June 21, 2007

"Democrats always know how to implode, how to be ambiguous, how to waver, how not to be authentic."

Says Ralph Nader, who's toying with the idea of running for President. And he's got this to say about Hillary Clinton:
She is a political coward. She goes around pandering to powerful interest groups on the one hand and flattering general audiences on the other. She doesn't even have the minimal political fortitude of her husband.
Well, now, give the woman some credit. She did really push the envelope with that short film she released the other day -- you know that psychodrama in which she reduced the former President to the role of First Gentleman by taking away his onion rings (≈ sex life) and forcing him to accept carrot sticks (≈ pared down phallus).

46 comments:

Roost on the Moon said...

I think Nader just gave Obama a bump in the polls.

(Heh, sounds dirty. Say it like FZ would.)

gert said...

Ralph misses the point. Hillary's pandering (rhymes with Bill's philandering) is only to the extent that supports her intent. She's determined to be President to lead the US in a transnational, socialist-Progressive direction.

The Hillary promo spot was dead-on authentic... and disturbing. Was there anything surprising about how she decided to look more powerful and in control at the expense of her husband, supposed life-mate, former President, and a stand-in for the American people? How could she not come across to center-right viewers as unrelenting and demeaning in a passive-aggressive way? Her patronizing smile in response to Bill’s let-down over not getting what he wanted reinforces our idea of her-- that she aims to to dominate in unpopular ways.

A woman President who is tough and gracious would be fine (if Republican.) But so far Hill acts like a Lady MacBeth, and too many of us as if we want to live an Elizabethan tragedy by putting the Clintons back in the WH.

Nader did just fine on the air bags issue.

Simon said...

I suppose being able to castigate Nader for considering running makes me feel better about castigating Bloomberg for the same. Pick a party or stay out of it. Third parties are inherently problematic, and we're a lot better served by the two party system than we ever would be by having a third emerge.

Gahrie said...

I for one would love to see both Bloomberg and Nader run.

Roost on the Moon said...

Simon Says, "Pick a party or stay out of it. Third parties are inherently problematic, and we're a lot better served by the two party system than we ever would be by having a third emerge."

I'm not sure what I think. If you feel inclined to rant on this, I'd be interested. Why would it hurt? There doesn't seem to be much to ruin. You aren't crashing the party if you brought the tooters.

amba said...

I'd be surprised if the onion rings weren't about milked out. Or do those snakes still have some venom in 'em?

Eli Blake said...

For a change, I'm with Simon on this:

The way the American system is set up, third parties exert a negative energy (i.e. Nader's 2000 run in which he siphoned off 92,000 mostly liberal votes in Florida, which elected a Republican Bush with a 537 vote plurality, or last year when Libertarian Jones siphoned 10,000 mostly conservative votes in Montana which helped the Democrat Tester pick up a 2,000 vote victory and gave Democrats the sixth seat needed for Senate control.) In each case, the third party candidate ended up shifting control of a major branch of the government but in a direction away from those of most of their voters.

In a parliamentary system, third parties exert a positive energy because they form coalitions and in the process influence the direction of the government towards the position taken by their voters.

So, unless we are willing to completely change the system (unrealistic with anything short of a Constitutional convention or a revolution, neither of which will happen anytime soon) voters, even people who feel strongly about a position are better served by deciding which of the two major parties fits their views and then working within that party to make their views more acceptable and eventually included in legislation.

dave™© said...

Dear Blithering Misogynist Idiot,

Nobody's fucking interested and nobody fucking cares.

Very truly yours...

Albatross said...

I wish there were a strong third party. I know in reality that probably won't happen anytime soon, but I just can't throw my full support to either the Democrats or Republicans. I don't think either party can fully represent the entirety of my political views. So I support other parties whenever I can, and I try to focus on issues that are important to me rather than political affiliation.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

"For a change, I'm with Simon on this:"

Yes, and until about two months ago, I'd have agreed with Simon and Eli - pick a party and play there. Ignore the troll.

But it has become increasingly obvious (or does anyone really think the congressional approval ratings anomalous?) our politics are broken. Ignore the troll. We can't fight a war effectively because one half hates the president more than they hate the enemy. We seem to be getting an "immigration" (i.e., amnesty) bill very few people want, and those who do want it do so for parochial rather than national interests. Ignore the troll. Both parties over-promise what they can deliver; but so too do Americans demand too much from their fellow taxpayers (as if middle-class entitlements were a gift from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates...) without appreciating the basic economic fact of no free lunch.

Something has to change, and a slow-motion, bloodless revolution, is better than a bloody one. To get it, one of the parties (I'm almost indifferent as to which one it is, although I have an idea which one it will be) has to fail. Ignore the troll. Neither party in Washington is capable of reforming itself, let alone interested in so doing.

If a serious third-party challenge helps bring this about, we're probably better off.

blake said...

I think we need to start an Althouse-adjacent blog, where Althouse frequenters can comment on tangential issues and get to know each other.

I, for one, would love to do an in-depth interview of dave™©: Robotic troll or ironic avant-garde performance artist?

Thers said...


I, for one, would love to do an in-depth interview of dave™©: Robotic troll or ironic avant-garde performance artist?


Why? If you accept the rules of your host, Dave can claim either position at his whim. Since the rules are arbitrary why bother? Aside from comedy -- and Dave is not as absurd as your hostess.

Ann Althouse cannot handle principled criticism. She is very seriously compromised as an academic -- hell, her example has done damage to the rules for "scholarship" in law studies in general.

If you like her you are doing her no favors by encouraging her delusions.

Seven Machos said...

Thers -- Are you saying that, "you, a law professor," can't discuss your other interests on the Internet? Please expound also how Ann Althouse has negatively affected "scholarship." It would take a powerful person to do that. On the order of, say, Socrates. Ann Althouse is no Socrates.

Also, my hero George Anastaplo always said that in a winner-take-all forum, two parties will be the only way. I wonder if there is a relationship between the demise of third parties in the United States and the passage of whatever amendment it was that stopped the practice of the vice president being the person who finishes second...

Thers said...

Please expound also how Ann Althouse has negatively affected "scholarship.

By talking crap. She's on record as saying "whatever I say goes!" Which is stupid.

She likes to invoke her academic position when it's convenient. However, I myself have proven her wrong empirically, in detail.

She is bad for business. An academic credential ought to imply some sort of capacity for accepting reality.

Althouse, however, is just stone nuts.

reader_iam said...

Pick a party or stay out of it.

I have no use for Nader or Bloomberg.

That said? Well, use your imagination as to what I think about your little toss-off, specifically the latter part of it and the overall attitude.

Revenant said...

Seven, why are you trying to reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into? What's the point?

Anyway, I agree with Gahrie:

I for one would love to see both Bloomberg and Nader run.

... inasmuch as they'd both take votes from the Democratic candidate.

Seven Machos said...

I would be interested in seeing the post wherein she said what you charge. And your empirical superiority. Please. Do stop using such conclusory language. Give details. Otherwise, you are, you know, talking crap, Thers.

Also, I hope you realize that all this crap you are talking is negatively affecting scholarship.

Mindsteps said...

Ann:

Look, I have been tracking Nader for years and believe I have some sense of what informs his views. He has demonstrated that he is willing to take both dems and pubs to task. Although not perfect, he views both the pubs and the dems through the lens of his belief system pretty consistently.

You, on the other hand, spend a large proportion of your time criticizing the left and the dems. You have responded to readers with comments suggesting that your postings are motivated by an interest in the artistic and psychological dimensions of politics. However your critical focus seems to lean much more in the direction of the left.

Obviously, there are more factors than you have revealed as to why you devote so much more time mocking and criticizing, those on the left side of the political spectrum. Those reasons are either private, or you have shared them at some other time. However, personally, I am interested in more completely understanding your motives. Your posts have suggested that it is not entirely on ideological grounds.

Look, I am basically asking you to tell me where you are coming from. At the very least, let me know if there is more than you have revealed as to why you are grinding away so relentlessly on the left relative to the right. Is it anger? betrayal? Are you unable or unwilling to articulate the deeper reasons? If so, what is your reluctance about? Whether I agree or disagree with you, I want to trust your blog. Right now, I have an incomplete understanding of your motives and I do not trust them.

Ann Althouse said...

Thers: Have you wrecked English scholarship then by setting this example of creepily stalking another professor? Or was that always the thing at your level?

Ann Althouse said...

And when have I ever said because I'm a law professor what I say has special weight? The only time I invoke my status as a law professor is when I'm explaining why I'm NOT talking about something.

Is Thers undermining all of English scholarship by lying in the comments section of my blog?

Ann Althouse said...

Thers, face it, you are an ineffectual little man. Jealous!

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, "I myself have proven her wrong empirically, in detail" is almost funny enough in the masthead. "I myself" is a funny beginning and ", in detail" is a funny ending. And "empirically" is hilarious. And did you know that I myself have proven Thers to be morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably, reliably a jackass?

hdhouse said...

Ralphs not a nice guy. He is the ultimate egotist who knew full well what he was going to the country by enabling Bush but would have rather had a few million votes than the good of the counrty. Will Hillary get the nomination? I'm betting not just because but Ralph's days of gravitas and political push are about over.

Eric said...

Yes, take every opportunity to bash Dems (or rather, quote some other marginal character to do it for you), but avoid mentioning anything that might be critical of your 2008 candidate of choice, Guiliani. You can pretend to have not made up your mind for another year and then, assuming Guiliani makes it through the primary, you can say nat'l security issues are your tipping point and after much deliberation, you've decided Guiliani over _____ (any Dem).

I was therefore not surprised to see (or at least I didn't see among the flower and wine pictures) that you did not mention the recent news that Guiliani was punted off the Iraq Study Group because he was too busy collecting fees for motivational speeches a la Tom Cruise in Magnolia.

Bissage said...

I did it.

It's my fault.

I'm the one to blame.

I knew the risks but I went ahead and did it anyway.

I voted for Ross Perot.

And look what happend.

Please forgive me.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I voted for Ross Perot.

And look what happend.


You damaged scholarship!

AllenS said...

"I voted for Ross Perot."

Ahem, me too.

Gahrie said...

I voted for Ross Perot.

And look what happend.

Please forgive me.


Now that's an admission that takes guts.

Pogo said...

Much as I'd like Nader and Bloomberg to siphon liberal votes away from Hillary, I hope they don't run. Nader gave Bush's first term a bad taste from the beginning for alot of Dems who think it was an illegitimate win. That was more destructive to the body politic than I would have predicted.

P.S. While dave@∫∫λΘ∠Σ is just a boring if vile little bot with nothing to say, Thers is a recidivist stalker who needs to be delivered a good old industrial strength wedgie, 8th grade style. (Likely one of many he's had before)

Simon said...

Roost on the Moon,
I'm delighted to say that for once i can say "what Eli said." I join his comment in full, but would add another point, and it's this.

Generally speaking "the electoral college does not eliminate third parties ... [but] it suppresses them. Only the geographically concentrated third party can gain electoral votes." Althouse, Electoral College Reform: Deja Vu, 95 Nw. U.L. Rev. 993, 1005 (2001). In Eli's conception, the threat is confined to a (likely) situation where a 3d party isn't doing well, but suppose you have the other, less likely situation - a regionally-concentrated party that actually wins votes in the electoral college (or, miraculously, any 3d party that starts to do well and routinely wins states in the Presidential election). Suppose Bloomberg leads a revival in a sort of northeastern moderate Republican movement that sweeps New England, for example, or suppose Nader won California.

Recall that "[i]f no candidate receives a majority of the electoral vote, the House [of Representatives], voting state-by-state, with one vote for each state, selects the President from the three candidates receiving the most electoral votes." Althouse, supra, at 997 n.20. If all electoral votes are won by one party's candidate or the other's, the House contingency is a remote possibility; if a third party wins electoral votes, that possibility looms large. If a third party gains traction and starts routinely winning significant electoral votes - and of course, parties generally aim to succeed not to sit on the sidelines - the possiblity for the House contingency to routinely come into play (as the framers thought it would) becomes apparent.

Now, personally, I have no problem with that. But I see no reason to believe that the selfsame people who now jump up and down about how terrible the two-party system is will not start jumping up and down about how the fact that elections are being routinely decided by the House means that the Constitution is broken, and needs amendment.

The framers didn't anticipate the arisal of parties, but nevertheless, the structure they bequeathed us has been well-served by the two-party system, which has worked to keep the system stable. It's also significant that throughout American history, with brief deviations (e.g. the Progressive era) and interregnums as one party dies and another springs to life (e.g. the slow death of the Federalist party), we have remained a two-party nation, at least in terms of major parties. Always two there are - never more, never less. As one might expect of such an organism, the extraconstitutional two party system is both a product of and at the same time supports and compliments the formal structures the Constitution. I fear that an attack on the leaf will in time become an attack on the branch which will in time become an attack on the trunk.

To be frank, what I believe really lies behind the complaints about the two-party system - consciously or otherwise - is a desire to get one's own way. These folks' views aren't prevailing in the present system, and since they're such rational, reasonable, sensible people, with rational, reasonable, sensible policy views, obviously, if the system isn't producing winners who agree with their policy views, then the system must be broken. After all, any system that worked would produce rational, reasonable and sensible politicians espousing rational, reasonable, and sensible policies, like the ones that the 3d party boosters want. Since they aren't getting their way, and since that obviously means the system is broken, they want to change the system, believing that doing so will lead to them getting their way. And as I fretted above, when the reform is driven by such a mindset, when adding a third party inevitably leads to an unanticpiated result (and more to the point, when they still aren't getting what they want), they will inevitably go looking for a new thing to "fix." They will start looking for something else to change. When cutting off the leaf doesn't work, they will lustily eye the branch. And when that doesn't work, these rationalists will rashly fire up the chainsaw and take it to the Constitution itself.

Simon said...

Thers said...
"Ann Althouse cannot handle principled criticism."

I wrote a post last fall that criticized her comments on the partial birth abortion case in robust terms, pulling no punches and drawing liberally from her own scholarship. So badly did Ann handle principled criticism there that she linked to it from her original post. Oh well, another ADS-inspired theory bites the dust having failed to link up to reality.

The balance of your comment does not merit response.

Simon said...

Mindsteps,
"Look, I am basically asking [Ann] to tell me where [she's] coming from. At the very least, let me know if there is more than you have revealed as to why [she's] grinding away so relentlessly on the left relative to the right."

This was answered back in December, in relation to the libertarian conference, I think in at least one post and a podcast. Check the archives. :)

Roost on the Moon said...

Eli, Simon,

Thanks. Good answers.

Kirby Olson said...

I like what Ralph Nader has to say when he's being critical. When he has something positive to offer, let me know.

In general, I like third party attacks on the two major parties. But they themselves generally offer nothing except backseat driving. There's no sense of what they'd do if they ever got in the driver's seat.

Mindsteps said...

Simon wrote:

This was answered back in December, in relation to the libertarian conference, I think in at least one post and a podcast. Check the archives. :)

Simon:

I went back and reviewed December's archives (thank you for the direction) and found this from Ms. Althouse:

"Finally, an answer to the single most important question about this blog!"

If this is the post you were referring to let me take out an excerpt:

Ms. Althouse wrote:

"The key thing about me is that I am -- usually -- writing from my remote outpost in Madison, Wisconsin. My milieu is thoroughly liberal and even leftist and has been for more than two decades.. .... They irritate, amuse, and confound me on a daily basis. I feel the urge to push back."

This does not surprise me, however her conclusion was somewhat of a letdown for me. I expected a great deal more (which is my problem I know), especially in light of her painstaking analyses of other individuals. If I am reading Ms. Althouse with some accuracy (and I may be oversimplifying it or misunderstanding), her propensity is a reaction to living in such a liberal millieu....a form of independence. I wonder, however, if it crosses the line and has shaded well into oppositionality. Nonetheless, oppositionality is not independence....in some ways, an individual who is continually oppositional is about as autonomous as one who accepts the beliefs of his or her surroundings unconditionally. (I do, however, respect Ms. Althouse's desires to maintain her autonomy.)

Moreover, not everyone who resides in a strongly homogenous ideological millieu responds in a fashion similar to Ms. Althouse's. For example, I am more than a tad oppositional myself. My reaction to being raised in a particular ideological culture is to be distrustful of all people who adhere strongly to any specific ideology, right or left leaning.

She adds: "To say to me, why do you write about liberals is like saying why do you write about Americans."

I wonder what this means. Does it mean that her encounters with liberals throughout her life have been fused with powerful emotional experiences and this is why she responds so strongly (and typically negatively) to liberals and democrats. In contrast, her experiences with conservatives and republicans have been much more temperate? Does this also include her family, friends, teachers, etc.?

Ms. Althouse does ask herself a good question. "So, you may wonder: Why do I have this insight now? I'll have to answer that later."

And I have other questions too: What is it about Ms. Althouse that leads her to resonate so strongly to liberals and democrats? What specific experiences with liberals have shaped her views and reactions. Is there anything self-fulfilling in her selection of topics and her writings on them?

If this is the post you are referring to Simon, it represents a start toward understanding the nature of Ms. Althouse's blog. It suggests that there are some pretty strong emotional forces that are operative.

Simon said...

Mindsteps said...
"I went back and reviewed December's archives ... [and found the post] 'Finally, an answer to the single most important question about this blog.' ... [Was] this is the post you were referring to...[?]"

That's one of them, and I say, I think the point is elaborated on in one of the podcasts shortly after after that post. I'm sorry if I came across as dismissive, BTW, I just didn't (and don't) have time to trawl the archives to find the specific posts I had in mind.

"If I am reading Ms. Althouse with some accuracy ..., her propensity is a reaction to living in such a liberal millieu....a form of independence. I wonder, however, if it crosses the line and has shaded well into oppositionality. Nonetheless, oppositionality is not independence....in some ways, an individual who is continually oppositional is about as autonomous as one who accepts the beliefs of his or her surroundings unconditionally."

That might carry a bite if it were remotely true that Ann reflexively writes in opposition to any liberal policy or politician who says something silly. But even a cursorary reading of this blog shows that it just ain't so, all the more so particularly when you compare what's on this blog on any given day with the news stories that could have provoked reflexive oppositionality. I think you should take her at her word: "My approach to blogging from day one has been to write what I want to write."

"If this is the post you are referring to Simon, it represents a start toward understanding the nature of Ms. Althouse's blog. It suggests that there are some pretty strong emotional forces that are operative."

A vortex, by definition, has strong currents, and art is better provocative than anodyne.

blake said...

Then, after interviewing Dave*(&@#*, I could run a poll asking people where they thought Althouse drew her nearly godlike powers from.

How about the power of flight?
Does that do anything for you?
How about the ability to kill a yak from 200 yards away--with MIND BULLETS!
(That's telekinesis, Kyle!)
How about the power--
To destroy scholarship with a single post about onion rings?


(With apologies to Tenacious D.)

Mindsteps said...

Simon wrote:

I think you should take her at her word: "My approach to blogging from day one has been to write what I want to write."

With all due respect, do you find this to be an illuminating comment, especially from someone who seems to take pride in her artistic and psychological sensibilities?

Some folks might term her comment an "Aunt Fanny and Uncle Henry" statement. What that means is that Ms. Althouse's description of herself could be applied to almost everybody on the planet, including both my Aunt Fanny and Uncle Henry. Do you believe that most of the commenters on this blog write about what they don't want to write about? Do you believe most blogger's write about what they don't want to write about?

C'mon Ann, I am impressed with Simon's knowledge in some areas, but I am not sure he can answer my questions in the depth that I am looking for. I am really trying to build some trust here....but I don't see my efforts reciprocated.

Also FWIW, with respect to the lucidity of your psychodynamic interpretations of Hillary's commercial....have you considered flagging down someone from the UW's Psychology Department or the Medical School with some expertise in psycho-analysis in order to obtain an opinion as to its 'goodness of fit'?

Simon said...

Mindsteps said...
"With all due respect, do you find ["[m]y approach to blogging from day one has been to write what I want to write"] to be an illuminating comment[?] ... Do you believe most blogger's write about what they don't want to write about?

I think that many bloggers, particularly those most critical of Ann, write with a political agenda, not for the pure pleasure of self-expression, of exploring what interests them and discovering what they think about what's happening in the world on any given day.


"C'mon Ann, I am impressed with Simon's knowledge in some areas, but I am not sure he can answer my questions in the depth that I am looking for."

That depends on whether I'm really Ann's sock puppet or not. ;)

(Thankyou, BTW.)

Mindsteps said...

Simon wrote:

Mindsteps said...
"With all due respect, do you find ["[m]y approach to blogging from day one has been to write what I want to write"] to be an illuminating comment[?] ... Do you believe most blogger's write about what they don't want to write about?

I think that many bloggers, particularly those most critical of Ann, write with a political agenda, not for the pure pleasure of self-expression, of exploring what interests them and discovering what they think about what's happening in the world on any given day.


Simon:

I do not believe you are Ms. Althouse's sock puppet. As a rule, I am very very hesitant to draw conclusions about people without having a lot of supporting information. I prefer to ask questions and observe. I have found that I often mischaracterize people, sometimes a little and sometimes alot.

However, unless you are Ann Althouse using a pseudonym, have intimate knowledge of her psychological inner workings, or you are gifted with the power to identify and interpret the often hidden and private events in someone else I am going to have some skepticism as to your knowledge of Ms. Althouse and your understanding of those who criticize her. Do you have more or special knowledge than everyone else on this site about Ms. Althouse and her critics? If you do, please share your expertise and how you obtained it.

I don't know. It just seems like common sense that if you want to gain more understanding of someone it is helpful to actually engage with them and speak with them directly. Certainly, you may have some valuable information, but reading what you have to say is not an adequate substitute. Also, things become can quickly become a mess when a person jumps to conclusions or makes imprecise generalizations. I am trying to avoid these unproductive traps.

Chip Ahoy said...

Was that a vortex just now?

Simon said...

Mindsteps,
I was just making a joke - and not even at your expense, actually, at the expense of a few nitwits a few months back - don't worry about it. I'm not claiming to speak from any special knowledge (and if had such, you surely realize that probity would demand I didn't share it), just trying to be helpful and clarify any misunderstandings to the extent that I can.

I would caution you that "gaining more understanding of" a blogger is more often like getting to know legal doctrines as they percolate out of the court than getting to know a date. You can't step back from it and the court's not just going to lay it all out for you on demand. Rather, each new case - or post - you get another little piece of the puzzle, and while you can draw inferences about what the big picture is, you're probably never going to see the whole picture. You should follow cases because you love the subject area and because you're intrigued by the individual cases, not out of the hope that you'll get that one, definitive ruling that brings all the various strands together and wraps them neatly together. Doctrine is complex, organic, ever-evolving, occaisionally seems contradictory, and is endlessly fascinating to certain minds. Now what does that remind you of?

(And doctrine can surprise you. Who saw Hibbs coming? I never have any idea what Ann's going to post next. That's part of what makes it a must-read.)

TMink said...

Someone asked Neil Young to talk about the songs on an unplugged show. He said "If I talk about what they mean I have no reason to write the songs."

I think blogging is the same way, you blog about it, you don't explain the reasons why you write the blog post about it. It is too self-referential, a bit masturbatory, and overly circular.

No offense to Ann, but I am more interested in her blog than I am her. Many of the posts interest me, and much of the discussion does as well. For me, it is about the blog stupid.

I comment a bit on my photo blogs, but they are often just tidbits or technical details, because there, it is about the photos. And here, it is about the posts. They are the point.

Trey

Ann Althouse said...

TMink: You're right. I mean to do better at resisting the temptation to explain...

Yikes! I'm succumbing to the temptation...

Twice!

Three times!

TMink said...

Heh heh. Like the knights who formerly said ni.

I said it, no, I said it again.

I just meant to say that the blog post is the point. You say what you mean to say, or you clarify it if there is an error. But the blog is a performance and the performance is the thing in this case.

And I would not admonish you, that misses the point too I think. Disagreeing with your post, responding to it, those are on task, but the people who worry about what you do NOT write about or what you are really like, or what your "hidden agendas" are, miss the point I think.

Trey