The Thursday Blog: “I Really Said That?” Edition

I think I was going to write a final Dragon*con post for today, something about how much easier it is to exit Atlanta than it is to get into it, and some clever anecdotes about driving into Florida… but all that is going to have to wait.

I had scheduled this particular blog to occur a few weeks from now, but comments from readers caused me to move it up, and for that I apologize. See, this treads around politics a bit, though I think that it maybe isn’t exactly “political” per se.

When W. was running to be the 43rd President of America I was, to put it mildly, a detractor. I believed every shitty thing anyone had to say about the man and was all too happy to spread it around. I would grow enraged watching him on TV because every word he said was a lie, and I felt like he was smirking at me, gloating because he knew that a percentage of us knew he was full of shit and there was nothing we could do about it. In a word, I hated the man.

Then came 2008. McCain (who did not particularly bother me even if he was a bit philosophically… we’ll call it flexible) lost to Obama and the whole tone of the nation changed. Formerly rabid chomping madmen became blissfully calm, full of hope and wonder, and formerly happy, satisfied citizens became frothing lunatics, all virtually overnight.

I listened to the screaming about Obama while shaking my head in puzzlement. Not a citizen? Secretly a Muslim? Wants to give our country away to the Middle East? Who thinks this? Disappointment I get. Frustration I get. But where was this blinding anger coming from? These people were so upset that they’d believe every shitty thing anyone had to say about the…

Oh.

I get it.

So I began thinking about myself, and trying to honestly evaluate my behavior. I realized that I was every bit as bad as any Tea Party crazy is today, I just sounded more sane because I am skilled at argument, and the media loved to show us the Tea Party inbreds who triumphantly declared they would never read another book back in the third grade and have held true to their vow. The media have largely ignored the reasoned thinkers who legitimately feel the process has betrayed them in favor of the funny sound bite that plays oh-so-well on the YouTubes. And I have fed right into it.

Now, the expected American reaction to the “opposition” flogging your guy in public is to get even angrier and try to shout even louder. On TV, in Facebook, in someone’s D&D webcomic comments. Suddenly I found myself having the reverse reaction. I started thinking back on all the things I thought about Bush Jr. that very likely were not true. By observing the vituperative gnashing over Obama I realized that I no longer hated W., in fact I felt a bit sympathetic towards him. I have tried to tell friends this a few times, and with the exception of my gaming buddies have received blank stares in response. It’s like people don’t even want to consider that whoever they’ve invested so much effort into hating might not actually be that terrible a person. Most act exactly as if they could not hear me.

Now I don’t really think I’m going to change anyone’s minds out there. Grousing over the injustice of it all and demonizing those outside our own political “tribe” is huge sport and many people are very invested in the game. Besides which, I’m 43 and this just occurred to me, I’ve a feeling it isn’t the sort of revelation you can just share and expect it to make sense to anyone else. But I also feel like I have to try.

Our political system is a giant crazy-lens that makes the people on the other side appear distorted and malignant, whether they are or not. Some really are whacky, but for the most part, they all started out as decent folks who just wanted to do some good. But that process displays monsters when there are real people through the lens, which serves the dual injustice of making the good look bad and the bad look normal. We continually feed the machine every time we don’t listen, or we get angry, or we stop talking to one another. I’m not asking for you to change your life…

Just think about it.

109 Responses to The Thursday Blog: “I Really Said That?” Edition

  1. I agree with you.
    I had a rather lengthy add on to this, but it was all rambles and mostly pointless. I’ll just stick with, you’re absolutely right.

    Also praise DM.

  2. Too often people forget that their own party’s or candidate’s propaganda is just as biased as the opposition’s. Worse, they usually don’t recognize it as propaganda.

    Just try to remember that everyone has an agenda, and do your homework.

  3. I understand what you mean. I had a similar revelation when Micheal Jackson died and I decided to read up on him.
    Considering W. I have to say, that I still very much dislike his political direction. Being german I have not been exposed to very much media hate, I have an idea about his political actions, I know almost nothing about W. the person. One thing you have to respect about him, he did not find weapons of mass destruction.

    • That is a completely reasonable approach. You can disagree with a man’s policy decisions without believing him to be either evil OR stupid. Most times, he is simply doing what he feels is best for everyone… it just isn’t what you would do.

    • Well HE didn’t, but the soldiers did. Tons and Tons of Mustard gas, mobile Germ Weaponization factories in the back of trailer trucks, and several terrorist training camps, including one where they had an airline frame set up for hijacking practice (AKA “Salman Pak”)

      The Media just didn’t report it, because it didn’t fit their “No WMDs, and Bush is an idiot” storyline.

        • You’re right, they don’t kill nearly enough people(well, except those Anthrax factories, pity he didn’t get to use them). No wonder Saddam failed in his war against Iran. If only he had some better weapons to throw at his enemies. Damn shame, my friend, damn shame. 🙁

        • Actually, mustard gas and germ weapons *would* be WMDs, if they had actually been found. They weren’t, though. What had been found apparently were a few *crates* (not “tons and tons”) of 15-year-old leftover shells from the Iran-Iraq war, and *no* mobile germ weaponization factories.

          • SO Shells that contain mustard gas don’t count as mustard gas?

            And yes, they WERE Germ weaponization labs concealed in tractor trailers. Keep on deluding yourself that Saddam was just constructing germ breeding equipment that needed to be concealed and mobile in order to make flu vaccine.

            • A couple of crates of leftovers that had been buried during the Iran-Iraq war don’t count as “tons and tons”. Saddam got rid of his WMD during the 90’s, and he told his /own officers/ that.

              If they found a crate of Zylon from WWII (no relation…) in an abandoned warehouse in Germany, would that even be plausible evidence that Germany was planning a WMD attack on anyone? Of course not. It would be evidence that, during a war, things can be chaotic, and records get lost. Now, if they really found “tons and tons” of WMD, and not a few overlooked crates, then maybe your paranoia would be justified.

              I’m afraid capitalizing the word “were” doesn’t make your assertion any more true. The Pentagon says you’re wrong, and they ought to know something about the subject. Google “Final Technical Engineering Exploitation Report on Iraqi Suspected Biological Weapons-Associated Trailers”.

              I think we’re seeing the obverse of what Kevin was talking about: propaganda can be used to whitewash your friends as well as villify your enemies.

              • And I suppose the Kurds that Saddam gassed with mustard gas just died from eating some bad Falafal?

                God forbid that the President of the United States should belive Saddam himself touting his WMD stockpile, and the intelligence reports of a dozen or so countries verifying it, and never mind that the MAIN reason we invaded Iraq was Saddam’s support of terrorism (He went so far as to reward the families of suicide bombers with cash prizes for crying out loud, and he had bad habits like putting people feet first through wood chippers. Charming guy wasn’t he?) and not just WMDs

                • Look, it’s not complicated: Saddam had poison gas during the Iran-Iraq war back in the ’80’s, and at the time he was also gassing the Kurds. That’s not in dispute by anyone. But it’s also not relevant. Now, do you have any evidence that he had “tons and tons” of mustard gas at the time of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Because if you don’t, then W. didn’t have a WMD justification for the invasion. Whether Saddam had mustard gas in 1988 isn’t relevant to this discussion, since “Iraqi Freedom” didn’t happen in 1988. Germany had Zyklon-B in 1939, and that might have been a good reason to invade Germany — in 1939. After 1945, not so much.

                  There’s also no evidence linking Saddam to al Qaeda. As far as payments to families of Hamas terrorists … if you really think that had something to do with the invasion, why did the US invade Iraq and not, say, Saudi Arabia, which actually supports Hamas itself, not some orphans, or Iran, the backer of Hezbollah?

                  Intelligence reports at the time generally claimed he did NOT have WMD — including of course the UN weapons inspections. Bush (or, more likely, Cheney) cherry-picked. Google “Downing Street Memo”.

                  Now, as a nod to the original point of this thread: I’m not sure that the cherry-picking was deliberate. Cheney and his hawks (Wolfowitz et al.) wanted a war with Iraq even before W. was elected. It had nothing to do with WMD: it was all about remaking the Middle East. But wanting a war, and therefore being predisposed to believing dubious evidence that supports the war, could just have been the natural (and mostly subconscious) human tendency to screen out evidence that doesn’t fit your worldview. In retrospect, both hubris and groupthink led to the invasion of Iraq, but it’s not clear to me even now which was dominant.

                  • I’d just like to take a sec and point out that this is (at least partly) what I was talking about. While the actual evidence shows us that Iraq did not have any form of WMD, because that fact was used as a club to beat on Bush by the Left, anti-Left groups denied the evidence. In the end the result is people like Elfguy (not trying to be personal, but the example IS illustrative) who believe in a thing despite actual proof to the contrary. Therefore, no amount of argument will convince him, because his belief is now based on faith, and not facts.

                    This is the crazy-lens I was talking about, and any of us would be mistaken to assume it doesn’t cut both ways.

                • Elfguy wrote:
                  “Well HE didn’t, but the soldiers did. Tons and Tons of Mustard gas, mobile Germ Weaponization factories in the back of trailer trucks, and several terrorist training camps, including one where they had an airline frame set up for hijacking practice (AKA “Salman Pak”) The Media just didn’t report it, because it didn’t fit their “No WMDs, and Bush is an idiot” storyline.”

                  *sigh* No they didn’t.
                  If you think the worldwide media of all nations, except for Fox “News”, is part of a global anti-George-Bush conspiracy, then you’re really paranoid.

                  Bush may or not be an idiot (depending on one’s definition of idiot), but he was a puppet president for Cheney and others connected to the Project for a New American Century, the political and ideological roots of which go straight back to the early 1930s, to people like Prescott Sheldon Bush, Leo Strauss (often called the “father of neo-conservatism”) and Nazi-philosopher Carl Schmitt. These are facts thoroughly documented, not least by the BBC and various political historians.
                  Additionally, Bush jr. has the clinical symptoms of a person with narcissist personality disorder and sociopathy. Splendid.

                  “And I suppose the Kurds that Saddam gassed with mustard gas just died from eating some bad Falafal?”

                  The Kurds were gassed by Saddam’s Baath regime in 1988. Saddam was pressured to get rid of his WMDs during the 1990s, after the first Gulf War. Your point?

                  “God forbid that the President of the United States should belive Saddam himself touting his WMD stockpile, and the intelligence reports of a dozen or so countries verifying it,

                  No.

                  “and never mind that the MAIN reason we invaded Iraq was Saddam’s support of terrorism (snip)”

                  If that was the case, why didn’t the Bush gov attack Saudi-Arabia instead? Sorry, sort of a rhetorical question, I know.
                  Say it with me: Iraq was not connected to al-Qaeda.

                  If you want to know about one root of terrorism, read up on Operation Gladio, started Western intelligence services like the CIA and MI6 during the Cold War era, using what has been called the “dialectic methodology of terrorism” against one’s own or allied civilian populations, to kill two birds with one stone: instill fear to keep populations in thrall to “strong leaders” who promise to protect the nation from the ever-present terrorist threat, and blame the terrorist attacks on your political enemy (most often “leftist subversives”). Secret operatives launched terrorist attacks in democratic states like France, Germany and Italy, while CIA-trained death squads and regimes spread terror in Central and Southern America in the name of anti-communism. Names like Roberto Suazo Cordova (Honduras), Anastasio Somoza Garcia (Nicaragua), Manual Noriega (Panama), Augusto Pinochet (Chile) etc sound familiar?
                  Operation Gladio-style secret warfare is apparently still going on, just these days in countries like Iraq. (see “NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe,” by Daniele Ganser)

                  • Um…Dude…Fox News didn’t exist when the whole “Bush lied, soldiers died” crap started, so you can’t say that THEIR lack of reporting on the evidence the media didn’t report on means the evidence, poison gas and weapon labs, etc, didn’t exist.

                    Salman Pak, with it’s “How to hijack an airplane” terrorist training simulator was widely reported on the Internet and by conservative Commentators, but CNN and the other “mainstream” news simply ignored them and kept beating the “No WMDs” drum.

                    Notice how I explicitly said that WMDs were NOT the main reason we went into Iraq, and yet Kevin focuses in like a laser on WMDs, claiming that I’m the one ignoring the evidence, and the fact that, no, I don’t belive the “No WMD’s” reports of CNN, NBC News, etc, becuase THEY are the ones trying to claim that poison gas, mobile disease breeding labporatories, months of convoys leaving the country through Syria (We still don’t know what was in all those trucks…gee, think Saddam just might have done some “spring cleaning” while he kept UN inspectors out of Iraq?) Aren’t evidence of an extensive WMD weapons program.

                    Even if, for some reason, Poison gas shells magically become harmless perfume just because Kevin thinks they’re no longer evidence, Keven cannot deny that Saddam was paying off the families of Suicide bombers and actively supporting terrorist training camps in Iraq.

    • What’s all this talk about invading Saudi-Arabia or Iran just because they’re funding and supporting terrorists anyway?
      I mean, seriously does anyone think the USA or any other first-world country care about that shit? If they did, would they throw shit at Israel and pressure it to make a worthless “peace treaty” with terrorist groups at all costs for no apparent gain(including during W’s term)?
      Sorry, Elfguy, while I think removing Saddam was basically a nice thing to do, him being a rather naughty chap and all that(but not EVIL like those cruel Zionist occupation forces killing innocent kids in Palesti…err, Israel), I find it hard to think anyone in the government gave a fig about supporters of terrorism.

  4. does it even matter right now? the corporations got a green flag to support there candidates now and brib err I mean “donations” are at a all time high, the fat cats arn’t even trying to hide it.

    highest bidder democracy, nothing else matters.

    • Hasn’t it always been like that? Only difference is now it’s legal and out in the open, where we can all see it. 😛

        • Indeed. This sort of thing has been going on ever since Big Oil and Big Railroad and Big Steel, beginning of the 1900’s.

        • You’ll find “Unequal Protection – The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights” by Thom Hartman interesting, Kevin.

          The problem goes back to the time of the British East India (Trading) Company and the Dutch East India Company, the first multinationally acting companies that. The British East India Company during its time ruled India, for all rights and purposes, like a government, with its own army and fleet and legal powers, the right to control public life, to mint coins, to have people thrown in jail.

          Company rule of whole populations thus already existed in the 17th and 18th century century; but back then corporations were still artificial legal creatures brought into existance for a certain purpose and for a certain time, were subject to tight regulations by the State, and could have their charter revoked if they harmed people or communities. Corporations could not own stock in other companies, nor could they claim human rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (or equivalents thereof outside the USA). Stockholders, boards of directors and managers could be held responsible for the behaviours and impacts of the corporation they owned by the state the corporation was chartered in.

          That all changed when Corporate Personhood was declared in 1886. Today investors have no liability for the acts or debts of the corporation that they own and enable through their investments. Hartman’s book not only discusses the rise of corporations and the impacts of their unchecked power on global communities and ecologies, but also provides a chronicle of the history of the Fourteenth Amendment and its originally intended uses to protect equal rights granted to former black slaves and women and the life, liberty and property of human beings in general.

          Most importantly, it also tackles the question: Corporate Personhood… exactly when and how did this change to the US Constitution happen? Hartman follows in the footsteps of attorney and legal historian Howard Jay Graham, examining the now infamous 1886 Santa Clara Country vs. Southern Pacific Railroads Company case before the Supreme Court that everyone assumes laid the basis for corporate Personhood…. when in reality it does no such thing. The actual case that Chief Justice Waite decided on was about taxes and the assessment of fences.

          To quote from Hartman:
          “In the decade leading up to this May day in 1886, the railroads had lost every Supreme Court case that they had brought seeking Fourteenth Amendment rights. (…)
          “No laws were passed by Congress granting that corporations should be treated the same under the Constitution as living, breathing human beings, and none have been passed since then. It was not a concept drawn from older English law. No court decisions, state or federal, held that corporations were persons instead of artificial persons. The Supreme Court did not rule, in this case or any case, on the issue of corporate personhood.
          “In fact, to this day there has been no Supreme Court ruling that could explain why a corporation – with its ability to continue operation forever – a legal agreement that can’t be put in jail and doesn’t need fresh water to drink or clean air to breathe – should be granted the same constitutional rights our Founders explicitly fought for, died for, and granted to the very mortal human beings who are citizens of the United States (…).
          “But something happened in 1886, even though nobody to this day knows exactly what or why.
          That year, Sanderson decided to again defy a government agency that was trying to regulate his railroad’s activity. This time he went after Santa Clara Country, California. His claim, in part, was that because a railroad was a person under the Constitution, local governments shouldnt discriminate against it by having different laws and taxes in different places. In 1885, the case came before the Supreme Court.
          In argument before the court in January 1885, Sanderson asserted that corporate persons should be treated the same as natural (or human) persons. (…)
          “Sandersons fellow lawyer for the railroads, George F. Edmunds, added his opinion that the Fourteenth Amendment leveled the field between artificial persons (corporations) and natural persons (humans) (…). But that wasn’t actually what the case was about – that was just a minor point. The railroad was being sued by the country for back taxes. The railroad claimed six different defenses. (…) the central concern is whether the Court ruled on the Fourteenth Amendment issue. As will be shown below, the Supreme Court’s decision clearly says it did not. (….)”

          Hartman notes that according to the official record that has been quoted for over 100 years as precedent, prior to the actual ruling, Chief Justice Waite told the present attorneys that the court was of the opinion that the 14th Amentment applied to corporations…but in the actual ruling that followed, as well as his personal correspondence, Waite explicitely declined to discuss constitutional issues in connection with that case, stating that constitutional amendments had nothing to do with the assessment of fences. So where did this idea come from? Hartman found the explanation in the headnotes.

          Hartman:
          “In the written record of the case, the court recorder noted, The Defendant corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
          “This written statement, that corporations were persons rather than artificial persons, which an equal footing under the Bill of Rights as humans, was not a formal ruling of the court, but was reportedly a simply statement by its Chief Justice, recorded by the court recorder. (….)
          “The written record, as excerted above, simply assumed corporate personhood without any explanation why. (…)
          “There was no change in legislation, and President Grover Cleveland had not issued a proclamation that corporations should be considered the same as natural persons. The U.S. Constitution does not even contain the word “corporation” and has never been amended to contain it because the Founders wanted corporations to be regulated as close to home as possible, by the states, so they culd be kept on a short leash – presumably so nothing like the East India Company would ever again arise to threaten the entrepreneurs of America. But as a result of this case, for the past 100-plus years corporate lawyers and politicians have claimed that Chief Justice Waite turned the law on its side and reinvented America’s social hierarchy. (…)
          “This apparent contradiction (…) sent me to the law liberary in the Vermont Supreme Court building. Librarian Paul Donovan found for me Volume 118 of United STates Reports: Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term 1885 and October Term 1886, plublished in New York in 1886 by Banks & Brothers Publishers, and written by J.C. Bancroft Davies, the Supreme Court’s reporter.
          “What I found in the book, however, were two pages of text that are missing from the online and official version. They were not part of the decision. They weren’t even written by the Supreme Court justices, but were a quick summary-of-the-case commentary by Davies. He wrote commentaries like these for each case, “adding value” to the published book, from which he earned a royalty. And there is was, in the notes. (…)
          “I paid my 70 cents for the copies of the pages (…) and walked down the street to the office of attorney Jim Ritvo (…) and said, “What does this mean?´´
          He looked it over and said, “It’s just headnotes. (…) Lawyers are trained to beware of headnotes because they are not written by judges or justices, but are usually put in a commentator or by the book’s publisher.´´
          “Are they legal? I mean, are they the law or anything like that?´´
          “Headnotes do no have the value of a formal decision,´´ Jim said. “They’re not law. THey’re just a comment, by somebody who doesn’t have the power to make or determine or decide law.´´
          “In other words, these headnotes by court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davies which say that Waite said corporations are persons, are meaningless?´´
          (…) “Legally, yes. They’re meaningless. They’re not the decision or part of the decision.´´
          “But they contradict what the decision itself says,´´´I said, probably sounding a bit hysterical.”

          Hartman chronicles several “conspiracy” theories put forth over the years by several historians as to why Davies did this. Davies was not merely a stenographer. Back in those days court reporter was a prestigious position. Also, Davies must have understood full well the ramifications of what he did; a full fifteen years before the Santa Clara Country vs. Southern Pacific Railroads Company case, Davies had been Assistant Secretary of State, who had helped pave the then-lawyer Marrison R. Waite’s career path to Chief Justice. He had been Acting Secretary of State under President Ulysses Grant. He had been active in the famous 1871 Geneva Arbitration Case, led by attorney Morrison R. Waite. And according to therecords of the City of Newburgh where Davies had once lived, the Orange Country New York Directory of 1878-1879 notes that J.C. Davies was elected President of the Board of Directors for the Newburgh and New York Railroad Company on August 1st, 1868.

  5. Ah, goodie! Welcome home! :p

    Seriously though, very nice. You even point out you see the moonbat and crackpot 1% of any group, because it makes for better youtube and tv. BTW, I am not a fan of Bush OR Obama, though I voted for the former, I feel he had too much in common with the later, he just was better at lying about being conservative, IMO. I think McCain would of done about the same as Obama has done, but yeah… I believe that having government funded everything is a nice dream (except being kept as ‘pets’ makes it harder to PURSUE happiness), but how would we pay for it? I am against handouts to corporations or to individuals, but at least individuals should be protected from death from anything beyond their control, within the realm of reason. (we can not protect everyone from a congenital heart defect or from being hit from a meteor, but we should make sure children are not starving and people have a place to go to get out of the rain. Of course giving someone who can not hold down a job an ATM card and expect they will use it wisely to support their children is just silly. You get my point.

    But the issues are complicated, the “feel good solutions” rarely work, and making false arguments and trying to keep the sides equal and against each other sells papers and books, while fixing problems and working towards consensus does not.

    Final note, since I am on a roll (real or perceived), ever notice both Democrats and Republicans PRETEND they are conservative when trying to get elected? All for cutting taxes, reducing spending… Makes me wonder what force is causing them to act one way to get elected (will of the people) and what force causes them to then throw those promises away when they get into office. Keep that in mind and the need for checks and balances makes sense….

    • There is a long standing and quite observable shift in a politician’s stances between primary and actual election. For instance, two Democrats in a primary race will often spend their time trying to “out-left” each other, both competing for the Democrat voters by attempting to see who is closer to the liberal line.

      Once the primary is done, the Democrat vote is perceived as being sewn up, (after all there’s only one choice now) and the new competition is for the middle of the road independent swing voters. Now our Democrat will “soften” his message by swinging right and center, while the Republican will swing left and center, both trying to capture the independents. It happens every single time.

      • So maybe this should be a clue for at least one more “centralist” party to rise up, shouldn’t it? Assuming the two super-powers won’t sabotage it before it can get off the ground.

        • Nah, ain’t gonna happen.

          Remember “Sore Loserman?” and the whole “Bush stole the Election” bullshit? Gore’s campaign kept trying to force additional recounts after the automatic (and legal) recounts had already been done and Bush still one. Several people were caught turning “undervotes” into votes for Gore (one guy was actually caught EATING chads off the balots) and votes were even being created out of thin air by assuming that anyone who voted for any Democrats for the senate or house also “intended” to vote for Gore instead of leaving the president slot blank. And who can forget the tens of thousands of military absentee balots the Gore campaign tried to get thrown out because they arrived too close to the election (Gee, think the mail from overseas might just be a bit slow? And I wonder how popular Gore was in the military?)

          • Both sides did a lot they should have been ashamed of during that post-election period. I remember thinking at the time that I was thoroughly disgusted by everyone’s behavior. If you will recall, neither side advocated recounting ALL the contested votes, just the ones that they thought were most likely for them.

  6. Couple of things to add. I recently this posting which made me wonder, http://pajamasmedia.com/zombie/2010/10/11/the-electric-tea-party-acid-test/?singlepage=true and I would be just as angry at Obama for letting me down after I DID vote for him, as I was at Bush because so many other people voted for him that should have known better, except that I’m drained, I can’t be that upset any more I just don’t have it in me. Going back to plan B, establishing my own Waterworld. I am however, not tired of arguing about politics.

    • Yeah, I just got done discussing the particular merits of that article. Yes Hippies and Tea Partiers both want the government off their backs, but no, I don’t think all Hippies would agree that they should wholesale join the Tea Party.

  7. I think you have a fundamental problem in your political system by having only two parties. Not that having a multitude of parties will fix anything, but it will definitely improve it. After all, if you look at it from a certain angle, you’re only one step up from having a single party(of the people!).
    It’s nice that the two super-powers try to include every single subject of interest in their party platform, but they’re basically Jacks of all trades, so many “smaller” agendas fall between the big chairs(more like thrones) of whatever the big, general issues are(like external/internal political rivalries, and uh, maybe differing views on the economy if there’s time left for it on the busy slandering schedule).

    And I know the above has got nothing to do with the subject of this post.
    I’ve been suspicious of everyone’s motives since I was a kid so I tend to just assume the general bad things about every politician, especially the squeaky-clean ones on top of white horses(I don’t care much for equids) clad in shiny armor(knights are there just fight and kill anyway, since when did they become the symbol of righteousness?).

    • I’d be a lot happier if there were NO political parties. That’s actually how the country was originally set up, and political parties were expressly illegal given all the trouble they had caused in England. But you know the saying, “What Congress once put right, Congress can later fuck up.”

      • Lol Kevin, I agree the current election system is flawed. It would be great if we could elect our officials old school Greek style, where everyone showed up and voted by raising their hand.

        That is a lot of counting.

        Orald – Knights were considered righteous because ‘politicians’ were too easy to kill. Knights posed a much tougher public speaker.

        • The Greek way, besides it being valid for only a few wealthy, male land owners(the way it SHOULD be, dammit 😛 ), still isn’t that much different than, well, democracy in its modern sense.
          It’s not like people didn’t have “parties” back then, headed by the most senior(=wealthy) members. That’s human nature, all you can do is try making it more transparent, but you know it’s never going to be a good system, nothing human ever will be.
          We didn’t evolve to be benign, peace-loving, neighbor-hugging, perpetually happy creatures. We’re still all about promoting ourselves and our close relatives and allies above all else. Transparency and regulations limit these things, but can’t eliminate them. And when the people(who are still people and still bound to those evolutionary pressures) in charge of making sure it’s transparent and regulated themselves give in to the corruption, what can you do?

          What most people want are leaders, heroes to help them and show them the way, and decide for them. The rest of the people want that power(everyone wants power, but not everyone’s determined/power-hungry enough to go grab it, e.g politicians and warlords) and can sometimes think themselves as those leaders and heroes(mostly if they’re insane, your average politician is too cynical to think that). These leaders may start OK, but before long they usually give in to corruption.
          There’s the saying “power corrupts”, but isn’t it truer to say that power draws the corrupted?
          In Chapterhouse: Dune there’s a saying, I can’t remember the exact wording, but if it’s not exactly this than it’s certainly inspired by this one I found while looking for the Ch: D quote: “Power draws the corrupted; absolute power would draw the absolutely corrupted.”
          Speaking of which, the Dune series(meaning real Dune books, only those by Frank Herbert himself) is full to the brim with great political observations, especially God Emperor of Dune, even if the “solutions” presented are sadly beyond us, not having all those Other Memories etc.

          • I think it’s likely that if we manage to survive and evolve for another 100,000 years or so (remember that Homo Sapiens is only 35,000 years old) we may manage to figure out a way to get along with each other.

            • Actually, we’re around 150K y-o, at least. BY 30K years people were already entrenched all over the “old world”(the Americas got invaded around 15-13K BC, but some believe an even older group was there and got assimilated&killed). I think Australia has fossil records from 40K years ago, but I could be wrong, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched or read anything about it, and the figures and discoveries change constantly(quick check: Wiki’ says about 200K, but I didn’t want to push it too much, so I stayed with more conservative figures).
              People ARE getting more…sociably responsible, I presume, mainly because better living conditions mean they no longer have to be as tough and merciless to actually survive and pass on their genes(in other words, we’re getting soft), but I can’t see a real change in the foreseeable future, as it takes time for these “softer” genes to propagate throughout the human gene pool, and frankly, they’ll find it hard when “tougher” genes don’t bother about niceties that much.
              In other words, you can’t let your guard down when you’re surrounded by hungry lions. That’s why there’s this whole thing about “democracy protecting itself”.

              Besides, don’t you know? In the future there is only war! 8)

                • Orald never played anything but 2&4E D&D and some adventure books, with a bit of poorly constructed home-brew “systems”, and all for just brief periods, because Orald never had many friends who were into RPGs, and still doesn’t.
                  Orald’s now happily-dead evil father also discouraged him, unsuccessfully, to stop caring for such hobbies. The bastard.
                  Orald is forced to fantasize about fantasy because he’s surrounded by barbarian, ignorant hooligans.
                  Orald lives in a country were gaming is still very much a “kid’s thing”, and with a much smaller population than the USA it means there are even less people with whom he could possibly play with, without the added problem of large swaths of society(at least half) which probably never even heard of such things, like Arabs(including the Druze) and most orthodox&ultra-orthodox Jews(with whom Orald grew up with).
                  But Orald can read about such things and hope for better days when he rules Israel with an iron (power)fist.
                  😥

                  And Orald will probably declare a Waaagh! while he’s at it.

            • BTW, the above post starting with “The Greek way”, talking about human nature etc. was written before I read the article(and watched the video) Bluemoon linked, so I was kind of startled to see I was saying the same things as that guy in the video.
              And if we’re at it, just call them “migratory workers”(which is exactly what it’s all about, perhaps harking to the days of migratory hunting&gathering societies) instead of this negative sounding term “hobos”.

    • Well, since this wouldn’t post, and Kevin hasn’t gotten around to fixing it, I’ll try it in pieces.

      Alas, the completely entrenched Two-party machine that has been promoted and built up has made it nearly impossible to elect someone who ISN’T a Democrat or Republican. All that happens if a semistrong third party candidate runs is, they pull votes from one or the other of the “big two” often allowing the worse of the two to get into office (witness Ross Perot)

      It’s gotten so bad that we actually have the Democrats ( who have benefited from foriegn donations for decades) trying to say that the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE is funnelling foreign cash into Republican campain coffers, with absolutely no evidence, and when asked if they have evidence, their flippant response is ‘do you have any evidence that it’s NOT true?’

      Gee, and we thought the rule was “Innocent until proven guilty.” – unless you’re a Republican candidate and the Democrat feels he might lose his cushy govermennt job that he’s held for 40 or more YEARS, then you’re guilty until proved innocent.

      • Wait? What wouldn’t post? I’m the web monkey. Not poor Kevin. Please send me a message with your issue. I’ll do my best to fix whatever the problem is.

        • Well there were two versions of that very post that simply never showed up. Kevin said they got marked as “Spam” (I could understand that for the attempt to post a modified version later, but not on the first one)

          • Elfguy – I don’t know how the spam filter decides what is spam and what isn’t. I can tell you that posts get scored against a database of offenders. If your score is too high, then you get held. So, it could be subject matter, double posts, links, etc. I’ve had my own stuff held. But, it’s a damn shade better than letting the 100s of spam we receive every month get posted. No one wants to sift through that.

            Perhaps I’m misreading your response, but it sounds like maybe you think Kevin is doing it to you on purpose? If that is what you are thinking, let me assure you he isn’t. Kevin will ban someone before he bothers to moderate by blocking posts… and he always gives a warning first. He’s pretty lenient though and really only cares about personal attacks on each other.

            In any case, I added your email to the white list so hopefully, you won’t have any more issues. If you do, feel free to send me an email using the form under the contact link. I will be as responsive as I can.

            • I still think it’s much cooler sounding if it’s really Bolshevik secret service working for Obama and not just a line of code. Besides, Kevin already confessed to having shady deals with them.

  8. Politics is a necessary evil to govern the masses. Masses are then influenced by mass media because singluar directed reasoning is impossible, and so in order to spread a message must mass produce it. Now we have the influence of culture and educational level that must be overcome in order to spread your message.

    Ever play the telephone game?

    The biggest problem in the US is education. There is an unfortunate majority that believe that all of our problems and solutions stem from whomever is our President. We as US citizens have grown accustomed to making the President our scapegoat, which is truly sad. Congress is the main body that has the power to control everything and when this body fails to act aggressively and correctly nothing happens. This staleness leads to many Presidential Announcements.

    Wars are an unfortunate act, but in many ways a necessary; they do not always have to be bloody. If there were no wars for the last couple of decades would the media still portray W Bush so negatively?

    Always question the media, never judge someone before you’ve met them, and if you elect them into office judge yourself accordingly and not play blame for your in-action and false belief that 1 man can change the world in a year.

    Africa is a continent and not a country. 😉

  9. I’m not super political. When I lived in Louisiana and had to actually register as some sort of political affiliation to vote, I registered Independant. While I think it’s somewhat important who the President is, it’s actually MORE important who your Congressmen are (or at least it used to be….these days the President can just sign anything into enactment). The laws that the President signs or vetos comes from Congress. If it doesn’t pass Congress, it doesn’t matter (as much, since Clinton, this has gotten jumbled up) because the President can’t sign it. As far as who I vote for, it really comes down to which individual I think is best for the job WITHOUT listening to any of the pundits….I listen to my gut. I’ve voted for candidates from pretty much every party over the years…..

    When the President and Congress are ruled by different parties, things don’t change as much…..Congress has one agenda and the President has another. When the President and Congress are ruled by the same party, things shift dramatically towards that party’s ideals (never fully, but a lot in that direction). Sure, the President has the biggest soap box when it comes to pushing for things to be done, but it still takes an act of congress (either or both meanings, take your pick) to get the bill to his desk. Which, when the parties are different, is when compromises take place.

      • I don’t recall a lot of compromises during the past few times when Congress and the President were of different parties: things looked more like two teenagers playing “chicken” with the national budget.

        • Clinton managed to get a lot done with a Republican congress, and W. did respectably with the Dems. Obama has done pretty well with a Democratically controlled congress, but I’d expect that to stop completely if the Republicans take over now.

          • Really? If he’s doing “pretty well” then how come the Economy is still in the crapper, and he’s trying to pin blame for that on the REPUBLICANS blocking his agenda, despite the fact that he has 60 Democrat votes in the senate and a supermajority in the house…the Republicans couldn’t stop his agenda if they wanted to right now.

            Hopefully that will change, because I don’t want to be in the position of the guy in the movie who replied to some government prick telling him he didn’t have any rights, “Unless I woke up in Russia this morning I do.”

            Well, if Obama manages to turn this into the Soviet States of America, we can all wear those tall fuzzy hats with the red stars on them and do the Cossak dance. “HEY! HEY! HEY!”

            • You do realize, of course, that Obama isn’t responsible for the crisis? And that America isn’t the only country that hasn’t recovered from it, far from it (which should help you realize that no president can’t magic it away)?

              This is something I hate with you: You’re so irrationnaly hating Obama like he’s some devil in tights, bashing him at every turn whatever the facts, that you force people to defend him even when they aren’t fans, of only to re-establish things. Same thing goes for your praise of republicans (see the above exchange with you and others).

              A clue: Politics ain’t religion. There may be good and bad ideas on both sides (Like, the deregulation that led to the crisis was mostly done under Clinton and Bush Jr). And both sides are funded by the same rich pricks 😉

  10. Alas, the completely entrenched Two-party machine that has been promoted and built up has made it nearly impossible to elect someone who ISN’T a Democrat or Republican. All that happens if a semistrong third party candidate runs is, they pull votes from one or the other of the “big two” often allowing the worse of the two to get into office (witness Ross Perot)

    It’s gotten so bad that we actually have the Democrats ( who have benefited from foriegn donations for decades) trying to say that the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE is funnelling foreign cash into Republican campain coffers, with absolutely no evidence, and when asked if they have evidence, their flippant response is ‘do you have any evidence that it’s NOT true?’

    Gee, and we thought the rule was “Innocent until proven guilty.” – unless you’re a Republican candidate and the Democrat feels he might lose his cushy govermennt job that he’s held for 40 or more YEARS, then you’re guilty until proved innocent…

    Just like it was with W. God forbid that the President of the United States should belive Saddam himself touting his WMD stockpile, and the intelligence reports of a dozen or so countries verifying it, and never mind that the MAIN reason we invaded Iraq was Saddam’s support of terrorism (He went so far as to reward the families of suicide bombers with cash prizes for crying out loud, and he had bad habits like putting people feet first through wood chippers. Charming guy wasn’t he?) and not just WMDs (Which were found, but not reported.)

    Remember “Sore Loserman?” and the whole “Bush stole the Election” bullshit? Gore’s campaign kept trying to force additional recounts after the automatic (and legal) recounts had already been done and Bush still one. Several people were caught turning “undervotes” into votes for Gore (one guy was actually caught EATING chads off the balots) and votes were even being created out of thin air by assuming that anyone who voted for any Democrats for the senate or house also “intended” to vote for Gore instead of leaving the president slot blank. And who can forget the tens of thousands of military absentee balots the Gore campaign tried to get thrown out because they arrived too close to the election (Gee, think the mail from overseas might just be a bit slow? And I wonder how popular Gore was in the military?)

  11. 😯 Odd, this thing doesn’t like elipses or something? Lemme see if it shows up if I take them out.

    Alas, the completely entrenched Two-party machine that has been promoted and built up has made it nearly impossible to elect someone who ISN’T a Democrat or Republican. All that happens if a semistrong third party candidate runs is, they pull votes from one or the other of the “big two” often allowing the worse of the two to get into office (witness Ross Perot)

    It’s gotten so bad that we actually have the Democrats ( who have benefited from foriegn donations for decades) trying to say that the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE is funnelling foreign cash into Republican campain coffers, with absolutely no evidence, and when asked if they have evidence, their flippant response is “do you have any evidence that it’s NOT true?” Gee, and we thought the rule was Innocent until proven guilty – unless you’re a Republican candidate and the Democrat feels he might lose his cushy govermennt job that he’s held for 40 or more YEARS, then you’re guilty until proved innocent.

    About W. God forbid that the President of the United States should belive Saddam himself touting his WMD stockpile, and the intelligence reports of a dozen or so countries verifying it, and never mind that the MAIN reason we invaded Iraq was Saddam’s support of terrorism (He went so far as to reward the families of suicide bombers with cash prizes for crying out loud, and he had bad habits like putting people feet first through wood chippers. (Charming guy wasn’t he?) and not just WMDs, Which were found, but not reported.

    Remember “Sore Loserman?” and the whole “Bush stole the Election” BS ? Gore’s campaign kept trying to force additional recounts after the automatic (and legal) recounts had already been done and Bush still one. Several people were caught turning “undervotes” into votes for Gore (one guy was actually caught EATING chads off the balots) and votes were even being created out of thin air by assuming that anyone who voted for any Democrats for the senate or house also “intended” to vote for Gore instead of leaving the president slot blank. And who can forget the tens of thousands of military absentee balots the Gore campaign tried to get thrown out because they arrived too close to the election (Gee, think the mail from overseas might just be a bit slow? And I wonder how popular Gore was in the military?)

  12. Seriously, Kevin, the postblocker is pissing me off. I have no idea WHY it keeps blocking things. Tried THREE times to reword a post so it wouldn’t block the dang thing, but it’s still not showing up. Could you fix one of them at least?

    If it doesn’t turn up in an hour or so, I’ll try splitting it up into smaller sections and try to find out what particular turn of phrase it’s having trouble with.

      • It’s the damn Bolshevik secret service Obama put in place to monitor the media and smother all opposition to his totalitarian Communist police-state!
        That’s a much cooler reason to imagine than a mere frakked up piece of code.

        • Oh yeah! I forgot. Obama called me on the phone yesterday to tell me he was squashing the free speech of anyone who doesn’t agree with us. He asked if that was cool, which of course I told him it was, since I’m a mindless Obamabot.

            • At least he knows better than to try to refer to the Tea Party groupies as “Tea-bagging Rednecks” because I’m sure that unlike certain Democratic politicians, he actually knows what “Tea-bagging” is.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsmDmxIUqGE

              It’s one thing to be vulgar. It’s quite another to be so woefully ignorant that you say something truely vile without knowing it.

              Doubt very much she knows anything about brain surgery either.

              • Why is it assumed she doesn’t know what the term means? Seems like it’d be right up her alley to throw in something like that as a double entendre, that’s what comedians are all about.

                • It is questionable whether she could actually qualify as a “Comedian”

                  Isn’t a prerequisite for that title to actually be funny? She is basically saying that if you disagree with Obama’s policies, you’re a racist…though I’ve never heard anywhere that Marxism and Chicago Thuggery were strictly the province of any one particular race.

                  • She’s still a comedian, even if she’s an idiot who thinks too highly of herself, and IIRC she was funny in a few places. After all, news reporters are still called such even when they don’t report the news so much as create and distort it to their liking.

    • At least from here, it seems like you’re trying to post the same thing multiple times, which could be read as spam. Everytime you’ve got this problem, your post appear multiple times, as if you’d clicked “submit” more than once.

      I don’t know what’s the problem on your side, but, when it seems posting doesn’t work, maybe you should wait a little?

  13. Kevin, more people should wake up like you have. The major parties and their shills (i.e. politicians) have a vested interest in polarizing Americans against each other. It’s how they get themselves elected half the time I’m afraid.

    Although I can think of presidents I’d really enjoy hanging out with for an afternoon (I’d put Obama, Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, FDR , Jefferson, Lincoln, and John Quincy Adams on that list among others), I can’t think of any one who’s been president that I’d trust to babysit my kids. Well, maybe John Quincy Adams, but that’s it really. Oh, and Obama. Anyway, the point is, whether I agree or disagree with the things he does, the president is the president. Most of the folks who yell at whoever happens to be president could never do the job themselves, so I take their ranting with a grain of salt.

    It’s a tough, nasty job and it gets done by tough, nasty people. No sense hating a lion because he kills things for a living.

  14. American politics is just weird. The thing that puzzles me the most is this need to demonize your political opponent. As for Bush Jr, my take is that America elected a guy who seemed like someone you would like to have as a neighbor. “One of us” i believe the term is.
    I still think they should have re-elected his old man instead. He atleast had some serious smarts. 🙄

    • From what I’ve seen everyone uses smears to win their campaigns, not just in the USA. In fact, demonizing the USA’s political system by saying it demonizes opponents is by itself a hypocritical act of demonizing, supposedly pointing out that the speaker’s country’s political system doesn’t use such tactics, which is highly unlikely.
      But what can you expect from such demonic speakers?

      I’m an innocent angel though.
      😉

  15. Trying to recall…. was some webcomic blog talking about how he felt bad for the opposition when Obama won. Back during the Bush years, we could always tell ourselves that if things ever got *really* bad, could move to Canada, or France, or someplace openly liberal.
    The Consertive radicals (is that an oxymoron?) don’t have anywhere to go. Milita training camps out in the woods, maybe, but still the same country. Kinda sad.

  16. I have to disagree with you, Kevin, on one point.
    There is a difference between viewpoints based on facts, and those based on ideology.

    It is true that all political sides have their fanatic fringe of crackpots. I also agree that the general American public appears so deeply devided along ideological lines and addicted to slogans that are being constantly deepened by political spindoctors, tribal thinking and out-group hatred . At least from here where I’m standing in Germany it’s painfully visible, and often downright silly but not in a comical way.

    But the idea that there are no facts but “merely opinions” and thus “all sides are equally wrong” is a postmodernist bullcrap that I hear being bandied about all the time in American media. Creationists, cultural constructivists, hatemongers, racists and propagandists love this idea because you can sell everything as long as you label it as “opinion”, and thus you find it rearing its head not just in political discourse but everywhere.

    • Facts? Who cares about facts? In this day and age the media finds and tells you the facts, and if they aren’t there they make them.

    • Problem is, this requires culture, memory and paying attention to facts. Things that are either lacking or difficult. How many people around you bother with politics, like, not saying “I vote x or y”, but actually taking notice of what each politician does?

  17. Wow, that’s a lot of posts to read! Some fascinating opinions here! I agree with you more or less. When W was elected, I thoght “This guy is alright, at least he’s funny.”. But as time went on I saw him laugh off serious concerns or wave the flag whenever someone would question if something was really a good idea- very suspicious in my opinion. At the same time, I started paying more attention to the antics of Congress. Basically, watching to see Big Money corporate intrests buying off Senators with “campaign donations”, and the Senators then doing thier bidding reguardless of the wishes of those who elected them. In W’s case, they were so “In Bed” with the oil industry from the president on down, that naturally everything they did benefited the oil investors. The recent BP disaster is case in point where the government simply turned it’s head and said “you guys do whats best for you”. I remain unconvinced that the smashing and subsequent nation-building in Iraq and Afganistan wasn’t planned from the start with Haliburton, Blackwater, and so many others. They have raked in untold billions from these “wars”, and we’re no closer to “winning” than we were 10 years ago. Terrorists are a great boogeyman- but you don’t send armies after Ninjas, it just doesn’t work! Somebody is getting rich, and it isn’t going to end well.
    As for Obama, I see a brilliant man with great intentions struggling to impliment changes that will make us stronger in both short term and very VERY long term ways. Many of the ways to fix things involve limiting monolithic industries and changing the status quo. These industries are using thier considerable wealth to oppose these changes- especially in ways that are hard to directly link them to. Enter… the “Tea Party”. The Medical and Insurance industry leaders thought, “how can we appear to support Health care reform, but at the same time get it stopped to protect our profits?”. The easiest way- sink a lot of anonymous donations into right-wing attack-dog groups, hire crazies to disrupt town hall meetings, spread lies and distortions about the reform bill, and have a bunch of already purchased Senators jump on thier band-wagon. This isn’t limited to Republican Senators either! Many Democrats were paid to cause problems too (remember good ol’ Blue Dogs?). So how does Obama win when the lawmakers are being paid to say NO? How does reasonableness, intellect, and good planning win out over industry-financed hysteria? We’ll see.
    The way I look at it, when Republicans were in charge, Dems worked with them to get laws passed. The Democrats worked with Bush to do what needed to be done, even if they didn’t like it. They still pitched a silly fit occasionally to draw attention to bad ideas, but they came to the table and compromised. When Dems are in charge, Republicans will not work with them, period. In fact, they oppose things they used to support simply to deny the Democrats a victory. They will allow our country to go up in flames as long as Obama fails. That’s what needs to stop. If lawmakers worked WITH Obama instead of against him, we’d all have jobs and experiencing a Golden Age (more or less). Clinton would have worked wonders too (and did in a lot of ways), if Republicans hadn’t hamstrung him for 8 years. The Bushes got 16 years of “No back-talk from you, mister!”, I think Obama deserves to have it his way for a couple more years- that is what we elected him for…CHANGE! If things go to crap, vote him out in 2012- but give the man a chance to do it right. The medicine may taste like shit, but if it cures what ails us, that’s all that matters!
    But that’s just the two cents from a “moderate liberal, social liberatarian”. Rock on!

  18. A day on I think I’ve had enough time to think out the mildly-phrased and unspecific thing I should say to this.
    All of the American Presidents in living memory were *ahem* controversial figures, and this is because of what politics is about: Decisions get made over the public taxation, laws, bureaucracies and policies, and those decisions will affect certain people more than others.
    Regulation about finance industry practices concerns people in the finance industry more than people outside of it so therefore people in the finance industry are motivated to lobby for and make donations in support of changes that benefit themselves. The same happens for every single other significant subject of government action, including energy policies, agriculture subsidies, research grant targeting, land-use regulations, pollution policies, and more. Alternatively let’s describe this in a way that reactionary culture warriors will find totally uncontroversial: Gay people are a minority and always have been but somehow they have been able to push an agenda of acceptance of their practices and extension of rights and legal protections to what was formerly illegal through (at least in part) focused lobbying–as was the case with most other extensions of civil rights in American history.

    Is there anybody out there who disagrees with my point that all political careers are big fat targets for special interest money pushing its sponsoring interests? Is there anybody out there who would deny that this says a lot about what the vast majority of politicians will do in response to those special-interest pressures that pay for their vacation homes and campaign advertising funds?
    In closing, it’s not Democrats OR Republicans that are guilty of such treachery against the public good in America. It’s Democrats AND Republicans that are guilty of such treachery against the public good in America. If you say it’s one party more than the other you are missing the point and should read this over again until you get it.