post election thoughts, rants, assorted impressions

  • Overwhelming emotion on Wednesday: I’m hurt that so many americans don’t have a problem with TORTURE and 100,000 DEAD PEOPLE in iraq and incompetence and graft and destruction of the environment.

  • Make that disappointed and ashamed and embarrassed and angry.

  • I’m not surprised that the anti-marriage propositions won in every state. I’m just surprised by how personally I took it with each defeat. I felt personally assaulted every time I saw those numbers.

  • Unfortunately, it’s clear that it wasn’t just a one-off Bush thing (really, how could it have been), but a Republican thing: those jerks won offices high and low across the country. So what’s depressing is not that Bush won (well, that is depressing, too), what’s depressing is that people voted for him, and for others like him down the ticket. It reflects something real & unifying to the people who voted for the Republican campaigns.

  • Wednesday I was too upset to talk to people (like my sister JM) who would be sympathetic but wouldn’t get it and probably voted for Bush. And I was too upset to listen to the bullshit barely-concealed-gloating reconciliation let’s-all-be-friends-now speeches from the Republicans. Thursday I started pulling myself together and getting a little more coherent and I figured some shit out.

  • “reconciliation” means suck it up & concede defeat & hide your values & shut up. fuck that.

  • “morals issues”? killing 100,000 iraqis in an illegitimate war isn’t a “moral issue”? torture isn’t a moral issue? unfucking believable. social justice is a moral issue. peace is a moral value.

  • “51%” of americans did not vote for the bush administration. no, “51%” of voters voted for the administration. the rest of the populace are disenfranchised (too young, not citizens, once and former felons, added by republicans on fla. or col. voting rolls as felons, voter registration cards thrown away because they were democrats …) or disempowered or disgusted. … 51% of americans would be something like 150 million people. bush got barely more than a third of that. … this isn’t new to this election; a recurrent annoyance.

  • how dare those fuckers claim a mandate? unbelievable. but unsurprising. every fucking winner claims a “mandate.” the real “mandate” is that more than half the population didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t vote for anybody. the real “mandate” is that more than half the population doesn’t like this (or any) government and just wants to live their lives. … and between the slightly-less-than-half of us who are socialized to vote or believe in struggling in every conceivable way, a slim majority supports one candidate. that is not a fucking mandate. (another recurrent annoyance.)

  • also, come to think of it, their so-called reconciliation speech wasn’t really very reconciliatory at all. what is this shit about we support americans who “share our goals”? assholes.

  • now that the republicans have control of the senate, the house, the white house, and a stranglehold on the judiciary, they’re gonna go apeshit. all their BS lines about “fiscal conservatism” and “federalism” will go right out the window. because now they will be revealed as bullshit.

    • “fiscal conservatism” has never been about controlling government spending. it is and always has been about not disrupting the balance of economic power, and letting the rich keep their money, and not engaging in any kind of government program that might have an effect of wealth transferance via provision of a social safety net. now that these boys are well & truly entrenched in power, we will see that in fact power is all they wanted — fiscal conservatism be damned. (some of us knew it all along.) we got a taste of it in the reagan years and again in Bush II, first term. lots of military spending, lots of tilted tax cuts, lots of shifts of the tax burden toward regressive taxes that penalize the poor, lots of handouts to the monied classes through “faith-based” programs or “business tax incentives”

    • “federalism” has never been about a balance of power b/w the federal & state government, never about their deep & abiding commitment to the pure, perfect system that is the constitutional device of federalism. no, federalism has been about attacking civil rights and protections that the democrats were pushing at the federal level. the republicans will ditch federalism faster than you can can say “states’ rights.” it was apparent with Bush v. Gore and apparent with the marriage amendment. federalism was a ploy, merely a line of attack in a play for power.

      the democrats, IMO, have been consistent: they have never really cared about federalism one way or the other; it has always been about civil liberties and some kinds of government regulations. now that they won’t be able to get them at the federal level, they’ll go to the state level. the republicans in turn will attack states’ rights in a variety of ways.

      unfortunately, as much fun as it will be to watch hypocrisy in action, nobody will pay for betraying their “values”. because frankly i don’t believe the folks who claim to be all about federalism because it advances small-d democracy. i’ve never met an alleged small-d-democracy federalist who wasn’t by some coincidence also on board with the conservatives regarding either (a) undiluted power-seeking, (b) social/cultural issues, or (c) big-m-Military issues, so-called patriotism, aka nationalism. the passion for “federalism” is, IMO, largely a ploy to provide cover for one or more of those beliefs. and now that the republicans/social conservatives/big military folks’ve got power, they can use the federal government in the ways they want. for instance, building up the big military and policing the world. implementing their social/cultural values (related to god, gays, women, and keeping a big class of poor people who will work for cheap and are hopefully mostly dark). in other words, they can ditch their lame cover story like they ditch their first wives when they hit 40 or get sick.

    you want some refined pleasure out of the next 4+ years, or however long these folks are really strongly in power? watch the conservative intelligentsia elite doing backflips to justify to themselves the turn away from the conservative banners of yesteryear. self-proclaimed “smart” folks like to think that we (yes, i’ll include myself) are more immune to self-deception because, well, we’re smart. we read and we gather information. so our opinions are better than most, and more likely to be right.

    wrong, wrong, wrong. self-proclaimed “smart” people are just as subject to self-deception — self-deception is a basic human coping skill, and we’ve all got it, because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have made it very far as a species. but intellecshuals are especially subject to it, because we are self-deceived on a meta level. folks who don’t think of themselves as especially brilliant know they can get the wool pulled over their eyes, and are, consequently, a little more willing to hear it. it doesn’t destroy their self-image to realize that, oops, someone pulled the wool over their eyes, or they were wrong. but folks who think they’re really smart, really, really hate to admit they were misled, or simply wrong.

    so, fun and games for the next four years: watch the conservative intelligentsia — the true believers in “small government” and “federalism” — watch them doing backflips to explain and rationalize and justify, or excuse or avoid believing, or deny. some of them may run out of steam & finally maybe some of them will eat crow. fun for the whole family.

    (of course i know that some will turn this analysis on me. no way to know who’s right but to march on & see. but i’m happy to make some friendly wagers…)

  • the dem party apparatchiks — and a lot of people who cared, and the media — will be looking for someone to blame. fuck that, too. this isn’t a time to tear ourselves apart. we fought a pretty good fight — and by we, i mean the dems and the non-dems who decided to ally ourselves with them.

    • some will blame kerry: he wasn’t an inspiring candidate, he didn’t fight, he flip-flopped, blah blah blah. kerry was fine and he fought as well as anyone could. he wasn’t a flip-flopper any more than anybody else was — that was just a pure republican tag job, and I refuse to go along with it. frankly, the republican campaigners are just dirty fighters who are unashamed to use naked claims to bigotry, fear, and jingoistic nationalism. And unashamed to lie and smear people’s personal character.

    • Or, Kerry was never “one of us”, he wasn’t left enough, he wasn’t a true anti-war candidate. Duh. He’s a Democrat, and contrary to the National Journal, being in the “most liberal” in part of one session on a hand-selected set of issues, doesn’t make you all that extremely fucking liberal. To this I say: Kerry was a liberal centrist who had a variety of positions across the spectrum as do all people. Maybe a “true” anti-war candidate — had we been able to find one! — would have done better in some ways, maybe worse in others. I honestly just doubt it would have made that much of a difference.

      I thought I would like to have a beer (well, a glass of wine) with him. He’s thoughtful. He values the environment. He values dissent. He values criticism of the government. He values gathering information. He values people’s individual liberties. Does he really value social justice? On some level, I imagine he does, although it’s clearly not the same vision of social justice I have. Is he anti-military and anti-war and anti-violence? Clearly not. So what? The population of North America isn’t going to elect Noam Chomsky to the presidency nor is it about to dissolve government and create an anarchist utopia. … So he’s not me. That’s okay. I don’t want a perfect leader. I don’t even want a leader. But in terms of finding someone credible who could get Bush out of office, he did a pretty good job. He almost beat those fuckers.

      And btw, if you’re harboring dreams of glory from “better” candidates who were a better ideological fit: A) please remember, that you’re not, ever, going to get a candidate running for president who is a perfect ideological fit. For my part, as I said, I don’t even want a president — but it’s not like I have a choice in the matter.

      And B), what were our choices of lesser evils? Dean was not a true anti-war candidate; he was anti-Iraq War, but not a “peace” candidate generally. Dennis Kucinich was not a dream candidate either — he “flip-flopped” on abortion in a rather political way. And last but not least, Nader, who irritated me in 1996 and 2000 with his casualness about civil rights and individual liberties, did not please me any more in 2004 with his abandonment of his building-a-strong-third-party line. I’ve supported all three of these guys at different times in 2000 and 2004, but let’s not go crazy & talk about how fabulous these boys were. They had some good things going on but by no means were perfect — and do you expect perfection from someone so bought into the system that they’re running for president? So far as candidates go, Kerry had some pretty good things on his side: he fought US militaristic corruption in the 70s (VVAW) and 80s (Iran-Contra, BCCI). That’s more than Dean did. He cares more, and knows more, about civil liberties than Nader, in my opinion. And I have nothing to say about Dennis, except that even though he’s some sort of quasi-green, he never really managed to sweep me off my feet. (Although if I were registered Dem I would have voted for him in the primary, to send a signal.)

    • Or: Kerry didn’t have values, didn’t communicate them. Yeah, I think he could have done a better job at making the social justice values and the values of tolerance more vividly to Americans. But candidates aren’t perfect and he did the best he could. Frankly, it seemed to me that he was a pretty good guy, although I disliked some of the things he stood for. His communications team could have been better. But I’m not inclined to rip them too hard for that.

    • Kerry made a mistake in picking Edwards. Again, not the reason we lost. I personally didn’t like Edwards, since he seemed slick & disengenous to me. (Not in the way Clinton was slick, since he didn’t seem slick, you just knew he was.) But Edwards brought some good things to the ticket and I don’t think he’s the reason we lost. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe not. I kinda don’t think it really mattered: It’s all in how it’s packaged. Bush picked Cheney because he needed gravitas, meaning, he needed to make it look like someone knew what the fuck they were doing. And indeed Cheney gave him that. But that was a major weak point: that Bush needed to pick a vice president who could govern, because he so plainly couldn’t? In other words — any tactical decision including the VP pick covers some weaknesses & exposes others. So it ultimately comes down to how you package things, and the Republican party apparatchiks are pretty good at packaging things. … That, and the fact that Americans don’t really vote for the VP.

    • Gay marriage and/or Gavin Newsom. No, no, no. (And I’m not just saying this because I went to San Francisco to get married.) The Rovians had picked this issue as their wedge issue well before Gavin Newsom jumped on the bandwagon. He fanned the flames but he didn’t start the fire. Maybe it made a tiny bit of difference, but personally I doubt it. Were 136,000 or so Ohioans okay with gay marriage in Massachussetts but not okay with Gavin Newsom? Nah, I’m not buying it. The Republicans were trending this way ever since Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence set the stages for “oh my god, oh my god, they’re going to get married” gay panic.

  • Karl Rove is not a genius. He’s just an asshole. Lots of people know that smearing lies and appealing to bigotry & fear “works.” It’s just most people won’t stoop that low, or have the better judgment to know that in the long run it fucks things up to pull that kinda shit.

  • It kills me that Republican talking points yammer on and on about Heartland values & liberal Eastern (I’ll take “coastal”, thank you) elites. Jon Stewart nailed this one: What’s more elite than thinking you’re the ones going to Heaven? [Daily Show 11/4] What’s more elite than defining yourself as patriotic and everyone else as America-hating? What’s more elite than setting yourself apart from the rest of the fucking world? What’s more elite than deciding that some people don’t deserve to not be tortured or that their lives aren’t worth as much as the lives of your countrymen? Assholes.

  • Oh the irony:

    • We are the ones that generate more federal dollars in taxation and they are the ones that take the handouts, and then bitch and moan about the federal government.
    • We are the ones that deal with the threats of terrorism and reprisal for US foreign policies. How dare they use 9/11 to justify their wars and then attack “liberal eastern elites”?
    • We are the ones who want gay marriage — how dare they try to foist their values on us? Are we making them marry same-sex partners?
  • Echo chamber, schmecho chamber. We knew we lived in echo chambers. That’s why some of us sometimes made an effort to get out and talk to other folks or read Fox News or whatever. We’ve just got to do it more. But you know what? It’s important to have our little salons of comfort where they serve tea and sympathy. It’s important to have refuges and places to talk with others to figure out the nuances of our ideas. And then it’s important to have reasoned discussions and compassionate contacts with people we don’t agree with on every issue because that strengthens our ability to argue, to reason, and reminds us that people are complex & wonderful (even when they’re fucked up & misguided). We’re reality-based and that means gathering lots of data.

  • Happy memories. Kerry wiped the floor with Bush in the first debate. Bush was revealed for what he is: a petty inarticulate person who is ideological, not thoughtful, and doesn’t like to be argued with. Seeing that bullshit “I’m a likable guy” pose destroyed was worth a lot to me. And, meanly, I hope the memory of that first debate comes back to haunt some of the folks who voted for Bush Tuesday.

  • i like that kerry refused to accede to clinton’s advice to stab queers in the back & support state anti-marriage initiatives. it confirms my sense that he’s a decent guy.

  • another election year rant: wtf is up with the catholic church hierarchy? how fucking hypocritical can they be? pretty hypocritical it appears. i was mad about this all year long, and would like it on (my personal) record. jp2 opposed the war on iraq, and the catholic church is anti-death penalty, but kerry gets dissed because he supports abortion rights and the rights of states to develop same sex unions. typical. i will just have to rant another day about the lame intellectual constructs that anti-autonomy conservatives devise to disguise their inconsistencies. but in the meantime see above for proto-rants about federalism and small-government conservatives.

  • For the first day or so i wanted to run and hide. Or secede. And maybe I still harbor secessionist fantasies. But you know what? We have a moral obligation to fix things. Because we who live here and are citizens have some power in this country, and the rest of the world doesn’t. They have to rely on us to do our part. And that means we have to bust our asses to organize, work, reach out, communicate, educate, listen, and sometimes fight. Because we can. And the rest of the world, and the trees, and the whales can’t. [The whales definitely can’t; the Ninth Circuit just said so.]

  • I’m not sorry I voted, and I’m not sorry I gave some money to the Dems, MoveOn, and Kerry, and I’m not sorry I worked to help protect the right to vote. No, it didn’t help us win. Yes, it was participating in a system of which I have significant critiques. Yes, it was a distraction from other kinds of organizing. But it was the right thing to do. I’m not going to castigate any who felt it illegitimate or unprincipled or inefficient or wrong to participate in electoral politics — but that wasn’t my calculation. My calculation was two-fold: One, this election, maybe this period of time, is one of those times when you pull together the coalitions you got, you ally with folks against the greater evil, and you get the biggest bastards out of the positions of power. Two, it is important to repudiate this administration in every possible way for its abuses of power. One vote among tens of millions is one more voice added to the millions who said no. It was no more or less effective than standing on the streets of San Francisco and saying no with thousands of others during the protests leading up to the Iraq War. Both are largely symbolic and both were absolutely vital during 2003-04.

  • I am glad, glad, I tell you, that those fuckers are going to have to deal with the next few years. I’m sorry that we will too, and I’m sorry that Kerry didn’t get a chance to go in and salvage it before another 4 years of damage was done. But the bright side is that they’re going to have to take 4 more years’ worth of heat when the shit hits the fan. (I guess it just takes some people a while to see that the fan is already spraying it their way.)

    So here’s my dream: I am really really hoping that their fucking miserable party eventually dies because of their extreme heinousness under the Bush years. I want Bush to go down in history the way Nixon did and Reagan should have (and will) — corrupt, lying, fuckers, getting worse and more extreme & more deluded with each passing decade until the Bush administration’s incompetence, incoherency, and disconnection with reality tipped the party over the brink into self-destruction. Out of which will rise (pray god) an energized left led by the Greens, an energized libertarian right led by the LP, a centrist Democratic party struggling to hold on to power, a minority fundamentalistic evangelical party (maybe the Prohibitionists). In a true multi-party system. This is my dream for the first half of the 21st century. After that, who knows? An international anarchist pacifist space movement heads to the stars.