Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chilling So Hard My Ass Almost Froze Off

Man, I am gonna sleep like a baby on a morphine drip tonight...

Were the alternative results a fact, I'd simply have pointed you all ibidem to the master of bilious visual parody, Tim Krieder. Thank fucking god I don't have to do that.

Of course, what with all the discussion about "accelerationism" raging around a certain blogipelago, the question begs to be asked: wither all the McCain endorsements? Yesterday would've stood as the ultimate test of accelerationists' integrity. After all, if we're serious about running this crazy neoliberal corporate-militarist train right off its blood-slicked rails, isn't a McCain/Palin administration the shortest distance between here and oblivion? Or is that too Bakuninist a version of Give 'Em Enough Rope, one that invites a degree of violence we don't wish to see exacted on innocent civilians? Or is it that we un-Amerikaneren don't want to risk getting nuked on principle by putting Palin - better suited to Twin Peaks than DC - within reach of kick-starting a fission-feuled Rapture?

Last night, it crept into the pre-dawn hours here in Hamburg as the tallies began to trickle in. I called a dear friend at whose house I attended an election party four years ago - at which we all drank ourselves through the shellshock with an endless supply of Cuba libres. (The specific choice of drink, much like voting in the '04 election, was a defiant yet ultimately empty gesture that left us feeling gutted & raw the following morning.) This time, though my friend was in considerably better spirits, her celebratory mood was owed chiefly to the modest relief that the next four years won't be as totally shit as they could have been.

I'm not, nor have I ever been, under the illusion that, at long last, all the problems will be solved. Obama is several supersized strides to the right of where my ideal elected representative would be; nah, scratch that - my ideal political rep would probably refuse even to consider joining as compromised & cynical an enterprise as a late-stage capitalist democracy. In fact, given the genuinely weird array of soft-scabby Culture War-wounds that have been ripped back open in the last couple of months, I'm feeling bold enough to wager the Balkanization of America will come in my lifetime - a prediction seconded by the friend I phoned last night.

"I don't expect miracles, especially not from a politician," she said. "He's a charismatic guy with a good head on his shoulders and a hell of a learning curve; he's campaigning and talking to people better now than he was even three months ago. A messiah? Gimme a break. But he is a catalyst for all the ugly shit that's been festering within this country for the past three hundred years. Basically, he's the guy I think can best talk America through whatever tragic and difficult, but necessary schism is coming in the near future."

Three cheers for Barack Obama, divorce-counselor-elect!

Update (about 12 hours later): Y'know what? Fuck it. I'm happy. I'm fucking ecstatic. I am THRILLED that, thanks to the choice made by the American electorate, I can stave off point-of-no-return misanthropy for at least another few years. When was the last time the US told the rest of the globe that it actually gave a shit and kinda meant it? Have I revised my expectations for the coming Obama/Biden administration? Nope. My ideological differences persist, and blah blah blah... I don't care right now. As long as air strikes aren't launched against Tehran between now and January 20 (which *sigh* remains a distinct possibility), at the very least civilization will collapse at an organic rate of decay, as opposed to with all the grace & austerity of a shotgun blast to the face.

And to all those who actually cast their vote for the Republican ticket... suck it, losers! You had six years of unmitigated control in Washington, every one of Leo Strauss' oligarchical wet dreams came true, and what did all that get you? Small gov't? Fiscal responsibility? An end to "nation-building"? Growing wages? Financial security? Transparent domestic policy? The overturn of Roe V Wade? Federal protection of the sanctity of marriage? The capture of Osama bin Laden? Victory in the wars on terror, drugs, and poverty? The restoration of honour & dignity to the White House?

In the immortal words of Ice-T: y'all can eat a bowl of dicks. Good night and get fucked.

21 comments:

Andrew Stevens said...

Why is it that the more politically engaged a person is, the more emotionally immature they are? Or is it just the Internet?

Seb said...

It's just the internet. Why, I can count the number of times this year I've told someone to "eat a bowl of dicks" in real life on one hand!

Seb said...

Okay, hang on a minute... Is sailor-mouth actually a symptom of emotional immaturity when compared to outright bigotry or desiring to repress other people's civil liberties?

Sure, it ain't polite to call people "losers," hurl profanity at them, and refer to the rural social-conservative electorate as The Shithead Vote. But what about all of Prop 8's supporters? Or Nader calling Obama an "Uncle Tom" on national TV? Or decorating trees with nooses? Or threatening children?

Perhaps this is my skewed, Canuck moral compass talking, but you can make jokes about Barbara Bush pissing on Rush Limbaugh and still be a more responsible, seasoned citizen than someone who entertains fantasies of murdering their political opponents and lobbies to strip millions of countrymen of their civil rights. By a nautical mile.

Andrew Stevens said...

Yes, but the problem is that you're looking into a mirror. It would be child's play to match you point-for-point. Nader calling Obama an "Uncle Tom?" You falsely accused John McCain of dropping napalm in VietNam. Decorating trees with nooses? Two folks in San Francisco famously hung Sarah Palin in effigy outside their house.

Most people already regard both extreme ends of the political spectrum to be tantruming toddlers with deep-seated emotional issues. Why confirm their prejudices?

Stripping people of their civil rights? How are we supposed to interpret "will have proven themselves unfit to participate responsibly in a legitimate democracy" or "a poster-child for forced sterilization who ought to be ineligible for a driver's license or passport" except as your own desire to be a jackbooted thug stomping on the rights of your political opponents?

The fact that there are insane half-wits on the other side doesn't excuse you for being an insane half-wit yourself. I thought you were at least a halfway civilized person. I was wrong.

Seb said...

I thought you were at least intelligent enough to parse rhetoric & satirical speech. I was wrong.

I would, however, be fascinated to hear your adept analysis of my deep-seated emotional problems. Obviously, I can use all the help I can get!

I'm also going to have to start cruising Red State, Little Green Footballs, and Michelle Malkin's site to see if you take them to task for divisive, inflammatory, juvenile hyperbole...

By the way, I'm not sure how referring to McCain's participation in Operation Rolling Thunder, including dropping incendiary bombs on Hanoi, counts as a "false" accusation.

Andrew Stevens said...

I thought you were at least intelligent enough to parse rhetoric & satirical speech. I was wrong.

Ah, I see. When the other side does it, it's entertaining fantasies of murdering their political opponents (far more common on the left these last eight years, by the way). When you do it, it's satirical speech.

I'm also going to have to start cruising Red State, Little Green Footballs, and Michelle Malkin's site to see if you take them to task for divisive, inflammatory, juvenile hyperbole...

I do not read any of these sites precisely because they're full of divisive, inflammatory, juvenile hyperbole.

By the way, I'm not sure how referring to McCain's participation in Operation Rolling Thunder, including dropping incendiary bombs on Hanoi, counts as a "false" accusation.

Operation Rolling Thunder did not use incendiary bombs. It was a strategic bombing campaign using conventional high explosive bombs. Incendiary bombs in Vietnam were primarily used in tactical bombing in the South. I'm not saying that no incendiary bombs were dropped on Hanoi. Possibly there were some, though I have never seen any evidence of that. But it is pure speculation to say that McCain might have been one of the rare pilots in that campaign to drop incendiary bombs. As far as I know, there's no evidence that anybody in Operation Rolling Thunder dropped incendiary bombs, despite what you have heard from some propagandist or other.

Seb said...

Satirical Speech

You're talking to someone who once declared jihad on Kelly Clarkson fans and concluded his list of Reagan's transgressions with the quote, "Let the earth where he is buried be seeded with salt." At what point have I obscured my tendency towards overstatement & absurdity? I still contend there's a large gulf between insulting political opponents in a schoolyard manner, and spreading libelous untruths about them, publishing their private information & advocating their harassment, or calling for their deaths.

Now, since I can't remember (what with my deep-seated emotional issues), I'd appreciate it if you pointed out a specific, single instance where I advocated the murder of an ideological nemesis.

Perhaps I simply misunderstood your particular standards for humour. Judd Apatow films? Seinfeld reruns?

Operation Rolling Thunder

Shit, you're right! What have I been doing, listening to hollow propagandists like Howard Zinn or Richard Seymour? Besides, that McCain was probably dropping conventional bombs on civilians in an ideologically-motivated, imperialist, undeclared war clearly makes all the difference. Mea culpa!

Mental Illness

Let's pursue this! I feel it could be a useful journey of self-discovery. Have a go, Mr. Stevens! How else might my deep-seated emotional issues manifest themselves? Substance abuse? Inability to show affection? An aversion to social inclusion? Consistent insubordination?

And what do you suppose the roots of it all were? Come on, help me out! Was my father a ruthless authoritarian I've come to resent? Am I the product of a privileged environment wherein I failed to learn the consequences of my words & deeds? Was I abused as a child by a Reaganite Catholic priest? Or did I just do too many drugs in college?

Obviously, there are plenty of people with genuine psychological issues out there. But even people whose views I find utterly backwards & repellent, I wouldn't necessarily qualify as mentally unstable. James Buchanan might be a misanthrope, Dick Cheney a raging fascist, and Nicolas Sarkozy a prejudiced chauvanist - but I wouldn't say any of them are, clinically speaking, fucked in the head.

Are you sure this "deep-seated emotional issue" thing isn't just a swift, condescending dismissal of people with more radical views, on both the left & right, so you & your bet-hedging kin can feel intellectually unimpeachable without having to engage people you don't agree with?

Andrew Stevens said...

I said much worse things than "deep-seated emotional issues," so clearly I struck a nerve. For what it's worth, I do apologize for that.

Are you sure this "deep-seated emotional issue" thing isn't just a swift, condescending dismissal of people with more radical views, on both the left & right, so you & your bet-hedging kin can feel intellectually unimpeachable without having to engage people you don't agree with?

Silly, of course. I clearly am willing to engage people I don't agree with, so long as they remain polite. Moreover, a centrist like myself has to defend an actual system, warts and all, rather than defending a utopian conception for which no empirical evidence exists. The first task is much more difficult.

Seb said...

No personal apology necessary, as no nerve was struck. It's that portraying an opponent as mentally unstable is THE lamest ad hominem cop-out of an argument ever, so I refuse to let it work as a cop-out.

Also, it depends entirely on what as-yet-unrealized system is being advocated as to whether defending the current extant system is easier or more difficult. Obviously, it's grim & unglamourous (though more intellectually satisfying) to defend representative democracy, with all its faults, loopholes, and subtractive compromises, to someone who dreams of a future where we're all hooked up to seratonin IVs, sitting in drum circles on the Hawaiian coast.

On the other hand, defending the status quo on solely pragmatic, materialist terms could very well be viewed as cynical and lacking imagination.

Andrew Stevens said...

On the other hand, defending the status quo on solely pragmatic, materialist terms could very well be viewed as cynical and lacking imagination.

This, of course, is clearly the difference between us. I lack the imagination to believe that there are any solutions - only trade-offs. I support certain out-of-the-mainstream measures, such as drug legalization, not because I defend drugs, but because I think the cure is worse than the disease. When people ask me what my solution is for people who will inevitably destroy their lives with drugs, I admit that I don't have a solution. I don't think there is one, short of totalitarian terror. If that makes me cynical or unimaginative, so be it.

I also oppose lurches too far in either direction, not necessarily because they're wrong, but because a moderate slow-moving approach is less likely to produce a dangerous backlash. E.g. the French Revolution. Even if one has entire sympathy with the goals of the French Revolution, I think one can easily condemn it anyway. Thus, while I favor drug legalization, I favor doing so gradually, not all at once.

Andrew Stevens said...

It's that portraying an opponent as mentally unstable is THE lamest ad hominem cop-out of an argument ever, so I refuse to let it work as a cop-out.

In the post prior to this one, you described Sarah Palin as "psychotic" and said in this post that she would be "within reach of kick-starting a fission-fueled Rapture." It may be the lamest ad hominem cop-out ever, but it's not one you're shown any compunction about using.

Seb said...

It's not like I'm making it up that Palin's a millenarian pentecostal who sees god's hand up everyone's ass and thinks Jesus is due back any second now. Granted, were she veep, she'd probably wait to convince the Israeli gov't to rebuild that temple before preemptively acting out the Book of Revelations, but calling someone an apocalyptic fundamentalist when they are one is a statement of fact, not a personal insult.

To be fair, Palin hasn't had much chance to prove how *ahem* unblinking a crusader she could be, but anyone who would employ the profane in the defense of the sacred qualifies quite succinctly as psychotic by my standards.

Andrew Stevens said...

But now you're just expanding your ad hominem attack to a wide range of people. (And, by the way, Palin left the Pentecostal Church. She is a member of the Wasilla Bible Church, a non-demoninational Christian church.) Nobody in the history of the world has ever called for nuking the Middle East in order to bring on the Rapture. The entire idea's a scurrilous slander on the mental health of a whole host of people. And, if you don't know it, then you ought to.

Seb said...

Did I say the Middle East? No, because who knows, maybe North Korea or the resurgent Russia would be the first to go.

As for no one ever having called for nuking our way to the Rapture, haven't you heard of Phyllis Schafley or Fred Phelps? Not to mention that, switching the trajectory of the nukes & a few proper nouns, it's a strategy endorsed by damn near everyone inspired by Sayyid Qutb.

And this, of course, is clearly another difference between us: I consider those who adhere to a fundamentalist interpretation of their respective faith as definitively crazy. Ergo, what you call slanderous (or, within this forum, libelous), I call a clinical assessment. We can compare reviews of Hitchens' God Is Not Great to see exactly how far apart we stand on this issue, but I'm pretty sure this chasm is unbridgeable.

Andrew Stevens said...

Well, that proves my point. You have now gone in just a couple of comments from claiming that "portraying an opponent as mentally unstable is THE lamest ad hominem cop-out of an argument ever" to "I consider those who adhere to a fundamentalist interpretation of their respective faith as definitively crazy." This is quite a shift. I do agree that fundamentalists are irrational. I think the exact same thing of political fundamentalists. Indeed, that's what started this argument.

I find Hitchens to be overwrought on the issue (like many others), but I vastly prefer him to Dawkins. God is Not Great was a decent book, but should have been better. It was, though, twenty times better than The God Delusion.

Seb said...

I'd think a regular reader of Micah Tillman would be a little more deft at distinguishing rhetorical nuances like the difference between

(1) calling someone crazy as a demagogic tactic to smear someone & disqualify them from a conversation (like an opening argument consisting of, "Why is it that the more politically engaged a person is, the more emotionally immature they are?")

and

(2) calling a spade a spade. Calling anyone from Ted Kaczynski to Ayman al-Zawahiri to Pat Robertson "crazy" isn't an ad hominem attack, it's not slander or libel, and to do so does not contradict an opposition to cheap, lazy tactics like the above.

That is what started the argument, not some brave contrarian stance on your part to my "political fundamentalism." I said anyone who voted Republican can complain until they choke for all I care, because they've had ample opportunity to achieve every political whim over the past eight years, and have only made pretty much everything worse. You, obviously, felt insulted and called me the Ivy League debate club equivalent of a punk. Taking me to task for a lack of decorum struck me as a little odd, coming from a supporter of a political party whose policies include, inarguably, murder, torture, military bullying, war profiteering, and corporate racketeering... and now here we are.

If you can articulate what precisely my ideology is, I'll be most impressed - especially considering I regularly complain about idealogues & "true believers" of every stripe. That is not to say I'm a pure cynic, nor am I some walking manifestation of game theory; I have certain values & ideals.

Oh, and quoting my own plainly hyperbolic & absurdist quips back at me doesn't count as ideological delineation. Not that I put myself anywhere near their league, but George Carlin's "Terrorism Is Fun" bit and Bill Hicks encouraging advertising employees to commit suicide don't count as political platforms.

One thing we do agree on, though: Dawkins is too smug by half and gums up evolutionary theory by trying to crowbar in teleology. He gives a lot of us athiests a bad name.

Andrew Stevens said...

Taking me to task for a lack of decorum struck me as a little odd, coming from a supporter of a political party whose policies include, inarguably, murder, torture, military bullying, war profiteering, and corporate racketeering... and now here we are.

I am not, and have never been, a supporter of the Republican party. I have for some time been a supporter of John McCain. McCain has been a long-time and well-known opponent of torture, war profiteering, and corporate racketeering. I'm sure you're going to argue that he's still a supporter of murder and military bullying and I suppose there's some justice to this complaint. However, when you call McCain a "rent-boy to Wall Street," you're just displaying your ignorance of American politics for the last twenty years. I'm guessing you'd never heard of John McCain until about a couple of years ago.

However, you didn't need me to smear you and disqualify you from the conversation. No unbiased observer could conclude anything else.

James said...

Ha ha.....this is great, smart and well informed! On the internet!? Never thought it was possible. Don't think Mr. Stuart would be caught in the middle of this cross fire. Regardless of who is right or wrong, you guys are having a top duel. Keep it up....I've always thought that people should fuck in the dark and fight in the light.....

Seb said...

Mr. Stevens -

McCain has been a long-time and well-known opponent of torture, war profiteering, and corporate racketeering...

This is true, he was. Note the use of the past tense. As for his stance towards Wall Street, sure he voted for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but then so did everyone else; how else would any senator vote amid the Enron fallout during a midterm election year? Not to mention he's since stated he regrets supporting that bill, and he supported the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act, and he wanted to make Bush's tax cuts permenant & make additional cuts to corporate taxes - and let's be honest, those only benefit people who make a helluva lot more money than you or me.

James -

Holy mackerel, someone else is following this political fusillade? Well, then I sincerely thank you for your interest, especially since you just proved Mr. Stevens last contention wrong. Hotcha!

Andrew Stevens said...

This is true, he was. Note the use of the past tense. As for his stance towards Wall Street, sure he voted for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but then so did everyone else; how else would any senator vote amid the Enron fallout during a midterm election year? Not to mention he's since stated he regrets supporting that bill, and he supported the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act, and he wanted to make Bush's tax cuts permenant & make additional cuts to corporate taxes - and let's be honest, those only benefit people who make a helluva lot more money than you or me.

Just to clear up some factual and ideological errors before I subside. The article you linked to is wrong on a huge number of facts. 1) When McCain made his vote, waterboarding was already illegal under a prior act of Congress. 2) McCain voted against the measure because Democrats crafted the bill so that the CIA could not use any techniques outside the Army Field Manual. McCain thought that went too far. It has nothing to do with waterboarding.

Sarbanes-Oxley was a kluge and should have been better crafted which was McCain's position when he said it was a mistake. I.e. it did nothing to prevent the current crisis and, by introducing mark-to-market accounting, may have made the current crisis worse.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was a good bill and was supported by Robert Rubin and Bill Clinton (who signed it). Democratic attempts to discredit it are not intellectually serious. It had nothing to do with the current crisis and no other country on earth has the regulations Gramm-Leach-Bliley repealed. Obama's use of it on the campaign trail was an obvious fraud.

As for the Bush tax cuts, McCain opposed them originally and was for keeping them now so that taxes aren't being raised in the middle of a recession. Corporate tax rates in America are way too high (second only to Japan among developed countries) and disproportionately hurt the poor as true (and educated) leftists are fully aware since corporations just pass on taxes to consumers. Moreover, I have no idea what assumption you have made about my wealth, but if any of the tax cuts trickles down to shareholders (not guaranteed - it might well all go to consumers), that would certainly include me.

Seb said...

Forgive the lengthy silence; was incommunicado for most of last week...

Yes, a spokesman famously said that McCain's vote on the Intelligence Authorization Act a year ago "wasn't a vote on waterboarding," but then I think the CIA should legally be restricted to the field manual, so what we have here is discordant standards.

Besides, he didn't do his reputation as a strong opponent of torture much good by granting the Executive Branch the right to suspend habeus corpus to anyone deemed an "unlawful enemy combatant" - which itself is an authoritarian wipe of the ass with the Geneva Conventions. And he voted for almost of decade of retroactive immunity to anyone who WAS involved in torture or abuse since the beginning of the decade. And he voted a year ago against restoring habeus corpus to detainees in Guantanamo.

But waitaminnit - is John McCain psychic?! 'Cuz he first began stating his regret to signing Sarbanes-Oxley over a year ago, so if he said "it did nothing to prevent the current crisis," then the old man's clairvoyant! Yowza! I wasn't trying to argue the bill's effectiveness, anyway; rather, I was citing it as possible point of reference that McCain wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool deregulator. Glad we agree he is, though!

(A "kluge," by the way, is a solution that, while awkward & inefficient, is an effective solution nonetheless.)

Meanwhile, I don't see how pointing to the specific dire straits currently facing Citigroup and Wells Fargo as being direct consequences of the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act can be dismissed as a "not intellectually serious" argument against the act. And pointing to Clinton's support of a Republican-led action (especially during his second term) does nothing to prove political viability.

And if you can find me a true, educated leftist (unlike me, I suppose) who supports cutting corporate taxes because of declining revenues - not losses - then I'll pull a rabbit out of my hat. Because up until two months ago, cutting corporate taxes had nothing to do with protecting them from losses.

Though I think your use of the term "trickle down" puts a nail in the coffin of this thread, lest we return to battling over the (de)merits of ol' Ronnie.