Victory, Even in Defeat


One of the funniest things about the right is that they never lose, even when they do, and they even have rather disturbing success convincing others, or at least the media, that this is so.  A lot of us, and certainly any trained psychiatrist, would look at their behavior each day, and think they were no more or less living in fantasy land than, say, Snoopy was when he battled the Red Baron on top of his doghouse; but continuing the Peanuts metaphor, the press reacts to these routine delusions like Charlie Brown does to Lucy holding the football.  The main difference is that Charlie Brown ends up on his back, humiliated, and our mainstream media keep their jobs, or even get better ones, so they can’t wait to kick again.  The New York Times never carried Charles M. Schulz’ iconic comic, preferring unfunny written versions on its op/ed page, although it’s considerably less entertaining, much less just, when their string of Charlie Browns always get awarded the field goal for the ball everyone can see Lucy is still holding over her shoulder.  The Republicans have noticed this phenomenon, and adapted to it predictably.

Usually, they can point to some to some fly in the ointment of the other side’s victory, no matter how microscopic, and failing that, they have a lot of ways to cheat, lie, and bloviate their way to some semblance of at least doubt that they did, in fact, lose again.  The fact that they lost the popular vote in four of the last five presidential elections, they ought to be by now a defeated and irrelevant minority in Congress, given their numbers, their leaders are all nincompoops, charlatans, and crazy people, none of whom can open their mouths without lying would, in a rational world, render them, well, not very interesting, at least as credible policy or political spokespeople.  But in our media landscape, lies are more interesting than truth, and crazy is much more interesting than sane, and they therefore continue to dominate public discourse, despite the fact that their policies, and even their people, are despised by a clear majority of Americans.  Ironically, that unpopularity plays to their psychological game; because they’re so vile, aggressive, and obvious about it, people do actually hate them, in addition to opposing them, in large numbers, so then these committed opponents of political correctness can cynically play the persecuted minority card and loudly cast themselves as oppressed and silenced victims.  Remember Bush Derangement Syndrome?  Anyone with a pulse or grasp of the English language couldn’t bear to watch the guy for a lot of very good reasons, but somehow they were cast as deranged meanies who just hated Our Leader, as Bush coasted blithely from disaster to disaster, quite predictably but free of any “mainstream” criticism for eight years.

You have to hand it to them, really.  Anyone who can cast themselves, often successfully, as deserving of the Affirmative Action on steroids they routinely demand and receive from the media and on the political stage, when all they ever fight for is the prerogative of the majority race, religion, and sexual orientation to oppress those who don’t conform, they’re at least standouts for their chutzpah. Then, treating the superrich, enormous and monopolistic corporations, and their many media mouthpieces as beleaguered Davids fighting the liberal Goliath, if nothing else, shows admirable creativity.  But most of all, it shows that we no longer have politics in this country; we have a rigged reality show, and the fact that this makes many people disengaged, uninterested, and no longer interested in voting, rigs the game in their favor, yet again.  Low turnout and disengaged voters tends to make them lose by less, or even occasionally win.

The worst thing about all this, of course, is that every pile of shit presented to Republicans sends everyone from Sarah Palin and Micheal Steele to David Gregory and David Broder excitedly digging for a pony, and of course they always find it, even if the pony does smell a little funny and can’t exactly pull a cart.  Bush’s dubiously legal “landslide” in 2004, and the shameful, Delay-tainted “victory” in 2002, have become so defensively sanctified in the small, pampered minds of our media stars that they continue to pretend to forget everything that, well, actually happened, either before or since.  And since nothing really happened at all unless it got on television, and the only thing our media outlets do even vaguely competently is bury their mistakes, too many Americans fervently believe a whole lot of things that are either just dubious or more often plain, unmitigated bullshit.  As the supposed guardians of our First Amendment, Walter Cronkite pointed out in 2004 that the media, particularly FOX, whose audiences were the most misled, ought to be ashamed of themselves for such malpractice and its horrendous results.  But, alas, he made a lot less money than David Gregory, you know, and Rush Limbaugh’s maids, especially the ones who get drugs for him, probably make more, too.  Money talks these days, and even when it’s lying, we all are forced to listen.*

*Fairness Doctrine, anyone?  Liberal Portland has ONE progressive radio station, which calls itself that, and FOUR right-wing ones, that call themselves “News Talk.”  Most are owned by Clear Channel.  Must be the magical “free market,” again at work.

UPDATE: You can’t make this stuff up.  Before a cheering FOX host, the startlingly nebbishy Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute explains that the real danger of Health Care Reform is that it might force insurance companies to sell a “50,000 dollar policy for (a mere) $10,000.”  France spends about half of what we do per capita on health insurance, but even here we don’t pay nearly that much for our inferior and selective care.  And, after he praised insurance companies for “saving more lives every day than Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi will in their entire lives,” he won the rhetorical point.  Talking, as though it were the most natural thing in the world, about $50,000 dollar medical insurance, would, you’d think, at least raise some eyebrows, and maybe want to at least be adjusted slightly for the talking points, at this politically sensitive time.  But not on FOX.  Lord, have mercy.

UPDATE II: Just when I thought these delusional righties couldn’t get any dumber, along comes this, and some of the chosen language sounds vaguely familiar..  Emphasis on the “liar.”

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide people into two kinds, and those who don’t. — Unknown

I‘m starting to think that one of the greatest dividing-lines of humanity is not the one between Republicans and Democrats, nor between rich and poor, labor and management — it’s the huge chasm separating those who live in reality, from those who don’t.

And the folks in la-la land have us outnumbered.

Case in point: Congress is digesting a bill “extending aid to over a million people in danger of exhausting jobless benefits,” according to the Associated Press. No, there isn’t any clause in the national contract empowering the Federal Government to do such a thing, but never mind that — there is aproblem, and government is the solution to all problems — right? Now, good news! Some folks can be out of work for up to 99 weeks! Who pays for that, you ask? We do — the people who might have employed them, directly or indirectly, had our money not been confiscated by Washington to pay their unemployment “benefits.”

Here in Reality, people respond to incentives. When, for example, the government raises the payout to poor women for each additional baby born out of wedlock, the result is more children who will grow up with no daddy but the Government. After decades of the same experiment yielding the same result, there’s no use hiding behind the Law of Unintended Consequences. This is simply cause-and-effect; direct, documented, historical reality.

People do what they are rewarded for — what we pay them to do. Now we’re paying them not to work.

To Utopians this kind of talk seems very mean-spirited. I want to watch the unemployed roast their own children over the rubble of their former homes before they die in the streets, they’ll say. And that’s what would happen — in Utopia — if there were no omnipotent Godvernment to bail people out of every scrape. It’s impolite to ask a Utopian how Americans have gotten along without comprehensive government programs in the past, or why no Utopian program has ever succeeded. It’s unrealistic to expect a Utopian to think realistically.

Those few of us here in Reality see that when people have more time to look for work, they usually take that time — and hence tend to be unemployed for a greater period. The longer you can extend your hunt for a job (or a house, or a car…) the better your chances of finding a good one. If you’re the one unemployed, you’re simply maximizing your opportunities by taking all the time you can. When the free government money is about to run out, you might take a job you didn’t like so well — but you would be employed. You would be a taxpayer, not a “tax eater,” to quote the grand Utopian, Lyndon Johnson.

Is it harder to look for a better job while you’re working? Maybe, but people do it all the time. Career counselors often say that a person holding a job stands a better chance of landing another one, compared to an unemployed applicant. With this bill Congress is not “aiding” the unemployed — it ispromoting chronic unemployment.

What we have here is a “Public Option” for jobs. The Government is competing with employers for your labor (or your non-labor). Your options are to take a crummy job and pay taxes, or to let the suckers do that and get your “money for nothing.” Just like the “Public Option” in health care, the government confiscates resources from its private “competitors” and uses those resources against them.

As Realist Ronald Reagan put it, “Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” Ouch, Ron — that’s harsh! Or at least it sounds harsh to our brains, muddled as they are by Utopiaspeak. Once, there was a social stigma attached to “being on the dole.” It was something that honest, hard-working folks disdained. But after a couple of generations of “welfare entitlements,” the ideal of self-sufficiency has been supplanted by the notion of “getting what’s coming to me.” Government has corrupted our morals.

Realist Ben Franklin spoke against government giveaway programs for the poor. I trust you’ll have no trouble applying this quote to unemployment “benefits:”

    I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There are two kinds of people in the political world. One side accepts as fact that human beings respond to incentives (seeking pleasure and avoiding pain); and the other side believes that good intentions will conquer history, psychology, economics and any amount of bad judgment. They will beat, or cheat, reality itself.

It just has to be so.

The Senate tally to ratify the unemployment extension was 98-0.

© Dan Popp

Have you ever heard such rubbish in all your life?  If you’re a regular Hag reader, I think you have.


  1. Kitt says:

    This comment is not as off topic as it might at first glance appear to be. At least I hope you’ll see it that way.

    Been to Greenwald’s at Salon lately? The continuing disaster going on over there with their ongoing ever evolving ‘New and Improved’ ‘web design’ reminds me of the Republican’s and their bubbledheaded media blokes and blokettes blind inability to recognize putrid puke when it’s leaking from every orifice. How in the hell is it possible for anyone at Salon with a say in what goes onto The Page for them to say, “Hey, that looks a lot better than it used to! Good Job, Nancy and Freddy! You’re hired!”.

    It’s painful over there. Not unlike watching a John Boner press conference or, worse, a Joe Lieberman Droopy Dawg impersonation.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Actually, I haven’t, a fact of which I’m somewhat ashamed…. I did hear that it’s bad enough that Pedinska got 2 free months Premium Membership for it, so it must be pretty bad. I’ve been a little tuned out because of travel, work, my blog, and my disdain for the new format. I guess I haven’t been missing out as much as I thought I was.

  3. rmp says:

    Great post. Just one quibble. You said, “we have a rigged reality show.” I see it as a rigged unreality show. It is an unreality show because I can’t get my mind around the fact that this sad show that hurts so many people is actually happening. As I watch it unfold, I feel shame and sadness for the country I thought I knew and now realize didn’t know.

    It is not just the Repugs. Because Harry last week asked Rahm to ask Bill to talk to the Senate this week, and it happened today. When you listen to Lawrence O’Donnell tell KO that it is all a show because the President and the other mentioned players are willing to accept any compromise as long as they get a bill and Bill essentially told the senators that, which was not his position earlier in the game or during his fight as president for reform.

    Countdown: Lawrence O’Donnell tells us the truth about Clinton’s visit with senators and the truth hurts

    • cocktailhag says:

      You’re right, RMP… Can you imagine the uproar if regular reality shows were so rigged? To quote Saint Ronnie, it would be “Armageddon, and such.”

      As for O’Donnell, I heard Barbara Boxer on Ed Schultz today sound similar notes, and I was just as disgusted. The fix is in. Again.

      • JackieBinAZ says:

        You don’t even have to imagine. There was a bigger outcry over “American Idol” voting improprieties than over what happened in Florida in 2000.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I think that might have been the first official “look forward, not back” American moment. There have been so many since, but it was kind of new then…..

  4. nailheadtom says:

    Finally, some medicine for viral nincompoopitis. Here’s some more:

  5. nailheadtom says:

    When you think about it, why should anybody actually have a job? Couldn’t the government just send us a check once a week? Then we could do what we really like to do and are good at, like shooting pool, fishing and watching Oprah. It could be said that this wouldn’t work, but why not? The government can print all the money required and if that’s bending the rules, they can take the money away from those evil rich people to pay for my table time, minnows and cable TV. But, if that’s the case, why should Jimmy show up to open the pool room? And the guy that sells me minnows, will he be watching Oprah? And Oprah herself, she’s already got plenty of money, they can take that away, probably help with her diet, but then why should she show up and pimp bad literature? Maybe there’s a few wrinkles to be smoothed out. Let’s do it like the Comanches, they had it figured out, goofed off most of the day and went horse back riding on a regular basis, no jobs, no W-2, no worries. Well, women did all the work, that might be an issue, and the economy was based on theft from the other tribes, could be a little occasional violence. But wait a minute, they didn’t have any real government! Or welfare office. Not only no national health care, but no doctors! Yeah, those Comanches might have been closet conservatives with continually runny noses. I’ll look for a better example.

    • cocktailhag says:

      What’s wrong with you, Nailhead? Perhaps the stupidest righty myth, perhaps acquired by wanking at pictures of Ayn Rand, is that people other than themselves don’t work, and are looking for a handout. A maid in a hotel works considerably harder for minimum wage that Rush Limbaugh does for $400 million. A guy working in a lumber mill also works harder than the CEO, who spends his working hours lobbying to gut environmental laws.
      It would be much more plausible, and closer to the truth, to say it’s the rich who sit on their asses waiting for a check, but I would never make such an idiotic generalization.

  6. Kitt says:


    Hard to believe that you started that mess off with, “When you THINK about it”. Blowing it out your ass isn’t what qualifies as thinking.

  7. dirigo says:

    All of this graduate school back and forth about capitalism and socialism is a waste of time.

    We’re looking at fraud, rigged markets, and greed. Period.

    And no one who’s been riding high wants to take any responsibility for the wreckage which everyone can see.

    Everything else is bullshit. You are full of it, Tom, just like the fat cats.

    • dirigo says:

      Repeating: It’s a waste of time arguing over the virtues of capitalism versus socialism. The political choice between one or the other was pretty much settled more than twenty years ago. C’mon.

      Ask the Germans who lived in the east prior to 1989 whether they’d like to put the wall back up!

      It would be much more useful to acknowledge the wrecked economy now regaling itself before us, look honestly at the culprits for who they are, and reform the system accordingly.

      That might bring more balance back into the gyro more quickly, to say nothing of more balance in an honest way, while – with additional structural reforms, such as health care for the middle class in the last advanced democracy not to have it – leading to a real recovery, and jobs which are worth having.

      Frankly, I’d bet people like Hayak and Rand would be a bit embarrassed at the situation. I’d hope so anyway. But you’d have to have these dead people offer updated interviews. Some old YouTube clips are hardly useful under current circumstances.

      (Editing note: I posted here, but have taken down, an article in today’s Financial Times by Martin Wolf. It’s in FT’s comment section. I recommend it, but you’ll have to go find it. I recently took out a subscription to FT, which I find more balanced and informative than most of the shrieking American commentary on the economy. I noticed, in setting up a link to the Wolf piece here, that they don’t want articles posted elsewhere on the web by someone like me. So I’d rather stay on their good side. Thus, the taking down of the link. Thanks.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Well, Dirigo… this is the Problem That Dare Not Speak Its Name, for righties, which is the upward transfer of wealth. They never accept the fact that this is unprecedented in any advance Democracy, because they can’t; it’s against their religion, literally. Social Darwinism, that is… just not the biological kind.

    • dirigo says:

      From the Marty Beckerman Salon piece, linked above.

      Being an asshole, especially an Ayn Rand Asshole, means never having to say you’re sorry. Or wrong.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Great piece, and it gives me hope, too.

        • dirigo says:

          I can only say, having lived during the ascent of full-blown Randianism, and having read Rand’s two main works, I cannot regard them as they clearly regard those who disagree or quibble with any of their tenets, even as we all stand up today and marvel at the results of their fine work in the world.

          I cannot regard them as vermin. No, I cannot do that.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, it certainly explains why Halliburton electrocutes soldiers and serves them poison water, while Blackwater rapes and murders with impunity. The only difference is that today’s John Galts haven’t gone Galt at all; they’re sucking on the government teat.

          • dirigo says:

            A supreme irony, just like all those out west who rail against gummint, pretending to be untainted by “socialism,” while benefiting much more than the rest of us on the coasts under sweet federal land, agriculture, and mineral policies.

            There’s a dark secret for you.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Oh, and then there’s the free water for agriculture, which has driven many fish species to the brink of extinction. New post up. I just spotted yours.

          • dirigo says:

            Europe, Japan, and parts of Russia are running high-speed rail, with cars capable of more than 200 mph.

            When are the John Galts of the American iron horse going to step up and bring the United States into the 21st century in this category?

            Or, might it take (gasp!) some government incentives and contracts to get it done (I wonder if Boone Pickens is waiting for gummint help to create his “Saudia Arabia of Wind” project up and down the Great Plains)?

            Right now, U.S. rail beds are so decrepit that trains can barely creep past 100 mph in open, rural stretches. Commuter rail in many areas crawls along at around 80 at best, more often at 60 or less.

            Any free market geniuses want to step up to this thorny problem?

          • cocktailhag says:

            I regularly take the Amtrak Cascades from Portland to Seattle, which is one or the best trains in the Amtrak system, having received funding from the states of Oregon and Washington. But the Spanish-built “tilt-train” technology never reaches its full speed due to the antiquated BNSF tracks.
            Worse, a trainload of passengers has to sit on a siding while some grain or somesuch goes by, due to “first use” policies of BNSF. They’ve evidently forgotten that the government GAVE THEM THAT LAND, and subsidized their construction, so they’re more than usually ungrateful it seems to me.

          • dirigo says:

            Do tell.

            They act like owners.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, the railroads never would have been built without government involvement, for the national roads, or real estate gold, for the street railways and interurbans. They naturally collapsed because people had been deluded into believing that they would “pay their own way, ” rather than just make a few people excessively rich, which they did, at government expense most of the time both then and later.

          • dirigo says:

            And so today, after strenuous efforts to monetize speech (and after allowing users of the public media spectrum to con us into believing they’re “owners”), we have all ideology all the time.

            You can’t cut through the fog and the chaff because they keep spewing it out ever faster. As Mark Twain said: a lie can fly around the world before truth can get its pants on.

            Murdoch is Mordor.

            No quarrel. No quarter given. No dissent.

  8. retzilian says:

    I’m surprised that Dan Popp (writer of the above quoted article) lives in Ohio and still had the audacity to write that crap about getting a job. In Ohio, jobs have been hemorrhaging at thousands per year for the past decade (or longer) and he must never get out.

    I’d like to take him on a little field trip to Dayton, Canton, Warren, downtown Cleveland, and a few other places where unemployment is over 15%. That we know of. Those who haven’t fallen off the books completely.

    What a douchebag.

    Anyhoo, Hag, I think you meant to say the 2000 election, not the 2002 election above. (Where Bush was granted the presidency by the Supremes.) Speaking of which, I saw “Recount” the other day and if you can get past the first 15 minutes (when you want to turn it off because you know the ending and you are too furious to re-live it), it’s a good movie.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Actually, I was talking about 2002… remember Tom DeLay’s redistricting? The lie and smear campaigns against Wellstone and Cleland? More voting machine antics?
      Don’t expect righties, in Ohio or elsewhere, to get out much; it’s too dangerous, first, and it might expose them to inconvenient facts.

    • nailheadtom says:

      Dan Popp is dead wrong. There are actually THREE kinds of people. First, there are the dull/normals. They’re not too bright and they know it. They don’t work on their own car and they don’t do their own taxes. They pretty much try to get through the day without hurting anybody or breaking anything. They’re usually not much of a problem.

      The second group are the intelligent. They know how to break problems down into components and analyze them to determine the best solutions. Occasionally they have flashes of insight that allow them to produce radical new ideas. They are usually keenly aware of their own limitations. They are smart enough to know better than to work on their own car or do their own taxes. Even so, they have brought about dramatic changes, often for the better, in human life.

      The final group are the stupid people that think they’re intelligent. These bozos have all the answers. Everything is so obvious to them. If only every one else just followed their lead, things would be so much better. They’re the ones that insisted on requiring ethanol in gasoline, that made it a crime to drive without your seatbelt fastened, registered firearms, re-introduced the Mexican wolf to Arizona, banned cock fighting, encouraged the indigent to buy homes, and voted for John Kerry and Al Gore. It’s obvious to which group you genetic defectives belong.

  9. dirigo says:

    Tom, you are a disgrace.

    I don’t have time to wrestle a fuck like you to the ground, but, for starters, chew on this:

    • nailheadtom says:

      You’re not smart enough to win a wrestling match. The fact that you and your loser thought partners apparently possess a gene that limits your power of reasoning doesn’t have anything to do with eugenics. Nobody is saying that you should be euthanized for lack of intelligence. Just that your ideas about society, economics and politics should be considered as the ramblings of a nitwit, like those of CH.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Coming from you, Nailhead, I’ll take that as a compliment.

      • dirigo says:

        My powers of reasoning at the moment have to do with issues related to how to improve the sagging economic structure in this country, to attempt real reform in the system after catastrophic failure, the responsibility for which rests, I think, with people you support.

        Regardless, my comments here have little or nothing to do with you; and I am not subject to your polemical thrusts or evaluations, and feel no great need to rebut at length. I will not play rope a dope with an asshole like you.

        You have uttered a gross slur, which, in many public settings, would be ruled out of order.

        You said it. You are responsible for it. It’s right there in plain sight, in cyberspace.

        It’s a slur aimed at someone who is arguing some ordinary aspect of politics – to wit: that that person is “genetically defective” based only on that aspect. And then you compound the slur by denying any causality between techniques of genetic discrimination and the goals of racial purity, techniques and goals which were practiced by the Nazis. There is no dispute about this causality in the historical record.

        I will not quibble with you, sir; and I have nothing more to say to you.

        Do not bother to reply.

  10. dirigo says:

    So who are the socialists? I mean, really …