Sunday, September 28, 2008

Idle musings on Palin's campaign to nowhere.

Here's a more or less random thought that occurs to me as I sit here this morning over my fifteenth cup of coffee, pondering the low chorus beginning to build in favor of Sarah Palin removing herself from the race* (a chorus that, one assumes, would be sung nationally at fortissimo levels if Palin is an out-and-out disaster in this week's debate): What must the 670,000-and-something residents of Alaska be thinking right about now? Do they feel incredibly offended...or just incredibly stupid? This womanthis woman who's the subject of nonstop ridicule, now, on late-night talk shows and in wickedly funny SNL sketches; this woman whom Bill Maher this past week flatly labeled a "bimbo"; this woman whose interview with Katie Couric has drawn comparisons to that beauty-pageant contestant who got lost in her answer about "maps," and whose thoughts on Vladimir Putin may ultimately go down as the low-water mark of all political responses, ever (Maher calls it the "sentence to nowhere")this woman is, after all, Alaska's governor. Not just that, but a governor with an 80+ approval rating, supposedly the highest gubernatorial approval rating in the U.S.** It appears safe to say that a governor with an 80-percent approval rating truly represents the people she governs. So it could be argued that this is not just a referendum on Sarah Palin, but on the judgment, taste andwellthe smarts of the good people of Alaska.

Hell, they might just secede after all.

P.S. Another thought just occurred to me. Is it possible that Palin will be forced out before Thursday's debate, so as not to risk her utter self-destruction in front of America-at-large?

* Incidentally, this is a chorus that veteran political strategist Dick Morris sagely hinted at as long ago as the GOP convention.
He was roundly and sharply chastised for it by Sean ("DMoTV") Hannity and other right-wing types.
** I've seen some controversy over this, however, and hard data seem equally hard to come by. Maybe an enterprising SHAMblogger with time on his hands (more than I've got) can hunt this down for us?

81 comments:

ellen said...

I would give the beauty queen some sympathy for her predicament, its not a good thing to be caught out looking stupid but I would guess it has happened to all of us at sometime or another--after all she is aspiring to be a beauty queen, not an expert on anything else. Had she been asked about haircare or makeup I am sure she would have dazzled with her comprehensive knowledge. Each to his own.
Sarah Palin meanwhile has repeatedly demonstrated how profoundly out of her depth she is.
I don't think there is any shame in being out of your depth provided you recognise that and do something to remedy the situation. Sarah could begin a programme of education to bring herself up to speed or withdraw. But as Elizabeth pointed out some days ago
Sarah doesn't know that she doesn't know and that is potentially disastrous. As some poster on another site said 'If I live next door to a nuclear reactor that doesn't make me an expert in nuclear fission.'
Putin must be laughing like a drain, I bet he has that sentence in pride of place over his desk.
As to the Alaskans, I bet they're wishing they'd sent the moose to Washington instead.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about that myself (her being forced out before Thursday) and I can't imagine McCain doing that without seeming to admit his own stupidity in ever picking her. I really think the GOP has painted itself into a very difficult corner. If they keep her, she's a loose cannon. If they cut her loose, then she becomes a scapegoat in a way and the women who rallied behind her are going to be furious at the GOP for doing that. Like I said they're in a very tough spot right now and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

RevRon's Rants said...

"I don't think there is any shame in being out of your depth provided you recognise that and do something to remedy the situation."

So someone whom is out of their depth to the degree that they don't recognize it is deserving of contempt? It just sounds like we're attempting to make a lack of intelligence a crime, unless the individual is intelligent enough to know they aren't intelligent enough. A cerebral Catch-22 if ever there was one.

There have been times when I've entered a curve on my motorcycle, confident that my velocity did not exceed conditions or my skill, only to discover - too late - that I was mistaken. Sometimes, we just don't know that the radius of the curve decreases, just beyond our field of vision. Sometimes, we aren't aware of the slick spot in the middle of the road. And sometimes, we get hurt. As I became more experienced, I learned to *expect* the factors that I hadn't even considered before, and compensated for their potential existence. Palin, IMO, just hasn't been on this road before (few have; certainly none of us on this forum). We each get to choose whether we delight in seeing her bruised and blame her for her ignorance, or simply accept that like the rest of us (but on a much more public scale), she has stepped beyond her realm of knowledge and screwed up.

Elizabeth said...

(Sorry to be so long here.)

As one Anon observed yesterday, Palin has, reportedly, always dreamed about becoming president. There is certainly nothing wrong with that and it's an admirable goal perhaps in the right circumstances. She has made steps to realize the goal by entering politics and doing her best to advance rapidly in it. Her "best," unfortunately (or not, depending on your POV), has meant skilfully navigating the interpersonal games and using populist sentiments to gain more power for herself, while at the same time successfully bringing about changes in the Alaskan politics and economy (many of them positive and beneficial to Alaskans). She has proven herself to be an eager political player and a good governor, judging by her reforms and her popularity among Alaskans.

One would think, however, that someone who's always dreamed about becoming president would try to acquaint himself/herself with relevant issues in depth (including the world politics). Alas, this has never been a requirement in the American politics where the country's relative isolation and the myths of exceptionalism have produced a number of similar improbable political figures (Reagan comes to mind, for example).

Palin is a smart, though uncurious, energetic and ambitious woman driven to pursue her goals as well as (apparently) committed to a certain set of values that put her in step with a large segment of the American population.

Unfortunately, if we had our priorities straight, we'd have to admit that these attributes are not enough to govern the whole nation and become a leader (or the second-in-command) of the free world. What has made Sarah so successful in the local politics of the sparsely populated Alaska is not sufficient -- and at times is in conflict with the demands of the highest office, if we were to take it seriously. Her narrow horizons (figurative but literal as well), and experience, and her insular worldview limited even further by her ideology make her really an anti-candidate, if we, as a nation, had enough wisdom to admit it.

But then she was chosen, cynically, for one reason only: to shore up the fundamentalist religious base -- and she has accomplished that goal. McCain's choice here shows his contempt for our nation and for the highest office, as well as for Palin herself (not that she minds it). His priorities are glaringly obvious and in step with his character (so vividly on display in the Friday debate, among other places).

A couple of months ago, the fundamentalists had serious doubts about McCain who was not, in their eyes, dogmatic enough to represent their interests. People like Dobson publicly expressed their disappointment with the GOP candidate and their unwillingness to support him. And without their support, there was simply no way McCain could win in November, given
his very unimpressive record on issues that matter in this election. So what's a candidate to do? Choose a VP that would put "country first," or one that would put his candidacy first? Apparently a simple choice for McCain -- not much blinking involved on either side of the equation -- and thus we have Sarah. Fundamentalists are delighted. Dobson himself announced that now he'll vote for McCain -- and his followers are right behind him.

There is no way McCain could drop Palin without alienating and offending the Christian fundamentalists, unless he could find an equally rabid fundamentalist candidate in her place -- and there seems to be no such prospect in sight. And what we consider absurd or downright dangerous in Palin's views and behavior, the fundies see as either the revealed truth and/or insignificant (e.g. her stunning ignorance of the world affairs), certainly less important than promoting their ideological agenda. So Palin stays, and unless I'm terribly mistaken, this is exactly what she wants -- and she enjoys every minute of it, no matter the consequences.

Speaking of the latter, we unfairly expect of her the foresight, wisdom and sensitivity to envision consequences of her choices. I think she has demonstrated, repeatedly, that she possesses none. That's the beauty of Sarah -- and that's exactly why she makes a perfect VP choice for McCain.

ellen said...

Yes, Revron, in my opinion someone who is so lacking in intelligence that she does not recognise how lacking in intelligence she is and subsequently accepts a VP nomination is utterly deserving of contempt.
We are not talking generalities here we are discussing the specific case of Sarah Palin and her ludicrous delusion that she is up to the job.
Would you extend your sympathies were this a man in Sarahs embarrassing and wholly self-inflicted predicament? Would your response as a Southern gentleman be the same towards the man? Or is your sympathy entirely reserved for silly little women who cannot be trusted to make their own mistakes?
Sarah has been in the political arena for some time, where is her critical judgement?
As Elizabeth has mentioned, could Sarah not just say no? A response she herself advocates in teenage sexual matters; matters that are far trickier to control than Sarahs
middle-aged ambitions.

ellen said...

Elizabeth,
What a well reasoned and in depth comment, and how horribly depressing.

Margaret said...

Interesting and sometimes virulent debate ongoing here. I enjoy watching it play out as an expat.

I read somewhere that the US doesn't bother tabulating military and expat votes because the percentage is so low it doesn't make a difference anyway. So I don't think I'll bother voting this year.

That said, I have voted every other election since I cast my first vote for Ronald Reagan.

I used to be opinionated and invest emotion into politics and presidential elections. I don't anymore. What's the point of that? Get myself all riled up for what? If I get emotional, even angry, that's no good for me or anyone around me.

The catch cry is always change; well, the single attribute of time is change. That's all there is really. Change is inevitable but is any single president/vp capable of single-handedly steering towards change for the better?

Better for whom? Isn't it all subjective? What may be better for me maybe decidedly worse for you.

The difficulty in determining who is right for the job can be fraught with problems, but it doesn't have to be. Let's say we have a ruler to measure human morality and capability.

One one end is absolute evil/absolute imperfection. On the other end is absolute good/absolute perfection. Let's say everyone and everything has a position on the spectrum.

Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin have a place on the spectrum.

The only thing a person can do, I suppose, is place the candidates on the spectrum thereby determining his vote.

Here is the rub: the only people we can place on the spectrum with any real accuracy are people we actually know and even then, do we really know them?

I don't think most people even know themselves well enough to put themselves on the scale accurately! Most people slide up and down the scale in a single day.

Plus, I don't see how one candidate or another can make all that much difference anyway.

Can one party or another impact my soldier son's future?

I had a philosophy professor at University - a New York atheist Jew who was an adament determinist. He was great,I learned a lot from him, although his atheism never rubbed off on me.

But his explaination of action/reaction, cause/effect and free will/determinism has stuck.

Personally, I think my son's fate is sealed. The day of his departure is written on the tablet of his soul. He'll either live long or die young. Who knows which, but the incoming president won't affect his life.

As I see it, the only positive change that ever happens is when an individual consciously strives to improve her awareness of absolute good and expresses that good through her personality. In so doing, she places herself on the spectrum and attempts to move up that scale daily. But even this is based upon opinion of what constitutes absolute good.

This exercise is so intimate, so personal and so minute at times as to be imperceptable to even one's close associates. It's a daily struggle.

I am not even too emotionally attached to what I have written here. It is, after all, just an opinion.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Would you extend your sympathies were this a man in Sarahs embarrassing and wholly self-inflicted predicament? Would your response as a Southern gentleman be the same towards the man? Or is your sympathy entirely reserved for silly little women who cannot be trusted to make their own mistakes?"

Hmmm... sounds like somebody's "issues" are coming out. But the answer is yes. I would react the same way to a man whom I thought was being used. I recognize that I am prone to *feel* more protective of females, yet have learned to weigh those feelings against logic before taking action. And it has nothing to do with any sense that they aren't capable in their own right. If that's OK, that is... :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

"Yes, Revron, in my opinion someone who is so lacking in intelligence that she does not recognise how lacking in intelligence she is and subsequently accepts a VP nomination is utterly deserving of contempt."

We are obviously in fundamental disagreement. Cest le vie! :-)

RevRon's Rants said...

Margaret - While I don't share your adherence to determinism (but Steve will love you!), I pretty much have to agree with much of what you offer. All each of us can do is strive to move "up" on that continuum. I happen to think that we tend to gravitate ourselves toward our judgment of others, and would do well to attempt to elevate those judgments, as well.

roger o'keefe said...

Just so you know, I'm not thrilled with Sarah Palin either. I don't know that anyone can really be thrilled with her, even those who pretend to be. I do think a lot of the personal criticism that's been heaped on her is unfair. And I think McCain had no idea just how untutored she was going to look in interview settings. Whatever she is or isn't, she was duly elected by the people of Alaska and in that sense, indeed has more executive experience than Obama. The question of whether she is presidential material, talking in terms of intellect and general knowledge of government, or even her overall persona is another matter. I think she was an unfortunate and hasty pick on McCain's part. But it is what it is, and I think you have to at least give her credit for what she's done, or tried to do in reforming Alaskan politics. Speaking purely in policy terms I would've preferred Lieberman myself. The problem there of course is that image-wise it would have made the ticket look like an ad for the AARP.

roger o'keefe said...

And I can hardly believe I just used the expression "it is what it is". I've hated that since the first time I heard it.

Steve Salerno said...

Don't be so hard on yourself, Roger. Newspeak gets us all, before long. Soon you'll be texting your wife with comments like "c u 2nite."

Steve Salerno said...

And now I'm sure someone will write to tell me how behind-the-curve I am for using an archaic example like "c u 2nite."

Anonymous said...

To Roger: "an unfortunate and hasty pick of McCain," "McCain did not know how untutored (a nice euphemism for dumb) she'd look in interview settings"...

We don't care about how people look in "interview settings" if they are competent and wise at their core. We want intelligent, caring and informed people leading the nation. This woman is dumb like a rock, interview settings or not. (Is that untutored enough for ya?) And what are you saying here--that the cameras or bright lights take away IQ points?

Now about "an unfortunate and hasty pick," what does it say about McCain? About his judgment? About his ability to make the right decisions? He had several months to choose his running mate and this is the best he came up with? Then imagine him making split-second decisions when it comes to national security. If this does not scare the beejesus out of you or at least make you feel embarrassed then I don't know what would. These people are to lead (to lead!) and represent USA on the world stage. Think about it.

Elizabeth said...

What is it with beauty queens and maps?

Exhibit A.
Said Lauren, the beauty queen:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps. I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere, like, such as... And I believe that they should. Our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. Or, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries. So we will be able to build up our future for our children.

Got that? I didn't either.

Exhibit B.
Said Sarah, the beauty queen (and your (probable) future president):

Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--

Well, it certainly does (enhance international experience) because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--

We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.


Some random thoughts (is there any other kind?) after comparing Laura and Sarah:
1. It's the maps, stupid! IOW, beauty queens and geography do mix, albeit with disastrous consequences. You can bring a beauty queen to a map, but you cannot make her understand it.
2. Our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. Yeah, one would hope. But judging by the beauties' performances, our educational standards have not improved in the last 30 years.
3. No matter, because anyone can become president. As Steve likes to remind us ;), if you believe it, you can achieve it.
4. And there you have it.
5. As Putin rears his head and God is our witness.
6. It's the stupid, stupid.
7. Such as and also.

ellen said...

Witty, witty work Elizabeth.
I meanwhile am left with the image of a huge Putin's head, like some monstrous barrage balloon or zeppelin, rearing malevolently over Alaska, giving a sleazy one-eyed wink and a Bond villain's dastardly chuckle. (couldn't quite figue out whose eye was being referenced there)
I like a dastardly chuckle myself at times so I must give Sarah kudos for the entertainment she has so selflessly afforded us.

Steve Salerno said...

Selflessly and effortlessly, it would seem. It comes naturally to her.

Elizabeth said...

Some conservative pundits chime in with advice on Palin (adding, unintentionally, to the satire).

Says Bill Kristol at NYT,
With respect to his campaign, McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she’s a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice.

Says Monica Langley at WSJ,
"More broadly, the McCain campaign aims to halt what it sees as a perceived decline in the crispness and precision of Gov. Palin's latest remarks as well as a fall in recent polls, according to several advisers and party officials."

"Some prominent Republicans and senior members of Congress have expressed worries about certain facets of the Palin campaign, particularly that Gov. Palin may be "overprepared" and not encouraged to be herself, an adviser said."

"We've got four days," another adviser said Sunday. "People love Sarah Palin and she's got a unique personality and presence we need to bring out -- not shut down." Aides will work with her this week to be certain her responses use "her words," this adviser said."


---

Now that's really some heavy lipstick slathering (a.k.a. desperate spin). Palin a talented communicator? Overprepared? Not speaking in her own voice? Needs to be freed -- from what, exactly? From herself?

I'm all for freeing Sarah from her unfortunate predicament of becoming a puppet VP, but, honestly, are the pundits able to hear themselves? Do they realize how absurd they sound? Nobody in their right mind falls for their spin.

I would just *love* to see their reactions if it was not Palin but Hillary Clinton who'd exhibit such breathtaking ignorance and, frankly, overall dimness. Can you imagine the eternal bloodbath that would ensue?

But one thing I can promise you -- and you can take me to task if I'm ever proven wrong on this -- Dems would never produce such a singularly unqualified female candidate. There are several reasons for this, but perhaps the most succinct one was expressed a long time ago by J.S. Mill, who observed that "stupid people are generally conservative."*

P.S. A memo to Langley: that decline in "crispness and precision" of Palin's remarks is called *no teleprompter.*

P.S.2. Calling Palin "untutored" is really funny, I must say. Palin is to untutored as the Frankenstein monster is to ungroomed.

*Before anyone starts writing complaints to Steve, please read the whole Mill's quote:
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

From a letter to the Conservative MP, Sir John Pakington (March 1866)

Elizabeth said...

Hey, Ellen, thanks. :)

This one is for you:
http://tinyurl.com/54xhql

(chuckling dastardly)

roger o'keefe said...

Ok now this is getting out of hand. Isn't it interesting the way we feel entitled to throw words and criticisms (and BIGOTRY) around when we're slandering one segment of society. So "stupid people are generally conservative", is that it? Leaving aside century old quotes what do you base that on from current life? I realize this remark is going to have racial overtones to some, but do you really want to tell me that the people at NASCAR events, which is the crowd I assume you have in mind when you make your little jokes, are stupider than the legions of inner-city sheep who do whatever Al Sharpton tells them to do, and who vote for whoever Sharpton tells them to vote for? Does the inner-city single mom you see on the news who has three kids (all with different fathers) who die tragically in a house fire and still has two or three more kids sitting beside her, and who almost certainly votes Democrat, seem smarter to you than the so-called white trash you see in the media's own sarcastic reports about the Christian right? Please!

The simple truth is that there are more than enough stupid people out there and they occur in all walks of life and support all kinds of politics.

When will some of you folks get over yourselves and your smugness, and your need to denigrate people whose only sin is, they feel differently about politics or life than you do!

RevRon's Rants said...

What it all boils down to for to me is that McCain, with a bevy of high-dollar analysts and supposedly savvy advisors at his beck and call, and many months in which to research, evaluate, and make his decision, actually CHOSE her, above all other potential running mates. Yep... he's definitely the guy we want facing off against the sharpest political minds our allies - and enemies - bring to the negotiating table.

Steve Salerno said...

I think this is a fair point, folks. I think we wade into very troubled waters when we start implying that our chosen political lens is the "only intelligent way" of seeing life. Sarah Palin may be a disaster and a not especially bright disaster at that, but I think it's unfair to use her as a metaphor for Republicanism.

Elizabeth said...

I just knew that you'd respond, Roger. :)

Read the Mill's quote again, is all I can say. And, btw, Steve, it's no indictment of Republicanism or all Republicans, as Mill pointedly remarks there.

As to the intelligence of an average voter, no question that it varies -- it does so in the general population.

My point was that there has not been -- and there will not be, most probably -- a Dems candidate for the highest office (or the second in command) who'd be as clueless as Sarah Palin. I understand this statement may be offensive to you, but consider it a statement of fact (at least as it applies to the past) rather than judgment.

And I'm open to being proven wrong. In fact, I invite you to prove me wrong. Show me a Dems candidate that would rival Palin in the cluelessness department, is all I'm sayin'. If you do that, I'll be happily wiping the egg off my face, I promise.

RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, I have to agree with you and (gasp!) Roger on this. I would suggest that the smugness we're seeing now might be a kind of payback for the same kind of slurs that folks like Ann Coulter, Rush, and DMoTV have been spewing for so long. Of course, the "he did it first" rationalization doesn't excuse the behavior, but it does explain the motivation behind it to some extent.

Perhaps if he's successful in his presidential bid, Obama's call for "change" will translate into partisan voters on both sides choosing to veer from this path of derision. Then again, perhaps grasshoppers will start carrying .45s, and mockingbirds will quit messing with them. :-)

Elizabeth said...

And I have to agree with you, Rev, on this:

I would suggest that the smugness we're seeing now might be a kind of payback for the same kind of slurs that folks like Ann Coulter, Rush, and DMoTV have been spewing for so long.

You are absolutely right. :)

Anonymous said...

"I think it's unfair to use [Palin] as a metaphor for Republicanism."

Palin and McCain are the Republican contenders for vice-president and president. They are supposed to represent the best of what the GOP has to offer. We are led to believe that each party chooses its best candidates for the highest office. So it is a fair assumption that Palin is not a metaphor, but the best living and breathing representative of the GOP.

Elizabeth said...

P.S. By NASCAR crowd, Roger, I understand you mean the white working poor, is that correct? (I say white, because your example of the inner city fecund welfare mother, which you use as a contrasting shorthand for "stupid Democrat," clearly refers to a black person.)

If it is the white working poor (in the NASCAR crowd) that you assume I put down in my comments, then your assumption is wrong, Roger.

As someone who grew up very poor (as in not enough to eat and a communal john in the communal backyard poor), in a working stiff family, I have way too much respect for both the poor and the working class to even intimate a hint of stupidity in their direction. Lack of education when one has no access to it is no person's fault. And it certainly does not imply stupidity.

I would reserve this special honor for those with education and perks of privilege who nevertheless do not take a proper advantage of either and remain incurious and close-minded. For example (but this is only one example of such cultivated ignorance), presidential candidates who not only firmly believe that Earth was created 4,000 years ago, but also want to impose those beliefs on others.

I'm open to substituting the term stupid with something friendlier, if you can propose such a term that would adequately reflect the mindset which allows for such beliefs. (And please note that I'm not talking about religious beliefs in general. I'm talking about a specific worldview, espoused by people with material means and access to education who nonetheless believe in things that are proven wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt, and who also want to impose their beliefs on others through political means.)

roger o'keefe said...

"I would reserve this special honor for those with education and perks of privilege who nevertheless do not take a proper advantage of either and remain incurious and close-minded."

So let me get this straight, now your contempt and condescension extend to people who fail to use whatever intelligence they have, to arrive at the same end-points you did? It appears from your example that Christian fundamentalists are "stupid". (Is the Pope stupid too, simply for believing in miracles and an afterlife?) And I can only imagine how many other categories of beliefs you must regard as stupid mostly because they're not your beliefs. That's because you, apparently, are smart. I'm not being sarcastic Elizabeth, I'm just saying is that the standard you're using here?

It just gets better and better.

Anonymous said...

"we wade into very troubled waters"

You are practicing lopsided political correctness, Steve.

Or have you missed this (from Roger),
"Does the inner-city single mom you see on the news who has three kids (all with different fathers) who die tragically in a house fire and still has two or three more kids sitting beside her"

Roger did not say black, he did not have to. She listens to Sharpton, so it's obvious. He did not say poor because that's obvious too. Racism, classism and misogyny in one sentence. Nice. BTW, why is it again that Republicans can dish out but cannot take it?

Anonymous said...

Steve, did you see SNL’s great parody of Pahlin and Couric last Saturday night? It was classic! Tina Fey and Amy Pohler had Pahlin and Couric pegged.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 2:48: Well wait just a dang minute here. I'm not presuming to defend Roger's entire line of argument in this thread, but are you actually saying that we can't even comment on some of the documented blights in the black community without being accused of racism? So then I guess Bill Cosby, Shelby Steele and--for that matter--Barack Obama themselves are racists, huh? And it's "classist" to point out that such people are a drain on an overtaxed welfare system? Then I guess Bill Clinton ("the first black president") must be both racist and classist.

Come on, people. If we can't even point out obvious facts without getting accused of some kind of "ism," then we're in a bad shape.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 3:12: yes I did. And I agree wholeheartedly.

Anonymous said...

Roger, you are not seriously trying to defend Palin's intelligence, are you? Because if you are, then all I can say is 'good luck'. Personally I would not like my vice-president or president to be someone who gets her ideas about the world from "The Flintstones".

ellen said...

I would like to add a sprinkle of accelerant to this and point to the long and venerable history of political ridicule. Some of the most pithy comments on standing politicians have been in the form of satire and political cartoons. It is a sign of a healthy electorate that we can jeer and laugh at the persons who presume to lead us, essential in a democracy, even more so in a democracy where the leaders show contempt for the electorate. Contempt, like most things is a two edged sword, and not one I am likely to leave on the table.

Anonymous said...

I actually see Crack and Elizabeth in the same light. They just have different means for their "agendas." As Steve has mentioned, this is the slippery slope of politics.

I actually think Ann Coulter and Condi Rice are extremely intelligent women. I do not always agree with them, but I do not just dismiss them due to their political party or political ideas. When anyone dismisses someone due to their political party, I dismiss that person for being biased. Pahlin has not shown me their depth of intellect. From all I have seen of Pahlin, she is an intellectual lightweight.

I dislike each party equally, because of this inability to get beyond politics and look at each person/view individually.

RevRon's Rants said...

anon 3:49 - I don't think Roger is trying to defend Palin's intelligence; my sense is that he is only trying to to assert that either:
1) she couldn't possibly be as stupid as some have portrayed her and still sustained complex behaviors like walking and breathing,
2) holding to different values isn't - in and of itself - a mark of stupidity,
3) even unintelligent people deserve to be treated without derision, or
4) he has never gotten even the slightest pleasure from hearing Ann Coulter smear a liberal.

Of course, I might not have read him very well. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Tina Fey and Amy Pohler had Pahlin and Couric pegged."

Why settle for satire if the original is so much funnier?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Rev about what Roger is saying. I also understand Roger’s feelings about the tone of the posts. On the other side of the track, Roger has not really cared for anyone’s defense of voting for Obama. That is his prerogative though.

On similar vein, this brings to mind the intellectual elitism of liberalism. I am in academia and I see this quite a bit. It is this condescension of treating the other side as if they have lower Iqs for their beliefs. It is either done in tone or in statement. I actually find more liberals close-minded than conservatives. The only difference is the liberal is professing to be open-minded.

I went to a lunch last weekend with a group of fellow professors and I was the only registered Independent there. The presidential debate had just happened the night before and was the main topic. I explained that I use to like McCain a lot. I agreed with quite a few of his views in the past, but just dislike how he is running his campaign. I am seeing a side of him that I find distasteful and repugnant. You would have thought I said I liked Putin. How could a “smart” woman like me “ever” like McCain? Oh, maybe because I agreed with his views at one time?

I did not tell them whom I was voting for, because that is between the poll booth and me.

Anonymous said...

"On similar vein, this brings to mind the intellectual elitism of liberalism. I am in academia and I see this quite a bit. It is this condescension of treating the other side as if they have lower Iqs for their beliefs. It is either done in tone or in statement. I actually find more liberals close-minded than conservatives. The only difference is the liberal is professing to be open-minded."

A statement like the above would sound open-minded in itself, if it were not for its contempt of those closed-minded liberal elites. Predictably, this discussion is edging toward a familiar rut, where every other poster tries to present her/himself as holier-than-you and contempt free while taking sides and/or throwing not-too-subtle potshots at others. Which is rather contemptuous in itself.

Apart from contempt telegraphed by those expressions of 'superiority,' I would say that such a declared open-mindedness can well be a sign of moral relativism, where no belief or idea is better or worse than another. But we'd rather condemn those who question our bad ideas, even a contemptuous idea of open-mindedness or moral relativism, than admit error or change our point of view. (And to own up to my condescending closed-mindedness, I now expect Revron to respond with his signature enlightened rejoinder to my reasoning.)

Btw, I like Putin.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, today we have another Couric interview with Palin (a.k.a. belated damage control). This time, McCain joined them to help out -- to boost his protege's confidence and correct any misunderstandings in real time.

If you have not seen it yet, here is a fragment:
http://tinyurl.com/3u3q92

Among highlights, McCain compares Palin's lack of experience to that of Clinton when he was elected. (And watch McCain's facial expressions and body language, LOL.)

Elizabeth said...

Roger, you said:

So let me get this straight, now your contempt and condescension extend to people who fail to use whatever intelligence they have, to arrive at the same end-points you did?

Er, no. Read my previous post, please. You are trying to extend my "contempt and condescension," while I limited my statement to a rather select group of people. Or at least I thought so. If I was not clear enough, I apologize.

BTW, by "end points", do you mean those who think Earth is older than several thousand years? Well, this would not be exactly *my* "end-point," would it? Not any more than, say, stating that people walk upright would be "my end-point."

An aside: If one wants to believe that people do not walk upright, or Earth is flat or 4000 years old, that's no business of mine. One has the right to believe whatever one wants. But if one aspires to the highest office and/or makes these beliefs part of her or his political agenda in any way, then s/he needs to be prepared to be judged and questioned about them. And even if you don't like it, I have the right -- an obligation, even -- to do both. And so do you, btw.

It appears from your example that Christian fundamentalists are "stupid". (Is the Pope stupid too, simply for believing in miracles and an afterlife?)

You are overreaching, Roger. As I said in my last post, I'm not talking here about religious belief per se. And I'm not talking about belief in miracles and afterlife. I'm talking specifically about the Earth is 4,000 years-old and dinosaurs and people co-existed beliefs. I'm that specific. (And originally I referred only to the candidates for the highest office(s).)

Like 'inexperience' from Steve's previous post title, not all beliefs are created (no pun) equal. When it comes to afterlife and miracles, I would concede that we do not know enough to prove or disprove their existence with absolute certainty. But we do know more than enough to say with such certainty that Earth is indeed older (much older) than 4,000 to 6,000 years.

BTW, interesting that you should bring the Pope in here, Roger, as the Pope himself does not believe in, or at least does not endorse, the fundamentalist set of dogmas. In fact, while not directly addressing the "young Earth" crowd, he repeatedly admonishes the faithful to embrace science and scientific discovery. Much to the surprise of many.

And I can only imagine how many other categories of beliefs you must regard as stupid mostly because they're not your beliefs.

Sigh. You imagine too much here, Roger. There is no reason to do so (unless you really want to, that is), since I've told you, specifically, what I meant.

It just gets better and better.

We tries our bestest. :) But enough about me. Let's go back to the fascinating dynamic of the McCain's campaign. The bailout proposal did not pass and they say it's Obama's fault...?

Elizabeth said...

It is a sign of a healthy electorate that we can jeer and laugh at the persons who presume to lead us, essential in a democracy, even more so in a democracy where the leaders show contempt for the electorate. Contempt, like most things is a two edged sword, and not one I am likely to leave on the table.

Ellen, this is priceless. And I just love that last sentence. :)

RevRon's Rants said...

Funny thing about expectations... :-)

ellen said...

Roger,

(Is the Pope stupid too, simply for believing in miracles and an afterlife?)

At the risk of treading on Catholic toes, I am going to take this one on. Some background, (for those of you who might wish to amuse yourselves analysing my 'issues,' a pointless waste of time in my opinion.)
I was indoctrinated from birth in the abomination that is Irish catholicism, a faith that has very little to do with any concept of god and an awful lot to do with priest worship.
I would say that the Pope is very far from stupid. He is a political power player, he could not be in that position and not be a political power player. As to his beliefs, the miracles and afterlife and such, I cannot say whether he holds those sincerely but my feeling is not. I am pretty sure that none of the power elite in the Vatican believe in those things. Those beliefs are for us plebs to indulge in and take comfort from, Marx was making an astute observation when he said that 'religion the opium of the masses.' My reasons for saying this are simple.
If the Pope and his executive body sincerely believed in the notions of afterlife etc that they feed to us, why has the church for centuries been so concerned with building and protecting so much wealth and power to wield in this life? If there was a sincere belief in these things, wouldn't the major proponents of this belief live this life exclusively with an eye on the next, as do suicide bombers and True Believers of any description?
In this instance, I would have to give Sarah Palin kudos for the sincerity of her sincerely held True Beliefs, I still think she is stupid, deluded and dangerous but she is a at least sincerely stupid, deluded and dangerous, much like a suicde bomber.
I don't give points for sincerity, sincerity has very little relation to reality.

ellen said...

Revron, I might have expectations up the wazzoo, to use a quaint Americanism, but in the 'moment' they are gone with everything else as I wield my sword of contempt, ridicule, bamboo, tempered steel or anything else either engraved in my bones or that I can get my hands on.
How about that for a metaphor, just words again.
Context again, their is a time and place for compassion and forgiveness, I would contend that this is not that time or place.

ellen said...

Anon 7.55

I was unsure about Putin. I certainly admired his mind, clearly a man who is no stranger to strategic and tactical thinking and a whizz at the manipulations of power.
What tipped the balance for me was that I stood outside his office window in the Kremlin and gave him a wave. Sadly, he didn't wave back. He looked right through me. I expected a phalanx of heavies to appear and hustle me off to the gulag or at least the Lubianka, the Russian equivalent of Guantanamo---but nothing, nothing at all.
The Lubianka is de-commissioned, there was no sign of Russian paranoia in Putin. I compared this to Fortress Downing Street and the millions that will be spent on the risible Tony B Liars protection in perpetuity.
And Putin went way up in my estimation, I wouldn't say I liked him as I have never met him, but he is a man in control of himself and I do like that in anybody.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Context again, their is a time and place for compassion and forgiveness, I would contend that this is not that time or place."

If not compassion and forgiveness, how about - at the very least - an absence of derision not based in fact? I can understand - and share in - the contempt for the deceit and hypocrisy of a candidate, but don't see any benefit and receive no pleasure from simply sniggering about one's shortcomings.
Selecting the nation's leader is, after all, supposed to be an adult process. I suggest we might all benefit from behaving in a manner consistent with that context.

ellen said...

Point of interest regarding the uses of political ridicule, we had that posturing opportunist Tony B Liar in office here. Tony is a trained lawyer and spent much time, when not war-gaming, introducing rafts of new legislation to sneakily curtail our democratic freedoms. He did a good job, aided and abetted by the paranoia stoked by the so-called War-on-Terror, and there was a growing cross-party realisation that we could not get rid of the slimy piece-of-work.
We turned to ridicule, and over time Tony's star began to fade, the gloss came off that polished performance. The final nail in the coffin was when he addressed the Womens' Institute, a collection of staid, old, blue-rinsed ladies who normally spent their time swapping recipes for jam, singing 'Jerusalem' and knitting. they old birds heckled our Tone and finally gave him the slow hand-clap. His credibilty was shot and even he finally knew it. He made preparations for his exit. Even he eventually learned the advisability of a good exit strategy.
Laughter, you just can't beat it.

Anonymous said...

"I suggest we might all benefit from behaving in a manner consistent with that context."

Revron, as someone who has used plenty of derision himself, you sound disingenuous, and preachy. It's nothing personal, but you seem unaware of this pattern in your responses and it makes you look hypocritical.

ellen said...

Revron,

I rarely give advice, but in this instance I would advise the American people to do the most compassionate thing and shred both McCain and Palin, by any means, before all the other world power player vultures, who you can be certain are watching this even more closely than any person in the US, have a chance to sink their fangs into this sorry pair.

If, god forbid, those two poor specimens carry the day, it will be a spectacular feast for those vultures--and not one that I would want to see.
Sometimes a quick despatch or mercy killing (a euphemism, of course) is called for, in my opinion this is one of those times.

Steve Salerno said...

RE Anon 9:16: From here on, I'm not going to make a habit of justifying every single decision I make in terms of what I approve and what I don't. But I do want to say here that this was a close call. I let it through because I think the point is made with (relative) tact, and I think that pointing out the (perceived) contradictions in someone else's argument is certainly well within the province of this blog.

ellen said...

Revron,
I've spent a lot of time on the moral high ground, nothing like it when you (generic you)want to feel remote and above it all, I dare say I'll spend more time up there in the future if the occasion calls for it.
But, as someone kindly pointed out to me, tarry there too long, tarry anywhere too long and you (generic you)will find that the action has moved on and left you (generic you)behind. It takes less energy to keep up than to make up lost ground. Stop worrying about keeping your(generic your) self clean and go for flexibility of mind. It pays in the long run.

RevRon's Rants said...

If I sound hypocritical, I would suggest you go back and read what I've offered. If something walks like a duck and goes quack quack, I have no objection to calling it a duck. If a candidate repeatedly lies (and is caught in those lies) and misrepresents himself, I'll call him a liar. I make no bones about the fact that I despise Bush and have lost all respect for McCain, but my opinions of them have been based purely in their recorded behaviors, rather than the projection of some unknowable inner flaws.

Palin doesn't come across as someone I'd find too attractive on any number of levels, but she hasn't yet done anything to earn my disdain, despite her being (in my opinion) somewhat unintelligent and incurious. I simply see her as someone who has been manipulated into a situation beyond her ability to handle (again, on many levels). If she does something at some point that steps beyond her limitations and into the realm of maliciousness, I'd cut her no more slack than I would Bush or McCain. And if wishing we could wait until that time actually comes before passing such harsh judgment upon her makes me "holier than thou" in some folks' eyes, it's a judgment I can live with. I have my own perspective as to why someone would feel that way.

I'll laugh at the parodies, just as I laughed at the funny parodies of the Clintons on SNL. When it gets mean-spirited, it is no better than Ann Coulter's derision, and is no longer entertaining to me. If someone chooses to see hypocrisy in my attitude, it frankly won't keep me awake at night.

And Ellen, I completely agree with your preference for a "mercy killing." I just think it could be done more mercifully than has been done thus far.

ellen said...

Revron,
Take a look at the big picture for a moment if you will,

The US is in hock to the eyeballs, to some very unsavourary regimes, China, Gulf States--these are not your friends. There are no friends in politics, only strategic alliances that can shift and change at any time. There is no sentiment in politics, just as in business--it is a very hard game with no time-outs or second chances.

The money problems will be around for years to come, who knows if they will get better before they get worse or vice-versa--hope is not a good strategy in economic gloom.

The US is stretched on two war fronts and McPalin seem intent on opening at least another two fronts in the Middle East and Pakistan, both places have nuclear capabilities in very dubious hands.
Putin kindly delivered the necessary rods to Iran recently, Israel can no longer risk a pre-emptive strike there due to fall-out--Iran will be making plutonium by Christmas.

The western economy is in free-fall, do not count on your erstwhile allies to help out when all we are thinking about is how we can keep food on the table and a roof over heads. We have priorities too and sentiment goes out the window first when we are hungry.

The more paranoid amongst us may be thinking ahead to the possibilities of affording a fall-out shelter in the back garden--why not? Tony Blair felt the need to provide himself and his cohorts with just such a megacosting item.

Save your compassion for yourself, the American people and me, we deserve it more than the fools in power who, I can guarauntee, feel no compassion at all except for their own personal status and the state of their bank balance.

RevRon's Rants said...

Ellen - Perhaps if some of our elected officials at least attempted to seek some kind of "high ground," we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today. It's not about trying to stay above it all and clean, except perhaps to wish that the collective "we" might someday rise above our pettiness. I've spent my time in the dirt, and when the right buttons are pushed, I wallow in the mud with the worst. Doesn't mean I shouldn't try to do better (or feel guilty for trying).

And I agree with the need for an open mind... perhaps even open enough to give people I disagree with the benefit of the doubt before passing judgment on them.

RevRon's Rants said...

I really don't think this is a matter of missing any "big picture." I'm well aware of the dangers facing all of us. Our best hope is to remove from power those elected officials who would increase the dangers we face, especially those who have already done things to increase the dangers.

The most effective way of doing that is by showing even their supporters how badly these individuals have harmed us. If we allow our discussion to deteriorate into purely partisan name-calling and the projection of our own negative opinions not borne of documentable facts, we will diminish our already strained credibility in the eyes of opposing candidates' supporters.

Bottom line is that by deriding those with opposing viewpoints - especially when such derision is based significantly in our own conjecture rather than hard evidence, we actually cripple our efforts. A perfect example of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Beyond aspiring to a higher form of human interaction, this is just as much about the most effective means of fixing our problems. To me, that's the real "big picture."

Steve Salerno said...

If I may be permitted a word here, I'd like to throw something in that's been hinted at but not yet stated directly.

Classic behavioral theory tells us that there are four stages of competence: 1. unconscious incompetence, 2. conscious incompetence, 3. conscious competence, and 4. unconscious competence. I think the people most deserving of actual contempt, if anyone is, would be in category 2, especially when they try to fake it. I think (with no evidence but my own observations and intuitions) that Sarah Palin, when first tabbed for this august role in Campaign 2008, was in category 1. I think she was something of a ditz, albeit a ditz who'd enjoyed some spectacular early success, so perhaps she deluded herself about "what it takes" to be a national-stage, world-class "player." I think that she very quickly had a rude awakening, and is just now coming to understand that she's in over her head, and how far over her head. So she has graduated, if you will, to Cat 2. And look, we've been--I've been--as tough on her as anyone, especially in the early going. But--in her defense--what's a girl gonna do? (I'm just using that phrase for its playfulness; no sexism is intended.) Is she supposed to call a press conference and say, "Oops, sorry. I didn't realize at first..." She sort of has to play the hand she's dealt. She has to try to tough it out and, yes, even fake it, if you will. At least until her position becomes totally untenable. That doesn't mean America should embrace her to its collective bosom, because the fact remains, she's still incompetent. More and more every day of late I say to myself, "God help us if they win, and something happens to McCain..."

But that brings us to the real criminal act here: which was the cynical and self-seeking decision on the part of John McCain--who does know better (or at least should have)--in tabbing her. As everyone has said by now, this was such an obvious political gambit by a man who figured he needed a Big Play in order to steal Obama's thunder, and Palin was it. And McCain was willing to see her thrown to the wolves if it didn't work out as planned (I guess because he figured he didn't have that much to lose; the way things were going, he probably wasn't going to win anyway, unless Obama came out on the eve of the election and admitted to being a cannibalistic Muslim pedophile who enjoys setting forest fires in his spare time). All of that is a long way of saying that maybe we shouldn't be so hard on Sarah Palin. No, we shouldn't vote for her, either... but maybe we should see her more as a pawn or a puppet than as the personification of The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization?

Anonymous said...

NOTE: The following comment has been mildly edited:

"my opinions of them have been based purely in their recorded behaviors, rather than the projection of some unknowable inner flaws"

Revron, does anyone here 'project their unknowable inner flaws' on Palin? Can you actually offer any proof for this? Or do you just throw a wide accusation at everyone? Again, you seem to set up straw men so you could knock them down from your high moral ground.

RevRon's Rants said...

Damn! First, I find myself agreeing with Roger. Now, I'm on board with Steve 100% (We've agreed on some things, but never so completely. Don't even get us started on determinism!).

I would suggest a qualifier to your statement that Palin isn't "the personification of The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization." She might not be the personification, but surely she (and those who so blindly support her) are a clear *manifestation* of that decline.

RevRon's Rants said...

Anon 12:12 - If there is any evidence of Palin's maliciousness, her quest to accelerate the "end times" scenario, or her knowing complicity to such a cynical political strategy, I haven't seen it. Yet there have been repeated assertions as to her motives and intentions (read the comments) for which there has been no supporting evidence.

My comments were not offered to attempt to enhance my own image, nor to lay claim to any moral high ground. Such an accusation is a good example of the "straw man" you decry. It just seems to me that such discourse is not only disingenuous but counterproductive. And we have to ask ourselves which is more important to us: fixing problems, or having the satisfaction of making the "other guy (or gal)" look as bad as possible.

ellen said...

'but maybe we should see her more as a pawn or a puppet than as the personification of The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization?'

I have to say that I have absolutely no interest in how we 'should' see Sarah in some hypothetical time and space when we are all adult, reasonable people at all times and moose fly. I am taking about how I do see her, right now, when McPalin is a whisker away from influencing all our destinies. I speak for myself only, ever, but that pair and their collective inability to think coherently is a liability to us all.

I haven't personified her as the Decline and Fall of the Western Civilisation--those are your words Steve, not mine. Western civilisation is doing a good job of staggering towards its demise all by itself, without Sarah's help. I am simply pointing out that now would not be a good time to further rock the already rocky boat by adding the McPalin weight of already demonstrated stupidity to the mix.
Taking a soft line on Sarah, 'whats a girl to do?' 'she has to play out her hand'-- Steve, you seem to be advocating that she complete her very steep learning curve at our expense. I consider that would be utterly irresponsible- look at her professed views on the world- I refuse to believe you would accept that nonsense from a man in the same situation with a similar learning curve, and then feel sorry for him bcause the only proper response--ribald laughter--might hurt his feelings.
This actually sounds like the woolly new age thinking that you took such pains to debunk in your book, Steve.
You are of course entitled to feel sorry for whomsoever you choose but I am disappointed.
I will get over my disappointment, and swiftly. I only hope that the US does not have to suffer the necessity of getting over a McPalin
'leadership'--I suppose I have to use that word though I would prefer something along the lines of 'headless chickens'

ellen said...

'Perhaps if some of our elected officials at least attempted to seek some kind of "high ground," we wouldn't be in the mess we're in today'

Revron, its not going to happen anytime soon. We might get lucky and find the occasional rare bird with some integrity, Obama might be that, time will tell.
We can't live in a world of maybes and might bes if only other people were just a little bit different, remember the co-dependent discussion? We have to live in the world we've got, for better or for worse, because that is all there is.
Life becomes much less complex and difficult when we accept that we need to adapt to the world around us, in all its mucky reality, rather than expecting the world to adapt to our own wants and needs. I am not having a go at you, this is a generic statement.
Reality wins every time, no matter the shoulds, coulds, maybes or might have beens. It is just simpler to avoid all that speculation and swallow the painful truth.

Anonymous said...

"Palin's maliciousness, her quest to accelerate the "end times" scenario, or her knowing complicity to such a cynical political strategy, I haven't seen it. Yet there have been repeated assertions as to her motives and intentions (read the comments)"

Revron, I have read the comments, all of them, and see no proof of any of the accusations you have thrown at others here, including those you list above. I would urge you to either show exact quotes to provide evidence for your blanket (and unfair) statements, or retract them and maybe offer an apology.

Steve Salerno said...

People...come on now. There is such a thing as a legitimate difference of opinion, you know. (And now I'm sure someone is going to argue with me about that, too.)

Anonymous said...

Steve, there is a legitimate difference of opinions, but there is also a persistent pattern of misreading and distorting others' opinions and using those distortions to jump on one's high horse to preach from it. It's tiresome and unfair. So why not talk about it?

Steve Salerno said...

I'm not saying these things shouldn't be talked about, but even most "high horse" accusations are subjective in nature. I can look back over this thread and see a number of places where (different) people could be construed as having climbed on a high horse, or at least put one foot in a stirrup. A lot of this is eye-of-the-beholder stuff. Discussions are fine, but we should keep in mind that the purpose of discussion--ideally--is to expand horizons, add insight, reach greater understanding and perhaps consider ideas foreign to our own...rather than to just keep browbeating our intellectual adversaries over and over again. I mean, I am staunchly in favor of Obama, and I am pretty disgusted with John McCain at the moment. But if somebody decided to post a well-thought-out rationale that either defended McCain or critiqued Obama, I would publish it, and I would do so without attacking the motives and the character of the person who posted it. Have I slipped in that regard? Sure! We all have. I just don't want to institutionalize that slippage, such that it becomes the standard way in which we relate to one another.

Sarsabu said...

My humour is obviously not appreciated. There is legitimate opinion. There is also offensive opinion. There is also context. I find a kind of apology pre-opinion followed by a "don't bother replying I will have my eyes closed and hands over my ears" approach difficult to reconcile with a BLOG! After all this is all about a potential VP of the current most powerful nation on the earth saying silly things. I too look forward to when Putin rears his head in Alaska. He must be doubled up with laughter!

Steve Salerno said...

I don't disagree at all re Putin, Sarsabu. It's pretty sad.

RevRon's Rants said...

Ellen, if we are to merely resign ourselves to "accepting the reality as it is," why even bother trying to make things better? Accepting the lowest common denominator is what got us here, and at least as I see it, the only way to make anything better is to make what efforts we can to raise the bar.

To me, looking objectively at and continually attempting to improve our behavior is a crucial responsibility. I recognize that such efforts will always seem "holier than thou" to some people, but in the final analysis, that judgment is their stuff, and shouldn't induce anyone to curtail their own efforts to do - and be - whatever they deem to be "better." We obviously see things differently, and that's okay.

anon 1:40 - We apparently interpret things differently, too. If you do not find any evidence of pettiness and disingenuous characterizations in the comments, I can see where you might be inclined to pass judgment on me, if that is what you choose to do. I did see those things, repeatedly. I have no problem with the disparity in perspectives, and certainly see no reason to apologize to anyone for it.

roger o'keefe said...

I was about to make a brief comment in another vein, but I have to say I'm glad you made that point, Steve, because I honestly haven't felt that way lately, meaning "welcome". It hasn't felt like just a difference of opinion, but more like a case of a right and a wrong. To use one of the phrases you poked fun at in your book, ever since you went political the climate for people who don't buy in has become "toxic".

To see how dangerous that is you need only look at what happened yesterday with both sides attacking each other's political motives in the middle of a financial melt-down.

RevRon's Rants said...

"here is also a persistent pattern of misreading and distorting others' opinions and using those distortions to jump on one's high horse to preach from it."

As it turns out, that's the very kind of behavior I was seeing, directed at Palin... and now, at myself for mentioning it. Curiouser and curiouser... :-)

Anonymous said...

NOTE: This is another edited anonymous comment:

Points taken, Steve. I would appreciate still if Revron could offer evidence for each of his accusations, which, I'm fairly certain, he won't do if only because there is no such evidence.

Sarsabu said...

Incidently I will once again be rearing my head in your fine country starting next Monday and will be really interested in listening to the different opinions. I am sending me out albeit not on a trade mission more a leisure mission I suppose.

RevRon's Rants said...

anonymous, again... You're half right. I won't go back through all the discussions for your benefit. I've been through the dialog once, shared my opinions, and considered others. I've also learned how to discern between a genuine debate and a contest to make one's self right, while making others wrong. The one is inspiring and educational; the other merely a waste of time and energy.

Anonymous said...

"As it turns out, that's the very kind of behavior I was seeing, directed at Palin... and now, at myself for mentioning it."

Indeed. It's getting warmer and you're getting closer.

Steve Salerno said...

Roger (and anyone else who thinks Roger's comments apply in his/her case), I don't know what to say. I do my best. As, I think, is evidenced by the remark you yourself cited a moment ago.

For the record, we had some serious "interpersonal issues" arise not long ago on a thread that generated nearly 200 comments--an all-time record for SHAMblog. The reason I called a halt to that thread, and basically invited one of our long-time contributors to stop posting, had nothing to do with that person's adversarial take on Obama, politics, or any of it. I thought many of that person's opinions were eloquent, passionate, and fairly well-documented. I had in fact singled that person's ideas out for praise on more than one occasion (for whatever my praise is worth). But for all their rhetorical value, those comments also included too many potshots at the other people participating in the debate, and the overall tone was, I felt, venomous. That led to attempts at intimidation on both sides. And that's why it had to stop.

Anonymous said...

"I've also learned how to discern between a genuine debate and a contest to make one's self right, while making others wrong."

That's great, but I'm not interested in being right. I've asked you to provide evidence for your sweeping accusations directed at the posters from this thread (or topic, Palin). You have avoided doing so. Why? Again, this is not about anyone being right or wrong, unless you want to make it so. This is about simple honesty and fairness. If you want to throw accusations at others, you should be able to support them with evidence. Is it too much to ask?

ellen said...

Revron,
This is my last word on the subject, it is getting tiresome.
There was no mention of 'resignation' when I wrote of accepting reality, 'resignation' is your spin on the issue which you have subtly attributed to me in order to pontificate further with your misreading. I am happy for you to keep your views. You may infer 'resignation' if you wish but I certainly did not imply it in any way.
Why is this? Had I wanted to talk of resignation and lowest common denominators, I would have done so, forthrightly. But I didn't because I don't see any resignation in accepting reality. Accepting reality increases available energy because energy previously used to bolster up outmoded and unrealistic views is freed--to be spent other things. This is also not a personal dig, it is a generic comment.
For me this discussion has become circular and repetitive and a pointless waste of my energy. So I am not wasting more time on it.

Anonymous said...

“That's great, but I'm not interested in being right. I've asked you to provide evidence for your sweeping accusations directed at the posters from this thread (or topic, Palin). You have avoided doing so. Why? Again, this is not about anyone being right or wrong, unless you want to make it so. This is about simple honesty and fairness. If you want to throw accusations at others, you should be able to support them with evidence. Is it too much to ask?”

Déjà vu Anon 3:18 pm, some people do care about being perceived as right. Whether they are or not is questionable. When did honesty and fairness become “simple”? I have never experienced or witnessed this. I could dislike Palin for being a brown-eyed brunette. Other people who do not like brown-eyed brunettes would agree with me, because they share my aversion. So Anon 3:18, you are not going to get what you say you want.

Anon 7:55 pm stated:
“A statement like the above would sound open-minded in itself, if it were not for its contempt of those closed-minded liberal elites. Predictably, this discussion is edging toward a familiar rut, where every other poster tries to present her/himself as holier-than-you and contempt free while taking sides and/or throwing not-too-subtle potshots at others. Which is rather contemptuous in itself.”

I was expressing my opinion and experience with academia. The postings of this blog reminded of my experiences. This is the deal: It is implied that one is less than intelligent or informed for agreeing with a conservative idea/candidate/platform. That does not create warm and fuzzy feelings in me. Most people do not like to be called or implied to be stupid.

On the other side of the track, the conservatives like to call those who agree with a liberal idea/candidate/platform “traitors.Being called a “traitor” for a differing opinion also does not create warm feelings in me. I have not experienced the conservatives stating they are “open-minded” though. That could change in the future, since they have started borrowing from liberal playbooks.

Both presumptions and statements of me are incorrect. I am neither stupid nor a traitor. I stand by my original post: Crack and Elizabeth are cut from the same cloth in my view. Just different sides of the track. That is not a "potshot" just an observation.

RevRon's Rants said...

Sigh... Anonymous, as I said, I have expressed my opinions throughout the course of several threads, and read and tried to understand the opinions of others. And that's exactly what it was all about... opinions. If you have some issue with my opinions, feel free to disagree. However, if you feel the need for me to go back through all the conversations and justify my opinions to your satisfaction, or perhaps to state that I no longer have those opinions, you're in for disappointment. In the past, such a demand has inevitably been the precursor to deterioration from an otherwise interesting exchanges into little more than an adolescent bickering session, which everybody tires of rather quickly (myself included).

If it makes you feel better to tell yourself that you're right and I'm wrong, by all means, do so.