The American day of Thanksgiving, by popular tradition, began with a celebration in Plymouth not quite four centuries ago. The thanks was given for an end to hungry times as a bountiful harvest came in that year. Meeting primal needs after seasons of profound anxiety will sometimes do that.
That celebration, and the beginnings of the tradition itself, are not well documented. In fact, the habit of hosting a day of Thanksgiving might go back a hundred years before that to a reaction against some religious practices in Europe.
Holidays were taken very seriously in those days, and there were social penalties, sometimes legal penalties, to be paid for non-observance. But religiosity was taking a toll. The popular consensus in the early 1500s was that there were just too many holidays. It was beginning to interfere with economic life. Counting Sundays, the number of days of productive standstill was nearly 150 every year.
So a church reformation, which is to say a Catholic reformation, reduced the number of official holidays by almost three fourths. The more activist fringe of religious folk, the forerunners of today's conservative evangelicals, wanted more. They thought holidays were just a touch short of blasphemy. Puritans campaigned to eliminate all religious holidays, every one of them.
Yup. The original War on Christmas started with religious conservatives. The War on Easter was what might be considered an unquiet second front.
Those Puritans wanted to replace all religious holidays with sort of ad hoc days of fasting or thanksgiving. These would be held as needed. If times were hard or there was a plague or the harvest was lousy, or war was at hand, days of fasting would be the order of the day. War, famine, or pestilence would provoke prayers of penitence. And, if things were good, food was plentiful, there was peace in our time, and folks lived long and prospered, days of prayer and thanks would be appropriate.
Back when things were more than a bit rough in my life, I invented a practice of responding to the ordinary greeting of "How you doin'?" with a sort of private affirmation. I'd say "Better than average." Nobody had to know my average at the time was horrible, and my private little ceremony reinforced the notion for me that, every day in every way, things were getting better and better. Well, it was one way to deal with situational depression.
I kept the practice. The how-you-doin produces an absent minded better-than-average even today. At this stage of life lots of things are absent minded. Better than average, though.
Some friends, those in the know, tease me a little about my better than average disposition. A couple of days ago, I answered "Better than average" and a friend responded, "Yeah, but what is your average?" I thought quickly and said, "It's a little worse than I am now." He gave me a courtesy laugh. Or maybe it was more of a sympathy chuckle.
Okay, not every formula works out to be a positive affirmation. Still, I remain better than the average Burr.
I'm grateful for a lot of things today. Life itself is a gift. I live in a time and place of relative freedom and security. I am surrounded by family and friends, even if some of that surrounding is at an inconvenient physical distance. Our young Marine has served his country well and is safely out of Afghanistan.
Wars are closing. The nation is coming out of a desperate economic period. Marriage rights for different sexual orientation has received four, count em four, ratifications. More are on the way. The nation's first openly gay US Senator will take office in a couple months, accompanied by several gay Congressional representatives. A very good President has been re-elected, and now has a realistic chance of becoming a truly great President.
All in all, taking everything into account, the arc of the moral universe is ever so gently bending toward justice. Birds are singing. Skies are blue. God's in his heaven.
Things are better than average.
In response to Burr Deming's Benghazi Cover Up - Means and Motive
If the exact same scenario had existed, only with Bush in office, instead of Obama, the GOP would not have made up a scandal at all. They don't like Obama. Their emotions are genuine. They should dislike him for the reasons they dislike him and not spend all their time disliking him for reasons they invent to justify the disliking.
- JMyste, November 20, 2012
For people to be honest about their reasons for action, they have to know their reasons for action. But they can all blur together.
If we dislike someone, we are disposed to think the worst of his intentions. Our very perception changes, such that the bias is imperceptible to us. It even feeds itself: the bias makes us see wrongdoing where there is none, which in turn makes us dislike the target more, which in turn supports our bias.
Given enough time, that process can build up such a wealth of false or unwarranted beliefs that change becomes incredibly difficult. At that point, it is no longer reasonable to expect self-awareness.
Some people do intentionally make up reasons to dislike Obama, usually for political purposes. But for most people, the process is unintentional.
I just might prefer the dishonest ones.
Ryan also writes for his own site, where he frequently deciphers logic to reveal the underlying premise.
Please visit Secular Ethics.
In response to Burr Deming's Benghazi Cover Up - Means and Motive
Maybe they don't want the public to know why they dislike Obama, so they have to make up reasons to attack him.
- Jerry Critter, November 20, 2012
I don’t like Obama because he is largely anti-capitalist and a big-government progressive. I don’t like him because he is mendacious in the extreme. I loathe him because he thinks what would otherwise be considered an act of war if it had been executed by another nation is just a “bump in the road” and not the “optimal” situation for him.
I am enraged that four Americans were killed. Two of them were former seals that were told to stand down and not assist the ambassador when help was requested. They violated those orders to try and do the right thing and died accordingly.
I am pissed that a “spontaneous” demonstration was the initial cause given for this terrorism as caused by some damned film that nobody had ever heard of prior to that day and only had a few hundred hits on Youtube accordingly.
I am angered that the story seemed to change to it being a coordinated attack by al Qaida affiliated terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11 after the fact, and yet they still imprisoned the maker of the video for “unrelated charges”.
I am angry that this fire fight in Libya lasted over 6 to 7 hours and President Obama did nothing to order assistance to our ambassador from other military personnel that could have assisted.
I am really really mad that the left thinks this is all about politics instead of accountability from an inept and incompetent administration that could have and yet failed to protect four Americans that subsequently perished in a non-“optimal” way accordingly.
If there is anything politically that angers me about this, it is the fact that the media was largely spiking the story before the election but now have turned it into an episode of The Housewives of West Point when they find there are lurid affairs involved.
I am disgusted that probably a lot more good people will die over the next four years of this administration due to neglect, incompetence, or flat out stupidity.
And I am really saddened that most Americans seemingly don’t give a damn.
In addition to his contributions here, T. Paine also gives a damn at his own site.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.
Scandals typically involve motives.
Watergate was about power.
So was the "fair game" policy toward CIA operatives during the Bush/Cheney years.
Tonkin Gulf was about policy.
So were the mushroom cloud fantasy fabrications leading to the Iraq invasion.
Watergate led to several jail sentences, although not for the primary conspirator. The "fair game" policy led only to an ancillary conviction for the coverup, not the crime. A presidential pardon made that semi-disappear.
Tonkin Gulf and the mushrooms led only to historical disrepute.
In Benghazi, a terrible tragedy fell over the United States foreign service as a US Ambassador was killed, along with three career employees.
The scandal behind the assassinations seems to elude a howling Republican pursuit. Susan Rice was initially held to be responsible for misinformation that was force fed to Congress, the press, and the public. She, and the administration, responded that she had simply articulated the best unclassified information that the administration had at the time.
This is what she said on Meet the Press the Sunday after the attack, after cautioning that nothing was yet known for sure:
Our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo.
General Petraeus was put into a hearing. He said that he had been certain from the beginning that terrorists were behind the killings. AHA.
But he went on to say that a consultation of several agencies, the normal procedure, had produced the reports that had been given to the administration and to Susan Rice.
After the testimony, Senator Dianne Feinstein read from the original authorized intelligence talking points that had come from those agencies.
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the United States embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault.
If Ms. Rice was not guilty of anything other than innocently adding coherence to carefully worked out intelligence gathering, keeping the public as informed as was she, then she is a scapegoat for others who acted dishonestly, right? After all, she did provide information that was later proven false. This narrative would make her the Scooter Libby, sort of, of the Obama Presidency.
There are two main difficulties in producing a coherent theory behind that coverup.
The first is the paucity of what is covered up. Republican rage centers on the manipulation of information to keep from the American people the fact that a US ambassador was killed by terrorists acting without cover by any enraged crowds. Ostensibly the motivation was to keep alive the pre-election story that President Obama had ordered the killing of the most notorious terrorist in living memory. If that cover up actually happened, it has to rank among the tiniest of motivations possible.
It is hard to imagine a voter who would be swayed by the information that al Qaeda is still strong enough to send a dozen armed gunmen to storm a compound. It is hard to imagine a voter who would think other voters would be affected by that knowledge. It is even harder to imagine a strategist contemplating such a thing.
It is possible I am missing something, of course. But whether the assassins had the benefit of crowd cover or acted in the silence of the night would have had little effect on the public standing of the President. It would be about as important a public consideration as whether the killers parted their hair on the left or the right.
The second difficulty is the magnitude of the conspiracy needed to carry off such a coverup, even temporarily. A substantial number of administration officials would have had to have been so delusional as to engage in a scheme involving the changing of intelligence documents. It is not easy to imagine the shared degree of confidence that would have been necessary that the change would go unnoticed by the very agencies who collaborated on the documents.
It would have to have been a staggering effort by a massive number of people with enormous political and legal danger, all for miniscule benefit.
John McCain has been chosen, pretty much by chance, as the team leader in launching demands for accountability. That chance has been somewhat unfortunate. While expressing outrage at not being provided with a clear account of how intelligence reports were formulated, Senator McCain missed hours of briefings held to provide a clear account of how intelligence reports were formulated. His office blamed mistakes in scheduling that took him out of session with officials sent by intelligence agencies to provide information, putting him instead in front of television cameras complaining of a lack of information.
Which leaves us with a difficult Republican storyline.
The motive for any administration scandal is difficult to discern.
The motive for Republicans pursuing such a scandal is obvious as a hot sun on a cloudless summer day.
Nikita Khrushchev in a letter to John F. Kennedy - on the US approach to thermonuclear missiles in Cuba
What morals, what laws can justify such an approach by the American government to international affairs? Such morals and laws are not to be found, because the actions of the USA in relation to Cuba are outright piracy. This, if you will, is the madness of a degenerating imperialism.
I was still in high school, I think, when Robert Kennedy's Thirteen Days was released five years after his death. I was out of college when the made for television movie The Missiles of October, based on Kennedy's book was shown.
Amid the drama of the world nearly ending - it almost did, you know - I was struck by the off lyric way Khrushchev's rant sprinkled letters employed out of date English idioms. You could tell they were translations because of the unnatural way such phrases were used.
"If you will" was one example, and it stayed with me. It kind of means I'm about to use an imprecise or exaggerated or offensive expression but I'm asking you for permission to use it for the sake of clarity. Maybe this is why it sounded especially foreign in the Soviet context. I want to call you a imperialist, degenerate, madman. Can we agree on that?
For some reason, I came to associate "if you will" with Louis Auchincloss, who wrote a lot about life inside the patrician, elite, self-important, classes of extreme wealth: the banking, stockbroker, lawyer, financial types of Wall Street. So it isn't a big leap to connect it with someone trying hard to sound like what an imagined sophisticate might say. It rings with pretentiousness.
Mitt Romney will be known pretty much forever for the 47 percent, with "For Pete's Sake" as a runner up. His real impact on language is more pernicious. He has reintroduced the lethargic if-you-will into our hitherto innocent vocabulary.
From a town hall meeting in August:
I’ve had the experience of working in the real world, if you will, the private sector...
In February during the GOP debate paraphrasing his friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio:
...it’s called political garbage, if you will, to not arrest illegals already in this country....
In July, 2012, minimizing his role in the layoffs, outsourcing, off shoring, or otherwise firing of employees, by Bain Capital:
"there’s a big difference between being a shareholder, an owner if you will, and running a company."
In a 1994 street interview later used against him:
The blind trust is an age old ruse, if you will, which is to say, you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do...
In 2007 going all Yosemite Sam in discussing his non-big-game-hunter experiences:
I'm not a big-game hunter. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.
Yosemite Mitt's experience in hunting varmints could have appealed to constituents if he had run for President of Merrie Melodies, or Governor of Looney Tunes.
Americans tend to revere, and copy, Presidents. The seventh-inning stretch in baseball began when William Howard Taft stood to get a respite from his little wooden bench. The entire crowd rose in respect and the tradition stayed.
The Bush new-cue-ler survived his Presidency for a time, only recently fading from punditry. "Incredibly" and "literally" are overused by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and a host of political television analysts, whether favorable or hostile to the administration.
And a sort of anticipatory Presidential awe propelled catch phrases of the once, and no longer, future Chief Executive.
Dick Morris on Fox News election night, predicting a Republican sweep: "Romney will win by a very large margin -- a landslide, if you will."
Chuck Todd on MSNBC managing three if-you-wills in the same conversation concerning the approaching election:
the auto belt, if you will, the Toledo area
mathematics, if you will, from the Obama campaign
these swing voting women, if you will
It takes a while for such practices to drift off into the past.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux after the election:
This is a president now who's got a little bit of wind, if you will, in his sails, and he is moving forward to a second term.
And Wolf Blitzer in the same segment:
He's going to have to change some of his sort of outreach, if you will, if he is going to be successful in these next four years that he is looking ahead to his presidential legacy.
"If you will" was if-you-willed to exhaustion in this one piece, as the two talked.
a tax reform, if you will
the negotiations, if you will
a front page news story, if you will
It goes, as all verbal habits do, beyond politics. A CBS science expert talks of "different points on a grid, if you will, of the surface of the Earth."
Now that the campaign is over, will the Romney effect go the way of all bumps?
Sadly, the candidate himself, after becoming a former candidate, did not relent.
The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift.
Republicans are mad as a wet hen, if you will, about that last if-you-will.
Okay, okay, maybe they're irritated about a few other aspects as well.
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, November 18, 2012
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
God knows my life, and more.
God knows my direction.
All that is good in my heart,
and all that is temptation,
is open to our Lord.
With every possibility,
with every path I might walk,
God knows my way.
When our paths are joined in common hope,
we follow the spirit to those in need,
and to those who need to help.
We become a part of God’s plan.
We become a part of each other.
We become community.
Found on Line:
Performed by the Aya Hirano
with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
Chuck Thinks Right reads about a little frustrated sarcastic humor from an unemployed guy waiting in line for hours to apply for work. Chuck seriously, ever so seriously, sees a serious symptom of the serious election season. Seriously serious.
The election is over and the controversy is surprisingly over as well. That burning question has been whether the Republican candidate was a flip-flop moderate or a severe conservative. Joe Hagstrom at Mad Mike's America notes the sad confirmation of Mitt Romney's severity. Mitt can't figure out how Republicans will appeal to those worthless takers who will only vote for Santa. Seems America dodged a very severe term, for Pete's sake.
- Our favorite severe conservative T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, conducts an election post-morose and severely chides Democrats for not admitting that the severe Mitt Romney was right in his gift and bribe reactions.
I came across a counter-suggestion from Newt Gingrich: "He had enough billionaire supporters that if buying the electorate was the key, he could have got all of his super PAC friends together and said, 'Don't buy ads, give gifts.'"
Nancy Hanks at The Hankster offers advice from a series of sources on why the independent vote can be dangerous, what Democrats must do to maintain election victories, and what Republicans must do to remain relevant.
Senator John McCain has been attacking UN Ambassador Susan Rice for representing the administration untruthfully on the Benghazi assassinations. He skipped a briefing on intelligence concerning the Benghazi events in order to complain about not being given information on the Benghazi events. The weirdness doesn't end there.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite reports the strangest of strange interviews as CNN's Soledad O'Brien tries to make sense of Nevada Republican Representative Joe Heck's dreamlike comparison of the Rices. Susan Rice is guilty of misleading the public by passing on information from intelligence agencies that later turned out to be wrong, whereas Condoleezza Rice years ago was completely honest when doing the same thing concerning Iraq. This is because C. Rice was in a position to know the truth, and S. Rice wasn't. Tommy Christopher calls it a sort of Jedi mind trick in reverse.
Tommy has a point. I listened to the interview yesterday morning while shaving and stopped to avoid further marring an already sorry looking face. Later, during the morning commute, I found myself mumbling about the droids I was looking for.
Bette Noir at Rumproast goes to Obama mind control and Republican research on such dangers in the Georgia state Senate. These are not the droids...
In response to Burr Deming's How Republicans Will Change Minds
If a decent regard of other groups as human beings to be sought and listened to and reasoned with is considered an approach that is exclusively leftist, Republicans are dooming themselves to a deliberately shrinking minority.
- Burr Deming, November 15, 2012
Burr, my friend, in some respects I actually agree with your underlying thesis here. For the record, I don’t despise or hate those that voted for Obama. Heck, I find myself awash in friends and family members (gulp!) that did so, yourself absolutely included, and I live in a state where Romney received 70% of the vote. I don’t blame the politicians. Okay, I do blame them some, but they are nothing more than the reflection of the voters’ wishes. In other words, we get the government for which we vote.
The problem is that history, civics, and economics ? grand sweeping ideals of liberty and the preservation of it have been lost in the Republican message. It is awfully hard to carry the fight to the ballot box against misnamed “free healthcare” and Obama-phones for the poor when one tries to preach the necessity of personal responsibility. It is a lot like telling your young child that they must eat their vegetables before they can have chocolate cake for dessert. “But Dad, I don’t like vegetables and chocolate cake tastes so yummy!” Indeed, but in the long run, one’s health is in peril if one lives on a strict diet of chocolate cake and the like, while avoiding vegetables and responsibility at all costs.
While the Democrats were often masterful in framing the debate by claiming nonsensically that the GOP was waging a war on women, the meme nevertheless stuck. The GOP was flummoxed and rather than try to explain to the American populace why having tax payers fund abortions, sterilizations, and contraception for everyone was a very bad idea, they basically responded with the juvenile response of “No we aren’t; you guys are waging a war on women.”
The underlying problem is that there is far too much ignorance in this country today. I don’t mean that as a pejorative, but in the actual definition of the word. Many of us don’t understand or willfully ignore the fact that we cannot get something for nothing. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a good example of that. Despite the disorganization of the movement, the bottom line is that they wanted free stuff. They wanted their student loan debts forgiven. They wanted expanded entitlements. And they wanted those evil rich people who weren’t paying their fair share to cover it all. They wanted more cake. They don’t realize that if you tax 100% of the income from those evil rich, you would only be able to run the country for a few months at best, and then you would likely not have the companies and jobs that were attached to them in existence anymore. You certainly wouldn’t be able to go back and tax them again.
They want their employers to provide free contraception, even if it is against their moral or religious principles to do so (to say nothing of their 1st amendment rights). They want free cake! The consequences are that businesses and churches and charities and Catholic hospitals that refuse to compromise their principles will likely just go away rather than give in to such mandates. The results will be fewer jobs, fewer charitable organizations to help the needy, and fewer hospitals thus making medical accessibility and costs far worse. We don’t realize that we need vegetables too.
We need to understand our history and civics and why we have the rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES as citizens that we do. If the Republicans cannot adequately explain these facts, and it will be exceptionally tough to do so in this 15-second sound-bite and bumper sticker world where we now live, then the GOP will indeed continue to shrink. The children among us will continue to vote for cake and the ramifications of a nation of cake-fed constituents is horrible to contemplate. After all, somebody has to actually make that cake too.
In addition to preparing healthy and enriching dishes here, T. Paine also serves wonderful conservative treats at his own site.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.
So if I understand you correctly, Mr. Deming, if the Republicans don't moderate their views to a more enlightened and pragmatic approach that more closely resembles those of the left, then they will perish? It seems to me that choosing moderate big-government “Republicans” like Dole, Bush, McCain, and Romney has already served to move us closer to the center, if not the left. We are not better off for having done so.
- T. Paine, November 14, 2012
T. Paine is a friend. I don't mean that in the Senatorial I-hold-him-in-high-esteem sense. Long time Republican Minority leader, the late Senator Everett Dirksen once described a colleague he didn't much like as one he held "in minimal high esteem." Nope. T. Paine is an actual friend. When our young Marine, serving his country in Afghanistan, was suddenly out of communication just as news reached us of two attacks on his base, we got messages of prayers, understanding, and cautious encouragement from T. Paine. It is one of many examples of wise counsel and friendship in times of helpless anxiety.
In his comment, my friend was referring to my skepticism about the long term survival of the GOP base.
I thought of my friend as I read a piece from the Detroit Free Press. It concerned what had always been one of many reliably Republican areas, Oakland County Michigan. The article was ostensibly about population shifts and demographics, with a touch of politics. Data is not the plural of "anecdote." Individual stories prove little but sometimes illustrate much. Two interviews were telling. Both were of Republicans.
One was a locally accomplished politician.
Take former state Sen. Shirley Johnson of Royal Oak for example. She was christened into politics 40 years ago when she worked for Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon, graduated to Michigan Govs. William G. Milliken and John Engler and stayed true to the GOP until she left the state Senate in 2006.
"But now the party has gone so far to the right that I don't recognize it," said Johnson, 74, of Troy. "When I first came into politics, I was a very moderate Republican and was surrounded by nothing but moderates.
Former Republican State Senator Shirley Johnson voted for President Obama.
That was the anecdote that illustrates a larger truth. One reason conservative politicians, managers, and pundits knew national mainstream polls were skewed was the low percentage of Republicans compared to Democrats showing up in the surveys. The polls were obviously undercounting Republicans. Since there obviously were more Republicans than polls were showing, it was easy to see that Mitt Romney would do substantially better than those polls predicted.
But he didn't. When polls were shown by actual results to be inaccurate, they erred against Democrats. The percentage of voters showing up as Republicans were unexpectedly low in the polls because the number of voters who want to be associated with the Republican Party is lower than rock bottom.
Mitt Romney provides a clue as to why, as he explained yesterday afternoon why he lost. Special groups had essentially been lured by bright and shiny free stuff, "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people..."
Those "gifts" and the drooling response of those greedy groups, is just the sort of narrative that is destroying the GOP. If you voted against severe conservatives your vote was either bought or stolen.
Describing undocumented workers as something other than living, breathing, feeling human beings, regardless of what immigration policy you want, is not something that will attract a neighbor or a relative or someone whose accent or skin color might provoke a demand for papers. "Likewise with Hispanic voters," said Mr. Romney yesterday as he described the "gifts" to the gullible, "free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group." Illegals?
Ohio officials went beyond bogus photo ID laws this year. They tried to throw out ballots of thousands in urban areas whom poll workers sent to the wrong voting booth. When a judge ruled against that, poll workers were directed to throw out ballots of anyone who produced official identification but checked the wrong box on a form stating which ID they had brought in. Gotcha!!! Thinking of black people as an enemy who ought to be blocked from voting by any means available is an approach unlikely to be attractive to fair minded people of any race.
"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," suggested Governor Romney, explaining why women voted for the President. Seeing women as those who must be controlled, who should be taught gratitude for their station in life, even for the gift of pregnancy through rape, regardless of one's position on abortion, is unlikely to attract women or those men who have ever had mothers or daughters or wives or girlfriends.
And if another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue. The college-age daughters of many of my friends voted for Obama because they were completely turned off by Neanderthal comments like the suggestion of “legitimate rape.”
- Karen Hughes, onetime advisor to President George W. Bush, as quoted by Politico, November 9, 2012
It isn't just politicians who regard as enemies those who vote the other way. In fact, politicians are less significant to the future of the GOP than those who labor in the vineyards of party politics. If the base becomes inclusive, the party will survive and live to better days.
An enlightened and pragmatic approach that resembles that of the left, as my friend Mr. Paine put it? Perhaps. If a decent regard of other groups as human beings to be sought and listened to and reasoned with is considered an approach that is exclusively leftist, Republicans are dooming themselves to a deliberately shrinking minority.
Before considering less severely conservative policy, will members of the Republican base itself lead the way to a more respectful attitude toward those they may wish to convince?
That could happen. It has to happen if the GOP will remain a national political influence beyond the end of this decade. I'm more than skeptical. If the second interview from Oakland County seems representative of the base, perhaps my pessimism is well founded.
"As chairman of the Oakland County Republican Party, I still have doubts" about Obama's citizenship, Jim Thienel said.
Or as my friend T. Paine describes voters who failed to support conservatives, "What has happened is the triumph of entitlement mentalities and 'what my country can do for me' over self-dependence and rugged individualism. It is the triumph of Euro-style socialism over American-style freedom and capitalism."
Yeah, I'm skeptical.
When asked about election night, Ryan said he and Mitt Romney were genuinely surprised by the results.
Contrary to reports, Ryan said that the GOP candidates felt they had a good chance to win, even as they headed to Boston for their election-night gathering.
- WISN 12 News from Milwaukee, Nov 12, 2012
Missed it by that much.
One surprise was that Republican leaders were surprised. They were not confident, they were supremely confident. They did not consider an Obama victory to be plausible.
This goes beyond a misreading of polling numbers. The formula used to calculate likely voters can be nudged from time to time, but this went dozens of bridges farther.
The proportion of voters declaring themselves to be independent were swinging heavily toward Mitt Romney. This gave them hope.
But the core reason for that surge was not a surge at all. The number of people willing to call themselves Republicans had dropped precipitously. Many, but not all, were staying with the Republican candidate, but a dangerous proportion were taking wing and flying away from the former party of Lincoln. This reduction in Republican voters was simply disbelieved. Since it absolutely couldn't be true, it wasn't.
Polling was sometimes adjusted. Some polls were weighted toward what pollsters and those who paid them just knew were more realistic percentages. Others changed the definition of "likely" to achieve what everybody, which is to say conservatives, knew to be true.
It was the application of global warming denial to political climate change. Electoral creationism came from the Lord and had to work. Evidence was ordered the same way that Dick Cheney tried to produce proof that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Data was waterboarded, tortured into whatever shape was needed to conform to the reality everyone knew to be factual.
Some outside the cocoon now doubt that those inside actually believed what they proclaimed. They wonder what motivates the fantastic stories that are surfacing from post-election conservative trauma. Is it even possible that conservatives weren't just putting on a brave face? Did they actually believe this ... what to call it, Mr. Biden?... malarkey? Josh Marshall in the first of several skeptical pieces:
It’s just a step too far. Just too ridiculous. I can maybe believe that the Romney camp thought they had a fighting chance in Ohio — after all the final result was pretty close. I simply cannot believe that they thought they were in such a strong position that they were going to try for a decisive electoral college win.
Local Republicans take it hard. Anecdotal stories lend to a picture of the sudden shattering of a pixie-dust belief system that had filtered through to pretty much everyone. Especially taken in were volunteers and casual supporters. You'd kind of expect non-professional true believers to be captives of a unifying myth. You don't have to believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans to believe your candidate is sure to win.
But it wasn't just the local Fox viewers. The power of the narrative seems to have permeated every level. Republican candidates around the country, and those managing them, could not be swayed from the certain knowledge that, as the hour approached, they needed only to prepare victory speeches. The last days in doomed conservative bunkers entertained no wavering of faith.
Consider a party regarded as divorced from mainstream America, a political party that has lost the popular vote in four of the last five presidential elections, a party that seems destined by many to be a minority entity for the next several generations.
That is the Democratic Party at the close of 1988. So it does not, on the surface, seem implausible that Republicans will emerge victorious as early as 2016.
But there are differences. Democrats had struggled introspectively since 1972 to redefine themselves without abandoning core commitments to equality and economic opportunity. It took several elections for that effort to produce any recognition from most voters. Republicans have not shown that sort of self-examination in the last generation. It is possible that the ability to engage in painful political soul-searching is not distributed equally across the political spectrum.
For a couple of years, we at this site have debated the possibility that the Republican party will go the way of the Whigs. The party has long engaged in a sort of political anorexia, a purging loss of sustenance as moderates, then non-extreme conservatives, then non-crazy conservatives were invited to leave. With a shrinking base, moderating influences have evaporated. Extremists have taken control, more conservatives have felt unwelcome, and the process has accelerated.
Will the Republican Party also evaporate? At the core of the argument is technology. Conservatives, not leaders, not politicians, but main street Republicans, now have the ability to surround themselves with whatever messages they find comforting. If media personalities moderate the message, the base can find new personalities to replace them.
If the GOP does go into a final self-destruction, it will be the result of the base refusing to see the tide rising. Like Hamlet's drowning Ophelia, "incapable of her own distress," they will continue to shrink until they vanish as a national force.
If the GOP survives, overcomes, and flourishes again, the process will begin quickly. It will not be caused by a reversal of leadership, although that will help. It will not be led by the suddenly evolving views of Sean Hannity clones, although that will be a coinciding result.
It will be caused, and led, by the same base that owns the party now. If individuals, in the solitude of their homes, in the silence of the midnight hour, look inward and see that directions must change toward a more constructive engagement with a new emerging society, the process will begin.
I, for one, will be astonished.
You absolutely have to see this site.
This is an article related to the presidential election, which is a stupid idea. Mostly because you -- the person reading this right now -- have horrible, poorly developed political beliefs, and both you and your parents should be deeply, deeply ashamed of them. But, if possible, forget about the politics for now. If you're a Whig, forget about the Tories. If you're a Tory, ignore the Whigs.
This is about numbers, not politics.
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In response to Burr Deming's Wiki-Repub-Leaks
So Rove declared Wilson's secret CIA wife, Valarie Plame, "fair game." Her Middle East contacts, all those who had given information to her, were in danger. But that was okay, because exposing her identity was for the greater good. Rove later escaped by inches being arrested in the matter.
A week later, Issa posted on the internet 166 pages of sensitive materials. He apparently thought there was some chance of implicating the Obama administration in something. The pages included the actual names of Libyans working for the US, as well as those of several local residents taking heroic risks.
- Burr Deming, November 12, 2012
Mr. Deming, first your recital of the Mother Jones version of the Valerie Plame incident is distorted and at times wildly at odds with the truth, sir. A State Department deputy by the name of Richard Armitage was the one that released the identity of Plame to Robert Novak. This was a fact that the independent counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, was aware of at the very beginning of his investigation, and yet he chose to see what other fish he could catch, much to Scooter Libby’s chagrin .
Moving on, I do not condone Issa or anyone else ever endangering Americans or those that work with Americans in good faith. That includes our beloved President Obama when he prematurely and precipitously released information on the killing of bin Laden so that other intelligence captured in that raid was rendered largely useless. Further, this lead to the arrest of Dr. Shakeel Afridi by Pakistan authorities for having had the temerity to help Americans locate and thus kill bin Laden. I guess the releasing of highly classified information is acceptable if it is done by a Democrat President for political gain, huh?
By the way, does it strike you as ironic that the ONLY achievement of any significance for President Obama in his first term was the killing of bin Laden? I find it exceptionally so, considering that Obama was against holding these terrorist scum in Guantanamo Bay with “no rights” and wished to do away with enhanced interrogation. It is precisely because of that Democrat-called “torture” that the intelligence of where we might locate bin Laden was finally discerned. So while Obama truly did inherit an economic mess from Bush, he also inherited the tools and intelligence necessary for his only great coup in his first term.
As for the Benghazi incident, there is plenty of very disturbing information that has come to light regarding Obama and his seeming duplicity in the matter. The fact that the military claims from multiple credible sources that they could have helped and prevented at least some of the deaths of Americans there if they had been notified and/or authorized to do so is greatly troubling. I will wait for matters to come to further light before making final judgments, but it has already been proven that Obama cares nothing for Americans or friends of America if it doesn’t help his cause to help them.
Issa has done excellent work in trying to hold the Obama administration’s feet to the fire with all of their malfeasance. Indeed, Fast and Furious could very well have been cause for impeachment had Obama been a Republican. It sure as hell would have rendered him unelectable again at a minimum. The sycophantic liberal press largely ignored it though, and the incompetent and corrupt and found-in-contempt Eric Holder remains Attorney General accordingly. And while Obama “had no knowledge of the program”, he still incongruously found the need to declare executive privilege over subpoenaed information. Interesting.
Congressman Issa needs to continue his work, now more than ever, but he does indeed need to protect classified information and not succumb to the tactics that Obama has used in regards to throwing our own under the bus simply as a political calculation. I hope that he will do so going forward.
T. Paine is a frequent and generous contributor here. He also stands vigilant guard against the insidious encroachment of liberalism at his own site.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.