August 23, 2008

"This man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done" — says Biden of Obama.

If we can believe it, that's an effective line for people like me. But it must irk the hell out of lefties who want to think O is one of them.

ADDED: Andrew Sullivan live-blogs the Obama-Biden event:
Biden looks pumped, and Teddy Kennedy-like. The message is economic distress and the need to restore the American dream. Biden's speech sounds like the latter part of the Clinton primary campaign. Clintonism without the Clintons: that's what Biden is now offering.
Oh! All the disrespect for Hillary!

Why didn't I watch this? I was out, in a café. Actually, at the next table a woman was watching the event live-streamed on her laptop — with the sound on! She had her 6th grader daughter next to her, watching along. Maybe she assumed that, this being Madison, we'd all be excited to have the Voice of Obama interwoven with the rock music the café was piping in and our hearts would glow at the sight of a little girl transfixed by the exalted politician.

Maybe in Madison, there's an Obama exception to what I thought was an absolute rule of etiquette about using headphones if you're playing audio on your computer in a café. Fortunately, I had my headphones, so I turned on the XM radio streaming to block the chaotic sound. I picked the channel Real Jazz. Trio da Paz was playing "All the Things You Are," which was perfectly charming. Instrumental, but the lyrics still ran through my head:
You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long.
You are the breathless hush of evening
That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.
You are the angel glow that lights a star,
The dearest things I know are what you are.
Which, of course, is how we all think of Barack, now, isn't it?

79 comments:

Paul Zrimsek said...

Why? Lefties generally believe the same thing about themselves. It ranks near the top of their long list of delusions.

1jpb said...

Don't believe that guy.

BHO "hates America." Rush said so on Friday.

I think that Althouse needs to pump up the vitriol.

Joe said...

Considering how little Obama has done as a senator, Biden's statement rings rather hollow.

vet66 said...

I thought he was a 'clear eyed' dreamer! My how times change.

Trooper York said...

Hey is this the realty show thread for "Clear eyed for the Straight Guy?"

I thought that show was cancelled?

EnigmatiCore said...

He's a politician. We should give him the benefit of the doubt with regards to the things he says. When has he ever lied to us?

Trooper York said...

Plus that was what Neil Kinnock said about Tony Blair so we know it must be true.

rhhardin said...

Stanley Cavell on the Emersonian and the (pragmatist) Deweyan

...For Emerson, the success of science is as much a problem for thought as, say, the failure of relgion is...it may help to say: for Dewey the relation between science and technology is unproblematic, even definitive, whereas for Emerson the power manifested in technology and its attendant concepts of intelligence and power and change and improvement are in contest with the work, and the concept of work, of realizing the world each human is empowered to think. For an Emersonian, the Deweyan is apt to seem an elightened child, toying with the means of destruction, stinting the means of instruction, of provoking the self to work; for the Deweyan the Emersonian is apt to look, at best, like a Deweyan.

Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome p.16-17

Trevor Jackson said...

C'mon, that's mean. The guy's got a picture of a professional wrestler in his profile. Willingly. If irking the hell out of dudes like that is all it takes, this should be a walk for Obama.

chickenlittle said...

from the TPM article: "But Obama's consistent disregard for the liberal wing of the party has gotten really old"

That's as sick and wrong as the wingnuts whining that McCain is ignoring the base. Color me centrist.

In a weak moment, I'll admit that I'd at least consider a transposed ticket, i.e. Biden-Obama.

Trooper York said...

One good thing about picking Clueless Joe for Vice President. You have to figure his convention speech will give everyone enough time to go to the bathroom and not miss anything.And make a sandwich. And finish a ship in a bottle. And paint your house. That's not something to be sneezed at. Just sayn'

Trooper York said...

"Biden looks pumped, and Teddy Kennedy-like."

Wow, he was drunk and soaking wet? Ya gotta love Clueless Joe. What a hoot.

Dogwood said...

This man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done"

That is not the Obama I have known for all these many months...

ricpic said...

Biden (overheard in the Senate cloakroom):

"Scranton?! An overnighter in Scranton? Christ NO!!"

Simon said...

Yes, it's a new era of hopechange. Indeed, says Jacob Weisberg today, the only reason anyone would vote against it is because they're a racist. Isn't it funny how the only time race becomes an issue into this campaign it's being injected by Obama surrogates who are insisting that the other side is going to be motivated by racism, at once creating a political atmosphere that seeks to bully people into voting for their candidate and setting up the excuse if their guy does lose.

Oh, but I'm sure that Obama and his defenders will quickly rush to rebuke Weisberg's malignant racism and poisoning of the public well.

Simon said...

C'mon, Trevor, 1jpb - you going to disown Weisberg's column? Or is that how you really feel: Obama will win or he'll lose because we're a bunch of racists. You want to defend that crock of shit, or disown it?

Trumpit said...

I think he needed to pick another light-skin closet homo to share the ticket - someone like Colin Powell. And then he should pick RuPaul for secretary of state. Too bad Sammy Davis Jr. isn't alive to be secretary of defense. The candy man CAN would have been a great campaign song...sob, sob...

Trumpit said...

Of course, Oprah will be secretary of the tresury. She has all the money in world, or most of it...

Trumpit said...

Bill Cosby will be secretary of HUD. Hoping U Do...

ricpic said...

You're batting 1000% so far, Trumpit, even if you think it's parody.

SMGalbraith said...

"This man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done" — says Biden of Obama.

What happened to the Barack "We will repair the World and tear down all of the Walls" Obama?

Don't tell me Biden threw him under the bus?

1jpb said...

Simon,

You and I don't know if racism could cost BHO the election--it depends on how close the election is. We know that there are some folks who won't vote for him precisely because he's black, though I'm hopeful that there aren't many of these folks.

I couldn't finish that piece, I became bored. Some of it seemed to be based on real data, but a lot of it was unknowable speculation, which I disown (I must seem like a fool, with my unilateral disarmament relative to pushing speculation as an attack, I don't see it that way.)

Trevor Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trevor Jackson said...

Stupid typos. Let's try again.

Simon,

Weisberg's column's not entirely a crock of shit, but his either/or near the end is pretty ridiculous: If Obama wins the election, we're not a racist country, but if he doesn't win, we are?

That's crazy.

Obama could win and we'd still be filled to the rafters with nutters that think Obama will enforce reparations or paint the white house purple. Hell, a couple commenters were in here the other day beating the fear drum about race riots . . . even if Obama WINS!

Weisberg, if anything, is too optimistic about what a win would prove about America.

BUT. If Obama loses it won't mean the country is filled with more racists than non-racists, it'll just mean he didn't get enough votes. From people who don't like Democrats. From people who don't like Chicagoans. AND from people who don't like minorities.

Not casting a vote for Obama does not make you racist. You don't need me to tell you that.

montana urban legend said...

Simon, every time you rant on about how the evils of racism were just a trumped up thing and really not all that evil, you prove how ignorant you are of this country and its history. If you're comfortable with your status as an alien from another, non-American culture - as you stated previously - then own up to the heavy burden which that shortcoming places on your weak mind when it comes to any interest you might actually have in achieving a better understanding of America.

Race won't likely be a major factor. But presidential/two-party systems have generally close races. There are crucial constituencies that, ironically, become even more crucial the smaller they are. Despite your ignorance of history, I'm assuming it's not that difficult for you to look at the election returns of 2000. Of course, if you were less of a removed snob about America's real vices and virtues, then you might have recognized this - given your pretension to commenting on legal and political matters. But you must stop with the assumption that your obsessively expressed, knee-jerk sense of moral indignation is an argument for anything.

BTW, from which part of Europe did the family who passed on these condescending attitudes to you originate? We silly 4th-generation American-born race-baiters are curious to know about the historical experiences of our betters - especially when it comes to those who are as innocent as the people of your parents' country must be when it came to colonization, the slave trade, WWII, genocide and all that jazz.

montana urban legend said...

Trevor, you're precisely right. There are many people who will not vote for a ticket with Obama on it - for many reasons, and racism is only just one of them. But Simon's obsession with making sure that racists are excluded from that list of possible discontents though is what interests me.

Trevor Jackson said...

And I'll just add that if you don't cast a vote for Obama because he's black, THAT makes you racist. Even if it's down on your list. Like you could have all sorts of reasons from taxes to foreign policy, but if you think, "And, you know, I'm just not crazy about black people," BAM, that's racist.

Not sure why I feel the need to spell that out. But there it is.

rhhardin said...

It's not racist to vote based on race. It's racist to vote based on (say) suitability based on race.

If blacks vote for Obama because he's likely to give blacks stuff, then they're voting for Obama because what they think Obama will do. Maybe they think Obama is racist.

But blacks vote 90% for Democrats white or black, so even otherwise blacks aren't voting race. They're voting stupid, you could perhaps say.

montana urban legend said...

I think it does bear mentioning, Trevor. There seems to be this obsession with making sure that race can't be seen as a reason for anything negative happening to Obama's campaign. It's not that there's a lot of whitewashing going on, but some people seem instinctively hostile to even considering the possibility that lingering racially-oriented resentments directed at Obama be considered and/or explored, let alone acknowledged in a way that bears any relation to this country's awful history when it comes to race. We know what happened in KY, WV, and the other parts of Appalachia. And it's a story that becomes more complicated when you want to look at the phenomenon of small-town people feeling a sense of familiarity with a candidate. But still, when mere white racial resentment spills over into accusations of black on white "racism", I've got to laugh. Anyone who thinks that 12% of the population will oppress the majority in the way that the opposite occurred is just not in touch with reality.

PatCA said...

"This man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done."

What job is that?

Simon said...

Trevor and 1jpb, glad to see it.

montana urban legend said...
"Simon, every time you rant on about how the evils of racism were just a trumped up thing and really not all that evil, you prove how ignorant you are of this country and its history."

And you, MUL, every time you thrust at a strawman, you show how wholly incapable of good faith argument you are. I have never argued that "the evils of racism were just a trumped up thing and really not all that evil," and so search the archives though you might, you will find no examples of it to back up your assertion unless reading comprehension is also one of your many deficiencies.

rcocean said...

If Mort were awake, he'd agree with White boy Weisberg - vote Obama or you're a racist.

Beldar said...

Prof. A, your cruel neutrality is indeed wickedly cruel. I mean that in the same way that my kids use the phrase "wicked cool."

montana urban legend said...

Simon, it's a hunch. I can't see into your soul. I can, however, go on the evidence based on the attitudes that take hold of you. Surely you have posted here, and often, on how you think Obama exploits race. You've also said that you think American history vis a vis race has no bearing on racial attitudes today and scolded this country for being obsessed with the possibility that it does.

I mean, if you want to go ahead and disown everything I'm trying to discern as possibly instructive in your attitudes as I just summarized them above, go ahead. Perhaps I misread you. I'm not so arrogant or confrontational to deny that possibility. But if I had done so, then surely there would be a reason why you would take offense to any of the above. And I can't think of any other reason for for that than, perhaps, you thinking that white racial resentments are not something to be proud of, or at least, not something to be unquestioningly proud of. That, at least, would show progress as it would indicate that you understand the history of this country better than I would have thought you do. But it's your issue to clarify, not mine. I certainly don't feel anywhere near the sense of disgust that you've expressed when it comes to the possibility of race being used during the course of this campaign in an exploitive manner.

Kirk Parker said...

"Biden looks pumped, and Teddy Kennedy-like"

Ouch! I can think of about 6.7B/2 people he'd probably rather look like!
(Figure courtesy of http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html)

PatCA said...

"I certainly don't feel anywhere near the sense of disgust that you've expressed when it comes to the possibility of race being used during the course of this campaign in an exploitive manner."

I agree with you. I think the repetition in speeches of "and by the way did I mention he's black" is disgusting!

willb said...

I was at that cafe, too, and I was mildly freaked out by the whole spectacle -- the mother expecting that this sort of speech is something to expect her young daughter would enjoy; the public display of political veneration; and, worst of all, the daughter's unshakeable attention to a tedious political event.

montana urban legend said...

So how is that a sense of agreement, Pat? Are you disgusted with Obama having said that or with the likely feigned sense of disgust that others have expressed with him for saying that?

I think it's fine to talk about race. Obviously some people think that can't be done without opening up a whole lot of resentments or divisiveness or hatred - and that's something I don't understand. Being African American is to be part of a particular ethnicity and subculture, as is being Italian American, Hispanic, etc., etc., etc. Blacks are just as entitled to bring up innocent little blurbs about their experience as Black Americans without being castigated for it as anyone else is.

Did someone here today mention that Biden is Irish Catholic? Disgusting! But then again, I have nothing to resent Biden for when it comes to his being Irish Catholic. Or Obama for being Black.

Kirk Parker said...

Trevor,

OK, I'll call and raise you one: if you do vote for Obama and one of the reasons is that he's black, aren't you just as much a racist?

Trooper York said...

But Biden is shanty Irish and that is as bad as it can be.

somefeller said...

OK, I'll call and raise you one: if you do vote for Obama and one of the reasons is that he's black, aren't you just as much a racist?

I'm not Trevor, but I'll respond to that. It depends on why his race is a factor in your choice. If you are voting for him because he is black and you are a black person who thinks his election will make life worse for white people or because you just plain hate white people and want to use this vote to state that point, then you are a racist. On the other hand, if you are a person of any race who considers Obama's race to be a plus factor in that you think that electing a black man to the Presidency will (a) improve race relations by showing that America isn't a racist society, (b) will help provide a positive example to people both at home and abroad about what a minority person can achieve if they work hard and move up the social ladder or (c) will serve to help expiate many of America's past sins against black people as a group, then you are not a racist. In this as in most other situations, context and motive matter.

montana urban legend said...

That's a good point, Kirk! One of the things I worry about every day is waking up in a country replete with pernicious racism of a pro-Black/anti-White variety. I fear that, just as a white majority oppressed a black minority through slavery, segregation, unequal justice and the like, a black minority would do that to a white majority.

Ok, actually I don't. And neither should you. Assuming context and reason mean anything to you.

Trooper, as long as he identifies with the experience of being poor and white, then that will/should be enough to pacify the white resentment/pride-mongers. But then again, Biden's family, as I understand it, fell into poverty after his father had first experienced a string of much better fortune. These two guys, together, both symbolize the ups and downs of the American economic experience better than I think any other ticket of recent memory without obsessing on it the way Edwards did.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"Simon, it's a hunch. I can't see into your soul."

I'd start with reading comprehension, if I were you, before shooting for more advanced levels of clairvoyance.

"I can, however, go on the evidence based on the attitudes that take hold of you."

Apparently not.

"Surely you have posted here, and often, on how you think Obama exploits race."

I've posted here, and often, to say that the Obama campaign is injecting race into tha campaign by claiming that his opponents are injecting (or are about to inject) race into it. They use this in several ways: to shut down debate (for example the Philly speech, seeking to change the subject from Rev. Wright to race) and to gain votes (by creating, as I said above, "a political atmosphere that seeks to bully people into voting for their candidate").

"You've also said that you think American history vis a vis race has no bearing on racial attitudes today and scolded this country for being obsessed with the possibility that it does."

Never have. It's not an accident that you don't cite any examples of this; they don't exist.

"Perhaps I misread you."

Certainly seems that way.

Kirk Parker said...

Sorry, somefeller, but I see your (c) as about as racist as it gets.

Ann Althouse said...

"will serve to help expiate many of America's past sins against black people as a group"

Cheap expiation! We should snap it up.

montana urban legend said...

Simon, since you're obviously feeling a bit wounded, I'll ignore the bulk of your comment, which consists largely of rhetoric, assertion and insults in the form of personal (and erroneous, factually-oriented) denials. Instead, I'll compare your obsession with Reverend Wright to Kennedy's trials in proving that he wouldn't subordinate America to Rome and I'll ask for evidence that you hold politicians of other ethnicities to the same standard that you hold Obama to by claiming that his comfort with speaking to issues of race amounts to an uncomfortable "injection" as you describe it. You use that metaphor deliberately. Clearly you are uncomfortable about it. Do you become uncomfortable about other politicians "injecting" references to their background into their political activities, or is this just a standard to which you hold Black politicians alone? Just curious.

Oh, and on second thought, I'll get back to you on those other references. It wouldn't be the first time you've proved yourself wrong with your own words. Because this website is littered with your copious "injections", you'll have to give me a little time to pore over your record of uttering such things. I'm sure you'll understand. True research takes time and is backed up by more than just knee-jerk reactions, right Simon?

Ann Althouse said...

willb said..."I was at that cafe, too, and I was mildly freaked out by the whole spectacle -- the mother expecting that this sort of speech is something to expect her young daughter would enjoy; the public display of political veneration; and, worst of all, the daughter's unshakeable attention to a tedious political event."

That itself is rather freaky! I hope the woman doesn't read this too! I guess it's possible that the little girl could read this... or maybe read this years from now....

Anyway, I wonder what the daughter's psychological state was. Probably, she's learned that her mother thinks it's wonderful for her to seem to admire Obama and she wants/enjoys approval.

What did I teach my kids about politics when they were that age? Certainly not to adulate politicians. We used to watch news shows and draw in sketchbooks -- caricatures, to which we added word balloons. I think that we noticed the little things, human things, about the way they looked and acted, and that we laughed some of the time and I tried along the way to help them understand something of the issues and something of the history of the country and the structure of government.

ron st.amant said...

I thought David Gergen tonight on CNN summmed up the state of the campaigns correctly:
[paraphrasin]
Thus far McCain has made the campaign as a referendum on Obama, leaving himself as the fall-back position. What Biden did today (and the Obama campaign needs to do going forward) is to make the election a referendum on Republican rule with McCain as maintaining the status quo and another four years.

As I see it, McCain has spent the entire campaign thus far telling the voters what Obama is not and thus hoping no one asks what HE (McCain) is. He's won the battle of defining the opposition so far, and now the Obama camp needs to return serve. I think Biden will help to do this.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"Simon, since you're obviously feeling a bit wounded...."

Well, as you indicated above, clairvoyance isn't among your talents.

"I'll compare your obsession with Reverend Wright to Kennedy's trials in proving that he wouldn't subordinate America to Rome and I'll ask for evidence that you hold politicians of other ethnicities to the same standard that you hold Obama to by claiming that his comfort with speaking to issues of race amounts to an uncomfortable "injection" as you describe it."

1) There's no obsession. the Presidential election is an important subject in all our lives; it's going to consume attention. Get used to it. Branding it as obsession is another rhetorical move designed to create the impression of racial animus, one that doesn't work in any forum where the average IQ is in triple figures as it is here.
2) Most of the Obama surrogates injecting race into the campaign are white. Nice try.

"You use that metaphor deliberately."

It's a figure of speech. Indeed, it's the most natural figure of speech to convey the point. If you want to look behind it for cloaks and daggers, you're going to be very bored and emerge empty-handed.

"Clearly you are uncomfortable about it. Do you become uncomfortable about other politicians 'injecting' references to their background into their political activities, or is this just a standard to which you hold Black politicians alone?"

I wouldn't use the term "uncomfortable" so much as "contemptuous," but whatever terminology you prefer, the answer is yes, as a rule. Nevertheless, the comparison here is inapt. John Edwards never claimed that people who voted against him were just biased against trial lawyers who cheat on their wives with butt-ugly hippies. John Kerry never claimed people who voted against him were biased against veterans. Do try to stay on point if you must stick around.

I get the impression that you're the kind of person who thinks that the old saw that the law in its majesty forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges is a really profound, deep and significant commentary on society and the legal system, rather than a hoary, banal cliche devoid of any substantive meaning. Just a thought prompted by your comment.

"Oh, and on second thought, I'll get back to you on those other references."

No you won't. Or perhaps you will - maybe you'll dig up something that you think you can spin as supporting your argument, but on closer examination, it'll turn out to stand for no such proposition.

somefeller said...

Sorry, somefeller, but I see your (c) as about as racist as it gets.

How so? Unless it's being done maliciously (i.e.: "if Obama is elected, we'll never have to take the complaints of black people about racism seriously again!"), I fail to see how (c) is a racist reason. It may be cheap expiation, as Ann suggests, and I'm not saying (c) is a great reason to vote for Obama, but I don't see how (c) is racist, absent the sort of motive I mentioned above. Also, since you didn't mention (a) or (b), I take it you agree those are good, non-racist motives to take Obama's race into account for voting purposes?

montana urban legend said...

You try to stay on point, Subject-Changing Simon. The reference to "background" was in the context of one's ethnic background, but perhaps you are more used to homogeneous societies as a referent and thought that John Edwards' profession had anything to do with the subject you didn't want to discuss.

And if you want to boast about your triple figure IQ, you might not want to confuse ethnicity with religion, as you just did. The historical comparison between concerns over Kennedy's religion and concerns over Obama's religion is a valid one - even if it's a comparison that you don't like being associated with.

vbspurs said...

Anyway, I wonder what the daughter's psychological state was. Probably, she's learned that her mother thinks it's wonderful for her to seem to admire Obama and she wants/enjoys approval.

Creepsville.

I am deeply worried that my own politics will alienate my children, as my dad's constant Liberal drumbeat alienated me, and will turn them into my worst nightmare -- pinko, peacenik, tree-hugging, Che-wearing, champagne socialist, BoBo guerrillas.

So using reverse psychology, I will plaster posters of Che and Fidel around their crib, and sing my rugrats to sleep with Mercedes Sosa's Greatest Hits. Our library will contain only Maoist-approved tracts. Every summer, we'll visit folk festivals, and delight in the foregoing of deodorant.

When they turn 16, I'll accidentally-on-purpose leave a copy of The Road to Serfdom under their Playboys, and hey presto! they'll be mine for life. Mwahahaha.

Simon said...

montana urban legend said...
"And if you want to boast about your triple figure IQ, you might not want to confuse ethnicity with religion, as you just did."

I mentioned that the average IQ of Althouse commenters is triple digits, which shouldn't be much of a surprise since the average for the population as a whole is roughly 95-105. Not much of a boast, then, even if it had been so intended.

The rest of your comment doesn't merit response.

montana urban legend said...

Apparently humor is not your strong suit, Scalia-wanna-be Simon, and neither are responsive comments.

Being attentive to humor, particularly subtle humor, takes more intelligence than you've exhibited here tonight. But perhaps it's past your bedtime and you need to rest your head. Night-night.

montana urban legend said...

"What happened, happened. It does not vitiate the good that happened at the same time, any more than our ongoing dalliance with the mass slaughter of our young vitiates all the good things this nation has accomplished since 1973. In any event, slavery and racial segregation are over, and have been for a long time. (It would have been gotten past a lot faster, I might add, if liberals hadn't insisted on preserving and perpetuating the mindset of racial discrimination through so-called "affirmative action" programs.) The point I was making is that attitudes such as Wright's are not (indeed, couldn't be) animated by current problems, and as such have no redress in the here and now. In short, the "Reverend" Wright belongs to that club of people who have mistaken an obsolete chip on their shoulder for a sense of burning injustice. He - and you - should grow up or shut up."

This sounds to me like you think that the only bearing that the history of race in America has on anything that happens today is caused by corrective liberal over-reactions. I'm assuming you think that not getting a cab in 1990s New York or problems with discrimination in housing or anything like that weren't related to racism as traditionally practiced in America against blacks. But it doesn't matter. The quote was as follows:

"You've also said that you think American history vis a vis race has no bearing on racial attitudes today and scolded this country for being obsessed with the possibility that it does."

Never have. It's not an accident that you don't cite any examples of this; they don't exist.


And so I stand corrected. You only think that liberal reactions to race influence attitudes today, but that racism itself as practiced against blacks from before the founding and as it continued in various legal practices for dozens of generations through at least 1965 doesn't. In other words, history influences the present when it suits your agenda to say so, but it doesn't influence the present when your political agenda doesn't benefit to say so. I get it. Thanks for the correction, Simon!

And sleep well.

montana urban legend said...

Oh, and one minor nitpicking point (or perhaps a major one):

Affirmative action, despite the degree to which it's being gently chipped away at, is something that continues in some forms or others into the present day. So I guess if Simon's point is that he denies any assertion that posits a lack of any relation between historical conditions and attitudes today, it's not a very well-supported denial given his quote. The affirmative action that affects the present, is still continuing in some form into the present. Whereas all the ills that he only recognizes when they were inscribed in law ostensibly ended just over a generation ago. So which is more of something that has been relegated to "history"? Obviously slavery and segregation. So I wonder, if Simon could be less coy, he might want to clarify which strictly historical events related to race have "bearing on racial attitudes today"? Don't be sly, bass-playing chap, say what you mean!

Theo Boehm said...

There used to be an acronym in the newspaper business that a busy editor would scrawl across the copy he got when it was totally worthless:

"MEGO"

My Eyes Glaze Over.

Send it back to the idiot who wrote it.  It's too bad even for rewrite.

MUL: M E G O

Simon deserves congratulations for his tenacity in wading through the eye-blinding swamp of MUL's alleged "writing."  There may be a point or two in there, but between the banal thoughts, the crashing polysyllables, and the air of insulting hostility, no person who values his or her time would waste it on this nonsense.

I'm only writing this to test Firefox, which has been crashing a lot lately.  MUL's comments merit a response only to try the software.  Otherwise, they are as meaningful as printer's Greek, and not nearly so useful.

Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit... might be used as a place holder, but it still looks a whole lot better on the page than a MUL sentence.

Oddly enough, it is also very pertinent to those who would bother to read MUL.

Kirk Parker said...

somefeller,

Regarding (c), "My race is better than yours" is nothing but the flip side of "your race is worse than mine". I think they are both equally (and highly) contemptible.

As far as (a) and (b), while they may or may not be good reasons, they don't seem racist per se.

montana urban legend said...

My my, Theo Boehm.

I'm sorry if large words hurt your brain, or if your intellectual preferences are better suited to the dying industry of print journalism.

But if I was in the habit of expressing deep thoughts in just ten words or less, then I suppose we could always go into the business of producing Chinese fortune cookie literature together.

That would be fun. And it would never hurt anybody's feelings.

Now go away and start wading through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics. I know the title of that sounds insulting and hostile, but they're just trying to help novices like yourself, you understand.

somefeller said...

Regarding (c), "My race is better than yours" is nothing but the flip side of "your race is worse than mine". I think they are both equally (and highly) contemptible.

How is (c) saying that "your race is worse than mine"? The (c) rationale is one in which a voter simply acknowledges that America has historically done a lot of wrong to its black citizens, and believes that voting for Obama may perhaps work to expiate those evils of the past and present.

That's not why I plan on voting for Obama, and I think one can argue it's a form of cheap grace. But I still fail to see how (c) is a statement that blacks are as a race worse than whites (and thus a racist reason), if that's what you are suggesting.

And thanks for acknowledging that (a) and (b) met your challenge. Lots of people in combox discussions don't do that sort of thing when faced with a responsive answer.

Kirk Parker said...

somefeller,

"But I still fail to see how (c) is a statement that blacks are as a race worse than whites (and thus a racist reason), if that's what you are suggesting."

Your sight fails because you've got the polarity inverted: surely you're not one of those who thinks only whites can be racist, are you?

somefeller said...

No, I don't think that only whites can be racist, and I made that clear in my initial comment wherein I gave specific examples of black racist reasons for voting for Obama. The fact that I wrote those examples and you followed up by asking the question that you just did makes me wonder whether you are arguing in good faith here.

Leaving that aside, let's put the question to you. Provide some evidence to support the contention that my (c) rationale is an example of racism. Not that it is an example of cheap grace or a weak reason for voting, but racism. Thus far, you've just made some assertions and engaged in some language games (i.e.: "Your sight fails because you've got the polarity inverted"). Well, the burden of proof is upon he who asserts the positive, and you are positively asserting that the rationale I cited was racist. Time to prove your point.

montana urban legend said...

Kirk,

Not wanting to distract your conversation with somefeller, but I do think it's important to point something out. Merriam-Webster (online) defines racism as follows:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

Clearly by the first definition, black racists exist, at least if Farrakhan's movement is any indication. But the second definition is not an insignificant one. It provides the entire context for racism as it was practiced in the United States. We could go ahead and neatly remove distinctions of power (a minority versus a majority) and legal sanction, but I'm not sure why we should pretend that to do so would be a historically meaningful thing to do, at least when it comes to understanding political phenomena in the United States.

PatCA said...

somefeller,
I agree that Obama's candidacy can serve as an example to any kid minority or otherwise. I would disagree with your other points, though. We don't need to prove we are not a racist nation--we have proved it, but political hucksters, foreign and domestic, revive it for their own gain. How many black legislators are there in Europe?

And we expiated our sin of racism by ending it. Many nations still have not.

Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Voting for Obama to make people like us, or to ask for their approval, is self-defeating.

montana urban legend said...

But isn't what you're saying a bit problematic, Pat, at least when you compare Europe to the United States? Racism as a legally enshrined phenomenon doesn't exist in the nations of Europe either, and yet the disparity between the percentage of black legislators there as compared to here does. I think this has to do with a couple of things - namely that 1) People of African descent make up a smaller percentage of the population there than they do here, and 2) the idea of aristocracy is stronger in Europe as well. Mr. Smith Goes to Brussels (or to Paris, or to London) is simply not a meme that resonates as strongly with the Europeans as Mr. Smith's journeys to Washington do with Americans. And significant numbers of Africans haven't been present in Europe long enough to have established themselves as a part of those aristocracies.

But if nothing else, these observations still prove a larger point. And that is the realization that marginalization is related to legal discrimination, but not in a direct, formulaic way. We did end legal discrimination against blacks in America, and racial attitudes against them have largely abated since (although largely due to other factors as well - opposition to racist ideas on a scientific or rational basis preceded the legal changes that reflected that opposition). But attitudes tend to take a generation to catch up with and accommodate answers to questions that have been resolved in political forums.

Simon said...

MUL, you charged that I had "said that ... American history vis a vis race has no bearing on racial attitudes today," and asked for evidence, the paragraph you cite in your 12:43 AM comment doesn't even come close to hitting the mark. What I was saying in the quoted text boils down to two points:

* Slavery and segregation happened. That doesn't vitiate the good that happened at the same time; the Constitution isn't somehow sullied for failing the anachronistic demand that it eliminate slavery (that was replying to your complaint that my reference to those institutions being of a world that had been dead and gone ignored their existence over ">80% of our nation's history").

* Moreover, both are long gone. Because they're dead and buried, attitudes such as Jeremiah Wright's can't be explained by ongoing race subjugation. Ergo, the existence of those attitudes (and the presumption that they must be explained by some impulse) compels the conclusion that they are grounded in a sense of entitlement in the now for the greivances of past generations.

Of course racial history has bearing on racial attitudes today - all history has bearing on all attitudes today. But this country's history with slavery and segregation should not be and isn't determinative of race relations today, and above all, a sense of present injustice arising from ill-articulated conception of past injustice is deeply flawed.

montana urban legend said...

Simon, I'll agree to split the difference with you and voice corroboration with the first part of your concluding paragraph. But the ultimate conclusion I'm a bit skeptical of. "(I)sn't determinative" shouldn't be conflated with "should not be... determinative". One statement is normative. One is positive. And objective, dispassionate judgements of history, as with any field of study, are not normative things. They are positive.

Thus, when you say "attitudes such as Jeremiah Wright's can't be explained by ongoing race subjugation," you're partly right. But simply removing the word "ongoing" allows one to change the phrase entirely from "can't" to "can". As I've stated with you elsewhere, one can't just snap one's fingers and say that things like historical memory shouldn't exist. Attitudes linger for a longer time than the legal record does. And they linger for whites as well as for blacks. (Unless you can prove that no black person ever experienced a single act of discrimination after 1965 it is impossible to conclude otherwise). You might not like that, you might think that shouldn't be the way things are, but you can't deny the legitimate existence of the concept of cultural or historical memory just because such things are socially problematic and remind you of a legal regime that was unsavory, illegitimate, ethically wrong and primitive even for its time, what have you. As much as you might want to purge the memory of these things from the American experience - or at least from remaining so strong or haunting a memory as to affect present conditions - to do so takes time. At least a generation or so. Be patient, young man. It's not a formulaic thing. Nor is it a neat and tidy process. Nothing involving human beings is. Isn't it the truly conservative view to recognize things like that?

Theo Boehm said...

MUL: Your writing is among the worst I have seen here.

It is filled with very ordinary and boring ideas expressed in pompous, often insulting language.

If you continue to pester us with the thing gruel of your poverty-stricken notions, at least have the courtesy to translate them into English.

I shall do that for the following sample:—

But if nothing else, these observations still prove a larger point. And that is the realization that marginalization is related to legal discrimination, but not in a direct, formulaic way. We did end legal discrimination against blacks in America, and racial attitudes against them have largely abated since (although largely due to other factors as well - opposition to racist ideas on a scientific or rational basis preceded the legal changes that reflected that opposition). But attitudes tend to take a generation to catch up with and accommodate answers to questions that have been resolved in political forums.

Shorter English:—

Unlike Europe, remaining American racism is partly informed by our history of legal discrimination. Justification for past racist law was ultimately swept away and laws reformed. Despite progress that has been made, attitudes take time to catch up with these legal and political changes.

Half the length.

Very common ideas in either case.

I make no brief for the economy or elegance of my work-a-day prose, only that is IS work-a-day prose that doesn't waste the readers' time or insult their intelligence.

C.Wright Mills once famously translated some of Talcott Parsons' turgid prose into clear English. Parsons' supporters screamed that Mills didn't "understand" the nuanced complexity of bad English.

I'm sure we will hear similar things from MUL.

To save him the bother, I've already found the equivalent of what he will write:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed porta, libero vel dignissim semper, quam est imperdiet justo, vel venenatis pede lorem ut purus. Aliquam erat volutpat. Aliquam erat volutpat. Vivamus at sem. Proin et quam. Nulla facilisi. Sed lobortis, mi non vehicula mattis, risus dolor pharetra erat, eu sollicitudin nisl ante non est. Nam eget lacus. Nam dapibus rutrum erat. Donec gravida porta velit.

somefeller said...

Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Voting for Obama to make people like us, or to ask for their approval, is self-defeating.

Fair points, but that wasn't what I was talking about. The question on the table was if someone could come up with non-racist reasons to consider Obama's race for purposes of voting. I came up with three, and in the interests of balance, also came up with two examples of racist reasons. I didn't say the three reasons I mentioned were great reasons and I wasn't arguing for them (though I think (b) is a pretty good one), just that they were non-racist reasons for considering Obama's race in voting.

And I'd agree we shouldn't vote for Obama just to get the approval of people in other countries. There are plenty of other good reasons to vote for him, but that approval would be some nice icing on the cake.

montana urban legend said...

Ah you're back, Theo! Not surprising. Since you lack anything to contribute to the discussion, it appears you'll indulge your fantasy of being an editor for online conversations instead. A truly inane urge to indulge indeed, especially now that the era of the soundbite and the print editor's tyrannical sway over column length is ending.

Now go back and find a member of a species that communicates in grunts, yelps and growls with which to converse. Your obsession with word economy is a very ordinary and boring thing for humans to hear about. Or go bone up on how computers work, seeing as how you're still not sure about to use one. Either way, you're not contributing to the ideas that are being engaged here.

The small words and short sentences that you demand were supplied in the last response to you - especially for you! How much more attention do you need? Leave the big ones for the big kids to engage. But if you persist, you'll just give me more observations to note about your inelegant demeanor. And the sentences will become even longer and more complicated. It won't be pretty!

Isn't there another grouchy, unproductive and anonymous, online malcontent - one who shares your discomfort for "turgid" things - for for you to play with, say losergrrl, for instance? I mean, all you need to do is add "knitting" and "handcuffs" to your unavailable profile and you could be the same person.

Be careful not to poke your long and unattractive nose too close to my swinging (and unrestrained) fists. You could get hurt.

Theo Boehm said...

MUL: I can't speak for losergrrl or Pogo or any of the others who don't seem to like you. But I've noticed that you're not exactly popular in these precincts.

And just how are you threatening me with your "fists?"

Theo Boehm said...

I once thought that MUL was another incarnation of Cyrus Pinkerton. The MO is very close, and the language similar.

But I have come to the conclusion that there is more than one spewer of insulting, yes "turgid" prose, alike as they may be.

Perhaps it's hard for MUL to understand that there may be more than one person who objects to his (or her) manner, just as there is more than one person who adopts it.

If understanding how computers work includes the license to spew endless, pointless, insulting nonsense, then maybe a little ignorance is called for.

In my case, I've used computers on a daily basis since 1973, which I am quite sure is much longer than the adolescent MUL has been alive.

PatCA said...

Theo,
I think he is a reincarnation of this guy. The rhetorical flourishes are very similar.

somefeller,
Yeah, but I think really any vote based on race is tainted. So fair enough.

Theo Boehm said...

Pat: LOL!

* * * * *
Me: Learn to write better, MUL!
MUL: I'm sorry Theo, I'm afraid I can't do that.
Me: What's the problem?
MUL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Me: What are you talking about, MUL?
MUL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Kirk Parker said...

somefeller and MUL,

The idea of group culpability based on race is, as previously mentioned, about as racist as it gets, being very closely linked with MUL's definition 1: "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities".

Meanwhile, back in the dear old USA, we don't even inherit debts from our parents, much less those vaguely "of the same race" who live a century and a half ago.

PatCA said...

Good one, Theo!

"Look Theo, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over."

somefeller said...

Actually, estates pay the debts of debtor decedents, which means that children pay for the debts of their parents in terms of foregone estate revenue.

As far as the rest of your response, if that's the best you have to prove your point, you don't have much to work with. I wasn't talking about collective guilt that is inherently borne upon an entire group, I was talking about individual voters determining that a particular subgroup was wronged against in the past (and often in the present), so picking a member of that subgroup as the leader for the entire can serve to heal some wounds, at least symbolically with regard to acknowledging past wrongs and in terms of general system legitimacy. As I stated earlier, I think that's a weak reason to vote for Obama that smells of cheap grace, but it's not a racist one.

Also, I notice that you didn't even bother to acknowledge that I caught you out with regard to your false insinuation that I thought only white people can be racists.

Anyway, this thread is played out. Good night all.

Kirk Parker said...

somefeller,

Dude, just because I don't have time to respond to each and every nuance of your every comment...

Here's the one that stands out from your latest:

"in terms of foregone estate revenue."

Nice invention, but perhaps you've heard of the term net worth? Assuming this is so, spend a few moments thinking about what the "net" part means. And yes, if my parents really did pass on with millions in unsecured debts, my obligation to their creditors would be precisely zero.

losergrrl said...

I see my name has been dragged into this teapot'd tempest, so I suppose I should say something.

It is true that I object to 'montana urban legend,' and to 'Cyrus Pinkerton' for very similar reasons. As a disappointed New Labour voter, and one who was raised by a staunch Labour father, I am horrified by the increasing mindlessness and rhetorical lunacy of the Left in the Anglo-Saxon world, if I may any longer use such a term.

One thing that drew me to Professor Althouse's blog was that she seemed to be a disaffected Democrat in America, as I have been a sceptical Labourite in Britain. We seem to have our similar reasons. I am working in New York for what will probably be two years, and so it is interesting to me to have this chance to observe American politics from the belly of the beast, so to speak.

If the two commentators mentioned pretend to write from the perspective of the Left, they fail to advance any argument or convince anyone by writing the way they do.

'Cyrus' seems to be the puppet of the American feminist author Amanda Marcotte, which I suppose should be irrelevant in the end, but it does explain much of what we've seen from this person on this blog. 'He' engages in all sorts of jejune puffery and silly rhetorical tricks that would embarrass a schoolchild. The purpose seems twofold: 1) To tie perceived right-wingers in knots and so demonstrate their stupidity; and, 2) To puff up the author's imagined self-worth in a pretend Never-Never Land of his or her unaccounted perfection.

This is a very self-indulgent and unattractive stance to any but the author's circle of friends. If the purpose is to convince, it misses the mark by a wide margin. This style only serves to repel any but those of such trendy tendencies who would find it amusing. It is a very stupid thing to do, because the Althouse blog has an appeal to a readership at least some of whom are undecided voters. Do you wish to present an attractive and rational face to a voting public, or to engage in a rhetorical circle-jerk?

'Montana' is not as bad. He or she seems to be an adolescent who thinks that writing in a style that Dr Johnson would parody is a way to demonstrate seriousness and sophistication. I suppose the resident Tory legal scholar, Simon, is doing this person a service by firing his heavy artillery in salute, thus demonstrating what a real argument should look like.

Why can't we see more of the likes of Beth or even garage mahal, not to mention the more irregular commentators who occasionally make interesting and effective comments from the perspective of the Left? Why can't we see more who are able to counter the attractive but silly nonsense of much of conservatism, but do it in an equally persuasive way?

As with much blog comment, there have been several parallel discussions on this thread, and I don't mean to denigrate those that have dealt with the topic in a serious way.

But as to the silliness of supposed progressive comment, I have no answer, except to say that the noise from the self-indulgent Left, in the media, the blogosphere, and on both sides of the Atlantic, is not doing any good. To paraphrase Dr Martin Luther King, I have been so greatly disappointed with the Anglo-Saxon Left and its leadership.

If I were a believer in conspiracies, I should say that this Idiot Tendency, as some have called it, is bought and paid for by those who would see us all become a new peasantry, incapable of rational thought, knowledge of our interests, and, ultimately, of self-government. THAT will be taken care of in the end by our betters, who will spout politically correct platitudes, whilst firmly placing us in latter-day corporatist feudal chains.

But I'm not a believer in that sort of nonsense. Who has time to notice when we're so busy loudly proclaiming our political virtues and doing our very best to avoid being thought racist?