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January 25, 2010


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Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle

I know this is OT, but Colbert just ripped "Helicopter" Harold Ford, Jr. as his Alpha Dog of the Week. It's a must see.


For what it is worth, Al Girodano has been warning about Hamsher and Greenwald for over a year now (and by most standards he is probably substantially further left than either of them). I think that he gets credit for calling this one. These people are not on our team.


Amen, Sir Charles.

My personal split with these forces on the left came from two events:

1) The leaving of TRex from FDL. Now, there are doubtless people more informed about what actually happened here than me (cough*litbrit*cough) but it totally seemed to me that Hamsher was ditching her most controversial voice (and the only one I liked to read) for more mainstream media acceptance. Of course, after that, she became even more crazy, so that seemed (to me) like a pointless act of cutthroatism.

2)Greenwald's argument about the usefulness of the Ron Paul campaign. At the time, I agreed with him (I have some very close friends who were Ron Paul friends). but then, he got into in an argument with Melissa McEwan about it at Shakespeare's Sister (just on the edge of it turning into a cult. has it recovered since then?). And though I thought I agreed with Greenwald, it was an issue I was sufficiently wishy-washy on that I couldn't help feeling that his entire mode of argument was just the definition of Asshole. Seriously, I had never been before or since repulsed by the sense that the person I nominally agreed with was just fundamentally unlikable on a human level. And honestly, if you're an asshole, why should anyone agree with you. People should be nice to each other. If you can't treat a compatriot that you at least nominally agree with with respect, You probably can't treat anyone with respect. I don't know, maybe that's just my wishy-washy Unitarian upbringing shining through.

It's not that I see no point in passionate argument. Lord knows me and Stephen (and even me and Litbrit) have gone at each other in the past, but I never felt that we weren't other than people on the same side, subsumed by our passions. With Greenwald, his rhetorical stance is so passive-aggressive that I just can't read it anymore. As Modest Mouse once said "God, who'd want to be such an asshole?"

So yeah, I don't like Hamsher and Greenwald. I especially hate how they accuse the rest of us as being poseurs or cultists. Motherfucker, I'm not the one trying to develop a following.


Agreed, ikl, agreed. I have long sided with Al over the Jane Hamshers of the Left (and Greenwald). The masters of poutrage (I think litbrit once criticized Al for that term, but I feel he has been vindicated in recent times for its invention.

Really, I think there are ultimately two kind of leftists. People aligned with ideals,and people aligned with the common people. Al places, above all else, the people. Hamsher and Greewald like ideals, even if follwing them means situations don't improve for the masses. Since I have of late found myself among the masses, I can't help but despise the Hamshers and Greenwalds (I don't produce Hollywood movies and bestselling political tracts), I can't help but with Al.


conservatism is a political philosophy; the farce currently performing under that marquee is an inferiority complex in political philosophy drag

That's very well put. Sully has been making this point in so many words for a couple of years now.

The frightening thing is that the tea party crowd, if grabbed by the wrong charismatic leader, would immediately become a crowd passionately devoted to a fascist American future.


You, I think the present crowd actually is a fascist American future. There is that old quote (whose origin I can't remember) about how when fascism comes to America it will come draped in the flag and carrying the cross (or something). Well, that is what the tea party movement is. Hell, that's what the John Bircher society was. These people are, have been, for the complete lack of a better term, the American Fascists (as the Italian Fascists were only the Italian version of fascism and the Nazi's were the German/Austrian version of fascism).

The problem, as I see it, with Sullivan, is that he thinks his version of a solution to this phenomenon is still somehow a product of conservatism, and thus of the right. He thinks that reasoned discourse and a respect for the continuation on institutions can be housed within a system of slow, reasoned historical change. But that is not the case not. The right doesn't want change; it wants regression. And barring that totalitarian enforcement of cultural norms. What Sully doesn't seem to realize, due to his own prejudices, is that the only people who still hold dear the things he truly treasures are liberals. And that is what makes him so frustrating. He ties himself in knots and keeps giving his hopes up for a way of seeing the world that has been made obsolete.


Yes, they are the present version of American fascists. I think I probably should have said something like openly, or explicitly fascist. I was thinking of a faction that would openly repudiate liberty in the name of "liberty" or some such Orwellian sophistry that they don't quite yet realize they've already embraced in all but name.


OK. Glad to see we are in agreement.


I especially hate how they accuse the rest of us as being poseurs or cultists.

Do you hate it enough to have found an example of it actually happening?

As for the diary, I note that Hamsher mentioned the anger of the teabaggers, but did not specifically mention working with them. In fact, in the comments at FDL, Hamsher specifically said that she wouldn't work with them and wouldn't think it worth trying.

She did sign a letter with Grover Norquist, but so did the ACLU.

Anyone here accusing the ACLU of working with teabaggers?


Also, the phrase "the Jane Hamshers of the left" can cause bouts of immediate and uncontrollable giggling and snickering. You might not want to throw it around injudiciously.

Finally. "poutrage"? Al's invention?

Sadly, No! It originated in the comment section of that storied comedy site, and must have been passed to your friend through the troll-vine (like a grapevine, but more icky).


I am aware of all internet traditions concerning "Jane Hamshers of the Left," willf.

I defer to your own expertise as to the origin of "poutrage." I personally first encountered it at The Field, and have seen it accredited to Al, so I went with that source, though as a former proud lurker of Sadly, No! (I never broke with them, so to speak, so much as fell of of practice of reading them, after losing interest in know what wingnuts were up to), I am perfectly happy to credit them with the neologism.

So, all that being said, do you have any substantial refutations of my point of view? Or even an attempt to persuade me to think otherwise?

As to the demand to provide and example of them calling people poseurs and cultists, my first response is fuck you. My second response is, go find any example of someone criticizing Gleen Greenwald for one of his more reflexively anti-Obama posts, particularly on Balloon Juice. At some point he will dismiss such criticisms as coming from a cult member. It happens without fail. I'd look for a link, right now, but it is late, I've been drinking, and fuck you. I'm just talking here, not trying to lay out some definitive argument. Go take your rules lawyering and shove it up your ass.

Corvus+5 or 6


Corvus, first, good morning, take some asprin, etc.

I just wanted to respond to this:

My personal split with these forces on the left came from two events: 1) The leaving of TRex from FDL. Now, there are doubtless people more informed about what actually happened here than me (cough*litbrit*cough)

I will ask TRex to explain further, if he's so inclined, but the impetus behind his departure was tied to FDL becoming more narrowly-focused and wonky and having less witty and outrageous material going on (MUCH less witty and outrageous material going on). The entire layout of the site changed shortly after he left, too, and to my eye, it became confusing and almost unreadable. There was a certain extremely funny post that kicked off the final conflict, as you'd imagine. I found it hilarious, but then, my outlook is probably the *opposite* of Politically Correct--the English tend to shun (if not outright want to shoot) Politically Correct people, revering as we do the healing and unifying powers of wit. The powers-that-be declared it inappropriate in the extreme, and that was pretty much that. I'll let T elaborate.

As to poutrage, it came from Sadly, No! as far as I recall. I think it was directed at La Malkin, unsurprisingly.

However one shakes it, the strange bedfellows situation engaged in by Tea Partiers and some lefties is disturbing, to say the least. I am really stunned that Jane and Glenn aren't looking further than this year--do they really think we'll ever have a chance to get this far with healthcare reform again in our lifetimes? If it dies on the vine, as they say, that's it for another generation, and the more Republicans win in November, the more certain that future is. Yes, I am angry (furious, really) that reform has been watered down to the point of nearly being worthless. But it's a start. A beginning. I don't want to say this, but I really do believe it's better than nothing, and it will help get more Americans covered. I also believe that not passing it will also be a horrible political blow to the president, and there are far too many people licking their chops about that possibility.

Political change like healthcare is a long, slow-moving slog uphill. Especially in this country, where corporate interests are routinely served by their invoking (again and again) the clever trick of scaring the populace, playing to their ingrained prejudices and employing class warfare tactics, and generally dividing and conquering. Clever people quickly see this for what it is, and we roll our eyes at the gullible and rip out our hair at their refusal to see the self-inflicted bulletholes in their own feet, but let's face it, we're in the minority.

Sir Charles


Have you gotten into the milk and whiskey again?


The ACLU is a legal and not a political organization. There is much to admire in their work, but I would never look to them as the vanguard for effective political action. They, in fact, work with everyone, from the Nazis to the NRA to the Randy Weavers of the world -- this is not a criticism per se, but it is indicative of an organization that is willing to have bedfellows in the greater cause of civil liberties that most of us find revolting. That is because their job is not to bring about a leftist political agenda, but to promote civil liberties as they see it. I've made similar arguments about Greenwald -- he thinks like a lawyer and not a political tactician.

You can spin what Hamsher says here however you want. But she clearly thinks that Rahm Emannuel is more of an enemy than Grover Norquist. I think that is a fundamental error that should be self-evident. Her irresponsibility in the health care debate has been pretty overwhelming. So when we walk away from this thing empty handed and the next time it is a serious possibility I am already on Medicare (I'll be 50 in a week or so), we can thank her among others.

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

Corvus, you are absolutely right, and I am glad you said it. I have been trying to say the same thing without using the word -- mostly because I have been, throught my Internet career, damning anyone who used the word 'fascism' for any American movement they didn't like. But what we are seeing is precisely a movement towards fascism, but one of a new kind, an authetically 'Christian' fascicm. We are seeing the rise of Nehemiah Scudder, and I am scared, so scared that the day after I was determined to announce I would no longer be willing to comment anywhere, I find myself having to do what little I can to 'turn -- or a least slow -- the tide. (Tikkun olam the beautiful Jewish doctrine that says it is a moral imperative to try and leave the world at least a little better than you found it demands it. I'm not Jewish, and can still not overcome my atheism, nor do I want to, but the more I see of the horrors of the ideas of Christianity -- particularly Prostestant Christianity -- being played out, the more I respect so many concepts of Judaism. "Obeying the law, not out of fear, but out of respect and gratitude' is the secular idea behind America, which has, despite its faults, given us so much. 'The Bible as a book of questions that you must always seek to improve the answers to -- and seeking by argument, by discussion, by challenging the answers of the past, not by thinking it is a book of answers or by blindly following authority.' Change the Bible to the Universe and you have science.)

Why -- besides my usual babbling -- do I mention this? because of the unique form of the fascism we are facing. We tend to think of fascism just as its fruits, from 'the trains running on time' to the concentration camps. Or we quote the old-time 'dimestore Marxism' that Sir Charles mentions, the one that sees it in purely economic terms, as the 'final stage of capitalism.' (It was not imposed on the countries where it was successful by capitalists, it was supported by capitalists because of their fear of something -- in their eyes -- worse, Russian Communism. But it grew first without their support, and in power they were 'co-ordinated' with the rest of society.

Study not just Germany and Italy, but the 'failed fascisms' native to Rumania, Hungary, Finland, even Mosely's in England. Fascism was not economics, it was an attack on reason itself, it was the "Triumph of the Will" it was following a leader who had to be 'right' because he expressed (in some mystical, irrational way) the 'spirit of the ______ people.' With the blank filling in for each country.

Well, nationalism is pretty much a failed idea these days. Well, thaqt is, unless you say something like this "I want you to jopin with me in returning America to the Christian principles that the Fopunding Fathers used to create this great country." (Of course, the FF were mostly Deists, Unitarians and unbelievers, and some of the Christian ideas that are being preached had not even been introduced until long after they were dead, but facts quite literally don't matter to these people, as you would understand if you read a debate on Creationism.)

Fascists believed in fascism -- it is so easy to forget that. The people who marched at Nuremberg believed in their Fuhrerprinzip -- however clowninh the Fuhrer was, however cynical was Goehring. (And there were many 'classic conservatives' in Germany who despised them -- and many liberals who were bewitched by them, dismissing their philosophy and hoping they could 'use them' against the 'real enemy.')

This is why I have been repeating, shouting -- to where you are probably sick of reading me -- "Don't try and find a rational belief behind their insanity -- and racism is rational, if 100% wrong -- don't try and look for the cynical 'men behind the curtain' manipulating them. Yes their ideas are insane, yes, to anyone who compares them to the evidence sees they are nonsense. But don't dismiss them, or doubt they strength they hold on to them, or what they could be led to do to bring them about.'

In short, listen to them, try and understand the irrational framework they are coming from. Don't try to figure out 'what they really mean.' Don't make the same mistakes we made with Hitler, with Khomeini, yes, with Bin Laden, and think rthat they were so crazy we could manipulate them or ignore them because we were the rational ones, the sensible ones, and our ideas would be better for them, and their 'rational self-interest' would cause them to dump these madmen.

Listen to them, try and understand them, and most of all realize

They believe EVERY WORD they are saying.

Sir Charles


It's interesting you mention this, because harkening back to my one and only political theory class, I kept thinking of the tea partiers as the modern day equivalent of the "lumpenpropletariat." I then happened upon one of Trostsky's essays about the triumph of Italian fascism and the role of this element in making it happen.

Eric Wilde

OT; but, I thought it might be good to update friends here at the Cog Blog. I've been totally slammed at work and unable to keep up on the blogosphere. I can't stomach current events much when they are so discouraging and my non-political life goes into overdrive (as happens about every 18 months or so.)

Gotta agree with the content of this post, though. If tea partiers were in any way influenced by reason then there could be significant common cause with them. However, there clearly isn't an spoonful of reason in the tea party movement.

Sir Charles


Good to hear from you -- I hope things slow down for you soon.

Yeah, reason is not exactly the teabaggers strong suit.


Hey, all. I think I will be sticking to caffeinated pop for the foreseeable future. Whoof. I blame Shane McGowan.

Prup, the thing is, the problem with tying these people too closely to Christianity is that I think it kind of obscured the problem. You start thinking their views actually have something to do with what Christianity is about, when it really doesn't, not even when these people talk about it. These people just use Christianity and patriotism as appeals to authority, to lend some weight to their views.

What are their views? They support torture. And government intervention into people's private lives, the removal of all the right's of the accused that have accumulated since before the Magna Carta, especially in cases when the accused is of foreign or even just different ethnic extraction. They support the complete free reign of big business, hate any activity, by government or private citizens (think unions), to interfere. They are against legal abortion, birth control, and end of life decisions. They hate science, and rational inquiry. In short, they support any effort of government control except those that control issues of economics. That, basically, is what facsism is. No one tells business what to do, But the state can tell any individual what to do, and can do anything with it what it wants. And in this is ok, because the government will actually represent the will of the people. Who are the people? Well, the people who like the state and don't like who the state doesn't like. You know, "Real Americans."

And there is one reason, and only one reason these people, that any people, want to enter into such a ridiculous, one-sided, loophole ridden arrangement with the people who just happen to run the state. They are scared shitless of modernity, and just want it to go away, and want someone to make it all better. They are afraid that their way of life is disappearing, that their kids won't value what they value. And they want it to stop. But the only way to stop it is to peel back the modern world, go pre-modern. Because the rights of man, science, cosmopolitanism, they are all part Humanist world view that has been slowly overtaking the west since the Dark Ages (yeah, it starts that far back), started to congeal during the Renaiisance, and first flowered during the Enlightenment. These people reject the very intellectual direction of the West. They are, in fact, Anti-Western (which is funny, given how often conservative intellectuals celebrate the West).

So really, these people have very little to do with Christianity, just as they have little to do with the values of America. They are just trying to destroy those things, using then dedicate the ruins to themselves.


Litbrit, I laughed out loud at your comment.

I think that losing that irrelevant tone is what really started the downfall of FDL, or at least it's downfall in my eyes (the most awful redesign ever didn't help either). I think, in order to be a progressive, which is basically like running into a wall over and over again, you need to have a sense of humor about it all. Not just in order to vent, but also the gain some irreverent distance, so you don't do something crazy like try to scuttle healthcare reform.

By the way, I think it is time to stop ragging on the bill. We have been looking at this too much from the opposite shore, and not from the side we are actually one. If we look at it as falling short of single payer or the NHS, sure it is disappointing. But that's not were we are. We are in the place that pays more than anybody else for less than anybody else. We are in the land of bankruptcies and death by lack of insurance.

What this bill does in make it so that nobody, in this country, can ever be made to go without health insurance, or ever risk losing health insurance, for any reason, ever again. And while doing this, it also makes health insurance affordable for the lower classes and cost less for the middle classes. Access to healthcare becomes an entitlement. A Right. Even if just the Senate bill passes, this happens.

That's massive. That's lightyears from where we are now. It completely changes the paradigm by which Americans consider their relation to healthcare. It saves hundreds of thousands of lives. Passing the Senate bill will be the biggest single step forward this country has taken since the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the implications might be even greater than that.

So stop complaining. Stop pooh-poohing. If this bill passes, it will be partytime.

big bad wolf

corvus, you're not the first to blame shane. few of us can stand as long as him.

i think you meant fdl lost its irreverent tone. i'm the one with the irrelevant tone. :)

Sir Charles

Ah, if I only had a video of me grabbing a guy by the neck at the Pogue's concert I attended last St. Patrick's Day. Makes a little drunk commenting look like statesmanship.

But I had the excuse of both the Pogues and St. Patrick's Day daily double.


Did Shane have his new teeth by then?

Sir Charles

It was difficult to see even though I was not far from him -- I am guessing that he did. Not shockingly, the boys looked old. They sounded terrific though.


OT, but MAN, this whole O'Keefe story is just too much schadenfreudelicious goodness for one girl in one night.

Shore like that fur jacket, skinny boy, and don' you jes have the purtiest mouth--you married yet?

Sir Charles

Well, you don't think Mr. O'Keefe would have sex outside of marriage, do you?

Prup (aka Jim Benton)

Corvus, the type of 'Christianity' I am referring to -- 7 Mountains Theology and the New Apostolic Reformation -- have as little relationship to 'classic Christianity' as a rabid mountain lion does to my house cats. Maybe tomorrow I'll post some info on them -- and now the Prop8 Trial; is winding down, maybe I'll even get back to commenting here.
Maybe. If I can deal with the madness.


These people just use Christianity and patriotism as appeals to authority, to lend some weight to their views.

In more conservative views of Christianity authoritarianism is a strong undercurrent, and that's not new at all.

I also think that a huge number of Americans who label themselves Christian pay very little or no attention to the actual teachings of Jesus Christ, and instead use "Christian" as a nothing but a lable of tribal identity.

I am really stunned that Jane and Glenn aren't looking further than this year--do they really think we'll ever have a chance to get this far with healthcare reform again in our lifetimes?

You'd be shocked (heck, I'm shocked) at the number of people who actually really do think that universal health care will be on the agenda again if this bill fails, because, apparently, failure of this effort will teach---via operant conditioning, I suppose, because they're mice---the leadership to listen to the base and pass Canadian-style universal health care.


Sir Charles


This is what maddens me -- the last time we tried this was 1993 and we know what the outcome was. All indications are that we are going to be operating with reduced majorities in both houses, possibly significantly reduced majorities. Why would anyone think that universal health care (or even modest health care reform) will be attainable in such circumstances? Do they think the Republicans are suddenly going to discover their inner reasonable guy?

My fear is that it will be another 16 years before we have a majority of sufficient magnitude to try it again.


How long was the gap between the 1993 attempt and the one before that?

Sir Charles


I think the last serious efforts were in the mid-1960s. There was some half-hearted discussions in the early Nixon years, but I don't recall any real substantive legislation emerging, nor were there any really serious attempts during the Carter years to the best of my recollection. Prior to the mid 1960s efforts, you had to go back to the Truman Administration.

Missing the boat here would be a serious thing.


nor were there any really serious attempts during the Carter years to the best of my recollection

I wasn't paying close attention to this particular matter at that time, but I can't recall any such effort, either. Carter made a bunch of energy consumption proposals, but I don't recall anything about healthcare reform.

Sir Charles

Labor law reform was killed during the Carter years after a Senate filibuster when Dale Bumbers would not vote for cloture. That was after Ford vetoed the "common-situs" picketing bill passed by Congress in 1975.

People don't seem to grasp that these losses are forever when you are on the progressive side.


Hope springs eternal.

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