Idealism, and its Discontents


It’s too early to tell how the much-vaunted Republican “sweep” is going to turn out, but since they’re probably going to win at least two, and predictably deem that outcome an historic victory, I have to wonder:  ” Victory for what?”  Somewhere deep down, you’d think that a separatist minority must have some ideal or other that they want to share so badly that they fight for it so dirtily and ruthlessly.  You’d be wrong. They have a religion, of sorts, but it’s the opposite of what anyone would call Christian; long on punishment and short on compassion.  They have a God, too, the “Market,” to which social stability and democratic openness must routinely be sacrificed to enrich the few at the expense of the many.  Their only wish, as nearly as I can discern it, is to rule with an iron fist a world which is a dark and bloodthirsty place filled with a lot of inconvenient rabble who must be kept relentlessly and often violently in check, and they really don’t care about anything but making sure they win that battle.  The one with 90% of humanity, that is, and their paths to surmount those odds are familiar ones.  The marketing is simply cut to fit the season’s fashion, and dumbed down as necessary to suit the population to be screwed, Americans being the easiest.  The breathtaking cynicism of such a course belies any possibility of the merest hint of idealism in the Republican soul; they expect things to be terrible, and then they make sure they are.  After having lost a great city, allowed another to be attacked when repeatedly warned, starting and losing two wars, crashing the economy (repeatedly), and looting the treasury, they turn around and say, “See?  We told you so.”

Fundamentally, it is deeply contradictory to put people in charge of government when they simply don’t believe in such a thing, except as a means of in-group enrichment and police state power, and yet even when their entirely predictable failures blossom into world-shattering catastrophes, their only rejoinder is that the danged hippies and commies wouldn’t let them go further.  To put it delicately, boo hoo.  They got everything they wanted and more, for thirty years, and look where it’s taken us.  The home of the United Nations now routinely flouts its authority, committing war crimes with impunity and unilaterally renouncing any treaties that upset its corporate elites or otherwise offend its sense of entitlement.  The largest creditor nation has become the largest debtor.  The richest among us now gobble more of the national wealth than they do in almost any other nation, let alone any nominal Democracy. The investments in public infrastructure, a bipartisan effort over the last century, have been drawn down and exhausted, endangering our prosperity and even our lives.  Winston Churchill once memorably described Clement Atlee as “A modest man, with a lot to be modest about.”  Trouble is, though the Republicans have a lot to be modest about, they’re anything but.

Although they can point to no evidence, they really think that their way is the right way, and it can never be right enough; pick the craziest teabagger, and you have the first point on the next Republican platform.  To be a Republican in today’s world, evidence, much less history, is bunk, and it plainly couldn’t be otherwise.

Sarah Palin, the proud demagogue of the bunk movement, has declared on her Facebook page, that she is a “player” in tonight’s dubious “victory.”  Again I ask, “victory for what?”  I’d really like to know.

UPDATE: Well, the Governors’ races in VA and NJ went Republican, though not to the teabagging kind, and it looks as though Maine will be yet another victory for the types that can’t mind their own business.  One bright spot is that Sarah Palin’s BFF, Doug Hoffman, handed Democrats the seat in NY 23, which Republicans had held since 1852.  Thanks, Sweetie… please don’t change!  Also (no pun intended) Garamendi, a real liberal, won in CA 10, so despite the crowing, the righties have TWO LESS VOTES in Congress.  Oops.  I guess the fake stories about slashed tires and union thugs are all they have left.


  1. retzilian says:

    The wingnuts are losing the women’s vote, too. No self-respecting woman would look to Sarah Palin or Michelle Malkin as a role model. No self-respecting woman would vote to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or send her son there to die. No, the Wingnuts are going to have a gender gap that’ll rival the Cumberland Gap in 2012. Good luck with that.

    • skeptic says:

      Nor do many self-respecting women wish to pass through their entire adult lives without the benefits of contraception. Yet, so many in the GOP expect them to do that very thing.

      Quiverful, indeed!

  2. retzilian says:

    Oh, and I meant Michele Bachman, too. Michele with One “L” and enough children (bio and adopted) to qualify to live in a Shoe.

  3. nailheadtom says:

    CH, you’ve wasted all this mental calisthenics and pixel abuse on the half dozen bozos with no lives that read your crap. Hopefully, you sent a copy along to the Watertown, NY, Daily Times and thereby saved the day for the Workers of the World.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Waste not, want not. I noticed that you hopped right in. Google analytics would differ with your count, of course, but admittedly, the difference between a half dozen and a hundred is scant in the scheme of things. I accept that. Still, I write and you unfailingly comment; is something so wrong about that? One or both of us could be doing what we do futilely, but we do so anyway; your point?

  4. dirigo says:

    There’s more at stake here than the identity of the chair-holder of an obscure New York congressional district and the fate of a couple of governorships.

  5. retzilian says:

    Hag, here are the “finalists” for the WaPo blob. I mean, really, one is from the CFA, one is a former Bush 43 official (seriously?!) but some look interesting enough. The writing is competent; nothing terribly original, and none funny.

    Too bad. We need another Erma Bombeck with an Uzi.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, I’m hardly surprised. What a lame bunch. Did they even read the entries, or was everybody some sort of legacy? One does wonder, but almost all of them seem to be in it only for the makeup artist and ass-kissing on the side. Quelle surprise.

  6. timothy3 says:

    There’s no narcissist like a good narcissist:

    this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote for Sarah’s principles.

    And as long as we have that, we’ll have what you, CH, properly describe as

    Their only wish, as nearly as I can discern it, is to rule with an iron fist a world which is a dark and bloodthirsty place filled with a lot of inconvenient rabble who must be kept relentlessly and often violently in check, and they really don’t care about anything but making sure they win that battle.

    The Greeks had their mystery religions but this incarnation on the Right is really beyond my ken.

  7. nailheadtom says:

    As of this moment, both VA and NJ have regressed into GOP governorships. Ideally, you should have had three or four stiff drinks and be sitting in a bathtub full of fairly warm water when you slit your wrists. It goes quicker that way and doesn’t leave a mess for others to clean up.

    • cocktailhag says:

      You need mental help, Tom.

    • The Heel says:

      I recently visited the Hag in person and we briefly mused about who you might be or what your motivation is to come to a liberal blog and constantly complain about “the awful food and the small portions”, as the Hag so brilliantly put it (followed by an outburst of laughter and clinking beer bottles).

      I like the fact that you offer controversial viewpoints and that your opinion differs from most everybody else’s. Stirring the pot can be enriching if done right.

      As long as you refrain from ad hominem attacks and white trash insults, I personally like to read most of your counter “arguments” – as misguided as they typically are.

      However, when you wish that my beloved Hag slit her veins, I have to side with the former and suggest that you seek professional help.

      But to the point of discussion. Help me understand, Tom, why would two governor seats be a triumph if at the same time two congressional seats go to the other side?

      Last time I checked Congress votes on and approves major legislative efforts together with the senate, ultimately to be signed into law by the president. Where do governors come into play in this?

      • Ouranos says:


        Tom is apparently scared witless by everything, including the so-called “half dozen bozos with no lives” who inhabit this little corner of the toobz. With a tough-guy name like Nailhead a person might think he’d be one keyboard warrior who could face a “half dozen bozos with no lives” without hiding behind insults. Go figure.


        Alan Wolfe had a great piece in the Washington Monthly a while back.

        A quote from Wolfe that reinforces what you wrote:

        Unable to shrink government but unwilling to improve it, conservatives attempt to split the difference, expanding government for political gain, but always in ways that validate their disregard for the very thing they are expanding. The end result is not just bigger government, but more incompetent government.

        Damn good post. I noticed Tom made absolutely no attempt to refute it. Now there’s a real surprise.

        • cocktailhag says:

          That was a great article, Ouranos, and thanks for posting it. Considerably more sweeping than my little drive-by thingamajig, but obviously on the same track.
          It’s really striking how a movement so muddled and contrived, not to mention failure-prone, has any relevance at all. Must be the liberal media….

  8. sysprog says:

    You just can’t trust anybody these days.

    ACORN was busy stealing an election, but the WSJ and the Plattsburgh City Police Department were covering up the shocking truth:

    November 3, 2009, 5:38 PM ETA Flat Tire Leads to Accusations in NY-23 Race
    Doug Hoffman, the soft-spoken Conservative Party candidate in the special House election in upstate New York came out swinging in an appearance at a campaign office this afternoon.

    “We just had a report that one of our pollsters in Clinton County just had their tires slashed,” Hoffman told reporters at his campaign office in Plattsburgh, N.Y. “So I think the Democrats are doing everything they possibly can to steal this election away from the 23rd District.”

    An aide said Hoffman was referring to a campaign worker at a Plattsburgh polling place, and that the campaign had filed a police report.

    Capt. Michael Branch of the Plattsburgh City Police Department said the incident wasn’t criminal mischief, but rather a tire-meets-bottle affair. “This was not a tire slashing—this was some guy who drove over a bottle and cut his tire,” Branch said.

    The police captain added that he had personally driven past all of Plattsburgh’s polling places and found “no disorder, no crowds, nothing going on. Peace and quiet here in Plattsburgh.”


    Wait, what was that last bit? No crowds? Maybe the problem wasn’t ACORN. Maybe the problem was that Hoffman wasn’t conservative enough to excite the electorate.

    Next time, with a REAL conservative . . . there will be crowds, excitement, victory!

    Real conservatives never fail.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I saw a hilarious comment thread at the NY Daily News, wherein an NY 23 teabagger claimed not only to have had his tires slashed, but windows broken, and to top it off, a dead cat placed in his yard. When other commenters demanded evidence (police report) he changed the subject. No harm in trying, though. He still might get invited on Glenn Beck….

  9. dirigo says:

    Sound and fury, signifying nothing …

  10. dirigo says:

    Hag, I know you don’t truck with MoDo, and might blanch at this preemptive insertion of her work into this space, but I think this piece is pretty good, especially as it implicitly tweaks ALL the little boys out there.

  11. retzilian says:

    Token Guest Republican Bellwether Tom wrote:

    As of this moment, both VA and NJ have regressed into GOP governorships. Ideally, you should have had three or four stiff drinks and be sitting in a bathtub full of fairly warm water when you slit your wrists. It goes quicker that way and doesn’t leave a mess for others to clean up.

    I didn’t expect VA to ever be anything *but* Republican dominated, since it is mostly affluent suburbs filled with Washington commuters, most of whom are lifers, which means they are conservative. That VA went Democratic last year was quite the upset. As far as NJ, I mean, really, who the hell cares about NJ?

    Now, the NY-23 race being won by the Democratic underdog, now touted by delusional wingnuts as A Good Thing, is the more important race of the day to demonstrate how powerful the fringe right really *isn’t*, even after pouring money, celebrity and propaganda so desperately that this traditionally Republican district (that’s mostly farms, college towns, small ski resorts and military) made the national/cable news shows for days.

    What do you think of when you see “Syracuse, Rochester and Utica,” Tom? Could you even find them on a map?

  12. retzilian says:

    Dirigo, with all due respect, I must disagree with you about MoDo’s column being any good. As usual, I see it as just another passive-aggressive, left-handed, clever little bit of pernicious undermining disguised as defensive critique.

    For your consideration:

    Limbaugh accused the president of trying to destroy the economy — yes, the same economy that W. came within a whisker of ruining.

    “Came within a whisker of ruining?” Seriously. How about RUINED, Maureen. Just because you have a tenured (and undeserved) job, look around. I was in NYC five times in 2007-2008 before the crash and then three times in the summer of 2009 and the contrast was SHOCKING. God, she’s stupid.

    Actually, rigorously examining the government’s conduct of a war started on false pretenses is the best sort of patriotism.

    Must we remind her of Judith Miller? Of the NYTimes enabling, support and outright criminal omissions of known information (like the secret surveillance) that prolonged this travesty? God, she pisses me off!!

    Again suggesting that the president is an unpatriotic fop, the radio ranter averred: “He wants to manage this rather than achieve victory.”

    Fop? Limbaugh never uses words like FOP. Maureen uses words like FOP. And “Bambi” and other effeminate metaphors and insults to describe the sitting President. Until she was bitch-slapped by her editor (metaphorically) and told to cut that chit out.

    He more or less raised himself and came to terms with his Oedipal demons on his own, and he radiates a hard-won maturity.

    Has she even read “Dreams from My Father” ? Does she even know what an Oedipal complex is? Key-rist she’s stupid. You can accuse Obama of many things, one of which is being too passive and conciliatory, but you cannot accuse him of Oedipal issues.

    It gives new meaning to pot, kettle and black.

    No, it doesn’t, Maureen. Because giving new meaning to “pot, kettle and black” implies that Obama *is* a narcissist who is being accused of being a narcissist by a narcissist. Instead, he’s being accused of being a narcissist by a Textbook Case pathological, malignant narcissist and he is *not* a narcissist.

    God, she’s stupid.

    • dirigo says:

      Well, I can see that when parsed, Maureen can be undressed nicely. With a delicious venom too!
      I felt it was pretty good, in a Powder Milk Biscuit pretty good sort of way; it skewered Rush and did the same, implicitly, to all the little boys out there. Seemed that way to me anyhow

      That was my only point, maybe a small one too, because naturally it will be lost on said little boys – for “they know not what they do.”

      • dirigo says:

        Gee, speaking of little boys, it seems today the Army regards up to 75 percent of young American manhood as being unfit to serve.

        There’s something to talk about.


    • skeptic says:

      Thanks, Retzilian! Now, I won’t have to read that column.