Re: What do you call an opposition party that refuses to oppose?

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The odds on all three are 1:1.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 9:57 AM
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When you put it that way, yeah, we kind of are dicks.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:00 AM
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I am unconvinced that (1) will be as big a deal as it has been recently. (2) and (3) seem plenty likely, and I would add (4) once they get their grubby little mitts on the levers of power Democrats will fall over themselves to do as many -- or more -- favors for various cronies who've felt slighted and out-in-the-woods over the past decade and change, as well as some (looking at you, hedge funds) who are nothing of the kind, but still want some grease.

All things considered, though, it'll be a hell of a lot better than it has been.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:03 AM
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2. Despite a far weaker electoral position than the Democrats ever had to deal with, the GOP will have no problem behaving like an effective opposition party.

The unstated corollary to this is that such behavior will have precisely no negative effect on the GOP rump, but maybe that's implied clearly enough in number 3.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:10 AM
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4: I actually think the negative effect on the GOP is visible, like, now; the fact that they're so completely built as an opposition party makes it very difficult for them to figure out how to be the party in power in any kind of politically sustainable way. The Democrats are much better at staying in power by compromising all the juice out of their impulses.

(Impulses have juice? Ewww.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:13 AM
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Re: TNR, how much of that is because of Peretz? A non-scholar from Harvard who screwed his way into a fortune, bought a magazine with a long glorious tradition, and ruined it. His ownership of one small-circulation money-losing magazine gave him enormous leverage in the tiny, impoverished opinion-journalism world. He seems to have hired people who were already shitty, but I still suspect that a bunch of them might have turned out much better with different incentives.

Tom Friedman married money. Mickey Kaus inherited money. Bill Buckley inherited. Kristol, Podhoretz, Bellow, and others had eminent fathers with some actual talent. And then there's Jonah Goldberg, son of a successful fishwife.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:14 AM
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Two and three are obviously true. You're not going to get anyone to take the other side of that bet. I'd place even odds on 1. I'm giving it such a good chance of being wrong because if it is true we are all so fucked.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:16 AM
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The Gingrich-Delay-Rove-Bush Republicans were very, very successful during their time in power. They transformed the country. Whether the damage can be done is an open question; I'm hopeful but not at all confident. The Democrats would be playing under Republican rules even if the Democrats themselves were not fucked up.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:16 AM
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"undone"

I make more caffeine errors than alcohol errors, in case malicious gossip claims otherwise.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:19 AM
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perhaps the "opposition" we lefties want is just not popular enough among voters right now - we keep electing Republican-lite Dems.

if the Dems could stay in power for more than a couple of years, maybe they could start pushing the center back leftward a few degrees, and maybe make it acceptable to elect people who would actually oppose the GOP.


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:25 AM
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Apo's rep is one of the two best Democrats in Congress, if not the best, on defense contractor accountability.


Posted by: katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:26 AM
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2 and 3 are so obviously guaranteed that the fact that I'm pointing it out means I've already been pwned by every previous commenter.

1 I could see going either way. The Democratic cringe seems like learned behavior that began in the Clinton era. As a new generation of politicians come to power, I could see it fading.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:28 AM
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11: I love David Price so much that I'm even willing to overlook his unfortunate association with Duke.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:30 AM
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The problem the Democrats have is that they have notion of, or faith in, the idea of leadership. On most issues, people have inchoate notions of what they want. The Democrats have no notion that you can persuade the voters that something is a good idea. If it doesn't poll well now, the Democrats are just helpless at what to do next.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:32 AM
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Since I moved to the western suburbs of Cleveland, my rep has been the biggest, dirtiest, flakeyist hippy in Washington. I was overjoyed to vote for him.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:35 AM
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15 may be the first time Kucinich has been called the biggest anything.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:37 AM
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I will have no confidence in the Democrats until they change the House and Senate rules to allow the carrying of sidearms -- for Democrats only. They should maintain the fillibuster, but allow for target practice to begin after one hour of temporization.

It's like the Republicans have been saying -- the option of coersive force has to be "on the table" for anything to get done.


Posted by: F. Winston Codpiece III | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:40 AM
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The Republicans simply have much better party discipline than the Democrats, in part because the Democrats have a broader coalition.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:46 AM
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I suppose I see things differently.

Lately the Republicans have captured the one single big voting block that is totally compliant - the authoritarian followers. They did this by courting and wooing the leaders of the authoritarian followers. They did that with a lot of money.

This 25% lead puts the Democrats at a big disadvantage. The remaining 75% of voters are not a cohesive or easily led group and have many divisions and wedge issues.

It may feel good to blame the Democratic leadership for not getting a large voting block but the Republicans have nailed down the only big set of gullible followers and it is not realistic to expect the same success with the remaining voters.

In addition, and I know people really don't like to hear this sentiment, but in my opinion we are facing a time of increasing global crisis and in general people tend to cling to traditional values and religion during a crisis time. This means it will become even harder for progressives to advance their causes.

We must try, of course, but we must also understand that humanity will be making trade-offs between environmentalism and starvation.

There will not be any easy clear decisions.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:49 AM
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togolosh,

The Republicans simply have much better party discipline

I attribute this to their organization and especially to their base of authoritarian followers. Falling in line behind their leaders is something authoritarian followers very very much prefer to do.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:51 AM
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The Democrats have no notion that you can persuade the voters that something is a good idea.

It will be interesting to see how Obama's head-on rebuttal of Republican talking points* plays out over the next few months. I get the sense that some elected Democrats are reacting with the attitude of "Addressing the voters as if they were intelligent adults? You can do that??"

* e.g., "If George Bush and John McCain want a have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that's a debate I'm happy to have ... and that's a debate that I will win, because George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for"


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:54 AM
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I think that a lot of the Republican discipline is vote-buying (in Congress) with pork and graft. Budget-busting tax cuts, tax breaks, and no-cost contracts count as pork. I'd like to see someone write something matching vote-buying to deficits.

Most people still believe that the Republicans are the party of fiscal conservativism, even though that hasn't been true for 40 years. It's really a pity the way a lot of Democrats got conned into picking up the fiscally conservative cause, because it means that we'll always be cleaning up their messes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:57 AM
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10 is also just false. A lot of the useless Democrats in Congress come from perfectly safe districts; a lot of the best Democrats in Congress come from less safe districts.

Take Rahm Emanuel, who represents Illinois' 5th District. Chicago & suburbs. The Democratic margin in presidential elections is 18 percentage points over the national average. But Emanuel is not a reliable liberal at all--and even on bills when he votes the right way he has a nasty habit of telling other Democrats not to.

Emanuel's district is about as heavily Democratic as Barney Frank's or Jan Schakowksy's. It is significantly more heavily Democratic than Bill Delahunt's, Bernie Sanders' former district, or apo's reps--to say nothing of the whole state of Wisconsin, which sends Russ Feingold to the Senate, or the whole state of Illinois, which sends Dick Durbin there. A much more reliable liberal than Emanuel could get elected in his district. A much more reliable liberal than Chuck Schumer could get elected in New York. Those are examples familiar to me; I'm sure there are dozens and dozens of others.

Or take Nancy Pelosi: John Kerry beat Bush 84-14% in her district; does her support for telecom immunity show that the voters won't put up with liberal democrats?

Electoral reality IS a stumbling block to "better Democrats", but the main stumbling block is not that there aren't enough liberal voters to support a more liberal Congressional caucus; it's that it's very, very, very hard to dislodge an incumbent--if a critical mass of incumbents in your caucus suck, changing that is slow & difficult.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:57 AM
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16: at least he wasn't called the dirtiest, fuckingest hippy, though that wouldn't be entirely inaccurate.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:59 AM
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I auto-ban myself from discussions of Kucinich (and I live in Tubbs Jones' district, anyway; she also voted the right way on FISA, just like her slightly confused staffer who answered the phone in DC thought she would).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:01 AM
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A lot of Democrats in Congress have personal interests and associations which interfere with their liberalism. Not many salt of the earth types there, and some of the ones that there are are intent on grafting their way out of the salt-of-the-earth category.

A lot of self-made Republican leaders (e.g. Reagan) are once-humble people who are very, very grateful to the people who made them rich.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:01 AM
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Dennis Kucinich's district, the Ohio 10th, is also significantly less liberal than Rahm Emanuel's. And I'm getting these numbers from here.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:02 AM
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Electoral reality IS a stumbling block to "better Democrats"

It is, but. I'm unshakably convinced that stands on specific issues are (a not very close) second in importance to just not looking weak, and the Democrats seem ever reluctant to internalize this. As I've said previously, Dick Durbin (who is generally great) tearfully apologizing on the Senate floor for a giving completely reasonable and accurate description of what was going on in our secret prisons is perhaps the best example of this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:04 AM
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Take Rahm Emanuel, who represents Illinois' 5th District. Chicago & suburbs.

I think Democratic primary politics in Chicago proper is moved by factors much more significant than ideology. Emmanuel is invulnerable to a challenge from the left, simply because he has machine backing.

Also, if he's got an eye on statewide office in Illinois, it behooves him to act much more conservatively than his district (of which I am a constituent) may desire. His predecessor, for example, was also very DLC-oriented, and he ended up as governor, though his approval rating is now down in the single digits, again, not for being insufficiently liberal.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:05 AM
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Durbin & Obama, the two most popular politicians in Illinois, are notably more liberal than Emmanuel; using the unbelievably unpopular gov. as a counter isn't so convincing. And "incumbent protected by a powerful political machine" is exactly the sort of factor that proves my point, which is: the fact that Democrats in Congress consistently disappoint liberals is NOT PROOF that voters "the "opposition" we lefties want is just not popular enough among voters right now."

This is also self perpetutating: I wish someone would challenge Emmanuel in a primary even if they lose, but who has the time & money to mount & support a doomed campaign?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:11 AM
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I will have no confidence in the Democrats until they change the House and Senate rules to allow the carrying of sidearms -- for Democrats only.

I think Jim Webb would favor this.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:15 AM
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That 1984 all-red electoral map (save MN and DC) was a shot across the bow that Democrats have yet to recover from. We have not had a self-assured Democratic party in my adulthood (triangulation is a subordinate's strategy).


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:22 AM
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This is also self perpetutating: I wish someone would challenge Emmanuel in a primary even if they lose, but who has the time & money to mount & support a doomed campaign?

Someone looking for the three hundred grand raised on Act Blue to primary FISA supporters?

As a side note -- not being sarcastic -- I'd be curious if Katherine would be up for giving a list of her least favorite and most favorite Congressmen and -women I haven't heard of. Everyone knows that Barney Frank is awesome and Steny Hoyer sucks, but I've never heard of Apo's rep.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:22 AM
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As I've said previously, Dick Durbin (who is generally great) tearfully apologizing on the Senate floor for a giving completely reasonable and accurate description of what was going on in our secret prisons is perhaps the best example of this.

Though I was bummed that he backed off of it, the fact that he made the statement in the first place is still a huge factor in my Durbin crush.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:22 AM
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That first time Emmanuel ran, he had a liberal oponent, a state senator, Nancy K-something. That was the opportunity, because once in a Democrat is hard to dislodge. Jan Schakowsky's surprise win in the Democratic primary the year she first ran, I think it was '96, when the machine candidate was expected to win, was all the opening she needed. Even her husband's indictment and conviction hasn't shaken her hold on the 9th.

Emmanuel's 5th was open because of the conviction of Rostenkowski, and his replacement for one term by an accidental Republican whom everyone recognised was in over his head. After he was no longer running, or perhaps after he left office, Daley and a number of other politicians of both parties held a fund raiser to help retire his campaign debt.


Posted by: I Don't Pay | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:23 AM
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Whenever I get drawn into one of these "why won't the Dems stand up to the Republicans" debates, it seems one of the underlying assumptions is that there are a lot of Democrats in Congress who are just as liberal as "we" are, but they're just afraid to vote their true beliefs for whatever reason. I'm coming to believe that that's just not the case, and there really are very, very few true liberals in Congress. If the majority of the Democrats vote like Republican Lite, it often is because they are Republican Lite.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:25 AM
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Durbin's one of the good guys, no doubt. But that was one of those episodes that embodies how the Democrats keep losing, despite holding the more popular position on just about every issue.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:26 AM
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Everyone knows that Barney Frank is awesome

He really is (and such an antisocial nerd! He hates gladhanding so much he's actively rude in social environments! Awesome), but even he bought the consensus on Iraq sanctions and the various insidious aims of Saddam.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:27 AM
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That was the opportunity, because once in a Democrat is hard to dislodge.

Is this becoming less true with the ability of the Internet to raise large amounts of money for at least one or two netroots-celebrity candidates a cycle? In 1998 or 1988, there's no way Donna Edwards manages to oust Wynn, but she very nearly pulled it off in 2006 (probably would have if not for shenanigans) and it wasn't even close this year. Although Mark Pera got stomped by the unlikeable, unliberal, and terribly corrupt Dan Lipinski.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:27 AM
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At a certain point I realized that the transformation of the Democratic Party was almost complete, and that a lot of the present Democrats are actually liberal Republican retreads. There are not liberal Republicans any more, and few moderates, and people who switched parties didn't have to change their beliefs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:29 AM
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assumptions is that there are a lot of Democrats in Congress who are just as liberal as "we" are

But see, I don't think it's even a matter of liberal versus conservative most of the time. You don't have to be left-of-center to understand that illegal wiretapping is, you know, illegal. Just for example.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:31 AM
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He hates gladhanding so much he's actively rude in social environments!

I thought powerful people did that to show how powerful they were.

The real proof that Frank's an anti-social nerd is that he was totally taken for a ride by a prostitute.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:32 AM
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33: my House knowledge is weak, & confined to places I've lives and/or people involved in issues I follow closely; I hadn't heard of Apo's rep. until a couple of weeks ago even though I should've given his work on contractor stuff. The NY Times ran an editorial praising his amendment banning contract interrogators; I was all--"whoa, who is this guy?"& googled him. Schakowsky is also very good on contractor stuff. Ed Markey & Bill Delahunt, both of Massachusetts, are very good on rendition. Emanuel first pissed me off with his stance on immigration--he apparently told House members in vulnerable districts that if they voted against a godawful Tancredo bill, he wouldn't support them.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:33 AM
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Liberal vs. authoritarian vs. gutless. Authoritarian wins every time.

Little-government Republicans are the most pitiful losers in American politics. Most of them supported Bush, and when they quit supporting Bush most of them just sat home and cried. There's been no real opposition in Congress.

Paul represented those people (with added racism) and so does Bob Barr (who I presume is also racist). But since 2001 they've been a complete null factor.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:34 AM
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I've never heard of Apo's rep.

Apo is fantastic on the issues but very politically ineffective. He doesn't show up for many votes and grumbles and complains a lot in the cloakroom.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:35 AM
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Electoral reality IS a stumbling block to "better Democrats", but the main stumbling block is not that there aren't enough liberal voters to support a more liberal Congressional caucus; it's that it's very, very, very hard to dislodge an incumbent--if a critical mass of incumbents in your caucus suck, changing that is slow & difficult.

so, the problem isn't that there aren't enough liberal voters who will vote for an "opposition" candidate, it's that there aren't enough liberal voters who will vote for an "opposition" candidate to overcome the advantages of incumbency. which is another way of saying that people in general like other things about their candidates more than they like "opposition".

which is what i said in the first place.


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:35 AM
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Also, Apo has been brought before the ethics committee several times for the links he has mailed to other members of the House, as well as some of the photos on his personal website.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:36 AM
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I bring the benefits of wisdom and experience to this fine thread:Democrats gave Reagan about everything he wanted in the 80s:tax cuts, spending cuts, defense buildup. They did resist more on foreign policy and judges.

2) Thinking back to when liberals did well, but not too far back, say 1965-75, I wonder if Democrats had grabbed so many statehouses during the 50s that they got a great apportionment in 1960 & 1970.
Just one among many things to think about.

3) Okay, going back further to 1945-55, when the monster majority was created, I look at things like the GI Bill, Highway System, military Keynesian. i.e., jobs and, but secondarily, welfare state. Jobs, well paying gov't jobs.

There is more history available than the last twenty years, and I don't think changed material conditions are as important as is usually assumed.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:37 AM
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46: I realized it could be interpreted that way, but only in the tautological & therefore useless sentence: "the fact that there aren't many liberal Congressmen proves that voters haven't voted for liberal Congressmen." Well, yes. I thought you were making a stronger claim.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:39 AM
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46, etc,: It really helps when you think of elected officials as the parts of government in charge of talking to voters, instead of thinking of them as the representatives of the voters. Their institutional supports in government, in the party, and with contributors give them a lot of leverage against voters. It's also true that voter opinion is at best wavery and hard to mobilize.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:41 AM
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grabbed so many statehouses during the 50s that they got a great apportionment

I think probably so, and I have been looking forward to seeing whether the 2010 census would help even further but, of course, Bush has fucked up the Census Bureau as badly as he has everything else.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:44 AM
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Tripp at 19 does make a key point:it is always thr "Solid South" + Utah, Indiana, etc. This is to a large degree to geographical location of authoritarianism, and being authoritarian and tradtional, is very hard to change or weaken. It now belongs to Republicans.

It was a mixed blessing for Democrats for 100 years. Jim Crow was a horror to many people who weren't direct victims of it, and took what was close to a civil war to only partially eliminate.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:48 AM
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A belligerent Apo got drunk and shoved Marty Peretz into the caterers table at a Capitol Hill reception. Red-faced and screaming obscenities, he had to be removed by the Capitol police.

In spite of all these scandals, he has continued to be re-elected by overwhelming margins.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:50 AM
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The most solidly Republican areas have been the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states. No black voters there to make a Bill Clinton possible. For awhile N.M has been the only swing state there.

Even now, there are only a few of them that are wobbling a little.

ND is ethnically similar to MN and had a similar political history up until about 1950-1960. But it's hardcore Republican now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:53 AM
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Au contraire, Apo's only 16 and doesn't have a rep yet.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:54 AM
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53: See? See? Being an überliberal is not electoral poison, as long as you're willing to shove your opponents into a cake or brain them with a steel-tipped cane.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:54 AM
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Brain them with a steel-tipped cane: the time-honored Preston Brooks / William Zantzinger school of argumentation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:57 AM
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We can create "liberal voters", the way FDR and Truman & Ike etc, and of course many great Congresspersons, created a liberal supermajority.

Tripp's 25% is probably right, and they are hopeless, but I suspect the 75% are much more open than most preference polls would usually indicate. There were hedge traders and CEO's, or people like them, in the fifties accepting those 90+ percent marginal rates.

I can't easly say how it's done, but I think people can be flipped quickly, in a generation or less. Clinton obviously failed in his first term, but had done better by the time he left office, and I think if Gore had won in 2000 we would be living in a progressive United States.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:57 AM
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There's no need to argue, Snarkouts just don't understand.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:58 AM
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John, there are Republicans and then there are Southerners. Southerners would rather be poor than change. Westerners will follow the money. Water projects. Solar & Wind & Ethanol Projects?

I could be wrong, but I would have to look back at who the Western States were electing 50 years ago.

But I still think y'all have to realize that you live in an Empire, and a dove makes as much sense in America as it would have in Hadrian's Rome. The vast majority will always be some kind of hawkish. It's about dealing with it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:04 PM
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the time-honored Preston Brooks / William Zantzinger school of argumentation

If you value succinctness, it's the one for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:04 PM
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60: I see nothing much to gain in that. Canada here I come.

Theoretically, because I don't have enough points to get into Canada.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:09 PM
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58: I can't easly say how it's done, but I think people can be flipped quickly, in a generation or less.

I agree with this, and I think that the adverb "quickly" is apt in this context.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:15 PM
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But isn't Canada headed in the wrong direction?


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:17 PM
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Theoretically, because I don't have enough points to get into Canada.

Points? That sounds like something you get for using a credit card, like airline miles - which, come to think of it, would make a great promotion for Capital One. Use your card, get points toward Canadian citizenship !


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:19 PM
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Electoral reality IS a stumbling block to "better Democrats", but the main stumbling block is not that there aren't enough liberal voters to support a more liberal Congressional caucus; it's that it's very, very, very hard to dislodge an incumbent--if a critical mass of incumbents in your caucus suck, changing that is slow & difficult.


The other reality of which people seem to forget is the candidates Schumer or Emmaneul try to recruit. They often pick the most conservative candidate possible. Look at who they tried to pick in the races Tester and Webb eventually won. Look at how they undermined Andrew Horne in Kentucky. I could go on. Schumer and Emmanuel don't want Progressives in power. They want corporate whores in place.


Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:21 PM
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I'd shed the last drop of my blood, if need be, in defense of my Canadian Motherland's precious Hans Island. The pillaging Danish barbarians must be stopped.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:25 PM
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Look at who they tried to pick in the races Tester and Webb eventually won.

I love Jim Webb, but it's not clear to me that Harris Miller is the more conservative candidate in a Miller-Webb primary (though Miller is obviously to Webb's right on many economic issues), and the national Democrats largely stayed out of it to the extent they didn't weigh in on Webb's side. (Schumer, IIRC, endorsed Webb during the primary.) Miller's support largely came from the Virginia Democratic establishment, for whom he is a long-time fundraiser.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:27 PM
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65: It's how they work general immigration these days: points for having a job offer, points for speaking both of Canada's official language, points for being educated, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:28 PM
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That 1984 all-red electoral map (save MN and DC) was a shot across the bow that Democrats have yet to recover from. We have not had a self-assured Democratic party in my adulthood (triangulation is a subordinate's strategy).

The tipping point came when the Democrats cut loose the "Southern Democrats." The race issue drove a large group to the Republicans. Even the Churches full of Authoritarians went because of it. They say now that it was Roe v Wade which turned them but that is a lie.

Initially those churches supported Roe v Wade. No, it was civil rights that initially drove the churches to the Republicans, where they have been ever since.

What an odd coalition. Authoritarian followers in churches, racists, gullible small business owners, and the ultra rich with their corporations.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:31 PM
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And points for being young and for having skills needed by Canada.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:32 PM
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Matt Brown was the DSCC candidate in Rhode Island and is to the left of Whitehouse, I think, but Brown blew himself up with a stupid fundraising scandal. Sherrod Brown, now the junior senator from Ohio, is well to the left of netroots hero Paul Hackett but was the DSCC candidate; in fact, there was some hue and cry when the DSCC eased Hackett out of the race because Brown was purportedly too liberal to win statewide.

It's not that Schumer (as distinct from Emmanuel) is universally looking for the less progressive candidate; it's that he has a somewhat blinkered notion of what an effective candidate can look like.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:32 PM
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Hey, Greenwald updated his post with a link to this one!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:33 PM
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Apo's going to be insufferable now.

Wait, that "now" doesn't make sense.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:38 PM
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The race issue drove a large group to the Republicans. Even the Churches full of Authoritarians went because of it. They say now that it was Roe v Wade which turned them but that is a lie. Initially those churches supported Roe v Wade. No, it was civil rights that initially drove the churches to the Republicans, where they have been ever since.

Is this analysis gleaned from a history text, or personal observation from living through the era, or what? I've never heard this characterization of these events, and I'm inclined to think it's just flatly wrong. But I'd love to read more about it if you could point me to a source.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:39 PM
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The loss of Southern Dems may be at the root of an inability to forge a lasting coalition, but the capitulation agenda didn't start until the 80s, seems to me.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:55 PM
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I think that 1984 was the turning point. I certainly lost hope then.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:56 PM
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44: I'm starting to think it's actually Liberal vs Authoritarian vs gutless Authoritarian.

I think there are two intersecting problems:

1. the voters are statistically less authoritarian & sheeplike than Congress, as seen e.g. in the public's opposition to the war or telcom immunity, which are much stronger than anything Congress has been able to express.

A lot of this IMHO is economic: wealth leads to complacency leads to the Dark Side, and Congresspeeps are *much* wealthier and more economically secure than the people as a whole.

2. We need better stories. Republicans are using a Macho Sue template for leadership (and masculinity), which comes with a complete set of inspiring cultural icons and exciting movies. I think the gutless division of the Democratic Party is saying "mythic figures are unnecessary and tacky" -- but human beings don't work that way, so emotionally they're still in thrall to Macho Sue and will lick his boots reflexively.

The spine-enabled Democratic Congresspeeps (including my own, you wish you had one) *do* have cultural icons and role models -- Atticus Finch, for instance -- but not as many, and frankly they don't come with as many shiny accessories (whether Glocks or Manolos, a distinction without a difference) and explosions, which are apparently necessary if we're going to switch the allegiance of the gutless.


Posted by: Doctor Science | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 12:57 PM
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Brock, here's Randall Balmer with the argument. He quotes Paul Weyrich, who is really in a position to know. It's a little long to excerpt effectively, but the gist is that federal enforcement of civil rights-related laws, including the IRS's effort to strip tax-exempt status from Bob Jones University because of its segregationist policies, is what really got the religious right going as a movement. Balmer cites several of the key early figures as saying that abortion was not at first a big concern, but took center stage only after the movement was, er, moving.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:01 PM
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I've never heard this characterization of these events, and I'm inclined to think it's just flatly wrong.

I'm trying to find a citation, but I've seen several writers characterize the Protestant -- even evangelical, culture-warrior Protestant -- position on abortion as largely disinterested until the late '70s. It was a perceived as a Catholic issue.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:03 PM
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Pwned by Bruce! (Bruce, I only recently figured out that you were the Bruce Baugh who was involved with Atlas Games in the late '90s. You're teh awesome.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:05 PM
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For me the worst realization of 1984 was that Reagan's visible disorientation during the 2nd debate with Mondale wouldn't have any electoral impact at all.

Do you think Hart would have been a better candidate, John, and carried more states? In some respects the Hart/Mondale divide mirrored the one this year, with traditional working-class whites going for WM, despite questions about how they'd vote in the fall. With the other coalition being stronger then.


Posted by: I Don't Pay | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:06 PM
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70:You don't get many lasting coalitions, and you don't necessarily need them. We have a coalition now that might get a pause in Imperialism.

I think I need to read Caro. I did study Dirksen, the very model of a guy creating ad hoc coalitions, every single time abandoning his core principles.

The Dixiecrats weren't exactly the most enthusiastic of New Deal Warriors. The liberal ascendancy was about juggling multiple coalitions, selling CCC to the West to build dams, TVA to the South, helping unions with the aid of urban Republicans.

I think I said over at Ezra's LBJ got Dirksen on board Civil Rights at the cost of Vietnam. LBJ didn't need to prove his manhood, he needed not necessarily the rabid anti-communists, but the more moderate parts of the Republican caucus who were terrified of facing an rabid anti-communist in the primaries.

ari or eric can refute this, I suppose. Gotta read Caro. Tho in a declining empire, I am finding the history of the Dutch Republic useful.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:10 PM
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Hypothesis: the "Democratic party," being a party, and being composed of people who tend to follow the rules (such being the route to "success" most of the time), and who, after all, have achieved a position of relative power and influence;

tend to basically feel like the status quo is okay, and merely needs a little tinkering. And tend to look at disruptive things, like the popularly imagined 60s and 70s, and/or grassroots organizing, and/or anti-establishment ideas and organizations, as slightly threatening.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:11 PM
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I definitely agree with Doctor Science that there's a sort of coolness gap.

While I would like to see more liberal to left Democrats, I join the folks above saying that this isn't just about that. I would be happy to see Democrats willing to defend party advantage, humiliate the opposition, and in general stand on the idea that anything appealing to the Republican machine is worth rejecting for that reason, even if their preferred policy is substantially more conservative than mine. Party unity the Republican way is a bad idea, but there's a lot of space between that and the way the Democrats operate now.

One could, for instance, mount attacks like "The junior senator from East Wasteofspace says that we must cut medical help to the poor because they're dangerous loafers. Ha! Not one person on the welfare rolls approved the importation of contaminated food that killed off people's beloved dogs and cats. Not one person on the welfare rolls helped lie us into a war with a nation of people who had no grievance with us, and made widows and orphans of my constituents and the people snared into fighting them. Not one person on the welfare rolls got a yacht and a million-dollar bonus for destroying a hundred thousand people's retirement incomes and costing the taxpayers billions of dollars in bailouts. When it comes to being good Americans, in fact, it looks to me like our poor and needy are doing a lot better job than the guys the senator likes to pal around with!" Not that anyone will, but it'd be nice, and one could do it on grounds that are far from "liberal" in any meaningful sense.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:13 PM
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If this is all a function of "being a party," why don't the Republicans act this way? They make plenty of dramatic changes, and they dare to take policy positions that are far less popular than the Democrats' dare.

Alternate hypothesis: politicians act out of a combination of wanting to get re-elected, sucking up to the rich & powerful, & genuine conviction. Sucking up to the rich & powerful conflicts with the policy priorities of the Democratic base, whereas the GOP base doesn't really mind it so much.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:15 PM
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Bob, if you do read Caro, I'll be interested in your thoughts. I came away feeling like I still didn't really understand how the man worked, but then you're substantially better read in the field than I am.

Snarkout: Yeah, c'est moi.

B: That does seem to be a lot of the problem, yes. The opportunity at hand is spreading costs and organizational load more widely so that candidates themselves may need to be less of the establishment. Magic Eight Ball says results unclear, alas.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:16 PM
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I'll go, but the project is to not understand our losses, but should be to repeat our successes. If history is at all useful.

Most, but maybe not all Democratic/liberal successes are connected to various plays on militarism. Obama is asking for 100k troops. Wars can be stopped, but the Empire only paused.

Maybe not all, but early Wilson (Mexico) or early FDR (Chiang Kai Shek? I was astonished at how big a player America was in early 30s China).


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:19 PM
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The reagan revolution convinced me that democracy was doomed if the voting electorate could be so ignorant and easily manipulated. Slowly since, I've become more pragmatic, if not more more confident in my fellow americans. (I also had a hard time coming to admit that ford ever sold a car by running an ad--hey, maybe I need a car ... and maybe *that's* the car I need.) I do believe the Democrats have a better product to sell; it's long past time they started acting like it.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:22 PM
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Thanks Bruce. The link is much more about energizing the religious right as a political movement, although I see now that's not really inconsistent with Tripp's original comment. I had mis-read it, to some extent.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:26 PM
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Brock, it is true that churches used to be in favor of legalizing abortion; pastors and priests saw way too many desperate fucking women with too many kids and yet another on the way begging them for "help." That and the septic abortions resulting in dead women or permanent sterlizations.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:28 PM
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To be honest, my sober appraisal is that we're well past the point of recovering anything that can seriously be called a representative government. The big turning point was 1994, and the fact that the Republican revolution in Congress was still there in 2000 just sealed the deal. But the roots of the failure run back, as both Bob and John say in their different ways, to decisions by the War Party during and after World War II.

I keep at this, supporting good efforts as I can, because I may well be wrong, and I would hate to have something fail because people like me were too cynical to go ahead and do a good thing just because it's a good thing to do. But this is my existential side at work; I'm in the position of a Camus protagonist in a story like The Plague rather than a real believer in or hoper for significant improvement.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:28 PM
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Growing up in the Sixties, the fact of American 20th Century Imperial participation in China was brought home to you, in part as a kind of proxy, template for the then-raging Vietnam war.

The popular movie that made this clear, The Sand Pebbles with Steve MacQueen, was on tv a lot.

And Barbara Tuchman's Stillwell and the American Experience in China, with its portrait of Stillwell and his friend and patron George Marshall as young officers in the 15th Infantry, was very celebrated, discussed and read.


Posted by: I Don't Pay | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:31 PM
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86: Because they're the party of "we're in power, we get to do whatever we want." They're all about consolidating power and using propaganda to appeal to the authoritarian voters (I think Tripp's idea about that is brilliant).

The Dems (and a lot of their supporters) have niggling feelings that that kind of thing is unfair; they/we are more the party of "we want to help people, but first do no harm." With all the condescension and conservatism that implies.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:31 PM
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My personal beef with the Dems is that they seem to have decided that my district isn't worth contesting, and are willing to leave Gallegly in power. Fucking pisses me off, he's such a do-nothing Republican rubber stamp.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:35 PM
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Well, okay, but now you're no longer explaining much. WHY does the GOP feel they can do what they want with their power (whether it's pushing bills through in the majority or filibustering in the minority), while the Democrats don't? A "first do no harm" strategy doesn't explain a thing about the failure to filibuster.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:37 PM
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I think that the drug culture also had a lot to do with turning people right, more than abortion. Some nice kid with personal weaknesses can get involved and come back a few years later as a complete wreck. The countercultures had an air of optimism, adventuresomness, and good will at the beginning, but often enough they turned nasty, certainly in many individual cases. Felonies, criminal lifestyle and attitude, stupid occultism, addictions, disease, depression, poverty, economic incapacity.

I've know many people for whom the countercultural adventure was a big positive, though usually at a cost, but also many whom it destroyed. Families often turned around 180 degrees when this kind of thing happened, including families who began with an open-minded attitude.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:39 PM
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Liberals have all studied Gandhi, Orwell, and Deepak Chopra, and they know that conflict is bad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:40 PM
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Whatever the answer is, it's not in diversity of coalitions. The right has managed to get poor ultrareligious people and amoral corporations in bed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:47 PM
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The story in 97 is part of the neocon's master narrative, that the upper classes were free to experiment without consequences, they could even pick up guns and play terrorist without permanently disabling legal or academic careers, but that the less-fortunate who followed their lead were not so protected.

This story appeals to me emotionally, as there was a lot of confusion in those years, but I have to confess I don't know of any actual examples in my own acquaintance, of families who turned right because of it.


Posted by: I Don't Pay | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:48 PM
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Yesterday I saw a sorority girl whose shirt read, "War never solved anything. Except Nazism, fascism, communism, and slavery." I really wanted to ask her which war solved communism.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:50 PM
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98: Gandhi was non-violent, but he certainly was willing to fight the entrenched powers.

And Orwell? How was he opposed to conflict?

I don't know anything about Deepak Chopra.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:50 PM
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On a more personal, thoroughly un-analytical note, today is the second anniversary of the death of Lt. Harold Baugh, of the Fifth Photographic Group, later of Jet Propulsion Laboratories and the Deep Space Network of tracking stations. I miss him, and I'd give the whole damn cowardly, vile lot of those who justify their sins and crimes as having anything to do with the good Dad and a lot of other men and women just like him did throughout the century. It grieves me to think that there are people dying today, two years later, and we don't seem to be in any real way a speck closer to the kind of thing Dad and Mom worked for, and hoped for for us.

I wish I could work more on that site for Dad, but I'm gonna have to replace my scanner, and in the meantime I keep going off like this whenever I handle his pictures and effects. It's not like I think the American legacy is all pure and lightness; I know better than that. But there was a quality of...resolve, is that the word I'm looking for? Something between bloodless trimming and sociopathic callousness.

Anyway, RIP, Dad, and all your comrades.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:50 PM
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I really wanted to ask her which war solved communism.

Vietnam, duh. Or are you some kind of pinko?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:52 PM
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98 is pretty on target. The left used to understand that non-violence was a tactic, not an end in itself. More specifically that it was a tactic that was well-suited to certain conflicts and poorly suited to others. As the classic examples of non-violent protest have moved further into the past, that philosophy has morphed into a vague discomfort with *any* sort of vigorous confrontation as unseemly and below the dignity of high-minded people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:52 PM
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Vietnam, duh. Or are you some kind of pinko?

See, I was hoping she'd answer "The Cold War!" And then give me a really withering look.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:56 PM
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Dems have all the "powder" they came into 2001 with. They even got a little more in 2006 and they've kept it every grain dry. Without having used an ounce of it. They may have loaded up once, maybe twice, but have yet to discharge their weapons They are very good powder keeper dryers.


Posted by: Henk | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:57 PM
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So Democrats voted for the Iraq war because of their excessive devotion to nonviolence. Mm-kay.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 1:58 PM
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So Democrats voted for the Iraq war

I don't really many Congressional Democrats part of the Left.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:00 PM
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I also believe 109 is missing the word "consider" somewhere or other.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:01 PM
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101: I just saw that yesterday, too, except it was a bumper-sticker. I tihnk the answer to your question is supposed to be the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but I'm not positive.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:01 PM
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I know a family which in 1980 or so supported Jesse Jackson for President, but which over time has become conservative Christian.

Some of the local kids who went the counterculture way got fairly messed up, and in a small town you can track them over the decades. Parents here try to give kids a positive life experience even at the cost of encasing them in an unreal protective world. A lot of them do seem happier than the hip kids I knew in Portland, for whom being pissed off about something seemed to be obligatory.

By and large these are not crazy wingers who see Satan under the bed, but culturally conservative mainline, politicall moderately conservative Christians. Though there's some charismatic craziness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:05 PM
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If the Congressional Democrats aren't part of the left, how is their fear of conflict evidence of anything about the actual left?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:06 PM
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"We can't control who is bombed or not, but at least we can recognize the full humanity of the Republicans rather than demonizing them."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:07 PM
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Y'know Katherine, if you're going to insist on an internally coherent philosophy, we're going to be for some time while I formulate one.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:12 PM
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Let alone an internally coherent sentence.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:13 PM
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WHO KEEPS TAKING WORDS OUT OF MY SENTENCES?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:15 PM
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Trip (in 19) gives the clearest and most accurate synopsis of my 25 years of experience as an engineer inside cabinet level Agencies -- it's all about our human relation to power ... our need for authority. Strategic decisions with huge consequences are made based on our preference to be "certain" and "wrong" -- rather than complicated and uncertain but nuanced and ultimately "right."

Even in engineering in an environment where price and "bottom line" are not considerations (you can actually afford to do the "right" thing), it's not about real-world engineering "facts" but authority and deep human resistance to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD, trademark IBM Sales).

The right wing sells Fear easily and well, and with a corporate media "owned" by right-wing support of low taxes and de-regulation, the right has an unbeatable echo chamber for anything that won't interfere with the flow of wealth to the richest 1%.

The left sells community and fairness and cooperation, human terms which have no economic footing and no corporate sponsor; they necessarily sound soft and elitist (how did they make demonstrable knowledge a bad thing?). The average citizen believes it is a zero-sum dog-eat-dog world, and "wants" its government to embrace this model of corporate management -- unaware this is a philosophy that necessarily condemns the world to perpetual conflict.

The only reason the left has this momentary chance is because the right goofed really badly and allowed an inept and corrupt clown (Bush) to enable the public to see the machinery behind the Oz curtain.


Posted by: /ehj2 | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:16 PM
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111: Yeah, we sure lucked out teaching the Taliban how to fight so good.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:29 PM
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I don't know which term we need to take back for our own ("liberal" or "progressive"), but the current crop of Democrats simply aren't either of these things -- and the triangulating centrist Clinton "taught" us this was the way to win elections.

In other words, the current Democratic Party isn't an opposition party to rational and competent Centrist policies, but only an opposition party to extreme incompetence and blatant disregard for the Constitution.


Posted by: /ehj2 | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:32 PM
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14,21: The fact that the black liberal intellectual who's willing to stand up for sophrosyne is ahead of the white war hero in national polls should be testament to the fact that voters can be led. Every single elected Democrat should be adopting Obama's tactics regardless of where they happen to stand on the issues.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:33 PM
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re David Price:

He's a decent man and a decent rep but he too almost caved on the FISA bill. I called his office the morning of the vote and asked what Price's position was on the bill and they told me hadn't decided yet. Of course, I strongly urged them to tell him not to vote for it but I wasn't glad to hear it was a close call.


Posted by: Junius Brutus | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:51 PM
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Wow. There's been a whole lot of good discussion here in just a couple hours time. Some new people too, or at least new to me. That's cool.

Bruce Baugh, you have an honorable legacy. More people need to see that and I thank you for sharing.

My personal take on history is that reading about events makes them seem grand and glorious in a way that present reality can never compare with. The "now" doesn't have the music and the dramatic buildup that events in books and movies have.

So we can easily treat the world like it is a movie that we are watching. We can become passive and forget that the present is a script that we are writing as we go.

But we don't have to be passive. We can act. We can fight the good fight. We know what is right. This isn't complicated. This is simple. We just need to do it. Here. Now.

We need to hold to our ideals, especially when times are hard. We need to get up after being knocked down, we need to take another step, and we need to continue pushing the massive ball of social justice as hard as we can.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 2:52 PM
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What really gives force to criticisms of the Democratic Party this decade is the horrendous performance of Dick Gephardt, who enabled the Iraq War and led us to defeat in 2002 and 2004. Pelosi, however, has been worlds better.

I've felt more confident about the Party since 2005, when I saw Pelosi and Reid completely destroy Social Security Privatization right after Bush had won re-election. Pelosi enforced party unity so well that no more than one Democrat in the house defected to Bush's plan, and Democrats didn't even concede that there was a problem to be solved. At that point, I realized that we were in much better hands.

Pelosi overcame the objections from Emanuel and Hoyer and made support for withdrawal the default position of the party in 2005-2006. It served us well, and we won an enormous election victory. I really don't think she gets the credit she deserves for building a more effective party.

I'm happy to hear all the talk of a primary against Hoyer. That's a guy against whom we really have to apply some pressure.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 3:36 PM
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If there is any reason to feel hopeful, it's that we now have the ability to sort through the bullshit and get organized. It will take a little while longer to fully take root, but I really believe that the Internet and related electronic gizmos are making a difference and will transform the way democracy functions.


Posted by: global yokel | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 5:51 PM
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125: If there is any reason to feel hopeful, it's that we now have the ability to sort through the bullshit and get organized

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Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 7:02 PM
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Tripp @123
My personal take on history is that reading about events makes them seem grand and glorious in a way that present reality can never compare with. The "now" doesn't have the music and the dramatic buildup that events in books and movies have.

This is why I think we on the left need *better stories* -- works like Persepolis, for instance.


Posted by: Doctor Science | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 7:23 PM
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127: Dr. S:

ogged (PBUH) used to fret that the Democrats weren't ready for the next terrorist attack, and he feared the Republicans would be able to take political advantage. I find this from Obama very encouraging.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 7:33 PM
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And speaking of political narratives, I'm really enjoying the Republicans' attempts to try out different anti-Obama narratives.

Here's David Brooks:

But then on the other side, there's Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who'd throw you under the truck for votes.
This guy is the whole Chicago package: an idealistic, lakefront liberal fronting a sharp-elbowed machine operator.

It is so sweet that Republicans are now whining that their opponent is just too tough.

And here's Karl Rove:

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

Rove is trying to evoke the traditional "elitist" theme, but he ends up making Obama sound like James Bond.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 7:49 PM
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Neil: The reason that these accomplishments - Pelosi overcame the objections from Emanuel and Hoyer and made support for withdrawal the default position of the party in 2005-2006. It served us well, and we won an enormous election victory. I really don't think she gets the credit she deserves for building a more effective party. - get slighted is pretty simple. What's she done about any of that since? We are, if anything, further from withdrawal, thanks to the advancing status of permanent bases, and I'm not aware of anything significant in the way of oversight or anything like that. She hasn't, yet, caved on Social Security, but pretty much everything else that was at stake in 2006 seems to have been surrendered.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 7:54 PM
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[130] couldn't agree more with Bruce: it was nice that she hit that single in the first inning, but she's 0-2 since, and we've fallen behind...


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:18 PM
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128: Speaking as a whirly-eyed Obamabot, I give that Obama response a B-. It's playing the victim card ("exactly the kind of politics that needs to change", whaaaa cry me a fucking river), and accepting the GOP premise (terrorist attack = good for McCain) instead of reversing the frame.

The response should contain a very small amount of eyeroll rather than fake outrage -- something like "McCain's campaign seems to be more concerned with what a successful attack on US soil would mean to the McCain campaign than what it would mean to the United States: a plain demonstration that 8 years of George Bush's failed policies has made us less safe."


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:30 PM
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Note that with something like that, you don't even have to explicitly assert that McCain term 1 = Bush term 3; the implication is there and becomes part of the conventional wisdom.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 10:32 PM
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You also have the non-entity crappy congresspeople who mostly vote their district but help out their corporate donors to the extent they think they can get away with it, e.g. my congressman, Ed Towns NY-10 (D +41). He had a strong left wing challenge last time, unfortunately from a guy whose personal hero is Robert Mugabe and proudly proclaims he wakes up every morning wanting to beat up a white person - i.e. what the No Quarter folks think Obama is.


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 06-23-08 11:05 PM
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The left used to understand that non-violence was a tactic, not an end in itself.

I think this misunderstands non-violence as an ideal.

Classical non-violence isn't tactical, it's existential. You don't do it because it is going to work, you do it because it's right.

Gandhi was non-violent because he thought violence was morally wrong, not because he thought that non-violence was more effective than violence. Christ could convert the world by force even when he is dying on the Cross, but chooses not to, because it's wrong to do so.

I'm not sure about Parihaka, but I'm pretty sure military action was rejected on moral grounds.

Admittedly Mandela's an interesting counterexample.

Generally, I'd also say that Orwell is not somebody you should take advice about tactics from. He wasn't very good at actually getting things done -- famously, he was on the losing side of the losing of the side of the Spanish Civil War, and his political instincts were never very good. He apparently told Nye Bevan that he should quit messing around with ``housing and stuff'' at the Ministry of Health.

Brilliant author, rubbish politician.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 12:36 AM
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We're not misunderstanding it. We're rejecting it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 12:43 AM
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No, the claim is that the left used to understand that non-violence was a tactic, not an end. Given that many of the people who were non-violent saw it as an end (Gandhi, King, Christ), that statement is, I think, false. Now, they weren't all on the left per se, but then, I can't think of any important left movement that was ever really committed to non-violence (the CND? but the Committe of 100?), so it's hard to discuss.

My further statement was about the notion of non-violence, and how most movements that succeeded through non-violence did so because they felt that it was right, not because they felt it was effective.

After all, how the hell was Lytton Strachey's `imposition' going to save his mother?


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 1:06 AM
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36: If the majority of the Democrats vote like Republican Lite, it often is because they are Republican Lite.

I think this basically correct. All the keeping-the-powder dry and fear-of-the-GOP statements are best explained not as signs that the Democrats are fearful or too prone to compromise, but rather as the most plausible argument that a party that is much more authoritarian and conservative than its voting base can give to the voters on which it depends.

The modern national security state was an invention of Democratic governmental officials and policy intellectuals like Paul Nitze. Even if the GOP has lately become even more enamored of it, we shouldn't be surprised that the leadership of the Democratic Party retains an interest in its care and growth. Despite a revolt by Democratic doves in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the hawks have been back in control of the party for about three decades.

On issues like foreign policy and domestic surveillance, it is perhaps best not to see the Democrats as Republican Lite, but rather the Republican Party as Democratic hawks on steroids (the first generation of neoconservatives were originally Scoop Jackson Democrats, after all).


Posted by: Ben Alpers | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 2:33 AM
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You know, a primary challenge to Steny Hoyer is probably a good idea even if its odds of success are low. Hoyer really sucks, and he's next in line for speaker; the Democratic House caucus almost always promotes the majority leader when the speaker steps down. Any scare from the left would probably be helpful.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 8:46 AM
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Katherine,

WHY does the GOP feel they can do what they want with their power (whether it's pushing bills through in the majority or filibustering in the minority), while the Democrats don't? A "first do no harm" strategy doesn't explain a thing about the failure to filibuster.

My amateur assessment is this.

First despite all my (tedious I suppose) talk about the authoritarian followers I have neglected their leaders. From our perspective the worst sort of leader they have is the social dominator (who is power hungry and amoral) who is also an authoritarian. This person uses everything he can, including misleading his followers, in the pursuit of personal power.

In acting if you want to properly portray a character you have to first figure out what that character wants.
Social dominators want power and will do anything to get it.

Now clearly politics at the top levels is going to be full of social dominators. Who else would put up with the BS required to get to that level?

I submit, though, that currently the Republican party has most all of the social dominator/authoritarians.

In general the Democratic party social dominators have gotten there by being "statesman" and being smart and reasonable and articulate and willing to compromise for the greater good.

To me this is blatantly obvious when you look at the "Young Republicans" and the "Young Democrats" (or the equivalent).

Young Republicans backstab and play dirty tricks and do whatever it takes to beat each other to the prize. Young Democrats squabble and explain and bicker but eventually compromise for the common good.

Put those two groups is Congress and tell me you don't see the same thing there? Isn't it obvious?

In general the Democratic leaders are reasonable and have a conscience. The Republican leaders are ruthless, even in their use of a bumbling figurehead such as Bush III.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 8:53 AM
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A few trips to the hog farm would straighten out both the Republicans and the Democrats. But I have been forced to remain within the antiquated, lo-tech second-millennium "civility" paradigm.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 8:55 AM
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Re:Political Violence & non-violence

1) Recognizing I need to study the Arendt late-60s piece, which was informed & profound

2) I have an expansive concept of violence following Weber's definition of the state or libertarian thinking. We stop at stop signs because (among other reasons) of the threat or possibility of state violence. I consider the stop sign to be in itself coercive. Most understandings of law consider a threat of violence, or a reasonable assumption thereof by the victim, to be itself a lesser form of violence.

So any disruptions of the social order, any "action" that might force or even tempt a coercive counter-action, is coercive and near violent or violent. "Disturbing the peace" shows the common-sense understanding of this.

So it is a continuum from throwing molotov cocktails to building barricades to unsanctioned marches to sit-down or general strikes to hunger strikes to self-immolation. There are no bright lines, and Gandhi & MLK were mostly rationalizing. The non-violent would consider me the one rationalizing my acceptance of violence.

On a personal level, rage is usually based on fear, and turning the other cheek is morally inadequate. Passivity is rejection. You need to actively reassure, calm, "disarm" the rageful. Anything else is a step toward violence.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 8:56 AM
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Totally not convincing. It's not Steny Hoyer's & Rahm Emanuel's finely developed consciences that make them so fucking useless compared to the actual decent Democrats in Congress.

If anyone ever decides to run against Emmanuel, I will write their speeches, I swear to God.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 8:58 AM
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143 to 140.

I get pretty sick of "we're too bound by conscience," "we're too nonviolent" as the explanation. As if filibustering is violent; as if there aren't plenty of actual liberals & leftists with perfectly developed consciences & who aren't contemplating violence, and yet want an actual opposition party. I think the "they've been bought" argument, while simplistic, makes a hell of a lot more sense.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:01 AM
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(I mean, tell me, who's more of a morally pure boy scout type, and who's more of a ruthless operator, Feingold or Emanuel? And yet who's the effective liberal opposition member of Congress, and who consistently votes further right than his constituents want?)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:03 AM
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I know most people like to think there are huge differences among assertion, aggression, and violence, bu I don't. Setting up boundaries (fences, no trespassing signs) is as violent as crossing boundaries. Property is theft, and one's person, body-ownership is the first step toward violence. Nolo tendere.

I ain't Jesus (This is my body, share) or Buddha. I just recognize aggression and violence as the meaning of the World.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:10 AM
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Setting up boundaries (fences, no trespassing signs) is as violent as crossing boundaries.

Spoken like someone who never has to deal with actual violence.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:12 AM
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Fencing the West was famously violent. Once the violence is successful fences and other markers replace actual violence, but if the fences are ignored the violence will resume.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:15 AM
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147:Very wrong.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:15 AM
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We are still and always animals.

I have two big dogs, 75 pounds apiece. Th little furballs attack & bark aggressively when my dogs are in their teritory. My dogs will chase anything that runs from them, I think because they know better than to turn their backs.

An early lesson a thug taight me:"You see a guy flinch or take a defensive posture, punch him first, because he wants to punch you." A shield is a weapon-system.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:20 AM
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Why are we scared of FISA and surveillance? They are only defensive measures, huh?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:22 AM
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144: I get pretty sick of "we're too bound by conscience," "we're too nonviolent" as the explanation.

Katherine, you are, of course, free to feel sickness whenever you want. If you find that useful please continue. I don't think I mentioned non-violence or being bound by anything. I would hope if you do feel sick it is because of something I actually, you know, said.

My opinions are to some degree based on scientific evidence. Please note I said things like "in general" because of course when dealing with humans we will find exceptions on both sides of this rule.

I'll take your word about Emanuel being a wimp or a sell-out or whatever. The only Emanuel I know of was in the Bible.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:31 AM
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Honestly, I care more about it as a proxy than on its own terms. There's a whole series of related issues where the rule-of-law, human rights etc. position conflicts with the fear of being portrayed as soft on terrorism, and where the Democrats have been most likely to cave. This was basically the only one left where Congressional Dems hadn't caved yet, thanks in large part to pressure from people like Greenwald. To see the caucus (including the entire leadership, with the possible exception of Durbin) cave on this one too, with Obama's tacit support (in violation of one of the few specific campaign promises he'd made on an issue like this)--I've just kind of had it. If they were actively effective, wily operators on things like national health care & other economic issues, it would be one thing--I mean, I'm glad we passed the New Deal, Dixiecrat support or no; I recognize that voters without health insurance don't give much of a damn about FISA--but I have zero confidence in their ability to do that.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:38 AM
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bob,

I think y'all are arguing about nuance here. I think we can agree that there are shades of violence and there are differences between offensive and defensive use of violence as well.

And as an aside if one seriously must fight then I recommend a sharp blow to the throat or even a hard throat grab followed by an escape if possible. At the least you'll take the guy down for awhile and at the most you'll kill him.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:38 AM
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I was kidding about nonviolence, Gandhi, and Orwell.

But many liberals have been too timid, and they have also insisted on trying to dialogue with people who are not in good faith, and often refuse to "demonize their enemies".

For everything there is a season, and it's always open season demonizing Gingrich, DeLay, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove. They certainly return the favor, and while we should not become entirely "like them", we should go tit for tat or better when they playing that game.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 9:47 AM
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I'm not sure we need to "demonize" that bunch. Properly naming them for what they are is damaging enough.

They are amoral, and ruthless, except for Bush who is a foolish, incompetent patsy who is amoral and ruthless.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 10:18 AM
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If you think I sound above like a proto-fascist, you are absolutely right.

Communists and fascists have very similar analyses. "Property is theft" (ownership, slavery). They each just draw different & opposite conclusions.

Libertarians and liberals seem to think "Property is freedom" (Good fences make good neighbors;sanctity of persons). I'll act & talk like a liberal most of the time, but I just can't seem to get my mind around it, not being religious and all.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 10:19 AM
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A cliche from when I was first forming political ideas back in the '70s ran about like this:

Conservatives believe that once you name something as evil, there's no further explanation. (Either it can't be explained, because evil is an irreducible mystery, or there's just no point in explaining it.)

Liberals believe that once you explain something, it can't be named as evil. (Because true understanding banishes the mysteriousness that makes something hateful.)

Obviously the conservative machine embraces this with a vengeance - its leadership is very much anti-knowledge except for the knowledge they need to enrich themselves. The liberal stereotype was never as true. But there's certainly an element of it going on in discussions about, say, dealing with the machine. Too many liberals seem to feel a real reluctance to say, first, that what someone is doing is really wrong, not just undesirable, and second, that people who keep choosing to do wrong things in the face of better alternatives are bad people who should be condemned and shunned, and third, that their bad policies must be fought vigorously. But the key thing that seems to throw a whole lot of the discussions I've been in during this administration is the simple fact that when you're done explaining why a bad policy originated and how it operates, it's still bad and you have to fight it. Knowledge is not action.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 10:41 AM
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Bruce (158) ... thanks for that reference regarding simple distinctions between Left and Right, I collect them. On a related note, I enjoy this quote from Bertrand Russel.

The problem with this world is that the ignorant are cocksure, while the intelligent are constantly in doubt.


Posted by: /ehj2 | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 1:44 PM
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The Right is not subtle about what it really believes, and it has hijacked the language of economics and Darwinist Theory to be as clear as it can.

The Right believes in survival of the fittest, in zero-sum-games, in might makes right, and the end justifies any means. If you're a member of the Right, you believe everyone and every country is in it for herself, so all that matters is winning. The Right believes in the Power of Property (which is how you keep score), and if you put Property Protection first, the right people will be wealthy without worrying about them and the rest don't matter because if they're poor they weren't contributing to anything anyway. It doesn't matter if you break the rules if you aren't caught. Rules are for losers. Treaties are for losers. Collaborative organizations (like the UN) are for losers.

The Left believes in community, in win-win collaboration, that if you put people first, wealth and property will take care of itself. And process, the means, is as important as the end, and it does matter if you break the rules because that's a break with community, the philosophical underpinning of Left-wing awareness -- it's very ethos.

The Right believes collaboration is for the weak. There can be only One.

The Right owns the Media, and this basic philosophy pervades everything. You can get further with a gun and a smile than with a smile alone.


Posted by: /ehj2 | Link to this comment | 06-24-08 1:58 PM
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Apo, you and other crybaby libs are disappointed with the Democrats simply because you fail to see the real aims of party leaders and politicians, as opposed to the aims they profess. Conservatives are just as disappointed with the Bush administration and the Republican party, and for the same reason.

Simply, both parties have become instruments of plunder, with leaders dedicated not to any principles that they may mouth, but to controlling the federal (and state) pork spigots, while siphoning off whatever they can personally. Both sets of party "leaders" - along with the MSM - have been captured by elite and wealthy insiders (fronted by deep-pocketed corporations) to whom the most significant benefits are bestowed (often at the cost of future generations, like our emergency, off-budget "long war" on terror), with an occasional squirt to the masses to keep them from getting too restive.

It's a profoundly corrupt game, but that's what it is. And under the current set of rules, the Republicans (and the elites they represented) were for a time very successful, though the lack of the success in the Iraq "war president" and "fear the ______" strategies has moved the American people to hand the keys back to the Dems. But do the Dems stand for anything? Clearly not - the "change" they espouse is empty, and simply cover for their real aim, which is to be the ones who get to dole out the government goodies - an aim that they have never masked and which they have been very successful in moving towards.

Since pork is the aim, why should Dems ever rock the boat, by troubling to stand up for the Constitution, rule of law or Congressional prerogatives in controlling executive behavior? All of these involve too much effort and, ultimately, are beside the point.


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 2:20 AM
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Apo, you and other crybaby libs

Tom, seriously, go fuck yourself.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 5:00 AM
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you fail to see the real aims of party leaders and politicians

You'd be hard pressed to find another liberal blog that is more consistently critical of and cynical about the national Democratic Party than this one. Everybody, and I mean everybody, here understands that the Democrats are captive to corporate interests and have enthusiastically help build and maintain the bottomless pit war machine. An adult understanding of American politics in 2008, however, includes the realization that there are only two items on the menu and standing in another country mindlessly repeating the "not a dime's worth of difference" nonsense mantra is not political sophistication, but rather look-at-me-I'm-so-clever posturing.

If you've got a plan for actually moving the ball down the field that's more concrete than magical handwaving that transforms the US into a libertarian wonderland, I'm all ears.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 6:35 AM
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Sorry, apo, for that ungracious lead-in.

But seriously, we've ALLbeen fucked. It's high time to start understanding why, and start pushing for freedom FROM our growing nanny state, which insiders use to pick our pocket and control us, instead of more of it.


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 6:42 AM
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164: Barr in '08, baby. If a serious-minded conservative/libertarian can't bring his or her self to vote for Obama, that's the way to go !


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 7:01 AM
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An adult understanding of American politics in 2008, however, includes the realization that there are only two items on the menu

Isn't the menu much larger than that? Besides the Presidential campaign, aren't there hundreds of Congresscritters that - if they choose to - can serve as a check on the Pres., even more state representatives, plenty of issues to concern oneself with, and hundreds of thousands of citizens groups, blogs, etc. by which to express an opinion and push for change (even good one's like GG's, who makes plenty of suggestions for action)?

Again, sorry to have jabbed a nerve, but surely it's irrelevant where I am. Yes, I was trying to get attention, but it wasn't mindless, even though insensitve.

I think there is political hay to be made from the growing awareness among citizens of all stripes that a big and growing government is a threat to our liberty, pocketbooks and even to civic society, as problems that are politicized are ultimately prolonged (as they can't be resolved directly by citizens' own individual or community decisions) and institutionalized.

No, there's no magical hand-waving from me, I'm afraid. Just hard work. And words too, because words are deeds.


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 7:36 AM
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aren't there hundreds of Congresscritters

Almost every one of them belongs to one party or the other, and the handful that don't still caucus with one or the other. We've talked at length here about the need to recruit primary challengers for folks like Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emmanuel. Condemning both parties is effectively locking yourself out of the political process. The first job is getting the GOP out of power. The next job is changing the Democrats. There isn't time to build an entirely new vehicle and every effort at it in the past 150 years has failed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 7:55 AM
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It's not just that he's a jerk; it's that he sounds like the stupid kind of libertarian (i.e., not Jim Henley).


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 7:57 AM
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Again, sorry to have jabbed a nerve, but surely it's irrelevant where I am.

But surely what is irrelevant, and how is this irrelevance a corrective or counterpoint to the nerve jabbing?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:01 AM
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No, there's no magical hand-waving from me, I'm afraid. Just hard work. And words too, because words are deeds.

Hey, did you guys know there's an idiot here?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:04 AM
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But surely what is irrelevant

Where TT lives. Which is indeed irrelevant.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:08 AM
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Ah, oh!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:13 AM
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Condemning both parties is effectively locking yourself out of the political process.

You say that like it's a bad thing. Some folks we don't want in the political process. Barr in '08, baby !


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:14 AM
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Condemning both parties is effectively locking yourself out of the political process.

No it's not, as long as you vote, push for good candidates and cultivate support from disaffected Republicans. Voting a ticket rather than the best candidate is a recipe for corruption - it's what gave us bad Republicans, and has more recently given us Dems to whom money matters more than principle. And surely you've recognized this, by talking about the need to recruit challengers to Hoyer and Emmanuel.

The first job is getting the GOP out of power. The next job is changing the Democrats.

You're not cynical enough, apo, and haven't seemed to have learned any lessons about the Founders insistence on strong checks and balances. Getting the GOP totally out of power makes it even more difficult to chenge Dems. While I certainly don't want to see McCain as president because of foreign policy isses, I think that there is a huge risk that with Obama in the White House and strengthened Congressional majorities we are going to see Dems try to outdo the Republicans in feeding pork to elites and other constituencies. Just look at the pork-laden Warner-Lieberman climate bill for example, which George Will has rightly savaged (on that, also agree with Will, and Jim Hansen, that a carbon tax that is rebated - along with power deregulation - is the most effective and politically sustainable approach).

There isn't time to build an entirely new vehicle

I agree that the two parties have done a great job of locking themselves into power, presenting each other as binary choices and stifling the ability for alternative parties to hake headway. That makes it easy for elites to milk the government, while having the two parties conduct a sideshow about how different they are. There are experiments under way in the states to change voting systems that prompt candidates to run more towards the middle, but the clearest answer lies in increasing transparency, fostering checks and balances, and in trying to slim down government.


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:36 AM
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Specifically, the kind of libertarian who uses the tyranny of tyranny as a pretext for kvetching about the tyranny of gov't spending and taxes.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:42 AM
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Ooh, a glibertarian talking about global warming. This should be good.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:44 AM
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but the clearest answer lies in increasing transparency, fostering checks and balances, and in trying to slim down government.

One of these things is not like the others.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:45 AM
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Katherine, what has government spending and taxes given us, except more of both and an ever-diminishing ability to control it?

And don't get me wrong, I'm as concerned about the tyranny aspect as the spending/taxing/corruption aspect. And wasn't the point of apo's post that Dems carry their fair of responsibility for the growth of tyranny?


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:51 AM
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Ooh, a glibertarian talking about global warming. This should be good.

Sorry to disappoint, but it's midnight now and I'm signing off. But I'm sure Tweety can find more glib stuff by following the trail of crumbs ....

Sorry again for the jab, apo.


Posted by: TokyoTom | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:55 AM
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I see that someone's getting Paultarded in here.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:56 AM
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yes, I bet you care almost as much about the tyranny of indefinite detention as the tyranny of Medicaid & public transportation. Whatever. There's no reliable correlation between social services safety net spending & the degree of gov't repression, except maybe a negative one--certainly there's a negative correlation between desire for tax cuts and support of civil liberties in U.S. politics, even among most self-described libertarians.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 8:57 AM
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179: no need; I just thought I'd call you an idiot until you left.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:00 AM
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it's very hot and humid in Tokyo my prof said
cheers, Tokyo Tom


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:02 AM
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US gov't spending has given us a legal and regulatory system without which securities markets would not exist, a public health system that manages to vaccinate most residents, even the broke and illiterate. For a specific example, yesterday government spending gave the Everglades a shot at long-term viability.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:03 AM
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TokyoTom: Stras, McManus, and I troll this blog on a regular basis. You are not needed. Some say that we are not needed either.

Everyone here has heard the libertarian line hundreds of times by now. (As I've told everyone else here, but will now tell you, John Hospers was my mother's goddamn first cousin.)

There are many problems with libertarianism: libertarianism is based a wishful, imaginary and impossible model of society, the two-party system works powerfully against third parties, and the Libertarian Party itself is just a diverse collection of malcontents and has corruption problems even with its tiny budget (Harry Browne). It should be classified with the LaRouchies and the Hare Krishna Natural Law Party.

What has government spending and taxes given us, except more of both and an ever-diminishing ability to control it?

Feels good to say that, doesn't it? What video game is it from?

I actually listen to libertarians more now than I used to. (I now date the militarization of the American state from 1941). They do have a good vantage for a criticism of the status quo, just as the anarchists do, but I don't find either group's positivive prescriptions plausible. Especially since the libertarians I've known have been either nativist, racist gun nuts or transhumanist tech geeks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:10 AM
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I call libertarians idiots because I care about liberty.

Henley would have may well seen this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:12 AM
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If you think about it, our enslavement began with seat belt laws and anti-tobacco crusades.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:13 AM
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If you think about it, the only reason we were expelled from the garden was the imposition of unjust, nanny-state rules designed to protect us from ourselves.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:14 AM
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Hey, did you guys know there's an idiot here?

Wait, I thought I had that role, although I do see there is a distinction between "crazed" and "idiot."

Tommy, the fact that your very first comment here uses labels and then presumes to tell us how we think puts you in the penalty box. If you label yourself a libertarian you'll increase the time. You can earn your way out, but I suggest you stop the name-calling or you'll never get out.

So the Republicans and the Democrats are both in thrall to the ultra-rich. Well duh. Brilliant analysis. Bravo. (Also, and people hate hearing this prediction, this will not change until the revolution.)

So we need to cast aside the bonds of our corporate masters. Fine. How do you suggest we do that?

From what I've seen libertarians are either anarchists (meaning selfish young men who want a bigger piece of the pie) or Republicans who want to smoke pot.

So who are you? So far your name implies you are a foreigner who needs to mind his own business but I am willing to hear otherwise. This is a polite request. Define yourself please.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:16 AM
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185: pwned by Emerson one again.

Crap.

I ban myself.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:20 AM
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If you think about it, you'll see that global warming isn't real, but is also a result of a government mandate.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:22 AM
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Tripp, if you stay around I'll probably enroll you on the Unfogged authourized troll list.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:25 AM
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189: TT is an American living in Tokyo who has commented at my blog for several years.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:25 AM
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193: You have to admit that's ambiguous evidence on the whole idiot question.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:26 AM
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If you think about it, there is really absolutely no objective evidence at all that what we call 'reality' exists.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:34 AM
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If you think about it, the Vikings have a real shot at the superbowl this year. Which is why I refuse to think about such things. Take it from me, it only leads to heartache and the misery of dashed hopes.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:36 AM
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Well, I tend to avoid that question since I'm liable along those same lines, but he and I have been rehashing this same argument for some time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:37 AM
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I knew apo lacked the courage to take a clear stand on the Vikings Super Bowl hopes. Typical liberal crybaby.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:39 AM
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Tripp is old. No one younger than 40 even knows what he's talking about.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:44 AM
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198: PANTHERS, BITCHES!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:44 AM
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Did I forget to call TT an ignorant slut? Damn.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:45 AM
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The Vikings played in 4 Superbowls and scored 5 TDS.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:48 AM
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200: yes, but which one?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:48 AM
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202: The Panthers played in 1 Super Bowl and scored 4 TDs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 9:55 AM
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I wasn't bragging, Apo. The Viking Superbowl highlights film would be a few minutes long.

Two of the TDs were in the fourth Quarter of lost games, and one was scored by the defense.

But Alan Page is a damn good State Supreme Court justice, and he could probably whip all 7 of the sitting Federal Supremes at the same time. Wellstone was a jock to, to say nothing of Ventura.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:03 AM
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"A few" in the sense of "two".

Tripp will understand.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:17 AM
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all 7 of the sitting Federal Supremes

What are the others doing?


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:29 AM
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Ginsburg and Stevens are taking naps.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:32 AM
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Figures that the two Dem appointees would be slacking. Probably while clocked in, too.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:33 AM
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Stevens was a Ford appointee.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:36 AM
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There are 9 of the mofos? Why haven't I been told about this?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:37 AM
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Ginsburg and Breyer are the Dem. appointees.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:40 AM
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Yeah, I realized Breyer was the second Dem appointee after hitting post, but didn't care enough about being wrong to correct myself.

There are 9 of the mofos? Why haven't I been told about this?

Yep, it was reset to nine in 1869. I think you were camping that week.


Posted by: Grumps | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 10:44 AM
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Tripp is old. No one younger than 40 even knows what he's talking about.

Yeah, but chicks dig me. Needer needer neeeeder.

But speaking of sports - this Cubs and Bears fan thought he knew a lot about supporting a losing team until he came to MN. This is where I learned about broken hearts and dashed hopes, mended and raised and broken again.


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 06-25-08 12:18 PM
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