Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
alienation, discontent
September 16
Making trouble whenever possible
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.


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MARCH 19, 2012 8:54AM


Rate: 23 Flag

The clown show that passes for the Republican primaries has been truly astounding.  Never before in American history has the public ever witnessed such a collection of nitwits, retards, mountebanks, religious zealots, zombies, flat earth enthusiasts, and tinfoil hat wearers.  I do not have to mention their names.  They are already too familiar to you.

But one must ask the question, "Why?"  Why is there such an incredible cast of clowns, and what does this mean to the Republican Party and even America?  For the GOP, I'm afraid the answer is not very good.  I've said before that Rick Santorum has a stranglehold on say, 30% of the electorate.  The only problem is, that it gets nigh on impossible for Mr. Santorum to garner each additional 1% of the voters.

Even with the incredible fundraising advantages that the Republicans have and the built in advantage of having F*x News as a national propaganda organ -- I do not see happy feet dancing over the results of the November presidential electon. Big money in the GOP is already in the process of  playing defense by diverting their millions to keeping congressional and statehouse races.


But, that is not why I'm writing this.  I'd like to explain one reason why I think that Republicans and the far right are beginning to be in such serious difficulties.  The inspiration for this posting came from  the book Off Center:  The Republican Revolution & the Erosion of American Democracy  by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson.  It's a great book if you don't know about the breath and depth of American conservative political machinery in the USA.

On page 136, there was this quote:

The New Power brokers are not marrying off GOP loyalists of course, (or at least so far as we know). But they are engaging in their own matchmaking, linking powerful interests with supportive politicians and mobilized activists.

Here the authors are referring to such groups as the American Conservative Union, Citizens for Tax Reform, The Council on Growth, Americans for Prosperity, The Christian Coalition...  I could go on.

But when I read this, I realized that in fact what the disparate conglomeration of conservative groups has been doing since the mid 1970s has been in fact continuous inbreeding.  Since every other conservative group adjusts its agenda to the line of the day, the working relations between each group have gotten tighter and tighter. And the ideological spiral gets tighter and tighter, tinier and tinier.

When you're growing your influence, this is a powerful reinforcing tool -- going a long way to  explain the rising influence of American conservativism.  But there's a Murphy's Law going on here, too.  And that is, as each of these organizations become more alike, they do so at the expense of ignoring the wishes of the American public in general.  And their groupthink leads to magical thinking -- that somehow their most unpalatable positions need to aired, and that the voters will  somehow swallow this crap with the same ease that they swallowed less repulsive issues before.

There are already huge gaps between specific policies of the Republican Party and the electorate at large. But in particular, the issue of womens' choice looms largest now.  And the candidacy of Rick Santorum and the bloviating of Rush Limbaugh are beginning to show just what a tiny minority this political tail is as it tries to wag the American dog.

Fundamentalist right-to-lifers have been the driving force in going against such fundamentals as birth control, and they will not be moved.  In the primaries, all of the GOP candidates have to pander to this pro-life mob. The ideological unity of the Republican Party is now such that it dangerously represents a party move into the box canyon of massive defeat in the general election.  This is because the fundamentalist right-to-life ideology as expressed by the Republican Party is totally unpalatable to 52% of the electorate.  And the last time I did my math, 52% beats 30% every day of the week, when you split the difference in the undecided.

The right to life policies of Santorum et. al. represents an existential challenge to American conservatism, which is simply wonderful for anyone else. And the prospect of continued knife fighting in the Republican primaries should warm the hearts of anyone with an IQ greater than 100, or a political persuasion of center or more left.



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The total idiocy of the Republicans is countered by the Democratic monolithic support of a president who has failed almost totally to carry out his promises. Is it all the same dog and pony show?
Hope you're right. (Typing this w. crossed fingers.)
Incidentally, an IQ of 100 is average by definition.
Yah, I wrote about blatant Republican stupidity (specifically Perry) back in January. When even a Canuck knows that the "candidates" are blowing smoke up their own arses -- and everyone else's -- there's a huge problem of credibility.
So true, but the Republicans are really good at playing dirty and are not above stealing elections-it has happened before! So I will keep holding my breath and hope for the best, and await for these waves of implausibility and insanity to leave the tin-foil brigade! Great post! R
Every single day I sit here and shale my head at what I hear and see. My ridiculous Canadian prime minister is an angel compared to these Keystone Cops.
I blame it on the back woods meth labs that are financing them all.
There is a natural tendency for ideological movements to suffer from the need to be in a constant state of purification. In the case of movement conservatism, the purity of ignorance, to use a comprehensive term.

I played with this fact in a largely unread piece I did 3 years ago.
I wonder about how the effect of subliminal racial hatred is driving their agenda... after all even the establishment congressional old white dudes have been open about their top priority to make Obama "a one term president."
I object to the term "retard" to be synonymous with nitwits, zombies, etc. While it is no longer the medical term to refer to people with intellectual deficits, it once was and many people labelled with the new term remember that the old one once described them.

My brother, for example, may not pass an IQ test above the level designating him as developmentally disabled (ie mentally retarded) but he has a very good memory. He can remember that retarded refers to him. What *is* beyond his understanding is the idea that he no longer counts as retarded, not because he has changed but because the word has been too abused.

Life is difficult enough for people like him without turning "mentally retarded" into a denigrating epithet. Please don't use it again.
Malusinka, I knew sooner or later that someone would object to this terminology, but I will not apologize. And that is because I am a retard! Takes one to know one I say.

After I penned this, I had a conversation with the little woman. She's afraid that the GOP advertising agency can convince women to vote against their self interest. After all, they did this after WW II.

I disagreed with her. I know that if you have half a billion dollars you can sell one helluva lot of Preparation H. But in this day of identity politics, how many women will willingly give up all of their birth control, returning to the bad old days of pre Roe v. Wade?
Not many, methinks. Sure, there will be enough church ladies to go around. (Insert sentence with the word 'slut' in it here.)
Old new lefty, I sure do hope you're right. It does make sense, in an organic, law-of-physics way that extreme groups get only more extreme and out of touch with reality as time goes on. Now, if only the Democratic 'leadership' would quit chasing them, trying always to stake out a position halfway between wherever the far-right has gone and its own base.
Well, you infernal optimist, I hope you're right (hmm -- even your name says left), but I'm not so sure. Rtwng nutjobs have so pervaded the system at all levels of government that I'm afraid radical surgery or industrial strength chemo may be necessary to destroy this cancer. The first operation would be to remove the gigantic tumor called Fux News.

The reason for my pessimism is how soon so many have forgotten (more likely never learned) the lessons of Voodoo Reaganomics and the lost decade in and after eight years of the worst President in US history, aka him whose name cannot be spoken on the Right.

That 60 million people voted for a doddering old man and a bimbo in 2008 is frightening enough. That voters put a host of R governors and legislators in power in 2010, leaving pathetic Orange John to try and fail to control the House of Cards (Orange John is a joke-r) is in my book no cause for optimism.

The best one can hope for is that this election will be won by Obama 50.5 to 49.5 and the Dems will retain presumptive but useless numerical advantage in the Senate. That means if you weren't happy with the last four years, you'll be even less pleased with the next four.

The only solace will be that things could have gone-- and may yet go -- a helluva lot worse. You may have to kneel and kiss the ring of Cardinal Rickilieu.
Malusinka, I wouldn't support anyone using the term 'retard' to refer specifically to any specific individual (with or without intellectual challenges) because insults are not useful. But I don't think we're doing your brother or people like him any favors when we take Lefty's use of the term to have anything to do with them.

'Intellectually challenged' has started taking over from 'developmentally disabled,' which has come to have some insult connotations, although 'DD' itself was adopted in the late 20th century as a non-judgmental term to replace 'retarded,' which had developed insulting connotations.

'Retarded' wasn't always an insult. When it was adopted in the early- to mid-20th century, it had a descriptive, non-judgmental meaning of 'slow, held-back.' It was adopted to replace 'idiot,' which had developed insulting connotations.

Believe it or not, 'idiot' was once a term used as a descriptive label not intended as an insult. When it was introduced in the 19th century as the sympathetic term for people with intellectual challenges, it had a largely descriptive meaning: 'uneducated, simple.'

That's as much history as I know. The point is, language is always moving on and someday fairly soon, the word 'retard' or 'retarded' will have no special association with people who have intellectual challenges, much as the term 'idiot' no longer does.

The sooner we start treating the word 'retard' as if it has nothing to do with people who have intellectual challenges, the better. I'm betting that if someone explained to your brother that when someone says 'retard,' they don't mean people like him, he would understand.
I am beginning to ponder if the new direction is to make the election process so irrelevant no one bothers to vote.
I also think the days of angry white old men running the show is drawing to a close.
Or so I hope Lefty.
"Pr0-life mob"-- so true. They are a mob of crazies. I still can't believe Santorum went on Piers Morgan and said that if his daughter were raped he would counsel her to have the baby. I find that hard to believe.
I love Karen's first comment but I have an issue with her second. Her first encapsulates the biggest problem I've had with Pres. Obama: The idea that it would make sense to steer a course between sensible and wherever the far-right has drifted.

Wrong about Developmentally Disabled, though. I had a son with cerebral palsy and the label was, in his case, a reference strictly to physical development and not to intellectual development at all. With infants and toddlers they keep track of what they call Milestones, tasks that are typically completed by a given age, the early ones being measured in months (or perhaps weeks). We watched my son being tested periodically and falling farther and farther behind whatever the current milestones were, actually never reaching most of them at all, but there was never evidence that he was intellectually challenged.

ONL, good analysis though. (I also would have steered away from "retard" because of its perjorative connotations toward individuals with a disability.) That's been true for years and sort of describes what happened to the Democrats in 1972. There are three tasks a candidate/President faces and they're nearly mutually exclusive:
1. Energizing the base for the primares which, in both major party cases, is ideologically at the outer edge of its party's ideology,
2. Bringing in the center for the general election, meaning the candidate has to come up with an about-face that doesn't look like one such that one of these two positions turns out to be cosmetic (such as W's Compassionate Conservativism), and
3. Actually running the country with the opposition.

The biggest question for the general election is how much of an about-face Romney will be able to pull off if he wins the nomination. His record is largely centrist but he's had to disown his centrist tendencies for the primaries, meaning he's had to run as fast as he can from what was actually his biggest achievement as a Governor because his health plan is now tainted with Obama Cooties.

There's a difference between grudging support and monolithic support.
kosher, I can appreciate the perjorative sense of the R-word. As to Romney, he's truly caught in a double bind. For the primaries he has to embrace the wingnuts. And then during the general, he'll want to throw them under the bus. But Obama will certainly paint the Santorum brush on Romney, and if Romney tries to rally the GOP base by making Santorum his VP, he's certainly doomed.

death or booga booga
We support Obama because the alternatives are too horrific to contemplate, Jan. The sad fact is that here in the United States we live in an entrenched, two-party system. We don't have the pan-political choices that Europe and other parts of the world have. Like people elsewhere, Americans populate the entire spectrum of choices, but the sad fact is that our system forces us to choose between a party on the right that accepts bigots, sexists and crackpots, and the the other that panders to groups, over promises, and struggles to deliver because of the creaking, huge, corrupt bureaucracy called the U.S. federal government.
Hopefully 2012 will either spell the end of the Republocrats or civilization - take your pick.
What disturbs me more than anything is the assumption that Obama is a preferred choice to the baboons the Republicans are offering. There is little doubt Obama puts up the appearance of sanity and overwhelmed opposition to the psychosis gripping the Republicans but the unrelenting progress of the country under Obama to disintegration of basic Constitutional rigors designed to keep the nation on course which is , it seems to me, preparation for totalitarianism directed by oligarchy bodes no good for the country. Where are the responsible Democrats who should provide sensible opposition to this incipient dictator?
Until I see more choices, I have to vote for the lesser of two evils (Democratic v. Republican).
Be aware, then, when the theoretical shit hits the fan that this is what you voted for.
[r] Obama and the Dems threw women's rights under the bus back faux-hammering out the trojan horse health care policy. Everything on the table my .... Great numbers of women fighting for abortion and birth control? Haven't seen it seriously. Buzz about Limbaugh is important maybe but really late in the game for all of us women. I wish it weren't so but we are not committed to protecting ourselves and our values and our fellow humans, fellow women, in their plights. Is there a tipping point for a real fight soon? I don't think so but I wish I were wrong. Yes, a neanderthal like Rush is an easy counterpoint to talk the talk. Walking the walk? Not so much. Maybe the OWS young women and the anti-war and health care advocates.

I saw Hacker and Pierson on Moyers and thought they were awesome btw. They didn't mince words with the saturation of corruption. No bullshit from politicians on either side of the aisle will they accept. I had issues with Hacker and his public option long ago, but I admired all he said on Moyers. It was bipartisan betrayal all the way. Post Morality America as David Newshour what's his name calls it. He got that right. Ethical freakshow of a universe Maddow calls it.

The Republicans are awesome in their outrageousness, but my focus is on the Dems, the pragmatics who can't talk morality and values seriously and deeply and passionately. my take. libby
Good news. They're driving off a cliff. I just hope they get there soon, and we're not all in the car with them when it launches into the void.
In the November election the Republicans will keep the House and probably take the Senate, regardless of the presidential outcome. Us retards have to stick together, vote Republikan, and spit in the faces of the liberal elitists...wink
interesting theory onl and quite possibly true. I think that those on teh right make their compromises just as those on the left do. Surely not every small government/low taxes/moneybags is keen on the war on contraception or making abortions near impossible to obtain. But they realize that the boots-on-the-ground activists hold these causes dear do they accommodate. And while Obama's re-election looks likely right now, let's see what happens if there's 45 gas and a manufactured issue along the lines of swiftboating or Willie Horton.
No, I don't think my brother would understand. He'd probably ask how he graduated from being retarded because he likes things to be concrete. "Retarded" or whatever the current label is, is the reason he doesn't have a life like the rest of us. Like normal people. So, it has a huge meaning in his life. He sees the label as his burden, not what the label stands for.

The label also defines so many things about his life. For example, what programs he's eligible for. Programs come and go, so it seems like every few years, one disappears and a new one has to be signed up for, or a name changes, or eligibility changes. So there's a process and an important part of the process is the certification of the label.

There's nothing he'd like better than to be normal, but he doesn't have a clue how to do it or why he is the way he is. He'd like to know. He'd like to fix it.

He's 53 and healthy. Statistically, he has a good 25 years of life left, and there's no reason to believe he'll ever forget the label, "retarded."
Malusinka, I certainly owe you an apology. I did not want to hurt you or anyone in your family, even if there is some self-identification of myself for the R-word.
Plus, we like circuses!! Teehee!! What? :D
Jan, I think you are being a tad hard on Obama. I hope he wins and as a lame duck Pres, goes for it --all good things--with nothing to lose. Of course I also get your point and yours ONL Rated
The problem was ignored by the POTUS in 2010, and I see no evidence that he's gotten any smarter. In fact, losing the WH is easier to do than Congress and state houses due to the minority bias of the Electoral College. Unless, and until, that is ended we will always, either directly or indirectly by extortion, be ruled by the 1% nutballs.