up. I wonder how I'd feel about it if he did.

#33 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 06:30 PM:

Adamsj, I'm afraid the first thing I'd say to that friend is "Of course the Confederacy kept their treaties -- they didn't have much time to break them."

One of the real difficulties of life is a fundamental conflict between survival and growth. Growth means change. Change means different. And different means I'm not who I was -- in some sense, all that survives of me is a memory. If I can avoid attachment to who I have been, am I actually living well, or morally? If I refuse to believe I can change, am I not lying to myself (as my body changes over time)? It's easy enough to answer these questions on one level, and possibly the hardest thing in life to follow through and answer them completely.

My belief -- as long as you keep examining what's going on, you're doing the best you can. And from your comments here and elsewhere, I think you're doing pretty well. There's a difference between "selling out" and "growing up"; a difference between remaining knee-jerk conservative about who you are and what you believe, and honestly continuing to examine how best to put your heart-beliefs into action.


#34 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 07:22 PM:

"Yes, but they all seem to think the uncompromising positions that result will be theirs. They are fools." Oh, yes, of course. When one doesn't compromise, it's flat-out conflict, and that usually favors the most powerful and most brutal.

"But for some reason a fair number of them are pudgy, balding white guys in their 30s and 40s who suffer from a lot of unfocused anger."

Well, things used to be all set up for them, and they aren't, any more, though that group still has great advantages. As I said in another context, it worries me how much of recent US politcs can be explained as an expression of threatened masculinity.

#35 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 07:35 PM:

There's a bar in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where I liked to drink, an ugly little place with cockroaches. The last time I was there, they had a confederate flag on the wall with Hank Williams, Jr.'s face on it, and words to the effect that "If the south had won, we'd have it made." I looked around and thought, "Yes, I'm sure that your white skin would outweigh the drunken, drug-addled mess that is your life."

(In answer to the question I know you are asking: Because it wasn't a college bar in Fayetteville.)

#36 ::: Ms. Jen ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 09:42 PM:

A working definition of hope:

As long as there is breath in a person, there is the possibility of change/redemption.

#37 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 12:04 AM:

Teresa: much as I dislike the white-middleaged-male whining you describe, I think you're leaving something out. It's true that most of the whiners are rich by historical standards and doing well even by contemporary standards -- probably better than a lot of the commenters to this blog, from what's been said here and there. But they don't see it that way, because they're aware that the world is changing, that their privileges are not cast in stone, and possibly even that the economy is starting on what may be a very long slide.

Much of the age bracket that you describe is young enough not to have grown up with the swinish certainty of righteousness of the 1950's. But they are having to deal with changes -- some just strange, many actively threatening -- and they haven't really been brought up to cope with change or even to think that they could. (Think about: pension plans dissolving, good jobs permanently disappearing, health care costs going through the roof, and on, and on....) I expect most of them don't have a coherent picture of what's happening, or why, which makes it very easy for the power structure you describe to say (cf Sturgeon) "it's all the fault of those pink monkeys over there, and we're going to save you from them" -- and very hard for anyone to lay out for them some understanding of why what they once thought would be a secure working and retired life is crumbling around the edges. (The claim of "class warfare", coming from the Right, is appalling to people who understand what class is making war on the others right now -- but it makes easier distracting people from any attempt to talk about reasons.)

Like a lot of geeks, I dabbled in stage magic when I was young. What is happening now is much like the underdressed women a lot of magicians use when they're rich enough to afford that sort of prop; the hand is not quicker than the eye, but if the eye is watching something else the hand can get away with anything. (And that's a gentle reading; Kuttner caught the other side of of it in the first Baldy story, when he spoke of the tree of attractions (borrowed from the Japanese) and the viciousness it covers.

The final speech of An American President argues that democracy is hard work. A lot of these people think they work hard earning a living; many of them actually do. They don't think that they should have to work hard at ]government[ as well, and telling them that they don't is seductive, absent a JFK to make them realize it's a privilege to have the choice to work.

And, as a practical matter, contempt for them, or even lack of sympathy, will not move them. (This contempt is a historic failing of many Lefts.) It is exasperating to see them swayed so easily by people we consider vile -- but loosing that exasperation on them loses.

#38 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 01:07 AM:

Ben said:

My takeaway is that politics is a dirty game... that just happens to affect our day to day lives more often than it ought. ::frown::

I agree with what other people have said about how believing that politics is inherently dirty is a win for the wrong side. However, what struck me about this sentence was the second clause. If government didn't affect our day to day lives, what good would it be in the first place? Like Aaron Sorkin, I believe that government has a role in our society to be a force for good in people's lives. A safety net and a way of pooling resources so that the thiings that single individuals cannot accomplish can be done. No group of people, not even as small as just two, exist without politics. Politics is the constant negotiation about what to do and how to do it, is the constant give and take, the way people influence and inform each other.

People can't live alone, and they can't live with each other without negotiation and compromise. That's you and me, as well as our elected (and un-elected) officials.

#39 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 09:47 AM:

Teresa: First, this isn't really a conservatives-versus-liberals thing. See my remarks above. What Becky Miller has discovered, or has professed to discover, is that these guys aren't the least bit conservative. No real American, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, would dream of dispensing with free and democratic elections.

I've been thinking for a while that the real agenda behind the people pulling the strings in the Republican party today is fairly obvious. They're trying to reverse the defeat they suffered in the civil war -- not the American civil war but the one before it, the English civil war.

The English civil war (for any bystanders who aren't familiar with it) ran for about a decade in the 1650's, killed a larger proportion of the population of the British isles than the American civil war, and created a settlement throughout the English-speaking world of the question plaguing post-mediaeval Europe -- is royalty above the rule of law? (Or, in other words, are some people intrinsically worth more than others, before the law, or are all people subject to the same judicial controls?)

The way the question was settled during the English civil war was inevitably exported to the English colonies in the new world. And it's this agenda that the self-proclaimed neoconservatives wish to refute. Because they don't believe that all people are equal before the law, and they want a revised settlement in which their aristocratic merit, their legal super-humanity, is recognized.

(You can come to this philosophy by a number of routes. I was, struck, for example, by the similarity between the ideas in Hans Herman Hoppe's "Democracy: the God that Failed" (See his website) and the review and discussion in Samizdata ,and the direction of the thrust of neoconservative praxis. (Hoppe, incidentally, seems to be attempting to construct a philosophical and economic justification for monarchism on the basis of libertarian ideology with an added dose of Leninist contempt for the masses. What he ends up with looks like Hobbesianism with an added dose of contempt for miscegenation, homosexuality, multiculturalism, and socialism. By the time he starts harking back to a mythical Anglosphere "Golden Age" that ended circa 1860 I'm boggling: I wrote a bunch of guys with this sort of ideology into a space opera as comic ruritanian bad guys, I had no idea that an outwardly respectable school of philosophy would be taking it seriously!)

Anyway ...

There is an ideology here. It probably does deserve the name "conservative", but it compares with the conservativism we're used to the way that the 1930's British Labour Party compared with Stalin's Soviet Communist Party of the same era. (One group was a plain ordinary political party, content to acknowledge the legitimacy of dissenting opinions and work within a democratic framework, while the other was willing to use death camps and warfare and show trials to achieve its goals, and considered the overthrow of the democratic framework to be a necessary precondition for its work.)

I'd like to propose a name for these folks: neo-monarchists. I'd like to point out that getting rid of free and fair elections is perfectly compatible with their elitist ideology (and their ownership of, e.g. Diebold, would appear to point to this being one of their strategies). They regard old-fashioned conservatives as "useful idiots" to be dispensed with once they achieve power, and their political agenda entails the destruction of everything we've achieved in the way of social and political progress since 1642.

The only question remaining in my mind is therefore how to alert the vast majority of old-fashioned conservatives to the threat the neo-monarchists pose to them.

#40 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 10:03 AM:

The Confederacy didn't have much time to break treaties with the Native Americans, did it?

#41 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 10:04 AM:

Ah, I see Tom Whitmore beat me to that one.

#42 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 10:07 AM:

Charlie Stross: Warning conservatives about the people you call "neo-monarchists" is uncannily reminiscent of the problem of warning liberals about Communists in days of yore. You are probably aware of that. Same kind of problem, but especially disturbing to Americans because this time the coup occurred in the U.S. in 2000, not (say) Czechoslovakia in 1948, and once the bad guys have their ruthless hands on the electoral process (as happened in both places), it's probably all over.

Tom Whitmore wrote, "I'm afraid the first thing I'd say to that friend is 'Of course the Confederacy kept their treaties -- they didn't have much time to break them.'"

That's the second thing I'd say. The first thing I'd say is, "So the tribes are the only minority group the Confederacy had to be nice to to earn your approbation?"

#43 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 10:20 AM:

In connection with Teresa's warning about "Amerikkka" rants, I would like to ask my fellow liberals to stop writing the anguished screed about how everyone else is brainwashed and nobody agrees with you, because it isn't true, is less true every day, and doesn't help.

From my friends I'm still hearing a lot of "Republicans are in control because Americans are irredeemably stupid". This is the false and self-destructive battle cry of a loser. You need these people; insulting them is counterproductive.

(I hear even more of this from commenters outside the US; it's more forgivable there because of the lack of direct experience.)

#44 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 10:34 AM:

Those are all snappy answers, and if I'm ever trapped in an issue of Mad I'll use them, but that particular conversation was a late P. J. O'Rourke issue of the National Lampoon.

This was an extreme example--there were many others. Some of them I probably said myself, back in the day. Like I say, it's hard to change your mind, and even harder to do without a sharp break.

A complete political break would be just wrong--that would be selling out. A personal break...well, I guess I'm doing that, in some cases. I don't like it.

Probably we should just settle into Atlanta and start over. That's easiest. It's nice here.

We're from Arkansaw, though--our families are there. It's where we want to live, at least till Quincy grows up. When she does, I'll be 63--not the best time to plan to start all over again.

P.S. Why, yes, we had a very good time at Dragon*Con last year. Why do you ask?

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 11:06 AM:

"In connection with Teresa's warning about 'Amerikkka' rants, I would like to ask my fellow liberals to stop writing the anguished screed about how everyone else is brainwashed and nobody agrees with you, because it isn't true, is less true every day, and doesn't help."


The hard Right is a minority group that has mastered the art of looking like a majority. They're weaklings who are good at pretending to be strong.

Why do we cooperate in this? When George W. Bush dresses up in cowboy gear, why do our political cartoons helpfully show him as a cowboy? He's not a cowboy. He's a preppy.

For cripe's sake. Is the point of the exercise to win, or to show what a beautiful loser you are? I'm afraid that for a certain number of liberals, it's the latter. I wish they'd find another hobby and leave politics in the hands of those of us who intend to win.

#46 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 12:51 PM:

For another hobby, I strongly recommend poker. The poker economy always has room for losers. Seat open!

#47 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 01:31 PM:

I've seen cartoons of Reagan got up as a cowboy too, though I don't think he ever actually wore those clothes, apart from roles in movies.

"Cowboy" is convenient shorthand for "American" in much of the world, and is easier iconography for political cartoons than preppies.

However, you only have to watch Bush riding his golfcart around his ranch to know that he's obviously no cowboy.

#48 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 02:03 PM:

"They're trying to reverse the defeat they suffered in the civil war -- not the American civil war but the one before it, the English civil war."

Aaaagh! I am a failure as a political commentator. Look here.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me point out that this is what all the radical reactionary movements of the 1930s thought they were aiming at. Problem is, eggs can't be put back into shells, and the only way to establish even the semblance of an aristocracy in industrialized nations is to establish a tyranny.

#49 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 02:50 PM:

Question is, of the most well-known conversion experiences (say, Kazan, Horowitz, Rubin, Nighthorse Campbell, TNR tout entiere, WRHearst, Greer) from left to right, isn't there a fairly obtrusive thread of "Wow, you mean they give you money _and_ attention if you sell out?"

I don't put much credence in philosophical sea-changes if there's a pot of gold waiting at the end (block that metaphor!)

Sort of makes you wonder what they were liberals for in the first place. I suspect being a conservative doesn't get you laid in college.

#50 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 04:15 PM:

Hi, Julia,

Jerry Rubin didn't really turn conservative so much as he turned liberal. (I met him a few times and thought he was a jerk, but that had little to do with his politics.) He'd've probably done better both with money and attention (to say nothing of getting laid) to have stayed crazy. (It galls me how I hated his Growing (Up) at 37 only to start similar changes at that age.)

There are also people who thought--still think,in fact--he and Abbie Hoffman and Ed Sanders sold out by writing Vote! and endorsing George McGovern in 1972.

Elia Kazan is in a class of his own. (Disclaimer: I know his ex-daughter-in-law and step-grandson very well. I passed up my one chance to meet Kazan. I also have a framed signed copy of Jules Feiffer's "Me and Joe Fink" print above our "best books" cabinet.) Right or wrong, Kazan seemed to have felt he was doing the right thing by naming names. (He also had no trouble getting laid.)

If the right is the party of money, power, and influence, isn't everyone who moves to the right likely to have more of all that, no matter their real motivation is in doing so?

#51 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 07:15 PM:

Establishing a semblance of aristocracy is simple: all you need is families that have lots of money and have had it for a long time. Living in an area for a long time with a really cool estate helps too. Ditto with famous ancestors who held positions of power. Add in a few private clubs and private parties and you've got instant celebrity.

Note the Kennedys.

#52 ::: Cryptic Ned ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 08:57 PM:

Sort of makes you wonder what they were liberals for in the first place. I suspect being a conservative doesn't get you laid in college.

There's no reason why a political affiliation would get you laid in college, except somewhere that is basically philosophically devoted to your politics, like Reed College or Furman. If having a political affiliation is the trendy thing to do, then that's what gets you laid. That hasn't been the case in 30 years, though. It was a trend replaced by things like cocaine, skateboarding, and yoga. Reading old issues of Rolling Stone there are quotes from lots of total morons interviewed at love-ins and peace rallies, talking about how they went along because their roommates were all going and how all the world's problems would be solved if squares would open up their minds and ball more. I don't think these people exist on campus today.

None of the liberal activists I know, comprising most of the most liberal .1% of my large public school, have ever impressed a girl by reading the works of getting arrested during civil disobedience. Unless the girl was also a member of a leftist group. And then how would that be unique to leftists?

Some people assume that apolitical but idealistic young people tend to be romantically intrigued by exciting progressives. Well, either they're part of a progressive movement or they find it odd and ineffective or unnecessary, unless it operates squarely within the mainstream like Amnesty or the World Wildlife Fund. As far as I can tell.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2003, 09:07 PM:

Er. It's actually demonstrable that liberals get laid (as in spontaneously and for free) more often than conservatives. This principle is reestablished every time Republicans and Democrats choose the same location to hold major political conventions.

Some newsman invariably interviews the hookers at the convention center, and they always report the same thing: When the Republicans are convening, business couldn't be better. When the Democrats are there, the hookers might as well stay home.

I figure this is one of the real reasons Republicans have such a luminously intense hate on for Bill Clinton.

#54 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 04:04 AM:

I heard Molly Givens [spelling...] on NPR last week. She said there are three philosophical threads involved in George W. Bush's view of the universe:
-- religiosity
-- anti-intellectualism
-- machismo.

She also said, "George W. Bush doesn't hate poor folks, he doesn't -see- them."


Meanwhile, one of the more loathesome and despicable specimens of alleged humanity on the planet, one Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, referred to by at least one reporter as has having become "Stephen "The Mouth" Flemmi, decided to avert a likely death penalty by singing. Mr Flemmi is one of the people weho were protected by corrupt Boston FBi agents and perhaps even by J. Edgar Hoover himself, from investigation and arrest for violent horrific crimes up to and including murder. He was a long time associate of James Bulger, who made chumps out of the FBI and had a de facto license to kill also.

Flemmi, however, ran afoul of the legal system after his handlers and protectors were out of the picture, from a combination of death from natural causes, and retirement, particularly with someone who turned earlier and gave locations of where the Winter Hill Gang literally buried the buried bodies. The bodies exhumed were some of Bulger's and Flemmi's murder victims.

Mr Bush II is involved in this particular old stinky mess of corrupt government officials, because he issued an Executive Order sealing FBI records off from particularly Congressional investigation on just what was going on with the FBI giving immunity to everything to sociopathic murders like Bulger and Flemmi, a pair who delighted in perpetrating death and dismemberment--apparently Flemmi's specialties included yanking teeth from corpses to prevent ID'ing by dental records (pre-DNA testing).

But anyway, Flemmi is singing now, I wonder if any of what he sings, is going to implicate Bush buddies, or implicate associates of Bush buddies.

#55 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 11:22 AM:

So, if liberals get laid for free, and conservatives have to pay for it, then centrists are... what? Schrodinger's Virgins?

#56 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 12:29 PM:

Well put, Lydy.

I think there's a widespread fantasy among the whiners discussed above. As a light-skinned 41 year old bearer of XY chromosomes, I have inside info on at least one instance of the type. The fantasy is about equating self-reliance with isolationism, the idea that if you're strong enough, man enough, you can go it alone, completely self-sufficient. I'm not on welfare, I don't need any handouts, I got where I am on my own merits; heck, I could probably move to a desert island tomorrow, and after a few painful adjustments, I could support myself quite happily for years without anyone else's presence.

As I get older, I've come to realize just what a crock that fantasy is. I'm much more aware of how interdependant we all are, how much we all prop each other up. As a trivial example, I was thinking about some posts on another thread here a while back, which talked about losing parts of one's native grammer while living abroad. I suddenly realized that living on a desert island could lead to atrophying of language skills. What's the point of speech if there's no one to listen? What makes us human is our interaction with other humans.

There are people who prop up their self-esteem by thinking that anything good in their lives they caused all by themselves. Any suggestion that they should acknowledge their interconnectedness with the rest of society feels like an attack.

Keep in mind that by "they", I also mean "me" in at least some of this post, by the way.

#57 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 03:06 PM:

Hi, adamsj.

Bruce just made me giggle immoderately.

Just saying.

#58 ::: Becky Miller ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 03:26 PM:

OK, I know it's foolish to post here, but I have to respond to Kris Hasson-Jones and her assertion that they had to work so hard to get me to testify. Working in an attorney's office, I would have thought she knew how this stuff works. The reason the conversation was started was because I wanted to talk, and asked my attorney to start the conversation. If possible, I wanted immunity because - duh - I didn't want to go to jail and I didn't want to give every dime I earned for the rest of my life to her client, but I also felt strongly that the truth needed to come out and the lying had to stop. I was fully prepared to testify without immunity from the state. But to say so certainly would not have given me any bargaining ability, would it? So Kris, you need to set aside some of the hate, too. If it makes you feel any better, I am TRULY ashamed of what I did - not just relieved I didn't go to jail or have to pay your legal costs. I thought I was strong enough to keep OTU on the straight and narrow, but I was wrong. I am not trying to purge myself of anything by writing this op-ed. I am just one of those idiots who speaks up when they believe something, knowing they'll get shot at. I couldn't keep this one to myself. That's all there is to it.

#59 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 04:44 PM:

Hi, Becky. Good to see you. Stick around?

#60 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 05:19 PM:

Becky - why do you think it's foolish to post here? I don't think people here are unsympathetic to you, in general. We're (mostly) not conservatives, but that doesn't mean we're automatically hostile to anyone who is.

BTW I'm one of those "idiots," too. Thank the gods I've never been in the difficult position you found yourself in, though.

#61 ::: Anne Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 10:23 PM:

The political cynicism part of this thread reminded me that there is a particularly good Editorial by Lewis Lapham In the current issue of Harpers Magazine. (Unfortunately you can only get last month's issue online, so I can't link to it, but I'll quote it in part.) He's responding to letters, and says that he takes from the mail "a feeling of encouragement and hope because I think the letters prove a point opposite to the one their authors intend."

The humor and energy of the prose give lie to the professions of cynicism and despair, and I'm left with the thought that maybe it's possible to upgrade the concern for the country's state of well-being from a luxory to a necessity. For the last twenty-odd years, ever since Ronald Reagan first opened his window on the White House lawn to discover that once again it was "morning in America," the merchants of the country's upscale socioeconomic opinion have been reminding their clientele that politics no longer matter. ... the financial markets ... made all the decisions of any consequence or size; politicians handed around the party hats and hired the mariachi band.


The media's extravagant cross-promotions of the synthetic debate sedate their audiences with the drug of boredom and so encourage a general retreat into what the late Walter Karp understood to be "the corrupting consolation of cynicism." Karp employed the phrase to describe the attitude of mind adopted by a generation of American intellectuals responding to the Wilson administration's harsh suppression of free speech during World War I. Finding themselves suffocated by a climate of opinion in which dissent was disloyal and disloyalty a crime, a good many independent-minded and once outspoken citizens acquired the habit of looking at the national political scene from the point of view of spectators at a tenement fire or a train wreck. As compensation for their loss of a public voice, they retreated to a library or a lawn party to comfort themselves with private and literary expressions of anger and disgust.

The attitude is one that I've encountered often enough in myself to know that it leads nowhere except to the sucking of stale and bitter lemons, to know also that it is the cynical politician's most precious asset and truest friend. Yes, say the gentlemen in power, exactly right, the world is a truly terrible place, overflowing with venal bankers and bearded terrorists, and you, my dear fellow, you are so sensitive and smart that it would be a crime to squander your talent in the sewer of politics ...

#62 ::: Anne Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2003, 10:24 PM:

hmm.. that blockquote didn't quite turn out right. just to be clear, all of the last three paragraphs of my last post are quoting Lapham.

#63 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2003, 03:03 AM:

About talking to conservatives.

Schadenfreude about Rush Limbaugh's drug problem has been all over the lefty blogs like a rash. This piece by Alan Bock shows a more constructive approach - compassionate conservatism, if you like:

If addiction is not a crime but a medical/psychological problem with moral overtones – and if millions of dittoheads become convinced of this, and eventually have some influence over the politicians they support based on other issues, we could see the beginning of the end of the drug war. That would be a red-letter day for America and a serious blow to the terrorists (and plenty of other ruthless thugs) of this world.

#64 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2003, 08:05 AM:


Thanks for coming in and telling us your story. Most people know that there are tradeoffs in testifying, and that some people talk because they want to, and try to get a good deal with that, while others talk because they need the deal.

#65 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2003, 06:34 PM:

Ken, I'm speaking for others, but I think that one reason that many people on the left have little sympathy for Limbaugh is that they don't expect it to change him much. We've already seen the excuse that this was different from 'illegal drug' use (Coulter?). If Rush tells his listeners that this changed his mind, that he was wrong, and that the current drug law system should be changed, then that would be different.

What I, for one, am expecting, is a large propaganda wave of "this is *different*".

#66 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2003, 10:15 AM:

Barry, I think Alan Bock was just expressing a fond hope that Rush would change, not expecting such a change.

#67 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2003, 06:08 PM:

Ken, Bill Maher posted a similar sentiment at

He's basically encouraging Rush to "walk the walk" of his personal responsibility talk, and change his stand on drugs. He's actually quite sympathetic and supportive of Rush, but with a kind of "tough love" twist: he's encouraging Rush to be strong enough to change his mind.

He has a great line to the effect of "if you're exchanging cigar boxes full of ANYTHING in parking lots, you're an addict!"

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