Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Charles Pierce has endorsed Obama for president because he wants to make "sure that Willard Romney is not president." He says that a third party vote is not really an option because third parties are powerless without proportional voting. And he says that he is not voting for Obama out of fear (presumably of Romney), but because he doesn't have a choice.

This is not "fear" talking. This is simply the way things are. It is important to stand against the people and the forces to which Willard Romney owes his political career. It is more important to do that than it is to do anything else. It is more important to do that than to salve my conscience, or make a statement, or dream my wistful dreams of a better and more noble politics. And that is why, today, I will vote for Barack Obama, not because of the man he is not, but because of the man his opponent clearly has become. I will do so without enthusiasm, and without a sliver of doubt in my mind.

Mr. Pierce will not vote his conscience or use his power to force his party to respond to his wants or try to change politics. He will vote for Obama because Romney and his followers are evil and we should avoid the "fearsome" consequences.

On the other hand, Willard Romney owes even more to the Wall Street crowd, and he owes even more to the military, but he also owes everything he is politically to the snake-handlers and the Bible-bangers, to the Creationist morons and to the people who stalk doctors and glue their heads to the clinic doors, to the reckless plutocrats and to the vote-suppressors, to the Randian fantasts and libertarian fakers, to the closeted and not-so-closeted racists who have been so empowered by the party that has given them a home, to the enemies of science and to the enemies of reason, to the devil's bargain of obvious tactical deceit and to the devil's honoraria of dark, anonymous money, and, ultimately, to those shadowy places in himself wherein Romney sold out who he might actually be to his overweening ambition. It is a fearsome bill to come due for any man, let alone one as mendaciously malleable as the Republican nominee. Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

Bush jokes about weapons of mass destruction and we were shocked. Obama joked about drone bombings and we ignored it. Bush bails out Wall Street and he's serving his masters; Obama does it and he's saving the country. Romney panders to his base and we are supposed to be afraid; Obama insults and ignores his base and we are supposed to be supportive of him anyway. No matter what we do, we lose.

When you lose even when you win, continuing to play the same game is not the right choice. Mr. Pierce is right; this is simply the way things are. And they will never, ever change, because we do not try to change them. We do what we are told, vote for whomever we are told to vote for, ignore whatever we are told to ignore. Because deep down we know that we do not have a choice. Not in the sense that most people think of the situation, in which we must either vote for Romney or Obama. We don't have a choice because we would have to lose so much more before we started to win, and we are afraid.

We would  lose the emotional support of our tribe, our friends and family and ideological allies. They will turn on us with all the means at their disposal and immediately cast us out of the tribe, as loudly and viciously as they can.

We will lose money. The pundits would lose financial support from the party and donations from ideological supporters. We would lose even more jobs, even more services.. We would see more of the burden of supporting society shift onto our middle class shoulders.

We would lose our feeling of superiority and hope for our future. If we acknowledge that were are victims of the rich we admit we are powerless, that we are likely to become more poor and miserable, kill more foreigners, die sooner in a dirty and hot planet that cannot support our lifestyle anymore. We would have to look at our children and think, you might die sooner because of my choices. You might not be able to have a future, a family, a decent life. This is unendurable.

We would lose our sense of security. If we ignore Obama's drone wars we can ignore the fear that one day those drones will be used against us, that they will patrol our cities from the sky recording everything we do just as Obama now patrols our communications, recording everything we say. That the police state, which now ensures no massive protests will ever get off the ground will also ensure that we are never able to fight back in any way. We would watch the iron fist discard the velvet glove, and feel the oppression that only the victims of our success now feel. We would all become Muslims, and our worst nightmare has always been that one day we would be treated as we treated others; the Native Americans,  Blacks, foreigners, the very poor, women, children.

But in the end, after we have fought and lost and fought again, we would win. We are The People and our elite are afraid of us. The only thing keeping them alive is our complicity, our unspoken agreement to let them do whatever they want to us as long as we can go on dreaming and pretending that things will get better even if we do nothing to make them better but fill out a ballot every few years.

We will not fight, however. We are afraid. We are terrified. And we will do anything, no matter how much it hurts us later,  to pretend we are not.


BDR said...


Susan of Texas said...

I had no choice.

Downpuppy said...

Charlie will vote for Obama on November 6.

On November 7, he'll go right on screamiing about the same stuff you do. It's not like he took the election season off. Junod's Lethal Presidency series, Charlie's drought series - the only breaks he allows are when he does a sports piece at Grantland.

(I used to hassle Pierce a lot back at the Globe, when he didn't have competent web editors and was constantly putting in bad links or booboos. Still hang out with the regulars from there.)

Susan of Texas said...

We have always been free to criticize liberal leaders as long as we give them our power when they want it. You can see it--general criticism are fine, policy criticisms are tolerable, just as long as we do not resist when we are told to obey.

Downpuppy said...

I dunno, Susan. You're really getting close to hold your breath & wish for a pony territory.

I'm not seeing any action plan here. Do you have a Powerpoint presentation?

Susan of Texas said...

The first step has always been to destroy authoritarianism. Otherwise people will just look for a new leader.

What would you like to do? We don't need to do anything earthshaking if we all do something. I should be volunteering at schools or even going back to school to gain credentials but I am a hermit. I need to get over my own fears too.

VCarlson said...

You spoke my mind. Thank you.

And being a voice saying publicly "This is wrong. I cannot support it." Is helping. It tells others, who were fearing they were the only person noticing such things, that they are not alone.

VCarlson said...

And, Downpuppy, I think people who tell us we must vote for the lesser evil, then we can apply pressure to be less evil, are the ones wandering into pony-and-wishing territory. Thanks to Citizens United, the ones with the money are even more the ones with the power, and those of us without only have our vote.

Susan of Texas said...

I have never seen anyone tell us how we can force Obama to do what we want after the election. They simply say we will do it.

Anatole David said...

Excellent post. The "what do you want a pony?" crap is just a flimsy cover for supporting your tribe's authoritarian monster, the cynicism of surrender.

Obama is a monster. He is not a lesser evil. He is the same evil, perhaps more effective.

Obama's drone strike policy claims that anyone within a certain age group are "militants". A cynical attempt to erase civilian death tolls by redefining "militant" so vaguely as to be meaningless. He has also signed into law NDAA and fought for it to be upheld in Federal Court. This gives him the right, without due process, to indefinitely detain anyone in the world or perhaps slaughter them in a drone strike if he, along with his advisors in secret, determine the person is a threat to National Security. This includes US Citizens here or abroad. He is a monster. He adds teenagers to kill lists. On his orders a 16 year old US citizen was killed in a drone strike.

Obama went on Jay Leno and boasted, to loud applause, about the Drone Strike that killed that 16 year old kid's father--Anwar Al-Awlaki. But when the ACLU sued to make Obama reveal the evidence he used to justify the execution of Al-Awlaki by drone strike Obama claimed State's Secrets. So he boasts on Leno for applause, but when asked for accountability in executing a US citizen he hid behind secrecy.

The first step in stopping evil is refusing to uphold it. With a vote for Romney or Obama a US citizen becomes a willing accomplice to mass murder. They do not hide these policies preferences. In fact, they openly boast about how they'd take on the burden of these "tough choices". Romney supports a President's right to kill anyone he or she deems a threat, etc..

Another thing:
The Kill List story was leaked by the Obama White House to the New York Times in a "look how tough these guys are" puff piece. Laughably it parroted claims, from unnamed sources, that Obama and John Brennan base the policy on Aquinas and Augustine---i.e. Medieval Crusader(Just War theory--the duty to kill all enemies of the Faith) prop that justified killing infidel Muslims in the Holy Land for The Church Militant!

Go ahead. Willingly vote for a Brand D or Brand R mass murderer who "basically agree on Social Security" etc. Wring your hands and tell yourself you couldn't do any better than select the mass murderer that best appealed to you. Afterwards mock those who, because they refuse to vote for a mass murderer who craves the power to kill anyone, anywhere on the Earth, at anytime they deem appropriate, are too "idealistic". Be sure to mention ponies, and ride snark into farness.

VCarlson said...

There's a lot of magical thinking going on. In 2008, we had a lot of people voting against the Republicans, and a lot of people voting for Obama because they believed (despite available evidence) that he was a liberal. We also had a lot of people voting Team Democrat because. Then we got Obama believing his own hype, that he's some kind of transformative politician, and he did enough stupid things (Bush-Obama Tax Cuts, killing Single Payer aborning, drones, executive murder) to make this election closer than it might otherwise have been.

Downpuppy said...

Of course its the lesser of 2 evils. Since when is there purity in voting? Sure, there was some hope in 2008 that Obama would go after the most egregious criminals of the century, but expectation?
I've been through 1980 & 2000, and one thing we know for absolute dead certain is that it always matters who wins. Twice decent men were pushed out on tides of "It doesn't matter, thy're both evil" and both time the result was a lot of misery & death.

Neither time brought us any closer to utopia. The next time won't either. It may bring us a bit closer to French Revolution levels of inequality. That kind of meltdown is no respecter of moral purity.

VCarlson said...

I can no longer vote for the lesser evil. The evil of declaring the US President can declare someone an enemy, then order that person's death, all without benefit of the very imperfect protection of a trial - and then doing it, proved an evil too far.

VCarlson said...

I confess - most of my Presidential votes, for over 30 years now, have been "lesser evil" votes. And each time, the lesser evel has been more evil. So I'm complicit. But I've reached my limit. I can only hope that other voters reach their limit before we've gone irretrievably down the hole.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen anyone tell us how we can force Obama to do what we want after the election. They simply say we will do it.

Because we can't. It really is that simple.

Or at least, that part of the equation is. Unfortunately, when Democrats lose, the lesson they take from it is that they weren't conservative enough. They never, never, never imagine they could lose support from their left flank, or at least not enough to cost them anything.

Voting for third parties in presidential elections is a waste of time, because there are no viable third parties in this country.

But that most emphatically does *not* mean "do nothing," or "lie back and take it," or anything of the sort. It means the time to put pressure on the Democratic Party to give us more liberal policy choices in the 2012 election was in 1996 or thereabouts, when the hard work of seriously trying to build a viable left-wing third party *should* have started.

Running vanity or protest campaigns for president every four years accomplishes absolutely nothing, because there is no organization there to support such an undertaking. Hell, even if they won (by some freak of electoral physics), how would they govern? They'd get nothing done, be turned out in four years' time, and the cause of breaking the electoral dichotomy in this country would be set back years, probably decades. But for some reason, many progressives don't want to run for school board or do any of the heavy lifting that would be involved in giving their children or grandchildren a real choice someday.

I share your frustration, Susan. And I need to do more of that heavy lifting myself, so I am not absolving myself of responsibility for the system we currently have.

- spencer

Susan of Texas said...

Moral purity is a weapon, and a very effective one. That's why the anti-choicers use it, why we use it, why abolitionits used it. And it's why moral purity is attacked.

Nobody expects a morally pure world but when you are trying to gain power you start from a position of moral purity and then bargain down to a compromise.

Kathy said...

"I have never seen anyone tell us how we can force Obama to do what we want after the election. They simply say we will do it..."

Consider the Fed Gov's response to the "occupy" movement. I'm sure Homeland Security was coordinating with various city governments in their violent repression of simple civil demonstrations. Imagine if there were violent protests, riots, armed insurrection! Scary times.

wetcasements said...

If Obama wins on Tuesday I will feel extra proud of my vote for him. Not only did he overcome the literal millions of dollars that constitute the Conservative Noise Machine, but he did it in spite of the same folks who gave us Bush back in 2000. Congrats!

And if he loses, about 30 million of our fellow Americans will lose their health-care and that's just for starters. The wire-hangar abortions will start up about three months in. Another futile war against brown people that might lead to World War II as well. At least we can agree on that much.

Sorry, but the perfect is always the enemy of the good (or merely the better, if you prefer).

Susan of Texas said...

Eventually we will have another Republican president. We've had Republican presidents for a large portion of my life. They were horrible but the didn't restrict abortion as much as it has been curtailed while Obama was president.

Everyone keeps forgetting that the health care industry supported health insurance reform because we are now required to have insurance. The person TBogg referred to was able to get health care only because he was a lawyer and had savings. If my husband were ill we could not afford insurance and Obama's good work would do me no good at all. Plus he cut state funding for govt employees and teaching jobs disappeared immediately so I can't find work.

Anonymous said...

I'm not "voting for Obama out of fear" because I'm not voting for him at all.

I'm voting Green---out of rage not fear.

nate said...

People forget, but there was a real feeling in 2000 that the Greens had momentum. If Nader could've gotten 5% of the national vote, the Greens would've qualified for matching federal funds in the next election.

And, they were running for local seats, not just national campaigns. For a second, just a second it felt like we might have a chance for real leftist politics in this country.

nate said...

Another thing people forget-- I went to see Nader speak in Denver, and he was talking about the percentage of our population we have in prison, especially minorities. He was talking about it knowledgeably, and passionately.

How many times did that subject come up from the Bush/Gore campaigns? How about Obama/McCain? Obama/Romney?

I guess it's not a problem, then.

VCarlson said...

I have a number of problems with Obama's health care "reform." Starting with where he started. He started "negotiating" at what would have been a poor compromise (and he had to be bullied into that), and went on to achieve the Big Health Insurance's dream. Which was a Republican creation. Now Health Insurance Reform has been "done," and the dismantling of the beneficial to humans parts will start very soon, if it hasn't already.

As for the return to back alley butchers and poisonous potions that's been predicted for a Rmoney Presidency, that's already startted under Obama, whose actual support of a woman's right to choose (support being actions taken within his power, not words) has been less than stellar.

VCarlson said...

I'm not real fond of Ralph. If he'd been able or willing to overcome his personal dislike of Gore long enough to do as he'd promised and stayed out of the swing states, that election might not have been close enough to steal. And Gore ran a bad campaign, aided and abetted by the "news" media who thought a dry drunk was a cool guy to have a beer with. And not forgetting the Democratic PTB, who have been working like beavers to make the Democratic Party what it is today: the Republican Party of about 40 years ago. But Ralph's a showboat, and if the Greens were stupid enough to run him again this year, I'd be voting some other larty, Snoopy write in if I had to.

Anatole David said...

"Sorry, but the perfect is always the enemy of the good"

1. The parens shift to "better" dispenses with the good and assumes one evil can be "better" than another. The good is an enemy to all evil.

2. This is not a defense of voting for "lesser evil". A capitulation to evil that is cherished, out of amour-propre, as something "better"(i.e. good).

Tribalists embrace fallacies to gild their choices.

Republicans want to save America from Socialism. They can apply lesser evil bullshit too.

wetcasements said...

" If Nader could've gotten 5% of the national vote, the Greens would've qualified for matching federal funds in the next election."

I know, right? The Greens really cleaned up in 2004 and Congress and Bush totally shifted to the left thanks to Saint Ralph.

Like I said, vote green and you are shitting upon 30 million Americans. If you can live with that, bully for you.

Susan of Texas said...

Putting everything else aside, we are not allowed to vote for whomever we want? We have to vote for the person everyone tells us to vote for? That is just wrong.

Lots of people will get hurt no matter who we vote for. That's the point-we are between the rock and the hard place because we always vote for the lesser of two evils. People would not fight back and now we are facing the Grand Bargain when Obama wins. And people will let him because if we don't the Republicans will get their way. Obama told us this himself.

VCarlson said...

"... vote Green, and you are shitting upon 30 million Americans."

A couple of objections, right off the top of my head:

1) I don't live in a swing state. If I did, I would have a moral delimma, and I'm not certain what I'd do, as the Republican party is horrifying in its openly stated intentions.

2) The Democratic Party, in choosing to rely on "we're not as scary as those guys" instead of actually, you know, standing up for the people they claim to represent, and doing it for decades, have brought this close race on themselves. The Republicans are running on destroying Social Security and Medicare, two very successful and very popular programs, and giving even more money to the very rich, a very unpopular goal. It's a close race because the Democratic Party, instead of actually opposing these ideas, or even voicing full-throated opposition, are willing to go along with them.

I'm in the position of hoping for gridlock, no matter who gets elected. Because if no gridlock, Social Security and Medicare will be destroyed. It might take a little longer if Obama's reelected and he gets his "Grand Bargain," or it might not.

satch said...

Susan, I love your pieces, but come on... no one's telling you who to vote for, they're just pointing out that you're... well... mistaken. While it may make you feel virtuous and pure to blast Obama, the time for sending messages to candidates is in the primaries. No truly progressive candidate has ever successfully run for president. Those like Roosevelt and perhaps Truman who turned out progressive became that after they were elected. There are a number of progressive-leaning Dems running in House and Senate races this cycle. If they are successful and can swing the House back to Dem control while holding on to the Senate, we may have a shot at avoiding the grand bargain in a second term. If they're not, then not even Obama will be able to stop the crash. You can't even get progressives elected to the state legislature in Texas today, let alone a governor as progressive as Ann Richards was, so I can understand why you are essentially giving up. I'm not ready to do that just yet.

Susan of Texas said...

I would agree that the time to send a message is the primaries but everybody said the same thing during the primaries--it was not the time to send a message. Everybody had to support Obama or Clinton might win, which would be a problem because Clinton would never be able to beat the Republican candidate. The right will always be worse so there would never be a time to threaten the leadership of our party.

Obama wants the Grand Bargain and he is confident he will get it. It's a major part of his second term.

It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.

And we can easily meet -- “easily” is the wrong word -- we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.


The media and "fact checkers" seem to have missed it, but President Obama implicitly called for cutting Social Security by 3 percent and phasing in an increase in the normal retirement age to 69 when he again endorsed the deficit reduction plan put forward by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of his deficit commission.

The reduction in benefits is the result of their proposal to reduce the size of the annual cost of living adjustment by 0.3 percentage points by using a different price index. After 10 years this would imply a reduction in benefits of 3 percent, after 20 years the reduction would be 6 percent, and after 30 years the reduction would be 9 percent. If the average beneficiary lives long enough to collect benefits for 20 years, the average reduction in benefits would be approximately 3 percent.

Since Social Security is enormously important to retirees and near retirees, the media should have called attention to this part of President Obama's speech. It is likely that many of those listening did not realize that his deficit reduction plan called for these cuts.

This affects 40 million Americans.

Susan of Texas said...

Notice that this is in response to an imaginary need to reduce the deficit.

And imagine what this will do to the future of the Democratic Party. If we conduct secret drone bombings and surveillance of Americans and slowly whittle away at "entitlements" there will be no reason to vote for Democrats. The party will be deeply undermined.

But that is years in the future and people want to win an election right now.

Anonymous said...

I will not be part of Obama's nixon-to-china, grand backstab bargain.

If that's shitting on folks, I'm not just "living with it", I'm happy about it.

L2P said...

"Obama is a monster."

If so, Obama's a pretty meager monster. Since when did "slightly more progressive than Dwight Eisenhower" become "Big Bad Evil Guy that has given in to the Dark Side of the Force?"

You third party types need to get a grip. "Evil" and "slightly disappointing to progressive hopes" are very different things. "Evil" and "what a Romney Presidency will do to the poor, the young, and the environment" are not so very different.

Have fun with your pure hearts if the Republicans take control. I'm going to be too busy dealing with the real world.

Anonymous said...

Great bit Susan. The flaw in Charlie's argument is that he insists that even people in red states should vote for Obama, because if Obama won the electoral college but lost the popular vote he wouldn't have a mandate for his policies. I think it would be better to have Jill Stein get a lot of those votes which would send a message that there's a strong constituency that's left of the Democratic party. That be the best motivation for Obama and the Democratic party to move left (while still keeping the Republicans out of power).


Susan of Texas said...

No, you are not. When Obama is reelected you will do everything within your power to ignore the real world for the happy fantasy in your head, in which you saved the world with your one vote. In which drone bombing are not creating more terrorists in Pakistan, seniors are not getting poorer, due process and habeus corpus are not gone, NCLB is not setting the public school system up for failure, and joblessness is not ignored.

My "purity" used to be called liberal values, and we use to fight for them. Everyone tells me that we are so weak Republicans will roll all over us, that we will allow coat hangers and invading Iran if they win. I'm finally beginning to believe them. When did Democrats become such cowards?

Susan of Texas said...

This was in response to L2P of course.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the typos in my bit.


Susan of Texas said...

Me too!

Unknown said...

the thing i hate about this election is that it's the first one i can remember where voting for the lesser of two evils is not a metaphor.

Susan of Texas said...

Maybe it's the Internet--we know so much about the candidates now we can't keep our illusions without compromising our integrity. I had no idea what Clinton was up to, that he did so many harmful things.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I wrote about this a little bit, meself, Susan.

The lesser evil folks gloss over the fact that Wall Street bought Obama's election, and he's rewarded them with billions of dollars and immunity for the crimes. We're more under the corporate heel now than we were before.

And he's adopted the radical Bush-Cheney "War on Terror" militarization of our society. I guess the lesser evil crowd wasn't going to use those civil rights, anyways...

VCarlson said...

I think the internet's a large part of it (and Al Gore did have a role in its creation - which is all he'd said). Also, Clinton was the first president to come under attack by the R's for taking what they considered was rightly theirs. It was pretty blatant, and the charges were so ridiculous that my response was to come to his defense. When they started on again with Obama, the attack on the President for not being the right party thing was old hat (with added racism! For some), and I was already used to keeping a worried eye out for Presidential abuses of power. Once something's been done, and there have been no serious consequences for doing it (which is why "impeachment's off the table" was so bad), it'll keep being done. People who are interested in power tend to want to use it, after all.

Susan of Texas said...

Well, I'm sure all this sturm und drang will pay off in the end. After the election loyal Democrats will start pressuring Obama to abandon his plans to cut Social Security, and will protest against his civil rights abuses. A few phone calls to the DNC ought to do do the trick.

After all, Obama is one of the most progressive presidents ever and he might even gain control over Congress. It'll be clear sailing if we can keep the Republicans from stopping him with their evilness and tricksy ways.

Susan of Texas said...

Economist's View:

"Three decades ago, non-college white men were solidly Democratic. Many of them were unionized. They had jobs that delivered good middle-class incomes.

But over the last three decades they stopped believing the Democratic Party could deliver good jobs at decent wages.

Republicans have done no better for them on the wages — in fact many policies touted by the GOP, such as its attack on unions, have accelerated the downward wage trend.

But Republicans have offered white non-college males the scapegoats of racism and immigration — blaming, directly or indirectly, blacks and Latinos — and the solace of right-wing evangelical Christianity. Absent any bold leadership from Democrats, these have been enough."

If I didn't know better I would almost say that both parties are led by men whose main goal is to lower wages for the oligarchy.

VCarlson said...

You have a terribly cynical view of things. I'm afraid you're right.

Bill Murray said...

the thing i hate about this election is that it's the first one i can remember where voting for the lesser of two evils is not a metaphor.

Well that's what 30 years of principle-less, lesser evilism gets you, Skippy

Anonymous said...

The argument that Barack Obama is a monster because of drones—it's not persuasive. At the very least it's not self-evident. I'm not even sure it amounts to an argument.

And that's the best shock-the-conscience thing you can pull out. The rest of that stuff, "the wall street crowd," the social security age... I get it, but it's not the stuff of moral purity & righteous indignation. It's the stuff of a committee hearing.

So maybe like take a breath and climb down a bit.

Susan of Texas said...

Everyone else is declaring it's moral purity, I call it being a Democrat. At least it used to be.

You're not "persuaded" by the drone argument? Maybe you'll be persuaded by a terrorist attack when some Pakistani gets pissed off that we blew up his little sister or mom or his entire fucking family.

Maybe you'll be more interested in committee meetings when you have to change your Dad's diaper because Medicare won't pay for home care. Or when you are supporting both your parents and your kids and your unemployed sister on your three part time jobs because your asshole bosses fired all the full time workers since nobody has any money and sales are low.

You don't have a fucking clue what is coming down the pipe. Wages are falling while productivity is rising, pensions are being looted, services are disappearing and so is the safety net. I hope you and your Obama poster are very happy together because that's the closest you are going to get to receiving any attention from him.

Meanwhile I hope you don't live next to water. That's not working out so well anymore. But you can always use some of Obama's clean coal when the power goes out.

Sure, Romney's worse than Obama. But you'll roll over for both of them since you don't have the guts to stand up for yourself. Unless you're anonymous on the Internet and telling a blogger with a couple of hundred reader to chill.

Yeah, Obama's got this, alright. He's got your balls in a vise and you're pretending he's just measuring you for a new suit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think you should chill. Hyperbole and hypothetical terrorist attacks and whatever else I have no fucking clue about are all a bit much. It sounds like you have a lot of worries, though, and for that I am sorry.

Susan of Texas said...

I could be wrong, maybe you are doing just fine and have no problems ahead. Maybe you have plenty of money in the bank and a secure job, and your parents are sitting on a fat investment portfolio. Maybe you will be able to enjoy the roomier airline cabins and pay for prime restaurant settings and pick up some bankrupt estates.

If so, I understand your cool and calm demeanor. Hey, it 's all just a game, right? And consequences are for suckers.

Susan of Texas said...

Seatings not settings.

Anonymous said...

Well, no, I have a shitty job, not much money, middle class parents, and I live near water. But Obama is a small part of my problems, and in the grand scheme is a significant but still small part of the world's problems. The expectations attendant with my support are minimal; only that the economy will continue to improve, if slowly, and that there will not be senseless mass bloodshed. I do not share your pessimism about the police state, vanishing velvet gloves, etc. When I muster the guts to stand up for myself, as you put it, it just makes no sense to do so in a voting booth, on the presidential line.

Susan of Texas said...

So you just don't believe that things could get worse despite the fact that they have been getting worse.

Anonymous said...

Well, "they have been getting worse" is a proposition, not an argument or an observation. I could just as well claim you believe things are horribly dystopic in spite of the fact that they have been getting slowly, marginally better.

Susan of Texas said...

I obviously disagree so will you tell me how things are getting better? I could use some good news.

Anonymous said...

Well, good news is hard to come by, but Calculated Risk has seemed upbeat lately. They're clapping over all the indicators.

Anonymous said...

Your obnoxious pretensions to "moral purity" mean little more than self-righteous opting out of morality. Total abstract moral purity is impossible in the real world. Doing the right thing means choosing among the existing available choices, not constructing a delusional ideal world that better soothes your conscience. Suggesting that anyone voting for Obama is "complicit" in all of the evils done in the name of American power, while your precious pure vote against Obama is a courageous stand against imperialism is the height of misplaced self-importance. Or, if you claim that your vote is inconsequential, that you are MERELY doing it to satisfy your conscience; that's also indicative of a selfishness--you feeling good about yourself is more important than making a relevant political choice.

Obviously, progressives need to better pressure politicians toward ethical ends; believing that voting against Obama somehow accomplishes this is bizarre, believing that anyone who votes for Obama is by extension an enemy in that process is testament to an infantile persecution complex.

The other claim here that I love is the notion that Obama voters are the ones acting out of cynicism. Many Obama voters realize the limitations of Obama, but are responsibly participating in the process, knowing that 4 more years of Obama will almost certainly be incalculably better than 4 years of Romney. A purely narcissistic opting-out idealism is indistinguishable from cynically believing that any engagement with the real world corrupts, which is the height of cynicism.

Susan of Texas said...

If you are addressing me, most of your accusations are false. I do not claim moral purity; that claim was made by others. I have never claimed total abstract purity is possible.

You are claiming that the only choices possible are the choices that already exist. It does not occur to you to create new choices through your actions.

My conscience is just fine. Unlike many many others, I do not support illegal activities.

You do not know for whom I will vote or if I will vote. I have said voting for Obama is immoral and this is true; it is immoral to support the shredding of our Constitution because immoral acts will flow from this action.

I live in Texas. It is a fact that my Democratic vote would be utterly immaterial in deciding the race.

I have never said that anyone who votes for Obama is an enemy. I have tried to persuade Obama voters to pressure him to move left. They have declined to agree, leaving me to assume that they do not care if he moves left or not, and will be politically satisfied if he wins. You say "Obviously, progressives need to better pressure politicians toward ethical ends" and yet you guaranteeing this will not happen by refusing to criticize him or use your power of the vote to move the Democratic party to the left. How will you achieve this end? Nobody will answer that question because they know that there is nothing they can do to achieve that end.

I believe the only mention of cynicism was towards me, which is quite true as cynicism is a distrust of others' motivations and belief that mankind is prone to bad acts. Just as I believe there is goodness in mankind, I believe that people tend to ignore goodness in favor of selfishness and apathy.

In short, I have always said that it's fine to vote for Obama because the alternative is worse but it is immoral to vote for Obama because of his actions. And we must act to move Obama to the left so he will more closely represent our ideals and goals.

The left wants absolution for their actions. They want to hear they are doing the right thing, that they are who they say they are; fighters for truth and justice and fairness. They have abandoned these ideals for the exhilaration of being on the winning side.

We are not being attacked because we are moral purity unicorn/pony idiots who will bring back coat hangers and boots on the ground in Iran. We are being attacked because we won't let people pretend Obama is a good progressive president. We won't let the left enjoy the feelings of moral purity that voting for Democrats is supposed to reinforce.

And that is where all these accusations of moral purity come from. From those who want to enjoy moral purity while voting for bombs and economic exploitation.

Projection. The last defense of those who are wrong.

Susan of Texas said...

"Childhood Influence is one of main driving factors behind formation of party identification. During childhood, the main political influence comes from parents, other close family members and close surroundings such as the immediate community. Children remember events that happened during their childhood and associate them with the political party, whether or not they were connected with those events."--wikipedia

Susan of Texas said...

Let me clear up one thing--it's not fine to vote for Obama. It's wrong. But like everyone keeps saying, those are our choices. And by their actions they will ensure that we will always be constrained to evil v. evil.

Anonymous said...

A few comments: I'm a long time reader, first time poster. I enthusiastically agree with an overwhelming majority of your posts, I do hate that my first comment was so oppositional, rather than supporting one of your many posts that I agree with. You're right that my post wasn't specifically addressed to you, but to you and the posters who have elaborated on your post with their own opinions.

One more general comment: the main argument against voting for Obama seems to rely on a rejection of lesser-evil voting, apparently with the presumption that one can opt out of that context. Is voting for a third party or not voting at all a "perfect" solution? Of course not, which means that it's still a lesser-evil response.

So let me get this straight, Susan: you aren't claiming moral purity, or even moral high ground, just that it's important that progressives acknowledge that institutional politicians and policies are immoral?? OK! I agree! But that renders this whole conversation moot. First, this is a classic straw man objection. If you don't regularly encounter criticism of Obama from the left--even during the campaign--you're a singularly incapable web-surfer. Among high-information Dem voters and the left-wing media, the conventional wisdom is that Obama is a very flawed centrist, but is quite obviously better than Rommey.

As for being limited by the available choices rather than creating new ones, what exactly are the "new ones" that you've created as it relates to Tuesday's election? I'm certainly open to suggestions, but fail to see how any alternative to voting for Obama would be anything other than irrelevant.

Finally, as to the "morality" context: if moral choices aren't possible (you are apparently arguing that voting for Obama is immoral, but not voting for him is . . . you don't quite say, but imply that it's immoral too), then what good is moral philosophy? Morality is ALWAYS relative, and the most important context is the real world with real available options. I'm quite morally comfortable with voting for Obama, even as I wholeheartedly acknowledge that some Obama policies are immoral.

You do very good work on your blog; pressuring Obama from the blogosphere (and more generally critiquing authoritarianism) is important, and along with the many other left wingers criticizing Obama, could certainly have some impact in the likelihood of progressive politics. Not really sure, though, how refusing to vote for Obama and/or trolling those who choose to do so helps.

Susan of Texas said...

I see criticism of the left and to a lesser extent Obama by the left all the time, however, the criticis are not willing to do anything to change the situation. They will not use their power by threatening Obaama with the loss of their support. They say some of his actions are wrong but they'll vote for him anyway, thereby making their criticism impotent. After the election they will find another excuse to support his actions because the right will always be worse.

it's important that progressives acknowledge that institutional politicians and policies are immoral so people will act after the election to pressure Obama to move left. Those who say we should vote for Obama because he is a good progressive president will not fight Obama's actions later; they will just ignore anthing that does not reinforce their beliefs.

So this is our dilemma: it's immoral to act and it's immoral to not act. It's immoral to support Obama and it's immoral to support Romney. It's immoral to not use our power and it's immoral to use our power. We are totally, utterly screwed.

I have said that we need to turn our backs on our elite and their political con games and spend our time and money supporting each other and the poor. We can see this in action in New York. People are not waiting for Obama to save Staten Island, they are volunteering and donating. That is what we must do, always and everywhere. Help each other.

Run for the school board and other offices within our grasp. (Even that is getting nearly immpssible thanks to Citizens United.) Unionize. Boycott. Propagandize. Stop running after elite status. Buy locally when it benefits us. Leave the churches that try to control us and that support Republicans.

I think it's far, far too late to depend on our elite to stop our elite.

Substance McGravitas said...

They will not use their power by threatening Obaama with the loss of their support.

After the election he loses support. The money goes to the 2014 elections, and - the only useful thing I can see about two-year terms - congressmen who vote for cuts to Social Security are losers, even a substantial amount of Republicans, which is why the Ryan plan collapsed.

Susan of Texas said...

Congressmen don't vote for Social Security cuts. They vote for payroll tax cuts and moving the enrollment age, both of which already happened.

Downpuppy said...

You got me thinking about Divination, Satan, erm, Susan -

Anonymous said...

Two basic points.

1) If as a liberal you're not voting Obama because of your conscience, it should be observed that you also never could have voted for any other Democratic president going back to Andrew freaking Jackson.

2) The rightwing fringe votes Republican. Our fringe splits, votes third party, has absolutely no power, and urges mainstream liberals to get on board. The rightwing fringe drags the politicians and the mainstream along.

I say that if you want to pull Obama / national politics to the left, complain as much as you can and vote Obama with freaking gusto.

Susan of Texas said...

How will complaining about but voting for Obama force him to pull to the left?

VCarlson said...

I'm voting for Jill Stein, partly out of conscience, and partly because it's curiously refreshing to be voting for someone with a platform that I can wholeheartedly support.

My conscience kicked in when Obama took the active step of claiming, as Executive, that he has the right to declare someone an enemy of the state and order that person's death. Not enemy soldiers on a battlefield, which is bad enough, but someone who is advocating something of which he doesn't approve. This explicit claim is what's bad, because it will never go away, and it will be expanded on; because anyone from one of the two major parties running for president is into power, and people who are into power don't willingly give it up.

There are a bunch of other actions Obama has taken that stick in my craw, but that's a biggie for me. I'm not pissed that he didn't wave his magic wand and make the bad times go away. He's done better than he might have, and certainly better than McCain would have. But I think he could have done more, and chose not to.

Like Susan, I'm in a state where the expected margins are big enough that my voice for a candidate will not affect the Electoral College. But it might send a message, if anyone chooses to listen.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Anonymous said...

And that's the best shock-the-conscience thing you can pull out. The rest of that stuff, "the wall street crowd," the social security age... I get it, but it's not the stuff of moral purity & righteous indignation. It's the stuff of a committee hearing.

No. Enforcing the law is something the President and his Attorney General are supposed to do.

Obama and Eric Holder are following the G.W. Bush and Alberto Gonzalez model.

Hope and Change, right, nonnie?

brad said...

I'm saying this before going through the comments, but the thing that makes this all a moot point to me is the idea that voting is in itself a meaningful enough act to matter.
Frankly, if I were Charlie and I had the chance to vote for Elizabeth Warren I'd be proud to do so.
But unless you live in certain areas of a small number of states your vote is utterly meaningless and within the margin of error and blahblahblah, we all know this. Those "lucky" few should indeed hold their noses if need be and vote for Obama. I've lived through "purity through fire", it doesn't work, it just lets the fire burn.
It's not an endorsement, it does enable the core sociopathic principles of the system to continue, but it's rational.
If you're going to pretend voting ultimately matters, then there's really no answer for wat do than vote for Obama and then go back to slowly planning how to enable your family to survive the collapse of government and civil society the dying old men in charge seem to want.
Maybe it's just narcissism, the world shouldn't be allowed to go on without them.
I just don't see why pretend it matters so much. If Charlie wants to believe in civics let him, it helps drive him to do genuinely good work. Me, I think there's a script, and everyone on stage is reading from it. I've long since given up pretending being correct matters.

brad said...

Also, personally, I think the best way anyone could change anything would be to do just what the conservatives did and take over via focused assaults on the weak points of the system
I wonder how easy it'd be, for example, for the hippies and the freaks to take over the Republican Party in a state like Vermont. Give em a haircut and a shave and a boilerplate speech about getting back to the principles of Lincoln and away from the southern strategy and you might even peel away enough old people to do it.
Imagine a Repub convention where the Vermont delegation casts its votes for Vermin Supreme...

Susan of Texas said...

I've said before that if we must vote for a Republican (Obama) anyway we should vote Republican, to force them to the left. It would be the easiest way.

Anonymous said...

How will complaining about but voting for Obama force him to pull to the left?

Because criticism is coming from an ally and supporter, not from someone who will run somewhere, anywhere else. If you reject the premise that you share common goals with a putative political ally, representative, or leader in the system we have, you're not exercising power, you're relinquishing it.

Obama and Eric Holder are following the G.W. Bush and Alberto Gonzalez model.


Susan of Texas said...

So by acknowledging that leaders have different priorities and wants than followers, you are giving up all your power. That makes absolutely no sense. Is it your goal to eliminate habeus corpus? Bail out the banks? Send more troops to Afghanistan? Create a kill list, something not even Cheney thought he could get away with? Drop bombs on several different foreign countries?

If so, you are absolutely correct. You and Obama have the same goals and you wouldn't want to risk undermining those goals.

You still have not told me how you will change Obama's behavior by criticizing him. What power do you have over him? You seem to think that if you want Obama to do something he will feel obliged to do what you want. Why would he do that? You have no power to force him to do anything. You will vote for him no matter what he does.

Do you not know what power is? It is the ability to use force against someone, to punish them in some way if they do not do what you want. Schoolteachers learn this immediately. If you tell a student to do something and he does not, there is virtually no way you can force him to do it. You can't hit him. You can't take anything away from him. You can assign detention but if he refuses to go you can't force him to do so. All you can do is report him to the vice principal and his parents and if they do not suspend him or punish him there is nothing else you can do. You have no power at all. And he knows it.

Anonymous said...

Do you not know what power is? It is the ability to use force against someone, to punish them in some way if they do not do what you want.

Do you not know what politics is? It is the coordination of separate groups with different interests into a coalition to execute tasks through representatives in response to particular needs and demands, in competition with other groups making different demands. Power is the ability to meet demands and to have them met. Any schoolteacher who has demanded resources from a school administration for his or her classroom knows this. You can "punish" your administration by asking for resources from a different district, but your demand will not be met, and you will represent yourself as having relinquished your power in the process.

Susan of Texas said...

Fascinating. You think politicians exist to satisfy the needs of their constituents.

You have not explained why Obama has ignored the wants of his constituents. Did you want GITMO to stay open? Democrats wanted it closed. Did you want a surge in Afghanistan? Did you want the banks to be bailed out? Did you want a kill list? Persecution of American Muslims? A huge jump in income inequality?

Power is the ability to have your needs met. You and everyone else still have not explained how you will force the president to meet your needs. You seem to be saying that he will do what his constituents want on their say-so when the past four years have proven the opposite. You ignored the fact that schoolteachers also have no power within their own district just as you ignored the fact that we can't force Obama to do anything he does not want to do. Unless we threaten to withhold our votes.

VCarlson said...

Threaten ... and follow through.

To take the example of abortion, which is of personal importance only to a "special interest" group (which is the unimportant slightly more than half part of the population): I notice there hasn't been quite as much "Think of Roe!" of late, possibly because it's obvious to anyone paying attention that abortion is either unavailable or extermely difficult to get for anyone who isn't wealthy. And wealthy women have always been able to get safe abortions. One of the clues to this, besides the stats, is the fact that going after contraception is now a mainstream Republican thing.

This was done with the active participation of the Democratic party, because the Democratic party knew it could safely ignore the wishes of its "Lefty" members, who kept voting for them because they bought he "where else you gonna go" or "it's your fault" threats used. It was safe, and pretty effective, but they lose more people the farther right they go. So far, it's been mostly the tails of the distribution, which is why it's worked. I suspect they're now getting into the significant numbers part of the curve, because I used to be considered mainstrem, if slightly left of center. And they've lost me, probably permanently.

Susan of Texas said...

We must accept the fact that most people would rather suffer than disobey their authority, especially if everyone else suffers first.

They can no more accept that Obama effed them over than they can accept the fact that their parents traded approval for obedience.

VCarlson said...

I'm afraid you're right. Which is why, some days, I think things like Social Security and Medicare would be safer under a Rmoney presidency than under Obama. The tribalists would come out against messing with them, as they did under the last R presidency. The same objections used against Bush still apply when Obama does the same things and worse (I'm thnking here of spying and executive murder), but aren't used because it's "our guy" doing it. Never mind that "their guy" can - and will - use the same powers in future.

I shouldn't have to say this, but, no, I'm not advocating voting for Rmoney.

Anonymous said...

You and everyone else still have not explained how you will force the president to meet your needs.

Hey, look, write a bunch of letters or tell anyone who will listen, "As a committed Democrat, I am very disappointed that..." It's far more compelling than saying, "I hereby punish you by withholding my vote."

But really, the burden is on you here. You're the one claiming (with a tiny number of others) that it's politically advantageous to take one's vote elsewhere or not to vote. I don't see how that works; I think it amounts to relinquishing a certain amount of power behind the demands you make. Is that how you close GITMO? Is that how you bust up banks? I don't think so, and I doubt you think so either.

Susan of Texas said...

My disappointment will crush them.

Think of it this way:

Mother: Clean your room and I will give you a candy bar.

Child: No.

Mother: I am very disapointed in you. Here is your candy bar. Now clean your room.

Child. No. I want another candy bar.

Mother: Okay, here you go. But you have to clean your room.

Child: No.

Mother: Oh, well. At least your room is cleaner than your brother's.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of it rather this way:

Mother: Because you did not clean your room, I am not giving you this candy bar.

Child: I still will not clean my room.

Mother: I could give this candy bar to another child, who might yet clean your room.

Child: Good luck with that.

[They do not move.]

Susan of Texas said...

Again, you are ignoring the fact that Democrats vote for Obama even when he does not do what they want. Changing the situation we are in so you win your argument is not actually winning the argument.

I'm arguing aginst someone who thinks he's running the Kobayashi Maru test.

Anonymous said...

And I'm arguing with someone who learned everything she knows about politics from a Victorian-era parenting manual.

Susan of Texas said...

Speak roughly to your little boy
And beat him when he sneezes
He only does it to annoy
Because he knows it teases.

brad said...

How is this not the Kobeyashi Maru, Susan?
The choice is fascist or corporatist. It's a bad choice, but to me, the answer is clear. Life really does involve no win scenarios

Hope and change was a marketing slogan. If you bought into it for a moment, the mistake was made by you, not the Obama campaign.

I just don't understand what you want all this anger to amount to, I honestly and truly don't. Romney will not listen to you either, and will do worse damage. I wasn't saying vote Republican, I was saying register Republican in small states with small Republican parties. A vote for a Federal level Republican is an endorsement of fascism, no matter what you do or don't see Obama as being, that fact doesn't change.
If you say the system is inescapably corrupted and shouldn't be participated in, I agree and don't as much as I am capable.
I say vote Dem because I think it means fewer corpses produced, and that matters to me. I'm past despairing of not having a genuinely good choice, this is the world we live in. I focus on changing what I can, which is me and my situation.

Susan of Texas said...

This is only a no-win situation if we obey our rulers and do what we are told. They have given us two choices and told us to pick one. We don't have to obey. They know this, which is why they are trying so very hard to get us to believe that we have no choice. All they have is words. Words have no power unless we believe in them.

They could imprison us, beat us, impoverish us, kill us, but they cannot force us to obey if we refuse. They must convince us that we have no choice, no power, to get us to obey. They must convince us to voluntarily obey. To believe them and their lie, willingly.

Today's the 5th of November. I assume you have seen "V For Vendetta"? Evie was traumatized in childhood and lived in constant fear, scarcely living at all. V forced her to face her fears by creating her worst nightmare. When she was no longer afraid of dying she began to live again.

It's not that people can't fight back. They won't. They're afraid of losing what they have. One day they will lose it anyway. On that day they will start to fight back. I'd rather not wait until that day.

brad said...

The thought of Natalie Portman pretending to do a British accent really makes me cringe, especially considering how that movie corrupted the far more mixed and complex message of the books.
But Evie took control of herself. Not politics, her own self.
Raging against the machine is well and good, but aimless rage does no one any good, especially the person raging. And I say this as someone who really has only the highest opinion of you and is not trying to tell you to swallow and support Obama, but you come across to me as aimless here. Obama is an easy target for the nature of the system itself, and someone who left room for you to believe maybe he would take it on.
I never thought he would, or that it'd do any good if he did. It's all harm reduction to me, and while its depressing and offers no hope, it's honest and real.

Substance McGravitas said...

This is only a no-win situation if we obey our rulers and do what we are told. They have given us two choices and told us to pick one. We don't have to obey.

About 40% of the country takes that position because there's TV to watch. It doesn't add up to better TV.

Batocchio said...

I believe in voting one's conscience, and for me that also entails considering the probable consequences of one's vote.

Charles Pierce is voting his conscience. And so are you.

Denying the truth of either of those statements, or both, would be a mistake.


Susan of Texas said...

Brad, I am doing the same thing I always do, following my conscience and refusing to accept greed, selfishness and callousness. This is how I live my life, this is how I have made every choice, every decision of my life. My (short) career, my marriage, how I raise my kids, how I treat other people, how I deal with temptations and pain and the pressures of daily living.

Te pain of my father's death, the injustice and violence I saw as a child, the loneliness of moving around all the time, the casual cruelty I saw as the constant outsider. These formed my character. The fights for civil and gender rights. The thousands of books I read, the churches I went to. They formed the person I am and the person I wanted to be. I can be no other and remain myself. I am what I do, Brad. not what I say I will do some day under better circumstances.

I never believed in Obama, not for one minute. I was very glad to see a barrier broken but I read what he said and knew what he would do. But I have never said that people should not vote for him. That is what amazes me about all this. I have never said don't vote for Obama. Everyone ignores this, no matter how many times I say it.

I have just told the truth, the same thing I have always tried to do. But people don't want to hear the truth because it is painful. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and our country and president. I am not afraid of pain and I will not ignore the truth so I can feel better about myself.

Susan of Texas said...

Thank you very much Botacchio.

Unknown said...

Well said. I think thats kinda what I'm getting at too.