Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pallin: Huckabee with tits?

(Andrew Halcro, who ran as an independent against Palin, said that debating Palin was an exercise in frustration.) "She has a way of walking in a room and filling the room with her presence, so people suddenly forget about their concerns about health care or education or anything else." LA Times
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Ever since I was a kid my birthday, which falls today, September 2nd, almost always coincides with going back to school or work... lifelong, hardly a cause for celebration.

Exactly like when I was a miserable little schoolboy, today is just another day: up at seven and hit the line.

I got a nice present from my wife though, the Egyptian novel, "The Yacoubian Building". It's a beautiful book and was the basis for a beautiful film of the same name. I highly recommend them both.


Back to the business at hand.

____________________________________

Today
, I'm working on my Saturday, "dead tree" column, which will be about Russia and I'll probably be posting with some of the material I'm working up on the subject over the next few days. I'm a bit pressed for time, but I'd like to write about the firestorm that McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate has produced.

I have been surprised by the virulence of it all, the truly savage, hysterical, Rovian type abuse, an outpouring of sexist, personal and ad hominem attacks that only Barack Obama has had the sense to distance himself from. Something that does credit to his intelligence.

Why so much hostility?

The answer if pretty simple in my opinion, this lady is a monster politician and unless they destroy her and her story before she is really out of the gate; catch her in the political nasciturus stage as it were, then she is going to do to Barack Obama, exactly what Barack Obama did to Hillary Clinton: take the candy right out of his mouth.

This brings me to a question that I keep coming back to over and over again:

Why can't the Democrats, who are supposed to be the "people's party", come up with candidates that connect solidly with "deep" America.

How is it that Sarah Palin is the one who isn't a millionaire, the one who went to a state university, who was a commercial fisherman, (fisherperson?) served on the PTA and whose husband carries a steelworker's union card? Why is this formidable, working woman a Republican?

Why is it that the only Democrat that seems acutely aware of this problem is a born aristocrat like Howard Dean?

To paraphrase the demon Rumsfeld, you go with the working class you have, not with the working class you would like to have.

America's working people are in need of health, education and welfare, but they are also social conservatives. They are religious. Their rejection of much of contemporary life is bringing together Protestants and Catholics for the first time since Luther nailed his stuff to the door.

Why should this automatically be a force for reaction?

There is nothing in the teaching of Jesus Christ that intrinsically supports economic liberalism, military adventures at the expense of health or education or connects in any way with the beggar thy neighborism of the disciples of Ayn Rand.

Why are America's working people so socially conservative and religious?

In my opinion, not because they are "bitter", but because they are terrified.

During the Republican primaries I wrote a couple of pieces about Mike Huckabee's Evangelical populism that received a lot of kind attention. Out of laziness, or pressed for time, I'll quote myself:
The entire American economy is based on making people feel bad about themselves, making them feel poor, ugly, sick, helpless, stupid, inadequate and then offering to sell them something to relieve the pain of rejection and failure. What, despite all its grotesque fanaticism, is truly healthy about all this Evangelical, rapture, mishegoss is that it is a real rebellion against the basic, inhuman tool of the system... Its unhappiness factory.

(...)
Of course many of the same old vultures feed off this rebellion, in the same way that they feed off all the other unsatisfaction, but this is a true rebellion for all of that.

(...) Why are so many of the poor of America, white and black, socially conservative? Because without a welfare state, the only institutions that offer any comfort or protection are the church and the family. The family is the first welfare state. Here is Spain where we have a welfare state and a fine public health system, the traditional family is still in place. In the hospital system this means that the operations are fantastic, but the nursing is deficient, because normally the patients are surrounded by solicitous family members carrying bed pans etc and nurses only come around if patient suddenly takes a turn for the worse. In the USA there is no welfare state and the family is also under heavy pressure from the system.

Poor people are terrified: frightened people take comfort where they can. A divorced waitress with two kids who has to take them to an emergency room to treat their asma can't be criticized for being a "Left Behind" enthusiast. There is no better country than America in the whole world to be rich. It is probably the only country in the world where the rich are loved. Conversely there is no worse country in the world to be poor. Of course these people are paranoid, the system literally hates them.
I find any rebellion of the "lower orders" in the USA positive per se. I start from the premise that it is really the poor, the sniggered at, the excluded and the disadvantaged -- what are called the "lower classes" -- that have to be the protagonists of any authentic change. Up till now, all the "struggle" is coming from the top against the down.

What is new is that now it is America's lower middle classes, once the envy of the entire world, that can't pay for health and education any more and find themselves losing their homes and being pushed toward pauperization.

You have to start from where you are.

Perhaps the only thing that the white, black and Latino populations really have in common is their fear and their faith in Jesus.

There has to be rebellion for anything to happen and the culture of the people has to be taken into account. The lower middle class and poor people of America are religious and we have to start from there.

You don't believe in any of it?

If you are truly progressive and want to change the system, then you should say like Henry of Navarre, "Paris vaut bien une messe".

Like Howard Dean, I believe that America's progressives have to make their peace with evangelical America and find defenders of the "little man" that vibrate in the same cultural key as they do. Where is a contemporary William Jennings Bryan? It is absurd that a credible case can be made that the Democrats are elitist. DS

10 comments:

RC said...

I'm expecting that either Palin will quit this week or she will out-debate Biden in October.
Palin is in there for the evangelical base of the Republican camp, those people who were thinking about skipping the polls this year.
If she manages to show any presidentiality at all it might be deadly for the Dems.
But it now seems likely she will do McCain more harm than good.
About why the Dems don't ally themselves with the working class: it's not that, it's the fallout from the 60s, The Southern Strategy.
Most Dems {liberals to progressives, blacks, most latins}
still have a very big problem with the redneck and cracker crew. So they really can't stand them.
I really believe that the Republicans have exactly the same view, but they pander to the Strategy adherents because they have no other path to glory.
Just to be clear where I stand: I like everything about Palin, especially the hunting and fishing, the basketball, the mothering, it's great, no problem there at all. Working, instead of hanging at home with 5 kids, seems like a choice most sane people would make. My mother did that {she had 7 kids} decades ago and did well, very well in the working world. Then again, Mom was not exactly sane, so I am not sure the sanity argument is valid. But getting down to Palin's policies and having her in a high office imposing them upon me, well, no thanks. And that seems to be the view of most Democrats and the majority of the independents.
Let's see what the polls say in two weeks.
US citizens, in the aggregate, are stone crazy, especially as an electorate. She may sail into office, Johnny will do a Harrison {he's an excitable guy} and the US citizens will be living out some Handmaid's Tale plot. After 8 years of Bush and Cheney, and their incredibly bizarre cast of ideologues and incompetents, I would not be at all surprised by the Palin Presidency. Really, how would it be more surprising than the Obama Presidency?
So for me, it's a win-win, surprise-surprise thing. Thank God I don't live in that country anymore.
Welcome back, welcome back to the Monkeyhouse. Glad you had a soothing and humane European vacation. I missed your musings.
I would still choose Obama over McCain, but I can't vote. It's moot for me.

Anonymous said...

here's the problem with your last two posts. it's that your point of view is completely misguided. such is the bane of intellectuals everywhere. all brains and no common sense is the root of this problem.

here's the real problem that democrats have. they're the party of the elites, yes, but only the elites in the northeast or the west coast. unfortunately for democrats there has been a rising business class in the south (and midwest) for a long time, and those rich people are raised on small town values, in other words, religion and "fuck the government". it's all about self-reliance. free-loaders are seen for what they are, parasites who leech off others. not all poor people are freeloaders obviously, but most are probably victims of self-destructive and impulsive behavior, not corporate greed.

america really is exceptional because the rest of the world, including yourself unfortunately, has been socialized to believe in the power of government (through "collective action" or "solidarity") to overcome the shortcomings of human nature and create a utopian world where everyone suddenly acts like something above what they are, which is flawed and selfish. that's human nature, and it stands in the way of the best laid plans of the intellectual elite to remake the world. even chomsky. dont have to have a degree like obama's to understand that.

could it be that religion and family provide comfort and SUPPORT that a welfare state run by faceless beaurocrats simply cant? of course not, that's the secular version of questioning God isnt it? the only explanation is "delusion".

your right that anger against bush is about competence and not values. that's really the problem i have with bush. democrats are fooling themselves into thinking people are more open to progressive solutions now.

i do have a question though, how many Spanish citizens are on a waiting list right now for those "fabulous" operations while they slowly die? and how much would it cost them if they decide to deviate from the national health care plan devised by their "betters"? all just to save their own life?

as usual, your post was perceptive, but clouded by left-wing BS.

Adam Cook
computernamessuck@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

p.s. happy birthday fellow virgo!

Anonymous said...

According to Greg Purcell over at Op-Ed News, quoting some anonymous blogger-- this is a Rovian game of tension and relief. She (Palin) is the Bernie Kerik/Harriet Myers of the McCain campaign. She'll soon resign for the good of the party although she may not know it yet. Someone more mainstream will then take her place.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the USA doesn't have a democracy, there isn't even a rational social-democratic party in this pervading climate of violence and anti-social impulses by the slavedrivers.

We Europeans are literally centuries ahead of our gone-bad offspring in social development, so I'm personally not surprised they keep producing these little Hitlers.

RC said...

Mr. Anonymous "we Europeans", the anonymous that claims to be so advanced -- to you I say, how many years ago were Hitler, Mussolini and Franco in power? And exactly who got rid of them? Well, Franco finally died, so we will skip over his demise.
I'm not trying to claim that Bush is Mr. Wonderful, I'm just saying that the idea that Europe is so advanced is shaky at best.

forensic economist said...

Adam Cook above seems to think that small town southerners believe in self reliance.

He should be aware that the south and west are much more heavily subsidized that the north, particularly the northeast. Count the water projects, military bases, defense industries, ports; then the protected cotton growers, the protected steel mills... the list goes on and on.

How about the current housing crisis? Capital was raised on Wall Street, and used to build houses in Florida and California. The loans get defaulted on, the banks go bust, but the houses are still there. One way of looking at it is a transfer of capital from the north to the south.

Self reliance, my ass. The government is very deeply involved in the US economy.

Anonymous said...

true. the government is heavily involved in the economy. that's the problem "forensic economist".

every risky loan fannie mae and freddie mac made was guaranteed by taxpayer money. it's a hold over from the new deal. what motivation do the investors have to learn from their mistakes if they dont pay for them?

all these "water projects" and so on like the tennessee river valley project, did they actually make anyone's lives better? no, but they did force people from there homes so power companies could flood the valley and make alot of money didnt they? by the way, you wouldnt be complaining about the tranfer of capital from the north to the south because your a northerner would you? northerners did the same thing during and after the civil war. fair's fair. as for military bases, private businesses make money catering to the needs of the soldiers. i wouldnt really call that government involvement in the economy.

southerners and westerners are about self-reliance. that's the problem with government programs, they dont end. even after they've outlived their usefulness. i personally go libertarian. it's not about "no government" it's about limited government and understanding that an "activist government" helps no one but the elitist crusaders who are good at spouting paeons to "we", like they actually represent the people.

taxes should NEVER be raised unless there are cuts in federal spending.

your move hippie.

Adam Ccok

forensic "hippie" economist said...

Hi Adam --

I'm from California. I don't think we are that far apart in our views.

The wealth of California was built on railroad subsidies, water subsidies, agricultural supports; then more recently on defense spending -- Silicon Valley owes a huge amount to defense contracts.

Ironically, it was under the anti-environmentalist James Watt (Reagan's Sec of Interior) that the dam building stopped. He promised that no dam would be stopped by the likes of the Snail Darter (remember that? Tellico Dam in Tennessee)but that all dams that were cost effective would be built. Turns out none were.

However, he kept the below market BLM land grazing lease rates, and there has been no change in the 19th century mining royalties from federal lands.

I would like to see a cutback of the subsidies, especially the ones that go to small wealthy private groups such as cotton farmers. Increase the subsidies for public education. And above all, pay for the subsidies with taxes rather than borrowing. If there is no consensus to pay for them with taxes, don't spend the money.

I would also like an end to hypocrisy -- westerners even more than southerners have been on the dole for a long time while pretending otherwise.

I agree we don't need Fannie and Freddie and that they are distorting the market. We do need the FDIC and we need it actually providing oversight. The premiums it charges have long been below what is needed; it also is a subsidy.

While I am sympathetic with libertarianism, I don't think we can go back to a world with minimal government.

Anonymous said...

i do see where your coming from, we do need to end alot of subidies. especially farm subsidies.

i like to think of myself as realist, so i understand that there are SOME useful things that governments can do for the people. but that doesnt change the fact that anytime you restrict individual liberty for the collective good it always undermines democracy.

thank for the exchange. it was intellectually stimulating. truce?


Adam Cook