Creative Destruction

February 23, 2008

All Politicians Need One Of These Guys (n/t)

Filed under: Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 3:10 am

[Courtesy: xkcd]

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February 2, 2008

Making History

Filed under: Current Events,Election 2008,Politics — Brutus @ 12:42 am

There is a curious and growing sense that the 2008 presidential race (and the leadership of the free world that follows therefrom) is the Democrats’ to lose, and considering that the two dominant candidates are a woman on one hand and a black man on the other, the U.S. electorate is in a unique position to make history in either eventual result: we will elect a woman or a black man as president — the first in U.S. history — and establish a new political era. Obviously (or maybe not so), this is a distraction from the real issues of American politics, but that putatively history-making event has nonetheless helped erode our self-determination to the pointless and ephemeral issue of electability over governance. As a result, and in a very real sense, we deserve what we get.

Super Tuesday approaches (a catchy if not stupid and reductionist characterization), and yet we many participate blindly in this awful charade that our votes will have some meaningful impact on the outcome: the selection of a candidate for one party or the other. On the Democratic side (I’m unfamiliar with the Republican side), I’ve been chagrined to learn that delegates and candidates both have agreed to set aside a number of states and refuse to campaign and/or award delegates. I’m too much a novice in electoral politics to understand why, for instance, Michigan and Florida shouldn’t matter, so I remain politically naive and ineffectual. Perhaps someone more expert in the nuances of running a campaign within the vagaries of party politics can explain it to me. Failing that, I recognize my participation in the process as a meaningless drop in a flow that has been prefigured by forces with much more to gain or lose than can possibly be left to the whims of the electorate.

So we will make history of a sort. Big deal. I feel confident that none of the “electable” candidates present a prospect for meaningful change. My cynicism runs so deep that no incremental change or adoption of new window dressing is worth more than a moment’s contemplation. The purposeful candidates — those who propose real, substantive change from politics as usual, which is to say, the politics bought and paid for by the highest paying private interests — have already been winnowed from the contest.

But I empathize still with the winning candidate, Democrat or Republican. He or she will inherit such an awful mess — militarily, economically, and culturally — that no brief period of recovery and prosperity is possible to contemplate. We’ve dug for ourselves as Americans a sizable hole from which to extricate ourselves, and it may take generations (or more) to restore even a few of the advantages we have thus far taken for granted and now squandered.

January 28, 2008

Not-So-Simple Questions And Possibly Dangerous Answers

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Politics and Elections — Off Colfax @ 12:57 am

Duncan:

Yes all political junkies dream of the brokered convention. It would be exciting!! But I started to think about how the news media would deal with such a thing if it were necessary. The primaries are early. The convention is in August. Between the primaries and the convention the bobblehead discussion would be unbearable. I don’t know how the campaigns themselves would deal with it. They couldn’t go dark, but they couldn’t campaign as the presumptive nominee either. There’d be calls and pressures from various quarters for one of the candidates to “do the honorable thing” and bow out for the sake of the party, or Tim Russert’s Nantucket vacation, or whatever.

Aside from the last part about Tim Russert’s vacation plans, which is obvious snark, this is a highly substantive statement from Teh Atrios. How will all three of the substantive candidates currently in the Democratic side of the race remain until a brokered August convention can sort things out? Can fundraising from the left maintain three mostly-idle campaigns at the national level at the same time while we wait to see what will happen in Denver? And if they do maintain that level of life-support, will any of them be able to start that mad, pell-mell sprint for November 4th at the sound of the cannon? All of these are important questions that we must ask ourselves, the party as a whole.

(And all of them are very good questions that could just as easily apply to the GOP side of the bracket this year, judging by my own personal (and probably amateurish) pre-primary analysis of both Florida and Terminal Tuesday when neither McCain or Romney can pull far enough ahead to keep the other down, much less force Huckabee out of the race. That’s just a prediction, and will not factor further into this post.)

Yet his next post, not ninety minutes later, puts a completely different spin to this line of thinking. And not one to the benefit of Teh Atrios, either.

The existence of multiple candidates in the Democratic primary race means that the party is hopelessly splintered.

As a moderate in this party, I read this as saying the following:

Shut up. Because you’re not picking my candidate, you’re sinking us all. Take MY hand, Luke!

Suddenly I am reminded of what was happening in the Connecticut Senate primary in 2006 between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont, when the party really WAS hopelessly splintered. An incumbent Senator lost the primary, yet remained in the race and eventually recaptured his seat. So the question is: why did the party splinter in Connecticut?

Of course, the answer could never be that out-of-state activists like Duncan Black himself, as joined by Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas, and their attendant casts of thousands simply loathed and despised Joe Lieberman and everything he did and said. The answer could never be that they would attempt anything in their power to influence the election of a Senator not in their state. The answer could never be that, without their constant and unwavering support, Ned Lamont would not have defeated Lieberman in the primaries in the first place. The answer could never be that they themselves designed the blueprint for the hopeless splintering of our party when they scribed a bright dividing line, between the moderate wing and the progressive wing, that none shall pass without suffering near-permanent damage to their political careers.

And now I see Duncan Black himself sitting there, bemoaning the fact that the party is “hopelessly splintered”. (Insert prima donna-ish back-of-hand-to-forehead Oh Whatever Shall We Do! pose here.) And I hear this suggestion in the back of my head, one that he wants the rest of us to simply ignore our own decisions and throw ourselves behind the Clinton44 campaign, which he supports with all his heart and body and soul. And all of this simply so that we present a united front in the fall.

Pardon me whilst I call shenanigans here. I’d call something stronger, but all the cow pastures in Wisconsin wouldn’t hold enough of it to add up to the sheer amount of what I’d really prefer to call.

I have seen the dangers of letting the loudest sections of a political party have their way while ignoring the rest. With the GOP, it gave us the rise of religious conservatism. With the Democrats, it is giving us the rise of progressive liberalism. With both, those whose politics are in the middle are effectively disenfranchised and removed from the political process. And from both sides comes great damage to this country’s political structure.

My response is simple. Do not allow anyone, regardless of who or why or where or when or how, tell you who should or must or need receive your vote. Your vote is yours, and yours alone, to cast for whomsoever and whatsoever you so freely decide. No one is allowed to take that away from you. You should not allow them to even passively take it from you, such as by following the advice of a divisive pundit like Duncan Black by voting their way at their own fervent insistence.

If you want to vote for Hillary, then please do so. If you want to vote for Barack, then please do so. If you want to vote for John, then please do so. If you want to vote for Mike Gravel, then please do so. But let it be because you so desire and not because some bobblehead, whether the televised or the virtual variations of the species, told you to vote for Candidate X rather than Candidate Y.

For when you allow someone to choose your vote for you, you allow yourself to fall victim to the most dangerous form of disenfranchisement around: the passive surrender of your vote to a third party.

The concept that an individuals’ personal choice is what truly matters is the philosophical heart of a Democracy. Without it, a Democrat might as well be a Republican.

December 16, 2007

Insomniac Wanderings

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 8:39 am

So yeah. I can’t sleep. And nothing is working. The melatonin isn’t even trying to show up tonight. Warm milk got cold feet. and the old standby of a purring cat? It helps if they would even stay in the room.

So what to do? Simple. Get up and start surfing political sites and try to bore myself to sleep.

That didn’t work. But only because I found something that was actually interesting.

Meet John Tomlin. The rest of the time, he’s a student at Union College. But for this primary season, he dons the secret identity of John Tomlin, Credentialed Reporter For MeetThePrez.com. Complete with daily videos, he will be following the action until Super Duper Tuesday. Or Incredible Tuesday. Or Terminal Tuesday. Or whatever we’re actually calling the massive influx of primaries and caucuses that happens on February 5th, when the races will be all but over.

Is this the smoothest operation on the planet? No. Is this the best operation on the planet? Again, no. Is this the coolest thing to happen so far this election cycle? Damsure.

And if you want to see what else he’s done so far this month, here is his YouTube page. Look. Listen. Watch.

Very interesting stuff happening this election cycle, hether it be Ron Paul’s record-setting single-day take or Mike Huckabee’s meteoric rise in the polls or even Mike Gravel’s existential silent film. And not all of what is interesting is coming from the campaigns.

Check it out.

November 22, 2007

Code Blue: Paging Dr. Thompson

Filed under: Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 4:55 am

I just can’t do it. The iron has been in the fire for too long. The pigs have yet to come out of the tunnel. The political zombies have marched on their roads of bones, and then went out for barbecued brains.

I believe every political junkie passes this point in time. Too many long hours pounding through databases to find that one perfect moment that will, for the love of God, finally let you make up your mind. Too many meaningless speeches in front of county fairs, local Kiwanis, and roadside diners. Too many press releases, those myriad tons of utter and complete garbage foisted upon the unsuspecting voter.

Too much feeding the fix, begging for that political smack dripping from our USB cables and oozing into our hearts and lungs and toenails and tonsils, drugging us into that vague stupor caused by imagining that we actually could possibly know what the hell is going on in the universe, much less our own minuscule corner.

But why. That is the question. Why.

Simple question. Simple answer.

We started too early. My God, was it too early. Normally, by this sheer concentration of political news, the fat lady would be warming up while the rest of us are staggering our way towards the voting booth, looking for that magic lever that will end it all. We seek it. We want it. We caress it like a lover waiting in the moonlight. We desire it like it was a loaded shotgun, there to finally end our agony after decades of pain.

But we are denied. Eleven long months of the political season gone, and we aren’t even to the halfway point yet. Even after all this, we still have 47 miles of barbed wire left to crawl, and that live cobra around our necks is still waiting for us to move too fast. Or too slow. Or blink. Or force-feed Wolf Blitzer into a secure-systems document shredder.

Feet first. So we can hear him scream.

Lord, how long? How long must we suffer? Like Aquitaine after the Vandals. Like Londinum after Boudica. Like the floor of a Dropkick Murphys show. Like a confused emo with the complete discography of Sunny Day Real Estate on his iPod, plus Jimmy Eat World’s first album.

Okay. Scratch that last one. We aren’t that bad. Yet.

But there is still time, Bubba. Still time left for the Chinese water torture to take full effect. And it will. It’s been going for almost a year now with no sign of slowing down. He said. Drip. She said. Drip. They said. Drip. We said. Drip. Every. Drip. Single. Drip. Second. Drip. Every. Drip. Single. Drip. Day. Drip.

And we call waterboarding cruel and unusual torture. Should make them actually listen to all the feces-coated garbage being hoovered up by the junkies of the world.

And I… I need a news vacation. A media break. A stay at the Betty Ford Clinic for the Incurably Informed. A brief spell away from the political porn that suffocates our lives.

What do you mean, Bubba? Why do I say “our lives”? You mean you ain’t crawling through this one with me? You mean I did all that for me? Wait, Bubba! Why did you write “Blow Me, Kemosabe!” on this fax! I have to know! Thousands and thousands of people depend on us! We make the news! They just star in it! C’mon, Bubba… I’ll even let you take the next few miles. But I’m keeping the cobra. He likes me.

No deal, huh? Figures. Didn’t think you were that dumb.

When the weird turn pro, the going gets weird. Isn’t that how it’s written? If not, it should be. And the weird have turned pro for this one. So the only truth is that not only have things gotten weird, but there is more weirdness yet to come.

Death to the weird. I’m on vacation.

November 18, 2007

The Strategic Vote

Filed under: Election 2008,Politics and Elections — Brutus @ 1:34 am

Over at Wash Park Prophet, Andrew Oh-Willeke cites the one-word dismissal of so-called vanity candidates at Daily Kos’ round-up of Democratic presidential candidates and offers his agreement, though with a bit more explanation. I’ve been planning to blog on this rather bizarre notion for about a month, and Andrew has provided the nudge I needed to sit down and do it.

I simply don’t accept that the only worthwhile vote is one for the eventual winner or one that reflects a strategy to defeat an opposition candidate by casting a vote for someone nearly equally wanting. We complain perpetually that we don’t have good options, then we adopt Machiavelian strategies or misconstrue the results, thus ensuring that our options remain limited.

(more…)

November 1, 2007

Horserace Politics

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Politics and Elections — Brutus @ 11:33 am

I picked up the term horserace politics from Ampersand (who may have found it elsewhere). The term describes political coverage framed not in terms of the issues or platforms of the parties and candidates but in terms of the sheer competition, the race. I’ve opined that such thinking has made the practice of politics into a perpetual campaign. If the reorientation of the political sphere into a contentless swamp of personality and misfocus is not fully apparent, a report on a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism paints a pretty stark picture of how the mainstream media covers politics. This table shows what the public wants:

table 1

This graphic shows what the public gets:

table 2

It may be impossible (and probably pointless) say whether this discrepancy is more the fault of the media or the candidates themselves. No doubt, both are contributing to the syndrome. (Specifically, the avoidance of many candidates to take positions on political topics makes it impossible for journalists to restate the candidate’s positions coherently.) The blogosphere may be an antidote to the failure of the mainstream media to provide enough useful political coverage. Indeed, many believe that the blogosphere has at least partially revitalized the public sphere, which has been largely corrupted in the for-profit media. I tend to agree.

October 8, 2007

What Passes for Political Coverage

Filed under: Election 2008,Media Analysis,Politics and Elections — Brutus @ 10:00 pm

It is any wonder so many Americans ignore politics and don’t vote? One of the big stories emerging in the past few days has been dubbed Chucklegate, which is in-depth analysis of Hillary Clinton’s laugh. Um, yeah, her laugh. See just a few examples here and here and here. There is undoubtedly room for some consideration of personal character or characteristics in a presidential race, but the way the media has jumped on this issue is frankly embarrassing, considering actual issues bear greater scrutiny than hairdos, wardrobe, or how someone laughs.

If this pseudocontroversy isn’t lowbrow enough to convince you that journalism is at a particularly low ebb, how about a manufactured controversy about actual wardrobe? Barack Obama is being pilloried for his refusal to wear an American flag pin. See a few examples here and here and here. Who on earth bases political strategy or the decision whether to cast a vote for a candidate on something so entirely mundane? This particular stupidity was parodied in the movie Office Space, where the servers were judged not on their service but on pieces of flair. Simply substitute patriotism for service and it’s the same foolishness.

These cooked-up stories apparently have the power to kill a candidacy and are pathetic examples of political theater. Howard Dean’s now infamous scream comes to mind as a good example. Both candidates are apparently engaged in these utterly meaningless and ephermeral issues, which gives the issues legs and makes them fodder for endless spin, conjecture, and strategizing. And once the jokes and parodies start rolling in on YouTube and Comedy Central and such, we take lots of humorous enjoyment but lose sight of the fact that we’re considering these candidates for an office of far greater importance than the elements on which we apparently prefer to rank and rate them. It’s little wonder, then, that we get what we deserve out of the political process: buffoons, poseurs, and incompetents.

June 19, 2007

Apologies To Billie Joe

Filed under: Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 7:19 pm

My song: Wake Me Up When November Ends

June 1, 2007

A Campaign Theme Song By Queen

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 9:24 pm

With the blogosphere still a-twitter with the Clinton44 Or Bust campaign asking people to nominate theme songs (This buzz-making strategy is a definite winner for them, by the way. As much as I don’t like the very thought of the Oligarchical Presidency, I have to tip my hat to whoever thought up this bit of political genius.), it looks like the volunteer opposition researchers of the blogosphere just might start humming a theme song of their own:

This is a public service message to all contenders for the Oval Office.

Just because a blogger has a high hit-count, regular visits from those who are on your particular ideological slope, and contacts throughout the blogosphere does not automatically make them a safe choice for your Outreach Director for Intar-tubes Writing Thingies or whatever you want to call the position.
I would imagine that the ruckus caused by the Edwards Campaign’s Marcotte/McEwan kerfluffle would have made someone go through and review the writings of the person in question before those volunteer opposition research specialists (Also Known As: SOME OTHER BLOGGER!) pointed things out to you.

So. This makes the second campaign to put their foot in the bit bucket. And soon to come will be the second campaign that will have a staffer released due to the chosen language of their blog.

If there is a third one, particularly on the Democratic side, I might just despair entirely. Or send them my resume. Or send my resume and then despair entirely that they won’t hire a perfectly reasonable individual, such as myself, particularly when I don’t even have oodles and oodles of the Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television in any given post.

[Turn Signal: Insty]

May 10, 2007

A Serving Of Thigh Meat

Filed under: Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 9:16 pm

Ever wonder what it looks like when a political campaign shoves their collective feet into their mouths?

Last weekend Deb and Jerry VonSprecken of Olin received a call from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s campaign office asking them if they would be interested in holding a campaign rally on May 4, after she had donated to his campaign.

“We thought it would be an honor and agreed,” said Jerry.

On Tuesday Deb received a call from Giuliani’s Des Monies office and was asked to call New York.

“They wanted to know our assets,” she revealed, and added that she and Jerry have a modest 80 acre farm and raise cattle.

Later she received a call from Tony Delgado at the Des Monies location.

“Tony said, ‘I’m sorry, you aren’t worth a million dollars and he is campaigning on the Death Tax right now.’ then he said they weren’t going to be able to come,” Deb continued.

Yeah. Definitely some extra serving of legs and thighs going on at the Rudyville KFC, all in the name of the eternal quest for The Perfect Photo-Op(trademark pending).

Have we gotten so media-meditative that candidates can’t just go into a diner anymore and shake hands? Or sit down with real people in a real home and leave the real script in the car?

Show me a candidate willing to do that (Mike Gravel? Tom Tancredo? Forrest Gump? Me?), even on a part-time basis, particularly in this age of Total Media Control, and I’ll show you the candidate that gets my immediate support. Immediate.

[Turn Signal: TPM]

May 3, 2007

Preemptive Pardon

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Current Events,Election 2008 — Brutus @ 9:58 pm

The Chicago Tribune reports that

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said President Bush has made massive policy blunders, but impeaching him or calling him a war criminal is a waste of time.

If I were to made such a statement, it would come across as a personal opinion. But when Obama says the same thing, it comes across — at least to me — as a preemptive pardon for what many consider Bush’s impeachable offenses. After all, Obama is a high-profile presidential candidate. So either he’s a savvy strategist, exhorting us to “turn the page” and move on to the next administration (presumably his) and a hoped-for change of sea in politics that is still nearly two years away if the next elections go as he intends and expects, or he’s taking the opportunity to be magnanimous and perhaps a bit presidential (before the fact) with respect to the current president, against whom he’s not really competing.

I’m not convinced that impeachment is the proper course of action, especially if we can’t impeach Bush and Cheney simultaneously to avoid a Cheney presidency (the horror!). Still, I’m fully willing to cast aspersions toward policies and decisions emanating from the White House, many of which appear to my regular citizen’s eye (meaning I lack legal training) to contravene the U.S. Constitution and focus on enriching and empowering a small portion of the population as the expense of the rest rather than seriously looking after the wider national interest.

April 4, 2007

Well, So Much for Rudy…

Filed under: Election 2008 — Robert @ 6:26 pm

He demands (promises?) public funding for abortions – on the novel grounds that the government must pay for Constitutional rights!

When asked directly Wednesday if he still supported the use of public funding for abortions, Giuliani said “Yes.”

“If it would deprive someone of a constitutional right,” he explained, “If that’s the status of the law, yes.”

I’ll expect my free gun, newspaper, and church in the mail, I guess.

His aides later “clarified” his remarks to indicate he supports the status quo (which is funding in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life), but this was rhetorical suicide.

February 13, 2007

Amanda Quits

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Robert @ 2:33 pm

Amanda has called it quits, resigning from the Edwards campaign. Pandagon is semi-down at the moment; apparently she is getting a lot of traffic. (So there’s that silver lining for her.) Predictably, she’s getting a lot of hate mail; some of it is really vile stuff, and those people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Interestingly, there’s no story about her decision at the Edwards site. (Her resignation is mentioned in the comments on a post about the kerfuffle.) My operating theory had been that Edwards fired her after she again went off on a theological tangent, but permitted her to spin it as a resignation to avoid more embarassment. But if that were the case, I would have expected a short formal post of the “we regret that…” variety; instead there’s nothing, which tells me that he’s pissed off and just wants it all to go away. So that would seem to indicate she did this on her own. But who knows; I’m sure we’ll see some interesting posts on the topic from Amanda in the near future.

It is amusing to me to see the endless blaming rhetoric that Pandagonians are deploying. From what I’ve gathered, there were four basic elements on the criticism of Marcotte’s work:

1) She dishonestly revised posts and tried to hide her views.

2) She said accusatory things about the Duke lacrosse players.

3) Her writing is foul-mouthed and vulgar.

4) Her writing is anti-Christian.

Point #1 appears to me to have been grossly overblown; I know that some of my co-bloggers here disagree, but I don’t see the big deal. Yeah, she should have handled it differently; there is a standard strikeout-and-retain practice that ethical bloggers have done for a long time now. Was anybody under the impression that Pandagon was presenting itself as a paragon of ethical blogging? Point #2 seems similarly transitory. Perhaps it has more resonance in North Carolina itself, but out here in flyover country there are a lot of opinions about criminal cases. It’s not Amanda’s job to maintain the presumption of innocence, any more than it’s my job to honor the results of a particular trial. OJ was guilty as hell, and I don’t care who knows I think it. Amanda thinks the Duke boys are guilty as hell; that’s her privilege.

From what I can see of the large-scale criticism of Amanda, points 1 and 2 don’t seem to be highly operative. William Donohue didn’t appear to care about Amanda’s views on Duke, or about whether or not she crossed her i’s and dotted her t’s when she waffled on a previous statement.

Point #3 seems obviously true; Amanda writes in a vulgar fashion. It’s not a crime, but it is a fact.

Point #4 seems obviously true, with a proviso that there’s a healthy debate to be had about what is, or isn’t, anti-Christian or anti-Catholic.

So what do Amanda’s defenders say about these points? Basically, “nuh unh!” and “Donohue sucks”. What is most interesting to me about her defenders on point #4 is that they all take an intentionalist viewpoint: your offense is invalid because that’s not what I really meant, and what I really meant is the issue, not your perception of my words. Which is fine – I’m an intentionalist myself, more or less, and I do think that it’s the intention that should control whether something is actually offensive, not the emotional reaction of the populace at large. I also think that Amanda’s intention was, in fact, anti-Christian/anti-Catholic, and that her that’s-not-what-I-meant defense is a crock. As she is fond of saying, “own your shit”. But it is very enjoyable to see lefties jumping on the intentionalist bandwagon when it suits the needs of the moment.

So where do I come down on all this? (Because I know you’re waiting with bated breath.)

As a blogger, there’s nothing at all wrong with Amanda. She’s entitled to her views, she’s entitled to her personal vision of Christianity as a uterus-devouring patriarchal rape machine, she’s entitled to write and speak like a sailor released from a ten-year vow of silence.

As a media staffer for a campaign, she’s utterly unsuited. Her rhetorical gifts lie in the area of polemic and rabble-rousing, not suave repackagings of progressive policy prescriptions. Her opinions are far out of the mainstream, and grossly offensive on their face to a vast swathe of the electorate, and – more critically – to a big chunk of voters that John Edwards really needs. It’s arguable that she should have known ahead of time that a presidential campaign would be a nightmare scenario for someone with her characteristics; I wouldn’t argue that, however, because she is young, inexperienced, and not particularly politically astute. The person who hired her, however, had better not have those characteristics – and they should have known better.

Although she is undoubtedly angry about what has happened, I suspect that things will work out OK for her. Her blog traffic is going to be through the roof, and a lot of those people are going to be Pandagon-style lefties who hadn’t heard about her before – some of the traffic will stick around. Unfortunately, I suspect that Amanda had craved some serious legitimacy – some official participation in the process. Nothing else would explain the way she rolled over for Edwards when her writing first became an issue. That legitimacy is never going to come, not without a revision to Amanda’s entire way of thinking that while possible, is hardly to be expected. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Pandagon will become a more bitter and angry place, and Amanda a more bitter and angry feminist blogger.

I’ll also predict that the next time a presidential campaign hires a high-profile blogger in a media role, it will be someone a lot more moderate and a lot more tempered in their language and viewpoint. That one is not so much out on a limb. 😉

(Updated to fix some line break issues – $!@%@#^ WordPress – and to make my first sentence more clear that Amanda has quit the Edwards campaign.)

February 10, 2007

Amandagate – Unasked Questions

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Feminist Issues,Politics — Daran @ 3:28 pm

At least, I haven’t seen them asked.

Edwards is an enormously wealthy and sucessful white man, who lives in a a $6 Million, 28,000 square foot mansion, set in a 102-acre estate, reportedly “the most valuable home in Orange County”. “Privilege” barely begins to describe this man’s status.

So why is it, in a Presidential campaign that might include a woman and a black among the candidates, that Marcotte and McEwan have thrown their weight behind this pillar of the Patriarchy? And why are feminists rallying behind them, instead of denouncing them for betraying everything the movement stands for?

You’d almost think they wanted the nation to be lead by a white male.

Updated to respond to this comment by ballgame (talics in original):

There seem to be two possible angles to your post here, Daran. I emphatically disagree with both of them.

Angle 1: The idea that there is something ‘wrong’ or ‘negative’ with Melissa and Amanda hitching their wagon to a man’s campaign instead of a woman’s.

I’ve always disliked ‘team-ism’ (i.e. the notion that one of the primary things to look for in a leader is whether that potential leader is a member of the same race or gender group as yourself). Though both are afflicted with WPO feminist blind spots when it comes to understanding how gender negatively impacts men (Amanda far more so than Melissa), I think they both deserve credit for not making gender a litmus test for who they support.

Feminists cannot have it both ways. They cannot complain that the country is lead by white men, while supporting white men for the leadership.

They are both strong progressives, and they chose the candidate who seems to hold the most promise for progressive reform.

Ya think?

Because what I think is that no matter who wins the election, the US will have more or less the same social structure in four years time as it does now. At best they’ll be some tinkering at the margins of social policy, but no real reform.

They could have supported Hillary instead, even though she is seemingly more centrist and establishment, on the logic of ‘the historic weight of breaking the Presidential gender barrier outweighs the absence of progressivism in Hillary’s policies’ (an argument which I think is not entirely devoid of merit). But they didn’t, and I think that speaks highly of their fealty to progressive goals.

It shows that feminists really don’t believe what they purport to believe, which is that good things will flow from having women in high office.

Angle 2: The idea that there is something wrong with John Edwards being a member of the political-economic elite.

You mean “the idea that there is something wrong with John Edwards being a member of the Patriarchy”.

That is what we are talking about, isn’t it, according to feminists? So why avoid the word now?

I pretty much don’t give a damn about someone’s personal circumstances when I think about a politician.

What ballgame as an individual give a damn about is neither here nor there. I’m criticising feminists generally, and feminists generally do give a damn about politicians’ colour, gender, and personal circumstances.

The fact that he or she is a member of the elite is almost inevitable: it is extraordinarily rare for someone of an ordinary background or non-white, or female to be able to make the connections and generate the cash which is a virtual prerequisite to attaining high office in the United States. The Paul Wellstones and Bernie Sanders are few and far between.

Italics are my insertion. Despite his craven omission of those words, this is a description of Patriarchy, as feminists conceive of it. So what happens when a Patriarch comes along and throws them a couple of bones? Amanda “Mad Dog” Marcotte rolls over and says “tickle my tummy”. Cue thunderous applause from the feminist movment.

Frankly, a rich person is more likely to have the resources to counter the inevitable right wing counterattack against anyone who challenges the hegemony of the economic elite…

But he hasn’t countered the rightwing counterattack. He’s done what the rightwing counterattack could never do. He’s closed the Overton Window. He’s silenced them. We won’t be hearing any more interesting opinions from either of them, at least until the campaign is over. All we’ll hear are the same anodyne, don’t-offend-anyone platitudes we get from everyone else.

Imagine if, before any of this had happened, I had said: “The tone and the sentiment of some of [your] posts personally offended me.” I don’t know McEwen well enough, but I’m sure Marcotte wouldn’t have replied “My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics.” She’d have told me to go fuck myself. She’d have given the same response to any right-winger who said the same.

But for Patriarch Edwards, it’s “Yes, sir. Anything you say, sir. Please don’t take my bone away, sir.”

It’s just that generally it’s rare to find a rich person with the passion and integrity willing to challenge the system of privileges by which he or she has benefited.

And John “most valuable home in Orange County” Edwards is such a man?

2nd Update: This is funny, and sort of related.

(Comments are closed. If you wish to discuss this post, you may do so at Feminist Critics.)

February 8, 2007

Edwards: Marcotte, McEwan To Stay

Filed under: Election 2008 — Robert @ 1:18 pm

John Edwards has announced that while he finds some of the writings of his new campaign bloggers offensive, he’s going to keep them on.

February 7, 2007

Problem, AND it’s A-GONe

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Ethics — Off Colfax @ 7:24 pm

(The below is my more detailed response to Robert’s high-traffic posts on the subject. Crossposted from Left Off Colfax.)

Well, Amanda Marcotte definitely is fulfilling her main aspirations these days. First, getting hired onto the Edwards ’08 campaign is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever read. (And her campaign co-blogger, Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister, is one of the more interesting flaming liberals on my reading list.)

Second, she’s caused one heck of a ruckus over the last two days.

Now, before I go any further, let me state a few things right off the bat. I don’t like Amanda. I don’t like her writing style. I don’t like her political stance. I don’t like her language choices. I don’t like her rabid anti-Y-chromosomal rants. I really hate her constant rushes to judgment and her over-the-top-and-back-again in-your-face attitude.

But this post isn’t complaining about what she wrote about the accused members of the Duke lacrosse team. That’s the whole freedom of speech, civil-liberties absolutist in me. She has the right to say what she wants to say on her own forum. C’est la vie.

But no. She went and deleted what she had written after she caused all kinds of controversy. (Here. Here. Here. Here, plus her deleted comments. Here again. Here for a change. Oh, and here too.)

And that, to me, is a cardinal sin in the blogosphere. If you can’t stand by what you have written about a topic, that’s one thing. Hells, that’s what HTML’s strikethrough command is for: getting rid of stuff you can no longer support by the evidence and facts. But you bloody well leave it up! No cleaning. No purging. No memory-hole. No jack-all deletions. No clarification of “official stance” that is a complete and total rewrite. Nothing. You leave it, you strike it through, you update on the bottom or the top of the post, and you leave it so you can go back to it and say “My god, what a frickin’ idiot I was for writing that!”

But this happened on her blog. Not the Official Edwards Presidential Campaign 2008 Blog. So no, she shouldn’t be fired for it. What you do on your own time should never affect your job. (Again. Civil liberties absolutist.) Particularly when it happens before you officially start the job in question.

But if there’s a single whiff of any whitewash emanating from her job site… Then we rise in arms for termination. If Edwards doesn’t cave in to Bill Donahue’s clarion call for her head on a silver platter, that is. And if he doesn’t cave…

We will be watching.

Amanda and the Christians

Filed under: Election 2008 — Robert @ 3:10 pm

In response to Amp’s preference that nobody editorialize about a straight-shooting respecter of the bounds of civil discourse like Amanda Marcotte, I won’t editorialize in this post. (Other than in the previous, snarky, sentence.) I’ll just quote.

“What’s changed is not the desire for this sort of power but the willingness of people to roll over and have this sort of propaganda shoved up their asses and nicknamed “God”. A combination of lost economic opportunities plus apocalyptic thought that’s escalated since 9/11 is what’s fueling this. While I agree with the campaign strategies in the article, I suggest that election returns are not enough. People need real things to hope for so they quit buying into this crap.” – From “Jesus is a capitalist tool”

“Suffice it to say, it’s time that people understand that the advocates for abstinence-only do not give a flying fuck if people get sick or even die because of their bullshit. Odds are most of them figure that’s what you get for fucking.” – From “Zip it up still not working”

“Christmas is a secular holiday, which is why this War on Christmas nonsense is really out of control. That some people celebrate the religious holiday on the day doesn’t make it any less of a secular holiday, and frankly, the religious part has shrunk to almost nothing for most religious people—usually just one Christmas mass.” – From “Next you’ll be telling me the “War on Christmas” is a myth designed to make the religious majority go on a pity trip”

“It’s important that the Democrats realize that they’re chasing a moving target by embracing the evangelicals and taking their religious blather at face value. Like Digby says in the post, the supposed surgence of religious fervor is mostly hype. Building on that, I would say that god is just the latest excuse for pushing social conservatism. It cannot be emphasized enough, apparently, but it’s important to understand that the consistent theme of social conservatism is maintaining a racist, patriarchal social hierarchy and that the flavor of the week in social conservatism is just distraction and window dressing.” – From “The characters and plot may change, but the underlying theme is eternal”

More to come.

February 4, 2007

The Interesting Opinions of Amanda Marcotte

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Robert @ 3:41 am

Or at least a few of them. Since Ms. Marcotte’s accession to the position of chief blogger for the John Edwards presidential campaign, speculation has been rife about the often caustic opinions she has expressed, and whether or not Senator Edwards is in agreement with an important media player in his campaign on issues such as the nature of Republicans and conservatives in general, the role of Southern culture, religion, and so forth. Here are some of the quotes which I have found from Ms. Marcotte’s blog, Pandagon. (Update: Please note that the bolded headlines are my own distillations of the quotes; I believe them to be accurate summations, but they are not Ms. Marcotte’s. Only the material in actual quote marks is Ms. Marcotte’s.)

(more…)

February 2, 2007

Hillary Calls for Confiscating Energy Company Profits

Filed under: Economics,Election 2008 — Robert @ 7:46 pm

Hillary Clinton, speaking at the DNC’s winter event, calls for confiscating the recent profits of Exxon and…buying Priuses, I guess. “The Democrats know what needs to be done, again, we’re working to try to push this agenda forward. The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits, and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence.”

Senator Clinton, as far as I know, didn’t mention how she planned to replace the $433 billion in investment capital that generated those profits last year, and which will find alternative uses for itself once Senator Clinton destroys the incentives that cause those assets to be devoted to energy production. Capital, in Senator Clinton’s world, apparently falls from the sky and replenishes itself, and political actions have no repercussions beyond the stated intention of the policy.

I used to think that Hillary Clinton was smart.

January 30, 2007

Making Fun of John Edwards Just Got 50,000 Times More Fun

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008,Politics and Elections — Robert @ 9:01 pm

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has taken over the blog campaign for John Edwards. Congratulations to Amanda, and wheee, this will be fun.

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