The Blissful Life
April 28, 2004 8:58 AM   Subscribe

The Blissful Life in Utopia
SUGAR LAND, Tex. -- This is the home of Britton Stein, who describes George W. Bush as "a man, a man's man, a manly man," and Al Gore as "a ranting and raving little whiny baby." Forty-nine years old, Stein is a husband, a father, a landscaper and a Republican. He lives in a house that has six guns in the closets and 21 crosses in the main hallway.

Diary of a Freeper. Fascinating read. Insightful.
posted by nofundy (130 comments total)

 
Also worth reading are the other two articles in this set of three, Political Split Is Pervasive and A Liberal Life in the City by the Bay. WaPo login courtesy of bugmenot: mefi@metafilter.com/metafilter.
posted by letourneau at 9:10 AM on April 28, 2004


George W. Bush as "a man, a man's man, a manly man,"

My god, that sounds like an Irish Spring commercial. I'm picturing Anne Coulter saying "Manly, yes, but I like him, too."

He lives in a house that has six guns in the closets and 21 crosses in the main hallway.

From all this guys talk about "manliness" I'm guessing that the guns aren't the only thing in the closet in that house.

Seriously, I can't belive this mook is holding up Bush as some icon of badass manhood. Two can play that game, mister, and last time I looked Kerry is the one with the war medals, and battle scars.
posted by jonmc at 9:26 AM on April 28, 2004


This article, and the series it ran in, are some of the most absurd pieces of political journalism I have read. Washington Post editors know more than I do about what their readership needs to read, so maybe the political culture in this country really is so bad that people on the left need to read newspaper articles that tell them about what people on the right think and how they live, and vice versa. In happier times, this type of journalism was totally unnecessary, because people who disagreed about politics actually talked to each other and even counted each other as friends. No longer, apparently; we need to send journalists off to faraway lands like Sugar Land, Texas or San Francisco, California, where they will track down and report on exotic specimens of people who see politics differently than we do.

I talked to a woman a few months ago in a liberal city I was visiting, and mentioned I had voted for Bush. Now, this was a very educated, professional woman, who had a lot of friends and was quite involved in her community. So I was stunned when she told me she had never met anyone who said they supported Bush. Not one! The man has 50% approval ratings, but none of those 50% had ever penetrated this woman's social circle before. This is really not a good situation, is it?
posted by profwhat at 9:27 AM on April 28, 2004


I never understood the whole man's man thing regarding George Bush. Sure he comes off as not so book smart but the man is a millionaire, many, many times over and has a knack for pushing laws that benefit his class over others. That a landscaper would feel Bush and republicans serve his needs better is surprising to me.

I hear stuff like "well, I could see drinkin' a beer with W" but how many times do most folks get a chance to drink a beer with someone that owned a Major League Baseball team?
posted by mathowie at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2004


I am not sre what profwhat has in mind about penetrating this woman's social circle, but the women I know do not think Bush very manly at all. Bush is no Clinton, as far as the chicks go, it seems.
posted by Postroad at 9:32 AM on April 28, 2004


last time I looked Kerry is the one with the war medals

But he threw those back at the Pentagon. Or no he didn't. Yes he did, no he didn't. They were just "ribbons". "Ribbons" and "medals" were completely interchangeable. But they're hanging on the wall of his office, and he threw medals other people gave him, or ribbons or shmibbons or medals or shmedals or whatever.

So sad.

The man's thing has nothing to do with spending, certainly, because any bedwetter can recklessly spend other people's money on more government. It could be (hint, hint): defense, and plenty of it.
posted by hama7 at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2004


I never understood the whole man's man thing regarding George Bush. Sure he comes off as not so book smart but the man is a millionaire, many, many times over and has a knack for pushing laws that benefit his class over others. That a landscaper would feel Bush and republicans serve his needs better is surprising to me.

All true, matt, but I say we should beat 'em at their own game. Don't portray Bush as dumb redneck, portray him as a pampered prince Little Lord Fauntleroy. It's more accurate and it'll lose him support.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2004


But he threw those back at the Pentagon.

Big Fucking Deal, hama7.

He earned 'em, he can do what he wants with 'em. Bush didn't perform his military duties, but he has no qualms about playing dress-up in a pilot suit to court votes. That's a lot more insulting to veterans if you ask me.
posted by jonmc at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2004


"Orlando Bloom?" Patrice says, seeing it. "Whatever happened to good old names? Like Rock Hudson. And Tab Hunter".

Heh
posted by remlapm at 9:41 AM on April 28, 2004



posted by quonsar at 9:42 AM on April 28, 2004


Stein's breakfast is scrambled eggs over congealed grits fried in butter

Stein's lunch is a brisket-and-sausage barbecue sandwich

Stein's dinner is hamburgers with American cheese, salad and Tater Tots.

I wouldn't worry too much about this guy.

(i see you found the signmaker, q!)
posted by PrinceValium at 9:43 AM on April 28, 2004


Todays WP profiles a "blue" family.

I'm all for the political segregation that the articles are alluding to. I don't want neighbors like the Steins. I don't want to force myself to be civil to people.

I'll be honest-- I think that people who fundamentally disagree with me are awful no matter how I try to rationalize it away. I realize and respect that everyone has a right to their opinion. I just prefer that they express those opinions away from me.

Bickering about politics semi-anonymously is great, but I don't want to have to see a bunch of dicks when I take the garbage out. Apparently, the rest of the country is starting to agree with me despite the media's decrying of red-blue polarity.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2004


Man, that was depressing.

Maybe it's just me, but I thought what he said about Franken and Dems having a very negative attitude was extremely ironic. I mean, three-quarters of what he said and how he self-identifies are in negative, oppositional terms.

I'm going to be very earnest. I see this type of thinking on the left as well as the right (although I admit that I associate it more strongly with the right than the left)—on MetaFilter, for example—and it really makes me sad and scares me. This is how people in groups come to do Very Bad thing to other people in groups. It's all about knowing that "we" are the right-thinking folks and "they" are the wrong-thinking, the-cause-of-all-the-problems People Who Must Be Stopped.

This isn't to say that there aren't People Who Must Be Stopped in this world—of course there are. But for every one of those people there's nine others who were pretty much harmless and innocent but lynched by an angry mob.

I disagree with a lot of conservative values, but in themselves they don't really freak me out. You think that abortion shouldn't be legal? Okay, that's fine, I can respect your reasoning, and I respect you expressing that opinion and trying to change our society and laws to reflect that. That's what happens in a democracy. On the other hand, you think that people who think that abortion should be legal are homocidal baby-killers intent on destroying society and must be stopped from committing their evil? Well, now we have a serious disagreement. It's this assuming the worst about the motives and reasoning of all those with whom one politically disagrees that really bothers me. And, again, you can see this a lot on the left, too.

Maybe this is just my own obsession. But it really does seem to me, reviewing history and watching how social conflicts play out, that the larger portion of the really awful things that people do to other people (in the larger social context) result from villification, anger, bigotry, fear-mongering and all that goes along with it.

And it requires, at least, two things: a strong sense of self-righteousness, and a minimal understanding and empathy with people unlike oneself. That's in evidence in Sugar Land, and it is unfortunately also in evidence among a minority of outspoken MeFites, both on the left and the right.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2004


At least Kerry had medals and ribbons to throw hama7.

Can what is obviously your choice for president say the same?

Hmmm?

On preview, what jonmc said.
posted by nofundy at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2004


I will admit to admiring Mr. Stein's diet, however.
posted by jonmc at 9:46 AM on April 28, 2004


Well said, Ethereal Bligh. I don't share Mayor Curley's avoidance of those that disagree with me, I love to discuss politics with people of opposing views (more so than nodding along to a bunch of people I agree with). It just requires that both parties involved in the discussion are respectful to each other and keep hot emotions to a minimum.

I do see a trend of increased polarity and it's not a good thing. Weblogs are a double-edged sword in this regard. If you want to, you can cruise all the right wing blogs you want and hear everything you want to hear, and you can do the same on the left, or you can mix and match and get both sides of the story. Weblogs allow people to further polarize but also hear from both sides, though I suspect most readers stick to one side or the other. I see value in reading a bit of both, and for every day I see Instapundit as a mouthpiece of the RNC, Talkingpointsmemo looks pretty much like the executive orders of DNC.
posted by mathowie at 9:57 AM on April 28, 2004


Profwhat, you should look at my post from last week about political self-segregation in the US.

My experience in real life, with real people interacting in contexts that generally require some degree of good faith, is that people want to find common ground; and that their bigoted stereotypes about the people with whom they disagree are strongly weakened or eliminated the more they have actual (honest, equal) interaction with those people.

What Britton Stein and Mayor Curley feel is mutual—they're pretty sure the other is an asshole and they don't want to get to know each other because they think they already know as much as they need to in order to make quite a few judgments. But they're very likely wrong. Most of us have family or childhood friends with whom we find we have strong political disagreements, yet we recognize in these people we know and are close to a subtlety and complexity and, often, good will, that we sadly tend to deny to all the nameless, faceless political opponents we imagine.

This is why this increasing political segregation is a very bad thing. It's not that it's inherently a good thing to live among diverse people (just like diversity in general is not inherently good); it's that diversity in this context acts as a practical limitation on people's innate tendency to villify and be willfully ignorant.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:57 AM on April 28, 2004


Why polarizing is bad for politics in the U.S. is evident in this article: Jesus Christ and Bud Light work great in small towns in Niceville, Texas. But when Jamaican immigrants are running cocaine behind the AIDS clinic, a few subway stops from the archdiocese, Boy Scouts and a Chevy is not going to do anyone any good.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:01 AM on April 28, 2004


Fuck it. I'm sold. First thing tomorow I'm ramming a hatpin through my frontal lobes and movign to Texas.

There were a few quotes and lines in between all the Mayberry frills and domestic bliss that really brought it home for me.

"I don't know," Patrice says. "Maybe I just want to live in a little bubble or something."


Then, about the time thousands of people were said to be in danger of losing their jobs because of an endangered species of owl, he decided there are two kinds of Americans, those who live in the world of "emotion and feel good," and those, like him, who live in "the real world."



"They make me feel like I have no hope. They make you feel like, why wake up in the morning?" Lannom says of Blue Americans he sees on TV or hears on the radio. "It's like every time I hear Al Franken speak, the world we live in is sooo bad, everything is going sooo wrong. Is it really that bad?"

"We see life as it is," May says.


He is, at his core, a sentimental man, Patrice says, and Stein wouldn't disagree.

These people live in a self constructed bubble. One where they only encounter "... like-minded people ... Good people.*" and only seek out information that they agree with, yet tell themselves they live in the real world. These people think of themselves as being clear headed and rational but are deeply sentimental. Anyone who panders to this hypocritical mindset get's their vote, wether it's a B-movie actor, or a redformed cokehead and failed buisnessman. Anyone or anything that upsets their worldview is ignored entirely.

My greatest fear is that if or when the war in Iraq starts going undeniably south or the economy starts falling apart or anythign else happens that makes this kind of comfortable pleasant hypocracy untenable, these will be the people who will listen to and support anyone who tells them who to blame.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2004


What terrifies me is the lack of education and experience that this Red person and his family have. Then I think about it, and this is pretty much the whole world. People who visit other countries, people who learn other languages, people who read books that haven't been on any best seller list for a hundred years, that's a minority.

Let's give 'em hell, I say. Poetry in the streets! Surrealism in the schools!

...and Kerry got shot at, while other people might more accurately be described as having shot up. People who have been to war have right to be angry and confused. People who aren't honest about not going, in contrast, shouldn't be in elected office.
posted by ewkpates at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2004


Profwhat -- the country is very much separated into red and blue enclaves. The whole point of the article was that Stein lived in an insular, closed-off community where he didn't have to or wish to hear anything he didn't want, but he still considered himself widely-read, and he said numerous times that he "sees the world the way it really is"

I live in one of the most liberal areas of one of the most liberal cities in the country. If I see someone with a "Bush/Cheney 04" sticker on their car, I assume they're making an ironic joke, or that they're visiting relatives. I also believe that I see the world the way it really is.

(Of course, in my case I'm right, natch)

This was a dumb, slanted, mock-anthropological article, but it does point to a case study of an increasingly prevalent phenomenon. People say the world is getting smaller, and people are getting close together. Not true, we're just larger, more widely scattered tribes now, with better telecommunications.
posted by Hildago at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2004


* The original line is, "You're around like-minded people," Stein says. "Good people."

I didn't want anyone to think I was distorting their opinions.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:12 AM on April 28, 2004


He earned 'em, he can do what he wants with 'em. Bush didn't perform his military duties, but he has no qualms about playing dress-up in a pilot suit to court votes.

You've completely missed my point. The point again is, in other words: that he is a repeated, unrepentant liar, because he knows what he's saying is patently false. To defend his actions is to defend the indefensible: lying and dishonesty. Like a school in summertime: no class.

Also, Bush did, in fact, perform his military duty. Non-story.
posted by hama7 at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2004


people's innate tendency to villify and be willfully ignorant.

I cannot agree that people have an innate tendency to be willfully ignorant. Also, perhaps what you see as an innate tendency to villify is the powerful moving their subjects voting bloc to resonate with a certain ideology.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2004


Matthowie, as far as blogs ago, I avoid the right-wing blogs (Volokh Conspiracy is as far as I can manage, and there's at least two commentators I won't read at VC) because they're so partisan and oppositional; and, in fact, I avoid the leftist blogs that I find are more partisan and oppositional. It just depresses me too much. TPM, in my opinion, is relatively very polite and not hateful, and for that alone I like Josh Marshall a great deal. If there were more right-wing bloggers like Eugene Volokh, I'd read them.

There's an eternal argument between the firebrands and people like myself. I don't disagree with the point that some people and some ideas are simply evil and must be countered in the strongest terms. But it's just so damn easy to be wrong. The more self-righteous one is, the less the likliehood that one will ever discover that one is wrong...and the more likely that one will act in extreme ways in one's moral certainty.

For me all the abstract reasoning and experience can be boiled down to one particular experience and reaction of my own. Years ago, I saw some neo-Nazis on TV via the reporting of some parade they'd marched in. I had the sudden overwhelming certainty that this one person I was looking at was "evil" and I just knew that he deserved to be shot on the spot and that I'd be willing to do it. And then I thought, "What the hell am I thinking?" It's just too damn easy to think this way, and the margin for error is large, and the consequences of being wrong are profound. On the other hand, I'd be completely willing to have shot one or many concentration camp guards during WWII. It's very easy to think that in some sense all these people are equivalent. But of course they're not.

We should hate people who hijack planes, kill passengers, and fly the planes into buildings. Does that mean that all Muslims are approximately similar? All Arabs? All Muslim extremists? All Palestinian demonstrators? Is Britton Stein pretty much the same as those two guys in East Texas who dragged that man to death? How easy was it for some of us, while we read that story, to imagine such an equivalency? To some conservatives on MeFi, being "liberal" or "leftist" puts one in the same moral vicinity of being Stalinist or even being Stalin. To some leftists here on MeFi, being "conservative" puts one in the same moral vicinity as Franco or Hitler. Is this right? Does such thinking say more about the state of the world, or the thinkers?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:22 AM on April 28, 2004


What terrifies me is the lack of education and experience that this Red person and his family have. Then I think about it, and this is pretty much the whole world. People who visit other countries, people who learn other languages, people who read books that haven't been on any best seller list for a hundred years, that's a minority.

Well, to be fair, exkpates, there's a pretty sizable slice of the population who were too busy putting food on the table or working 2 jobs to put their kids through school to make such things a priority.

As for living in self-made bubbles, we're all guilty of that to some extent. Would someone who was raised in Berkeley by SDS members be stunned to meet people who differ from them, or assume that their crazy/evil/stupid? Maybe it's part of the human condition on a certain level.

As for the sentimentality and need to "feel good," I got one thing to say: play to it, democrats. There's not a policy in the world that can't me made appealing to that mindset. Wrap it in the flag, whatever. Franken's approach can sell a policy to a certain type of person, other approaches work for other people.

I asked a very liberal freind of mine whether he thought the dems should stoop to the lowest common denominator to win this election. He said "Hell, yes! Stoop to whatever you need to! Play to the cheap seats. Play to the yuppies! Play to the kids! Whatever you gotta do!" Politics ain't pretty.

To quote Abbie Hoffman:

Ask someone what they want.

If they say, "I wanna beat the shit out of punks like you," build him a boxing ring.


On preview: To defend his actions is to defend the indefensible: lying and dishonesty. Like a school in summertime: no class.

Look who you're talking to, dude. I have no aspirations to your vision of "classiness."
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on April 28, 2004


hama7 is suffering from Red madness.

People can be divided into two categories, those who have been in combat, and those who haven't. Bush hasn't, Kerry has. Kerry certainly was confused and angry about the experience, which wasn't a shining star in our military history. Bush has been less than honest (not confused or angry) about why he wasn't in combat.

Bottom line: A war hero is a war hero, regardless of what anyone says or said, even what he himself has said. A guy who has trouble proving how he stayed out of combat is the farthest thing from a war hero, so pipe down already.

All politicians lie. No exceptions. Please get a grip on yourself. Vietnam was serious business, the Alabama National Guard was not. If nothing else, please be respectful of the sacrifices that veterans have made, and be aware that they have a right to be conflicted about their service.
posted by ewkpates at 10:25 AM on April 28, 2004


Two can play that game, mister, and last time I looked Kerry is the one with the war medals, and battle scars.

. . . and the personal hairdresser . . . and the botox injections . . .

Are you ready for the first metrosexual President?
posted by David Dark at 10:27 AM on April 28, 2004


The Dad sounds like a genuinely nice guy. His beliefs for the most part don't resonate with me, but he sounds like the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back.
posted by vito90 at 10:30 AM on April 28, 2004


Also, Bush did, in fact, perform his military duty. Non-story.

So you've seen the proof? Why don't you share it with the rest of the world, and put the issue to rest. Kerry may be lying about everything else--I don't know--but his story about the ribbons/medals is clear and corroborated, despite your attempts to be confused by it. He threw his ribbons--which are called "medals" in military parlance--but did not throw what we would call his "medals." Sorry if sometimes words are hard.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2004


Are you ready for the first metrosexual President?

If I agree with his policies and makes my life better, I don't care if he likes to charleston in taffetta evening gowns, my man.
posted by jonmc at 10:34 AM on April 28, 2004


so far, thank God, knock on wood, has gone wrong.

Pagan rituals from this so-called Christian man. :P
posted by dr_dank at 10:45 AM on April 28, 2004


I just wish the Wash Post would print an article with an equally lavish amount of detail and sneering judgmentalism about the typical Negro or the typical Chinaman. I think it would be good for America to see how "these people" think and live.

And I don't care that they gave the same treatment to the left. (Thanks for the "balance") This is anti-community journalism, a concerted effort to tease out the differences between Americans and throw them in our faces, with the apparent goal of ratcheting up the revulsion we already feel for each other one more notch.

Look, even in this supposedly archetypal polarized "red" community, we have 25% who voted for Gore! That's a lot of blue. I wish we'd stop "celebrating" our differences in America and spend a little more time on the things we have in common -- safe streets, good public education, the need for moral leadership, increasing opportunities for those at the bottom. There's enough commonality in the middle that we don't have to spend all our time out on the wings. It's like the country's political dialogue is being written by the folks who bring you Hardball or Capital Gang -- conflict, conflict, conflict! It's entertaining, so it must be important! The bad news is, it's a negative feedback loop, and my biggest fear is this country is spinning towards the biggest disunity crisis in 150 years.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:47 AM on April 28, 2004


Also, Bush did, in fact, perform his military duty.

Yes, he did, in fact, bravely defend Houston from the Viet Cong. That is, after his Daddy got him to the head of the line for the Texas Air National Guard, while the poor kids (and the more honorable rich kids) went and did his fighting for him.

Trying to treat Bush's blatant, obvious avoidance of combat as "performing his military duty"? Now that's sad.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2004


Grimgrin, is what you said about Stein different then what you would say about Mayor Curley?
posted by Snyder at 10:51 AM on April 28, 2004


Are you ready for the first metrosexual President?

That would be about a million times better than the unelected fraud sissy boy Prince we've got now.

Hey! Look! I can play that slime game too David Dark and hama7!

How can you keep your sanity with the dissonance of slamming our war heroes and then accusing your "enemies" of "not supporting the troops?"

Geez!
Turn on FAUX and turn off your computer!
You don't want to discuss.
All you want is to slime your presupposed "enemies."
Kinda like the guy in the story, eh?
Or did you even read the story?

Now let's listen to the adults talk sensibly and hope to learn something, OK?
posted by nofundy at 10:53 AM on April 28, 2004


Republican Reservation: I see a great need.
posted by bonehead at 10:55 AM on April 28, 2004


He may be nice, but I'm worried about their church. This is a church where the sacrament is administered in the proper way, the way Holy Mother Church wishes it, and they have a pastor? Do they just want a protestant church for non-WASPs? Also, Patrice is allowed to serve the Holy Eucharist (and I will admit, this is sanctioned, but depends on the discretion of the diocese) as a woman?! Besides that fact, I would hope the two of them would be kept far away from the unbloody sacrifice because I am sure they are using birth control. Did you hear me? Birth control! Three daughters? Hope you feel good in confession, hypocrite! Yet that woman, Patrice, is allowed to handle a vessel containing the blood of the Lord!

Let me not get to Hooters, and the man's probable support of the Death Penalty, against the wishes of the Holy Father, I am appalled at what Vatican II did to a “Catholic” morality. Luckily I worship with Mel Gibson, and despite living in Hellywood, I can see he has a whole brood of youngsters, unlike this man, who acts as though the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Angels and all the Saints can't see him in his bedroom, USING A CONDOM!!

Horrible, horrible, horrible...Texas Chainsaw Massacre...the girls should be reciting the Rosary of Our Lady instead of watching that filth.

/sarcasm
posted by Gnatcho at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2004


the typical Chinaman

Dude, "Chinaman" is not the prefered nomenclature. Asian American, please.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2004


I know people who own more than one gun. I don't think they're crazy and - although the mix of lots of guns and lots of crosses does set off flashing warning lights in my head - I try to reserve judgement and watch people's behavior for a while before I make my own (usually quite private) assesment. It's only fair.
_________________________________________

"....people want to find common ground; and that their bigoted stereotypes about the people with whom they disagree are strongly weakened or eliminated the more they have actual (honest, equal) interaction with those people." - Indeed : and hateful rhetoric can be indispensible at mantaining these stereotypes and preventing that negotiation of common ground which takes some suspension of judgement.

One key distinction I would make in this discussion is :

I haven't noticed any calls, from prominent politicians or talk show hosts on the left, for either a campaign of violent persecution to eliminate the right in the US, pogroms or genocide against various ethnic groups, or exhortations to individuals to carry out their own vigilante or terrorist campaigns against such groups.

If anyone knows of any examples which contradict my claim, please let me know. Remember, I said prominent (and not merely rantings from the extreme fringe, but highly public statements by politicians and other well known figures which are broadcast to hundreds of thousands or millions via TV, Print* media, or radio).

There numerous, recent examples of such calls which have come from prominent members of the US right. Jay Severin's recent call for a campaign of genocide against American Muslims is not an abberation. It is part of a wider pattern - the rising curve of extremist hate speech in the US.

Dave Neiwert, at Orcinus, has made a career of tracking extremist groups and hate speech

Now, this pattern of hate speech does not invalidate right wing positions - but it is inherently opposed to and contemptuous of Democracy and the democratic process, and I think it is the duty of responsible Republicans to rein this in - to shame those who make such statements, and to refuse political support to those preaching hate.

"  "Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past - I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble - recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin's penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an 'enemy of the people.' The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, 'clan liability.' In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished 'to the ninth degree': that is, everyone in the offender's own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed."  - John Derbyshire, National Review, 02-15-01 "

Try substituting "jew" there in the place of Hillary Clinton, or Italian, Irish - even "christian" perhaps. How does the statement look then? How could Mr. Derbyshire have gone any further - except to add that Chelsea, and all her relatives four generations down should be tortured with devices from the Spanish inquisition and then burned in public squares ? Oh yes - he could have also suggested that all mention of the Clintons be expunged from public records and any mention of them, even their very names, be made illegal.

"We're going to keep building the party until we're hunting Democrats with dogs." - Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Mother Jones, 08-95 "

 "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building." - Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 08-26-02

By their grotesque and bizarre extremity, such statements tend to extend the boundaries of the permissable. For public figures to suggest such violence emboldens those in the public who share such views and have less restraint - or less to lose - to join the chorus with their own extremist and hateful speech. Sometimes, also, they channel that hate into violent action.

It's a very simple strategy, really : From the encouragement of such extreme hateful public speech, members of the public with extreme views who are also inclined towards violence begin to carry out attacks against disparaged groups.

Then, the rising mayhem demands an authoritarian government response - but that response targets far more than those rogue, violent individuals who served as useful idiots. In this way, parties and political faction and tendencies can be effectively silenced or neutralized.

And the frightened middle just hunkers down and waits for things to die down, and for things to return to normal only...... things do not return to normal.


*The National Review does not have so a wide circulation, but it is highly influential.
posted by troutfishing at 11:15 AM on April 28, 2004


"....There's an eternal argument between the firebrands and people like myself. I don't disagree with the point that some people and some ideas are simply evil and must be countered in the strongest terms. But it's just so damn easy to be wrong." (Ethereal Bligh) - And what about that speech I'm talking about, above, which advocates violence against individuals and selected groups of people - or the repression and killing of millions? Do you find such speech morally confusing?

Somehow, I doubt it. Am I right?
posted by troutfishing at 11:21 AM on April 28, 2004


Bush will be re-elected in substantial part because of articles like this, which make elitist liberals ever more comfortable in their biases, and ever more ignorant of what really makes the electorate tick.

There was a time when Democrats were as likely as Republicans to own guns and take their 3+ kids to church every week. Not surprisingly, those were times when Democrats were politically competitive than they are now.
posted by MattD at 11:22 AM on April 28, 2004


I agree with vito90. Mr. Stein sounds like a decent guy. We could probably find things to argue about, but I don't see anything that would necessarily get in the way of our being friends.
posted by rocketman at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2004


which make elitist liberals ever more comfortable in their biases, and ever more ignorant of what really makes the electorate tick.

Actually, people pick and switch parties for all kinds of reasons. My dad told me that my grandfather, a lifelong Democrat, started voting Republican when the local Democrat ward-heeler brushed him off when he asked for a favor.

You're somewhat correct when you say that a certain kind of superficial lifestyle liberalism has become a status object among certain members of the upper-middle and upper-crust, and that was successfully exploited with the whole "Reagan Democrat" strategy, but quots like the ones trout selected above show that the Republicans have gotten cocky and their more asinine statements are going to alienate a lot of people. Including many conservatives.
posted by jonmc at 11:31 AM on April 28, 2004


ewkpates : Well said, well said.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2004


I agree with MattD, in a sense - The Democrats would be wise to move towards the center on gun ownership rights.
posted by troutfishing at 11:39 AM on April 28, 2004


What do you think the chances are of this guy living in any proximity to a ethnic/religious minority?
posted by dr_dank at 11:43 AM on April 28, 2004


Troutfishing: my experience is that when you really get to the margins, the rhetoric of left and right is similarly extreme. However, I do agree with you that as we move a bit inward, the rightist rhetoric does tend to be noticeably more extreme than the leftist rhetoric.

Why does it seem like I'm trying too hard to be even-handed? Because, really, that's the whole point. The point is that ultimately I have little influence over other people's thoughts and actions. I do, however, have a great deal of influence over my own. Thus, since I'm a liberal, in this context, it's very important for me to be critical of leftist attitudes because they are basically my own. It's erring in the safe direction because my whole point is that people tend to err in the bigoted direction that looks kindly upon themselves and with suspicion at others.

Frankly, I do think that there is no leftist equivalent to Ann Coulter. There's a whole squadron of people like her that don't have a leftist equivalent (in terms of both extremity of rhetoric and mainstream acceptance). If you want to know what I'm normally reluctant to admit that I believe, it's that I think that while the extremes of left and right mirror each other in terms of bigotry and close-mindedness, from the middle the left draws more empathetic, skeptical, and open-minded people than does the right. I also think that in this sense the left is more divided against itself than is the right.

I agree that the political right in the US today gets away with a lot of really hateful rhetoric. But I have lived among some terribly hateful and close-minded leftists, so I know they do, in fact, exist.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:46 AM on April 28, 2004


Also, Bush did, in fact, perform his military duty. Non-story.

Except it isn't a non-story, hama7, because that is by no means undisputed. Bush has not released all his military records. As Kevin Drum pointed out, "Bush refused to release his full military records in 1994, 1998, 2000, and again for several weeks in 2004 even under intense pressure. Why act guilty if you have nothing to hide?" (And the February document dump didn't include all the records, as the Salon.com story linked to above notes.)

This is easy to clear up. All it takes is for Bush to sign an authorization waiving his right of privacy for his records -- as McCain did after he was attacked by the Bush campaign in South Carolina a few years back -- and authorizing the release of all his military records. Selectively releasing records after they've been twice-vetted by the White House does not, in my judgment, make this a "non-story."

that he is a repeated, unrepentant liar, because he knows what he's saying is patently false. To defend his actions is to defend the indefensible: lying and dishonesty.

Shall I make a list of Bush's lies?

[/derail]
posted by Vidiot at 11:54 AM on April 28, 2004


Don't portray Bush as dumb redneck, portray him as a pampered prince Little Lord Fauntleroy.
No kidding, this has always been my impression of the little drunk-driving Yale-going femme.

What's the difference between W and Hitler?
Hitler had more testicles.

posted by sonofsamiam at 11:55 AM on April 28, 2004


trout,

Then DeLay showed his colleagues a thing or two. "He stood up and flung the fly against the fireplace," said the source. "It falls to the ground and wham - he stomps all over it." When the meeting broke up, DeLay was heard mumbling on his way out the door, "The Democrats are next." "

;)

no, seriously, I still have to find the equivalent in the left-wing blogosphere of a certain obscure law professor turned Internet celebrity and MSNBC contributor's rants about "making the Palestinians suffer" and wink-wink nudge-nudge cheering for a future terrorist attack in Europe to teach those Euroweaklings a lesson (one assume he must have privately at least liked the images of the Madrid carnage).
they just aren't there. the mainstream left, in America (ie the moderate conservatives, anywhere else in the world) is, if anything, pretty lame when it comes to bare-knuckle politics. it was the Republicans -- with, for example, stuff like the 1988 racist Willie Horton ad and the 2000 political lynching of one of their own, McCain -- who wrote the modern media playbook of bareknuckled politics.
it's simple as that

and ever more ignorant of what really makes the electorate tick.

bah.
they won the last three Presidential elections, anyway.
but if you're convinced that jingoism, hate for Arabs, and love for Ann Coulter's crazy statements are what "makes the electorate tick", maybe you're right. who knows.
fundy hero John Ashcroft lost an election to a dead man. you never know.
what's certain -- and I agree on that narrow part of your argument -- is that US voters in general seem to like candidates who flaunt their being religious (true or not -- remember Bush doesn't go to Church). even successful Democrats like Carter, Clinton and Gore had to flaunt their religious stuff (massively skeptical Kennedy just couldn't, because of the anti-Catholic angle, but I guess he would have, too).
but maybe an out-of-the-closet atheist will be elected President soon and I'll be proved wrong.
posted by matteo at 11:58 AM on April 28, 2004


Did anyone else find it odd that Stein doesn't like spending on an expanding government that will tell him what to do, but seems to expect the neighbors to come talk with him when his lawn isn't up to par? The most appalling part of this piece to me is the general acceptance of the fascist neighborhood association. "We spend most of our time making sure the trees are straight." WTF? They elect people to do this? Get the fuck out of your bubble and go give some substantial help to that lady with the "food please" sign.
posted by jmgorman at 11:58 AM on April 28, 2004


Dr_Dank: he's Catholic. In the US, he is a religious minority that has historically been oppressed by the majority. Food for thought.

MattD: I predict that Bush will lose the election. The degree with which conservatives confidentally predict that he will win is my own litmus test to how out-of-the-loop they really are. Most of my family is Republican and voted for Bush, and support for him among them has markedly softened. And I live in Texas. You're right, though, in that the anti-religious bias of contemporary American leftism really hurts the Dems. Most Americans are still quite religious. On the other hand, I don't think gun ownership is a divisive issue among the American middle any more. Likewise, the middle is pro-choice. But the middle is also generally pro-business and pro-military, and the leftist stance on these issues doesn't help them. And, in general, a smirking anti-bourgeoisie, anti-flyover-country, anti-well-kept-lawn, anti-barbeque, etc. etc. etc. attitude that does seem to underlie this article also turns off voters. In this sense there really does exist a leftist mirror of the moral smugness that one sees represented in the conservatives in that article. In both cases, though, each side knows that they are right and the other is wrong, so, of course, it's completely different and you can't compare the two.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:59 AM on April 28, 2004


Snyder, I don't know who Mayor Curly is exactly, but I'll concede this point, there is the tenancy in any political or social group to form a bubble of like minded opinions.

However I think there is still an important difference between the "Red Bubble" and the "Blue Bubble". The latter, in my experience, includes a more heterogeneous group of people and interests, and isn't as closed and as uniform in the opinions presented. Someone who gets their news from the liberal Metafilter is going to be exposed to more conservative thought and opinion that someone who reads a conservative site like Free Republic.

As someone upthread mentioned there also isn't the eliminationist rhetoric coming out of the "Blue Bubble". I think that while places like Sugar Land can exist reasonably comfortably within the outlook of Blue states, wether out of apathy, tolerance or ignorance a city like San Francisco simply cannot fit in the Red state outlook.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:00 PM on April 28, 2004


So I was stunned when she told me she had never met anyone who said they supported Bush. Not one! The man has 50% approval ratings, but none of those 50% had ever penetrated this woman's social circle before.

Doesn't stun me at all; if it weren't for my parents, I wouldn't know any Bush supporters either. Zero. But is that so surprising? This is a cultural division we're talking about, and it just happens to be expressed in political terms.

Looking at the guy in this article, he might as well be from the other side of the world for all I have in common with him. We eat different food, work for different goals, embrace completely different aesthetic principles, enjoy different forms of entertainment, seek different lifestyles, have completely different and incompatible ideas about spirituality. If I were to meet this guy somehow - run into him in the airport, maybe - I would be able to tell almost right away that he was not someone I would be likely to have much in common with. We would have nothing to talk about. We'd never get to a discussion about politics; there'd be no need.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2004


Shall I make a list of Bush's lies?

ps "Mayor Curly", admittedly, is creative, genius insult
posted by matteo at 12:04 PM on April 28, 2004


What's the difference between W and Hitler?
Hitler had more testicles.


Classy, sonofsamiam.
posted by trharlan at 12:10 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal Bligh, you're my real daddy, aren't you?

Seriously, thank you for articulating some stuff I've been trying to communicate around here for years, only much better than I managed to.

We eat different food, work for different goals, embrace completely different aesthetic principles, enjoy different forms of entertainment, seek different lifestyles, have completely different and incompatible ideas about spirituality.

That's only about half true. Up until fairly recently, the Democrats actively courted and were considered the party of the grits and cheeseburger eating get-off-my-lawners. Due to some gaffes by the extreme left and some clever campaigning and punditry from the right, the democrats have been recast.

Plus, by framing the division in terms of culture, you're (a) ignoring the huge number of people who fall at all points in between the cultural spectrum and (b) alienating and locking out a large mass of people who could help the dems win and benefit from their policies.

The Republican's alienate people who choose alternative lifestyles for sure. But the left can sometimes alienate Joe the Square from Delaware. I say make room for Joe in the tent and embrace him with open arms. Then everybody benefits.
posted by jonmc at 12:14 PM on April 28, 2004


" I think that while places like Sugar Land can exist reasonably comfortably within the outlook of Blue states, wether out of apathy, tolerance or ignorance a city like San Francisco simply cannot fit in the Red state outlook."—Grimgrin
That's an over-generalization. In fact, you find here in Texas the city of Austin, which is noticeably left of the national average; and in California you find Orange county, which tilts noticeably right. (As an example, I believe that the 2000 census found that the three US cities with the highest per capita of lesbian cohabitation are, in order: San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Austin. And, in fact, you'll notice that the 2000 election county map for California is noticeably Republican everywhere but the coast.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:16 PM on April 28, 2004


stupidsexyflanders, great post!

I agree with all that you have said there.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:16 PM on April 28, 2004


Americans are, in general, not separated into red and blue enclaves. Journalists, pundits, and their fanboys, however, almost invariably are separated into these enclaves. I live in such an enclave, but I live in Cambridge, MA. If I moved to, say, Groton, or maybe Nashua, NH, the situation would be different. And I'd venture to say that most people's living situations are closer to Nashua or Groton than Cambridge.
posted by deanc at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2004


Jonmc: was your mother from Farmington, NM? Because that's the only possibility I have for a long-lost child and I'd love to clear that up since I've been wondering and feeling guilty about it for years. (No, it's not the case that I know she got pregnant; it's just that I don't know that she didn't. And she was awfully young and I didn't know her name. Hmm. This wasn't really a good thing to make a semi-joke about, huh? So, no, I'm probably not your real daddy.)

I'm pretty sure that you're the same way, so I'd like to assure all of the onlookers that neither jonmc or myself is a "split the difference" moderate. Okay, yeah, often the truth does lie in the middle, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily must. And I don't value compromise over every other virtue. But I can say that in my case, I don't accept pretty much any of the dominant ideologies that act as a convenient sorting mechanism for most people and, thus, my beliefs can't be mapped out nicely as falling on one side or the other of some divided line. I'm pro-free trade. I'm pro-nationalized health care. That's completely consistent to me, but most people don't seem to see it that way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2004


Deanc: see my FPP from last week where some solid data indicates that the US is, in fact, becoming more politically segregated.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:28 PM on April 28, 2004


"I have lived among some terribly hateful and close-minded leftists, so I know they do, in fact, exist" (Ethereal Bligh) - Oh, I agree they do. But, as you mentioned (to rework yor statement a bit), the Left rarely (if ever in recent years) puts it's hateful, fringe lunatics up on prominent forums or elects them to public office.

That's my crucial point. Really now - John Derbyshire, in the National Review calling for an extermination of the Clinton bloodline down to vthe 3rd generation ? Hunting democrats like dogs ? Killing most but keeping a few around in cages ?

This is psychopathic stuff - and here it is, echoed in even more extreme forms by Freepers

____________________________

But - stepping back from that cesspool - there really aren't any right or wrong ways to run a society or country, really. There are only policies and consequences.
posted by troutfishing at 12:31 PM on April 28, 2004


This wasn't really a good thing to make a semi-joke about, huh?

Actually, my real daddy is probably rolling down the Merritt Parkway with a Newport clamped between his teeth and a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, cursing the bad driver in front of him.

Don't sweat it, just my way of expressing admiration.
posted by jonmc at 12:43 PM on April 28, 2004


And - I used to live in an extremely leftist area. I can't recall knowing many hateful leftists, though some were certainly shrill. It was the sort of place where - before the first Gulf War - someone (and not a Buddhist monk either) set himself on fire in protest. I moved ; I knew it was bubble, and some of my opinions have changed as a result.

I don't even think of myself as a leftist now but, perhaps, as a utilitarian or even just someone who likes to try and point towards the factual (as far as it can be determined).

Propaganda is a two edged sword - what if one forgets the reality behind the propaganda and starts to believe the lies? Does this change the fact of the matter ? Can we believe evolution, Global Warming, and other such things away? What happens when leaders and a whole political cultural comes to believe that reality is ultimately malleable and can be shaped by PR ?

What happens when politics becomes dominated by people who claim to know exactly what and whom are evil - and say they know exactly what to do about that evil ?
posted by troutfishing at 12:45 PM on April 28, 2004


"...who describes George W. Bush as 'a man, a man's man, a manly man'"—from article
Is that from GWB's gay.com personals profile?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:46 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal, conservatives aren't overconfident. I'm not, for sure. Kerry could win, and that's disturbing, considering how weak he is, as a liberal northerner, in terms of recent Presidential politics. If Bush loses, he'll certainly have deserved to lose.

What relieves my anxiety a little bit is my knowledge that this election is going to be decided by the relative turnout of churchgoers and gunowners (for Bush) and working women without college degrees (for Kerry) in Ohio, Pennsylvnia and Minnesotta, people who are much more similar in lifeways to Stein than to a comparably stereotypical liberal, and whom the broader liberal establishment seems to undertsand poorly, if at all.
posted by MattD at 12:52 PM on April 28, 2004


It might be true that conservatives are more impassioned than liberals these days, but Anne Coulter and her sort are really no evidence of that. She's not a politician, she's an entertainer. She's outrageous like a gagsta rapper, and for the same market-facing reasons. We don't imagine that everyone who buys 50 Cent's latest actually wants to tote gats and blast hos, do we?
posted by MattD at 12:58 PM on April 28, 2004


Classy, sonofsamiam.
Yeah, well, when the muse strikes...

But seriously, I cannot understand where Bush got this 'tough-guy' image. I can think of two possible origins of this:
Is it because he didn't delay very long after 9/11 before taking action in Afghanistan?
Or did it date back all the way to the election, where I recall there was a lot of talk about Gore being too wussy (hiring Naomi Wolf, etc.)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:04 PM on April 28, 2004


Is that from GWB's gay.com personals profile?

Who knows? He might have one...
posted by Vidiot at 1:08 PM on April 28, 2004


"What happens when politics becomes dominated by people who claim to know exactly what and whom are evil - and say they know exactly what to do about that evil ?"—troutfishing
I advocate extremely cautious moral (near) certainty. In a morally ambiguous world, we still are forced to make moral decisions; and dithering or failing to decide can be the functional equivalent of aiding those who are morally wrong. (I don't really want to get into moral relativism versus absolutism, because in today's world there still are a great number of actual, practical issues where we pretty much all agree and thus the matter of moral relativism isn't a problem.) Churchill was right to fanatically (it was thought at the time) oppose Hitler. But Hitler was pretty sure of his moral correctness, too.

The people that are morally correct but are very morally unself-reflective and critical are, essentially, lucky. They're lucky they're right. The ones that are morally wrong and are very morally unself-reflective and critical are suspiciously wrong because it's almost always self-serving. When you run into the street to rescue a child from being hit by a car, is it in your interest to fail to take a moment to consider the rightness of your action? How likely is it that someone in that situation would think, "Hmm, this is something that a good number of other folk are likely to judge me wrong in doing"? In contrast, when you're an SS extermination camp guard and you're lying to the people lined up, telling that they're going to "have a shower", how much is it in your self-interest to fail to take a moment to consider the rightness of your actions? How likely it is that someone in that situation would think, "Hmm, this is something that a good number of other folk are likely to judge me wrong in doing"?

The truth is that in the moral realm, humans agree far more often than many people think we do. And yet history is littered with accounts of major and minor atrocities where we look back and think, "What the hell were they thinking"? Well, they weren't.

The difference between being a good person and a bad person is not the difference between being morally certain and being morally indecisive (or vice-versa). It's between being morally cautious/self-critical and being morally careless and self-serving.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:09 PM on April 28, 2004


Plus, by framing the division in terms of culture, you're (a) ignoring the huge number of people who fall at all points in between the cultural spectrum and (b) alienating and locking out a large mass of people who could help the dems win and benefit from their policies.

I wasn't trying to make a general point about Democrats and Republicans, but to demonstrate from personal experience how someone could develop a social circle that did not include any Bush supporters, without ever intending to do so.

Of course you are right in your description of a cultural spectrum, though I would go farther and say that there are many cultural spectra which interconnect in complex ways.

But the left can sometimes alienate Joe the Square from Delaware. I say make room for Joe in the tent and embrace him with open arms. Then everybody benefits.

Sounds good to me - just don't ask me to do the welcoming, because I won't have anything to talk to him about.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:21 PM on April 28, 2004


Sounds good to me - just don't ask me to do the welcoming, because I won't have anything to talk to him about.

I think you might be surprised. And hell, sometimes having nothing in common is a great place to start talking. Ideas and experiences that are new to me make for interesting conversation.
posted by jonmc at 1:25 PM on April 28, 2004


I don't think I know anyone who voted for Bush. Which doesn't mean I don't know any Republicans--the Republicans I know voted for Bush's father and Bob Dole, but couldn't bring themselves to vote for pampered rich-boy Skull-and-Bones drunk-driver pretend-cowboy President Flightsuit.

But, you know, whatever. MattD, the Democratic candidate got more votes in the last Presidential election, and might well have won if not for electoral snafus. (I'm not contending that the Bush victory was skullduggery, but rather that because of the incompetence of the Florida election machinery, nobody will ever be able to tell who actually should have won the state--could have been either, it seems.) That doesn't seem so uncompetitive to me.

I personally am so sick of the two-party system that I could spit. This whole election business is just no damn fun for those of us who aren't buying either the Democan or Republicrat Brand Hogwash.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:42 PM on April 28, 2004


The disdain that so many on the left have for deeply religious and patriotic people is very revealing. It's also why they are going to get hammered like hot horseshoes come November.

Like it or not, most Americans are religious. Most -- apart from the baskets of loons that dot the coasts -- consider themselves either centrists or moderates.

Telling these people that they are stupid rednecks will not provoke them to re-consider their attitudes and life-choices. It will simply provoke them to break a lamp in your face. And deservedly so.

Democrats have a real image problem right now, and John effin Kerry is doing nothing to ameliorate it. If Bush is the left's caricature of the dumb neo-con glad-hander, then Kerry is the snooty disdainful down-east plutocrat. Given a choice between the two, I guarantee you that most of middle America will choose Bush. It might have been a different story had John Edwards or Joe Lieberman had survived the primaries; Edwards especially had a middle-American appeal that Kerry completely lacks.

But the Left seems bent on destroying themselves by nominating Kerry. So be it. Maybe a stronger Democratic party can rise from the ashes in 2008.
posted by mrmanley at 2:25 PM on April 28, 2004


I never understood the whole man's man thing regarding George Bush.

You mean Boy Cheerleader ?

Not exactly the first choice of the high testosteroned and sports minded guy.
posted by y2karl at 2:44 PM on April 28, 2004


We don't imagine that everyone who buys 50 Cent's latest actually wants to tote gats and blast hos, do we?

give it a generation.
posted by quonsar at 2:44 PM on April 28, 2004


"I advocate extremely cautious moral (near) certainty. In a morally ambiguous world, we still are forced to make moral decisions" (Ethereal Bligh) - So do I.

"....history is littered with accounts of major and minor atrocities where we look back and think, "What the hell were they thinking"? Well, they weren't." - Ethereal Bligh, you're correct, argues james Waller - this is something that Waller (mentioned in my "Becoming Evil : Boston WTKK-FM radio's Jay Severin...." post. I did a dedicated post about Waller's new book a while back also ) has spent a substantial portion of his professional career investigating.

You might be interested in his work. It's not easy to stomache though. You might not sleep well for a while after reading "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing" (Oxford University Press)" -

"....social psychologist and Whitworth psychology professor James Waller draws from seven years of research to mount an original argument for understanding why political, social and religious groups wanting to commit mass murder are never hindered by a lack of willing executioners.

Philip Zimbardo, president of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Stanford University, asserts that "government leaders and the public would be well served to learn some of the many valuable lessons effectively presented throughout James Waller's original perspective on the psychological processes involved in the transformation of ordinary people into perpetrators of evil deeds."

Written for both scholars and laypeople and drawing on eyewitness accounts from perpetrators, victims and bystanders, Waller's Becoming Evil refutes many of the standard explanations for antisocial behavior and presents four ingredients that lead ordinary people to commit acts of extraordinary evil. Waller contends that being aware of our own capacity for inhumane cruelty, and knowing how to cultivate the moral sensibilities that curb that capacity, are the best safeguards we can have against future genocide and mass killing.

"To offer a psychological explanation for the atrocities committed by perpetrators is not to forgive, justify or condone their behavior," Waller states in his preface. "Instead, the explanation simply allows us to understand the conditions under which many of us could be transformed into killing machines. When we understand the ordinariness of extraordinary evil, we will be less surprised by evil, less likely to be unwitting contributors to evil, and perhaps better equipped to forestall evil." "
( extended quote from this review )
posted by troutfishing at 2:46 PM on April 28, 2004


The disdain that so many on the left have for deeply religious and patriotic people is very revealing.

apart from the baskets of loons that dot the coasts

Wait - what was the point you were trying to make again?
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:49 PM on April 28, 2004


mrmanley -
Just as the Right is steadily accreting Christians it's losing its original supporters who expect fiscal responsibility and for the government to mind it's own business. Dubya's horrendous budget failure, the PATRIOT Act, and this Consitutional Amendment nonsense is going to cost the Right just as much if not more than its charge towards theocracy will gain for it.

the baskets of loons that dot the coasts
So, the country can get along just fine without the contributions of NYC, LA, and San Francisco/Silicon Valley? That "disdain" could cost you...
posted by badstone at 2:52 PM on April 28, 2004


I'll agree that the demographics of the democrats is shifting and that's going to be the death keel for the party. I also agree that Edwards seemed to have a better chance connecting to regular folks than Kerry and I'm still astonished Kerry won the horse race right out of the gate, when I honestly didn't know a single person that liked him before the primaries. And that includes lots of folks in Massachusettes.

Maybe it's the problem of the first primary being in New Hampshire. It has a tendency to self-select the folks from there or that appeal up there instead of the center of the bell curve.
posted by mathowie at 2:53 PM on April 28, 2004


Also, Bush did, in fact, perform his military duty. Non-story.

Let's compare their records.
posted by y2karl at 2:58 PM on April 28, 2004


I also tend to agree with mrmanley that Kerry's appeal to middle america is pretty low, although it's clear that the election is going to be very close no matter what, just because the US is split about 50-50 at this point. I tend to agree that more "middles" will vote Bush than "rights" will defect to Kerry - even with all the failures and deficit spending and uncertainty, it will stick in the craw of rightists to vote for a guy like him. Personally I think he'd do as good a job as anyone at this point, even on defense, but I think people other than whole-hearted Democrats and leftists would choose status quo over uncertainty.

"Maybe a stronger Democratic party can rise from the ashes in 2008."

I've been saying since 2000 that if the Republicans aren't voted out of the White House in 2004, the likelihood of them EVER being voted out again is pretty low - unless the economy collapses entirely and a new Depression is brought about. I wish i was more optimistic about all this...

I've known a lot of guys like Stein, and tho I might not have a lot in common with him, we could talk about sports and guns, and I'd say he'd be a great neighbor. As individuals, guys like him are stand-up people. As a large, ideologically-motivated political power base, they can be incredibly dangerous - because they know what's right and wrong, and they damn sure ain't gonna change their minds about it.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:13 PM on April 28, 2004


zoogleplex:

Lots of people laugh when I tell them I voted for Clinton (twice) and for Gore (although I regret that mightily, and would have voted for W had I known then what I know now). In fact I have yanked the D lever in every presidential election since I was old enough to vote.

I, like lots of other centrists, underwent a sea-change after 9/11. It wasn't a conversion to a "gospel of the neo-con" (leftist code-speak for "the jews"). It was more a recognition that the dangers facing this country aren't going to be solved with platitudes, social programs, and political chess at the UN. The left seems to want to deny that we are at war. I am a one-issue voter this time, and so are many other folks: we will vote for whomever will prosecute and win this war.

George W. Bush is not my ideal candidate by any means. But he's the best candidate in the field right now, given that Leiberman dropped out and McCain isn't running. I'd vote for Howard the Duck before I'd vote for Kerry.
posted by mrmanley at 3:40 PM on April 28, 2004


(leftist code-speak for "the jews").

no it isn't.
posted by mcsweetie at 3:46 PM on April 28, 2004


(leftist code-speak for "the jews").

ah, that clears a lot up about mrmanley.
posted by badstone at 3:48 PM on April 28, 2004


It was more a recognition that the dangers facing this country aren't going to be solved with platitudes, social programs, and political chess at the UN.

See, this is where I think we're back to personal opinion. I think that Clinton did a great job during his time in regards to foreign relations. No one in the US was blown up by outsiders and if you travel around the world, everyone just loved the guy.

Contrast that to how the world feels about us now. I think what we need most right now for our own personal safety in the US and abroad is a diplomat, not a general.

We're never going to win a War on Terror alone. It's an insurmountable task for even the #1 country on earth. We're going to need help from everyone to make any headway and everything we've done so far is to alienate all but a few by dropping the Terror game and attacking Iraq instead.

It's not hard to get people to back you in a fight. Especially if someone sucker punches you by killing 3,000 civilians on your own soil. We need someone to rally the world back onto our side. If we're going to fight terrorist cells that have already striked in the US and Spain and have tried to in dozens of other countries, everyone is going to have to pitch in and help, because we need all the help we can get.

I barely have any enthusiasm for Kerry, but I'm certain he'd be better on the world stage than Bush.
posted by mathowie at 3:53 PM on April 28, 2004


mrmanley, I'm with you to a point here, but if you're serious about recognizing we're at war with terrorism, then I gotta say that I don't think Bush is your man. The 9/11 terrorists were not Iraqi, and while getting Hussein out of power was a nice by-product, it hasn't brought us any justice for 9/11 or stopped the spread of terrorism and itmay have pissed off more potential terrorists. And to top it all off, domestically Bush is a disaster.

I want Al Qaeda and it's ilk nailed to the wall as much as any human possibly could and probably nobody on this site has criticized the stupider quarters of the left more than I, and I'm here to tell ya, Dubya ain't yer boy, man.
posted by jonmc at 3:54 PM on April 28, 2004


The upcoming election really won't be about Kerry. Or, for that matter, Bush. Bush is likely to lose because A) there's not enough time between now and then for the economy to improve sufficiently (coupled especially with the fact that the Fed is poised to raise rates, which will have what are perceived by the general public to be negative consequences); and B) the Iraq situation also cannot possibly get sufficiently better; and, in fact, given the expectation by the general public that the handover will effectively be a withdrawal, they're going to be very disapointed. This is all it will take to nudge that handful of centrist voters in a few keys states to swing the election decisively to Kerry. And Nader won't be a factor this time. Remember: the core doesn't matter. Only the swing voters matter. Bush has only remained strong among his core, he's been continually weakening among the swing voters.

The way that people project their wishful thinking upon upcoming elections is very interesting and revealing to me. There were a lot of liberals who were sure that two terms of Clinton indicated a wholehearted American embrace of the Dems and that Gore would easily blow away Bush, with all his obvious faults. They were deluded. Similarly, there were many Repubs in '92 that were sure Bush '41 would handily win, and an awful lot in '96 thought Dole would defeat the hated Clinton.

The truth is that the people to whom these things matter the most are the least in touch with the centrist voters that decide American Presidential elections. Sure, Americans are religious. That doesn't mean that Bible-thumping doesn't give them the willies. It does. Sure Americans are pro-choice. That doesn't mean that they favor the legailty of late-term abortions. They don't. Sure, Americans favor the death penalty. But that doesn't mean that they are comfortable with the rate and number of executions in Texas. As is represented in this thread, the partisans are very sure that people are either like them, or effectively their opposites. Both the hard left and the hard right find in various polls a majority of American sentiment that seems to favor various of their positions, and then they wrongly conclude that the majority of Americans are fundamentally in agreement with them. They're not.

Sugar Land is no more representative of average American political attitudes than is Berkeley. I've met a lot of people in my life who've never met an atheist until they met me. I've also met a lot of people in my life who've never met a creationist (I wish I could say the same). Speaking of atheists, there is more of a chance in my lifetime that a black person or a gay or a woman will be elected than an atheist. Poll after poll of American attitudes prove this. But within the social contexts where atheists are common, I bet this news would come as a shock (that more Americans can imagine voting for a gay Presidential candidate than an atheist candidate). For that matter, this news probably will come as a surprise to many on the hard-right, who have much stronger feelings about gays and lesbians than do the rest of Americans.

For those like MrManley who think this election will be decided purely on a national security basis, the problem is that the declining confidence in Bush's management of the Iraq war and occupation is undermining their confidence in his ability to manage the war on terror. Recent polls indicate that for the first time, a majority of Americans don't think the Iraq war made America more safe, rather than less. This is a big liability for Bush that should have been (or was expected to be) a huge asset.

Meanwhile, at the risk of repeating myself, we have been in uncharted economic waters where consumer confidence has been shaky, concern and fear about employment has been unusually high (relative to the unemployment rate and GDP growth), and there's a whole bunch of reasons to think that a good portion of consumer spending has been fueled by cheap credit and perceived wealth increase as the result of radically increasing housing valuations. Those latter two things will be strongly affected by a Fed rate hike, the market's already getting jumpy. The public will not react to a rate hike as a positive thing because they simply will not believe that inflation is a real threat. And they certainly don't think the housing bubble is a bad thing or that it should be deflated. This will piss them off, and they will blame Bush for it.

Things can change radically, and they do. But there's less and less time for things to change and so change that's helpful to Bush becomes less and less likely.

Having said all that, neither Bush losing nor Bush winning will "mean" what the pundits and partisans claim that it will mean. That is to say, Bush losing won't be the repudiation of Bush and his administration that liberals will want to believe that it will be. Alternatively, Bush winning won't be the endorsement that conservatives want it to be.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:57 PM on April 28, 2004


"It wasn't a conversion to a 'gospel of the neo-con' (leftist code-speak for 'the jews').—mrmanley
That's just nonsense. This is the sort of stereotyping which is exactly the problem. I don't doubt that some antisemitic leftists hide their antisemitism underneath a facade of a critique of the neocons or Israel—you can find this sort of thing all over the place, all across the political spectrum. But your intimate linking of criticism of neocons with antisemitism is a too-convenient and dangerous means with which to vililfy and condemn a group of people with whom you disagree. A common complaint by rightists against leftists is that leftists are too quick to use the brush of racism to tar all their opponents. It's wrong when they do it, but okay when you do it?

Anyway, "neocon" has a very specific meaning relating to a particular American foreign policy ideology. These folks self-identify as neocons; their association, ideology, and writings have a long and public history.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:08 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal Bligh, if I could get a little meta here, thanks for sticking through this thread and posting such lucid, informative posts. Often I tire of the rhetoric of both sides, but I love seeing the big picture from people like you.
posted by mathowie at 4:09 PM on April 28, 2004


Well, gosh, that's so nice of you to say so. (And a few people have said other nice things about me elsewhere so I'd like to acknowledge and thank them, too, since I am doing so here. It's sort of embarrassing and I tend to not know what to say to compliments of that sort so I ignore them--which I fear might be rude.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:19 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal Bligh is my homeslice. FOR LIFE.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2004


I hereby nominate Ethereal Bligh as the Politically Wisest Person on Metafilter. Anyone willing to second that?
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:59 PM on April 28, 2004


Big old second. Ethereal Bligh for Overlord!
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:07 PM on April 28, 2004


The lack of communication, and open animosity, between the "left" and the "right" in the US is worrying...and I think it's starting to rub off on the rest of the western world.

It feels like Americans have had a political awakening in the last few years - suddenly words like "leftist", "right-winger", "conservative", "liberal" are being used by people other than social commentators, academics, pundits. At the same instant they entered mainstream conversation, a divide occurred (or deepened) where one side became "aware" of the other and decided they wanted nothing to do with them.

Maybe it has to do with the way your democracy is structured. Here in Australia, the "leader of the country" is a rather diffuse office: a real head of state in a palace in England, a representative head of state whos name 87% of Australians don't even know, and a head of government who isn't directly elected, but who has an opposition anti-head of government whos job it is to challenge him on every issue.

Australians have a wide range of opinions on Prime Minister John Howard, but I've never met anyone who's actually been angered by my opposition to him. You can have debates around the dinner table, and agree to disagree. However, I get the impression that in the US you're much more likely to get in real fights if you reveal your support of or opposition to George W. Bush. All the time I read stories about people who are openly abused because they're a liberal, or liberals showing open disgust at people who are conservative. To some, the president is an untouchable sacred cow - to others, a despot.

Slowly, but surely, a similar attitude is seeping into Australian political debate. Not very often yet in public conversation, but certainly in newspaper editorials, talk-back radio, weblogs, people are being encouraged to hate the other side. That scares me, and I don't know how Americans put up with it.
posted by Jimbob at 5:45 PM on April 28, 2004


It feels like Americans have had a political awakening in the last few years - suddenly words like "leftist", "right-winger", "conservative", "liberal" are being used by people other than social commentators, academics, pundits. At the same instant they entered mainstream conversation, a divide occurred (or deepened) where one side became "aware" of the other and decided they wanted nothing to do with them.

...

Slowly, but surely, a similar attitude is seeping into Australian political debate. Not very often yet in public conversation, but certainly in newspaper editorials, talk-back radio, weblogs, people are being encouraged to hate the other side. That scares me, and I don't know how Americans put up with it.


I don't think this is anything new. Perhaps recently, we haven't had the division that we do now, but there was plenty of division in the 60s, for example, not to mention the Civil War!
posted by me & my monkey at 6:07 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal Bligh, let's look at Anne Coulter's most recent column for a moment. (Is this an unfair choice of examples? Maybe, but I'm quite willing to concede that Anne Coulter doesn't speak for all conservatives. It doesn't change the fact that speaks for quite a few. She is after all bestselling conservative commentator, and representative of a major strain of conservative thought)

"In a democratic process, liberals could never persuade Americans to vote for their insane ideas – abortion on demand, gay marriage and adoption, handgun confiscation, cross-district busing, abolishing the death penalty and affirmative action quotas. So issues are simply taken out of the voters' hands by the Supreme Court."

You might notice that she refers to two groups. "liberals" and "Americans". And never the twain shall meet. Just a few posts downthread from where I made that statement we had mmanley referring to "the baskets of loons that dot the coasts".

That is what I was getting at when I talked about the worldveiw of the "Red staters" having a much harder time accepting the existence of "Blue staters" than vice versa.

The fact that Austin is a left leaning city in a hard right state or that orange county is a right leaning county in a hard left state, doesn't change that.
posted by Grimgrin at 6:12 PM on April 28, 2004


but there was plenty of division in the 60s, for example

Fair call. Maybe recent events, coupled with the spread of international information over the internet, has just made me more aware of it.
posted by Jimbob at 6:12 PM on April 28, 2004


Anne Coulter doesn't speak for all conservatives. It doesn't change the fact that speaks for quite a few. She is after all bestselling conservative commentator, and representative of a major strain of conservative thought)

Michael Moore is a bestselling leftist commentator (and Oscar-winning filmmaker), but he is no more representative of mainstream American politics than is Ann Coulter. They both sell books because they are bomb throwers, fun to read, hailed as prophets by their respective choirs, but dreadfully short on real answers to complicated political problems.
posted by Ty Webb at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2004


me & my monkey makes a great point. I've been doing research into northern anti-Lincoln sentiment, and the level of anger and malice in the rhetoric shocks me.

Seriously. Some of Horace Greeley's post-1862 stuff makes Ann Coulter look like a candy-ass. Horace Greeley, folks--there are high schools named after this guy!
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:37 PM on April 28, 2004


this Ethereal Bligh, it vibrates?
posted by quonsar at 7:16 PM on April 28, 2004


I like what Eternal Bligh has said here and I'd like to add something - that this election is nowhere as critical in our country's history as the core right and left would make it out to be. Whoever wins will adopt a muddle-through philosophy on Iraq and domestic policies until something happens or breaks. Neither side is going to be totally happy with the results.

The only thing that could change this is a sudden world-shaking development. Otherwise, it's going to be bitterly divided politics as usual with a center that's confused, frustrated and feeling powerless. I expect by 2008, we will be in radically different and crucial circumstances and our current political leadership of both parties will be seen as unable to cope. And it's my belief that although the Middle East could be a part of this that the real problems will be economic and other events in the world in other places may prove to be more critical.
posted by pyramid termite at 7:31 PM on April 28, 2004


Ethereal Bligh - whoops!
posted by pyramid termite at 7:32 PM on April 28, 2004


I'd like to add something - that this election is nowhere as critical in our country's history as the core right and left would make it out to be.

Two words: Supreme Court

Four Words: Federal Court of Appeals
posted by y2karl at 7:46 PM on April 28, 2004


Coulter is representative of something, but it's certainly not serious conservative thought. She's more like an entertainer for a certain kind of audience whose world-view is already cemented....she's doing the angry talk-radio schtick in column form.
posted by crunchburger at 7:52 PM on April 28, 2004


Yes, SCOTUS appointments are critical; but, no, they often don't work out as planned. So, it's hard to say. But I agree that a Bush admin that's willing to nominate one or more strong conservatives (and who will be very hotly contested) to replace moderates could be extremely influential. And this admin is clearly willing to do such divisive things. I think Scalia expects to be nominated for Chief Justice by Bush when Rehnquist retires, even though at this point that would prove to be a very, very contentious confirmation hearing. In fact, I think this is why Scalia is being so politically flagrant and un-SCOTUS-like. He knows this is what most strongly appeals to the Bush admin and that it helps rather than hurts his chances for nomination. He's banked on Bush being re-elected or, very possibly, Rehnquist retiring this summer. On the other hand, a Democrat President likely might nominate Souter for Chief Justice, which would really piss Scalia off, I think.

Any Dem in office is likely to replace moderates with moderates and conservatives with moderates; while Bush will replace conservatives with ultra-conservatives and moderates with conservatives. But, like I said, history has shown that what Presidents think they are getting in nominees and what the country ultimately gets are quite often two very different things.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:04 PM on April 28, 2004


Pyramid Termite: No doubt there are more than a few people who think of me as Eternal Bligh.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:08 PM on April 28, 2004


leftist code-speak for "the jews"

Oh for Christ's sake, this is the name they invented for themselves.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:12 PM on April 28, 2004


mathowie: Talking Points Memo doesn't bother me so much in its partisanship because I know it's the voice of one individual, even if he seems to love the bandwagon just a bit too much. (Too look at the site, you'd think he hated the idea of an Iraq war all along. Right!)

What really bothers me, however, are the sites with comments. Who are these people? Who sits around all day waiting to go, "Yo! These people on the other side should be shot! God, I'm so outraged." I always wondered who wrote letters to the editor to second-rate magazines, or even fluffy features in, say, Esquire. I always thought they were made up. Now, I think they're the same people who write to Atrios or Michelle at A Small Victory. It's either politics-as-entertainment, sorta like people are with sports, or a pathology, or both.

I hate to say it, but all that crap is what's turned me off of blogging as it now stands, especially or more accurately as it regards writing about anything having to do with politics. What reasonable person wants to be associated with that? Maybe it's the instantaneous quality of it that makes it so annoying, though? I'm thinking that maybe lonely or lost types out there see it as something as spontaneous, in a world marked by marketing and packaging of almost everything.
posted by raysmj at 8:17 PM on April 28, 2004


But, like I said, history has shown that what Presidents think they are getting in nominees and what the country ultimately gets are quite often two very different things.

Um, like Scalia and Clarence Thomas, you mean ? That kind of puts a pin into the whole Don't Worry, Be Happy above-it-all blimp ride right there...
posted by y2karl at 8:19 PM on April 28, 2004


I certainly didn't mean to imply that a Don't Worry, Be Happy attitude is appropriate. Scalia and Thomas are good examples; and, yes, more often than not Presidents get pretty much what they expect. But a very large and surprising minority of the time, they don't. And that is some cause for comfort...and worry.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:23 PM on April 28, 2004


Case in point: Bush 41 nominated Souter.

(And count me in on the Bligh bandwagon, too -- you're quickly becoming one of my favorite commenters.)
posted by Vidiot at 8:53 PM on April 28, 2004


Vidiot - I don't believe 43 would make a similar mistake. 43 is not 41. 43 makes different, perhaps larger types of mistakes (in my opinion).

Ethereal Bligh - No, Supremes can't be controlled after they are appointed, but - I can guarantee - the Bush Administration is working overtime to pick justices, for all the higher levels of the Federal Judiciary, with a key criteria in mind - lowest risk for ideological drift (as much as this can be determined or guessed at) .

"Michael Moore is a bestselling leftist commentator (and Oscar-winning filmmaker), but he is no more representative of mainstream American politics than is Ann Coulter." - Ty Webb, I agree that they are both short on answers, but Moore doesn't go around suggesting that all conservatives amount to traitors who should be scared into silence.

"I've been doing research into northern anti-Lincoln sentiment, and the level of anger and malice in the rhetoric shocks me. .....Seriously. Some of Horace Greeley's post-1862 stuff makes Ann Coulter look like a candy-ass." (Sidhedevil) - Well, this Anti-Lincoln rhetoric existed in a political atmosphere so poisonous that it culminated shortly thereafter in an exceptionally bloody civil war.

_______________________________________

The never are any periods exactly analogous to the present, but there are now several troubling trends.

One is the rise in hate speech, mostly on the US right, which dehumanizes it's targets and advocates violence as a solution to a wildly exaggerated or non-existent threats - and also the increasing extremity of such hate speech. One a personal note : I have found, generally, that most individuals do announce or at least telegraph their intentions far in advance of their actions - often quite openly.

Another is the growing segregation and polarization of American society along several different lines - especially geographic segregation, cultural segregation, and the dramatic growth in income inequality.

A very nasty wild card to add to the mix is the likelihood of further terrorist attacks. If calls for genocide and the ethnic cleansing of Muslim Americans are now being made, what will happen in the event of another major - or even several minor - terrorist attacks on domestic US targets ? The terrorists would intend to provoke violence and punitive measures against Muslim Americans, and such would likely be the result. That, in turn would further inflame much of world opinion - especially that of Muslim nations - against the US. I think it's safe to say that one of Al Qaeda's major goals is to destroy the US as a functioning democracy - and the bonanza of nuclear proliferation which has occurred over the last years makes the achievement of that goal ever more likely.

In the case of a terrorist attack on the US which claimed lives on a scale a magnitude greater than the 9-11 attacks, I think the likelihood of martial law, heavy political repression, and the ethnic cleansing of Muslim Americans would be significant.
posted by troutfishing at 9:43 PM on April 28, 2004


leftist code-speak for "the jews"

Oh for Christ's sake, this is the name they invented for themselves.


Actually it was democratic socialist Michael Harrington who coined the term, as an insult against his former leftist friends who'd gone over to the dark side. They eventually embraced the term.

And yeah, the imputation of anti-semitism is bullshit.
posted by Ty Webb at 9:45 PM on April 28, 2004


Sorry to piss on the parade, but the concept of an actual (created, or mutually provoked) clash of civilizations between the US and the Islamic world that ocurs also in the context of a highly polarized America which is also the most heavily armed nation in the known history of the planet....

That seems to me to be a rather unstable, high disaster risk scenario.
posted by troutfishing at 9:52 PM on April 28, 2004


For the record: The post-war Horace Greeley helped underwrite the bond to release Jefferson Davis from imprisonment - of a sort that he and others had considered inhumane - on treason charges. Moreover, he wanted the charges dropped. He also briefly considered or even tried, which I cannot remember, to get Robert E. Lee to run for president. (I worked a library once, and spent probably way too much of my time reading history journals and books, just for fun. I wish I had taken notes.)
posted by raysmj at 9:55 PM on April 28, 2004


Here's one nasty little foreshadowing of the sort of ramification - of another four years of George W. Bush - that could help Republicans consolidate their grip on power through means which seem - to me anyway - to be antidemocratic :

"In a 5-4 opinion, the US Supreme Court upheld that gerrymandered Congressional districts are legal and overruled Davis v. Bandemer"

( raysmj - some people do learn to tolerate and forgive, right? )
posted by troutfishing at 10:01 PM on April 28, 2004


Molly Ivins talks a bit about the W = "man's man" thing.

He is neither mean nor stupid. What we have here is a man shaped by three intertwining strands of Texas culture, combined with huge blinkers of class. The three Texas themes are religiosity, anti-intellectualism, and machismo. They all play well politically with certain constituencies.

Ivins for President!
posted by wells at 10:14 PM on April 28, 2004


I must say, Ethereal Bligh has defiantly become one of my favorite people here, though I'm green with jealously, he writes what (and how) I would like to be able to write, cogently and without malice.
posted by Snyder at 10:55 PM on April 28, 2004


Nice thread. Maybe it's some form of catharsis after so many bitter political discussions here of late?

Also, just wanted to add that I share troutfishing's concerns about a nuclear attack in the US. In fact, that's the only thing that has really worried me since 9/11, given the massive ramifications of such an attack.
posted by Onanist at 3:34 AM on April 29, 2004


Thanks for the kind words. I must admit that I do have my bad days where I'm a real prick. But y'all have shamed me into trying really, really hard to be a better person.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:49 AM on April 29, 2004


Troutfishing is still my favorite.
If for no other reason than his ability to do it daily.
Yes, you're good too ethereal, but you're no trout, yet.

Can we do a poll? :-)
posted by nofundy at 8:42 AM on April 29, 2004


I think that Clinton did a great job during his time in regards to foreign relations. No one in the US was blown up by outsiders...
Not many people died in WTC1993, but not for lack of trying. Then again, he had just started. There's a question for you: how long before a President becomes 'responsible' for things that happen while he's in office?
posted by darukaru at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2004


Sorry I'm late to this lovefest, but I have a couple of things to say before this thread slips off the front page:

Let me start by saying this wasn't a particularly good article. With that in mind...

The subject of the link, Mr. Stein, just barely dodged the Vietnam draft bullet. The draft was ended one year prior to his eligibility. It's unfortunate that he doesn't realize one of the main reasons the draft (and for most part, the war) was ended was because of the people outside of his bubble that he doesn't like.

I think the largest potential voting bloc would consider themselves moderates. It will be interesting to see which side motivates these people to get out and vote.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2004


But a very large and surprising minority of the time, they don't.

Case in point: Bush 41 nominated Souter.

But, on the other hand, he nominated Thomas.
Bush 41 had a Democratically controlled Congress.
Bush 43's judicial choices are far to the right of Bush 41's, I would hazard.
There will be no Souters flying under his radar. Not a chance.
posted by y2karl at 9:47 AM on April 29, 2004


There will be no Souters flying under his radar. Not a chance.

oh, I'm in agreement there, y2karl -- I think 43 is much farther to the right than 41 was...and I think his administration will very carefully vet nominees, if he has the opportunity to make them.
posted by Vidiot at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2004


troutfishing: The national review columnist wasn't actually endorsing killing Chelsea Clinton; he just stepped over the line trying to be entertaining (something I've done in a few columns, myself, though I don't get paid like him). He wasn't seriously saying, "See? Stalin did it; we should do it, too!" He even added:

We don't, of course, institutionalize such principles in our society, and a good thing too.

(I agree, though, that the Freep thread on the radio host makes me want to stab myself in the face.)
posted by Tlogmer at 10:45 AM on April 29, 2004


Tlogmer - I'm insatiable. I'm not satisfied with your partial agreement!

This is a continuous quote - "Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past - I'm not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble - recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat."

"in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored." - Pray tell, what is that supposed to mean ? What is this "Taint"? (!) Is that sort of like being Jewish, Muslim, Italian, Gay, Mormon, Christian.......

What IS a "taint", anyway?

I don't know how you see it, but I'd have to say that I think Derbyshire was advocating politically motivated violence against the Clintons and against Chelsea.

Is there really much of a difference - besides the fact that the first statement does not constitute a threat in the strictest legal sense - between saying "Despots know how to deal with "taints" [impurity/corruption/evil] like the Clintons" and "The Clintons should be killed"?



To paraphrase Derbyshire's intent (as I see it) : "The Clintons are troublemakers, and Chelsea bears the taint...Despots know how to handle this sort of problem, or taint, and in the past the US has had need to revert to authoritarian methods to deal with it's national crises. I'm not saying that the US should revert to despotic rule, but a little despotism now - to deal with such problems as the Clintons - would be a useful thing."

_______________________

nofundy - thanks - that's high praise coming from you, and Ethereal Bligh is a class act.
posted by troutfishing at 7:26 AM on May 1, 2004


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