“Semantics? I’m always up for some antics.” 79


Our politics has become a game of feigned outrage over purposeful misunderstandings of straightforward arguments made by someone completely different from yourself but no less convinced of their point of view.

How’s that for a high-calorie sentence?

It’s almost as if we are unable to stop fighting long enough to recognize how much we all have in common.  We have manned the ramparts for 40 years, firing salvo after salvo into the opposing forces across an ideological divide.  The culture warriors on the left and right see no signs of surrender so on they rage.

But are signs of surrender being missed all around us?

The republican party lost for two reasons this year – low republican turnout/enthusiasm and a transformational democratic candidate who captured the moderate conservative vote.  Both are obvious signs of surrender by the republican mainstream, even if the fringe elements still hold the pulpit and most of the power.

Seeing no obvious backing down in “the other side’s” rhetoric, the democratic faithful fight harder despite their president-elect’s example of the exact opposite.

For every vote Barack received from a republican, another republican stayed home allowing Barack to win by a healthy popular vote percentage.  The largest in decades.  That is a massive shift in the electorate in four short years.  I submit that this year’s election results should satisfy the democratic faithful that they are indeed the winners.  The culture war is over, though the cleanup period may take a little time.  “Liberals” can lay down their rhetorical slings and arrows for “conservatives” and get about the business of changing the country.

Relish the election of Barack Obama as both victory and vindication.

Barack certainly seems to have decided that was his mandate.  He totally changed the campaign postmortem narrative.  He doesn’t give a shit what people said during the primary and general elections.  The other democratic candidates and their supporters said stuff every bit as heinous about Barack as the republicans.  Including Lieberman.  Barack won by taking the high road at every turn.  That is the lesson we should all take from the election and act accordingly.

I know the liberal argument by heart already: “We have to smash republicans into the ground and grind them underfoot to ensure we never face this evil again!”

But we will face “evil” again if our only restorative measure is to grind a large percentage of our fellow citizens into the ground to accomplish progressive goals.  Progress can never be made in a time of recrimination.  I am not sure how the inherent contradiction is missed when the strategy says: “We are moving the country boldly into the future but first we need to destroy our enemies.”

Enemies who just happen to be their fellow citizens.  Some antics indeed.

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79 thoughts on ““Semantics? I’m always up for some antics.”

  • destor23

    I’m willing to give this a chance. The question for me is, what does Joe Lieberman do now that he’s been given his reprieve? Does he become more cooperative absent the tensions of the election? Does he do a better job as chairman of his committee? Aside from issues of the Iraq war, where we know he doesn’t agree with us around here, does he prove to be a valuable member of the caucus, giving something to us even as we disagree with him on the war?

    We’ll be able to measure whether or not this works.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      All great questions and things we need to stay on top of as Obama negotiates this new environment he is creating.

      I think shifting priorities at State and Defense will completely change the tone and tenor of what comes before his committee. Will the guy always play ball? Probably not. He has some crazy ass opinions. Extreme mindsets on both sides of the aisle will be mitigated by moderates finding common ground as Obama implements his platform.

      Ultimately, it will be the voters who change Congress if we can finally wake up and turnout for primary elections. That is our country’s Achilles Heel right now. We need to rename the General Election to the Secondary Election. That way the Primary Election will have the rhetorical significance it requires to get something done about intractable incumbency.

      I am not going back to sleep or shutting up. I spent too long on childish pursuits as it is, while my country fell to pieces around me. I hope that this year represents the electorate finally taking responsibility for their place in our Constitutional compact and acting accordingly.

      Who better to lead that renaissance than a constitutional scholar and community organizer? Creation has both a sense of humor and justice sometimes.

  • Tom Wright

    The wrong that should be righted is the abuse of executive power by the White House, but since too many in Congress were sucked into the mania for war it won’t likely happen.

    The legislation enacted by the Republican Congress is the proper role of elected representatives and it is wrong to hold anyone as guilty for doing their jobs. But the corrupting of executive-branch agencies by political hires is another thing. That can be addresses without attacking Republicans in general; it was the actions of the White House. And many in the not-so-grand-these-days Old Party want little to do with Bush.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That’s the conundrum, Tom. The American people have aided and abetted some fairly heinous acts by our elected leaders since before the ink was dry on the Preamble.

      Hell, the blood on the hands of the current generation of voters alone is enough to choke the conscious of anyone with half a heart and should make any self-proclaimed progressive deeply ashamed at their own failure to constrain our government.

      Is now the proper time to make an example of a single administration in a long line of criminals if it means not accomplishing Barack’s very ambitious agenda? Can’t we simply allow a President Obama to change the standards by which we operate and move boldly into the future with the past only as an object lesson?

      “We will never let that happen again!” is a more powerful rallying cry for a nation in transition than “Off with their heads!”

      • brantlamb

        “For every vote Barack received from a republican, another republican stayed home allowing Barack to win by a healthy popular vote percentage. ”

        Have you got any stats to back that up? I find that a doubtful figure, as it would mean that even if all of the difference in voting was due to moderate conservatives, you’re saying only 3% of the population were moderate conservatives that broke for Obama, as Obama’s total percentage represents his normal due plus these people, and McCain’s represents his normal due, minus these people; that means that 2 times these people = 6%, so these people represent only 3%.

        I suspect (because of high participation figures) that actually what happened is that the dedicated right wingnuts did vote, and so did nearly everybody else, and since the Republican’s position on damn near everything and everything was unadulterated horseshit (including both McCain and Palin), many reasonable conservatives couldn’t vote for them.

        This is the really scary thing about this election, that should scare us for the future: Bush was “epic fail”, McSame welded himself to Bush’s butt, McCain picked up a dumb sack of hammers in Palin, AND HE STILL GOT WITHIN 6 PERCENT.

        I submit: if this doesn’t scare you, you’re not paying attention.

        • CVille Dem

          What you said is exactly what I can’t get out of my mind. Actually, I secretly hope that the issue was racism and that Obama’s successful presidency will lay that to rest. But you hit the nail on the head. How did so many people walk into their voting booth and vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin to run this country?

          Anyway–Wheeeeeeeeeeee! We won. Let’s just do whatever we can to make it work!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          We only had 64% turnout for this “epic and historic” election. After eight years of Bush. That number scares me worse than any other. That means 36% of the country still think voting doesn’t matter.

          Of course this isn’t all perfect numbers as we lack a mechanism to get them and it wasn’t meant to be anything more than an explanation for his margin of victory despite what is still a pathetically low turnout for a modern democracy.

          I am saying that Barack won a convincing majority that included moderate republicans. I am saying that a different candidate for either party would totally change the dynamics of the election. That McCain got as many votes as he did shows that “progressives” have a huge amount of work to do in order to convince a large chunk of the country.

          This lesson doesn’t appear to be lost on Obama.

        • Chris Brown

          I think the error in your analysis, though I really don’t know about this stuff, is the fact that the democratic turnout was up, from 2004, and republican turnout was down.

          Here are excerpts from an American University analysis of voter turnout.

          A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout. The percentage of eligible citizens voting Republican declined to 28.7 percent down 1.3 percentage points from 2004. Democratic turnout increased by 2.6 percentage points from 28.7 percent of eligibles to 31.3 percent. It was the seventh straight increase in the Democratic share of the eligible vote since the party’s share dropped to 22.7 percent of eligibles in 1980.

          Gans attributed the GOP downturn to three factors: 1) John McCain’s efforts to unite the differing factions in the Republican Party by the nomination of Governor Sarah Palin as vice-presidential nominee was a singular failure. By election time many culturally conservative Republicans still did not see him as one of their own and stayed home, while moderate Republicans saw the nomination of Palin reckless and worried about McCain’s steadiness. 2) As events moved towards Election Day, there was a growing perception of a Democratic landslide, discouraging GOP voters. 3) The 2008 election was a mirror image of the 2004 election. In the 2004 election, the enthusiasm level was on
          the Republican side. By Election Day, Democratic voters were not motivated by their candidate but
          rather by opposition to President Bush, while republican voters had a much greater liking for their standard bearer. In 2008 and according to polls from several sources, by at least 20 percentage points, Obama enjoyed stronger allegiance than McCain. Even the best get-out-the-vote activities tend to be as successful as the affirmative emotional context in which they are working. In 2004, that context favored the GOP. In 2008, it favored the Democrats.

          I think the other thing to realize is that 6% is a fairly substantial margin in a presidential election.

          Another thing to realize is that roughly half the population of the USA could give a shit, and is uninformed and disinterested. To wit the percentage of the population which continues to believe that Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks and that Iraq and al Queda were in league.

          During times of economic distress more people pay attention.

  • TheraP

    Lovely post, jem. Yes, can we please stop the culture wars? And will that include “holiday” as a seasonal term?

    Excellent title for the post, by the way!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks! I love that movie and that line has always resonated. As a devout agnostic, I am all for whatever greeting makes you happy. I am no more offended by Merry Christmas than I am by Good Morning.

      • TheraP

        I am a believer – with one part of me. But an agnostic in another way…. in that you can’t prove or disprove…. the object of faith.

        As far as the “holidays” go – I’m ok with whatever greeting people want to give. And I’m not thrilled with fighting over it.

        • NickthePick

          I too am an agnostic. And I appreciate Joseph Campbell’s wonderful admonition to “follow your bliss.” I don’t give a damn what manner of bliss starts the engine of Evangelicals, but I believe we should continue to resist their efforts to turn their version of “God’s word” into public law that the rest of us have to follow. To ignore them is to what live in what Jean Paul Sartre called mauvaise foi, bad faith. “And fear,” Sartre wrote, “has an aroma the gods find delicious.” We need to do what Obama can’t do in his need to bring the country together in a post-partisan effort to address the consequences of a folly perpetrated by ideological morons. We need to continue the fight. As the cliche goes, use it or lose it–by that I mean secular government, separation of church and state, which is fair to everybody.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Evangelicals are not trying to impose God’s word on anyone. That would be the very small (and shrinking) percentage of fundamentalists. I know it can be confusing, but those are two completely different type of Christians.

      • The Old Grouch

        I am no more offended by Merry Christmas than I am by Good Morning.

        Well, that’s a start. Now will you please have a word with those who insist that unless the word is in fact “Christmas” it is somehow Satanic in intent? It it their nonsense we’re addressing here.

          • The Old Grouch

            To which I would counter that claiming there is such a thing as a “war on Christmas” is either the zenith or nadir (how ’bout them semantic antics?) of foolishness, and that resisting such attempts to demonize making something a bit more “generic” (read: inclusive) is in fact a noble effort.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            It’s not that advocating a generic term is more inclusive and noble.

            It represents the ideological equivalent because it is the opposite extreme. Why say anything at all? That would seem to represent a true agnostic point of view.

            I think the notion of inclusiveness in all things misses the essential beauty of all our differences.

          • BH

            The thing is there’s this false equivalency in the so-called War on Christmas. Sure, there are two sets of frothy types: those who rage that Christmas can’t be watered down at all, and those who want to get rid of all references to Christ during the season. The difference is that on one side the frothy types are prominent pundits and/or politicians and on the other side they’re pretty much nobodies. I.e., they’re mainly fighting an imaginary war. (Of course, I don’t think it’s by accident. It’s done to get viewers and/or votes.)

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Granted, the crazies on the right have been driving their half of the conversation for too long.

          • TheraP

            Oooh…. I’m liking this more and more.

            I may add my idea here for how to “not give” “holiday gifts” this year:

            Find a catalog of gadgets and gizmos and give that instead. Along with a card that says you wanted to give this or that crazy gizmo… and tell them to enjoy looking through the catalog and being grateful they didn’t have to pretend gratitude for all the crazy gadgets.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      In a perfect world you would join the republican party in NC and start a progressive conversion among moderates in both parties. Might be an easier sale than: “Hey, everyone, let’s be democrats!”

      • CVille Dem

        Does this mean I should take my “Wall of Shame” off my kitchen wall? It has all the best cartoons, articles, and even a fake movie poster with Bush and Condi looking like lovers, and Cheney, Rummy, the elder Bush, and Saddam in the background. The wall is a freaking piece of art!!!!!!

        Do I really have to take it down? My real estate agent tells me I have to take it down before I put my house up for sale. Can I wait ’til then, Jason? Please say yes!

        Never mind. You are right. I’ll take it down right after Thanksgiving. Thanks for the post.

  • TheraP

    This is sort of off topic. But I’m either going to do a blog on it or maybe people here have some ideas.

    But I have a question about curtailing the unitary executive. Definitely I want the Constitution and Rule of Law as primary. And the balance of powers. Definitely Congress needs to step up to the plate. But here’s the conundrum for me from an ethical stance: If Obama reverses all the Executive Orders, which are out of line, does that reinforce the ability of the president to have all that power? Or might there be a way in which Obama recognizes the need to do that and requests Congress’s approval or some kind of constraints on that?

    Anybody have any ideas? This is seriously concerning me here. I want them all done away with. I’m glad Obama intends to act quickly on this. But at the same time… what guarantees do we have that his “reversal” isn’t another way of using that same power?

    Should this be a separate blog? Or has it already been discussed?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I’d say throw a blog out there addressing the concern, but I find no ethical dilemma.

      Our way of governance is equal parts codex and precedent. Congress enabled and enacted laws to set the Unitary Executive precedent. It is neither right nor wrong, simply a modification of the original contract.

      I’d say Obama using those same powers to undo the damage to the Constitution is poetic justice.

      Perhaps what we really need to discuss is the long-overdue need for a Second Constitutional Convention. Thomas Jefferson would be morally offended by the idea of our original documents more than 230 years with a total revision. His recommendation of rewriting the compact once a generation might have yielded great benefits by now.

      The more I learn about what our nation could have been with slight adjustments here and there, the more interested I am in helping to define what it becomes. It really doesn’t take much to change the course of a nation.

      • TheraP

        I may do a blog. And maybe it’s not just the ethical question. Maybe it’s the question of whether this sets a precedent for down the road – with regard to abusing that type of power. I like your idea of the reconvening the Constitutional Convention. Indeed, if we had a Prime Minister, instead of a president, that might solve the problem of the unitary executive right there.

    • CVille Dem

      Did you see the Organizational Chart that the Obama administration published? It was on the front page here one day. Josh pointed it out, because at the top of the chart, ABOVE the President was —wait for it—-

      THE CONSTITUTION!

      You bring up a good point, that Obama’s pitching OUT Executive Signing Statements is in itself, an exercise in power, but I am willing to give him credit, and hope that he will figure out a way to restore the Constitutional way of doing things.

  • San Fernando Curt

    I would feel a loooot more comfortable had the election been a clear repudiation of the neoconservative wing of conservativism. Although this mutant mindset has dominated the right for almost three decades (“They’re SO intellectual, dont’cha know?”), it has a way of escaping disasters scot-free. Now NYT’s David Brooks can define the future battle for the GOP as a game of inches between neocons like himself and neocon “useful idiots” like Sean Hannity. By characterizing the Republican split in these very incestuous, very benign terms, Brooks has reinforced (he thinks) the invalidation of the paleoconservative Right. Traditional, small- government-antiwar Republicans are the new “disappearing commissars” – they simply don’t exist.

    Let’s face it: This country needs a viable, REAL Right; a political regime without opposition is one ultimately defined by oppression. The neocons are spores – burned out of one infestation they migrate to new hosts. Please tell me how liberal hawks like Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross are going to change our ugly, militant foreign policy one iota!

    Describe how! Please!

      • San Fernando Curt

        …And he’ll be one pressured Decider. Here’s what The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb posted yesterday, gushing “Hail Hillery”:

        On the issues, Clinton’s a hawk. Not only did she vote to authorize the war in Iraq, she delivered her vote in style – her floor speech on October 10, 2002, went so far as to connect Saddam to al Qaeda… On matters of diplomacy, Clinton’s views are not so different from those held by John McCain and most Republicans – and they are certainly well to the right of Obama.

        Remember: This comes from a guy who was a McCain campain heavyweight. That “Obama will take care of everything” reply has become a stock – and meaningless – posture.

          • San Fernando Curt

            Goldfarb? Delusional? Si! Representative of a destructive faction still venomous after taking a hit Nov. 4. Si, tambien!

          • Jason Everett Miller

            It will take a couple of election cycles to change the republican party. What will finish the job is a super successful Obama administration and a democratic party grounded in the same pragmatic and non-partisan fashion as their president.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think changing the republican party will be a matter of Obama raising the bar and a more aware electorate. I can’t see mainstream republican voters putting up with useful idiots being in charge anymore. While Hannity and Rush and Brooks wax poetic about the war between reformers and traditionalists, the party itself will change at the grassroots as this sorts of things always do.

  • brantlamb

    “I know the liberal argument by heart already: “We have to smash republicans into the ground and grind them underfoot to ensure we never face this evil again!”

    That never works out to what the liberals actually do, though (except when the behavior is actually criminal rather that skinflint); given the chance, liberals work to outperform the conservatives in what the government, under their auspices, delivers to the average citizen, thereby engendering good will and citizen loyalty to the liberals.

    Even the extreme wingnut Republicans themselves understand this, even though it’s shot through their Scrooge-tinted glasses, read the screeds by the ultra-right-wing about the “welfare state” that FDR “engendered” and you’ll see that the Republicans think that the US electorate are spoiled babies that have been bribed by the “welfare state”. They think this is the Democrat (the way they spell it) Party pandering to weak-need voters. It isn’t, it’s just trying to serve the populace, in the ways only a government can, but the “Social Darwinists” can’t get that some of us might be attached to the people (even if only theoretically) that would let die, or not prosper, or whatever might happen to them.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      “Liberals” haven’t done anything you cited since Johnson at least. “Liberals” have been every bit as responsible for this country’s downward spiral over the last 30 years as republicans. As long as you assume that only “liberals” was what is best for this country, the argument will never move from the minefields of the past to the more fruitful discussions of the future.

      • Tankard2

        “Liberals” have been every bit as responsible for this country’s downward spiral over the last 30 years as republicans.

        Would you mind naming a few of those liberals for us?

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Tip O’Neil, Ted Kennedy (who gave us Reagan. Thanks, Ted!) etc, etc, etc. They marched in lock-step with the Reagan Right and the Rapture Right. They were cowards and didn’t have the courage of their convictions.

          • Tankard2

            Well, at least you did manage to NAME one liberal. And I suppose from your extreme-right position, Bill Clinton does look like a liberal, so I’ll let that pass.

            But I can’t forgive your ridiculous claim that Ted Kennedy has “marched in lock-step with the Reagan Right and the Rapture Right.” I realize that ANY liberal who runs against a conservative like Jimmy Carter is a villain to you and your party, but really…

          • Jason Everett Miller

            A liberal who is so far left that he causes a good man to lose the presidency is indeed suspect as to his motivations. Kennedy himself has shown remorse for the results of that action.

            You call me “far right” in what has to be the most ridiculous thing you have said on this blog. There isn’t a single thing about my political positions that is far right. Bill Clinton was a democrat, though certainly no “liberal” as you define it. The quote was democrats were every bit as responsible for our problems.

            You are so lost inside your hatred of the right that it clouds your ability to comprehend complex arguments as well as robbing you of any moral high-ground that your progressive ideas may once have entitled you to.

            Sad.

  • Lux Umbra Dei

    Jason, You and I know each other’s arguments by heart by now. But in this essay you bring out a new argument:

    “I submit that this year’s election results should satisfy the democratic faithful that they are indeed the winners. The culture war is over, though the cleanup period may take a little time. “Liberals” can lay down their rhetorical slings and arrows for “conservatives” and get about the business of changing the country.”

    Well, elections don’t settle the culture wars. The large block of GOP values voters are still out there and we will feel their presence as soon as 2010 in the midterms. The GOP infrastructure of think tanks, talk radio shows, conservative millionaires, PAC’s and NGO’s is still around. The GOP has suffered a setback but I don’t think they are finished or reformed by the last two national elections.

    Perhaps we felt after Clinton won his second term that we had seen the last of demagogic right wing GOP’ery; but elections don’t finish them or moderate them. They simply become more bitter in exile and this is our historical experience of them.

    Your last argument deserves some attention also as you have made this several times before in previous posts but no-one to my knowledge has unpacked it.

    “But we will face “evil” again if our only restorative measure is to grind a large percentage of our fellow citizens into the ground to accomplish progressive goals”

    A tad hyperbolic! I don’t believe I have heard anyone here at TPM or elsewhere advocating that our repugnance of the GOP ruling elite should extend to the GOP rank and file voters. Much less grinding them into the ground!! Yes, I would love to expunge the modern GOP party. But I would leave its voters alone. If you don’t see the difference: consider an unaccredited college diploma mill, that issues worthless degrees. They get a lot of unwitting customers-students who pay tuition only to find later that their baccalaureates aren’t recognized anywhere. I want to expunge that diploma mill. I have no animosity toward the students. The modern GOP is precisely like such a fraudulent operation and it dupes its own supporters with front-end demagoguery on hot-button issues, but back end regressive economic policies that have resulted in exactly what we are seeing now.

    Not to mention their decades-long campaign to effectively neuter the people’s government and take away our right to regulate economic activity in our own country!

    So I support your hope for reconciliation and reform of the GOP, but I also can’t perform an excision of recent history and believe they have become something they haven’t been since Eisenhower and their moderates, briefly, in power.

    • Lux Umbra Dei

      So, given my argument(s) above, what is to be done with the GOP?

      By all means we should make every effort, consistent with our core non-negotiable values (assuming we have any left), to bring as many GOP power-holders into our new coalition. I see that already going on and more power to it.

      Simultaneously we should continue to assuage the worst fears of the GOP rank-and-file voters that the world is not coming to an end. Barack is not the Anti-Christ, the guns are safe, forced abortions will not become the law of the land, all payroll checks will not be confiscated and redistributed to aggrieved minorities-and all the other similarly crazy forecasts being bruited about by the GOP-in-exile media machine even as we type our civilized comments here.

      We will not pursue scorched earth policies against them as they did to us. We won’t force them to hold subcommittee hearings in the basement of the House as they did us. We will not try to force K Street to see only Democratic legislators on pains of retribution, as they did us. We will not attempt to change the rules of the Senate to destroy their filibuster powers, as they did us. And we will not fraudulently use the DOJ to pursue them politically on trumped up prosecutions, as they did us.

      So Jason, we are going to turn a new leaf over in government, and the GOP should be very happy that we don’t serve them as they served us and the reconciliation effort can be mounted with good results for the country.

      I hope.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        I guess my main argument is that despite the immediate aftermath of the election, the idea that the republican party won’t change as a result is dangerously limiting.

        I think this election did indeed lay to rest the culture wars of the 1960s and should allow the democrats to back off their rhetoric a bit. You know as well as I do that attacking the “republican elites” will be seen by rank and file voters as an attack on them. It was seen the same way when the shoe was on the other foot.

        In this case, I think it is incumbent upon the winner to allow this country the room it needs to heal and that includes those so long duped by unscrupulous leaders on the right.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      PS: Clinton was the one who deregulated both the communications industry and the financial industry, so this notion that one party is responsible for this state of affairs while the other was some innocent dupe is misleading. We have been driven to this spot by representatives of both parties.

  • Tankard2

    The republican party lost for two reasons this year – low republican turnout/enthusiasm and a transformational democratic candidate who captured the moderate conservative vote.

    Absolutely, Jason. The Iraq debacle had nothing to do with Obama’s win. Neither did McCain’s age. No one considered the massive, nation-threatening recession into which your party has pushed this country. The manifest culture of corruption and dirty politics in your party had no effect, nor did the selection of an empty-headed but full-brassiered, foaming at the mouth misogynist secessionist. If anything, these factors improved the chances of the Republican ticket and those who sought to flee their coattails. No question about it.

    I know the liberal argument by heart already: “We have to smash republicans into the ground and grind them underfoot to ensure we never face this evil again!”

    No, the liberal argument is “Let’s stay active and verbal until we elect a president who shares our compassion and philosophy. If we ever do, it will be the first ibe since the bogeyman the Republicans use to scare their children: FDR.” Actually, your version of “the liberal argument” sounds quite a bit like your party’s attitude toward liberals. But I do agree with you that if “this evil” returns to power in our country in any significant way any time soon it will be the final nail in our system of government.

    So keep hatin’ on those liberals, Mr. Republican Reformer. That’s the way to build a consensus.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You’re right.

      The democratic party had nothing to do with our current state of affairs. Clinton didn’t repeal Glass-Steagall or sign Most Favored Nation with China or greatly increase the War on Drugs.

      Liberals never call people names or go off into frothing fits over real or imagined slights. They are perfectly reasonable and rational people who think their never proclaim their ideas are the only solution and anyone who differs must be evil.

      So keep on hating those “evil” republicans Mr. Liberal Stalwart. That’s the way to change a country.

      • Tankard2

        I’m sorry, but I don’t understand why you are using the atrocious behavior of still another conservative to go after liberals. Nor why you keep trying to tie me to the right-of-center Democrats. Nor what your entire first paragraph had to do with my comment.

        Republican “thinking” puzzles me mightily.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          You blame everything on republicans. So, it makes just as much sense for me to blame everything on liberals. I never called you a center-right democrat, otherwise we would probably not be at odds. You practice the same technique as the demagogues on the right – historical inaccuracy combined with a notion of infallibility. I am not surprised that you don’t understand.

          • Tankard2

            You blame everything on republicans.

            This is your (and your party’s) standard method of arumentation. Over-simplify and attack the messenger. Never mind the contradictions. For example, you and I have been going round and round about my problems with Obama’s policies. Yes, I know many of his policies make him look like a Republican, but I haven’t heard that he has changed his registration.

            You practice the same technique as the demagogues on the right – historical inaccuracy combined with a notion of infallibility.

            I might have an answer for this if it contained even a grain of substance.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Again, you use the methods that you accuse others of employing.

            “My party” is simply a card I filled out and a mission I set myself to help those republicans who decided to wake up this year and support Obama. My “arguments” are no different now than when I was a registered democrat to vote in the primary or an independent before that when I lived in Virginia.

            You simply seem to have a particular affinity for identity politics. Your tone has not changed one iota this entire election season. At least at TPM. You are no fan of nuance. It’s confusing apparently. I make all of my replies to you based on what you wrote, not some preconceived notion of who you are based on your political affiliations. I have no need to exaggerate because you prove my point with every comment.

            This blog pissed you off because it was written about your type of liberal – demagogic, dogmatic and disagreeable.

            I see no reason to point out the same about the far right because we have seen it non-stop for the last 30 years. Along with its democratic counterpart. It’s the very reason we haven’t accomplished anything progressive in this country since Johnson pushed for the last civil rights legislation to come before Congress.

            You are unable to stop fighting long enough to realize that your side one. Good luck with that stance as I suspect it will be on as much in decline on the left as it will be on the right. The bar is being raised for everyone, not just your “enemies” on the right.

          • Tankard2

            C’mon Jason. At least when you go ad hominem you could use a fact or two. Even your boy Karl knows better than to attack his victim without a few half-truths.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Not a single ad-hominem statement in there. Perhaps you should look the term up. Also, your continued insistence that I am some far-right automaton is laughable. You really do yourself a disservice by continuing to undermine your own arguments.

  • surlawda

    I know the liberal argument by heart already: “We have to smash republicans into the ground and grind them underfoot to ensure we never face this evil again!”

    If this is not entirely inaccurate, it is at least simplistic and misleading. The liberals I know are generally concerned more about their own party leaders’ demonstrated unwillingness to counter ill-advised, illegal, and immoral policies of the Bush administration. We want to see effective regulation of the finance industry, we want to see torture and domestic spying disavowed and those who have authorized it punished, we want in our government the desire and competence to respond to cope with Katrina-like disasters, we want to be told the truth about issues of war and peace. No one I know wants to smash Joe the Plumber into the ground. No one I know cares about him at all. What we care about is progress, not revenge. Culture warriors of the left??? You mean gays who want to marry? They should just give up the fight and realize how much they have in common with James Dobson? You mean those godless parents who object to creationism’s being taught in science class right next to evolution? You mean women who think what they do with their bodies should be between them and their doctors without any interference from the state? There is very little equivalency between culture warriors of the left and of the right, and it is absurd to suggest that we all just agree to get along when the problem for the past eight years has been the Democrat’s refusal to do anything but what the Republicans have wanted them to do. Simplistic and misleading? No. Completely inaccurate.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I mean the people who use rhetoric and rage instead of ration and reason. Culture warriors are defined by their methods. It has nothing to do with the issues, on which I mostly agree.

      You are looking for the financial regulations that a democratic president repealed to be put back into place? Great. Let’s do that. You want laws repealed that gave the executive too much power? Great. Let’s do that too. But pretending that Bush et. al. did was some sort of surprise to the legislators who wrote and passed the legislation that enabled it is naive at best.

      Yes. I am saying they should “give up the fight” and instead work toward actually getting something down. “Fighting” for progressive changes in a pluralistic is an oxymoron.

      Lasting progress comes through consensus and compromise not through combat.

      • Tankard2

        Let’s see. Which way to go with this?

        a) Here’s the thought: Most of what you write is twaddle. Not all. Some of it is simply puerile, trite, and would be boring if it were’t so full of hate for progressive principles.

        b) How does one apply thought to twaddle? How to contradict the the chatter from a magpie?

        c) Unfortunately, progress is often dependent on literal combat or combat in the figurative sense. The defeat of the German war machine in WWII is an example of literal combat. The near-elimination of polio is an example of the figurative. OTOH, much evil may come from compromise. Perhaps you’ve heard of Neville Chamberlain? Perhaps you remember the Obama vote on FISA earlier this year?

        Any of these is sufficient, but the original answer is far more succinct and effective. I.e.

        Twaddle.

  • Jason Everett Miller

    You pulling out the FISA compromise is very predictable. As is your Neville Chamberlain reference.

    If you had the comprehension skills of a gnat, you would have learned by now that I am a progressive. I bet you don’t know who I supported in the primary election because you also don’t know how to hold more than one competing thought in your head at any one time. I have no hate for progressive principles.

    Far-left loonies such as yourself are another matter.

    Though I wouldn’t call it hate as much as weary disappointment as they set out to hamstring Obama before he even gets out of the gate. Your ad-hominem attacks back up my arguments better anything I could actually write.

    This country was formed in compromise and consensus. Not sure what your non-sequitur references to World War II or polio have to do with anything, but they are hardly applicable to the discussion at hand. Progress, lasting progress, is formed through compromise.

    That seems so self-evident that I can hardly believe I am debating the fact with anyone over the age of three.

    • Tankard2

      A liberal who is so far left that he causes a good man to lose the presidency is indeed suspect as to his motivations.

      Fallacy 1. Kennedy was even one of the first five reasons Carter lost. Carter lost as the result of his disastrous handling of the situation in Iran both before and after the Islamic revolution and the hostage situation. Double-digit unemployment combined with double-digit inflation didn’t help much either.

      Fallacy 2. Kennedy’s leftism was the factor that motivated him to challenge Carter. Kennedy ran against Carter because that’s what politicians do when they want to be president and the incumbent is already a dead duck.

      Fallacy 3. Kennedy intended to have Reagan defeat Carter. This is simply more twaddle.

      One who claims to be the last-word expert in history might want to read some every now and then, particularly when in a discussion with someone who lived through it.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Didn’t say he intended for Reagan to win, but that was certainly the end result of his actions. Carter was plenty progressive and had Kennedy supported the incumbent president instead of challenging all the way to the convention, chances are Reagan would have fallen short. You are more than entitled to a different opinion based on the available facts.

    • Tankard2

      Sorry about the duplicate reply above.

      Wow, you have really fallen off the right edge of the world here, Jason. I really wasn’t expecting another insubstantial ad hominem attack.

      I think you need a time out. Let me know when you have calmed down and can speak civilly and rationally.

  • Tankard2

    If you had the comprehension skills of a gnat

    you also don’t know how to hold more than one competing thought in your head at any one time

    Far-left loonies such as yourself

    I can hardly believe I am debating the fact with anyone over the age of three.

    My mistake. No ad hominem here.

    • quinn esq

      I’m kinda tired of how other (innocent) animals & insects keep getting dragged into “ad hominem” attacks.

      1. According to research recently brought forward by the NAS (Gnat Division), gnats have comprehension skills that are off the charts. Much higher than dogs, bonobos, ginkho trees, New Englanders and approaching those of GroupmeldNebula 73/b.

      2. And the loon is a noble bird. Back off. It’ll beak your eyes out.

      What happened to the happy schoolyard days of yore? And Thor. When insults were as easily available as your latest disability, failed crush, extremely poor parental shirt selection, failed crush, lisp, completely homo lunchbucket, unwillingness to dunk Jeremy in the frog pond, or failed crush?

      I think the “age three” thing still counts though.

      • Tankard2

        What happened to the happy schoolyard days of yore?

        Oh yeah? Well, you Mama so fat, when she sit around da house, she sit AROUND da house. You Mama so ugly, she gotta tie a bell around her neck to get Quasimodo to play wit her. You Mama so dumb, she think a loon some bird made outa cream cheese. You mama got so little taste, she think Jason pretty.

        • quinn esq

          Dude, dis my mama at your own risk.

          Not from fear of me, but her… Well, her nickname’s Hurricane. Southpaw. She’s 80, but if you want them dirty ole teeth of yours removed, just resend that comment, provide a passport-sized photo of self, and your home address. No need to spend anything on her fare. She’ll be blowin’ into town shortly.

          It’s been real, Tankard. Sniff.

          Kinda gonna miss you.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      That isn’t ad hominem. It is a judgement based on your comments to my blog. If you don’t to be thought a fool, perhaps you should stop acting like one.

  • Tankard2

    I think the “age three” thing still counts though.

    Careful about your assumptions. You think I need to be over the age of three to make Jason look silly?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You better bring more than the tired old talking points you trotted out on this blog.

      Mine was a critique of a certain tone and tenor that the winning team might want to pay attention to and you took it as a dismissal of progressive policies, in a fashion that backs up my assertions. Your vitriolic attacks based in no way on anything other than my party affiliation gives my argument more weight and indicates a lack of seriousness on your part.

      This is a serious time of transition for this country and you want to continue playing partisan games as if you were indeed a three-year-old in the company of adults.