Friday, February 29, 2008

Political update for March, 2008

I’m a little excited by the election so I’m double posting this week. Perhaps that is inevitable when you watch cable news round the clock everyday (I'm multi-tasking, I assure you). Here, politics, below mountain man.

Political hypocrisy

Sometimes I say that I watch politics for the hypocrisy. I am constantly amazed, not only at the irrational behavior and thought processes of otherwise smart people when it comes to politics. Not only am I amazed by the hypocritical or plain ridiculous things politicians say, but I am just as perplexed by the things people believe.

Here are my rules for partisanship that apply to any party, because once you identify with a party or movement, excepting a few, you are de facto silly.

All facts claimed by the other side are suspect (unless they inarguably support our position).

When you are in agreement with the other side, they have a bad motive, while you have a good one.

One historical fact on your side is worth one hundred on the other side, and two hundred if it involves one of the forefathers.

The opposition secretly hates America and lacks patriotism.

The *&%&^*@$% other side is just plain hateful.

It is the good fortune of my party that not only are we always right on policy, but also morality, regardless of the fantastic coincidence necessary for this to be true.

We will win because God is on our side.

The other side doesn’t believe in God and acts in opposition to God. We know. We have a pipeline straight to God.

When we lose, it is because of our adversary’s unfair tactics, having nothing to do with God.

Making fun of the personal characteristics of the adversary is just good, tough politics. The opposition makes fun of the personal characteristics of us, because they are just plain mean.

Wars started by a president in the opposition party are good, no matter what. Wars started by a president in our party are bad, no matter what.

The constitution must be read strictly, or reasonably, depending on which results in the correct result. "Strictly," “Reasonably” and "Correct result" all mean "interpretations that favor our party". Another way to put it is, the constitution must be interpreted in a way that favor our party, or, in a way that favors our party, depending on which interpretation favors our party.

Any one racist, angry, stupid or generally unloveable member of the other party can be used as the representative for the other party. A racist, angry, stupid or generally unloveable member of our party, is just that, one member. To generalize otherwise would be unfair.

The overwhelming evidence is that the other party commits the most fraud.

When one of our party is charged with a crime, it is because of overreaching by the prosecutor, and there is a presumption of guilt. When one of the other party is charged with a crime, they are guilty.

Those in our party who try to compromise with the other side are traitors.

Being moderate is worse than being an extremist for the other side.

We argue tough but civilly. They argue weakly and rudely.

When a forefather said something that supports our policy, it is authoritative. When it supports their policy, it is only one voice out of many.

The other party can best be described as a watered down version of any one of the most reviled parties in history (Nazis, fascists and Communists being favorites although the Know Nothing and Roundhead parties are good for a little pseudo-intellectual blather).

Trying to win makes people do dumb things.

When you are behind, you have to try and do something that takes down your opponent. This is true with minority parties in congress and candidates for offices. Since politics is hard, and your opponent won’t cooperate, this often makes people do dumb things.

One example of laughable hypocrisy in this election season was committed by Hillary Clinton during and following the last debate. During the debate, Clinton complained that Obama only “denounced” the words and person of a well known anti-Semite who was supporting him. She insisted that he must not only “denounce” but also “reject” him. This drew groans from the crowd. Obama apparently enjoyed stating that if Senator Clinton thought “rejecting” was stronger than “denouncing” he was happy to “denounce and reject” him which got cheers. Looking every bit the fool, Clinton could only say “Good” overenthusiastically, as if she had won the point. I’m sure her staff told her she did.

But that wasn’t the silliest part. Two days later, when asked about a follower who rejected Obama because he was “black” and whether she “denounced and rejected her” Clinton could only say that the supporter was entitled to speak her mind. I heard, but did not see later, Clinton finally get the hint, and denounce and reject this supporter.

A bit of Republican nonsense since the 2006 elections included repeated vociferous attacks by Republicans on the majority Democrats that they wouldn’t let legislation be debated by what is called open rules, as promised by the Democrats should they win the majority (which open rules would allow the Republicans to tie up or destroy the Democrats’ legislation). They also complained of billions of dollars of pork barrel spending in the proposed bills (if you don’t know what it is, look it up). Once in a while, one of the Republicans would cringingly admit that they never allowed open rules and were twice as bad as the Democrats in pork barrel spending when they were in the majority.

Moderation and civility

There is something in the air this time, and my natural cynicism tells me it isn’t going to last. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, as McCain is certain to do with the Republicans, then the two most civil candidates (who had any shot at all) won. That’s rare. McCain is known to reach across the aisle. Obama, already painted as very liberal (by liberals too) has tried to portray himself as being willing to listen to anyone (including America’s enemies). Both candidates state that they are intending to be civil in their campaigns (it didn’t sound like it to me yesterday in a back and forth exchange of television clips).

I’m a big fan of civility. Not everyone is. They feel that if they press hard enough, they will win (because God is on their side and they are just plain right) the other side will be destroyed (as Rush Limbaugh put it recently, McCain did not understand that “liberals are to be defeated”). Funny, but in over 200 years of government, one side has never defeated the other completely and eternally. Even where a party disappeared (like the Whigs) it would be replaced by another party, usually more extreme (like the Republicans).

Still, partisans do know that exciting your base (other partisans) is often more important than making your enemy happy.

This time, though, I feel that the deciding force will be independents, and they general like civil, moderate exchanges.

Now, we have been told that ". . . extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! . . . moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue! (Barry Goldwater). Most often, civility leads to a change in ideas. That's true, but extremism to win power or an argument is just destructive. Moderation is usually a virtue. If you don’t think that your speaking civilly adds to your chances of persuading someone, you probably believe in the rules I listed above (whether you know it or not).

I wonder if McCain will disappoint me by going negative. I recognize it is also possible that talk radio can be so unlovely (such as by constantly repeating Obama’s middle name, as if he prays 5 times a day to Mecca and can't wait to have caviar with Ahmadinejad) that I might need McCain to “denounce and reject” some people he can’t afford to offend, just as he did in 2000. Unfortunately for McCain, I do believe that if Rush says stay home, many conservatives will think they decided to stay home on their own. Then again, getting upset at a bunch of harmless cranks is pretty silly too. Sometimes hard though. Remember when a little kid just repeats everything you say. You don't want to get mad, but . . . .

Leaving all this aside, this has been a remarkably civil campaign so far (don’t listen to the idiots I listen to on tv – they need to make it exciting). As far as I am concerned, may it remain so.

Sometimes, someone is just better

I think that is the case with Obama this time (although I am forced by my own ridiculous rules to stick with my Clinton is going to win the nomination prediction). He is just a better campaigner than she is. He has a great voice. She has a terrible voice (for the last time, don’t raise your voice EVER!). He is tall and attractive. She is a short middle aged woman with some heft. He doesn’t seem to be attacking anyone, although he will fight back. She, at least lately, seems to be relentlessly attacking him. He is relaxed. She seems artificial. He looks graceful when he dances. She should never dance. He makes inspiring speeches (and actually writes some himself). She makes strident woggish speeches that could put a coke addict to sleep.

Are you listening, Senator Clinton? He’s just better at this than you. It happens.

By the way, the two of you -- I don’t know what is more embarrassing – Hillary’s slipping into a Southern drawl when down South or Obama jive talking to a black audience. Come on, folks. Next, McCain will be shouting “Yeeeee, doggies” to a Texas gathering.

All that being said, and although I wrote the above as if Obama will win, I am one of those few who thinks that Hillary Clinton might not be done, although all those delegate counters and polls tells us she should be. I stick with my underdog pick for her, against most reasonable analysis and the odds. Why, because she is now the underdog, and we love underdogs, don't we. We might know in a few days.


  1. You should get a job on MSNBC. You are certainly more interesting than any of those talking heads. Love the way you are now waffling on the Clinton/Obama thing. "I'm sticking with Clinton, even though Obama is going to win, since, well you know, we love underdogs...." Go, man, go!

  2. Uh, oh. Called out on the waffling approach. Well, what's so horrible about waffling? I've said since 12/06 it was very difficult to pick between the two of them and that was when Clinton was far ahead. However, once Obama started steamrolling I made the prediction, thinking he would run out of steam. Right in the short run, and it looks like wrong in the long run. Better than the typical pundit approach of changing your pick every week or so. When I make a bad one, I'll stick with it, and if I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

    Or, skip all the above and let's just say I waffled. It's easier.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .