Thursday, August 14, 2008

The iniquity of dopes.

I have now finished The Audacity of Hope, and I'm thinking that, barring some catastrophic misstep, or maybe the revelation that Michelle secretly runs an Al Qaeda cell, Barack Obama can count on my vote, for what it's worth. I'll be honest with you, I can't say that I entirely trust the guy. Sometimes I wonder exactly how long he's been running for president, if you get my drift. I wonder if even his books were part of a remarkably canny and farsighted PR campaign to position himself to star in the real-life version of The Man one day. In the end, though, anyone who can dissect the major issues facing this nation with the intellectual rigor and even-handedness that Obama flourishes in Audacity probably deserves a shot. I'd also mention the seamlessness of his prosetruly, it is dazzlingexcept, we're not supposed to pick our presidents based on literary skills.

What's that you say? Don't talk to me about 'intellectual rigor'...what about the dude's actual platforms?! What about 'em? The one good thing about today's Washington dynamic is that it almost guarantees ideological stasis. For the most part, the nature of you-scratch-my-back Beltway politics prevents anyone with an outer-limits agenda from gaining serious traction. People with polarizing views get knee-capped before long. Everybody becomes a centrist in time, if he wants to get anything done. Look what happened to GWBush, Infamous "Neocon," along the way. And who can forget Slick Willie Clinton, the ultimate smooth operator, coopting major portions of the GOP agenda in order to revive his flagging administration and even consolidate his second-term power? (Let's face it, were it not for term limits and Bill's closet cigar sessions with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, he'd still be in the Oral Office as we speak. And his nominal wife would be in line to succeed him.)

Well, but, Steve, aren't you at least going to wait and see what happens during the debates? What's gonna happen? Is Obama going to confess that he's actually Chinese? Will McCain peevishly blurt, "Hey, it's not my fault that Cindy wears her clothes way too tight!"?

Big-picture, I guess I'm just sick
of the show being run by useful idiots who serve as henchmen for people who've already proved that they don't have my best interests at heart. (Hence my title for this post.) And then this morning comes news that McCain's ongoing consideration of Tom Ridge as a running mate has his "Christian-right base" stunned and angry, writing letters and making phone calls—because The Evil Tom Ridge, you see, is pro-choice.... That's just the icing on the cake for me, folks. Eight years of living in a theocracy is quite enough, thank you. I just hope that if Obama wins, we can get past all the media burbling about "the first black this or that" as soon as possible, and get down to the business of having a brilliant, seemingly honorable man run the country in the best way he knows how.

Besides, McCain is just too old. Even in his own commercials, which presumably were crafted with the intent of showing him at his best, the guy looks like he's ready to begin buying diapers by the carton. In fact—I have to laugh—every time my wife sees John McCain on TV, she says, whimsically, "Oh look!
there's grandpa again…."

Methinks it's time to put the highly touted rookie in the lineup and see what he can do.


Elizabeth said...

Wait, Steve... Are you indeed saying that GWB has become centrist in his presidential career?

Everybody becomes a centrist in time, if he wants to get anything done. Look what happened to GWBush, Infamous "Neocon," along the way.

Steve Salerno said...

I am saying that regardless of what he (perhaps) would've liked to do, in many cases (notably the prescription-drug bill) he ended up doing things that majorly ticked off his conservative base--and remember, he had a Republican Congress at his disposal. As far as the Patriot Act and Iraq and all those other things that people see as palpable evidence of Bush's hijacking of the gov't, let us not forget that he couldn't have done it without bipartisan backing. I think his motives and his tactics while in office were/are very troubling. And I think his invocation of the spoils system on behalf of his pals in industry has been flat-out appalling. And I don't think he's the brightest light on the White House Christmas tree.

But I still say, when Washington acts, it tends to act in concert. And it seldom does anything all that revolutionary. Maybe Barack, if he gets in, will surprise us all.

Mike Cane said...

>>>barring some catastrophic misstep,

Will this do?

NOW Would You Vote For Ralph Nader?

Steve Salerno said...

I think at this point I'm going to reserve comment until I see what a few more people have to say (assuming they have anything to say).

Jen said...

I would very much like to see this woman win,

Cynthia McKinney for President 2008 Green Party?

... but her chances of doing that are ... well, you know. So, yes. I am with you, Steve, in hoping Barack will surprise us in some very GOOD ways!

I have been enjoying your blog very much, by the way. I like your title, poor man's guru. Catchy!

Steve Salerno said...

Thank you, Jen. As I was going to say to Mike, I'm not necessarily contending that Obama is the best candidate of all possible humans on earth. But viability is important, and given the present system, I'm not sure there's any way for a fringe candidate to slug it out with the Big Boys or Girls. (Look at Ron Paul; here's a guy with a huge "cult" following--and he's just got no chance. None. Nada.) A few years back I was a big fan of Joe Lieberman...until I said to myself, "There is no way this man is ever going to be elected president of the United States." Yeah, I know: As long as people keep thinking that way, things will never change. So it's kind of a catch-22.

What can I say? We're here now in 2008 and I'm going with my gut.

Elizabeth said...

when Washington acts, it tends to act in concert. And it seldom does anything all that revolutionary.

Yes, but this reflects the reality of the political life in this country, hopelessly locked between two parties, who do their best to undermine each other and eventually end up capitulating (or compromising) when faced with this very reality.

Does not mean that individual politicos really change their stripes. In effect, you mean the same thing, I gather, but somehow saying that Bush has become centrist ("deep down" -- if there is a deep down there) sounded somewhat far-fetched to me on the first reading.

RevRon's Rants said...

I don't see Bush as being a centrist, as that would imply that he has been guided by some set of ideals. Throughout his career (including his college days), he has floated along, carried by influential family members and his father's business associates. I perceive his political life as having been more of the same, liberally peppered with the obligatory paybacks for past services rendered. Sadly, the country has paid a steep price - in blood, treasure, and the once-healthy respect in which we were once held by the rest of the world - for his quid pro quo, and will continue to pay dearly for at least the next generation.

I'm not a big Obama fan, but he certainly seems to be our best (and only viable) hope for restoring the country to its previous position of greatness. The alternatives are laughable at best, and dangerous at worst - a politician who changes his "principles" according to the dictates of current political expediency, and whose greatest asset is his experience as a POW, or a megalomaniac who simply refuses to acknowledge that his 15 minutes were up years ago, and clings to an illusory image of relevance, mindless of the cost to the country.

Barring a significant groundswell of support for Gore (and his willingness to enter the fray) I'll be voting for Obama.

Thankfully, it looks like he won't sit quietly and ignore the current crop of Swift Boat attempts to smear him. He can't, especially since an obviously desperate McCain has taken the helm of those attacks.meqke

Anonymous said...


You are probably going to vote for Obama because... why? You didn't state any reasons why you are going to vote for him based on what he is going to do. What do you like about Obama? Any positions align with your convictions? do you like his tax policy? His energy policy? His campaign financing policy? His abortion policy? His likely Supreme Court nominees?

The whole country has Bush fatigue. But he isn't running again. And McCain hasn't exactly shadowed the president - McCain turned on the president more often than not.

I see both sides as having an incredibly weak bench this year - not an RFK in the bunch. Obama is a Cook county huckster who is in way over his head. And McCain could start an argument in an empty room.

Pelosi and Reid have been just as disappointing as Hastert and Delay. There isn't much difference between the democrats and republicans: neither party can lead; but both are pretty good at exercising the power of prevention as the opposition.

Our political process is geared toward producing great politicians and not great leaders.

Mike Cane said...

Bah. My vote is valuable. It goes to who I *want* to win, not to who "can" win.

And don't be surprised if Obama loses. America absolutely hates people who count their chickens before they hatch (unless, you know, it's part of a seminar along the lines of "Think Yourself To Egg Riches!").

Oh, and if he does lose, please refrain from crying on my shoulder -- or going so low as to *blame me* for his loss. Obama and McCain -- if the choice was just THEM -- I'd STAY HOME. So no, you would have NEVER gotten my vote to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I like the concept of Obama; it's the execution which makes me not support him. For instance, Barack and Michelle came from humble means and through hard work wound up going to Colombia and Princeton, respectively; capped off with Harvard law school for both of them. They both went to Chicago and became community activists. Was their message "look what hard work in school and good choices outside of school did for us!"? No, it was "You have rights; you are entitled to relief and we'll get it for you." In short, they walked the walk but failed to talk the talk. His whole book is about what society owes to the downtrodden; not telling the downtrodden to get their act together.
Also, when Barack sealed the nomination of his party, his speech started off saying how humbled he was, yet two minutes later he said "now we can finally start taking care of the sick..."
I'm a doctor, and I've put in over 20 years of 70-hour workweeks taking care of sick people. how many hundreds of dinners have I missed because of hospital consultations with Medicaid patients who never paid me a dime? I don't remember Barack in medical school, or working in the hospital. He will never, ever deliver any medical care. How dare he suggest that he will enhance the medical care of sick people?

That line cost him the support of legitimate healthcare workers.

But I see no compelling reason to vote for McCain, either. I just don't have a horse in this race.

Cal said...

Don't you think Obama's presidency will really be William J. Clinton's third term? Obama's cabinet will probably be teeming with former Clintonians.

Would this change your viewpoint? Especially considering many people blame him for not getting bin Laden when we had the chance.

I hope people realize the '90s are over.

Steve Salerno said...

This is getting very interesting, to me. Today is positively crazed, but rest assured I'll try to address some of these points as soon as I get time (with the added perspective of having watched the Rick Warren event last night).

Anonymous said...


The big winners of the next election will be... GE (General Electric) and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). It's all a big corporate welfare play.

The big winners of the last administration were the defense contractors - they got $ billions in government taxpayer handouts. The Greenies are next - GE with their alternative energy play and AMD with the ethanol boondoggle. McCain and Obama are both "true believers" in the global warming paranoia, so they will throw money around to their corporate welfare clients.

Honestly, my vote does not count - McCain has a 20+ point lead in my state. My best hope is to get some of my taxes back as capital gains and dividends. So I'm selling my Halliburton stock and buying GE and AMD.

good girl roxie said...

Glad I checked in today. Good essay.

Those of us who read Audacity have a very clear picture who the man is, and what he wants to accomplishment for America and the rest of the world.

Forget about the horse race now, because that's all it is. Obama has to win. There is no other option. As bad a Pres as the Two-Headed Hydra has been, McCain would arguably be much, much worse.

We are watching Obama do and say things that are inconsistent with his Change We Can Believe In stance, but that are essentially consistent with winning this election. I think it's been so long since Americans have watched a progressive candidate possibly win a general election, we're having a hard time with the prerequisite compromises.

Bottom line? Obama can't win if the heavily financed right-wing smear machine succeeds at convincing enough voters that America won't be safe with him in the WH, and that little gift would have been placed at their feet had Obama not gone along with the FISA vote. Obama can't win if the powerful international lobbying group AIPAC decides to put money behind preventing his being elected, hence the infamous AIPAC speech.

And now, Obama knows our country will never move in the direction of a sustainable, non-polluting energy policy w/o some bone being thrown to America's energy cartel, hence lifting the ban on offshore drilling.

You started out with the book Audacity as being the reason you will vote for Obama in November. All these other distractions are the unpleasant but necessary whipping and spurring that has to happen if the horse is going to cross over the finish line first.

Now read Dreams From My Father.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon: Geez. Well, at least you're not cynical....

Roxie: I'm glad you checked in, too. I'm not as much of a conspiracy theorist (of a sort) as you appear to be, but we'll have to see what happens. Circumstances have proved me naive before.

Mike Cane said...

>>>As bad a Pres as the Two-Headed Hydra has been, McCain would arguably be much, much worse.

How many times is this whore going to be put on the street when she's obviously dead?

"This one is bad, but oooooh, this one is worse!!!"

All of you keep supporting the same evil under two different brand names and then wonder why we're constantly up the creek.

Try a different map!

RevRon's Rants said...

"All of you keep supporting the same evil under two different brand names and then wonder why we're constantly up the creek.

Try a different map!"

And if everybody in the world rode bicycles and learned to live without air conditioning and disposable everything, we wouldn't have an energy problem, and the climate change phenomenon would "miraculously" slow down or reverse itself. And if everyone lived according to the basic tenets of their faith and/or moral code, we wouldn't have any wars.

Unfortunately, on *this* planet, we have to deal with reality, and make the best of what is actually available to us. In my opinion, those who refuse to participate, or "participate" by wishing upon a star or trusting in things like the Secret are active participants in the destruction of society.

My hope - and belief - is that come November, we will finally make a positive move toward "putting the whore to bed." She ain't gonna just die, but maybe she'll lose some of her power. She already has...

CDragon said...

It seems Obama has dazzled many with his words. I culled the following from the Warrior Class Blog site. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine gave Obama credit for saving Georgia from the evil Russians.

“It was a bad crisis for the world. It required tough words but also a smart approach to call on the international community to step in. And I’m very, very happy that the Senator’s request for a ceasefire has been complied with by President Medvedev.”

Here's the Warrior's Blog response:

Good strategy requires thinking about what comes next. If Russia is really reacting to Obama’s “tough words,” does Obama also get credit when Russia removes the democratically elected president of Georgia, which is likely to happen any day, and replaces him with their own puppet? If anything, the Russian invasion demonstrates the impotence of Obama’s form of “tuff-talk (TM).” Since Russia knows that no one is going to challenge its power in its surrounding states, the world can talk as much as it likes and it won’t change a thing. As always, actions speak louder than words.

This event gives us the opportunity to see what Obama’s “tuff-talk” looks like, especially compared to that of others. Its defining characteristic is Obama’s willingness to continue talking until he has covered all sides of the issue, and everyone loses interest in what his actual position might possibly be. His campaign’s first statements attacked McCain for condemning Russia because one of McCain’s advisers is Randy Scheunemann, a former lobbyist for Georgia. His next statement took no sides, characterizing the invasion as “an outbreak of violence” and asking both “Georgia and Russia to show restraint.” Finally, he completed his trifecta of positions by finally joining McCain and the rest of the world in condemning Russia.

When Bush and McCain spoke on this issue, people might reasonably think that their tough talk might lead to actions, if only the removal of Russia from the G8, which may be the only practical response. In Obama’s case, his “tuff-talk” (TM) will simply lead to more nuanced future statements, including those condemning any suggestion of actual action, like removal of Russia from the G8.

Steve Salerno said...

This last comment by CDragon will take on some irony in light of my newest post, today.

Anonymous said...

The proverbial "Someone" once said:
"Never fall in love with a politician they'll only end up breaking your heart."

Excuse me if I sit out this election. Politics has become so toxic I just don't need the constant negativity and poison in my life. If anyone really believes either politician is going to make a big difference in their life, go for it. I don't intend to be anyone's useful idiot.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I don't intend to be anyone's useful idiot."

And yet, by sitting on the sidelines rather than participating in the process, are you not actually serving that very function for the status quo?

No one man can change our dysfunctional system, but that change can be affected by a groundswell movement, led by that one man (or woman) who successfully inspires people to demand and work for change.

Steve Salerno said...

Yeah, see, that's my thinking now too. I don't see how opting out helps. And I'm reminded of the Edmund Burke quote: (roughly) "All that's required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." Now, I'm not saying that I know what's objectively good or evil, or even that any such absolute values exist. But each of us knows in our heart what we'd like to see happen. And if we don't take any action, then we allow other things to happen by default. No?

Mike Cane said...

>>>Unfortunately, on *this* planet, we have to deal with reality,

Oh? Reality? Baloney. It's what you've ACCEPTED. Your defeat has already begun inside you.

You're as guilty as the current and past administrations with their failure to get rid of oil as our main power source. Just because *they* can't *see* how it is possible, they don't make any real effort.

Christ, glad you weren't there when talk of fighting the British went around in the 1700s!

Mike Cane said...

I must go for two.

>>>No one man can change our dysfunctional system, but that change can be affected by a groundswell movement, led by that one man (or woman) who successfully inspires people to demand and work for change.

The man is a Jive-Ass Turkey!

If you get inspiration from *that*, Christ, please stop voting!

Steve Salerno said...

I sense the imminence of a beanball war (to fall back on the baseball metaphors that define my life). All I ask is that we stick to the issues as they evolve this time, rather than immediately going for the jugular. Thank you in advance. I think a lot of people might want in on this one, and I don't want anyone dissuaded by the tenor of the exchanges. (Yeah, I know. I'm disclaiming/hand-holding again. Guess I'm just codependent.)

Btw, we are presented here with a golden opportunity to demonstrate that this blog is above the punch/counterpunch one-liners that mar today's (so-called) political rhetoric. I think we all consider ourselves fairly intelligent--yes? Well if we can't have a debate that's rooted in actual methodical argumentation...why should we expect better of our political hacks?

roger o'keefe said...

Steve, how weird. I was just about to post a similar comment when I read yours. I'm surprised and a little dismayed by the immediate "rush to judgment" tone here. Where is the anger coming from? OK, so people are unhappy with the slate of choices. That's democracy for you. Like the guy said in the Godfather, this is the business we've chosen. People have every right to disagree, even vehemently, with the candidates available, but what are people getting so damn angry about? It is what it is. And more to the point, it wouldn't BE this way if a large chunk of Americans were determined to change it. Majority rule, right? Deal with it. Dont' start screaming at your neighbors just because they're all united in their support for a candidate you hate!

RevRon's Rants said...

Mike -

I've done more than my share of fighting for principles - a few of which were woefully misguided, even perverse - and have learned that it's better to work with what is available to effect change than to whine and scream against the injustices of a system, while damning anyone who refuses to give up on it. Assailing windmills is all well and good, but not everybody agrees that it's a productive activity.

For one thing, instantaneous change is only truly possible via radical revolution, and will not work in - being diametrically opposed to - a democratic form of government. The founding fathers were smart enough to recognize that in order for their experiment to succeed, there had to be inhibiting influences on both the government and the people it represented. Lacking those influences, we'd have every bit as good a chance at success as your average banana republic.

Some things don't change as quickly as I'd like, but I can't justify bailing out on a system that, even with all its flaws and abusers, holds the greatest promise. But that's just me, and it took a lot of years and too many battles to finally get to that perspective.

Frankly, I would find your admonition to stop voting amusing, if it didn't reflect the same mentality that has so deeply harmed this nation over the last years. The far right has sought at every turn to silence dissent, calling those who disagree every imaginable name. Thankfully, the nation has grown so tired of such empty, inflammatory dialog that I doubt even the Swift Boaters for McCain (or Nader, for that matter) have much chance of gaining traction. But feel free to give it your best shot! :-)

Anonymous said...

mike cane, you don't drive a car, do you? Or use anything made of plastic? Or eat anything that you don't grow in your own garden? I'd hate to think that you weren't doing your part to get us off that oil addiction.

good girl roxie said...

I always get a kick out of people who complain about Obama supporters talking about McCain's policies. We've all heard the "oooh, McCain worse than Obama, vote for Obama" rant, as a way to discredit people who support Obama.

I'm an Obama supporter because of Obama's policies. The people I know who support him do so for the same reasons. But we also know a lot about McCain's policies, and how those policies will play out on the millions of Americans who are neither rich nor poor.

I worked for the Obama campaign for six weeks this summer in a state that has never elected a Dem Pres in its history. The Obama supporters there are already very knowledgable about his policies. They've been up on his web site for months now, and he's been very clearly and consistently explaining them on the stump.

In contrast, it's rare that I found a McCain supporter who could coherently explain McCain's positions on any topic, other than to use the rhetoric we hear so much on Fox "news" and some of the right-leaning radio shows. They are to a huge extent factually clueless, for example, on McCain's tax policy, or his health care policy, yet they will spout untruths like "Obama's gonna raise my taxes and make me pay for health care for those too lazy to work and in our country illegally."

Because of this scenario, it behooves Obama supporters to understand McCain's policies, and to be able to articulate them to working middle-class voters who for various reasons remain ignorant on their candidate's policies while insisting that he'd make a good Pres while Obama's out to destroy America.

While it is certainly true to say that we can't be sure what Obama would do if elected to serve as Pres, but by golly, we have never been sure how any candidate would do if elected.

Mike Cane said...

Hey anonymous, thank you, in the immortal line of Woody Allen, for "reducing me to a cliche." I have a blog, have you clicked on it?

As for reality, here's a young girl who shames all of you Obamists.

Yeah, sorry if anyone takes my directness as personal insult. Don't take it personally! I'm not some crazed militant who will whiiiine like a Democrat when my candidate doesn't win. (Oh come on! Did you expect me to *resist* that?)

RevRon's Rants said...

Mike, I don't think anyone here objects to directness. What *is* offensive is the dismissive, broad-stroke put down of anyone who favors another candidate/ideology/etc. Disrespecting the rights of others to have valid opinions and calling them names is a clear sign that one is uncertain of his or her viewpoints, and has effectively abandoned the debate.

You are certainly welcome to back and vote for whomever you like, but to assume that anyone who chooses another candidate is either mentally defective or bereft of concern is disingenuous, at best.

For my money, you can post all the links you want that sing Nader's praises; to most people, he's merely a megalomaniac who refuses to admit - even to himself - that the relevance bus has long ago left him standing at the station. His contribution to a presidential race is to siphon off a small number of voters, typically from the left-leaning side. His greatest claim to "fame" - beyond saving the world from the evil Corvair - is having played a small but significant part in putting Dubya in office. And that sure won't win him any acclaim! :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

"let us not forget that he [Bush] couldn't have done it without bipartisan backing."

Steve - If you consider a virtual lockout of the opposing party from discussion and negotiation - much less, casting a relevant vote - to be an example of "bipartisan backing," you've been listening to Rush for too long! :-)

Steve Salerno said...

I dunno, Ron. I think general Washington politics had a lot to do with it--that, and the post-9/11 climate. Basically, at that juncture, politicians were going to rubber-stamp anything that appeared to (a) put the rascals in their place, and (b) ensure higher levels of domestic tranquility. It wasn't just that politicians felt obliged to support Bush's stand; it was that they were afraid not to, lest they appear "soft" and "weak" and become forever unelectable thereafter. So there were a lot of dynamics that fed into that whole deal. But look, I definitely agree that any party that holds sway in the way the GOP then did is going to become something of a bully. I listened to Bill Maher last night on Larry King, and he was waxing wistful about the advantages of a parliamentary system. He's got a point.

And wouldn't you just love to see our politicians standing up during "Congress" and ripping each other a new one--albeit with great rhetorical flair--the way they do over in the UK?

RevRon's Rants said...

While I agree that there was a significant degree of bipartisan unity immediately post-9/11, that unity evaporated rather quickly, primarily due to the administration's inept and inappropriate responses. The civilized world was pretty much in agreement, even during our strikes against al Quaida in Afghanistan. Then came Iraq, combined with the administration's protracted power-grab, and the consensus was obliterated. Such a waste...

From that point forward, anyone who even questioned the admin's policies was dubbed a traitor, and opposition within the legislative bodies - even verbal expressions of opposition - were quashed. As much as I don't want to see the pendulum swing wholly to the Democrats' side, I believe that a bit of overcompensation is essential to undo the damage done by the rubber-stamp right. If McCain were to win the election, we would see our liberties continue to erode, due in no small part to his inevitable appointment of pseudo-conservative Supreme Court justice(s), and our position in the rest of the world would erode even further.

Obama is flawed. I have no argument with that. But I've come to the conclusion that flaws notwithstanding, he presents our best chance to improve conditions for the middle class in this country, as well as improving our standing in the greater world, with allies and foes alike.

Truth be told, I would have preferred a Ron Paul presidency, tempered in his ideologies by a Democratic-dominated Congress & Senate. But there's no way I'd vote for him (or any Independent) at this point, since it would, in the *real* world, be a vote for McCain.

mikecane2008 said...

>>>For my money, you can post all the links you want that sing Nader's praises; to most people, he's merely a megalomaniac who refuses to admit - even to himself - that the relevance bus has long ago left him standing at the station. His contribution to a presidential race is to siphon off a small number of voters, typically from the left-leaning side. His greatest claim to "fame" - beyond saving the world from the evil Corvair - is having played a small but significant part in putting Dubya in office. And that sure won't win him any acclaim! :-)

Well, you see, there's just too much crap there for me to ignore!

>>>to most people

Oh, really? Don't you mean simply most crybaby Democrats?

No, I am certain that if people had the courage for *real* change -- and not Obama's chump change -- Nader would have many votes. "Viable candidate" is a coward's cloak.

Hey, go rent An Unreasonable Man and you'll get an education instead of this snotty wave of your hand, dimissing his accomplishments by point to the Corvair. You owe your damn seat belt to him, for one thing.

And, no, even if Nader had not run, that stiff Gore and that stiff Kerry still would *not* have won. Look up the numbers instead of parroting absolute rubbish.

mikecane2008 said...

And, Steve, I've been sitting here contemplating the weird idea that for someone who's been so great at parsing BS, you've fallen for Obama's BS.

Well, if he wins, I'll be awaiting your cries of pain as wave after wave of campaign promise (or, I'm sure in his eyes, campaign *jive*) is broken or modified or watered-down or just plain suppressed by a willing press.

Really, McCain has absolutely nothing to recommend him, but I think if Obama wasn't running in this election, he'd eventually wind up as one of your targets.

Eh. The world is weird like that.

Steve Salerno said...

Mike: OK. I've sat here on the sidelines as this got heated. And now I'm going to wade back in.

First of all, you have no basis--at all--for dismissing those who refuse to line up behind Nader (and therefore, by extension, those who fail to follow your line of reasoning) as "crybaby Democrats." I never liked Nader, either. He's done some good stuff, yeah, but there's much to criticize about him, in my view, and if he's responsible for seat belts, he's also largely responsible for the wave of nanny-state-ism that--if I'm not mistaken?--you yourself have attacked in the past. (I could be wrong there, but I think I remember that. If I'm wrong, I apologize.) I could go on and on, but my main point here is that the mere fact that someone disagrees with you doesn't make that person a crybaby or a moron.

Second, I have no particular desire to see Obama fulfill his campaign promises. I just want the man in office, more than I want his opponent in office. Especially if he picks Joe Biden as a running mate. I want someone who can think. I want someone who sees the world as a more complex place than the way politicians have conditioned us to view life in recent decades. I want someone who at least appears to have empathy. I'm not sure that any politician can fulfill his campaign promises nowadays, and I think that if you read between the lines of what Obama says--even now, as he's running--he's already telling us that. I respect the fact that he speaks in front of certain groups and tells them things they don't want to hear; that you sometimes hear uneasy rustling and even a boo or two at his speeches. I'm writing this very much off the cuff and in a surly mood on a busy day, but that's what I'm thinking for starters.

RevRon's Rants said...

Mike - The choice to work to improve a system rather than demolish it is hardly an act of cowardice - a trait that of which I've never been accused... at least, not by anyone who is rational and/or knows me. Drastic change simply doesn't work in government. I'd have thought you would have learned that in high school civics class.

I've followed Nader for many years, and while he does have some accomplishments to his credit, he remains a grossly unrealistic megalomaniac who is more interested in his own personal agenda than in the well-being of the country. And I figured this out, not from reading a single, carefully crafted book, but from actually studying the man's activities for the last 40 years.

Like I'd said before, passion is an admirable trait, but when you fail to temper it with common sense and perhaps a touch of civility, you just come across like an angry little kid who demands that the world acquiesce to his ideas, no matter how ill-considered those ideas might be.

Elizabeth said...

I want someone who can think. I want someone who sees the world as a more complex place than the way politicians have conditioned us to view life in recent decades. I want someone who at least appears to have empathy.

It ain't McCain, that's for sure.

Elizabeth said...

Speaking of our esteemed candidates, this nugget of news today:

McCain unsure how many houses he owns

Yeah, I feel his pain (said with biting sarcasm).

BTW, and he calls Obama "elitist"...?

Steve Salerno said...

Oh, I agree. Especially since his wife, Cindy, ain't exactly hurtin' for cash. But speaking of elitism--and in the spirit of giving credit where it's due--I must say, McCain got off the best line of this primary season, if not any primary season, when asked if he saw a distinct difference between his supporters and those of Mit Romney. McCain replied, "I think it's safe to say that anyone who uses summer as a verb probably isn't my constituency."

I don't know if the line is original to him--I shoulda checked--but man oh man, is that one of the best swipes at the country club set, or what?

Elizabeth said...

Yeah, it is a good line. But its use is/was disingenuous, I'd say. McCain portrays himself as the man of the people while his connections to "the people" are nil. (I know, I know, one can get easily confused when the number of one's houses exceeds the number of one's fingers. Sure, it can happen to anyone:

And those $500 shoes do not exactly scream populist either:

Summering may not be in his vocabulary, but only because he has found an adequate synonym or two.

Mike Cane said...

OK, now we have really veered in Cloud Cuckoo-Land.


Biden the British politician speech pilferer?

Oh, and RR I can just ignore from now on.

RevRon's Rants said...

McCain tries to portray himself as a populist, Dubya tried to portray himself as a "uniter," and Nader tries to portray himself as a guardian of the public good. All three personas evaporate upon even rudimentary inspection. And all three have counted upon the populace's unwillingness to actually look more closely than their carefully crafted images. Unfortunately, their gambles have paid off, at least for a time. I sense that the country has either grown more sophisticated in the last year or so, or has finally been forced to recognize those repeated slaps in the face by the great gloved hand of reality. Whichever it is, it gives me hope.

mikecane2008 said...

OK, it's Biden. I just threw up.

He really DOES want to lose, doesn't he?

Steve Salerno said...

I find this astonishing. So now we have a Democratic ticket with two highly intelligent men (no one can take issue with that, I think), and a vice-presidential pick who offers all of the experience that everyone said was lacking in Obama...and yet some of us are "throwing up."

I don't mean to be overly critical, but to me, this is symptomatic of the problem facing us nowadays when it comes to politics: the rush to judgment and the need to demonize; the polarizing way in which we refer to seemingly good men. I want someone to tell me what Joe Biden has done--other than perhaps steal a few words--that merits a vomit-based reaction. He's a bit of a loose canon sometimes? Good! We could use more of that. I think it speaks to honesty and passion.

You know, I met John McCain when I was a higher-up in the American Legion National Organization. We chatted a bit, and he struck me as a nice guy, an interesting guy. My objection to him now is that I'm extremely sour on the party from which he hails, I don't think he's nearly as intelligent as Obama (but who is, in politics?), and I don't like the way he has devolved, politically, now that he realizes he has a serious shot at the presidency. (I'm reminded of the brilliant movie The Candidate, and that classic debate scene towards the end, wherein the Redford character--who entered the race as a voice for reform and a "fresh new look" in Washington--realizes that suddenly, with victory in sight, he's the one talking in carefully parsed sound-bites.) But do I think McCain is basically a good guy? Yeah. I do. And if he'd have gone with Joe Lieberman (doubtful but possible), I'm telling you, it would've been a really close call for me. (But I'd still go with Obama/Biden.)

Anonymous said...

C'mon, Steve. If it's OK for people to express their sick tastes at work (free speech 'n all), it's certainly OK to throw up when faced with the Obama/Biden ticket. Why are you so squimish all of a sudden? Because someone's reaction goes against your wants this time? Welcome to the world.

Steve Salerno said...

Yeah, but I don't prohibit people from "throwing up" on my blog, do I?

I'm not saying I can't understand why people would oppose Obama--and I'm certainly not saying I can't understand why people would want to keep sadomasochistic porn out of the workplace. I'm just saying there ought to be cooler heads prevailing in much of this.

Steve Salerno said...

And incidentally, I think that a blogger (like, say, me) should have far more rights in setting policies for his blog than a corporate honcho should have for setting policy in his or her company. A company, especially a larger one, is more like Mainstream USA and, in my view, should be administered as such: Free speech/free expression should prevail as much as possible. (Yes, you should be able to call the boss an asshole without losing your job.) Whereas a blog is more like a mom-and-pop store: We can refuse the right to serve anyone.

Elizabeth said...

Let's just hope that Biden has dealt with any "mistress problems" beforehand, so we won't have to suffer another round of tabloid frenzy.

And, incidentally, Biden's acceptance speech woes are already being covered here:

RevRon's Rants said...

Right on cue, the smear machine is dredging up the fact that some years ago, one of Biden's speeches contained material lifted from a speech given in Britain. The uproar then was deafening: Biden's a PLAGIARIST!! And its echoes are resounding, even now.

Such a charge indicates either a woeful ignorance of politics, or an intentional deception to attempt to eliminate a political threat. Of course, both are applicable in this case.

Early in my career as a freelance writer, I wrote - among other things - political speeches. Here's how it works: A candidate's political advisers & strategists assign a speechwriter to prepare material for a specific appearance. The writer develops the draft, and polishes it, based upon input from the advisers and/or the public official.

The candidate must necessarily place his or her trust in the advisers and speechwriters, whose job it is to fact-check the piece before it is given. In Biden's case, I'd be willing to bet that the fallout included at least one writer who had difficulty finding work afterward, and an adviser or two who had difficulty sitting down for awhile. To Biden's credit, he didn't go all out, pointing fingers, and you'd better believe that the Republicans didn't see fit to present the case accurately. And I'd be willing to bet that they'll drag that old horse out of its grave and drag it around for all its worth, assuming (rightfully so) that most people won't bother checking their facts for accuracy. Like I said before, we deserve the government we get! :-(

Elizabeth said...

Oh, but you know how this works, Ron:
Obama could choose Jesus as his running mate and Repubs would find a way to swiftboat him (too young; inexperienced on foreign policy; soft on terrorism and defense issues -- see that nonsense about the other cheek; and the most damaging of all, feminist and communist).

Obama-Jesus '08 -- a political suicide ticket. Vote McCain.

Dimension Skipper said...

Hi... first off I want to say that I discovered this blog only within the past month or so and have enjoyed reading the posts and the back and forth discussions in the comments on various topics. (I actually found SHAMblog by Googling on Lucinda Bassett and her Midwest Center. I was curious about it since I hear commercials for it seemingly non-stop on local radio in the Philadelphia area.)

Mr. Salerno, I like your blogging style in that you seem to have opinions, present them in a thoughtful entertaining style, but don't necessarily assume that you're "right" and anyone who disagrees is "wrong." You also seem to couch things in reasonable terms and give examples and analogies to back up why you have certain views. You let others speak their piece as well. You seem willing to "play fair," give credit where credit is due, and expect a certain amount of the same from your commenters. And yes, as the blogger-in-charge you are well within your rights to set any and all ground rules or to change them as you deem necessary. Although in this most recent instance I don't know why “anonymous” felt the need to say anything at all since all you did was use a commenter's raw emotional (but essentially uninformative) response as a springboard for making a further point, providing actual detail and cogent thoughts in the process.

Myself, I wouldn't mind someone saying that sort of thing (I'm assuming it's metaphorical vomit, btw) so long as the person goes on to give a reason or two for such an obviously strong statement. By not providing any intellectual substance it tends to take on an arrogant air of "this is so obviously wrong that everyone will just naturally know what I mean by this and agree with me, so no need to elaborate." I think that often such discourse becomes the norm on generally partisan sites where in effect folks are preaching to the choir anyway, so everyone already tends to share the same views for the most part and HOW things are said is not really an issue (and stronger and stronger statements are in fact encouraged by the pep rally atmosphere.

I know I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly amazed at how adherents on both sides so often represent issues in terms of “smears” and the “scumbags” who use such dirty tactics whereas the side to which they belong is made up of “noble truthsayers” fighting for the greater good who would never ever dare sink so low (except to respond in kind only after much valiant restraint). We will decry “spin” tactics and cry foul, but use’em ourselves just in everyday conversations without even realizing we’re doing it. Nonchalantly choosing such emotionally and oppositely charged words to discuss delicate topics does not usually lend itself to initiating a thoughtful discussion. Before you know it it devolves essentially to “Am not!,” “Are too!,” etc.

Political rhetoric from both sides has become so in-grained by now that the typical discussion seems to quickly degenerate into memorized sound bites, name calling, and rudeness. It's all sort of a shorthand for the two opposing sides and the real underlying philosophical discussions no longer seem to get aired out. Although maybe if enough “vomiting” goes on, both sides will finally feel the need to air things out!

For the record, I'm an independent voter (as in "I've never declared an official party affiliation"). I do admit to traditionally leaning Republican, but it's not a hard and fast rule for me. I am very seriously leaning towards voting for Obama this time around, but I still have time to sort that out yet. In the meantime I use my iGoogle home page to check out the RSS feeds from,, and for reasonably unbiased investigations into campaign issues and statements. It doesn’t hurt to cross-reference issues across those sites either. I also recently discovered, but I’m not so sure about that one’s usefulness yet. Sometimes the “What’s New” page and corresponding RSS feed features something of a current political nature too.

As cynical as I consider myself with re to politics, it still amazes me how often and how much things get spun by both sides to give a worse impression than the plain facts would otherwise indicate. And why anyone would ever base their vote on the official political ads on TV, I’ll never know. I certainly hope people don’t do that!

Anyway, I'm mostly a lurker by nature... Mainly I just wanted to pop in and say I'm enjoying the topics around here and put in my measly 2 cents off the top of my head. Good day...

Steve Salerno said...

DS, I must say I'm glad that my dimension is one you decided not to skip. Very thoughtful perspectives indeed. I remember when we read "1984" in high school, my teacher made such an emphatic point of Orwell's concept of "doublethink," which he (the teacher, and presumably Orwell too) saw as evidence of the nation having reached a point in its devolution where the only way we could live in society without our heads exploding was by learning to rationalize away the rules and policies than ran counter to what we knew--innately--was right. But the older I get, the more I see doublethink as really the only appropriate way to approach life: to understand that your own subjective beliefs are merely your own subjective beliefs, and no matter how strongly you believe them, you must simultaneously be able to entertain the possibility that you're dead wrong.

Anyway, again, thanks for dropping by.

Mike Cane said...

Here's the Reality Check: Peggy Noonan column in the WSJ.

And RR, I read her book, so I know how speeches are done. If you recall, she wrote many of Reagan's.

"... touch the Face of God" her finest hour.

And don't all of you forget: I'm voting for a candidate who all of you believe is dead going to LOSE. Yet you can't take any heckling over a candidate all of you believe is dead set to WIN.

Tch, tch.

Politics drives people insane.

And is that debate online? I must see it now!

RevRon's Rants said...

Speaking of reality checks:

I think his own editor pretty well sums it up!

Nobody really cares who anyone else is going to vote for. However, when someone demands that everyone drink his personal flavor of kool-aid, it does get tiresome.

Mike Cane said...

Hey, RR: Thanks for that. I'm actually reading it. Not the place here to parse it. If you want to play that game then, I'll just say my hypocrite is better than your hypocrite and leave it at that. Ha!

RevRon's Rants said...

Actually, I grew weary of the "game" some time ago. There are links to pages slamming pretty much every public persona, some based in truth, and some merely SwiftBoat attempts. Each of us gets to choose what we deem most credible.

I know very few people who aren't "hypocritical" to some degree. And I don't even give politicians' hypocrisy a second thought, because it's an essential trait for political survival. I just look at the candidates' fundamental attitudes as they manifest over time, and vote for the ones who seem most promising, less dangerous, or both.

Where's Lyndon LaRouche when the public really needs him? He at ;east brought a degree of comic relief to his crackpot-dom! :-)

mikecane2008 said...

RR, your LaRouche comment cracked me up. I guess I wasn't the only one who watched his past 1/2-hr network spots with rapt attention, wondering all the time, WTF?

And by the way, I linked to that site on my blog. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

"For the record, I'm an independent voter (as in 'I've never declared an official party affiliation')."

Great to see another registered Independent here. I too do not like either party. I think the two party system is one of the biggest problems in politics. It goes something like this, "you're a Democrat and I'm a Republican so I cannot hear or understand what you are saying." That's why so many are registering as Independents. We understand what a Democrat, Republican, Green, Pink, and Purple are, but we want to make up our own minds.