Palin

Obviously Sarah Palin is a right-wing maniac. She opposes sex education and favors abstinence instruction only; she opposes abortion, even in cases of rape; she supports everything the oil companies want, and thinks that global warming may not even exist, and if it does, it is not the result of human actions; etc. etc. ad nauseam. All that is good enough reason not to want her anywhere near the White House.

But I’m stunned by the vituperation that seems to be overcoming the “liberal” portion of the blogosphere, denouncing her on the basis of her lack of experience, her teenage daughter’s pregnancy, etc.

For one thing, “experience” simply does not matter. At all. It is a completely bogus idea. The lack of experience didn’t stop Ronald Reagan from being the most effective political leader of the last half century (and therefore the one who did the most harm, and caused the most human suffering, of any President in American history). Neither does Der Arnold seem the least bit hindered in his machinations by having less “experience,” and less knowledge of anything outside Hollywood, than the average joker driving down the street. The fact is, “experience” can be easily borrowed or bought. Reagan didn’t need experience or understanding, because he had the right-wing policy wonks from the Heritage Foundation backing him. And Arnold has handlers inherited from his GOP predecessor Pete Wilson. A politician doesn’t need actual “experience,” as long as he or she has the right advisors. With the right advisors, a chimpanzee could be an effective US President (and the chimp would probably pull in higher approval ratings than Bush now does).

As for “personal” or “family” issues, who cares? The story about Palin allegedly being Trig’s grandmother rather than mother has all the usual flavor of paranoid conspiracy-mongering. It has exactly the same affective logic, and makes about as much sense, as 9/11 conspiracy theories, or David Icke’s allegations about our reptilian overlords, or JFK assassination conspiracy theories. I’d go so far as to say that, even in the unlikely event that the “grandmother” theory should prove to be true, I would still say that its underlying logic disqualifies it from being given any importance whatsoever.

With regard to the news of Palin’s 17-year-old daughter actually being pregnant now, all I can say — rather crassly — is that the chickens have come home to roost. This is what happens when you indoctrinate your post-puberty children with the doctrine of “abstinence”, and deny them any knowledge of contraception. (See the movie Teeth for the best account of this dynamic). Of course fundamentalist “family values” are a nightmare. But the moralizing criticism of Palin on these grounds, that I have seen in so much “liberal” commentary of the past day, itself buys into these same odious “family values”. Enough said.

There are two things that especially trouble me about the “liberal” blogosphere’s attacks on Palin. One is good old-fashoned misogyny. I just don’t believe that a white male candidate would ever be subject to the sort of treatment that Palin has gotten: the smirks, the knowing winks, the ridicule of her prowess as a hunter, the doubts as to whether she can be an effective public servant at the same time that she is a parent to children under 18 (and especially one with Down’s Syndrome), and so on. I am in no way opposed to the basic need for partisanship, for taking off the gloves and attacking the other party. But I wish I could see a bit more thought going into the premises of all these “liberal” attacks on Palin, the sorts of values that they are appealing to. We are not going to win if we base our attacks against the Republicans on the Republicans’ own odious prejudices and presuppositions.

The other thing that disturbs me is the air of self-congratulatory triumphalism that surrounds all these attacks on Palin. Nearly everything I have read from the “liberal” blogs and media takes the gleeful line that McCain has just blown the election, that his choice of Palin is an egregious blunder, that at best it bespeaks panic and desperation. I’m sorry, but this sort of evaluation is sheer idiocy. Of course the selection of Palin is a gamble — the selection of someone relatively unknown, and therefore untested in the heat of policy discussions and electoral battles always is. But that doesn’t mean that Palin is automatically a public-relations disaster. Just watching five minutes of YouTube clips is enough to show that Palin is one of the most charismatic and telegenic politicians in the US today. She radiates a combination of spunky energy, cool authority, and down-home reassurance. There is no question that she will be powerfully appealing to mainstream voters. She is yet another example of the right wing’s brilliance, over the last thirty years, in manipulating affect — in getting voters to feel good about candidates, and therefore to vote for them even against their own actual conscious interests.

In short, anyone who sees the selection of Palin as a self-inflicted wound for the McCain campaign simply doesn’t get it — doesn’t have a clue about how politics works in America today. If Obama has a chance of winning the election despite ingrained American racism, this has nothing to do with the state of the economy, or the war. It is because Obama arouses confidence and enthusiasm — in a manner that Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, etc. were totally incapable of. (Whether this enthusiasm and excitement are able to travel, whether they can break through the glass ceiling and affect other people besides Obama’s core constituency, is still open to question. The campaign will very much turn on it — it is by no means a done deal). It troubles me how so many Obama supporters and enthusiasts are so smug in their certainty of victory, and I should say also in their sense of moral superiority and self-righteousness, that they cannot see what is right in front of their faces. In this case, the fact that Palin is a media figure of potentially huge appeal. You can’t fight or counteract something of which you are totally oblivious. There may be skeletons in anybody’s closet that ruin their chances in public life when they emerge; but at this point, Sarah Palin is more a Sarah Connor than she is a Harriet Miers or Tom Eagleton. We need to be worried about her effectiveness — and about McCain’s sharpness in picking her, in contrast to Obama’s going for Biden as a safe, conservative choice that signals politics-as-usual — instead of prematurely celebrating the demise of the Republican ticket.

[ADDENDUM: I should also mention class prejudice: bourgie white “liberals” looking down their noses, with their usual parochialism and bigotry, at a woman and family they consider to be “rednecks” or “white trash” — as was pointed out in Gawker, of all places.]

65 thoughts on “Palin”

  1. I agree with the wariness. Palin’s experience is by no means an electoral issue, but early results from voter groups is that it has deeply wounded McCain’s image as a maverick – ironically, there is an instinctive reaction to her as a safe conservative choice. She is who she is, a tough-minded slightly weird Republican from the frozen north. A valkyrie. She’ll sell well. Scandals won’t sink her. But John McCain is the real target of a growing discontent in the dreaded, thick-skulled undecideds in the middle of the election. One more scandal will make the media narrative that he didn’t check her out.

    His first call as candidate is .. not to go with his gut, but take on the pressure of a lobby group.

    Its a choke-in-a-crisis narrative that is easily communicated, it seems.

  2. Steve,

    This part that you wrote seems exactly right:

    “She radiates a combination of spunky energy, cool authority, and down-home reassurance. There is no question that she will be powerfully appealing to mainstream voters.”

    It’s also embarrassing to me that the left drops all its pretenses to the moral high road and goes under the belt thinking it’s the jugular as soon as the shoe is on the other foot to mix a few metaphors. But it also makes me laugh. This is, after all, humanity, and humanity will always drop its pretense at any kind of ethics where power is involved. We saw it at Duke.

    Any demographic can become a lynch mob: even the professoriate.

    It is rather weird that the far right doesn’t believe in any kind of contraception (secretly, of course, even most Christian pastors actually practice birth control, because it would be crazy to want to have ten kids on a pastor’s salary).

    But the other side — where Obama wants to abort a child who has already been born (a small percentage of abortions end in a live birth).

    That’s equally awful, I think.

    The point-spread is now about 1-5 and that’s after the bounce of the Democratic convention (I’m not sure that the Republicans are going to get much of a convention after Hurricane Gustav — which should have been called hurricane Goofball since it didn’t have any Swedish determination at all really, there were some gusts but no real gusto). But after the public hears McCain and Palin’s versino of what should happen, I’m pretty sure they will be up again by one or two points in at least a few polls because they have the advantage of a sense of humor. Democrats lost their sense of humor, and are possibly even afraid of humor.

    So a seventeen-year old is pregnant by a young man she’s planning to marry. It’s not like it’s incest, or something illegal. It could well prove to be the most beautiful thing in her life and in the life of the young man. Everyone assumes that it was a mistake. Maybe they wanted the baby.

    Palin is rather nuanced on the oil companies (made them cut a 1500 dollar check to every Alaskan) — and is apparently against her own party when it comes to corruption.

    There are also a lot of nay-sayers about global warming including the Greenpeace sympathizer Lomberg –in the Environmental Skeptic. Plus, we don’t know for sure if global warming, if it does exist, will be a bad thing or not. Greenland was once green, after all (until the beginning of the last millenium it was quite possible to grow grain in Greenland).

    Why shouldn’t it be green again after the Little Ice Age?

    Many people are arguing that it’s sunspots rather than pollution that makes the earth warmer or cooler.

    Lomberg argued that global warming would save about a half a million lives in the northern countries where that many people freeze to death every year. This would be well above the number of lives lost due to a scorched butt around the equator.

    Gore went around screaming that the sky was falling, but it’s obvious that he needed to find a political cause around which the teaheads could swarm. And he found one, but all the evidence isn’t in, and a lot of people think that he is playing unfair with the facts. Who knows?

    I don’t believe anything that anybody says in the political realm unless it’s said with a lot of humor.

    Gore is suspiciously lacking in humor. I don’t think he has a funny bone, which makes HIM the cyborg, on my scoreboard.

  3. I agree that most left-wing bloggers are counting their chickens before they’re hatched. Sarah Palin has a lot of popularity, which is striking most liberals as scary. I think the message should be more one of “Sarah Palin is the worst choice for VP…in every possible world where politics is not a three-ring circus.”

    I do not agree with the analysis of the misogyny factor, for one crucial reason: because this entire race, and especially the choice of Palin, has been boiled down to gender already. Let’s call this for what it is, a big part of this choice is to woo former Hillary supporters, and it’s working. This portion of the electorate has made it clear that politics is irrelevant when gender is an issue. I believe that whatever misogyny has arisen from this is a completely measured response. Whoever thinks that electing June Cleaver VP is going to help the feminist movement is sorely mistaken. As a matter of “a taste of what’s to come,” I think it could be a VERY powerful technique.

  4. Steven,

    You have once again so elegantly nailed it. All the flaws of the so called “liberal” blogosphere that you point to are so true. The arrogance is stunning, and dismaying at the same time. Instead of seeing any potential for real danger that Palin presents to “our side” in this election, its all euphoria, all the time. Obama as a political force intrigues me, although like you I am disappointed with the Biden choice. But the throngs of vapid supporters are really turning me off. The naiveté is remarkable in how pervasive it is. I hate to sound ageist, but it must be the younger demographic that is energized this cycle.

    And yes, the ordinary run of the mill misogyny is rampant. Appallingly so. And anybody who clams otherwise just doesn’t “get it”. And if you are male don’t even bother trying to justify that it is somehow different. Sexism is an embodied phenomenon, pure and simple. The same tactics have shamelessly, albeit somewhat covertly, been deployed against Hillary. Much of this I lay at the feet of the MSM, but we are culpable when when don’t stand up and say enough is a enough. At least Obama, has the good sense to personally and directly stand up to the nonsense. I just wish he would make a little more effort to rein in the mob that he preaches to. Force them to think a little deeper.

    Anyway, excellent post, as always.

  5. Perhaps you’re right, and while many Democrats have been more concerned about Obama and especially Biden being perceived as “bullies” for going after Palin in debates and on policy issues, since they might be seen as beating up on a woman, the real issue, which McCain has been banking on all along, is that anyone demanding “experience” is just another elitist. And that has been the Republicans’ meme on Obama and his followers all along.

    Taking her seriously might be the only way to sidestep this trap.

  6. Steve,

    I agree on most of what you said here, especially on the point that Republicans have been remarkably more successful in appealing to voters on an affective level than the Democrats (which would account for Reagan all the way down to W). So I agree it’s unwise to downplay the affective appeal Palin could have to a wide swathe of voters, something most of the Obama supporters haven’t recognized.

    But I think you misjudge at least some of the reasons liberals have been so overjoyed these past few days. I think for the most part, it’s pure schadenfreude. Finally the Republicans get a dose of what they’ve been dishing out all these years. I doubt most liberals are genuinely offended by Palin’s lapse of ‘family values’ and experience. They’re just excited to throw all of the rhetoric back at the Republicans’ faces. If they’re genuinely offended by anything, it’s probably the Republicans’ hypocrisy.

    I do agree overall though that attacking Republicans with the same rhetoric they’ve used for decades is a dubious proposition. If anything, it says more about liberals’ subsumption into the charade of electoral politics than anything else.

  7. Hi Steve.

    I don’t think Palin matters in the way that the Dems understand her mattering. She was a bone thrown to the Republican foot soldiers. The Republican leadership isn’t walking the precinct – they leave that to the foot soldiers: the under educated right wing religious. They are willing to work to get stuff done. Just today it was noted by (of all horrible people) Rove, who said the decision for Palin was “Not A Governing Decision But A Campaign Decision”. It was the tactical move to shore up the base that is basically more interested in sitting this one out.

    Also, it was a smart tactical move in that it totally changed the conversation from Obama’s historic acceptance speech and its grandiose themes to McCain’s distraction of Palin, who is couched in a variety of domestic terms. There’s a great deal of opposition to Palin within the Republican party, but the machine of the party knows she doesn’t matter anymore than McCain does.

    McCain ran directly against the neocon junta in 2001, and now he embraces them, because he wants to be president. It’s the junta that is running things in the Republican party. From their perspective, Palin is as much of a tool as McCain. McCain is a more capable tool, but should McCain die, she would simply inherit his controllers, who would work her like a mannequin.

    The Dems are beholden to the same imperialist industrial war machine, they’re just nicer about it. That said, this is still a critical election. If the Dems lose this, it’s the end of the American Experiment, period. Between peak oil and its attendant resource wars (Klare) combined with the Export Land Model, and the Chinese basically buying up all the dollars they can, things can either go one way, which is a way of difficulty and painful choices, or the other, which is right off the cliff.

    Obama will make some (but not enough) hard choices. McCain will run it all off the cliff. Palin is a distraction, but a powerful and symbolic one. I recommend “Deer Hunting With Jesus” to understand it.

    HW

  8. So many of the comments here sort of skirt around the issue that Ms Palin is an extremely poor and corrupt public official. The fact she’s a psychotically poor mother will play well to the National Enquirer, but what that will do is really cast light on her shockingly poor record as a governing executive.

    And so far, the mainstream hates her, Steven. Obama’s positives are going up post-Palin and McCain’s are going down.

    The next two days are crucial – her acceptance speech will form her media persona and it hits at the same time as the National Enquirer story about her forcing a daughter into marriage. It seems, after all, that we face another round of the culture wars, which is really sad for all involved.

  9. I still think it’s right that most people are going to vote EMOTIONALLY, not INTELLECTUALLY, and they will vote for the person they LIKE better.

    Most Americans LIKE McCain better. He backed up his cellmates in Nam, and he’s got a sense of humor, and he’s human.

    Obama is a pious prick.

    Biden is a pious prick.

    They are both way too self-righteous by half. Most Americans will see this, and puke.

    Academics tend to think everyone is going to vote intellectually, on issues.

    But it’s a popularity contest.

    Almost everyone will like Sarah Palin better than Biden. Biden’s a jerk. Palin’s human.

    Same thing went for Bush over Gore and Kerry. Gore and Kerry were nerds and nitpickers and jerks. Bush is a regular guy with a bit of impishness. Hands down, he’s more popular.

    Remember, this is a POPULAR vote.

    It’s all about who do you LIKE better. Mr. Clinton is very likable. Mrs. CLinton, isn’t.

    So I think the affective part that Steve is focusing on will count as the final tally comes in. How do you make Obama likable? How can anybody relate to this guy? He’s just a blabbermouth without a sense of humor. Biden’s nasty, to boot.

  10. She is the GRANDMOTHER of Trig, not the mother. Here are the photos as proof, page down half way and see evidence from the summer myspace page of Mercede who is the sister of baby-daddy Levi Johnston. In the captions, she refers to Sarah Palin as “mommy-in-law” and the baby Trig as her new baby brother.

    http://cajunboy.tumblr.com/

    The myspace page has since been taken down, but the evidence remains. Someone will talk. It’s a small town. Lies have short legs. RNC: Get the truth out now and do some damage control. Those preaching the loudest usually have the biggest skeletons to hide.

    Let the girl have her baby, out in public, and please let the mom be proud of them both. Is Bristol pregnant now? Who knows. Maybe maybe not. But Bristol IS the mother of Trig.

    And, here’s the Washington Post with the news about grandma Palin cutting funding in Alaska for help for pregnant teens. How ironic. Don’t teach them about birth control, and then throw them out on the street when they decide to keep their babies.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/02/palin_slashed_funding_to_help.html?hpid=artslot

  11. But it’s not clear to me completely that people will see Obama as I do. He seems to have a huge following, and I think he is very intelligent and will probably play fair enough if he and Biden get into office.

    I think the Constitution will hold, and all the parties will continue to abide by it.

    I don’t think Palin is a maniac, or that Obama is a maniac. These are level-headed people who have serious policy differences.

    None of them are maniacs. None of them are going to institute concentrate camps or anything silly like that for the other side.

    The country will continue to be about 50-50 and things will be fine either way.

    I just hope if Obama wins he’ll start talking like a normal person rather than trying to make everything sound like a great speech.

    I would be more likely to vote for the Democrats if they would stop that high-minded speechifying (Kerry was horrible in this sense).

    Just talk like a normal person, and tell us what you’re gonna do for heaven’s sake, and laugh a little bit at yourself. That goes quite a long way.

    Things are going to be fine either way. No reason to get het up or go into conspiracy/paranoia/cataclysm mode. These are all people who will basically follow the law and do their dead level best. They’re Americans, for heaven’s sake.

  12. I don’t know what’s sadder… the fact that you’re right, Kirby, about the election being a popularity contest, or the fact that you seem to be OK with that… Even if most Americans vote for the person they like better, that doesn’t mean it’s not a really bad way to choose our leaders. But maybe that’s what happens when a culture begins to slide downward… time will tell.

  13. I am a resident of Alaska and have been for a long time–I was born here. What I find remarkable is I have nothing whatsoever to add to this conversation. If I tried to say something substantive, it would be a detraction from all of the truly intelligent commentary above, (and in the original post.) It would be a sign of my idiocy.

  14. Kirby Olson Says:
    > There are also a lot of nay-sayers about global warming including the
    > Greenpeace sympathizer Lomberg –in the Environmental Skeptic.

    Kirby, do you get all your information regarding the natural sciences from non-peer-reviewed literature produced by social scientists?

    The following article doesn’t relate to AGW, but I think it may be right up your alley:

    http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html

  15. I’m not one to bother with Mr Olsen’s comments – I think he’s useless. However, his thinking is indicative of the kind of Pollyanna mainstream America that is basically eviscerating the planet with smiley faces.

    I’ll just pick a few points for the edification of others.

    “I don’t think Palin is a maniac,”

    But she does believe in a Jewish zombie who can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him he is your master, all because you’re full of inherent evil because a rib woman got conned by a talking snake into eating an apple from a magical tree.

    Right. Makes perfect sense.

    None of them are going to institute concentrate camps or anything silly like that for the other side.

    Then what exactly is Gitmo and what exactly was Abu Ghraib?

    I would be more likely to vote for the Democrats if they would stop that high-minded speechifying (Kerry was horrible in this sense).

    Riiight. Olsen reminds me of someone who agreed with a rightwing shill in the London Financial Times-

    “On July 20 Christopher Caldwell wrote in the London Financial Times a column asking why there was no humor either inside or outside the Obama campaign”

    and how

    “Self-deprecating humour from him would seem as out of place as self-deprecating humour from Pope Benedict. But for the Pope, it is a consequence of his office; for Mr. Obama, it is a consequence of his inordinate sense of self-importance.”

    To which I responded:

    Oooooh – I see – convincing billions of people to believe in a Jewish Zombie who was his own father and had himself killed by the Romans in order to expiate the misbehaviour of EVERYONE because we’re all descended from some rib girl who got conned into eating an apple from a magic tree by a talking snake… THAT kind of utter bullshit requires a lack of self-deprecating humour. But running for the office of a nation that could obliterate 99% of the life on this planet in a matter of hours is something we should be all happy-talk eyewitness news-y about? Running for the highest office of a world spanning empire that is sucking the life out of the planet – that’s something the USA needs a comedian for, kind of like how the USA gets its REAL news from The Daily Show and Colbert Report? Running for the presidency after 8 years of neocon horsecrap that has:
    1. bankrupted the treasury ($9.5 trillion debt),
    2. crippled the banking system into oblivion (obvious),
    3. left the country insolvent (federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/Current/)
    4. provided a record deficit (450+ billion),
    5. left millions without medical attention,
    6. seen a decrease in American longevity and living standards,
    7. created a bloated bureaucracy dedicated to security theatre (DHS)
    8. engaged the country in a ruinous war over oil in Iraq
    9. let a city be destroyed (NOLA)
    is somehow a fine time to start cracking jokes?

    How freaking stupid are you?

    You have a choice: vote for Mr Serious Leader Obama, or go for the geezer whose votes supported the policies of the Bush junta over 90% of the time.

    Things are going to be fine either way.

    No, Dr Pangloss, they are not. The US.gov is in debt 9 trillion dollars. Explain to me how they will pay that back. Oil production is basically flat, and has been since 2005. More babies get made, increasing demand. Civilisation is predicated on the use and consumption of irreplaceable resources. Exponential growth (which is ANY growth at ANY percentage) is not sustainable on a finite planet. There is no energy faerie coming to save us. There is no where to go.

    The USA is, as Burroughs put it, the last and greatest betrayal of the human spirit. And for all of its arrogance and vainglory, it is a bit player in the greater game of entropy, of which, life is merely a bio-chemical engine and servant. It is irresistable, and all the technology in the world won’t make more energy. All the technology in the world won’t save humanity.

    The USA is faced with a choice: slow the crazy train and steer it away from the cliff of unipolar neocon suicide, and vote for Obama (a democratic imperialist bent on multipolar regional hegemony). Or, vote for McCain, and drive western civilisation off a cliff like Thelma and Louise in their vintage T-Bird.

    It’s all down hill from here.

    Look ma! No hands!!!!

    Barring idiots like Bush. Cheney, McCain, and Palin and Robertson and those goons, there will be no apocalypse. We don’t deserve an apocalypse. It will be a multigenerational descent from an age of ever increasing resources to an age of ever decreasing resources. And those are simple facts. They are not paranoid rantings, they are simple geological fact, and no amount of postmodern hemming and hawing about “grand narratives” will change those facts, and no amount of ignorant bluster or topic changing or jingoistic denial or technocratic bargaining is going to change it.

    Make plans or geology will make them for you.

  16. I absolutely agree, Steve. I think McCain’s choice was fiendishly clever. Palin’s churchy ways creep me out, but they are very very persuasive for the Republican base, and much of mainstream USA. We (left/progressive/liberal) sneer at our peril.

  17. Pingback: Palin : Sophoblog
  18. Geoff,

    Well, it is what it is. We might as well face the facts.

    We only have two parties that matter, and they are both rather imperfect.

    Plato didn’t believe in democracy, and Aristotle agreed that democracy wouldn’t work. Aristotle thought that in a democracy people tended to pretend to be victims in order to get handouts.

    But would it be better to have a hierarchy in which only the professoriate could vote?

    Or where only the Marxists could vote?

    Or where — some smaller group could vote?

    Some elite, in some sense?

    I like the idea of democracy and find it very funny. What else can you do? And the funniest people tend to win.

    I do think the Democrats have forgotten about bread and circuses, and how things have to be a bit of fun. Which means a sense of humor is called for. On the bright side, a sense of humor reveals that a person has a bit of perspective.

    The country is still pretty solid in spite of all the sky is falling rhetoric from the Demos swinging their wrecking ball at Bush and Rove and the fragile democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We haven’t been attacked since 9/11 and many plots have been broken up, and the unemployment rate is down, and now we have new friends around the world like Sarkozy in France and Berlusconi in Italy, etc.

    Sarah Palin looks fine to me. Her family appears to me to be fine. It’s not as if aliens have landed to strip me of my rights, or who will come and destroy my town.

    Things are going to be fine either way. A little worse with Obama because the level of political correctness will go up, and the Orwellian confusion this will cause will make America a little less productive. But, for the most part, both paths will lead to prosperity and charm. It’s just that with Obama we’re going to have to listen to awful speeches delivered in a sophomoric style. (I can’t understand why people are calling him a genius of rhetoric. It worked for a while but now I can’t stand to listen to him any longer. I suspect that others will start to feel like me before November.)

    I’m voting for the geezer.

  19. Again, Mister Olsen demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, the intellectual failure of the american empire, through the internalisation of imperialist neoliberal ideology that is seen as “common sense”. Every sentence shows the cladistics of this delusional and utterly self-destructive mindset. Sitting outside the Empire and looking in, but having been born and raised there, it is a unique and uniquely depressing sight as one considers Olsen’s rhetorical stance.

    Again, I can’t go into every sentence to deconstruct his position. due to present time restrictions and “things I have to get done in the next 24 – 48 hours” I can’t delve into this much except to again agree with Nate’s original points that Olsen does not argue fairly, or honestly. Since he continues on in his manner, blithely ignoring almost all the points people herein make, and certainly refusing to intellectually engage any of points of fact or reason, his arguments can be seen as “poster children” for the post Bernaysian democratic fascism that has been rapidly rising in the USA since the Reagan Era.

    For these people, facts and reason are of secondary import and often tertiary or less value.

    As was written in this article:

    http://www.advocate.com/issue_story_ektid27753.asp

    “Suskind got additional confirmation of this point of view when a senior White House aide accused the reporter of being part of “what we call the reality-based community.’’ The aide explained that Suskind was one of those people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’’

    “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’’ the White House man continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

    Using this kind of solipsistic reasoning, when combined with the post-Bernaysian political perspective, this results directly in the kind of uncritical unthinking balderdash displayed in Olsen’s dishonest, denialist, incurious, uncritical and frankly sophomoric rhetoric.

    There are many people from outside the USA who ask me “Why are Americans so stupid?” Some of them read this blog, because Shaviro’s writings are such a refreshing and insightful break from the norm. As a shout out, I can now say to them “Look at Olsen’s posts, and now you understand why the USA is totally screwed.” Olsen’s posts exhibit the same level of wilful ignorance combined with imperial arrogance that explains why the Bush administration has been able to get away with overtly criminal acts too numerous to list, and the mindset of a lazy citizenry that is citizenry is too complacent and blind to demand his head on a plate for his criminality and negligence.

    It’s really a sad sight to watch, and one of the (many) reasons I was happy to leave.

  20. Nonsense! Palin is such a hilarious choice –like something out of a Hollywood comedy. I even had moments where I wondered if there actually is a real election going on –or could it all be pure entertainment — souped up really hard for both parties, just to keep us all happy.

    I referred to her as “small town”, but really, I meant small time, small-minded, petty. Now that I’ve heard her speech, I totally dispise her and that will never change. Imagine smearing Obama, trying to tell us that his brilliant accomplishments –triumphs that she could never hope to achieve –amount to nothing at all. It degrades McCain’s campaign and he’d better snap out of it.

    Yes, there’s nothing remotely sexist in my reactions! I simply find her to be a low life. She is going to throw away her children to grab more power. She is a vindictive, nasty person. She reveals her total lack of dignity. She has revealed her true colours and nothing will ever disguise them again.

    It is not by trying to deny ie steal Obama’s academic and personal honours, like a common thief that she can remove them from him –not in the eyes of anyone but a total fool. When you consider the hardships Obama had to brave, when you imagine him struggling to accomplish something magnificent, despite the unimaginable difficulty of having no father in his life –it is just staggering!

    Yes. I despise this disreputable woman. She will always be the sarcastic little guttersnipe who tried to smear Obama. A small time, sneering, smearing little person who can’t even run her own family, much less a great nation.

  21. In some ways I have to say I appreciated Henry Warwick’s comments moreso than the original blog entry. Which is not to say I don’t share Steven Shaviro’s concerns (and don’t appreciate this blog; I started reading blogs because of Pinocchio Theory). Quite the opposite, exactly because I share Steven’s concerns especially with the appeal to the affects in the election process that I wonder if a discussion of either the left or right’s treatment of Palin is effective in resisting some of the more deleterious “affects” of the entire discourse that is being mobilized on voters. There seems to be a limit on thinking the election that stops just before any actual issue emerges concerning the US’s political situation which makes Henry’s comments feel like a breath of fresh air. Palin seems more like a distraction being used by both parties because a larger paranoia threatens the utterance of anything of relevance to the material situation of the US. Blame the media for this. Let me say it again, BLAME THE MEDIA FOR THIS. Not just Fox News, but the whole damned apparatus itself that seems solely to function according to the conjunctive “AHA!” As though politics was just a big detective novel, with modern subjectivity working as its condition for the possibility of being thought, and all the players were little truths floating around waiting to be revealed by keen eyed reporters. How can anyone but be paranoid in saying anything of substance in such circumstance… and so the media ensures we’re left with nothing but banalities about who’s daughter did what and what this REALLY MEANS. I would laugh, if the state of the world economy didn’t hang in the balance. Instead, I start thinking, maybe I should pick up that ole SAS handbook and start making my way to the mountains… Meanwhile the US economy continues to swirl down the toilet bowl, and no one seems to be interested (other than Henry) that this next administration is going to have a HUGE impact on international relations over the next four to eight years (possibly moreso because of the previous admin’s terrible legacy). On top of this, it just blows my mind that a mass of people who are actually physically feeling the real pains of the current administration’s machinations can STILL be so easily distracted from the issues that are continually interrupting their lives. Steven is absolutely right stating that “anyone who sees the selection of Palin as a self-inflicted wound for the McCain campaign simply doesn’t get it — doesn’t have a clue about how politics works in America today…this has nothing to do with the state of the economy, or the war. It is because Obama arouses confidence and enthusiasm,” but this is what troubles me most. Which is why I’m thinking an intervention along the lines Henry Warwick provided – pulling the discussion on the election back to issues, not identities – are needed. To pull out an old Deleuzian fave, “we need to hijack speech” but I don’t think it needs to be anything much more complicated than sticking to what is immanent in peoples lives in a material way – the state of the economy being the most immanent (though I hear the counter-voice in my head in its worried tone sounding off: this realm of the affects IS immanent in a very material way, possibly moreso than the economic… a fact which has me inching slowly towards Badiou’s fidelity and multiplicity over Deleuzian immanence in search of modes of thought for intervening on the current situation).

    Or maybe I’m just reading all the wrong newspapers…

  22. Or am I not giving American voters enough credit? This is my hope, though maybe my disappoint is not so much with the voters as with the choices, or should I say role, they’ve been provided. (again, I think of Badiou and the problem of the voter at the ballot box, being included in the set without really belonging – isn’t the current fixation on banalities the effect of this logic; the voter is counted solely as a vote and everything is done to get that vote counted while pushing the voter further and further away from belonging to the actual political process of legislating, governing etc.; ie. the rest is taken care of by those that count).

  23. Willy Loman was a likeable guy, right up until his kids needed something to do with their lives besides talking secretaries into turning tricks. McCain’s plastered on smile has lasted a lot longer than Willy Loman’s did. I’m not smiling back at him.

  24. The simulation of campus radicalism as thespianism would seem to require a conservative president as backdrop or else the value of the state’s need to let off steam via the acting job of radical professors would drop and there would be less call for the likes of Negri and Hardt et al.

    Surely you guys should be FOR Sarah Palin even and especially when you most ardently aren’t.

    I mean what is there to simulate if even the White House is more or less on your side. What role will you play?

    It’s almost very important to be at odds with the government in order to earn your keep, get the retirement money, and so on. The state will pay more to thespians the further to the right that the president sits, right?

    The radical left has become a postmodern Disneyland of theatrical postmodernism in which a certain kind of reenactment occurs, both sides paid by the state to reenact the Civil Wars, or now the Culture Wars, of the past.

    You need opposition of some kind to make this drama work, I should think?

  25. “The simulation of campus radicalism as thespianism…” Why would one need to simulate thespianism? Like a mime pretending to be an actor pretending to be “campus radicalism”? Sounds like a really bad art installation piece.

    “…would seem to require a conservative president as backdrop…” Like as in a poster? How does a person become a backdrop? I see a huge musical production performed by this radical left you speak of (or I mean the art installation piece based on the performance), there’s dancing and singing and maybe even a couple of juggling bears. And there in the backdrop – “a conservative president” hanging by wires. Is that what you mean? If you’re trying to say that the performance of dissent by academics seems to require a figure around which it can organize its opposition and the figure best suited to that role is a conservative president… well, isn’t that a bit reductivist of the whole post-structural aspect of a lot of these critiques. The point isn’t that the president is conservative. Besides, the above blog is just as critical of the left as it is of the right. Or I guess your comment wasn’t really in response to the blog. You should read it. It’s really interesting. But then what is your comment in response to? And who exactly are you addressing? You say “you guys,” but I don’t know who these guys are.

    “It’s almost very important to be at odds with the government in order to earn your keep, get the retirement money, and so on.” I don’t necessarily disagree with your argument that a lot of academics perform radicalism to appease some institutional requirement, but then so? I know of far more academics that are interested in just reproducing the standard ideology of whatever moment they’re involved in without thinking about it. And then there are those that very physically feel the interruption of the state on their ability to do research because their ideas don’t fit some already prescribed form of thinking. There are a lot of different kinds of research going on out there, and the relationship between state and academic is a complicated one. Far more complicated then would allow for the above statement.

    I guess I just read the above reply by Mr. Olson, and was totally confused as to whom he was addressing, and what exactly he was trying to say. It’s all very muddled, and it doesn’t help that the writing is muddled as well. “A postmodern Disneyland of theatrical postmodernism…” What does that mean!? That the Disneyland that is postmodern consists of postmodernist theatricality? Isn’t that, er, redundant? “..both sides paid by the state…” What both sides!? You only mentioned one side,the radical left, and I thought it was meant to oppose the state, but then why would the state pay itself (er well, okay yes I can definitely see how the state pays itself, but I don’t think in the way you mean)? “You need opposition of some kind to make this drama work…” All these “you”s and “you guys” and pronouns lacking antecedents, or even when they do have antecedents, the antecedent itself is vague. Are you just trying to say, “the radical left needs the right as its opposition so that it can perform its resistance”? Uh, yeah, okay. So? Do you mean the right shouldn’t be opposed? Or that opposition itself is bad? Or does this mean to imply that the “radical left” created the right so that it could oppose it? So Republican’s are really just a figment of the imagination in a sense!? Great! Everybody grab someone and pinch them so we can all wake up in the new Utopia that awaits us on the other side of the rainbow.
    And we’ll all sing…
    (ahem) “Soooooooome-wheeeere…Over the rainboooooooow!…”

  26. Quick reply to Olson’s climate skepticism. I urge you (and anyone else who might still think that the evidence “isn’t in”) to read this site:

    http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics

    It’s got a list of the majority of the arguments that have been made by “climate skeptics,” along with the reasons why they are wrong. It’s quite extensive.

    On an unrelated note, I found this site through Warren Ellis’. It’s remarkable and refreshing – thanks for the insights.

  27. Invites Criticism wrote:

    In some ways I have to say I appreciated Henry Warwick’s comments moreso than the original blog entry. Which is not to say I don’t share Steven Shaviro’s concerns (and don’t appreciate this blog; I started reading blogs because of Pinocchio Theory). Quite the opposite, exactly because I share Steven’s concerns especially with the appeal to the affects in the election process that I wonder if a discussion of either the left or right’s treatment of Palin is effective in resisting some of the more deleterious “affects” of the entire discourse that is being mobilized on voters.

    Thanks! Like you, I also appreciate Shaviro’s concerns.

    From my perspective, the “stopping short” you’re noticing has more to do with the strict code re: class struggle in the USA. To discuss the USA in terms of class struggle is something that is largely, and often times, strictly, forbidden. And beyond that are the facts that even the antagonists of class warfare (to over simplify, but get the point across) from the corporate fascists to the most fervent communists – there is a range of discussion even they will not entertain, which is the depredations of civilisation itself upon the biosphere.

    As a consequence, political agonism itself becomes a sideshow and irrelevance. A world with 12 billion people is a disaster regardless of the political form.

    As people seem to be genetically incapable of appreciating exponentials, they tend to act on that which is linear across short time scales. So, we might see an effect increase from a value of 100 to a value of 102 across a 10 year period, and we can say “yes, that is growing”, but slowly, and then it hits 104 only 10 years after that, no one notices or cares. And when it hits 125 after 80 years, people are concerned, but don’t notice, because very few people are alive to notice the change. Then in 10 years it’s 150 and ten after that, it is at 200. That’s the problem with exponential growth.

    And that has been our population growth in the past 100 years, only MUCH much faster. As a consequence, we notice it, but we don’t do much, because it took a few generations to go from 3 billion to our present 6.5 billion. The curves are trending to a flat point, but a flat point between 10 and 12 billion people. All of them yearning for an industrial lifestyle – for a lifestyle that is completely unsustainable in and of itself as it is predicated on the consumption and destruction of irreplaceable natural resources.

    So, a “hard green” perspective is one that transcends political polarities, and it is the one that is most actively supressed. Just as “the left” is placated with democracy and illusions of control, fairness, and self-determination, and the right is placated with profits and appeals to glory, the green is placated with hybrid cars, solar power, etc. The difference between the hard green perspective and the left/right polarity of political economy is very simple: the oppositions of political economy are people with different desires. The opposition from the hard green is the planet itself. I can assure you that in a great battle between the Earth and humanity, the Earth will win. Every Time. For in such dealings one is not fighting an entity or personality, but the second law of thermodynamics itself.

  28. My problem in discussing certain positions/people who are writing on the comments box here is that so few of them have actual names.

    It’s silly to respond to someone who doesn’t have a name, but only has a phrase such as “Invites Criticism.”

    But I wrote the comment very quickly between a bunch of other things and with kids screaming that blog pets need attention, and so on, so I just threw it in. Most of you don’t have names or faces, so you can be completely irresponsible and vicious here without any fear of repercussion. It’s like walking into a KKK gathering and protesting the rhetoric used.

    I’ll try to do better in a day or so, but I’m also aware that my viewpoint requires enormous amounts of time because of the differend between what I’m thinking, and what most of those centered here around the likes of Negri are thinking.

    Negri in Communists Like Us for instance calls the period of red terrorism, an “interlude.” As if it was a pause in a comic opera!

    The breeziness of the rascal!

    I think my point was a cynical one, and one that “Invites Criticism” did largely get: that “performing radicalism” on state campuses seems to require another part of the government (the president is paid as professors are paid) to be conservative, so that the radicals can have a figure to dance around, and throw up their hands in the air about, and think about lynching.

    A drama requires an antagonist as well as a protagonist.

    The saintly left requires a demonic right.

    I often wonder how much of politics is play acting and reenactment, especially in academia where there are no serious consequences after tenure. It’s a kind of posing where nothing is really risked, and at any rate the lines of the actors are often couched in a language that is meant for an in-group, and can’t be understood out of the in-group, the in-group consisting of people from bourgeois backgrounds who have never spent a single day of their lives wondering where their next meal is coming from, who act in supposed harmony with a working class that can’t understand academic language, and who has to worry every day about food and rent.

    This isn’t to say that the current president isn’t “actually” conservative, or that BO isn’t “actually” progressive, or that 98% or more of our professors in humanities departments aren’t really on BO’s “side,” but just that — I often wonder if there is any “real” work to be done in departments aside from these very theatrical positions taken, and whether these theatrical positions actually help anyone, or whether it’s all just a kind of comic opera about French Bohemia in the 1800s, when risks really were taken, and losers were lined up against a wall and shot, and winners (as in the 1870 government, switched sides as soon as they got power, and became much more authoritarian and arbitrary in their power than those who they had once opposed). My opposition is something like Orwell’s to the USSR.

    It’s not just Orwell, it’s the whole legacy of the Eastern European dissidents, and the ghosts of those who should be able to speak up in places like North Korea (where there are apparently NO DISSIDENTS whatsoever) that concerns me.

    I don’t know what is at stake. Behind the play-acting and all the fake names — don’t the left and right share common concerns for sex trafficking, child molesters, problems with gasoline prices, and shouldn’t this be somehow the focus? Finding common problems and developing coalitions and working on one problem for decades?

    I feel that this is somehow not operatic enough for the far left. No chance to solo with a fine speech. It’s too much about rolling up sleeves and working for two decades on a problem in near anonymous toil on some committee or another. Boring stuff. Much easier to throw a brick or call someone a fascist or just plain out and out kill someone, or shoot the knees off, and think — finally I’ve done something wonderful — something that people will REMEMBER.

    The churches really do get out and help people through very long tedious toil. Or they at least try to do it. It’s very hard to help other people. It requires getting yourself out of the way. I was in the left for a long time. It seemed to be mostly about drinking coffee, sitting around in cafes, and complaining. Steve was one of the few people I knew in that milieu that I at least thought were — at bottom — decent human beings.

    Most were rats and pigs at best who thought of themselves as angels. They are the people who ended up on top in the USSR, or in Cuba, or in Mugabe’s government, the kind of people who enjoy themselves in North Korea today — or who can justify harvesting organs from political prisoners in communist China.

    Not that the right is any better. In many ways they’re even worse.

  29. Reading Mr. Olson’s reply to my reply, left me wondering what it is that really troubles me – not just about his arguments, because there are points I would agree with, but on a more general level, on how his comments tie in with the back and forth on who is “most fit” or the “better person” for the job of running the US. At base, the thing that troubles me about both situations is the convenient essentialism that’s used in arguments to demonize who or whatever stands in the way of an ideological or moral project. It all just smells of too much ressentiment, and I guess it is always a bit of surprise to discover essentialisms still alive and kicking. In my head they’d fallen by the way side many decades ago, so to read comments like such and such a person is “at bottom – a decent human being” or the characterization of left wing radicals as “rats and pigs at best who thought of themselves as angels” in Mr. Olson’s case, or with Sarah Palin – the accusations that she is an unfit mother, or – as Steven has pointed out – the underlying misogyny in the attacks from the left against her that presuppose an essential gender difference to mobilize their attacks – when did we return to a mode of thinking where a human could be branded as either consistently good or evil based on random bits of info. What happened to the post-structural critique of the subject?! Christ, what happened to beyond good and evil?! Or is there something else going on?

    To use an example to show the problems with this kind of argumentation: the reason I don’t use my name, isn’t because I’m interested in slinging criticism irresponsibly (ie. I am a sinister devil laughing wickedly at my own deviousness…ooo, hide my name and no one will ever know… I’m so deeeevious!). The accusation is a bit absurd, isn’t it? I mean, what have I got to lose? Who really cares what my name is! This blog – to my mind, anyway – is about the circulation of ideas, about arguing points, about THINKING and engaging others in thinking critiquely about current issues. Not about who said what to whom. I mean I could give my name (Sean Callaghan, for those who even care), but isn’t my name about as random as the handle “Invites Criticism”?

    I mention this as an example of how essentializing the obstacle to ideology more often than not requires the positing of false intentions onto the object of criticism while simultaneously turning the object of criticism into a knowable subject that is consistent in either its decency or its corruptness. The thing is, YOU CAN”T PROVE INTENTION, because the subject is not consistent. As in this case. I’m not hiding anything, because… well, who the heck am I? I’m disembodied lines of text engaging with other texts. In the same sense, who knows why Palin has a daughter whose unmarried and pregnant. I’m sure the psychology is complicated, but does it really connect to how she’ll act as vice-president? Shouldn’t voters be more interested in what her stands on policy are rather than say, her favorite color? On a larger scale, shouldn’t they be worried more about how they are being subjectivated into a system of politics that pretty much undermines the possibility for real political action itself?

    Not to typify Mr. Olson to a singular identity, because when I read him I see all kinds of things going on – and he himself notes his own variability based on what’s going on around him (kids screaming etc. can be a distraction, I agree), but there is a tendency in the texts to reduce whole groups of people to caricatures so they can be dismissed without really being engaged. It’s this particular habit I see as being reflected in the arguments around Palin, Obama, and McCain, and the habit seems more aimed at giving authority to a speaker rather than to produce any kind of legitimate, specific critique of things being said. That being said, I appreciated Mr. Olson’s expanding on his arguments with his reply, and this was all I was looking for. An actual engagement (the same can be said for my desires with regards to the race for the US election). There’s a lot of stuff I agree with in what he states, and a lot I disagree with, and I invite him to chat more about this, but maybe in a different venue. I fear any further discussion along this line will turn into too much of a digression.

  30. Great! Everybody grab someone and pinch them so we can all wake up in the new Utopia that awaits us on the other side of the rainbow.
    And we’ll all sing…
    (ahem) “Soooooooome-wheeeere…Over the rainboooooooow!…”

    I’d like to think that my use of a nom de plume is excused by the fact that my handle is a link to a personal blog with far more personal information about me and my ancestors than even those in my immediate family care to know.

    I’ve been vetting myself for several years now, largely because so much of the information I’ve been able to retrieve using the internet is information that had been lost or discarded (or hidden as Cold War policy) under the assumption that people’s prospects are determined by their own acheivements and not those of their ancestors, unless, of course, their ancestors left them the wherewithal to pursue education as an end rather than a means. Mine certainly didn’t. I finished school because doing so allowed me to borrow enough money to survive.

    I remember meeting Steve Shaviro once as a graduate student during the last quarter of my second year, an end of term party hosted by Charles Altieri for the students in his Critical Theory seminar. Professor Shaviro arrived in the department just as I was being shown the door, despite an A average and what seemed to me like strong recommendations from both my thesis advisor and my first reader. It had never occurred to me that Long John Silver might actually be in charge of the doctoral admissions committee.

    I’ve updated my blog with links specifically requested by InvitesCriticism.

  31. invites criticism wrote:

    when did we return to a mode of thinking where a human could be branded as either consistently good or evil based on random bits of info. What happened to the post-structural critique of the subject?! Christ, what happened to beyond good and evil?! Or is there something else going on?

    From my perspective we didn’t “return” to an essentialism, as much as recent discoveries have enabled a lazy thinking. Oddly, I put some of the “blame” (not that it’s blame, really, but more a point of sourcing) on Chomsky, in that he posited (and was later proven correct) that we are language (for want of a better word) “machines” – in that we are specifically built to do this. Genetics has since proven this correct.

    Other developments in genetics have shown an intense correlation between genetic traits and a number of affective “disorders”. The net result is, in lazy hands, a return to an essentialism. We are not tabula rasa. Like order in a chaotic universe, we get the subject for free. It’s just what our brain does.

    The “beyond good and evil” stuff is a luxury of the first half of the petroleum age – ever increasing amounts of energy and resources permitted ever increasing variability in philosophical concerns inherited from a pre-petroleum secularised social context, and resulting, finally, in the liberation of signifieds from signifiers: the antithesis of essentialism, and the celebration of the victory of meaninglessness in the advent of the illusion of post-modernity.

    Science, working by other principles, has come to a number of conclusions that aren’t really all that amenable to philosophical ideals, and the resulting dissonance has had different effects, depending on those who are experiencing them. So, on the one hand, there is a strong tendency by a variety of people on the left, right or indifferent, to fall into a kind of essentialist thinking, while people with (what I consider more considered and) sophisticated opinions see it more for what it is: conclusions based on evidence that may or may not have any definitive effect or correlation on matters of philosophy.

    The problems that result from this are multifold. (I used that because I’m listening to the Cocteau Twins right now, and E.Fraser is shreiking “FIVE… TEN… FIFTY-FOLD!!! wow…awesome….) And it is like that – five ten fifty-fold.

    The problem tends to auction philosophy to language problems and the classic “semantics”. This is not good for philosophy (but after postmodernity’s antifoundationalism, it’s an easy target, viz Fish) and a recovery for philosophy to collect foundations that are somehow something other than linguistic or “peer based” conventions will be, at best difficult, and recovering a foundation, is, again, an invitation to essentialism for those not interested in thinking it through. In that regard I think Norris’s reanimation of Derrida as a something other than postmodern, and more of an inheritor, if not continuance, of the Enlightenment project (Norris, What’s Wrong with Postmodernism?) I think is something rather useful in this context. For, if one takes close reading as an essential act of critical thinking and analysis, I don’t see much of an escape in drawing a line from Socrates to Derrida – it seems pretty obvious to me.

    I’m disembodied lines of text engaging with other texts.

    No, you’re not. You’re someone who TYPED disembodied lines of text. And

    who knows why Palin has a daughter whose unmarried and pregnant.

    (raises hand) I KNOW I KNOW!!! I’m pretty sure I know why!!! Sarah Palin had a daughter enough years ago that the girl has since grown enough to become fertilisable, and recently she met someone, had sex with him, and got pregnant, without going to the bother of getting married first. Problem solved!

    The rest is storytelling, and I humbly submit my analysis fits the evidence.

    On a larger scale, shouldn’t they be worried more about how they are being subjectivated into a system of politics that pretty much undermines the possibility for real political action itself?

    I think the discussion of the composition and creation of the “subject” is a bit of a red herring for the left, and is the lining of essentialism, not its opposite. Subjectivation, Althusser’s interpellation, etc. go waaay back, and frankly I don’t see a lot of really productive action out of it. Also, contemporary discussion of the composition of consciousness undermines notions of subjectivity itself, in that it’s a product of brain activity as a method of riding herd on unconscious automata (Ramachandran). It might not be such a great idea to assign a subjectivity on something that doesn’t really exist. You end up with a weird kind of rhetorical kabuki dance.

    The most vital critical studies I see right now are coming out not out of philosophy or media studies, but more of resource discussions – hard green combined with science. Unfortunately, the picture they are presently painting is not a pretty one. Example: question: Are people smarter than yeast? Really?

  32. I think the discussion of the composition and creation of the “subject” is a bit of a red herring for the left, and is the lining of essentialism, not its opposite.

    As “forgetting is not the opposite of memory, but its lining.” (Marker – Sans Soleil)

  33. The “beyond good and evil” stuff is a luxury of the first half of the petroleum age.

    Wow, nice. History becomes single parametric and extremely decomplexified again. Correlations replace causality – as always. Philosophers are seemingly far away from giving up story telling, despite their presumed affections against them.

    As far as Palins “God Talk” is concerned, someone in her advisor staff or the DOE might explain to her global warming issues, the necessity of regenerative energy sources in the 21th century and hybrid fuel engines. So “gods will” ( the mask of her own subjectivity ) will probably command her spending money for the development of solar panels.

    There is one thing I don’t get in this discussion: rationality has been successfully deconstructed. Why didn’t it happen also to irrationality? Mrs Palin hasn’t an affective schizophrenia despite following the rhetorical conventions of her particular church.

  34. Steve’s post begins, “Obviously Sarah Palin is a right-wing maniac.”

    Is this the kind of nuanced discussion of political parties that you want, Invites Criticism?

    I agree with you that we shouldn’t either demonize the other side or romanticize our own.

    But I think Steve’s first sentence does definitely demonize Ms. Palin.

    He goes on to mischaracterize her positions:

    “she supports everything the oil companies want,”

    for instance, is quite obviously untrue.

    I am not clear on her positions about abortion. Most of the Christian right do believe that it is murder. I think they are correct. It is obviously terminating a life against the will of that life.

    The foetus struggles for its life in the womb.

    Calling Ms. Palin a “maniac” is not exactly civil discourse. If it’s not “vituperation,” I wouldn’t know what else to call it.

    He goes on to argue that the attacks on the 17-year-old daughter should stop. I agree.

    She should have a right to privacy. Anyone who’s attacking a girl that young for doing nothing but make love with the guy she plans to marry is a kind of a maniac.

    Maybe we’re all maniacs.

    I’d prefer to think that all Americans are reasonable, but that they differ on key points depending on their faith in Christ, in Marx, or in whatever else Americans place their faith.

    I’m with the Christians because they make at least some sense to me. It seems that all the major candidates and most of the minor candidates share that basis.

    I suspect that Obama is actually more interested in Marx than in Jesus based on some of his past friendships — the poet, Bill Ayers, and others.

    It would be good if he just come out and said that, but he knows it would end the election as a contest.

    There are only a few “maniacs” who are still interested in Marx at this end of the 20th century.

  35. It must be far less than 1% of the American electorate who have read Marx and take it seriously. In the humanities, maybe it is more like 50%.

    Totally out of proportion to the general population and not representative of the America they claim to represent.

    But that’s another issue.

    If Barack was to come out and argue that he’s basically a Marxist, or if anybody was to do that, they would have utterly no chance of winning even a smaller office like dog catcher, much less the presidency.

  36. I suspect she is not a maniac but I certainly know Obama is not a Marxist. At least not in the way Kirby posits the charge, which is to say a Stalinist or some crazed dictator who will take away your life savings and send you to a work camp. I do know however that experience really doesn’t matter in this age of American Idol. People want to get excited and they are looking for a savior who will excite them. Obama did that for the Democrats but the Republicans [and Clinton supporters] scoffed and mocked him and his supporters. Now Palin is doing pretty much the same thing [slightly different because she didn’t run in a Primary] and now the Democrats are scoffing and mocking her and her supporters. In other words, these actions are human. Not specific to the Left of Right. All I know is I don’t want 4 more years of Republicans ruling the Executive Branch. And, yes, we should be civil and not underestimate those who are inexperienced. Just like they taught us in kindergarten.

  37. Mrs Palin hasn’t an affective schizophrenia despite following the rhetorical conventions of her particular church.

    I’m wondering if maybe “despite following” shouldn’t be “because she follows” as it seems to me that for many people organized religion is one of the most popular and socially acceptable means of handling the irrationality in their lives. Others might prefer psychoanylsis to religion and the last time I checked psychoanalysis was based more on Freud than Marx. Has even 2% of America’s population ever sat down and seriously read Freud? I don’t think so. But I do remember a time when university humanities departments were steeped in Freud. The Frankfurt School, as I understand it, was largely an effort to reconcile Freud to Marx. It seems to me to have been a worthwhile project. Schizoanalytics appears to have shown some promise for addressing concerns raised by the post-modern human condition.

    I’ve read about half of Neal Stephenson’s Barock Trilogy and I’d like to imagine there might be a reason to finish reading it. I’m interested to see how the Deleuzean transition is made from schizoanalytics to a concern with the baroque in The Fold. I’m intrigued by Spengler’s notion of history and the baroque and the analogical premise from which he starts, that Plato is to Aristotle as Becoming is to Being and Goethe is to Kant. How many people have actually read Goethe? Does that mean he’s not worth reading? Or that anyone who does is a lousy Goetheist rat or pig?

    Aristotle didn’t really catch on with Western culture until he’d beed dead for 1500 years, but he did have a devoted following in Constantinople over the centuries and they kept him alive long enough to have an impact on the development of Western science. Marx has to rate as one of the more prominent ‘Lutheran’ intellectuals. Have there been any noted intellectuals favored by the Assemblies of God?

  38. Mr. Olson, Palin’s position on abortion is “never, never, never.” Certainly not after a rape.

    Also, when she was Mayor of Wasilla, she required that all rape victims be required to pay for their “rape kits” (a means of ascertaining who the rapist was, etc.) – a fee of $1200.

    http://www.feministing.com/archives/010930.html (the source article doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, but there’s a link at the bottom of the post that corroborates.)

    I know that’s not directly related to abortion, but it sounds pretty maniacal to me.

  39. Again, rather than discuss any of the points brought up, Mr Olson demonstrates in obvious terms the failure of the American political system. Rather than directly argue any of the points discussed, he dodges it all and bloviates on a variety of side issues. This tactic is typical of the American right wing, which, at this point, is most of American political discourse, as even the perceived “left” candidate, Barack Obama, would be considered significantly right of centre in many other republics and democracies, even in the neighbouring colonies of Canada and Mexico.

    I would recommend the following, “Don’t Feed The Troll”. He craves attention. His position has been repeatedly demolished, yet he continues his rhetorical battle. In my opinion, the only thin to do is to disengage from his direct statements, and analyse him as more of a symptom, and then, once analysed, to simply ignore him. Trolls eventually tire and depart if they aren’t fed.

  40. Actually, a troll is one with a deceptive identity. My identity is clear, and my positions quite simply differ from those here. I’m writing in not to disrupt conversation, but to open it up, and out, with a different viewpoint. In the few threads I’ve entered, this has succeeded in tripling the number of messages in many cases. Henry’s aren’t among the better ones: he can’t spell, he doesn’t think well, and he insists that everyone share his mind set in order to receive standing.

    Steve’s viewpoint on Palin (another thing that trolls do is try to get readers to talk about something that isn’t the main subject thread — but I’m talking about Palin — while Henry isn’t) — is in many ways amplified by Camille Paglia’s post of today in Salon.com. Paglia sees Palin as an important new kind of feminist, muscular, and not whiny — like the kind of tough immigrant she knew when she grew up outside Binghamton, NY. It’s worth a read. She also agrees that the ETHICAL choice in the abortion debate is that it be banned. She’s a Nietzschean of sorts, so she thinks that the powerful should do whatever the heck they want to the bodies of the weak.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2008/09/10/palin/print.html

    Paglia ends her essay, “But the one fundamental precept that Democrats must stand for is independent thought and speech. When they become baying bloodhounds of rigid dogma, Democrats have committed political suicide.”

    Like Paglia, I have a lot of trouble with the growing groupthink in academia and remain to some extent allied to left libertarian thought such as Orwell’s, and that of Andrei Codrescu (those who went through East Bloc intimidation of intellectuals and yet remain enamored of leftist artists and intellectuals who are non-totalitarian).

    Henry’s a sentimental dummy whose definitions lack wit and brilliance, and he wants a closed shop.

    I’ve already said: if Steve wants me to stop posting here, I will stop. All he has to do is ask.

    Meanwhile, try Paglia!

    I think she’s closer to me than she is to poor witless Henry who insists I talk in his worn out and lusterless idiom. Sorry, Henry, you’re too boring by half.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2008/09/10/palin/print.html

  41. Shunning is a very important psychological warfare strategy of the far left. It may have entered into the left via the Amish use of it, that the left learned about during the Peace Marches in the American South.

    I can’t stand it, and I may have retaliated a little too harshly as a result against King Henry Vth, part III.

    If so, I’m Falstaffian in my apology!

  42. Kirby Olson
    Shunning is a very important psychological warfare strategy of the far left.

    Let me add that this is not anymore a strategy to the far left than it is to the far right, the libertarians, the marxists, the democrats, the republicans or even the PTA. I have been on right wing blogs where I was shunned quite often. Same on Democratic blogs [oddly enough since I am one]. While I agree ‘group think’ is a bad thing you have to agree that we mainly have two parties in this country. So I guess we are all guilty of the charge?
    However, it is not the same as standing on the principles you believe in. Many here stand closer to progressive liberal or moderate politics and policies. You seem to stand on conservative moderate policies [I think]. That is all well and good. But I am not about to accuse you of the kind of group think found on websites like Hot Air or Right Wing News. Although I will agree the term troll is overused.

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