Sore Winners

Back in the dark days of 2004, John Powers wrote an excellent book about the curious psychology of the American right called “Sore Winners.” His argument, in a nutshell, was that Republicans today are simply never happy.  No matter whether they have billions of dollars, control of the government, or, at worst, a cushy wingnut welfare gig with lifetime tenure, the poor things are still pissed off.  Somewhere, someone doesn’t think they’re the bees knees and fails to kiss their asses in Macy’s window, and they are in a perennial temper tantrum about it.

Bush was the perfect example of this, especially after 9/11:  although he did happen to be the worst President in American history, anyone with the temerity to even gently cast aspersions on the stupidity, incompetence, cravenness, and and overconfidence that richly earned him that title was immediately branded a traitorous America-hater and was ruthlessly hounded out of the public discourse.  Yet, to the right, Bush was the victim.  Sure, he was the President, albeit barely, and he had gotten pretty much everything he wanted politically, creating just the disaster the America-haters predicted, but all that, and a “Mission Accomplished” Barbie of himself, to boot, still wasn’t enough.  He still felt a quite pathological need to punish the doubters, and he repeatedly did so (through surrogates, natch…) with unseemly relish.

Fast forward to today, when Mitt Romney is deservedly being ridiculed for his airy dismissal of the worthless, mooching 47% of America who will always vote “Democrat” because, well, they’re miserable freeloaders.   Naturally, he was surrounded by delusional, parasitic rich people, each of whom, for reasons only their psychologists could explain, think they’re somehow under siege and are nervously circling the Bentleys.  The obscenely (in more ways than one, it turns out….) wealthy hedge fund manager who was his host surely nodded in agreement even though everyone knows that his tax rate is lower than that of a teacher.  Frankly, it’s hard to square the neoliberal notion that wealth is the due reward for intelligence and hard work when the very Americans with the most of it are this feeble-minded.

These people are deserving of pity, but for the exact opposite of the reason they so feverishly imagine.  They live in an an upside down world and are utterly divorced from reality; I wouldn’t trust them to cut their own food.  No, Thurston, no one is about to take all your money and give it to darkies.  The 3% tax rate increase currently proposed amounts to less than your weekly hooker budget, but leaving that aside, you self-entitled whiners are just loathsome to behold.  The revoltingly porcine Australian heiress who laments the piggishness of people who refuse to work for $2 per day.  The Scott Walker-loving Wisconsin billionairess who cries herself to sleep each night because the very existence of unions hurts her tender feelings.  Jamie Dimon, Sheldon Adelson, the Kochs….  ’nuff said.

What makes these tortured souls worthy of universal disgust is that they have so much and yet what bothers them is that anyone else has anything at all.  They wake up each morning, with all their billions, in a bad mood.  But rather than doing the sensible thing, like buying another mansion, fur, or the Hope Diamond, they have decided to buy the government, so they can screw over the little people instead.  In many ways, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the embodiment of this sore winner mentality: both were born into wealth, both have taken full advantage of government money for themselves when they could, and both plan to make others suffer for their own personal gain, all the while painting themselves as victims.

Given that the Romney campaign was already imploding, this gaffe probably won’t be decisive; in fact, a lot of Fox-addled mouth breathers previously uncomfortable with Romney will now be enthused enough to fire up their Hoverounds in November, something CNN (!) commentator Erick Erickson has already predicted.   But it will help cement in the minds of normal Americans what they’ve always thought of Romney and the party of which he is a too common product:  the rich are in fact different, and in the worst possible way.


  1. The Heel says:

    When a republican candidate looses token wing nut David Brooks, things are going REALLY BAD for him.

    I am not sure anymore that Romney will win. It will be a very close one, I guess.

    • Austin says:

      Suggesting that David Brooks is a conservative is a bit of a stretch, but that other R’s are denouncing the comments isn’t helping Romney either.

      • cocktailhag says:

        David Brooks isn’t a conservative? Sheesh. Are you illiterate, or do you have him mixed up with somebody?

        • Austin says:

          He’s only conservative when compared to the rest of the NYT editorial board. The moniker “token” in quite apt.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Which might be true, if you thought Tom Friedman, who has never worked an honest day in his pampered, useless life, was some sort of hippie. Or, that Maureen Dowd, same thing, was a big Occupy supporter.
            Now that Frank Rich is gone, the NYT has exactly NOBODY except Paul Krugman who is a real liberal.
            (And, as such, doesn’t constantly embarrass them by being wrong about everything… For a time, they gave Bill f*cking Kristol a job; if that isn’t wingnut welfare, nothing is.) And the editors themselves, who are occasionally stirred from their slumber to lament, say, the recent loss of civil liberties or voter suppression, still worry endlessly about “the debt” and whatnot.
            If the NYT is “liberal,” I’d hate to see what constitutes “conservative.”

  2. cocktailhag says:

    I don’t think it will be particularly close; Romney isn’t the empty suit everyone thought he was, and that’s the problem. Though Americans are, as you’ve pointed out repeatedly, stupid, they’re not that stupid.
    If he had a Democratic opponent to speak of, I’d be happy as a whore on Saturday night.

  3. “…nervously circling the Bentleys.”

    Perfect image of today’s wingnuttery. Mind if I quote you on that?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Not at all; in fact I’d be flattered. What, pray tell, is WRONG with these people?

    • nswfm says:

      Loved that imagery, too. The whole thing, actually.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Thanks, and thanks for reading so loyally, even though I’ve been so inexcusably lame about posting lately. The good news is that I’m having a lot of fun with my Thursday nights at FDL, and work is, finally, busy again. Quite suddenly, I find I have to get my juggling act up to speed again.
        But these days there seems to be both too much, and too little, to write about.

        • nswfm says:

          I read your FDL pieces, but don’t comment there. If I could ask a small favor, could you link them to this blog, too?

          Also, I’m glad to hear your other work is picking up. You do nice work and should be getting all kinds of referrals from happy clients. :-)

          • cocktailhag says:

            I understand… Half the time the comment thread at FDL is like the Walton’s, and I’m not John Boy or Mary Ellen. They talk amongst themselves, but eagerly. FDL is kind of fussy about cross-posting, (not to mention copyright law) though, so I keep the two separate. I do post both on my Facebook page, though, which is Tony Smith of the charming burg of Portland, Oregon.

          • nswfm says:

            Thanks for the explanation. I’m not on Facebook, but had already bookmarked your CH/FDL page–I just need to make sure to check it on Thursdays and share both the postings on this site and theirs with people who like good writing, like my mom, and other writers I like.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Great! I wish my Mom were still around to read my blog; she did occasionally read me in my days commenting at Glenn Greenwald, but that was a lot of work for a computer-illiterate oldster.
            Thanks for mentioning it, but work is really picking up again, at least at the moment; best of all they’re new clients, singing my praises to their friends. A very good thing.
            I know Facebook is kind of cheesy to outsiders, but it has gotten me more readers since I reluctantly joined. (I haven’t regretted it; and I guess I’m at the stage in life where connecting with old friends is kind of fun….)
            From now on, I’ll link from here to FDL on Thursday nights; I doubt my bosses would object to a little thing like that.

          • RUKidding says:

            I read your blog on FDL (usually on Thurs, but you’ve fooled us once or twice & posted on a Weds), which is where I first saw your blog posts back in the day when you were mostly on the back pages (now, I think, called MyFDL). I always enjoyed your blogs, and I enjoy reading what you say here.

            The “night crew” who comments on your – and other evening – blogs tend to be the same folks, and they like to catch up with each other and natter amongst themselves. Here & there I post a comment, but mostly I just read before turning off the device for the night. It’s all good.

    • Austin says:

      It is a rather nice turn of phrase, isn’t it?

  4. michlib says:

    Jeez, when I heard Mitthead was attacking Americans who didn’t pay taxes I was certain he was going after certain multi-national people ( Gen. Electric and the like ) for being tax scofflaws. But no – vent your spleen on those less fortunate ( 99.999999%) of Americans who may have utilized that ” cushy ” safety sieve , oops – net to maintain their exquisite Ramen noodle lifestyle.
    If the GOP thought McCain was disappointing …

    • cocktailhag says:

      Now really, you didn’t honestly think that, did you? They love freeloaders, as long as they have eight houses and a trophy wife.
      This was a true blue righty, dropping his magic underwear and letting go. More of this please. But not in my house. Republicans are not eligible for the $5 rate.

    • Austin says:

      I didn’t hear it as an attack. He was trying to make the point that a “tax cut” message wasn’t going to resonate with folks with no federal income tax liability.

      • cocktailhag says:

        You mean those people whose admittedly tiny tax liability was magnanimously erased to give billionaires a few more millions without making the game look too obvious? The Earned Income Tax Credit, and other (transparently fake) gestures toward the 99% were all stunts perpetrated by Republicans like Reagan and Bush to take everyone’s eyes off the cash drawer.
        Oooh, some waitress saved $300, so some rich fuck could get a few million. That’s class war for ya.

        • Austin says:

          I don’t think the billionaires were “given” anything. They kept more of their own money. I understand that you want the wealthy to pay more, so why not advocate for changing the tax code? By the way, according to the CBO:
          The top 1% pay 22.7% of taxes.
          The top 10% pay 50% of taxes.
          The top 20% pay 65.3% of taxes.
          The top 40% pay 84.3% of taxes.

          The bottom 20% pay 1.1% of taxes.
          The bottom 40% pay 6.1% of taxes.

          • cocktailhag says:

            The reason they pay so much more is that they have TOO FUCKING MUCH MONEY, pure and simple. 30 years ago, a CEO made 30 times what an average worker did. Now they make 500 times as much. Even at the absurdly low tax rates they so grudgingly pay today, OF COURSE they pay a lot out of the total.
            But are you saying that democracy is even possible in a country where the median income is less than $60,000, and the few dozen people buying our elections are sitting on billions?

          • cocktailhag says:

            Also, please stop mindlessly repeating the Republican lie du jour when you talk about “taxes.”
            What you are referring to is federal income taxes, which are, quite rightly, aimed at those who won’t miss the money. The poorest of the poor, which is, if Republicans have their way, everybody, still are saddled with gas, sales, property (even if they rent), and local taxes, regardless of whether that means they can barely eat.

  5. mikeinportc says:

    Those damn lazy kids, cripples, and old people! Bunch of slackers!
    Btw, a large chunk of that 47% ( or whatever # they’re spouting at a given instant) do pay income tax. They get a refund later, but they do have to pay it, are out the money for months,and government(s) make use of it, even though they don’t ultimately owe it.

    Romney’s worse than a non-taxpayer. His fortune was built on tax subsidies, written , of course, by people like him . I mentioned this once before, but it deserves another look. Somebody should remind Willard too.

    • Austin says:

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Don’t want people to exploit the tax code? Change the tax code.

      • cocktailhag says:

        Yeah, let’s change it back to the Eisenhower era, when rich people paid 91% on any income over a few million (in today’s dollars.) That seems about right, and it certainly created a lot of prosperity, and a lot less less rich, domineering assholes.
        You see, money given to any individual beyond a certain amount erases any incentive to “create jobs” by putting it back into their business; it only makes people take the money and run, as we’ve been seeing.

        • Austin says:

          I have a bit of a problem with your characterization that income is given, rather than earned. Who decides how much money you have a right to earn?

          • cocktailhag says:

            No human could have ever been so wonderful that they ended up with twenty billion bucks. Ever. And if they did, they should shut the fuck up and hide behind a posse of well-paid security guards, rather than think they can buy elections… That I have to explain this to you only reminds me that UO did a pretty poor job of educating us all.
            That’s OK… we still had a great time…. ;)
            I disagree with you on most everything, but I love you just the same.

          • mikeinportc says:

            So you enjoyed subsidizing the Mittster? ;)

  6. cocktailhag says:

    I read that, and spit nails. Ain’t it funny how corporate raiders get a nice writeoff for for firing everybody at the company they bought with borrowed money, and regular people have to pay 18% interest on the TV (or, more accurately, food) they bought, with no tax benefit? Who came up with that genius idea, need I ask.

  7. Austin says:

    “But are you saying that democracy is even possible in a country where the median income is less than $60,000, and the few dozen people buying our elections are sitting on billions?”

    Would we still have a democratic republic if the government decides how much money you can earn?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sorry, but the answer is yes. For the same reason we have a minimum wage, we need a maximum one. Would the US be better off if scumbags like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, whose $20 billions or so each isn’t enough, had to move to, say, Somalia, where the tax structure is more to their liking? Yes, emphatically yes.
      Somalia’s loss would be our gain.

  8. Austin says:

    “I disagree with you on most everything, but I love you just the same.”

    Back at ya! :)

  9. dirigo says:

    Andrew Sullivan thankfully provides a bit of solvent about what conservatism may actually mean historically – both in this country and in a certain part of the “old world” – compared to the modern, hack American version, as currently embodied by Mitt, the latest empty suit to pick up the baton.

    Forget Rand.

    Even Friedrich Hayek – he of the “Road to Serfdom” – defined conservatism in the best sense as an effort to preserve what is best in us, what we share, what we hope for, in support of some concept of nationhood, and a common culture. All in all, we do that every day amongst ourselves, in our communities, without orders from the “central planners.” But even as he argued for freer markets, Hayek, and others similarly placed, were opposed to policies which benefited narrow or special interests at the expense of the general welfare and the necessary “health” of the state.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Ah, Sully…. Like a stopped clock, he’s right occasionally. But Randianism will never go away; it combines the Southern Strategy for the rubes with the whims of the plutocrats much too neatly. And in the end, Republicans simply don’t care about having a functioning society; Sully’s hero, Maggie Thatcher, famously said there was no such thing.

      • RUKidding says:

        Mark 14:7 talks about the poor always being with us, which those who cherry-pick Bible verses love to quote as some kind of “justification” as to why we needn’t bother to do a damn thing to redress wrongs or ensure that people can lead lives in dignity without being sick, hungry, debilitated, etc.

        Yet the other part of that verse states that we can help the poor “if we want.” Or, at least, that’s what more recent translations say. So, I guess we don’t “have to” if we don’t feel like it, esp if we piously pray to Jeebus all the time or something.

        Most conservatives have been very carefully taught to hate the poor bc their trevails are all their own fault. Screw ‘em.

        Mitthead’s most recently released tape decrying the moocher “lucky duckies” in the 47% who maybe manage to – shriek moan! – pay less in Fed Inc taxes than Bishop Snob is already being re-habbed into a rightwing victory of sorts. At least, the TeaGOPers & the billionaires will joyfully cheer on Bishop Galt for “telling it like it is.”

        Well the billionaires are salivating at the thought of yet moar tax cuts for MEEEEEEE. The TeaGOPers live in the delusion that if they clap & cheer, Bishop Snob’ll, you know, smile in favor upon them and bestow ONLY THEM with his largesse. Yeah, well, guess again, ya rubes.

        Bishop CadillacWelfareKing hates everyone in the 99% pretty much equally, no matter how much you do or don’t pay in Fed Inc Taxes. Get over it. Willard’s just not that into you, you, you or you.

      • cocktailhag says:

        I liked the part about the Jonathan Franzen character, too.

        • dirigo says:

          Yeah, let’s forget the psychobabble, put-Mitt-on-the couch stuff, (don’t need you, Dr. Phil!), and look at the “character” in story terms: the man has no interior narrative.

          He’s a salesman and a tap dancer, a rich Willie Loman who’s demanding that attention be paid, no matter the headache one gets from trying to do that.

          Mitt is Nixon with a pedigree (the one that Dick wanted so much), a deep daddy and mommy thing, and a clear lack of manly-man courage (does military service help or not in sifting through a delicate, up-to-the-minute crises like the sacking of the consulate in Benghazi, or, in trying to forget veterans?)

          What crucible exactly has the man passed through?

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, great minds think alike, Dirigo; I wrote about just this notion (with Nixon even involved!) for FDL tonight. It’s about how wealth and class are two different things; Romney has the former, but will never have the latter.

          • RUKidding says:

            “What crucible exactly has the man passed through?”

            Indeed. If I understand correctly the leaked video includes “discussion” of a sort that those in the room actually admit to being born into untold wealth, but then go on to whiiiine incessantly about “how hard” they “work” to keep ripping off others to enhance & enrich themselves. The whining victimization of these greedy pirates is both sick-making and astonishing. And it’s like no one who makes under, say, $300,000 per year is “worthy,” and nor does anyone who makes under $300K truly “work hard.”

            It’s like they all listen to Rush Limbaugh, have drunk the Kool Aid, and buy their own hype.

            I had, amazingly enough, thought that these entitled shitheads were more self-aware; knew that they were rapacious crooks; and just pointed at and mocked the 99% because they had so managed to fool a significant percentage of us in order to rip us off.

            Imagine my amazement when it appears that they actually think that they are so much more “deserving” because of their “hard work.” And that the 99% really should be worshipping & adulating at their vaunted feet. INSANE. What a bunch of entitled legacy silver spoon lazy worthless jackals. Bah humbug.

    • dirigo says:

      A reminder of how our modern, hack American conservativism actually came about …

      And apparently, Lynyrd Skynyrd, announcing this week it will strike the Stars & Bars from its staging, will try and find another way to memorialize Confederate soldiers and so on (Sunday Update: Apparently, the Stars & Bars will stay up at Lynyrd Skynyrd events, along with the Alabama flag, and Old Glory, thus covering all heritage bases.).

    • cocktailhag says:

      Nice post, Steve. About six months after I saw “The Titanic,” I was in LA and went to a party in Benedict Canyon and met Billy Zane; he was evidently friends with out hosts. I remember how shocked I was that he was so nice, after that performance; we started talking about remodeling, and he later invited me and my friend Rebecca to look at his new loft space in West Hollywood. He had big plans for it, about which he told me as excitedly as a little kid. I was a little taken aback; the place was giant, but close to unlivable; with tools, boxes, a makeshift kitchen, and he was doing all the work himself while living there.
      Not what I expected from a movie star. I hope he benefited from my advice.

      • I have always considered Billy Zane to be a great actor. His performance in “Titanic” should have gained him a nomination, and his brilliant performance in “Dead Calm” should have given him an Oscar.

        Meeting him in person must have been a kick. Is he as intense as he is on screen?

        • cocktailhag says:

          Not at all. Very soft-spoken and unassuming at the crowded party, then a bundle of energy and ideas when it was just the five or so of us at his house. (I guess you could say intense). Naturally, I wanted to marry him (or at least have a honeymoon….) but it was not to be. Sigh.
          Having lived in LA for a while, and having spent time there for many years after, I was used to seeing celebrities, but he’s the only one I ever talked to, and for literally hours.
          Rebecca and I did introduce ourselves to Gloria Steinem at a play we attended, and she was very gracious and still quite beautiful, but she didn’t insist we come over and hang out at her house.

  10. meremark says:

    I like to curl up with well-written words and let them wrap around me and burrow through my eyes. Here some good ones, I can share:

    Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012 by

    Feast of Fools and the Rule of Money

    How American Democracy Became the Property of a Commercial Oligarchy
    by Lewis H. Lapham

    [A longer version of this essay appears in "Politics," the Fall 2012 issue of Lapham's Quarterly; this slightly shortened version is posted at with the kind permission of that magazine.]

    All power corrupts but some must govern. — John le Carré

    The ritual performance of the legend of democracy in the autumn of 2012 promises the conspicuous consumption of $5.8 billion, enough money, thank God, to prove that our flag is still there. Forbidden the use of words apt to depress a Q Score or disturb a Gallup poll, the candidates stand as product placements meant to be seen instead of heard, their quality to be inferred from the cost of their manufacture. The sponsors of the event, generous to a fault but careful to remain anonymous, dress it up with the bursting in air of star-spangled photo ops, abundant assortments of multiflavored sound bites, and the candidates so well-contrived that they can be played for jokes, presented as game-show contestants, or posed as noble knights-at-arms setting forth on vision quests, enduring the trials by klieg light, until on election night they come to judgment before the throne of cameras by whom and for whom they were produced.

    Best of all, at least from the point of view of the commercial oligarchy paying for both the politicians and the press coverage, the issue is never about the why of who owes what to whom, only about the how much and when, or if, the check is in the mail. No loose talk about what is meant by the word democracy or in what ways it refers to the cherished hope of liberty embodied in the history of a courageous people.

    The campaigns don’t favor the voters with the gratitude and respect owed to their standing as valuable citizens participant in the making of such a thing as a common good. They stay on message with their parsing of democracy as the ancient Greek name for the American Express card, picturing the great, good American place as a Florida resort hotel wherein all present receive the privileges and comforts owed to their status as valued customers, invited to convert the practice of citizenship into the art of shopping, to select wisely from the campaign advertisements, texting A for Yes, B for No.

    The sales pitch bends down to the electorate as if to a crowd of restless children, deems the body politic incapable of generous impulse, selfless motive, or creative thought, delivers the insult with a headwaiter’s condescending smile. How then expect the people to trust a government ….

    Lewis H. Lapham, ladies and gentlemen, Mister Lapham.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I just read that today/ I have many of Lapham’s books, “Hotel America,” “The Wish for Kings,” and “Imperial Masquerade.” Whenever I feel as though my prose is lapsing, a little Lapham is good brain exercise.