Wherever the corpse is …

ἔσχατον: The Movie

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That’s the video from The Decemberists for their latest single “Calamity Song.” It’s based on the thermonuclear armageddon game devised by students at the Enfield Tennis Academy, which the students called “Eschaton” — from the New Testament term for the last day, the day of judgment.

That’s the source of the word “eschatology,” the branch of theology involving ultimate things and the end of the world. Both ultimate and end there in more than one sense of those words. (Of course, the term “eschaton” might be better known these days as the name of a sardonic blog about macroeconomics, Supertrains and the urban hell-hole of central Philly.)

All of which is to say that you really owe it to yourself to read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest at some point.

I recommend the use of three bookmarks: one for the main text, one for the endnotes in the back of the book (which are not optional) and one for page 223, on which you will find a chronology of subsidized time — something you’ll likely need to consult from time to time, as it were.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

In the current issue of Rolling Stone I note that the eminent Dr. Osbourne offers an alternative perspective to the one I advocated in our most recent Left Behind discussion.

This is from the “Ask Dr. Ozzy” column:

Q: I’m worried that the world is falling apart. What should I stock my basement with in case things turn really bad?

A: If things take a really bad turn, how the [frak] can you be so sure you’ll still have a basement? Stop being so paranoid, man. If you think the world’s about to end — which it ain’t — you should be worrying about how much fun you can have before the [skata] hits the fan, not how you’ll survive when the beans run out and your gran turns into a zombie.

So my advice to the Tribulation Force is “flee to the mountains,” while Ozzy’s advice is “eat, drink and be merry.”

Those are two very different approaches, but we’re both quoting Matthew 24, and neither one of us is worried about putting the furniture into storage.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Mike Lofgren also sounds like he’s channeling Jesus’ “mini-apocalypse” from Matthew’s Gospel. After 28 years as a respected congressional staffer — including 16 years staffing the Republican House and Senate Budget Committees — he is heading for the hills, leaving the Capitol behind and prophesying that “all will be thrown down” in the desolating sacrilege to come.

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult” unveils the accelerating decline of the Republican Party. Lofgren’s diagnosis is grim. His prescription is …

Actually, Lofgren doesn’t offer a prescription. He regards this as a terminal condition. That’s why he left.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots. … But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired. …

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. …

Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some “other,” who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.

It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. …

It is the apocalyptic frame of reference of fundamentalists, their belief in an imminent Armageddon, that psychologically conditions them to steer this country into conflict, not only on foreign fields (some evangelicals thought Saddam was the Antichrist and therefore a suitable target for cruise missiles), but also in the realm of domestic political controversy. It is hardly surprising that the most adamant proponent of the view that there was no debt ceiling problem was Michele Bachmann, the darling of the fundamentalist right. What does it matter, anyway, if the country defaults? — we shall presently abide in the bosom of the Lord.

Some liberal writers have opined that the different socio-economic perspectives separating the “business” wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no fundamental disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far in that direction they want to take it. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age, the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. In any case, those consummate plutocrats, the Koch brothers, are pumping large sums of money into Michele Bachman’s presidential campaign, so one ought not make too much of a potential plutocrat-theocrat split.

Read the whole thing.

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  • P J Evans

    Ther’s also Charlie Stross’s Eschaton, which is described as a ‘weakly godlike being’. (Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise – he wrote himself into a corner and dropped that storyline.)

  • We Must Dissent

    In a moment of synchronicity, Tool’s “Aenima” came up on iTunes while reading this. If I were a fundie, I’d think God was trying to tell me something. But then that song probably wouldn’t be on my computer.

  • Carl Muckenhoupt

    The first time I saw the word “eschaton” was in the phrase “immanentize the eschaton”, a Discordian idea used in Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy. In that context, the phrase can mean either “bring awareness of ultimate things to the surface” or “work towards destoying the world”.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    It actually appears to come from a strange conservative theologian named Vogelein, who believed Gnostics, of all people, were at the heart of the evil satanic conspiracy. He defined it as the attempt to remake heaven on earth, which in true conservative fashion was considered a bad thing to do. Social programs, of course, were considered to immanentize the eschaton. 

  • Rikalous

    He defined it as the attempt to remake heaven on earth, which in true conservative fashion was considered a bad thing to do.

    Well, sure. Anyone who has a plan to bring about utopia is the villain. At best they’r ean antihero that could easily serve as a villain.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, I remember hearing it first from a guy who sort of dabbled in Discordianism (I don’t know how serious he was about it; we chatted on IRC but not about personal subjects too much).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, I remember hearing it first from a guy who sort of dabbled in Discordianism (I don’t know how serious he was about it; we chatted on IRC but not about personal subjects too much).

  • Carl Muckenhoupt

    The first time I saw the word “eschaton” was in the phrase “immanentize the eschaton”, a Discordian idea used in Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy. In that context, the phrase can mean either “bring awareness of ultimate things to the surface” or “work towards destoying the world”.

  • Mr. Heartland

    Regarding Lofgren, I promise not to make a habit of tooting my own horn, but I’ve already written down what I think about the increasing dogmatism and stridency within the conservative movement, and I’m simply too lazy to repeat myself here.  

    “It is only by securing a permanent ownership of  and right to define normality that they can be assured that they will never be forced to ask why, never be the deviants who must be put in their place.”

    http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/2011/07/meandering-thoughts.html

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “It is only by securing a permanent ownership of and right to define normality that they can be assured that they will never be forced to ask why, never be the deviants who must be put in their place.”

    Very true.  They are like panicked animals backed into a corner, angry and lashing out. 

    I am reminded of something that happened to a friend of mine.  A relatively young woman, attractive, with a few tattos which can be discrete when she wants them to be.  She works as a barrista, and was on break at work, at an outside table talking with a friend of hers.  I believe that they were discussing gay marriage, when someone walking by overheard their conversation, and felt compelled to jump in.  He told my friend that she was a deviant, represenative of America’s moral decay, and as far as he was concerned she should be considered a terrorist. 

    My friend said nothing, partly because she was caught-flat that someone could be so bald-faced about their bigotry, and partly because she was still in her work cloths and did not want to say anything that reflected poorly on her company.  The man left. 

    Later, she actually felt kind of good about what happened.  She figured, if she is seen as a dire threat by someone who idealizes an imaginary America defined by hate, bigotry, and fear, then she must be doing something right.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “It is only by securing a permanent ownership of and right to define normality that they can be assured that they will never be forced to ask why, never be the deviants who must be put in their place.”

    Very true.  They are like panicked animals backed into a corner, angry and lashing out. 

    I am reminded of something that happened to a friend of mine.  A relatively young woman, attractive, with a few tattos which can be discrete when she wants them to be.  She works as a barrista, and was on break at work, at an outside table talking with a friend of hers.  I believe that they were discussing gay marriage, when someone walking by overheard their conversation, and felt compelled to jump in.  He told my friend that she was a deviant, represenative of America’s moral decay, and as far as he was concerned she should be considered a terrorist. 

    My friend said nothing, partly because she was caught-flat that someone could be so bald-faced about their bigotry, and partly because she was still in her work cloths and did not want to say anything that reflected poorly on her company.  The man left. 

    Later, she actually felt kind of good about what happened.  She figured, if she is seen as a dire threat by someone who idealizes an imaginary America defined by hate, bigotry, and fear, then she must be doing something right.

  • Mr. Heartland

    Regarding Lofgren, I promise not to make a habit of tooting my own horn, but I’ve already written down what I think about the increasing dogmatism and stridency within the conservative movement, and I’m simply too lazy to repeat myself here.  

    “It is only by securing a permanent ownership of  and right to define normality that they can be assured that they will never be forced to ask why, never be the deviants who must be put in their place.”

    http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/2011/07/meandering-thoughts.html

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Interesting link to the writeup which notes that Republicans seem increasingly willing to apocalypt-ize their politics. It’s as though they’re embodying the notion that every conflict they get into must be worse and worse until the winner takes not just all, but the entire damn game board.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Interesting link to the writeup which notes that Republicans seem increasingly willing to apocalypt-ize their politics. It’s as though they’re embodying the notion that every conflict they get into must be worse and worse until the winner takes not just all, but the entire damn game board.

  • Anonymous

    There’s a string of senior housing projects called “Eskaton”.

    We have one up the block from me. The Eskaton Manor

    One of my coworkers used to crack up every time he saw the sign.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    When I think about Republicans and QUILTBAG people, this is one of the things that comes to mind. (Still shot from the movie The Living End)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    When I think about Republicans and QUILTBAG people, this is one of the things that comes to mind. (Still shot from the movie The Living End)

  • Matri

    But already in 2009, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader,
    declared that his greatest legislative priority was – jobs for
    Americans? Rescuing the financial system? Solving the housing collapse? –
    no, none of those things. His top priority was to ensure that Obama
    should be a one-term president.

    I am quite fairly certain that, should they succeed in this, a large number of them will be staring blankly going “Okay, now what?”
    They have put so much effort into slandering & vilifying Obama, the Democrats, the liberals, the economy, Muslims, Hispanics, Europeans, Asians, the UN, the poor, the infirm, the veterans, the medical profession, the scientific community, the middle-class…

    I honestly believe they have no idea what to do should they actually achieve their short-sighted goals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Good heavens, if only. I’m sure they’ve got a comprehensive plan for years to come, even if it’s only a big list of institutions and demographics to pick from when someone says “What next?” Meanwhile, anyone who disagrees with them or even looks at them sideways will always be targets of opportunity to help pass the time. In fact, that’s what I’m certain Obama is to them – a time-killing activity between periods of overreaching power, practice to keep the knives sharp and ready for any dissenters when they’re dominant again.

  • Matri

    So I’m overly optimistic. :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    I’m also a horrible pessimist when it comes to politics, so while I would greatly hope you’re right, I just have a hard time believing it.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I honestly believe they have no idea what to do should they actually achieve their short-sighted goals

    Oh, the rank-and-file might not have any idea, but I’m SURE their herders do.  Cut taxes, privatize things, cut welfare programs so they can get a little more government subsidies, keep the proles placated by making abortion just a _little_ harder to get…

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    That article by Mike Lofgren was making the rounds on Facebook the other day. I was kinda hoping Fred would happen across it. 

  • Anonymous

    My only response to Mike Lofgren is to paraphrase Driftglass. Liberals have been pointing all of that out for decades and no one payed any attention, but now it’s all serious because some expat conservative finally realized how much EVIL he was swimming in all of his adult life? Fuck Mike Lofgren.

  • Anonymous

    I totally hear you. I mean, it’s a good write-up and hopefully it’ll drag some people out of the deep end (not that I’m terribly optimistic about that), but there are people who’ve been saying this for freakin’ years and they’ve been ostracized as crazy partisans and fringe nutcases for pointing out that one of the major political parties has been taken over by sociopathic monsters.

  • Lori

     My only response to Mike Lofgren is to paraphrase Driftglass. Liberals have been pointing all of that out for decades and no one payed any attention, but now it’s all serious because some expat conservative finally realized how much EVIL he was swimming in all of his adult life? Fuck Mike Lofgren.  

     

    I understand the impulse, but I’m not sure I fully agree. This type of critique is pretty much always taken more seriously when it comes from inside and there are good reasons for that. In this case it’s blown out of proportion by the media’s lubricious definitions about who and what can be considered Serious, but I think there are still valid reasons why people tend to weigh the word of an insider more heavily than that of an outsider. 

    It reminds me of something that Ta-Nehisi Coates said the other day when talking about the broader issue of African Americans and patriotism:

     …it’s really hard to mount a credible critique of your nation
    from outside. You have to find something good in its native tradition. I
    don’t mean that cynically. I mean something you really love and believe
    in, and then build from there.  

     

    (The full quote and it’s context are in the comments of this thread http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/09/whitney-houston-meets-the-civil-war/244608/#disqus_thread)

    In the same way, someone who does (or once did) love and believe in Conservatism is logically going to be treated differently than a life-long Liberal. 

  • Matthew Funke

    Eschaton reminds me a bit of DEFCON, a real-time strategy computer game that came out a few years ago that loosely simulates global thermonuclear war.  It was strongly influenced by WarGames.  The makers were clear that this is a game where no one “wins”; the object is simply to lose the least.  Since I started to become aware of the world around me just in time for Reagan to escalate the arms race, nuclear exchange has become the sort of subsurface bugaboo in my psyche that quiet, festering fears turn into over time(*).  As such, I just had to order DEFCON, since facing fears is one way to conquer them.  I still get dark chills when bombs strike city targets and the display lights up to announce the megadeaths dealt by the blow.

    Of course, growing up in a form of Christianity that believed the end of the world was just around the corner (and was only too eager to do anything it could to get it to come faster) didn’t exactly help.  I admit that I found the kind of weird, airy, unconcerned attitude engendered by this kind of outlook unnerving, even when I was quite young.  The basic idea in my community seemed to be that nuclear weapons are nothing to worry about, since a catastrophe on that level could only be permitted once God ordered it Himself as part of his global judgment(**).  Try as I might, though, I was unable to convince myself that God would only allow global catastrophe to strike once — or, alternatively, that God was unable to make things even worse for humanity during the Great Tribulation than the most fevered nightmares of a post-nuclear planet might produce.

    All this makes for a very twisted understanding of God’s character that I’m still struggling to grow out of, in spite of the fact that I no longer believe those ideas about the end of the world.  It’s still awfully hard sometimes to trust Him, or to even want to.

    ———-

    (*) I note with some sadness that American Evangelical Christianity has little to say about fears like this, except to insist that one should toughen up, scrunch one’s eyes a little tighter, and whisper even more ardently how much you really, really believe in God and how really, really real your faith really is.  Of the many attributes that make outreach by a group attractive to the outsider or solace to the insider, as a general rule, RTC-ism seems sorely lacking in some of the basics, like compassion and comfort.

    (**) God likes to keep all of the fun for Himself, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, DEFCON is lovely. Its minimalism makes everything worse, somehow. No panicked news reports, no scenes of mass destruction, just some lights on a tac screen, some numbers, and Hong Kong is gone.

  • http://catherinesphotos.blip.tv Catherine

    On the Lofgren article, it reminds me of my parents talking about how they left the Republican party (Grandma did as well) a long time ago and went Independent.  The reason why?  The religious crazies took over. 

  • Lori

     Oh, the rank-and-file might not have any idea, but I’m SURE their herders do.  Cut taxes, privatize things, cut welfare programs so they can get a little more government subsidies, keep the proles placated by making abortion just a _little_ harder to get…  

     

    All the while blaming the treasonous Dem minority for anything that does go well or that voters don’t like. They proved themselves quite adept at that song & dance during the reign of Bush the Lesser. The GOP controlled the White House, both houses of Congress and SCOTUS and they still blamed all their screw up on the Dems. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    The GOP controlled the White House, both houses of Congress and SCOTUS and they still blamed all their screw up on the Dems.

    To be fair, a lot of us _didn’t_ clap hard enough for Tinkerbell.  :-P

  • Lori

     To be fair, a lot of us _didn’t_ clap hard enough for Tinkerbell.  

    It wouldn’t have mattered if every Liberal in the country had clapped like U of M fans* in the Big House** for the Ohio State game***. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and Bush’s policies were nearly all pig parts.  

    *University of Michigan fans tend to be….intense

    ** Nickname for U of M stadium, the 3rd largest stadium in the world. 

    *** Ohio State is U of M’s arch rival. I think it’s pretty much required that all U of M fans hate them, especially on the day of big game. 

  • HawkerHurricane

    It has been proven that *thinking* incorrect thoughts make Republican Economic Policy fail.

  • Matri

    The GOP controlled the White House, both houses of Congress and SCOTUS
    and they still blamed all their screw ups on the Dems.

    I find myself hoping, with increasing frequency, for a mass exodus of every single non-Republican coupled with a forced exodus of anyone not thinking exactly like them. And the ones who changed their minds after experiencing first-hand their fuckup-ery shall be forced to live the rest of their lives with it.

    Then I wake up. *sighs*

    but it is different coming from someone on the inside, and less easily
    dismissed by other insiders (not that they won’t dismiss it, but they
    have to do more to justify dismissing it.)

    It is very easily dismissed. They just NoTrueScotsman everything and sit back all smug like.

  • Emcee, cubed

    I understand the impulse, but I’m not sure I fully agree. This type
    of critique is pretty much always taken more seriously when it comes
    from inside and there are good reasons for that.

    This. And for a prime example, our illustrious host is in exactly this position. He is on the inside of evangelical Christianity, and can therefore make his arguments and reasoning appeal to other evangelical Christians. Sure, atheists and other non-Christians have been “pointing all of that out for decades”, but it is different coming from someone on the inside, and less easily dismissed by other insiders (not that they won’t dismiss it, but they have to do more to justify dismissing it.)

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and Bush’s policies were nearly all pig parts.

    Yeah, his confidants were dining on succulent sweet pork loins and flanks, then giving the rest of us the ears, snouts, and hooves.  

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    Yeah, his confidants were dining on succulent sweet pork loins and
    flanks, then giving the rest of us the ears, snouts, and hooves.

    Hey now, ears and pig knuckles are quite tasty if cooked right. The ears can get sorta gelatinous with crunchy cartilage inside. And I’ll take a liver now and then and maybe some tripe.

    Yeah, I know: the point is how unfair the division is. I’m just a bit hungry right now. And where’d the bacon go?

  • Lori

    On the issue of insider/outsider critique I do want to make a clear that I think there’s a big difference between critiques of policy vs critiques of party. Lofgren isn’t talking about the relative merits of supply-side vs Keynesian economics or how to structure the social safety net. He’s talking about how the GOP runs itself and how & why they lost effective control of their whackadoos and why that means that the GOP as currently structured is sending the country straight down the crapper. That’s the kind of thing where an insiders opinion will almost always carry more weight. 

  • Anonymous

    So who’s going to prepare Mr. Lofgren’s fatted calf?

  • Lori

    He’s not a Prodigal Son. More like an escapee. 

  • Anonymous

    I am not American but isn’t it duty for christians to help the refugees?

  • Emcee, cubed

    It is very easily dismissed. They just NoTrueScotsman everything and sit back all smug like.

    Well, yes, but I still see that as a slightly larger jump than “They don’t know what they are talking about, because they’ve never been a part of it” or “They hate us and want to destroy us”, which are the most common ones thrown at outsider criticisms.

  • Anonymous

    While I liked that article very much – it is very succinct and well-spoken in explaining the insanity of modern conservatives – it also makes me wonder why this Lofgren was a Republican in the first place, since he seems to disapprove of pretty much every single aspect of conservatism as I understand it.

    Mind you, old-timers keep telling me that while I’m too young to remember them, there used to be a different kind of conservatives. Ones that weren’t actually trying to tear down civilisation, because they *liked* civilisation, but who were just very, very cautious about doing anything to try to improve civilisation in case that accidentally made it worse instead. Possibly Lofgren is the first real life specimen I’ve ever seen of that breed?

    Of course, then I’m still confused as to why it’s taken him this long to realise that that is the polar opposite of what conservatism stands for today. I mean, conservatives worldwide have been batshit insane for, what, the last twenty to thirty years?

  • Lori

     Of course, then I’m still confused as to why it’s taken him this long to realise that that is the polar opposite of what conservatism stands for today. I mean, conservatives worldwide have been batshit insane for, what, the last twenty to thirty years?  

    Lofgren does seem to be old school Conservative—likes stability, very attached to tradition, is (or at least thinks he is) a big fan of the free market, thinks government will generally screw things up because of ______ fill in the blank error that afflicts government (but not private businesses), thinks the government should mostly stay out of people’s private business, etc.  

    I don’t know how long it’s been (if ever) since those people made up the bulk of GOP voters, but I’m old enough to remember when they ran the party. My observation is that the GOP collectively didn’t go full metal whackadoo until Clinton. Lofgren would have been working on the Hill for more than a decade at that point. He had virtually certainly been committed to GOP politics for many years before that because you don’t just walk into a Congressional staffer job. You do plenty of time in the trenches and in internships just to get your foot in the door. All that started for him during years when the GOP seemed to have the winning ideas. After that wet blanket Carter nearly malaised us to death the Gipper killed communism. Woo whoo. We were the end of history. Sure that was all untrue and Lofgren was totally wrong, but it’s not that difficult to see why. 

    It wouldn’t surprise me if he was well aware that things had taken a bad turn during the Clinton years, but when you’re in something and committed to it and making your living from it you don’t just walk away when things it a bad patch. You stay because you believe you can be more effective changing things from the inside than you can by leaving. You think it’s a temporary problem and after the whacky passes someone with a clue needs to be around to get things back on track. Also,if he stops supporting the GOP what’s he going to do? He’s not a Liberal and if you don’t vote GOP the Dems will win and things will get even worse. (Sound familiar?) 

    Those beliefs are no doubt at least partially self-serving, but they’re also at least partially true. We’ve all been there. Some of us are there right now. If you want to see a non-GOP version of the debate look at people talking about whether or not to leave the Catholic Church over the sex abuse scandal. Listen to people’s reasons for staying and continuing to give the Church money. Look at the endless, grinding debate among progressives about whether to support Democrats or try to mount a 3rd party challenge or primary Obama or whatever the big plan of the day is.  

    Lofgren’s article is about him having finally decided that there’s no saving the GOP. Not from the inside or the outside. He basically thinks they’ve hit terminal velocity and the forces acting on them will keep them at a constant rate of decent until they hit the ground. The fact that the Tea Party wasn’t a 9 days wonder seems to have been the last straw and I can see how that would do it. He’s at the end of his career and I imagine looking back over what he’s accomplished and doing the whole “what’s it all about Alfie?” thing that people tend to do at that point. That provides a kind of perspective it’s tough have when you’re in the middle of it all. 

    I still totally disagree with his politics, both those he holds personally & those of the party he now believes is a doomsday cult, but I give him some credit for saying his piece out loud instead of just slinking off and trying to pretend he hasn’t been working for nutters. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Lori: You know, I still do this day do not understand why the Republican leadership had a collective case of head-explodery (figuratively speaking) just because a Democrat (and a rather lukewarm southern Democrat at that) won the White House.

    It’s like the very idea that Communism began its slow implosion over the Reagan-Bush years gave the Republicans the magic right to own the White House forever.

    Oh yeah, to whoever –

    The Republicans, for all that they held the House and the Senate, faced a Presidential veto over any budget legislation and also were working with the tax rates set by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 – which not a single Republican voted for.

  • Lori

    At least when it came to the economy Clinton wasn’t even a lukewarm Dem, he was center-Right. My ex still thinks the GOPers hated him for beating them at their own game. 

    I’m inclined to think it had a lot to do with them thinking that they had a right to ownership in perpetuity of the South, if not the White House. I also think a strong element of Not Our Kind Dear classism was a major factor. Look at the way they talked about him, even years later. 

    Who was it who described the Clinton Administration by saying that they came in and wrecked the place, and it wasn’t their place? (I want to say Peggy Noonan, but she’s such a daddy issues-having Reagan brown-noser that I tend to guess her by default so I could be wrong.)  

    Whatshername Bradly complained endlessly about how they ruined the party circuit in DC, and by extension her place as Social Queen/Hostess With the Mostest, because they didn’t go out enough. 

    When the Bush folks moved in they talked endlessly about how the grown-ups were back and there’d be no more ordering pizza delivered at midnight and whatever else they pearl-clutched over. Because adults don’t eat pizza I guess. So half of them ate bbq and the other half ate caviar* and together they started two disastrous wars, let New Orleans drown and drove the economy into the ground. So, yeah for the classy grown-ups. 

    *I love bbq and I have nothing against people eating caviar if that’s what floats their boat.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    @Invisible Neutrino:

    @Invisible_Neutrino:disqus
     ‘m convinced that the Republicans had a massive meltdown for the following reasons:1) They genuinely feel entitled to rule. The idea of honest competition challenged their worldview in ways that they found frightening.2) Many Republican politicians are racists. Plenty ave said vicious things about Obama that are anti-black. Others are perfectly willing to promote racism and ignorance if it means that they can divide the country and get what they see as their throne back. (Hence things like the “birther” movement.)3) The Republican leadership insisted, right up to Election Day, that Obama had no chance; McCain had it all sewn up. Many polls insisted that McCain was wildly popular and would win in a walk.And yet Obama won. This, I think, is the scariest thing to the Republicans–the possibility that all of their forecasts and predictions and plans could go completely off the tracks. They have been fighting since then to limit the popular vote to prevent this from happening again.  But, fundamentally, I don’t think that reassures them. I think that they are terrified by the implication that any political battles might be won by the other side. 4) A lot of Republicans are fundamentalists with “last days” mentalities. This means that, to them, there is no casual political battle and that there can be no compromise. Everything is embued with vast significance; every struggle may be critical if the kingdom is to be saved.They are, basically, LARPers who have spent so much time with various gaming groups that they have forgotten that the entire world is not playing their favorite game. Even more than this–they are not aware, and would not believe it if anyone told them, that not only does most of the world not know about this game, most Americans don’t know about it and don’t care about it, either.Because of their massive sense that they are entitled to get what they want, because of the racism that some embrace and that others cynically exploit, because they cannot bear to be wrong, because the identities of many of them are wrapped up with their view of themselves as Christian warriors trying to bring the kingdom of Narnia America  back to faith and Aslan God, they were enraged by the unpleasant fact that their plans could fall through. They are, in their minds, the valiant, heroic paladins; how could God allow them to lose?And since the book of Job isn’t all that popular nowadays, the obvious answer was that evil helped Obama win. The Republicans have been repeating this ad nauseam since his election, many blaming evil and selfish people, others openly calling Obama the Antichrist. But they’ve been saying it. And I think that by now many of them have worked themselves into such a frenzy that they actually believe it.

  • Mr. Heartland

    3. “The Republican leadership insisted, right up to Election Day, that
    Obama had no chance; McCain had it all sewn up. Many polls insisted that
    McCain was wildly popular and would win in a walk.”

    To be fair about that point, every politician is always publicly certain about his pending victory.  It’s mostly ‘puffery’ in advertising jargon.  They want to do what they can to ensure their own supporters are motivated to go to the polls or maybe even cause some in the opposition to stay home out of despair.

    Confidence is of course a factor in any competitive enterprise, though it seems clear that those engaged in such enterprises, do tend to overestimate the importance of confidence.  This is doubly true with politicians with their tendency towards hubris.  ‘It is my positive energy and nothing more that moves my people to the polls to vote for me.’  So claims to certain triumph are boilerplate.  And following politics requires building a healthy tolerance for such claptrap.  

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Confidence is of course a factor in any competitive enterprise, though it seems clear that those engaged in such enterprises, do tend to overestimate the importance of confidence.  This is doubly true with politicians with their tendency towards hubris.  ‘It is my positive energy and nothing more that moves my people to the polls to vote for me.’  So claims to certain triumph are boilerplate.  And following politics requires building a healthy tolerance for such claptrap.

    True, though I think that many of the people who vote for such politicians on the basis of their confidence tend to invest a little too much of themselves into such rhetoric.  The more rational of them will realize it is a technique and accept it for what it is, the less rational of them will feel “cheated” if the candidate they believe in, who told them that they would win, does in fact, not win.  And because the candidate that they believed in cannot be wrong (because that might make the people who voted for them wrong by extension) it must be the fault of some other agency.  

    It leads to disaffected voters going, “Raaaah!  Me angry!  Tea Party smash!”  

  • Mr. Heartland

    Well sure, that’s true.  And it’s true that zealots for any cause always imagint an army of secret supporters, who only need one big display of power and determination to inspire them to come out of the woodwork and join the final triumph.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    I think Driftglass’ point was more towards the “they’re perfectly fine riding the gravy train into Hell until it goes too fast and they get shaken off” end of it. Refer to: David Frum. We’ve probably gotten to the point where tactics like ‘insider critique is more effective and harder to dismiss’ or ‘if Obama get angry then he becomes the Angry Black Man so he’s smart to play it cool’ would usually be right… but it doesn’t matter what we do or anything. It literally has no effect on the Teabaggers what we say or, especially, how we say it. See also: Trying to make nice with them. Might as well blaze away at them, then.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of pizza – that’s a laugh! Sonny Bono is reported to have had his aides order pizza in as a distraction when a committee meeting he was in had been going in circles for six hours and they needed a break. :P Sure enough the meeting adjourned when the deliciously oderiferous pies came rolling on in.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of pizza – that’s a laugh! Sonny Bono is reported to have had his aides order pizza in as a distraction when a committee meeting he was in had been going in circles for six hours and they needed a break. :P Sure enough the meeting adjourned when the deliciously oderiferous pies came rolling on in.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    1) They genuinely feel entitled to rule. The idea of honest competition
    challenged their worldview in ways that they found frightening.

    2)
    Many Republican politicians are racists. Plenty ave said vicious things
    about Obama that are anti-black. Others are perfectly willing to
    promote racism and ignorance if it means that they can divide the
    country and get what they see as their throne back. (Hence things like
    the “birther” movement.)

    3) The Republican leadership
    insisted, right up to Election Day, that Obama had no chance; McCain had
    it all sewn up. Many polls insisted that McCain was wildly popular and
    would win in a walk.

    Seen in that light, their hatred of Bill Clinton in less distilled form was a dress rehearsal. They couldn’t be racist against Clinton because he’s white, but he was willing to do more for blacks than Republicans would – trying to give them a shot at decent health care, raising taxes on the rich (which we all know means those people get more welfare in Republicanspeak), and other things which even the milquetoastiest of Dems believe in but Repiublicans don’t (such as separating school and religion).

    And I’m pretty sure they thought Bush the first would walk away with the Presidency in a heartbeat. He’d actually been President when the USSR imploded, and he’d gotten a huge approval rating kick from picking up a crappy little country and beating it up.

    Didn’t happen.

    And now, primed to go off like a Roman Candle when Dems win, the Repubs are turning it on full force for Obama – digging in their heels and doing everything they can to avoid turning the wheels of government so as to make Obama look bad so they can get back to cutting taxes for rich people.

  • Lori

     They couldn’t be racist against Clinton because he’s white, but he was willing to do more for blacks than Republicans would  

    It wasn’t just that he would do more for AAs, it was that he liked them and genuinely felt comfortable with them. Don’t forget that people referred to Clinton as our first black president. That was all part & parcel of why they held him in such contempt. 

    And yes, racism obviously plays a huge part in the Tea Party meltdown, but I think the meltdown would have been just as complete if Clinton had won. Misogyny runs as deep or deeper with plenty of people than racism does. 

  • Anonymous

    That last thing is part of the reason why I always roll my eyes when people disillusioned with Obama start implying that everything would be completely different if Clinton had won the nomination. Because, you know, hard-right wingers just adore powerful, prominent women. And if Clinton had won, then Joe Lieberman and the Blue Dogs would have turned into good little progressives, and the filibuster system wouldn’t have been broken, and wealthy special interests wouldn’t have had such a large role in controlling the political narrative.

    Oh, and no one would ever spread paranoid conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton. Nope.

    There are definitely situations where Clinton might have been an improvement but some people are naive when they suggest that the same elements that sandbagged her when Bill Clinton was in office wouldn’t have resurfaced again. With Obama, at least they had to come up with some new material; Clinton already had people who believe that she is a serial killer (and I wish I were making that up, but I’m not).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    4) A lot of Republicans are fundamentalists with “last days”
    mentalities. This means that, to them, there is no casual political
    battle and that there can be no compromise. Everything is embued with
    vast significance; every struggle may be critical if the kingdom is to
    be saved.

    Al Gore’s book explained some of this, too, as he introduced the meaning of a Manichean battle and why some people believe in it – this idea that two opposing sides are not in a good faith debate about the nature of society and the relationship of government and society, but are instead locked in a titanic death struggle akin to the battles of Greek or Norse gods of old.

    That, Gore pointed out, is dangerous because it takes away a major foundation of stability in a democratic system: the idea that politics is the good faith working out of a compromise between multiple points of view.

    I can’t believe Democrats haven’t figured this out by now. If they have, they’ve been spending a shitload of time spinning their wheels doing a shitty job of figuring out how to short-circuit this Republican obsession with politics as struggle (which, incidentally, is one characteristic of Ur-Fascism).

    I’m guessing if the Dems have figured this out, they’re either assuming that they can keep giving the Repubs enough rope to hang themselves, which by now is into the several-mile zone and would make Haman jealous, or they’ve decided to fig-leaf their policies with a little bit of surface decency while diving into the piggy trough of lobbyist dollars and taking the money and running.

    Neither is a very sterling view of what Democrats should have been strategizing for come the election of Barack Obama.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    No kidding.  It seems like either the Dems think that if they just capitulate hard enough THIS time, the GOP will listen to them NEXT time (which hasn’t worked yet, so it MUST be due!), or they simply don’t actually care about getting their alleged policies passed.

    Neither possibility makes me at all enthusiastic about voting for them.

  • Anonymous

    If someone really believes that they’re in Ragnarok or the Apocalypse or something like that, how do you defeat them within the context of a liberal democratic system? I agree that the Democrats capitulate way, way too often and need to start being tougher, but I don’t know how they can change the way the opposition does business. If people keep voting for the Bachmanns (and the Cheneys, for that matter) of the GOP, how do you go from ‘titanic death struggle’ to meaningful compromise and effective government?

  • Anonymous

    If someone really believes that they’re in Ragnarok or the Apocalypse or something like that, how do you defeat them within the context of a liberal democratic system? I agree that the Democrats capitulate way, way too often and need to start being tougher, but I don’t know how they can change the way the opposition does business. If people keep voting for the Bachmanns (and the Cheneys, for that matter) of the GOP, how do you go from ‘titanic death struggle’ to meaningful compromise and effective government?

    I guess the only way to defeat them would be only way you can do anything else… win a majority of the votes.  If they’re really that crazy, their craziness will soon become apparent, and most people won’t support them.  Of course, they may well then be so convinced that it is Ragnarok that they wholly reject the new government… at which time you stop them, by any means neccessary.
    That said, if there’s actually a crazy majority, it may well be time to find alternative citizenship…

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    …there is constant harping about somebody else, some “other,” who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis.

    EC Comics (1950s Seduction of the Innocent Satanic Panic)…
    Dungeons & Dragons (1970s-80s Satanic Panic)…
    Harry Potter (1990s-2000s Witchcraft Satanic Panic)…
    Who’s going to be the next Satanic Threat to Our Children?  My Little Pony?


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