Re: You have got to be kidding me.

1

I knew it!


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:31 AM
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They're obviously just exaggerating for comic effect. Michelle's hair is nowhere near that big in real life.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:33 AM
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I know, right? It's unbelievable.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:39 AM
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Mr. and Mrs. Obama can sue the magazine anytime and rightly win, i guess
should win very huge, like their bankruptsy threatening win, coz it's no joke imo
but maybe they understand that, parody and satire, very well and let it go humorously, then he doesn't deserve the presidency imo
well, though it's not my business at all


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:40 AM
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#4: You guess wrong.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:42 AM
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5 why is that? b/c of the freedom of speech?
aren't there any laws about unjust personal maligning or something, to protect one's name or how it is called, the concept


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:50 AM
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Mr. and Mrs. Obama can sue the magazine anytime and rightly win, i guess

Allow me to acquaint you with the controlling precedent for libel suits in the case of satire of public figures.

The legal burden on the plaintiff is almost impossibly high (and that's a good thing, IMO).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:53 AM
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My guess is that the staff artist at the New Yorker underestimated the proportion of the population that would see this drawing as a depiciton of the true nature of the Obama's.

In the NYC bubble they have no idea of what it's like out here among the howling aborigines.

Dateline: Outer Pittsburgh


Posted by: OOTB | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:53 AM
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Yeah, my roomie on the campaign pointed this out last night. The campaign has already released a statement. My other roomie, the flaming liberal, really liked it as a satire, while my feelings are much closer to 8.

Sure, it would be pretty damn funny on a low-traffic left-wing blog, where it would remain satire for an audience that understands its meaning. As a cover for a respected national magazine? Anything that's not super-explicitly tongue-in-cheek will be used somewhere, somehow, to justify what it claims to mock.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:58 AM
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but it says, the holding of the court in your link:
'unless the parody includes false statements of fact made in knowing or reckless disregard of the truth.'
isn't is the case?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:59 AM
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At least it didn't show Michelle lip-locked with a Hasidic Jew.

This is one of those occasions where we can be thankful that the influence of the New Yorker on non-elite discourse is statistically indistinguishable from null.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:00 AM
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it
Hi, OOTB!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:00 AM
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I share pomo's sense that this would have been a great joke in another context. Good luck getting the burqa on over that hair, Michelle.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:03 AM
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Kevin Drum had a good take on it. If you want to do it as satire you draw the same picture in a speech bubble coming out of McCain's mouth. Without that, the Republicans are going to be printing this on T-shirts.

I wonder if the artist was trying to screw Obama, or if they were just dim.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:03 AM
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My read is that McCain is so obviously going to lose the election that the practitioners of "higher Broderism" are getting clever.


Posted by: Jeff Rubard | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:05 AM
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Forget the artist. Doesn't the fucking editor have some say as to what goes on the cover?


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:06 AM
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Hi read!


Posted by: OOTB | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:08 AM
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I think everyone who is exercised over this caricature should calm the fuck down. The existence or non-existence of this cover will have zero impact on the proportion of Americans who believe that Obama is a Muslim (and personally I suspect that there are damn few who hold that belief who aren't already disinclined to vote for BHO for other reasons, ***cough blackman cough***).

The only scenario in which this cover gets widely seen outside the Pale of the blue coastal strip is if it becomes a Controversy and the cable news channels report on it.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:12 AM
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7. Then they should sue in an English jurisdiction. On November 6th.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:20 AM
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19: Graham Greene's essay is quite creepy about poor Shirley: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. ... Her admirers -- middle-aged men and clergymen -- respond to her dubious coquetry,

Yeah, watch the way this nine-year-old measures a man. Ick.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:33 AM
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No, not very nice. Unfortunately, however, broadly true - have you ever seen a ST movie? Not to blame the child, of course, but her trainers.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:43 AM
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18 is pretty much right, but this:
Sure, it would be pretty damn funny on a low-traffic left-wing blog, where it would remain satire for an audience that understands its meaning. As a cover for a respected national magazine? Anything that's not super-explicitly tongue-in-cheek will be used somewhere, somehow, to justify what it claims to mock.
Is also sort of right, although I must say the Sadlynaut's habit of calling Obama "Hussein Obama X" has inspired the same twinge of "you do realize how bad people are at understanding satire, right?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:45 AM
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I doubt that the readership of the New Yorker are likely to be swayed into believing that Obama is a muslim based on this cover. It's satire. Not only that, it's actually funny (Am I the only one who remembers "Terrorist fist Jab?"). Knecht gets it right in 18 - calm the fuck down.

For those who simply cannot let go of this opportunity to get all worked up - consider that fact that every time somebody flips out about the suggestion that Obama is a muslim you're sending a message that the idea of Obama as muslim is credible enough to be worth taking seriously. It's not. It's fucking stupid, and anyone who falls for it is fucking stupid and should be publicly mocked, such as by caricaturing their delusional fantasies on the cover of the New Yorker.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:48 AM
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It is funny, I agree, but I think it's really easy to overestimate how many people will understand that satire is satire. I mean, we (small traffic, liberal blog that attempts to (used to) be funny) have had several people who didn't understand that our implicit comparison of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and MLK to Mussolini and white supremacists was, you know, satire. People can really be dim. All it takes is Fox to run this with the tagline "is this what coastal elites secretly think of Obama?" in their jackass, joking way, and it's injected into the tardosphere.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:51 AM
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Drum is not a raving maniac. (Unfortunately). His point, rightly or wrongly, was that a similar cover that targeted McCain would not be done, because The New Yorker is afraid of the Republican attack machine.

Graphics circulate faster and farther than articles. The Cheney-Rove team is unworried by Jane Mayer, because people who read are not one of their target demographics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:51 AM
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The only scenario in which this cover gets widely seen outside the Pale of the blue coastal strip is if it becomes a Controversy and the cable news channels report on it.

Well, at least there's no chance of that ever happening. Or, for that matter, of Fox News showing the cover incessantly while ostensibly tut-tutting at the New Yorker.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:51 AM
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OOTB: Off-off-track betting?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:51 AM
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OT:

I often feel a pang of jealousy when I see Bave Dee's name due to his Russian Bath adventures.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:55 AM
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Daniel Larison's opinion He's on the pro-freakout side.

(For those who don't know Larison, he's an anti-Bush conservative blogger who I find generally quite sharp and interesting...not sure I agree with him here, though...how many people who would be swayed by this "controversy" would already vote for Obama?)


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:56 AM
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While I think that Knecht and togolosh are correct to say that *most* people will recognize this as satire, I believe you both grossly underestimate the power of the visual. The people who would not vote for him for other reasons will have a lot to say about this to their neighbors, and if you think this wont get plastered all over the right wing internet, think again. Remember, George Bush was re elected in this country. If you think people are good at discerning truth from fiction, think again.
This was an interesting choice for the New Yorker. What ever the motivation, I think they suck and am canceling my subscription.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:58 AM
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I haven't been to the baths in about two months, Will. I feel a pang of wistfulness when you mention them.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:01 AM
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1. as satire, it's pretty funny
2. it probably won't be clear to some people, which might be an argument for the cover. If it's not clear that calling Obama a terrorist is a joke, then this needs to be made clear.
3. The-obama-is-a-terrorist fear is out there, and logical argument isn't going to fight it. Making it into a joke might make some inroads
4. Drum's pretty clearly reaching in that post. For one, the cover isn't making fun of Obama, so why should they have to make fun of McCain? There's a double standard there. Second, it would be nonsensical, and yes, shrill, to have it coming from McCain's mouth, since McCain doesn't himself voice such things.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:03 AM
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Oft the truth is said in jest.

Let us see how funny it is when they run a similar picture of a drug addled Cindy McCain stealing from her charity. Or of 41 yr old McCain cheating on his disabled wife with a young rich, beautiful Cindy McCain.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:04 AM
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I wonder if the artist was trying to screw Obama, or if they were just dim.

The artist doesn't care. At a better time in a better country, I'd think it would be a good thing that a satirist (and other artists) would be indifferent to how idiots will interpret his or her work.

At this time in this country, I admit, the issue is cloudier. But even here and now, I think the key question about satire has to be: Is it funny?

That cover made me smile.

Liberals need to learn to stop flinching at everything, start judging things on their merits, and quit freaking out (as in the link below) about what Rush Limbaugh is going to do. We have to be able to comfortably joke about right-wing freaks (the butt of the New Yorker's joke) without fretting about how they'll respond.

That said, I know I'm wrong about this because I agree with Andrew Sullivan.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:04 AM
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It is so pretentious.
"We are so clever. The Liberal readership we have cultivated will get this, and the ignorant right wing will just scratch their heads at our audacity..."


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:06 AM
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25: A similar cover could not be done about McCain because the modern Republican Party is beyond satire. What would the New Yorker artist do ? Draw McCain bopping around singing "Bomb, Bomb Iran"?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:07 AM
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What ever the motivation, I think they suck and am canceling my subscription.

Fleur, don't do it! Then I'll have to start buying it from the newsstand again, and it will cost 3X as much!

Anyway, my point wasn't that everyone will recognize it as satire, but that no one who might be influenced by it will see it, because the New Yorker is a niche publication.

Also, whatever the New Yorker's sins, they are paying the bills for Jane Mayer, whom I am convinced future historians will regard as a near-sainted figure.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:08 AM
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33: But Will, those things are perfectly true! Maybe a pic of Cindy showing John the Queen of Spades, while he stands there stiff-shouldered and dead-eyed.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:09 AM
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This issue is not so much whether people *get* that it's satire. And as soon as the meme starts circulating that that is what the left is crying about, it will turn into a 'leftists condescend to flyover country, assume we are illiterate' story. The more salient issues, for me, are that the image will circulate like wildfire adn will actually provide a lot of people with a nice visual for what, exactly, they didn't really like about Obama. Or it will allow them to go, on some level, 'huh, i never quite thought about it that way, but now that you mention it ...'
Secondly, it provides fodder for my least favorite right-wing meme: when the lefties engage in stereotyping and racism it's funny, but when we do it they call us cretins. Double-standard hypocrites!


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:10 AM
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Sure, it would be pretty damn funny on a low-traffic left-wing blog, where it would remain satire for an audience that understands its meaning. As a cover for a respected national magazine?

By "respected national magazine" do you mean "magazine that is read in New York and sits, lonely and unread, in doctor's office waiting rooms everywhere else"?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:11 AM
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37 to 30
It will get seen.
Think of all the poor Obama supporters with signs in their front yards in West Virginia. You don't think they are going to hear about this from the friends and neighbors???????????


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:12 AM
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You're kidding, right? It's the cover of the New Fucking Yorker. There is not one single subscriber who will get this magazine and receive its cover as anything but satire. As for newsstand views or whatever else: It is a cartoon—it is in fact a political cartoon—the medium itself signals satire. You really think that some people will see this and think, what?: There is a photograph of those two known conspirators, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama—?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:12 AM
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Yes.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:14 AM
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But Will, those things are perfectly true! Maybe a pic of Cindy showing John the Queen of Spades, while he stands there stiff-shouldered and dead-eyed.

Exactly. Why cant we mock people for the truth?

The New Yorker cartoon simultaneously reaffirms prejudices and demonstrates that the left cannot laugh at itself. Win. Win.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:15 AM
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33, 36 I think these suggestions miss two things. First, making fun of something true (your suggestions) vs. making fun of false rumor and insinuation (the actual cover). Second, while everyone is afraid that people will interpret the cover as making fun of Obama, remember it's actually making fun of Fox News and looney conservatives. So it's not quite true that the modern Repubs are beyond satire, as this cover is an example of it.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:15 AM
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It's the cover of the New Fucking Yorker. There is not one single subscriber who will get this magazine and receive its cover as anything but satire.

Of course, you ignore the millions who will see it on Fox or go and view it after hearing about it on Hannity or Rush.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:16 AM
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I think it's pretty funny, myself. I like Michelle-as-Angela Davis, especially. (I look forward to Obama as Olympic champion giving the black power salute.) Part of me thinks that the way to diffuse the fears the cartoon evokes is to mock them directly.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:16 AM
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45:

Right. Exactly.

So the right wingers will be saying "see??? We can laugh at ourselves.!!"

This reminds me of the woman at the McCain rally who when asked why she was there said, "Because Obama's wife is anti-American!" When asked why she thought that, she said, "Because of that thing she did."

What thing?

"I dont remember. It was that thing. She is anti-american."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:18 AM
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41.
1) as a Southener, I understand the truth in that negative stereotype, but i'm not really happy about it
2) Wouldn't it be a good thing if that happened? It's hard to broach the subject of politics because disagreement is impolite, but if people were willing to discuss this cover, then misconceptions could be cleared away which would have otherwise remained unaddressed.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:19 AM
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49 was me.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:19 AM
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The more salient issues, for me, are that the image will circulate like wildfire adn will actually provide a lot of people with a nice visual for what, exactly, they didn't really like about Obama.

Right. "They mean this as a joke, those liberal elites, but doesn't it seem all-too-plausible?"

That said, I don't think freaking out per se is particularly called for. I don't even necessarily think the New Yorker shouldn't have done it -- it is funny, and magazines damn well shouldn't be second-guessing their editorial (editorial cartoon!) decisions based on the needs of a campaign.

But, you know, it's silly to think it won't be used that way, or that it doesn't help propagate the meme. Of course it does.

Now what'd be really funny is if next week they had a cover depicting Karl Rove painting this cover with a mischevious gleam in his eye, thus mocking all of us. That'd be some good stuff.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:20 AM
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The more salient issues, for me, are that the image will circulate like wildfire adn will actually provide a lot of people with a nice visual for what, exactly, they didn't really like about Obama.

Right. "They mean this as a joke, those liberal elites, but doesn't it seem all-too-plausible?"

That said, I don't think freaking out per se is particularly called for. I don't even necessarily think the New Yorker shouldn't have done it -- it is funny, and magazines damn well shouldn't be second-guessing their editorial (editorial cartoon!) decisions based on the needs of a campaign.

But, you know, it's silly to think it won't be used that way, or that it doesn't help propagate the meme. Of course it does.

Now what'd be really funny is if next week they had a cover depicting Karl Rove painting this cover with a mischevious gleam in his eye, thus mocking all of us. That'd be some good stuff.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:20 AM
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I bet if I tried hard enough I could post that again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:21 AM
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This is one of those occasions where we can be thankful that the influence of the New Yorker on non-elite discourse is statistically indistinguishable from null.

Probability that this cover will be forwarded 300 gazillion times by right-wing email forwarders = 1.


Posted by: tiny emperor | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:22 AM
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I've been afraid since GWB got reelected-- in dark moments I think that maybe the country has fallen so far that propaganda is necessary. Then I see that the Onion is one of the subway freebies, and remember that there's an appreciable population that gets news from the Daily Show rather than Fox. If there are to be better times ahead, the US needs better voters; we won't get there through sincere propaganda.

On the other hand, it's a lot easier for me to believe stuff like this since I stopped working someplace with a warehouse, where I would learn what the warehousemen and maintenance guys thought. In fact, I predict that reaction to this cover will track with %democrats in voting district, KR notwithstanding.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:24 AM
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No individual is going to change their vote because of the cover but right-wing memes propagate and harden with the help of lots of little reinforcing instances. The New Yorker cover can be part of that.

The Republican Party is not beyond satire. Like a lot of media, the New Yorker seems to have a cringing double standard -- we can joke about our own, but not them. It's like the way the media are hammering at Obama's flipflops and treating McCain's gently.

The cover is nothing much in itself, but even the rabidly mild-mannered Drum sees this as part of a pattern.

As far as cringing about what Limbaugh will say, that's a different issue entirely. Obama cringed on FISA, and he shouldn't have.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:25 AM
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48. I thought it was just true that political opinions are very close to emotions based upon hordes of mostly-forgotten experiences. By which I mean I believe most voters could truthfully say "i have x political opinion for Y forgotten reason", so that in itself doesn't bother me.

To your first point, no, this cover isn't going to make right-wingers laugh at themselves en masse. (Although it might have that effect on some.) But what I'm saying is that it might be a good thing to establish the meme that it's a complete joke to suggest Obama is a muslim-terrorist.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:26 AM
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This is totally silly. These memes exist entirely independently of the New Yorker or blogs or even FOXNews or Hannity & Colmes. These rumors are the province of the email forward, apparently the most powerful information system in America, and the New Yorker should spoof/talk about that.

If Hannity shows this image I think that the best that can happen is that someone out there watching might think, "They are joking about what I'm talking about, what I think is my special received wisdom that everyone is too afraid to talk about" and maybe if there's any glimmer of doubt in their mind this cover will make them reconsider. But really, c'mon. People who think the Obamas are Muslim terrorists—who really authentically believe that they are Muslim (!) terrorists (!!)—are beyond reach.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:26 AM
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The cover doesn't really establish that meme. If that meme were already established, the cover would fit it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:26 AM
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Well, and to echo Emerson, et al., the chance is nil that the New Yorker would have run a cartoon of, let's see, John McCain dandling all of his illegitimate black babies on his knee, so that "depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is" (to quote the cartoonist).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:27 AM
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The meme is totally established, just in a different medium (email forwards), which get a bigger audience than the New Yorker.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:29 AM
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Now what'd be really funny is if next week they had a cover depicting Karl Rove painting this cover with a mischevious gleam in his eye

And then the week after that, they show that cover being painted by an effete professor-figure in tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and a pipe in his mouth. And then the next week, the cover is just a mirror. And then the next week, it's a mirror with faint white streaks and little razor marks.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:30 AM
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People who think the Obamas are Muslim terrorists--who really authentically believe that they are Muslim (!) terrorists (!!)--are beyond reach.

I'm less worried about them than the people who would vote for Obama but for a vague sense that he's just too different, too much of a risk to be elected president. Without them, Obama can't win.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:31 AM
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62 is funny.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:32 AM
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60. Sure, but I think that's simply because the NY's audience isn't as concerned about smears against McCain.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:32 AM
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Frankly, if Drum freaks out, I'd feel like a complete idiot not backing him. That guy is far too even-tempered and is always telling people to calm down.

He didn't actually freak out. He expressed annoyance and saw the incident as part of a familiar pattern. Sort of the straw that broke the camel's back.

If I'm not mistaken TNY has made a fair number of concessions to a cool centrist, rather apolitical neo-liberal demographic over the last decade or so.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:33 AM
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The meme is totally established, just in a different medium (email forwards), which get a bigger audience than the New Yorker.

But a smaller audience than television, which is where most people will see this cover very soon. And the people that have gotten the e-mail forwards but are smart enough to view with skepticism the medium that brings them a dozen ads for penis enlargement every day will now get that meme reinforced by a reputable liberal news magazine.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:34 AM
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And then the next week ...

We pull back and see all of them riding on a gigantic turtle ...


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:35 AM
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I still think that it's because they don't want the hassle what would come with a McCain cover and know that nothing bad will happen if they do an Obama cover.

Drum's suggestion was that if this was really a satire on winger fantasies, there should be a winger on the cover, for example McCain. (But Limbaugh would be fine).

Now remember -- if TNY does run a scurrilous McCain cover, it doesn't prove that Drum was wrong. In that case, Drum wins.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:37 AM
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I only fret and handwring over November's election during those lowly hours when my fear that the voting public (an already select bunch, relatively) are totally beyond (civil) redemption. In which case, so much for representative democracy. I have far fewer of these moments (notwithstanding W) than I did in my youth.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:38 AM
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The unspoken premise here seems to be that there is a significant population who (1) are likely voters; (2) allow their vote to be influenced by the belief that Obama is a muslim; (3) are currently uncertain in their belief that Obama is a muslim; (4) are likely to have their belief solidified by a caricature depicting him as a muslim; (5) are likely to be exposed, through some medium (forwarded e-mail?) to this particular caricature; and (6) would, in the absence of the belief that he is a Muslim, be likely to vote for Obama.

I'll charitably drop the seventh unspoken premise that said population resides in swing states.

You might find a handful of such people if you looked hard enough, but I doubt they can be found in electorally decisive numbers. People who won't vote for Obama because of his purported Islamic faith are like people who wouldn't vote for Hillary because she was rumoured to be a lesbian: they were never going to vote that way anyway.

IOW, calm the fuck down.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:40 AM
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Yeah, now that this is beyond the new yorker and onto email & fox, we are toast.

Images effect people by pure association. Here's my example of how voters think, to add to the ones from Will and others:

Student: "Well, Bush will agree with that, because he is Catholic."

Me: "What? Bush isn't Catholic. What makes you think he is Catholic?"

Student: "I dunno, I just thought he was Catholic"

Me: "The idea must have come from somewhere."

Student: "Well, I saw a picture of him with the Pope once."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:41 AM
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Yes. John is right. I don't entirely disagree with Michael in 65, but every single Sabbath Gasbag's head would explode at a similar McCain cover and Remnick would have to spend weeks making increasingly abject apologies.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:41 AM
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"Well, I saw a picture of him with the Pope once."

Hey, who's that guy in the funny hat talking to George?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:43 AM
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32: If it's not clear that calling Obama a terrorist is a joke, then this needs to be made clear.

And this cartoon does this . . . how, exactly?

This cartoon only works as humor if you already firmly believe that everything it depicts is blatantly false, and even then it's not especially funny.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:43 AM
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I think Knecht's condition (4) is easy to meet. This is exactly how voters form their ideas.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:43 AM
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Michael, I agree with everything that you have posted on this thread. My point, that others have also noted, is that that visual image of the Obama's, which will be plastered all over the internet, will introduce the idea of negative muslim affiliations to many people who never really pondered the idea before. Yes, it is a funny image, if you have been frustrated/annoyed by the attempts of the right to paint him as muslim hiding his muslim past/heritage. It is a relief to see it up there on the front of the magazine, as large as life, to publicly and loudly acknowledge the absurdity of it. If, on the other hand, you don't read liberal blogs, don't regularly subscribe to the New Yorker, and get most of your news from Fox- if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who don't really follow politics except for the sound bites, this image could have a lot of negative traction.
Will this cause people to sit down together and ask questions?
Maybe. Or maybe they will just figure that since Michelle had been ashamed to be American all her life, since she gives public speeches against Whitey, and since Barack doesn't wear a lapel pin, maybe they will just file this image away with all the other misinformation they believe.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:44 AM
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even then it's not especially funny

"Especially funny" has never been a desideratum for New Yorker covers.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:44 AM
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People who think the Obamas are Muslim terrorists--who really authentically believe that they are Muslim (!) terrorists (!!)--are beyond reach.

You have been living among your own kind for too long, Smasher.

The goal is to promote Obama as being overly sympathetic to Muslims and his wife as being not very patriotic.

Lots of studies have been done on negotiation theory. If I want to settle at $100,000, I demand $1,000,000.00. My outrageous demand helps the settlement seem more reasonable. Many people think "let's cut to the chase and make our demand the same amount that we want to settle." That is foolish and rarely works.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:45 AM
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Drum's suggestion was that if this was really a satire on winger fantasies, there should be a winger on the cover, for example McCain. (But Limbaugh would be fine).

Haven't read Drum yet, but surely he got the joke, as did you. Didacticism is generally the enemy of humor.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:46 AM
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"Especially funny" has never been a desideratum for New Yorker covers.

Touché.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:47 AM
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This actually relates back to the earlier discussion I was pushing about the nature of belief. Most people do not have the *belief* "Obama is a Muslim" if you think belief is a propositional attitude. Most people just aren't that verbal. People have a "This I Believe" belief that Obama is a Muslim (or a Negro, or something.)


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:47 AM
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I'm less worried about them than the people who would vote for Obama but for a vague sense that he's just too different, too much of a risk to be elected president. Without them, Obama can't win.

Gabriel is correct here.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:48 AM
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Oh, Knecht, shut the fuck up yourself. The premise is first, that there is a demographic of low information voters that votes on whims and rumors, fluffy stuff like this cartoon, and second, that a cartoon like this about McCain would be unlikely to appear on THY's cover. We're not saying that it will swing the election, we're just sort of disgusted.

My sister is a college-graduate Clinton-loyalist PUMA, and her thinking about Obama is influenced by fluffy stuff like this.

And when Clinton was still in the race she was alr4eady getting that something for which I will never forgive unnamed Clinton surrogates. I am totally sick of the PUMA phenomenon.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:48 AM
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71
*Maybe* you're right, Knecht.
But it could help get the Christian right out in numbers who otherwise would not have voted.
Also, enough of the potty talk.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:51 AM
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and get most of your news from Fox

If you get most of your news from Fox, you will not vote for Obama, period. The audience for Fox is almost identical to the population of ideological conservatives.

The way that Fox damages the public discourse is by giving a patina of journalistic respectability to stories (or spin) that non-partisan news outlets would have let languish. (It used to damage public discourse by giving other news sources, particularly CNN, the impression that the way to high ratings was to put a bunch of conservative gasbags on the air all day, but that damage has already been done.)

There are probably a lot of voters out there who will use the muslim slur as an excuse not to vote for Obama, but most of them were never reachable to begin with.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:51 AM
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It's like some subset of people here have never heard anybody say "it's funny 'cuz it's true!"

Or, more specifically, "it's funny, but that's because it's got a grain of truth to it. Of course that image is ridiculous, but really, can they be trusted?"

Of course it won't swing the election. Of course Obama partisans can be irritated at it. Of course this thread will go to 800 comments.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:52 AM
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84 is correct that I am making an unsupported empirical claim (reiterated in 86). In the absence of real evidence my opinion on the matter is worth as much or as little as anyone else's.



Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:53 AM
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I still think that it's because they don't want the hassle what would come with a McCain cover and know that nothing bad will happen if they do an Obama cover.

While I disagree substantively with the gripe about this cover, I have to admit there's something useful in the fuss it has stirred. For one thing, all the analysis reinforces the joke for anyone who found it ambiguous.

But potentially more important: The media should learn to flinch from the idea of offending liberals, just as it does with conservatives. Reasonable complaints about the media's offenses are all well-and-good, but unreasonable complaints are better, because they get editors thinking about whether something could possibly offend. The Right has mastered this.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:53 AM
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Read about selective recall, anchoring bias, attribution bias, judgmental consistency.

Also, Knecht and others, you are defining the game too narrowly as "Will this convince swing voters that Obama is a Muslim terrorist who will destroy the USA on February 5, 2008?"

That simply isnt the point.

Gabriel hit it. The game is to have him labeled as odd or different or suspicious.

With crap like this, right-wingers get to mock Dem's for being humourless and re-enforce their theme that Obama is not like "us."


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:54 AM
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This cartoon only works as humor if you already firmly believe that everything it depicts is blatantly false, and even then it's not especially funny.

Dude what the fuck, Michelle Obama is depicted carrying a machine gun!! Of course it's blatantly false—everything about that image is false! To some people this representation is apparently a believable one and that is very much worth satirizing and to hell with them if this cover makes them all the more committed to their wholly fucking batshit insane ideas. Point and laugh with me!


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:54 AM
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"Potty talk"? You wound me, Fleur.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:54 AM
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80: PF, Drum and I have figured out that we are not characteristic of the American electorate. A deep thought there. We got the joke, you got the joke, but we're not The American People.

One of my most-hated elite-liberal attitudes is "We in the finer class of people understand these things. Forget those others". A lot of media write stories so that if you read to the end and read between the lines you will get the truth, whereas if you skim and don't have much background you'll be misled. (The "Aesopian" writing invented during the Czarist regime). This is done because of intimidation. Cheney and Rove don't need the careful readers.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:55 AM
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I was going to write you are all high, but the people who are making the most sense are John E and Sifu, both of whom are probably high right now. So, you are all not-high. Get high, please, so that you start making sense.

62 was very funny.

Wasn't there a high profile piece of psych research that showed that if people hear a denial that something is true, they tend to forget the denial, and only remember the original charge? Didn't I dream that.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:56 AM
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94: you definitely didn't dream that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:57 AM
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You might find a handful of such people if you looked hard enough, but I doubt they can be found in electorally decisive numbers.

If nothing else, the last two presidential elections have demonstrated that very small numbers of voters in key areas can constitute "electorally decisive numbers." In addition, I find nothing implausible in your premises 1-6.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:57 AM
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The artist doesn't care
that danish caricatures were disgusting too, why one can't try to be responsible in what he/she's doing and foresee the consequences in reality, is it just money and sensation after all, that they would do anything what pays?
like paparazzi hunt after the famous babies photos
then it's doubly disgusting
if what you did is bound to bring hatred and destruction, lives lost, (votes lost for you?) why one can't restrain oneself responsibly


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:57 AM
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96 to 71, of course.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:58 AM
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like paparazzi hunt after the famous babies photos

In the paparazzi's defense, famous babies are great photographers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:59 AM
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The problem with the cartoon is that the National Review could run the exact same cartoon on their cover, it would have the exact same humor value, and it would have the opposite message.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:00 AM
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It doesn't take a careful reader to see a cartoon cover of Michelle Obama holding a machine gun to determine that there's a joke going on here. Hannity can broadcast it all he likes, but the cover answers his own question. "The liberal media thinks it's a joke, but isn't there something basically true about it?" No. That's the message being signaled by this cover and it's not hard to read unless, it seems, you're overcommitted to the notion that by totally gross email chain falsehoods conservatives will win this election and therefore we should not joke about them.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:02 AM
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Well, the folks at NoQuarter looove it and want to organize support for the cartoonist.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:03 AM
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One of my most-hated elite-liberal attitudes is "We in the finer class of people understand these things. Forget those others".

Who are you calling elitist (you pointy-headed intellectual) ? I think people will, by-and-large, get the joke. In this case, that puts me on the side of the anti-condescenders.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:03 AM
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100: Why is that a problem with this cartoon?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:03 AM
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99 there is a proverb, a very famous one
that we talk wrong but understand correctly
so hope you got what i was trying to say


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:03 AM
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91: Of course it's blatantly false--everything about that image is false!

True, of course. The problem is that the cartoon takes a reductio ad absurdium approach to a belief that is already way deep in to absurd territory, and therefore that technique is at best ineffective, and at worst tends to reinforce the belief that is being parodied.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:05 AM
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The audience for Fox is almost identical to the population of ideological conservatives.

That's true, but increasingly, the audience for Fox also seems congruent with the population of absolute nutbars. This weekend I paused at Fox News long enough to hear Geraldo ask if the world was going to be destroyed in 2012.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:06 AM
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101 is so very, very wrong. Let me propose for your consideration the concept of "caricature". Obama has mildly big, funny ears. Caricaturists draw him with grotesquely big, funny ears. From this, do people draw the conclusion: hey, Obama actually has petite, normally-looking ears? I'm guessing no.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:06 AM
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100: I don't know how blatantly (as opposed to intrinsically) scurrilous the National Review is, but I really don't see how the cartoon can convey any other meaning than look how ridiculous these insane charges are. Although, I do agree that the drop in the ocean effect will be as detrimental to Dems as the media decides to make it, and that the ultimate effect is negligible at best.

As to the humor content, on occasion a so-so NY cover will be redeemed by the perfect title--anyone know what this one is called?


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:07 AM
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"The liberal media thinks it's a joke, but isn't there something basically true about it?" No. That's the message being signaled by this cover and it's not hard to read unless you don't want to for some reason, or are looking for an excuse not to like the guy and "well, he's black" isn't cutting it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:08 AM
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62 is very funny.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:11 AM
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Another problem with this cartoon is that it is all to easy to interpret it, not as satire, but as caricature, the exaggeration of characteristics that genuinely exist. It's not that anyone genuinely believes that Michelle Obama has a cache of AK-47s in her closet, but many conservatives genuinely do believe that liberals hate America and that the Obamas are the champions of the blame-America-first defeatocrats, and those who hold those beliefs would caricature the Obamas in exactly this manner.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:11 AM
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It's titled "Politics of Fear." So much for funny.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:15 AM
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112 is exactly right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:15 AM
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I'm annoyed by it because it's not an exaggeration at all of the kind of shit the Right is spewing, so it's not a caricature of their thought process. Ask people why they won't vote for Obama, and you get a description of this picture. It's not funny, it's not interesting or creative or particularly well-executed. It's just self-congratulating. Aren't we SO glad that WE don't even KNOW anyone dumb enough to think this is sincere? Maybe it's just that I do know plenty of people who talk about this kind of shit all the time, but it's not all comfortingly in-jokey to me.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:15 AM
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None of these scary invocations of the Forwarders make much sense. How could a cartoon replace, or even add to, the actual picture of Obama that ran on Drudge during the primary?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:15 AM
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100: This is reminding me of a discussion about the cover of a Spinal Tap album.

Wasn't there a book out that seriously claimed that the Clintons decorated the White House Christmas tree with condoms?

Is there any falsehood so outrageous that it cannot be believed?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:16 AM
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100: An insightful comment, but I wonder if the New Yorker's use of this caricature has made the National Review more likely, or less likely, to attempt it themselves. I think the New Yorker has made a small effort at pointing out the correct context (ridicule) for these sorts of accusations, and has made the National Review's task marginally more difficult.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:16 AM
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I'm less worried about them than the people who would vote for Obama but for a vague sense that he's just too different, too much of a risk to be elected president. Without them, Obama can't win.

Don't forget in 2004 that Bush won the Most Likely to be Invited to a Barbecue vote. The pull of similarity is very strong. Even if what is similar/familiar is "bad." You see that pattern in many human relationships.


Posted by: Fleur | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:17 AM
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86: My sister is reachable for Obama, but she's also someone who responds to vague racist anti-Obama slurs. "Racist" is not binary.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:19 AM
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Has anyone posted this yet?

Covers and Beholders [Jonah Goldberg]

What I find interesting about the New Yorker cover is that it's almost exactly the sort of cover you could expect to find on the front of National Review. Roman Genn could do wonders with that concept. Of course, if we ran the exact same art, the consensus from the liberal establishment could be summarized in words like "Swiftboating!" and, duh, "racist." It's a trite point, but nonetheless true that who says something often matters more than what is said -- and, obviously, that satire is in the eye of the beholder.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:26 AM
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To be honest, I didn't even get the joke until it was explained in the comments. I just thought, "Why is the New Yorker running a right-wing cartoon?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:29 AM
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(So I'm in the camp of people who are disgusted by the cover.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:30 AM
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The thing is, I've tried the "Anyone who thinks Obama is a Muslim or a black radical is brain damaged" line, but it doesn't work. Making fun of absurd fears doesn't make them go away. Acknowledging the existence of absurd fears makes them echo around more. What might make someone realize their absurd fears are crazy is turning on the news and not seeing a single person justify or acknowledge their fears at all.

Right now we have one entire news network devoted to echoing the voices in crazy stupid racist people's heads, and the rest do it at least a fifth of the time just so they don't seem "out of touch." I'm not saying we ban content. I'm just saying news editors and magazine people shouldn't be morons about how conspiracy theories work.

Note that Fox News never said, "It was a terrorist fist jab." They suggested some people might think it was a terrorist fist jab. Pretty much exactly the same position the NYer is in.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:30 AM
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In a just world, 121 would end the thread.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:31 AM
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125: In a just world this thread wouldn't exist.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:33 AM
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In September 1988, the governor of Massachusetts went to the General Dynamics plant to have a photo op with the M1 Abrams tank.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:34 AM
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126: point taken.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:36 AM
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"Acknowledging the existence of absurd fears makes them echo around more. What might make someone realize their absurd fears are crazy is turning on the news and not seeing a single person justify or acknowledge their fears at all."

Maybe, but silence is rarely a persuasive argument against a belief. Seems like more of a damned if you do/don't situation.


Posted by: babble | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:39 AM
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In a just world, 121 would end the thread.

A just world deprives you of my marvelous insights? Sounds more like a world without horns.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:39 AM
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Learn to sse some goddam tags, Labs. I read the last paragraph of 121 about 4 times before I realized you were quoting Goldberg.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:39 AM
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130: in a just world the thread would end and, deprived of a forum for your marvelous insights, you'd have to post.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:44 AM
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I have two posts! Written! But I believe in something called pacing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:45 AM
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127 con't -- and he went there because he thought the image of him riding a tank would help him to counter a certain narrative in the campaign. As we know, instead, it illustrated the narrative.

I'm always amazed how many literate people don't understand story-telling 101.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:45 AM
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They suggested some people might think it was a terrorist fist jab. Pretty much exactly the same position the NYer is in.

Except that they're not saying the same thing at all. I don't know what sort of work "position" is doing in this sentence but this satirical political cartoon and that FOXNews report don't occupy the same rhetorical stance.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:49 AM
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Not the same rhetorical purpose, but the same rhetorical stance exactly.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:53 AM
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135: Balanced against that is the fact that while the cover is funny, "terrorist fist jab" is really funny.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:57 AM
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When a news anchor includes "terrorist fist jab" among the list of possible interpretations of a hand gesture, it's supposed to be reasonable; when a magazine includes "terrorist fist jab" in a cartoon of a political figure, everyone knows it's unreasonable.

What this really comes down to is—no one gives a shit about cartoons.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:57 AM
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130: In a just world heebie-geebie would be delivering her marvelous insights to a grateful planet on the World-Wide heebie channel.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:58 AM
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Combine this with Henderson Hasselbach's essay at the front of the New Yorker. These are both symptoms of the real thing I cannot stand about our liberal opinion leaders, which is that they are just so fascinated by the notion that a politician they agree with might also have some negative qualities that they go on and on and on about it, sowing doubt in everyone's mind, before finally concluding that every person on earth has negative qualities, disappointing as that may be.

Stop thinking about it so much! Stop making the perfect the enemy of the good!


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:59 AM
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In a just world heebie-geebie would be delivering her marvelous insights to a grateful planet on the World-Wide heebie channel.

I do! It's just not Earth. More of a Horton Hears A Who kind of dandelion fluff receptacle for my rants.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:08 AM
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141: So it's real?! It's not just the voices in my head?!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:09 AM
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142: I am your god, yes. There are several of us, and we feud.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:11 AM
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The perils of being a Heebotheist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:13 AM
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Fleur, don't do it! Then I'll have to start buying it from the newsstand again, and it will cost 3X as much!

Or you could just go without.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:16 AM
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I just got an email from a mysterious Persian (he's watching, you know) alerting me to Ryan Avent's excellent take on the matter:

D'oh. As Ta-Nehesi Coates says, there was no possible way to exaggerate the smears enough to produce successful satire, something the eds should have realized.

Too bad, because the obvious direction they should have taken was to produce the exact same cover, only with John and Cindy McCain.

Agreed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:16 AM
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I never realized before that when the Lord said "I am the Lord, your god", he was admitting that there may be other gods.

that assumption is everywhere in the Old Testament, but it's even in that incredibly famous section, the TEN COMMANDMENTS, and people don't realize it.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:16 AM
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As a heebotheist, would i get first dibs on rooting through her trash can?

Would we have to stalk her and Jammies? Oops. Do we get to stalk her and jammies? Who gets to stand outside the church?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:16 AM
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Making fun of absurd fears doesn't make them go away. Acknowledging the existence of absurd fears makes them echo around more. What might make someone realize their absurd fears are crazy is turning on the news and not seeing a single person justify or acknowledge their fears at all.

I'd vote for that. The question is, how do we get there ? One potential answer is for members of the actual media to mock the other media for their insistence on spreading these memes. Have you another answer ?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:17 AM
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The New Yorker puts enough stuff online every week that you don't need to subscribe. I'm happy with Harpers and reading everything in The Atlantic that isn't by Caitlin Flanagan, Sandra Tsling Loh, PJ O'Rourke, or that guy who wants to go to war with China.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:18 AM
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I am, of course, hoping with all my heart that this cover is more accurate than not. Don't tell the swing voters.

Sometimes I wonder of the commenters here are more offended and firghtened by this cover than the FNC viewers would be. If Obama/Michelle were stealth Dick Gregory/Angela Davis, would they vote against them? If catastrophic crisis does occur, and I think it will, would the Unfoggedetariat prefer Pres Obama leaped radically to the left, or radically to the right?

That is not caricature, but perhaps nostalgia for better times. A woman with a big afro anf assault rifle was a poster on my wall for a while, anf I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I wonder about the age of the cartoonist.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:20 AM
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the exact same cover, only with John and Cindy McCain.

That would have been awesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:21 AM
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stealth... Angela Davis

Well there's an oxymoron.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:24 AM
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It isn't completely about what kind of black President is possible, but what kind of black President we would want if we had a different country. I would want Angela Davis. Dreaming big dreams is how you change the country.

Do y'all actually want a President acceptable to Wall Street, the Pentagon, Andy Sullivan? Not just go along to achieve some moderate ends, but actually prefer to a radical leftist?

I can make some guess about most of the blogosphere. Kevin Drum finds the very image and idea on the NY cover offensive, unspeakable, inconceievable, evil. Black womah with an assault rifle in the Oval Office? Not in Drum's country. He would not have Angela Davis on his dorm wall.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:30 AM
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You can't go picking your covers based on how FOXNews will use it. That's just an absurd editorial standard.

FOXNews invented wholecloth the nomenclature "terrorist fist jab," and she was lying when she said that—no one at home thought that the bump was a secret al Qaeda communique. But 1 in 10 Americans do believe that Obama is a Muslim (because conservatives and racists lie about him) and that is a remarkable phenomenon. It's totally worthy of media coverage, scrutiny, and skewering.

Especially the latter. I'm sorry, but if you think Barack Obama is a sleeper agent, you're a dolt, if you think that his wife is to the extremist left of the Obamas' Weather Underground campaign director, you're a dolt, and if you're this sort of dolt then you're not reachable by any argument, direct or sarcastic, that the New Yorker has to offer.

There's the sort of voter that this article profiles who isn't a dolt but is deeply misguided. That voter may see the New Yorker cover when Hannity puts it on television and lies about it but that doesn't make the New Yorker complicit in a lie. Apparently one in 10 Americans already believes this—that totally deserves commentary.

I am not actually sure of this but there is an argument that it is not the New Yorker's job to get Obama elected but even as I write that I'm not sure that's right.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:33 AM
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hilzoy, for instance, needed Obama to denounce Rev Wright, and she hoped he meant it. I hope he didn't.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:34 AM
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A woman with a big afro anf assault rifle was a poster on my wall for a while, anf I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I wonder about the age of the cartoonist.

That says nothing about your age. I'm 23, but I've been crushing on blaxploitation heroines and hott revolutionary imagery for as long as I can remember.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:36 AM
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149: Well, 146's suggestion would have made for more effective satire, at least.

I guess I just don't think we have much evidence that people "get" satire at all. It might even be said that people who laugh at certain kinds of satire are the ones who don't "get" it. God knows I'm fucking sick of rich white male undergrads laughing showily at "A Modest Proposal," insisting sneeringly that they "get that it's a joke." Poverty and starvation are not a joke, assholes, just because the text isn't "sincere." (Yes, I get that there are a few sentences written in the "form" of jokes, but there are long paragraphs written in the form of tragedy.)

We often laugh at satire because, if it's any good, it unsettles us and implicates us while offering, in its insincerity, reprieve from actual condemnation. We get the feeling of what it would be like to be called out as guilty without the consequences. At least, that's what satire does if it is doing its most powerful rhetorical function.

The problem is, there are very few instances of a satirical text being generally understood, or having an effect on people's ethics. Watch the audience of Colbert's speech to the White House Correspondents---they either laugh (ha! ha! i'm a good sport, see! i know teh funny!) or they get annoyed (fuck you clown).

I'd like to say there was a time when satire was generally understood by its readers and produced the desired effect, but there's not. I guess that's why the cartoonist didn't try to do satire here, but instead just worked up a representation of What Stupid People Think. To me, it's not convicting, unsettling, funny, or interesting.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:41 AM
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Someone probably already noted this, but the Obama campaign's complaint might just be a brush-back pitch. The campaign might be OK with a NYer cover, but not with a National Review cover that looked identical. But it's hard to justify such a position in a way that satisfies the broader public.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:41 AM
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155.3:The question of course isn't whether Michelle is actually a stealth Angela Davis, but where her/their deepest sympathies lie.

If we do go into Great Depression II, will the Obama's favor Wall Street or Compton? Do you have any idea how hated FDR was in the 30s?

Is it really the fondest wish of the Unfoggedetariat the the Obamas have been completely co-opted by the Chicago School of Economics?

I have stayed away from this thread because apparently this blog loathes that cover, in itself, not merely for whatever effect it might have on the campaign. I think it's beautiful.

And if the cartoonist is my age, you may be as accurate as you think about what he was intending.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:44 AM
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That WAPO article makes me want to cry. "It's like you're hearing about two different men with nothing in common," Peterman said. "It makes it impossible to figure out what's true, or what you can believe." Yes, you read right: impossible. I want to call this guy a fucktard or something, but I can't even work up any anger--I just feel terribly sorry for him. I know plenty of people like this (my father is famously unable to sort through conflicting health information he reads on the internet, and is convinced as a result that all of modern medicine is basically a sham.) Their only way to sort through conflicting information is to test it against personal experience, and when that option is unavailable, they just hit a wall.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:44 AM
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I think it's funny.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:47 AM
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161:

"I don't know. The whole thing just scares me," Peterman said. "I'm almost starting to feel like the best choice is not voting at all."

God, I hope so. Stay home, ye who are so fucking stupid that telling the difference between racist smears and news is "impossible."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:48 AM
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Quoth Emerson: The premise is first, that there is a demographic of low information voters that votes on whims and rumors, fluffy stuff like this cartoon...

They exist, but they also respond to how the candidate reacts to fluff like this cartoon. If Obama's response had been "I thought it was a funny illustration of the hysterical lies being promoted by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party" he'd have scored two good solid points: First that the whole scary black muslim thing is stupid bullshit, and second that the GOP actually has an extreme right wing, which is something the low information voters tend to be a little fuzzy on. They know that there's a "far left" influencing the democrats because that point gets pounded on by the right every time the left does anything even slightly effective.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:49 AM
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It's true, though, that it would have been funnier if it had been the McCains.

I think the claims that it's not satire b/c it's not an exaggeration kind of miss the mark. Surely the point is that the hysteria it fails to exaggerate is already so exaggerated that it satirizes itself. Call me a coastal elite, but it feels like kind of a breath of fresh air to see that nonsense presented as a *cartoon*, which basically it is.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:53 AM
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"I understand he's from Africa, and that the first thing he's going to do if he gets into office is bring his family over here, illegally. He's got that racist [pastor] who practically raised him, and then there's the Muslim thing. He's just not presidential material, if you ask me."


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 10:54 AM
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I have stayed away from this thread

That's a funny way to summarize 'posted multiple times.'

I don't think the cover is effective as satire, particularly because it includes Michelle Obama, who seems to drive the nutjobs even crazier than they already are. (The other problem is that I'm not at all confident that satire is effective even when recognized as satire, because the most it can do is preach to the choir.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:02 AM
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Well, shit, all I guess I can say is that I hope y'all are wrong, and that Obama will not govern to the right of the Clintons. There is at least some evidence that he has listened to the radical left.

I hope the right, and the center-right, have good reasons to be very scared of Obama, and will vote for him based on that hope.

I can't believe I am listening to people who hope that an Obama Presidency will actually be tolerable to "reasonable" Republicans.

I also am confused by the "two Obamas". Since this is a political thread, how does the Unfoggedetariat feel about VP Chuck Hagel? I don't think the mechanics actually exist to make it possible, but do we seek an open convention that rejects Obama if he tries to put Hagel on the ticket?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:05 AM
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It would have been quite funny had John McCain been looking at this image on the Internet. He is not aware of very many Internet traditions, you see.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:07 AM
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167: The other problem is that I'm not at all confident that satire is effective even when recognized as satire, because the most it can do is preach to the choir.

Agreed. I like satire a lot, and am teaching a course on it in the fall, but it's very difficult to show any evidence that it "does" anything, despite being ostensibly rhetorically powerful, to or for anyone. It's easier to misread than to read, and, in a certain way, fails to "work" especially when it's understood. I think it does sometimes effectively start conspiracy theories (Defoe's "Tory Churchman"), but only among those who don't "get" it. Seems like a satire about a conspiracy theory, in which there's no agent of that theory depicted for satire, pretty much just spreads the conspiracy theory.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:09 AM
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>i?That's a funny way to summarize 'posted multiple times.'

But a fairly accurate summarization of "didn't comment for four hours and 150 comments in Unfogged thread".


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:10 AM
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Satire is pointless in a free society. All it does is confirm to people that something they thought might be worth mocking is in fact worth mocking.

Well, shit, all I guess I can say is that I hope y'all are wrong, and that Obama will not govern to the right of the Clintons.

What? Nobody in this thread has said anything about Obama's policies, only about the cartoon. Who are you talking to? Have you switched from imagining that people here view Obama as the socialist messiah to imagining that people here view Obama as the bipartisan messiah?


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:13 AM
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I didn't think satire was generally supposed to do any real 'work" other than entertain. I certainly wouldn't expect it to change many minds. I guess it could in some cases help to galvinize opinions, when it's "preaching to the choir".


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:13 AM
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how does the Unfoggedetariat feel about VP Chuck Hagel?

Just speaking for myself, almost violently opposed. The last thing on earth a Dmeocratic nominee should be doing is setting up a Republican for the presidency.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:15 AM
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Frankly, if Drum freaks out, I'd feel like a complete idiot not backing him. That guy is far too even-tempered and is always telling people to calm down. ...Emerson at 66

No, Emerson, you are a complete idiot if you back Kevin Drum. Just ignore him like a stopped clock. His instincts and goals (what is he, retired at 50 off dot-com winnings) are opposed to yours. I hope.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:18 AM
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mcmanus looks forward to the coming race war, after which he will emerge from his hiding place beneath Death Valley to rule.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:18 AM
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Data point: The McCain campaign has joined the Obama campaign in calling the NYer cover "tasteless and offensive".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:19 AM
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iWhat? Nobody in this thread has said anything about Obama's policies, only about the cartoon

Most people here are saying that the cartoon has not even a remote basis in reality. I hope they are wrong. And the difference is relevant to possible policies.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:21 AM
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No, Emerson, you are a complete idiot if you back Kevin Drum. Just ignore him like a stopped clock. His instincts and goals (what is he, retired at 50 off dot-com winnings) are opposed to yours. I hope.

Whoa there bob. I think you are beating the wrong drum. Kevin Drum is a good guy. I don't think he is retired off dot com winnings. Even if he is, he's a fairly sensible moderate. He's also been right on with some of his predictions so he is definitely worth listening to. He also used to have one of the best commenters on the web.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:22 AM
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AWB: Have you seen Citizen Ruth? Best. Satire. Ever.


Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:23 AM
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1. I don't think it's well executed. It was obvious to me who the target is only because having it on the New Yorker & not the National Review is sort of the equivalent of having "DISCLAIMER: we do not actually believe this crap, we are making fun of the idiots who do" printed in red letters at the bottom. Whereas, at the White House correspondents thing several years ago, I don't think Bush had to know in advance that Stephen Colbert was liberal to realize that he was the target.

2. That said, I think that worries over its effect are greatly exagerrated. It's a cartoon, not a photoshop job. And it's on the cover of the New Yorker, which is not going to be read by the people who believe the Muslim smear.

3. Any actual damage comes from it being made the pseudo-controversy du jour on cable news. I think the cover misses the mark but what really makes me angry is seeing coverage by the networks that give shows to Glenn Beck & Sean Hannity of whether the bloody New Yorker went too far. I don't think there was much the Obama campaign could've done about this though, and I'm not surprised they're kind of pissed.

4. The cartoonist who did this also did the Ahmadinejad/Larry Craig cover, which is one of the few New Yorker cartoons ever to make me laugh. So he better not get fired over this.

5. I'm mainly annoyed because I liked it much better when the press was giving the New Yorker attention plugging Jane Mayer's book (and sending it temporarily to #10 on Amazon & Barnes and Noble. Woo!). You should all buy it, especially cancelling their New Yorker subscriptions over this damn cartoon. (I did some research for it--I mentioned this & plugged it in the summer reading thread but I feel it was overshadowed by all the porn talk so I'm just going to have to keep repeating myself.)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:24 AM
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174: Does "Almost violently opposed" mean opening the convention and trying to get Clinton, or better someone slse, but anyone other than Obama/Hagel, nominated?

What I meant about the mechanics is that I am not sure about the timing of the various votes at the convention. Can Obama hold off on naming Hagel until after he is himself nominated?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:25 AM
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Agreed. I like satire a lot, and am teaching a course on it in the fall,

Really?! Wow. Damn I wish I was still in college. I had to come all this way being self-taught in satire. The youngsters today have it really easy. When I was a kid we were lucky to get even one lecture on insults. And for parody you had to be a frigging PhD candidate.

Son of a . . .


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:27 AM
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Does "Almost violently opposed" mean

It doesn't mean much of anything operationally, given my non-existent level of influence over the Convention. I guess it means I would throw an online temper tantrum, with all the efficacy that implies.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:28 AM
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Of course the cartoon is funny.

From a political angle, though, this ridiculous stuff got started because there is stuff about Obama that gives it traction for some people -- half his family is black African, he lived for a while in a Muslim country, his name is Obama, he once had tea with one of the Weathermen, his pastor, etc. And Obama doesn't particularly want the focus on any of that stuff right now. That's why his current ad, that he's doing giant media buys for, might as well be titled, "Surprise, I'm actually white!"

Still, though, it *is* funny and maybe that's all the New Yorker is responsible for. It's not like they work for the Obama campaign.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:28 AM
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I would throw an online temper tantrum

THAT'S THE LAST STRAW, OBAMA! I AM GOING TO HOLD MY BREATH UNTIL I TURN GAY MUSLIM.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:29 AM
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Seems like every six months or so, some numbnuts columnist in a college newspaper makes an attempt at "satire" and fails miserably, kicking off a week or so of half-hearted outrage and complaint. I wasn't expecting it to come from the New Yorker this time around. Maybe satire just can't be done in America any more.

I point my finger directly at the shadowy conspiracy undermining the meanings of "literal" and "literally".


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:30 AM
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179:he's a fairly sensible moderate

'Nuff said.

Anybody watch the HBO thing last night? Title slips my mind, about the Iraq invasion? A little too much TV balance, but generally good, and apparently American troops were knowingly violating the Geneva Conventions within hours of crossing the border.

I don't have any room for sensible moderates anymore.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:31 AM
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I don't have any room for sensible moderates anymore.

OK. What about one of the best commenters on the web.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:33 AM
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Tripp, you're arguing with a wall. Or maybe a Turing Test program.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:37 AM
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there was a time when satire was generally understood by its readers

Juvenal is harsh on foreigners, the rich, and women, though he's occasionally funny. If Aristophanes and Enlightment journalists are the best examples of succesful satire, perhaps the bar is too high? French political satire (canard enchaine) usually seems less successful than the Onion or Colbert, though more pointed. Maybe I don't get French humor though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:38 AM
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189:Drum's a poster or blogger, and AFAIL, no longer comments on other blogs. He is off my blogroll, and I don't visit him via other blogrolls like I do some others.

I correct myself. The HBO thing is very good, not just pretty good. Three other scenes/themes came to mind that gave certain facts about the invasion some extra emotional/intellectual punch.

Now I really am outa here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:40 AM
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Drum's a poster or blogger

Pretty sure Tripp's self-referencing there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 11:42 AM
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And when Clinton was still in the race she was alr4eady getting that something for which I will never forgive unnamed Clinton surrogates. I am totally sick of the PUMA phenomenon.

What does PUMA stand for?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:05 PM
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Party Unity My Ass. To the extent that it purportedly exists, it's a bunch of die-hard Clintonites who make a virtue of cutting off their noses to spite their their faces.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:11 PM
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It doesn't exist. Come on, people. "Puma"????


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:12 PM
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The more formal version is People United Means Action.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:12 PM
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196: It does, actually, but I'm pretty convinced it's a GOP front organization.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:13 PM
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||

WTF? The Ogged? (Scroll down.)

|>


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:18 PM
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The power, grace and cunning of the PUMA movement can be likened less to the puma and more to the Pumaman.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:18 PM
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apostropher,

Pretty sure Tripp's self-referencing there.

Pretty sure?! Dude, I am hurt. Hurt bad. You know I always have your back. You've already got your own blog - can't you help a buddy out once in a while?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:18 PM
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Ryan Lizza has 15 pages on Obama's career in Chicago and Illinois politics. via Yggles. I have to learn to read faster.

Just read the first page. at least. I don't necessarily trust the judgements quoted there, but I don't trust anybody. I do think it is safe to say that nobody except Michelle knows who this guy is, or how he will govern. Since I have to vote for him, I am going to be very optimisitic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:18 PM
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I apparently screwed up the link.

Making It


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:20 PM
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bob,

I don't trust anybody.

Probably a smart thing, but you know I've never lied to you.

I am going to be very optimisitic.

Given the above I think you should be cautiously optimistic, but we both know you won't take my advice so carry on my wayward son. There'll be peace when you are done.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:21 PM
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198: Right, that's what I meant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:28 PM
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There is a PUMA phenomenon, e.g. my sister. Some women had a very intense identification with Hillary.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:31 PM
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I foresee a Tripp-Bob crazy-off in the near future. Tripp's a year away from being able to challenge Bob, I think.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:32 PM
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199. I'm pretty sure somebody pulled something like that once before, but I'm senile, so I can't remember the details.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:33 PM
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207: yeah I was just pondering that eventuality.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:33 PM
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199: so great.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:35 PM
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I wanna know who wrote the link 199! Fess up!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:39 PM
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is it news, 199?
i think i read it several mo ago with my confession of the online IQ test result


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:44 PM
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I'm finding that I am having a mixed reaction to the cover. The main thing that annoys is (as others have said) the lack of reciprocity, the fact that anything similar depiction of a Republican candidate would be greeted with howls of outrage from many, many "serious" quarters. For instance here is the kind of cover I would have loved to see the New Yorker run a few years back (modified from this Grosz).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:44 PM
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211. Presumably the same person who doctored some web entrepreneur's wiki page a couple of years back so they appeared to say, roughly, that they could buy and sell a low rent site like unfogged.com before breakfast. But, like I say, I'm senile. Who was it?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:45 PM
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This cartoon makes me wonder, what if Obama really is a terrorist?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:51 PM
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This cartoon makes me suspect that Obama listens to rap music.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:52 PM
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212: read's right. That Wikipedia page has listed "The Ogged" for quite a while, now. I saw it for the first time when someone here posted a link to that page within the context of a discussion about confidence scams, I think.


Posted by: NickFranklin | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:54 PM
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That Wikipedia page has listed "The Ogged" for quite a while, now.

Every day delete-happy Wikipedians erase "The Ogged" and every night the fairies put it back.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 12:59 PM
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I foresee a Tripp-Bob crazy-off in the near future. Tripp's a year away from being able to challenge Bob, I think.

Now now John, I've got bob under control. There won't be any ugly scene.

How about you? Are you with me?


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:01 PM
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Your overconfidence is frightening, Tripp.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:04 PM
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Michelle is kind of sexy in that cartoon.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:05 PM
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Now now John, I've got bob under control. There won't be any ugly scene.

What I want to see is special editions of "ask the mineshaft" where only the old coots can participate. Questions will be asked to a special panel of Tripp, Bob, John, and Napi...a fascinating range of perspectives and craziness levels, united by the deep wisdom that can be gained only through life experience.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:31 PM
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Your overconfidence is frightening, Tripp.

It can seem that way. But you ignored my question. Are you with me?

PGD

What I want to see is special editions of "ask the mineshaft" where only the old coots can participate.

I prefer the term "codger" but I will accept coot if I must. All I ask is to be the leader. Shoot, no one else wants it. I've got bob, John, and Walt already. soup biscuit and I have an agreement. Who is this Napi you speak of?


Posted by: Tripp the Crazed | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:57 PM
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Are you excluding OPINIONATED GRANDMA, you sexists?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 1:58 PM
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About a dozen daily commenters in that age range.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:01 PM
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223: Whatever happened to Michael H. Schneider? He had the best crazy old man picture of all, IIRC.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:02 PM
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226 He's been around in the last week I'm sure.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:03 PM
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Okay, good.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:05 PM
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jms,

Are you excluding OPINIONATED GRANDMA, you sexists?

My goodness no. Shoot, females are ruling this blog, as it should be. I'm just trying to keep the guys in line, that's all. You know how guys are.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:09 PM
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225: Sorry, IDP, you may have the age, but you lack the crazy.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:14 PM
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The Lizza article linked in 203 is important and fascinating. And don't unsubscribe to the New Yorker, I had a terrific night last week reading some articles.

African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama's new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated. It also included one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago.

"It was a radical change," Corrigan said. The new district was a natural fit for the candidate that Obama was in the process of becoming. "He saw that when we were doing fund-raisers in the Rush campaign his appeal to, quite frankly, young white professionals was dramatic."

The partisan redistricting of Illinois may have been the most important event in Obama's early political life.

Obama has been running for President since he was an undergraduate. And there is no doubt in my mind that the 2002 anti-Iraq speech was more a political decision than a principled one. But what the article generally makes clear that where politics and principles coincide in a top politician is nearly impossible to discern.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:19 PM
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223 -- He means me.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:21 PM
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And that is why, when you want to predict what a politician will do, it pays to look at his constituencies, the ones he can take for granted, the ones he has to please, and the ones he is trying to win over. You don't create constituencies, anymore than you create audiences fo a TV show. You create a TV show that will attract a certain audience.

So yes, Andy Sullivan is important to understanding Obama. Obama, like most politicians, doesn't lead, he follows. But he gets to choose which voters he follows.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:27 PM
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231: Did Obama have a eureka moment -- "White people like me!"?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:27 PM
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Note that date of "The Ogged's" addition to the list in 199.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:29 PM
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234:The opposite. "Black people don't like me quite enough." All his ties to the University of Chicago cost him badly in the race against ex-Black Panther Bobby Rush, which he lost by 32 points.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:50 PM
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223 -- He means me.

Hey - How are you? Nice to meet you. I'm sorry I missed you earlier. Have you been around?


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 2:50 PM
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121: Does Goldberg realize that if they published it in The National Review, it would make absolutely no sense, context being what it is and all?


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:00 PM
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238: does he further realize that "satire is in the eye of the beholder" makes even less sense?

No, of course not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:02 PM
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Does Goldberg realize

If Goldberg did any less realizing, Lopez would have to water him.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:08 PM
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238: What?!? It would make tons of sense in the National Review. It would be interpreted as daringly politically incorrect, or merely reassuringly humorous.


Posted by: Fatman | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:12 PM
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240: Lopez would have to water him

Golden showers fill your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise
Sleep pretty darling do not cry
And I will sing a lullabye


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:12 PM
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240: Like a mountain laurel.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:18 PM
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236: All his ties to the University of Chicago cost him badly in the race against ex-Black Panther Bobby Rush, which he lost by 32 points.

Yeah, that was it. From the Lizza piece:

"Obama was financially outmatched. Although he raised about six hundred thousand dollars, sustained television advertising in Chicago cost between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand dollars a week, according to Dan Shomon, Obama's campaign manager at the time. A series of unusual events defined the race. A few months before the election, Rush's twenty-nine-year-old son, Huey Rich, was shot and killed, which made the incumbent a figure of sympathy, and in the final weeks of the campaign Rush's father died. Obama made a serious misstep when, visiting his grandmother in Hawaii, he missed a crucial vote on gun-control legislation in Springfield. Even worse, on the day of the vote a column by Obama about how the gun bill was "sorely needed" appeared in the Hyde Park Herald, under the headline "IDEOLOGUES FRUSTRATE GUN LAW." Obama protested that his daughter was ill and unable to travel, and that he saw his grandmother, who lived alone, only once a year, but the press treated the trip as a tropical vacation."

It really is remarkable that people still seem to be surprised to learn that a man who, if the election were held today, would probably complete a rise from state senator to president of the United States in less than four years is an ambitious and canny political operator.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:20 PM
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Great, now I have the image of K-Lo peeing in Pantload's eye to erase from my brain. Thanks, guys.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:20 PM
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I think this will be added to the right-wing pile not as corroborative against the Obamas, but against their supporters. "These are people who are quite comfy with the notion of an America-hating Muslim Black Panther couple in the White House." I also don't think it matters too terribly much.

I think we're going to win handily, and then a few people will have the thought, "Hey, we actually don't need to act as stupid as our opponents."

By the time that thought happens, it may once again be in error.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:21 PM
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People who look at that picture and think "Huh, Obama is too a terrist!!!1!," that is right-wing cretins, are going to see that flag in the fireplace, and their heads are going to explode. They're going to be wildly furious at that Jew York cartoonist for having drawn the American Flag, which they hold More Precious than their Own Children, in flames. They will howl, "Desecration!" (in their own ultrapatriotic emails to one another they'll probably spell it "disacration" or "desacration.")

You think I'm kidding but alas I'm not. I've actually heard a guy in person who was seriously ready to kick sum azz - he said this out loud! - because he had just read one of Karl Rove's email forwards claiming that somewhere, sometime, Obama disrespected a flag pin.


Posted by: W. Kiernan | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:28 PM
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"These are people who are quite comfy with the notion of an America-hating Muslim Black Panther couple in the White House."

And those people are named Bob McManus.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:30 PM
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Was 244 supposed to contradict 236? If so, I can also provide a quote from Lizza.

But we are in agreement on the last sentence. In fact, Obama's redistricting of his State Senate seat was more about gaining access to people he would need for the Illinois Senate race, and then the Presidential.

Sometimes I think asking why a politician wants to get elected is like asking Buffett or Soros why they need to make more money.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:37 PM
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248:You betcha. And I don't even care if I have company.

Before I leave, just one note. In all humility, I need to understand more about how & why the 60s radicals, which are all over the Lizza article, have changed their views of America and politics. This goes along with a change in French radicalism after 1968. I just don't get it, other than a need to stay out of jail.

Things are just too horrible, and we don't have enough time, for in-system incrementalism. "There is no other option" is not an option, because failure is not an option. And I think the 60s were an astonishing success. But arguing with Dohrn and Gitlin etc, well, I ain't insane, so just confused.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 3:44 PM
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250: Because crappy half-measures beat imagined glass cathedrals every time. The sixties were a success in the same sense that WWII was a success: necessary but destructive, and it would have been nice if it had been possible to give the whole thing a pass.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:10 PM
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If Goldberg did any less realizing, Lopez would have to water him.

Racist.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:15 PM
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237 -- Yep. Damn job's pretty time consuming, though.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:20 PM
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I think that's actually plantism.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:21 PM
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and it would have been nice if it had been possible to give the whole thing a pass.

There is your imagined glass cathedral.

It wasn't possible, and it never is. We are probably going to have something approaching another great depression (or worse, because protracted & permanent), because for forty years liberals have wanted it all to be "nice." But like I said, it's Dohrn & Gitlin I don't understand, not you.

Maybe the liberals can blame the DFH's for whatever happens.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:27 PM
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"Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room as them. Then they even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach. Wild!"

--Bernadine Dohrn, reflecting on the Manson murders.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 4:57 PM
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I think that's actually plantism.

I was alluding to the stereotypical ethnicity of people who care for plants for a living...


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 5:05 PM
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256:Revolution is not pretty. Duh.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 5:28 PM
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I thought Dohrn & Ayers took a pretty different line on this from Gitlin, bob, & their above-ground-ness was more of the "we're too old for jail, thanks" variety.

The Lizza article is good. This is the third major New Yorker article on Obama I remember, all with a different angle: 1. Obama the liberal pipe dream, 2. Obama the conciliator/community organizer, 3. Obama the tough, cynical Chicago pol. All with a degree of truth, all somewhat exaggerated (Lizza takes the view that only politically harmful views are sincere, & accordingly Obama's past liberal record hasn't harmed him much so he can't have been so sincere), but it's useful to have an angle.

Here's the thing about white lakefront liberals on the North Side of Chicago, though, mcmanus: We're really useful for that Illinois Senate primary. Really useful for the Illinois Senate general election. Really useful for a Democratic presidential primary. But Obama doesn't have to worry about Democratic primaries so much now. In a general election for the presidency? I'm not sure how much we matter anymore; we may be in the position of his former South Side state senate constituents. We probably matter less than, oh, latinos (immigration is one issue where Obama is NOT pulling any punches for the general) or working class voters (bankrupty reform is another.)

Also, he didn't exactly ditch his South Side constituents after he got his fancy new district--he needed them as much as the north side liberals for the Senate primary, and he needed black voters in South Carolina just as much as antiwar voters in Iowa were every bit as important to his presidential coalition as any other group.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 5:36 PM
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Dohrn's actual politics was stupid, as PGD pointed out. Gitlin seems to be as resigned as a I am, though more involved. He was never a crazy.

I remained active in left movements until 1983, when I realized that no one was listening. I have friends who have remained active, but they've tended to internationalize to Latin America.

You can't wish up a political movement all by yourself.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 5:58 PM
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it's highly unlikely that an authentic representative of the Afro-American street will ever be elected President.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:00 PM
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I thought Gail Collins was about right last week: what he really hates is stupidity. In that he actually resembles JFK, whose ruling passion was rationality. Both are a little cool towards liberals, and the feeling is reciprocated. Liberals of our parents' generation around here often had much stronger feelings for Stevenson, but admitted that Kennedy was more in tune with the totality of the country, and that Stevenson was actually rather conservative.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:05 PM
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256:Revolution is not pretty. Duh.

Superb trollery, bob. You actually managed to disgust me.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:16 PM
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I thought that it was moderately funny (Michelle is the best -- and now I'm looking for the posters McManus was talking about), but that it will probably have negative consequences at the margin.

Because most people here are either older than or more well-traveled than me, I feel that I have to ask: was it always this bad / is it this bad everywhere? Where "bad" means something like: was there always a significant number of people who were so dense/uninformed/whatever that not only was political satire beyond them, but was misinterpreted and the cause of stupid-ass reactions like "Well, maybe there's a grain of truth..."?

I don't know what's more depressing: the thought that it has always been this bad / is this bad everywhere, or that now / here is the nadir.

Yeah, I realize that the variables space and time leave a lot of leg room for wacky stories that begin "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...", but whatever. (But even there/then they moved from a republic to an empire.)


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:20 PM
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260:Y'all think I am aboiut burning shit down, which I am, but I also have a nuanced pragmatic side.

Here's Yggles on single-payer healthcare.

I think this is a totally sound plan, but there is one problem. To get it enacted into law, liberals need to be credibly willing to walk away from the legislative bargaining table if we don't get our public-private plan...

...and I don't see reformers walking away from the chance to do that over the public-private issue and I don't think anyone will believe them if they try to bluff.

Naturally, for Yggles this means we should have been even more incrementalist and patient. But as I read my history, the good stuff comes when we hit the metaphorical mattresses and barricades in an atmosphere of vitriol.

And since you can't bluff in politics...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:23 PM
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263:

Bob as Robespierre:"But the people are starving for lack of bread"

PGD and Jesus:"But somebody might on our side might in the heat of passion say something ugly. The people must starve."

On the one hand, we have depression war & institutionalized oppression; on the other hand, disgusting rhetoric. And I disgust you?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:38 PM
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Jeez, Bob, Dohrn and the Weathermen was the descent of the Sixties left into a stupid Theater of Cruelty. The reason they don't have any new ideas is that they didn't have any old ideas. I suspect that they know that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:42 PM
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Goddammit all to hell, because I actually do believe it to be true. Liberals would rather millions die and/or be oppressed than fucking look bad to each other.

The luxury of vanity.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:42 PM
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I threw you a crumb, bob, but I'm not feeding you one iota more.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:43 PM
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267:Aww, Dorhn & the Weather Underground.

John, this is also about DeLong wanting things to remain polite and welcome at the economic conferences. On his blog, he says ala Scipio, "Republicans must be destroyed" Do you think he says it to Mankiw's and Bernanke's faces?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:48 PM
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Whether or not the Weathermen had any ideas (of their own? or, at all?), I certainly think they could have had a greater effect. If what I've seen in the documentary is accurate, the group only decided to be "nonviolent" (call the buildings they were bombing ahead of time to warn people, etc.) after the Greenwich Village accident. If they would have had the resolve (!), they could have been huge! I mean, e.g. a dead Senator or two or a judge, or something, wouldn't have been *nothing*. (E.g. if Senator Wellstone were still alive, we'd have another good voice in the Senate.)


Posted by: Currence | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:51 PM
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No, this is about your trollery in 158 and elsewhere. I've become sort of tired of picking the undigested corn kernels out of the shit you post.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:51 PM
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269:You threw me a crumb. Christ, I feel no need for redemption or expiation after the last forty years and the last ten. It is not as if the far left has been in charge.

267:The ideas of the Weather Underground are centuries or millenia old. Most times they failed. A 17th century revolt in Naples, considering what bracketed it on either side for centuries, however, remains a noble and admirable effort. As does 1789, 1848, and 1871. These people weren't wrong, they just didn't get enough help.

Giving obeisance to the tools & methods of the ruling class doesn't really demonstrate your wisdom. Demonstrates something else.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 6:59 PM
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The weather Underground were media clowns. Nothing to do with 1848. Nothing to do with the Russian Populists, hardly anything to do with the nihilists. They thought that they were using the media, but by 1972 or 1973, and ever since, the media was using them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:05 PM
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No, this is about your trollery in 158 and elsewhere

Presuming you meant 258, it was not trollery, but succinct and to PGD's "point", if he had one.. Yes when you radicalize politics, the fringes can get putrid. The right understands and accepts, and even uses that. Liberals apparently think it is too high a price to pay for change.

I fail to understand how Dohrn cheering Manson completely discredits the 60s, but perhaps PGD would be willing to help me out.

Or we can look ar Tweety's 251:and it would have been nice if it had been possible to give the whole thing a pass.

"The whole thing?" Civil rights, great society, medicare, womens rights, gay liberation, environmentalism...give it all up because Dorhn said something mean?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:08 PM
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That's exactly what I meant, Bob! I'm pretty sure that's what Sifu was getting at too. Bernadine Dohrn and Charles Manson invalidate all progressive movements since WWII, yessiree.

274 sums it up pretty well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:14 PM
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Civil rights, great society, medicare, womens rights, gay liberation, environmentalism

Not much of this was accomplished by the fringes. Not sure if any of it was.


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:14 PM
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Civil rights, great society, medicare, womens rights, gay liberation, environmentalism

The thing about the 60s is that many of these things weren't the achievements of the so-called 60s-generation. It'd be wrong to say that there wasn't some bottom-up social influence going on, but the legislators and judicial figures who spearheaded or enacted most of these changes were from a previous generation, or even the generation before that.

That's not to say that they weren't positive changes, but the generation that claims greatest credit for the social changes that came about in the 60s wasn't the actual generation that did the heavy lifting.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:16 PM
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Just what happens to be open on my desktop.

Pisistratus made three attempts to establish himself as tyrant. T details of these attempts shed light on the weakness of the Athenian state. A. In 561 Pisistratus made his first attempt to become tyrant. 1. Appearing in the marketplace dishevelled and bruised he claimed to have been attacked by his enemies. 2. Given permission to raise a bodyguard, he occupied t Acropolis, the citadel of Athens. 3. Shortly thereafter, he was driven out. B. In 558 he made his second attempt at establishing a tyrann by means of a marriage alliance with another leading famil 1. His young wife complained that Pisistratus was uninterested in properly consummating the marriage. 2. They separated, the alliance ended, and Pisistratus withdrew from Athens to the region of Thrace, where he enriched himself by opening gold and silver mines C. In 546 Pisistratus returned to Athens richer, better equippe and supported by the goddess Athena. 1. Accompanied by a six-foot-tall Athenian girl called Phye dressed as Athena, Pisistratus and a private arm marched on Athens. 2. His opponents were defeated at the battle of Pallene, and Pisistratus finally became the tyrant of Athens.

Probably better than Solon, tho not as good as Cleisthenes. But this is what politics is about, and it is a very bad thing to forget it.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:17 PM
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Feminism and gay rights were genuine achievements of the 60s generation.

Civil rights was really achieved by the pre-baby boom generations, but it was cemented into American culture by the way the boomers followed up on it. (As an individualist rights movement; the black community as a whole continues to be highly disadvantaged).

Medicare and to a lesser extent the Great Society were the last expressions of the New Deal spirit; the Great Society overlaps with civil rights and racial politics though.

In the end the students didn't get us out of Vietnam, the Vietnamese drove us out. The peace movement brought only a very temporary halt to American imperialism, unfortunately.

The Weathermen mostly just provided propaganda fodder for the reactionary backlash.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:23 PM
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Well, the Democrats in Congress had better fucking learn to credibly threaten *something* if they're going to accomplish anything useful. I've assume this "we must past a bill, so if you reject our terms we'll just adopt yours" approach is more a function of them not caring as much about stuff like FISA, torture, and Iraq & being more afraid of national security issues than economic issues. But maybe they are just all-around useless.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:23 PM
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279: I love you again, Bob.

I'm envisioning...who...not Obama...surely not Hillary? Bernadine Dohrn? Storming the gates of Washington, accompanied by a 6 foot Pallas Athene in full armor.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:27 PM
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281: Katherine, visit and contribute:

http://www.accountabilitynowpac.com/

I will be out of the country August 8th, perhaps I can have someone contribute for me on that day.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:30 PM
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Feminism and gay rights were genuine achievements of the 60s generation.

The decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK* and the declassification of homosexuality as a disease by the APA in the US** were both driven by activists and scholars from earlier generations. It's certainly true that activists from the 60s generation played a role in how this developed through the 70s and 80s but the liberalizing legislation and changes in medical culture were not their achievement.

* the Wolfenden Report was published in 1957 and the legislation that resulted passed in '67, etc.

** e.g. Mattachine Society (1950s), Judd Marmor's publications date from the mid-60s, the NIMH report was '69 and the APA vote was '73, etc.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:48 PM
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bob,
Before I leave, just one note. In all humility, I need to understand more about how & why the 60s radicals, which are all over the Lizza article, have changed their views of America and politics. This goes along with a change in French radicalism after 1968. I just don't get it, other than a need to stay out of jail.

Things are just too horrible, and we don't have enough time, for in-system incrementalism. "There is no other option" is not an option, because failure is not an option. And I think the 60s were an astonishing success. But arguing with Dohrn and Gitlin etc, well, I ain't insane, so just confused.

Are you really serious about this? Radicals are always with us. They only gain traction when things are bad. Really bad. Compare the number dead in VietNam to the number dead now. Add in conscription as well.

A spark will not light wet wood.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 7:59 PM
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It's certainly true that activists from the 60s generation played a role in how this developed through the 70s and 80s but the liberalizing legislation and changes in medical culture were not their achievement.

This is true. For the U.S. case there's a nice literature on the myth of Stonewall as the beginning of the gay rights movement, and how it effaced work done in the n the 40s and 50s, especially on the west coast.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:00 PM
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Katherine,
Well, the Democrats in Congress had better fucking learn to credibly threaten *something* if they're going to accomplish anything useful.

I agree, but they won't. The politicians aren't the problem. The people are. Most people aren't ready for a big change yet. Not yet.

How can I say this? Look around. Talk to people.

People are irritated and a little worried. People are not yet angry.

Sorry.


Posted by: Tripp the crazed! | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:11 PM
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On the gay rights thing, it's always possible to trace back a history of individual activists and lobbyists. But what gay rights required was a mass movement. A mass gay rights movement in the 40s or 50s would have been unimaginable. (In contrast, the civil rights movement was already a mass movement before the 60s hit). I think the sexual revolution, the mass following for the civil rights movement, and the general cultural upheaval of the 60s to lay the groundwork for gay rights.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:11 PM
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Last sentence s/b I think *it took* the sexual revolution, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:12 PM
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Well of course it was the generation born 35-45 who were the worker bees and young leaders of the sixties grassroots movements. Although the oldest boomers were 20 in 1966,

But I am not sure to what degree the boomers were a factor or a threat, as the oldsters looked at the hippies and yippies and panthers and diggers and thought:"And there are umpteen million kids coming into voting age." When did 18 yr-olds get the vote and the right to enter bars?

No as leaders and initiators and creators the boomers should get little direct credit or blame. But as a sociological fact, as a cohort to be feared & competed over, I suspect they were more important than you think.

Disco won.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 8:36 PM
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287: oh my, THAT'S original. Calls for basic, minimal competence at negotiation among Democratic leaders are not actually calls for revolution. The people are not in the streets demanding change, but "the people aren't ready"--give me a fucking break. What, Congress's approval rating might drop from 9% to 7% if they got too far ahead of the people?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-14-08 9:47 PM
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re: 288

You might think that, PGD, but that's not what actually happened. As I said, the key legislation that enacted basic rights for gay people wasn't the product of any mass movement of that type and largely predates the public emergence of any such movement. There wasn't some groundswell of public opinion in favour of legislating for sexual freedom for gay people that led to changes in the law. These were 'top-down' reforms driven by groups of expert opinion-formers: Wolfenden and his committee, various APA members, the NIMH working party, etc.

See also what Gonerill says in 286 about the role, in the US, of the various West Coast 'homophile' groups.

The next wave of legislative change -- marriage/civil partnership legislation -- may be more driven by a change in public opinion that has its roots in the 60s but is much more recent.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 12:21 AM
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ttaM's point is important. The achievements of the "60s" generation, seen as the smart kids in the 60s, is pretty negligible. LBJ was an old new dealer. Gay rights came out of struggles in the 40s and 50s. Abortion rights, at least in Britain, likewise:

In 1939, the Birkett Committee was set up by the government to clarify whether doctors could perform an abortion to save a woman's life, but their work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. In the fifties, support for reform grew. During the 1960s, fertility control became more widespread with the growth of the women's movement and availability of the contraceptive pill. However, illegal abortion was still killing, or ruining the health of many women. ALRA (est. 1936) led the campaign in support of David Steel MP's private member's bill to legalise abortion. Since its passage in 1967 the Abortion Act has been unsuccessfully challenged several times by anti-choice ("pro-life") organisations which aim to restrict access to abortion.

Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 2:05 AM
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286: For the U.S. case there's a nice literature on the myth of Stonewall as the beginning of the gay rights movement

Stonewall was not the beginning of the gay rights movement, but was certainly the watershed moment of the gay right mass movement, which can in fact claim a great deal of credit for the liberalization of legal and medical culture in the States, much of which happened in the decades after 1969.

291: My guess is that Congress isn't paralyzed by the fear of public reaction, it's paralyzed by the fear of actually having to take concrete action against one of the major criminal figures running the American government and having its irrelevance confirmed when they simply ignore its writ. (Cf. Karl Rove, who recently refused to testify before Congress; how likely is it that he'll eventually be hauled in against his will?)


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 6:01 AM
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292: UK history is different from American history in this respect, ttaM. The West Coast "homophile" groups in the States had worked doggedly and did have some victories to their credit, but larger-scale change in America was the work of the mass movement that postdated Stonewall.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 6:04 AM
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You might think that, PGD, but that's not what actually happened. As I said, the key legislation that enacted basic rights for gay people wasn't the product of any mass movement of that type and largely predates the public emergence of any such movement.

Huh? What "key legislation"? Gay rights in the U.S. was not a top-down movement. Up through some very recent supreme court decisions, anti-gay laws remained on the books, they just weren't enforced. The APA and NIMH did not gift rights to gay people in the USA.

As Bob says, the leadership corps will always be a little older. But you can point to lots of movements that got the impetus that put them over the top from the mass upheaval of the mid-late 60s and early 70s. Civil rights, not so much -- that mass movement predated the 60s. But even the Great Society programs got a huge push from the perceived need to pacify rioters.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 7:06 AM
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"Civil rights, not so much -- that mass movement predated the 60s."

Not by much, actually, if I'm getting an accurate read from the Taylor Branch book I just read. I mean, yeah, there was the bus boycott, and NAACP had been around forever & working on its desegregation strategy in the courts; there were activists. But it became a mass movement in the early 60s.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 7:54 AM
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predated the hippies, I mean. I think of the radical 60s we're talking about really beginning around the middle of the decade.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 7:58 AM
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The civil rights movements were mostly black, led mostly by ministers, with a mix of white people providing support and visibility. For example, when white people are murdered, it's news.

The white mix was an odd one: church people, communists, free lance radicals, and old liberals and labor people. They tended to be pretty straight arrow, though there were a few hipsters.

Around 1965 the hippie / drug thing became big. It was mostly apolitical. About the same time, the civil rights movement became more nationalist and a lot of white leaders were asked to leave. The ones that remained political mostly went into anti-war work.

In 1967 or 1968 Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and others started trying to organize hippies as a political force. The draft was the key issue, because a draft notice dragged you into the fray regardless of your apolitical desires.

In 1968 things got and stayed crazy. This movement was effective in terms of the Vietnam War, but didn't lead to much in the long run. In 1974-6 when Nixon was forced out, the radical movements were hardly even players at all.

Just as the antiwar movement was a spinoff of the civil rights movement, the feminist, gay liberation, and Green movements were spinoffs of the anti-war movement. The separation was not friendly; a lot of women felt used by the anti-war leaders and as a result were unwilling to involve themselves in the grand political issues: "The politics is the personal".

Stated dogmatically, as per my custom, but based on extensive involvement. Call it oral history.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:13 AM
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"The political is the personal".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:14 AM
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re: 296

In the UK the legislation was 67. I am thinking about both the UK and the USA. The US with the APA vote [as a symbolic event], to take an example, and the UK in terms of legislative changes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:15 AM
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Stated dogmatically, as per my custom

But more or less accurately, I think. Rubin famously became a Wall St. broker. Hoffman is dead. They annoyed the straight arrow movement, played into the hands of people like Nixon and Agnew, and achieved sfa.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:23 AM
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300. Is that right, John? Over here the phrase tended to be "The personal is political", which is significantly different.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:26 AM
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It was "the personal is political" here too -- the point was that forms of oppression previously defined as part of private life (from sexual harassment to husband not sharing housework, etc.) should be defined as political issues. This was massively successful, as you can observe in Unfogged comment sections to this day.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:31 AM
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I may have remembered wrong. To me either slogan can be interpreted either way, but what was intended was the rejection of the old big-picture politics in favor of the new personal politics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:33 AM
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Contentiously, I think the shift to the politics of the personal has been a fucking disaster.

Not the actual bringing of the personal into the political and the realization that the personal sphere wasn't a politics free zone: feminist points about housework, domestic violence, etc. were right.

But rather the way that it's been co-opted and transformed in ways that have meant that economic justice and social equity has completely fallen by the wayside.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:36 AM
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304. And quite right too. But not really an achievement of 60s radicals - coined in 1970 and didn't really change the discourse for another decade.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:36 AM
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Damned if I'm going to wade into this thread now, but 295 is right, as is Bob when he said "Disco Won". This is not a coincidence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:41 AM
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not really an achievement of 60s radicals - coined in 1970 and didn't really change the discourse for another decade.

the "60s" as I think we're talking about them -- hippies, mass cultural upheaval, etc. -- run from the mid-60s through maybe Watergate. Kent State happened in the 70s. The feminist movement hit big in the 70s, but it was a product of the "60s" cultural revolution.

It would hardly be fair to say that the Boomers only get credit for cultural changes occurring before 1970, when the oldest of them was 24-25.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:46 AM
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It would hardly be fair to say that the Boomers only get credit for cultural changes occurring before 1970, when the oldest of them was 24-25.

I'm saying more or less the opposite. That they don't get credit for (some of) the stuff that occurred much before 1970. Post-1970s, they can knock themselves out.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:50 AM
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To me the 60s is 1965-1975 and is defined by drugs and the Vietnam War. Civil Rights was earlier, feminism / gay liberation were after, with obvious overlaps and continuities.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:57 AM
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"The personal is the political" had an effect as early as 1972. Immediately it just split the existing left movements, but after about 1974 the personalist movements were completely dominant. Where I was, anyway.

The movements of 1968-1973 were so overwhelmingly anti- that once their immediate object (the Vietnam War) was gone, they ceased to exist and the individuals dispersed. One group (the radical Catholics, who were quite significant) went into anti-abortions.

If I am not mistaken, Minnesota's hard-right ex-Congressman Gil Gutknecht was an anti-draft organizer in 1967.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 8:57 AM
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See 299 is an example of I differ on concepts of politics and history.

The civil rights movements were mostly black, led mostly by ministers

MLK marching alone thru the streets of Selma would have meant nothing. Freedom summer may have been lead by ministers, I'm not sure, but I do know there were dozens of 20 something black students doing the registration. They are the ones who went North to get young whites from campuses...the black kids.

This movement was effective in terms of the Vietnam War, but didn't lead to much in the long run.

And here I disagree vehemently. My theory is that 64-70 radicalized & liberalized grass roots politics, created a different kind of voter who put people like Robert Drinan into office, and Drinan and the other very liberal Congresspersons were the base of the second "New Left" wave of progressive legislation. Why were abortion laws in some states liberalized? How did we get EPA, OSHA, the impeachment, the refusal to fund Vietnam, 18 yr old vote and 18 yr old drinking. Some local liberalization of matijuana laws, Austin, Boulder?

1968-74 Congresses were extremely liberal, and the Perlstein/Emerson focus in what was on TV and the anarchy in Madison and the Weather Underground, Presidential politics and war war war misses the story.

Why could 1974 Congress defund Vietnam and we currently don't have a chance? Because of 1968.
It was the most liberal demographic cohort/period in the history of the country, with the possible exception of this one, and focusing on the backlash, like resistance to busing, misses the point that those Boston rednecks were also smoking pot and shacking up with their girlfriends.

I'm from flyover country, and the interesting, important change for my area was not the mid sixties but the early 70s.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:04 AM
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The movements of the 60s were understood at the time as bringing a host of notions about interpersonal relations, as well as broad social ideas about justice and equality into mass consciousness. It was from that point of view a form of dramatization and popularization.

The debate about priorities is an old one. William Lloyd Garrison is remembered today mostly for relentless anti-slavery agitation, but many of his contemporary allies were bemused by his being for all sorts of social changes, many of them long-since accepted now but the hallmarks of a kook then. Or remember that famous passage in The Road To Wigan Pier about fruit-juice-drinking, sandal-wearing vegetarians being the reason Socialism couldn't be a serious movement then.

The point is that these concerns have gone together for a very long time among small groups of "advanced" people. Bohemia was a real place once; every significant city, and some quite ordinary ones, had small bands of like-minded people, and you can sometimes see the traces in art and memoir. Some people, like my parents, were therefore familiar with everything "the sixties" were proclaiming as new, and had little difficulty accepting and acknowledging it.

But many millions must have encountered these ways of thinking all at once as a shock, a huge discontinuity with everything that had gone before.

I always try to remember what a head start people like me had, when I'm tempted to think of those events as no big deal.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:05 AM
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My politics is always grass roots.

The reason reconstruction failed in the South but the Civil Rights laws pretty much held up over time was not a matter of leadership or Federal Marshalls or Court actions but because of social changes in the people. For several reasons, including immigration, Southern Blacks were more assertive and Southern Whites were marginally more liberal in the 70s & 80s. Austin in 1975 was a different country from Austin in 1955, and could help raise hell in Dallas.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:13 AM
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My theory is that 64-70 radicalized & liberalized grass roots politics, created a different kind of voter who put people like Robert Drinan into office, and Drinan and the other very liberal Congresspersons were the base of the second "New Left" wave of progressive legislation. Why were abortion laws in some states liberalized? How did we get EPA, OSHA, the impeachment, the refusal to fund Vietnam, 18 yr old vote and 18 yr old drinking. Some local liberalization of matijuana laws, Austin, Boulder?

This strikes me as exactly right. And there was a big wave of state-level marijuana decriminalization, it wasn't limited to localities.

The 60s were a massive cultural revolution, one of the most important in American history, and you can't try to restrict its influence to a few years. Even the right-wing ascendancy of the 80s through recently can be understood as a reactionary backlash to the 60s.

Why could 1974 Congress defund Vietnam and we currently don't have a chance? Because of 1968.
It was the most liberal demographic cohort/period in the history of the country, with the possible exception of this one, and focusing on the backlash, like resistance to busing, misses the point that those Boston rednecks were also smoking pot and shacking up with their girlfriends.

again, totally agree. Although wasn't the 1974 defunding taking place after withdrawal of U.S. troops? (Correct me if I'm wrong).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:17 AM
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314: well put


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:22 AM
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EPA & OSHA could not be passed today.

How do you move the Overton window on a whole population? Absolutely not by writing letters to Chris Dodd or electing Obama.

1) Alienation. People have to feel the gov't/establishment is their enemy, as Republicans have felt for forty years, and as the liberals/left felt during the 60s. Then they elect outsiders, insurgents, radicals. They push their politicians, not be led by them.

Ya know, the right had all the same forces and trends during the 60s that the left did, Goldwater, Reagan winning California, the Young Republicans. They simply stuck with their radical grassroots poltics, revolution with the threat of violence, longer & better than liberals, and so eventually had some victories.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:28 AM
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"MLK marching alone thru the streets of Selma would have meant nothing. Freedom summer may have been lead by ministers, I'm not sure, but I do know there were dozens of 20 something black students doing the registration. They are the ones who went North to get young whites from campuses...the black kids."

I'm almost positive Freedom Summer was the SNCC, and that's the student group, not the ministers. And Bob Moses, who was a teacher or maybe social worker but definitely not a preacher. Birmingham was mainly led by preachers, but a lot of people filling the jails & marching & the like were students.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:39 AM
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"The long run" meant "after 1975". The movement evaporated and there was little long-term institutional change.

Carter was a fairly conservative Democrat who supported the dirty war in Central America. Reagan was a very conservative Republican from the conservative minority of his own party. 1972-1976 was a sort of speed bump. Iran-Contra and the subsequent pardons brought us back to business as usual. Every President since 1968 has been anti-labor.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:48 AM
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God, I hate this shit, asnd it infuriates me that Perlstein and Generation Awesome buys the bullshit.

I watched the 68 convention 24/7, and those images of young kids getting beaten and teargassed by burly cops, the idealistic Mississippi delegation getting turned away in favor of the racists, reporters beaten on the convention floor, that fat fuck Daley raging into the camera...did not turn the country to the right. What do you think the people are?

The 68 convention was a failure only to the people who had put their hopes in McCarthy and MacGovern and Kennedy and immediate victories. It was a political success of historic dimensions.

As 1968 in France ended Degaulism (Prague probably failed). And I really think we need to reassess Tienanman Square. Why is the narrative always:"The leaders decided..." Why is it Gorbachev and Yeltsin who changed the Soviet Union?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:48 AM
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Bob, I don't blame the Sixties for the bad things that happened. I mostly blame popular racism and institutionalized militarism. I'm just saying that these movements didn't accomplish much in the long run. I haven't read Pearlstein.

My story is this. First, when LBJ escalated the Vietnam War, it left the left wing of the Democratic Party nowhere to go. The hawks maintained control of the party. The doves were still a minority nationally. The Republicans were basically hawks and were also able to play the situation opportunistically with great success.

Second, the Civil Rights Act etc. sent the South and a lot of Northern whites into the Republican Party. The right thing to do, a permanent success and an institutional change. But the successes were pretty early, 1966 or before.

The victories since then seem slighter to me, and in labor / equality issues, war / peace issues, and civil liberties issues the actual movement has been backwards.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 9:58 AM
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320:Yeah, the economics are complicated. As a first guess, maybe I would say that, on a popular level, the 60s marked the end of colonialism, yah know "Imperialism as the Final Stage of Capitalism"...markets, for the colonies but resisted by the imperialists (US, Russia) and still not quite sunk in even yet.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:01 AM
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It was a political success of historic dimensions.

I don't think I understand your argument. The '68 Convention (and I didn't watch it, what with being born at the end of November '68) looks from my current perch as the beginning of the Democrats' long wandering in the desert.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:03 AM
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The victories since then seem slighter to me, and in labor / equality issues, war / peace issues, and civil liberties issues the actual movement has been backwards.

Yes, substantially backwards in many ways. Certainly here in the UK the last few years have been a fucking disaster.* Civil liberties: essentially gone. Inequality: substantially up. Social stratification: up. Social mobility: down. Wars: lots of 'em.

* essentially all down hill since about 1972 is what, I think, the demographers tell us.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:04 AM
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The 60s might have been a luxury of an Empire at its peak. Or the start. Late Republican Rome had civil wars because there was tons of money. Imperial Rome had to manage a budget. Gotta think.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:12 AM
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re: 326

There had also been more or less 100 years or so of constant working-class agitation which peaked in the early 70s. Which, not coincidentally, was the high-water mark for social equality.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:14 AM
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The underline my point: in 1968 we didn't know it, but we were probably doomed. Both parties and most of the electorate were against us. (The Democrats never forgave Eugene McCarty -- all his personal friends dropped him for years, if not forever. And he'd been a very highly-regarded Senator.) And the long-term electoral trends were bad, with the South lost.

So the Weathermen and Yippies weren't to blame. I just think that their stuff was pretty crappy, though I was into it at the time, up to a point. In the context of doom maybe it wasn't wrong, I don't know.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:15 AM
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324:My thesis isn't completely different, it only says that liberalism continued to rise for a couple more years after 1968. I put the peak around 1970-72.

I guess the difference would be in looking for the sources of decline. But maybe they are the same, just different timing.

Ad I always also try to hold the economics in mind. The end of Bretton Woods I, end of military Keynesianism, 1st oil embargo, etc.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:20 AM
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328:John, it still feels like you're focusing too much on the war.

Our differences on that are famous. I focus on economics, social issues, and then war, in that order.

Sweden isn't socially progressive because it is isn't militarist, but isn't militarist because it is socially progressive. But this is just a working theory, a matter of tactics.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:29 AM
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Sweden hasn't been militarist since 1709, for geopolitical reasons. They've just maintained enough oomph not to be a victim, no more. They finessed the Napoleonic Wards.

Militarism is the key issue for me, in itself, but I also think that it drives a lot of the other stuff. I don't think that your dream of a social democratic American world empire is even plausible, but in any case I have no interest in that.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 10:54 AM
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your dream of a social democratic American world empire is even plausible

Say what? Jesus.

Militarism is the key issue for me, in itself, but I also think that it drives a lot of the other stuff.

As I said, backwards. Social, political and economic inequality are the necessary & sufficient conditions for militarism.

Ok. Real simple. Rich man on the hill, starving peasant in the dirt. Peasant storms castle, Duke says:"It's all those damn n***r's fault over there, And I'll give you pikes. Or you can try to storm my castle"

And you and the liberals are somewhere on the slopes, saying:"War bad. Don't storm castle, don't kill n***rs. Let us reason together, maybe the duke will open up his larder" Duke laughs, hands out pikes.

I'm on the left, saying storm the castle. I can barely take liberals seriously.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 11:22 AM
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Bob, who are the people you're storming the castle with? I ask just for information. You seem angry by your failure to recruit around here. Where have your recruiting successes been? Or have you had a lot of success storming castles single-handed?

Sweden had all that inequality in 1900, but militarism was impossible. Their neighbors were Germany and Russia. So instead, they had a socialist revolution. (Actually, they could have tried to reconquer Norway, and there was talk about rescuing the Swedish minority in Finland).

Say what? Jesus.

I have no clear idea what you really are proposing, because you spew shit hither and yon. That was my reconstruction. It looked to me, based on some of the things you said, as though you would be happy to trade imperialist militarism for a welfare state and social equality.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 11:37 AM
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have you had a lot of success storming castles single-handed?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 11:39 AM
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Alternatively.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 11:39 AM
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happy to trade imperialist militarism for a welfare state and social equality.

I have to expressly have your priorities, in your order, or I'm a fascist?

50+Years of this bullshit, and you still think you can kill the military-industrial establishment by attacking it headon. Norquist understood thirty years ago that you don't kill Social Security by attacking it directly, but by defunding it. So Republicans say:"I strongly support Social Security, oh and let's cut taxes."

I think it is pointlesss, useless, and counterproductive to be an outfront dove in America. I have almost no evidence it changes budget priorities. So I want high taxes, a monster welfare state, many women in high office, social equality, etc. And I don't even like to say my true purpose is starving the military beast, partly because those other priorites are goods in themselves, and partly because, like Grover saying he wants to kill SS, I think it alerts and awakens the beast.

I saw the drowsy beast awakened twice, in the late 70s and late 90s. You can't fight it, John. You have to distract people so they forget to feed it.

And sometimes it is just about the numbers. 30 million American without health care, 2 million casualties in Iraq. If I have to make a choice, like LBJ thought he had to compromise, I do what I think saves the most lives, increases net well-being most. I won't give up because all choices are evil, I'll choose the least evil mix.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 1:30 PM
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If we get with Obama an end to the war in Iraq, and no health care, and/or bad reform in SS, I will consider that a bad trade. I think that is what we are gonna get. You will be pleased?

An elderly woman died in Dallas last week because she had no electricity. I am not going to value her life less than a Marine or an Iraqi civilian.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 1:40 PM
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334:"Storming the castle" in America today = "tax them til they bleed"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 1:51 PM
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335: Alternatively.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-15-08 3:23 PM
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Posted by: Edward Wilson | Link to this comment | 08-22-08 11:21 AM
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