Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No Matter How You Slice It, It’s Still Baloney

Ever try to talk to somebody who doesn't speak your language?

In a foreign nation or with a visitor to your own country?

Trying to get directions, maybe, or give directions. Order a meal. Find the nearest restroom. That sort of thing.

Even simple concepts can be difficult, let alone an actual conversation, or an exchange of ideas, or seeing each other as equals, as human, or reaching an actual understanding.

There are several ways to go about it.

First, you can make an actual effort.

You can use what few words you both do have in common, along with gestures and body language like the tourist’s version of charades, to achieve some form of mutual understanding, typically with varying degrees of success depending on how far apart your disparate cultures are. In the Spanish region of Andalusia for example, they make a kind of palms-down finger-waving gesture when they want you to come closer, to an American it looks like they’re giving you the brush-off. On the streets of Seville and Cadiz, Spaniards greet each other in passing by saying “adios!” (goodbye). It can be confusing, and Spanish and American cultures aren’t all that far apart. I’ve been to places in Africa and Asia where I wasn’t sure if I was ordering lunch or agreeing to participate in a revolution against the local despot. And I once spent two days driving across New South Wales with a guy who looked like an extra from The Road Warrior, he talked nonstop and supposedly spoke English and to this day I have no idea what the hell he was saying – but I got to see parts of Australia that the tourists never see and left with a deep seated respect and admiration for the people who live there.  

Even without a common language and culture, understanding is possible, if you put enough sincere effort into it.

Or maybe you can find somebody who speaks both languages, understands both cultures and can act as a bridge, a translator, and thus you can come to a mutual understanding. As a Navy intelligence officer, I once boarded an ancient rusting freighter in the Persian Gulf, a smuggling vessel crewed by a ragged bunch of cutthroats. The vessel’s master was right out of Corsair mythology, a tall thin man with weathered skin like hammered leather, long braided hair and beard, an enormous hooked beak of a nose, and the most piercing black eyes I’ve ever seen – all he lacked was a scimitar and a brace of black powder pistols. My enlisted Navy translator was born to Iranian parents who’d fled to New York just ahead of Khomeini’s revolution, they’d raised their children in the languages and cultures of both lands and it wasn’t long before the smuggler captain was offering us thick sweet coffee brewed in the Arab fashion and telling me how he hoped we Americans would get rid of Saddam so that his daughters could grow up free to choose their own destinies like Western women. He was a hard eyed Marsh Arab pirate, an Iraqi, a Muslim … and a softhearted doting father who believed in the promise of freedom and equality between the sexes – and a more fascinating conversation I’ve never had.

Increasingly technology fills this role, the bridge between cultures and viewpoints, my Android tablet coupled to the Internet speaks a dozen languages, maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than I do, enough for an understanding. With these tools, human or machine, understanding is possible – but you have to work at it, you have to want to meet the other guy halfway.

Or you can just shout louder.

That’s right, you can be the cliché, the boneheaded jerk who refuses to learn even a few words of the other guy’s language, who instead just keeps repeating the same sentence over and over – as if the other guy will finally come around if you just say it loud enough. You can be the obnoxious jackass who demands that everybody else speak your language with your accent, the guy who does nothing but complain because people from other viewpoints have the unmitigated effrontery to act as if their way, their beliefs, their society, their religion, their culture, their lives and loves and interests, are just as valid as yours. You can be the guy who manages to be perpetually offended by the very idea of different cultures and beliefs and religions, and who believes that because you’re not allowed to discriminate against them that they are somehow depriving you of your god-given rights just by existing.

Yes, you can certainly be that guy.

It doesn’t take much effort, to be that guy, the bigoted self-righteous ass who just doesn’t get it. Who doesn’t want to get it. The one that just keeps shouting louder and louder, the one who gets mad because others refuse to live their lives in a certain way, your way, your culture’s way, your prophet’s way. You can be the guy who clings to outmoded ideas, to old biases and hatreds, and a cloistered and selfish worldview.

You can be the guy who just doesn’t get that the problem isn’t them – it’s you.

It’s certainly easier to be a bigot.


A number of your wrote to ask why I hadn’t yet commented on this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

I was waiting.

I wanted to give conservatives plenty of time to finish talking, to make sure they’d had time to rebut the criticism, I wanted to examine the CPAC message in context and see how they interpreted it first.

And, most especially, I first wanted to read the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” report, the “most comprehensive post-election review” ever undertaken by party leaders, which was released on Monday. It’s a hundred page analysis detailing why Republicans think they lost so badly in the last election cycle, not just the White House but across the board.

I wrote about this topic right after the election, It’s The Racism, Stupid, and I wondered if the RNC would come to the same conclusion I did.  I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I sure wasn’t disappointed – or rather I was, but you know what I mean. 

“Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement…”

So says RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus (and seriously here, Conservatives think “Barack Obama” is a funny foreign sounding name? But I digress).

It’s always a hopeful sign when the patient starts out by admitting that they have a problem.

Except, of course, that’s not exactly what’s happening here.

Because Priebus followed up his first statement by saying in essence that his party’s platform and policies are “fundamentally sound” but, see, it’s the minorities who just aren’t listening.

Maybe if republicans speak louder

Priebus went on to say:

“There’s no one solution, there’s a long list of them.”

And first on the list is “more extensive outreach to women, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and gay voters” – which is pretty damned funny when you think about it, because the RNC Chairman basically just admitted that the GOP really is the party of rich old white guys.

And how, exactly, does the GOP plan on reaching out to women, non-whites, and gays?

Not by changing their actual platform, of course, oh no, not that. Instead they’re going to spend $10 million to more clearly explain to bitches, homos, and brown people why they should be happy as second class citizens.

Oh, what? Did you actually think the Republican party was suddenly going to let women manage their own bodies? Did you really think that they were suddenly going to stop trying to shove their evangelical version of God up our collective asses? Or that they were going to let gay people get married (Hell they can’t even say “gay” – let alone LGBT). Or that they were going to purge their ranks of the bigots and the racists and embrace diversity and multiculturalism?

Really? You thought that’s what Priebus was saying?

You’re so darned cute.

The basic gist of Priebus’ “autopsy” is this: We’re not going to learn your language, we’re not going to respect your culture or beliefs. We have no intention of seeing things from your viewpoint, we’re damned well not going to meet you halfway. It’s not us, it’s you. We don’t need to change, we just need to talk louder. And we’re going to keep talking louder until you unAmerican idiots understand. We’re going to learn how to use the internet and that twitter thing you liberals love, we’re going to find us some dynamic candidates, a 21st Century version of Reagan, who can convince you silly women, you stupid brown people, and you damned queers to vote for a political party who won’t even let you in the front door.

In other words, we’re not changing a damned thing, we’re just going to say it louder.

The RNC looked at the last election and figured democrats won not because their platform and message resonated to a greater degree with a greater percentage of the population, but rather because democrats had better candidates, were better at social media, were better at debating, and were better at speaking without putting their foot in their mouth.  The idea here being that a significant fraction of conservatives believe that Democrats won because they got a large percentage of the minority vote, and they got that vote because minorities are stupid and gullible and easily bribed with promises of “free stuff” and “government giveaways.” And conservatives haven’t exactly been shy about saying exactly that in public – starting with Mitt Romney. 

Now, conservatives want the same people they’ve been calling stupid and shiftless and lazy to vote for conservatives.

And the RNC figures that minorities will vote for conservative candidates if Republicans just polish a few turds and pretend they are diamonds.

They don’t have to change, they just have to shout louder.

Which brings us to a case in point: CPAC.

Ask yourself something: Who didn’t get invited to CPAC?

Who didn’t get invited to CPAC and why?

At the exact same moment the RNC chairman was talking about reaching out to the other side, the most well known and most outspoken conservatives firmly and publicly uninvited Governor Chris Christie, popular with both Left and Right, from their little convention.

And why? Why was Christie snubbed?

Christie was uninvited specifically because Christie reached out to the other side.

Talk about your classic facepalm moment.

Priebus said that conservatives need to reach out to gay voters.  

Meanwhile CPAC specifically and pointedly didn’t invite gay voters who are already republicans – why should the rest of the LGBT community expect they’ll get treated any different under a conservative government run by these same people? Why should LGBT people vote for any of these people? For a party platform that literally makes them second class citizens? (And tell me again why there even are gay republicans in the first place?)

And I don’t suppose we have to mention the percentage of black, brown, or yellow faces in the crowd.


There you go.

And who did get invited to CPAC?

Who will be the face of the new Republican Party?

Who will unite conservatives and lead them to victory in 2016?

Wayne LaPierre? The National Rifle Association got invited to CPAC, but not Chris Christie? Wayne LaPierre, what, they couldn’t find a clown who makes balloon animals? 

Sarah Palin? The Grizzly Mama, who continues to nurse a sophomoric grudge against members of her own party, never missing an opportunity to catalog all the insults and hurts that she never, ever, forgets? As always, Palin eschewed any real message and went for the divisive sound bite, demanding that conservatives “furlough the consultants” and send “the architect” back to Texas in an unabashed dig at Karl Rove.  The woman just can’t help herself, she’s a spoiled little small town high school prom queen, she’s good at leading a homecoming pep rally but that’s really all she’s got going for her – well that and her “rack” (And seriously, Sarah? “Todd got the rifle, I got the rack?” Nothing like a tit joke to attract the female vote, eh? Can you imagine if Joe Biden had told that exact same joke about Palin? Jesus Christ in a Bullet Bra, what’s she going to do for an encore? Make fun of retards? But I digress). 

That said, well, then there’s Karl Rove. This corpulent little slug has been oozing around the dark corners of the GOP since Watergate, whispering in ears and listening at keyholes – though his assessment of Sarah Palin makes me think fondly of slugs.  Palin naturally wants to send him back to Texas, which is a whole lot like locking an alcoholic in a liquor store – but she’s right, if for the wrong reasons. The great science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, once penned a truly terrifying tale about an alien invasion called The Puppet Masters. In the novel the aliens, slimy slug-like creatures, secretly attach themselves to human hosts, burrowing into the nervous system and pulling the strings.  That’s Karl Rove, malevolent slug-like brain tissue, hiding in the shadows, bending human will to his own alien ends.  Reince Priebus can proclaim a new era of conservative outreach, but until the GOP gets rid of Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney and the rest of the slimy old guard alien collective, things are unlikely to change very much.

Jeb Bush? He bemoaned the fact that “all too often we’re associated with being anti-everything, anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-gay.”  There’s that penetrating insight into the human condition the Bush family is so famous for. Geez, Jeb, you ever stop to wonder why the outfit which refused to invite gay members of its own party to their own conference is associated with being anti-gay? You ever wonder why the party which supports candidates who believe in “legitimate rape” and that rape is part of “God’s plan” can’t seem to attract women? The party of “self-deportation” and “no amnesty” and who wants to build a two thousand mile long wall across Mexico can’t figure out why they’re not attractive to Latinos? Meanwhile, just for fun, at the CPAC breakout session on minority outreach entitled “Trump the Race Card” during a speech by K. Carl Smith of the Fredrick Douglass Republicans, audience member Scott Terry stood up and asked Republicans to endorse races remaining “separate but equal.” Scott then went on to defend slavery by saying that it “gave food and shelter” to blacks – a statement that was greeted with applause and cheers from more than a few members of the audience. The gist of Terry’s comment was that white people have been “systematically disenfranchised” by the federal government at the behest of minorities and that African-Americans should be permanently subservient to whites. When challenged on the history of the Republican party by a female reporter, Terry quipped, “I didn’t know the legacy of the Republican Party included women correcting men in public!” After the breakout session, Smith issued a statement condemning the reporter as “rude.” 

There’s a reason why the GOP is associated with being anti-everything, anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-gay, it’s because they’re anti-everything, anti-immigration, anti-woman, and anti-gay.

Listen to their speakers, read their platform, it’s printed right on the label.

Rick Perry? I half expected Perry to break into a rain dance. But instead of bustin’ a move, Perry told conservatives they didn’t need to change. He blamed the media for recent GOP setbacks and said that conservatives didn’t really lose the last election after all, “that might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012.” And you’ve really got to admire the logic there, don’t you? We didn’t lose, because we didn’t like our candidates either, so the joke’s on you nyah nyah nyah! On second thought, maybe Perry was dancing after all – it’s hard to tell with old white guys. Perry’s comments are diametrically opposed to the RNC’s own autopsy report and were designed to pander directly to the majority of conservatives who blame weak candidates for their losses and see no need to adjust their party’s platform – a position that is unlikely to attract LBGT voters, women, or people of color in 2016 any more than the same message attracted them in 2008 and 2012.  

Speaking of weak candidates: Mitt Romney showed up at CPAC, making his first public appearance since election day.  It was like watching one of those robots in Disney’s Hall Of Presidents – the only difference is that Mitt isn’t as lifelike.  It’s as if the word “banality” was invented just for Mitt Romney, “I utterly reject pessimism. We may not have carried on November 7th, but we haven’t lost the country we love. And we have not lost our way.” Mitt rejects pessimism? Well, that’s good, I suppose. Conservatives haven’t lost the country they love? Republicans haven’t lost their way?  Right, except for that part where the conservative message for the last five years, including Mitt Romney’s own campaign, has been the very definition of pessimism.

And if they haven’t lost “their” country, then why do they feel the need to take it back?

Mitt Romney, still out of touch with everybody – including his own party.

And then there was Donald Trump, who declared that America had a right to "pay ourselves back" for the Iraq war by taking the country's oil – kind of like how a crackhead has a right to your wallet, since he went through the trouble of mugging you.

The 2013 CPAC basically just doubled-down on everything that’s wrong with the GOP in the first place.

These people are the very epitome of the Ugly American stereotype, the obnoxious idiot shouting, “Whatsamatter? Can’t you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

I’ve said it before, I’ll likely say it again: America needs a better class of conservatives.

Maybe if I said it louder


  1. I rather liked the CPAC message, and the Republican autopsy report. As long as they keep riding the same dead horse, they will eventually be served up at IKEA. It is possible that we will make some progress during the next two election cycles, and have a functioning decision making process again.


    1. I have to agree. I hope they don't change a bit (unless it's to actually get worse - if that's possible) so that more and more people wake up to the truth that these people actually DO think this way. I heard FAR too many folks around election time (usually Republicans since they were old enough to have their parents tell them they were) and since, saying things like "there's no way the majority of the government Right-wingers all think that crazy and can be that disconnected with what Americans really want". Like maybe since THEY didn't agree with the policies, they could still vote for "their" candidate because no way would they actually make laws taking away almost every right they could from any human that wasn't an old rich white guy! Willingly blind, deaf, and dumb has become the policy of those few "Republicans" who refuse to see their own party and the damage they've already managed to do to this country since "that damned black guy" got elected and they swore to make sure he did NOT have a good presidency. They are a party imploding faster and faster, but certainly not fast enough for this country to get back on it's feet (which we had started to finally do until this damned sequester!

    2. "...served up at IKEA"

      I see what you did there.

  2. The new leadership won't come from the Republican Governors. Kasich, at any rate is firmly rooted in the GOP Neopolitic. Gerrymandering is going to give the Grody Old Party the edge in both of Ohio's legislative branches. Consequently, statewide (not gerrymandered) offices are going to be like a magnet for the Democrats. 2014 looks interesting.

  3. America HAD a better class of conservatives. They had people like Amo Houghton, Kenny Guinn and especially Barry Goldwater. And they were all effectively thrown out of the party for not kowtowing to the theocrats that seized total control of the Party in 1994. Any Republican today who does not do what the religious wing of the Party tells them to do is finished as a national politician.

    1. I'll give you Amo and Kenny, ...say what you will, but Goldwater had very very few redeeming qualities.

    2. Actually in his later years Barry really lightened up a lot. He, unlike McCain, became more interested in his legacy and what would become of his country, rather than ideology. He is the one who first said about gay soldiers: "I don't care if they are straight, they just have to shoot straight." I think he would have been appalled at today's Rs.
      That said, I never voted for him, and probably still wouldn't.


    3. Magister Calvert, Barry Goldwater was a better brand of conservative? The same Barry who suggested we bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age? The same Barry who convinced me that I needed a new world view and thus..became a Democrat? That Barry Goldwater? and I never even heard of those other names..sounded like relatives of Reince...

    4. The funny part is that people keep pretending - republicans chief among them - that republicans are actually conservatives. They're not, they're just Democrats Lite. And their Stockholm syndrome voters refuse to hold either side of that dirty coin accountable for their continued economic destruction.

  4. Great post as always.... 2016 is looking better and better!

    1. Yes but 2014 is just as important so that the President can get some more rationality in our government.

  5. Satisfying and informative read Jim - I wish I were as able to comment so incisively on our British politics. What a mess the World is in. Thank goodness for the light relief of Shopkat, and the beautiful views you post.. I love the description of the Pirate ! Johnny Depp is my favourite one of course. (??!)

    1. I heartily agree, aaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh! Jim Lad!

  6. Jay-zuz.
    Jim Wright: Watching CPAC so we don't have to.
    Thank you for your service, sir.

  7. Nothing like the GOP running scared.

    I'm sure that Reagan is rolling over in his grave with what has happened to his party. And Jesus God, how do you think good Old Honest Abe must feel? He much be spinning in his grave at what has happened to the GOP.

    Yeah, that's right GOP, remember, it was a GOP President that freed the slaves, and yeah, I know you're still pissed off about that. Get over it! And get over yourselves!

    1. For what it is worth Honest Abe's coffin is embedded in cement They claim it was to prevent body snatching, I think it was to make it stop spinning.

    2. I'm not sure you know what Reagan was really like.

      Let me just say this, in no way and not at any time, has Reagan ever actually had any resemblance to his caricature invented for the hagiography of his life after his death.

      Reagan would not only be welcomed by the extremists, he would found a way to have been ingratiated into the fold of CPAC by volunteering to be one of the trustees.

      Reagan and Abe are in no way comparable.

    3. Don't forget Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt. Hell, Teddy was too liberal for today's Democrats.

    4. Reagan invited the social conservatives in to create a voting block that would put him over the top. I had hoped that GHW Bush would have cut the cord, instead he tightened the bonds with them. That was the last time I voted for a conservative president.

    5. Reagan announced his candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and on a platform of state's rights. Essentially he invited the southron racists into the party for electoral gain... and they've now taken the joint over.

      Oh, payback is a muthah...

  8. "then there’s Karl Rove. This corpulent little slug "

    Sorry, but that's far too unkind to slugs. Far too unkind. Also Nazis.


  10. Once lived in Europe. Had a husband who followed the "if they don't understand English, yell louder." approach. My children and I were horrified when we went out together. Needless to say, he was also a Republican...I love your posts. Husband no longer around.

  11. I have to STOP reading and comment....Bwhahahahaha

    "And the RNC figures that minorities will vote for conservative candidates if Republicans just polish a few turds and pretend they are diamonds."

    1. The Chinese have a saying for that. I cannot recall the Mandarin words, but the translation into English means: "shit of donkey." They use it to refer to inferior products. All shiny and smooth on the outside, but really just a piece of shit. And then there's that old southern expression the late Governor Ann Richards used to love: You can put lipstick on a hog, but it's still just a pig.

  12. Before anyone gets the idea that this was a compendium of all that went on at this years CPAC, Jim only refers to a very few of the featured speakers and that's before you get to the list of symposium presenters and the whole range of their cancerous biliousness.

    The full roster of speakers includes Ayotte, Barrasso, Black, Blackburn, Bush, Cantor, Cardenas, Carson, Chambers, Crowder, Cruz, Cuccinelli, Davis, Fiorina, Fitton, Frazee, Gingrich, Hawkins, Henry, Jiindal, Johnson, Johnson, Keene, Kieffer, Martin, McCobin, McConnell, Obenshain, Palin, Paul, Pavlich, Perry, Romney, Root, Rubio, Ryan, Santorum, Scott, Shannon, Toomey, Trump, Walker, West, and Wright.

    I figure Jim could have a wealth of material to post for weeks on end were he to be subjected to the entire transcript of the whole bizarre event. While we're reflecting on Jim's take on just how freakishly lousy some of the CPAC phenomena is, take a moment to ponder several days worth of equally freakish and bizarro proselytizing from these cranks and wankers.

    If one really wants to sidle up and lick the ear of the crazies, get thee at least once in your life to CPAC. And don't forget to pick up some of the highly collectible swag. Remember this CPAC poster?


    1. I don't remember it from "then," but I will remember it from now on. Thanks.

  13. Excellent post Jim. The RNC chairman obviously wasn't paying attention when his mom taught him that "actions speak louder than words" and "it's not what you say, it's what you do"... and all those other cliched principles they like to tell us we are lacking.

    I would also agree with you they think just shouting will get the message across because we just didn't hear it clearly the first time. Isn't that how the teabaggers got so much attention from the media when they first graced us with their... activism? (Everybody loves watching a train-wreck)

    I think a relevant opposition party or two is necessary to keep everyone honest but I'm inclined to revel in the ignorance the republican party is insisting on. It won't last forever but I'll enjoy it while I can.


    1. Maybe they should try bribing us with free stuff and govt giveaways if that worked so well for the Democrats.

    2. GOP bribery already only goes to the top 1%, so much so that Medicare and Social Security have to go away. There's nothing left for the plebes. In fact, I think this exact quote is in their party platform.

    3. "Maybe they should try bribing us with free stuff and govt giveaways..." The GOP does "free stuff and govt giveaways" they just do it for a much smaller demographic that they can't take the elections. Or what would you call some of the tax-breaks and tax-cuts that the GOP says we need?

  14. Meanwhile, since everyone distracted by the goofy clowns on the stage they can continue to work passing bills in the states and ensure that women can't make decisions about their own bodies and the increasing number of people forced into poverty have no safety net and have to work for wages that will keep them there and pass voter suppression laws so they don't have to worry about that pesky minority vote.
    Great post as always Jim.

  15. No, the Republicans don't get it.

    That party thinks that empathy is something you prevent with good hand hygiene. But if you get it, go to a doctor because there's clearly something wrong with you.

    Christie showed empathy for his constituents after Sandy and has been shunned like a leper ever since.

  16. "This corpulent little slug has been oozing around the dark corners of the GOP since Watergate, whispering in ears and listening at keyholes..."

    Varys - Game of Thrones - ANYONE?

    1. Too cute! and the season is starting again.

    2. As an ardent Game of Thrones/George R.R. Martin fan, who has read all the books, I have to say you are very wrong. Varys is actually a very heroic figure. He works on behalf of the people of the kingdom, not the kings. Rove, exactly opposite.

  17. "...how a crackhead has a right to your wallet, since he went to the trouble of mugging you." I laughed out loud! I so enjoy your comparative examples. Thanks for throwing yourself on the "autopsy" grenade for us, Jim. Also autopsy Nazis.
    On a side note,I didn't know my own state's moron of choice, Pat Toomey, spoke at CPAC. Yes, Pennsyltucky elected that TeaParty idiot over Joe Sestak to replace Arlen Specter. I still scratch my head over that one..
    Pam in PA

    1. I know! They elected him right after I moved from PA to North Dakota for grad school. I immediately asked all of my friends back home how they could have allowed that to happen.

    2. Oh, Sharon Smith. How does North Dakota compare with PA? I hear "things" are coming out of the ND Leg. My condolences.

  18. I'm working on convincing one Dominionist at a time that a website's URL is actually the Number Of The Beast. Let's see how well they do the Internets once that little nugget makes the rounds!

  19. Conservatives only seem to have empathy for people like them. Thus, Hillary's support of LGBT rights has led to speculation that she must be a lesbian in order to empathize with those people. And this is why Obama must hate white people, because, according to their theory, he's not like them, so he can't empathize with them.
    I would like to see them explain the broad-based support for the ASPCA. Yes, I do like to play the argumentum ad adsurdum game.

  20. Though what do you expect from people who elected Rick Santorum to public office? Twice.

    PA Pam

  21. Chris Christie takes a two-week break from blaming public sector unions for all the ills in the world and suddenly he's transformed into Chris the Wise and Compassionate.

    My ass.

    He's just another anti-labor Bozo in bed with the corporations and the rich white folk. His Tony Soprano imitation is far superior to his skill at actual governance. To steal a line from the late Ron Luciano- "His idea of a convincing argument is a body-slam." His concept of negotiation is- literally- "My way or the highway."

    Unfortunately, it appears at the moment that his churlish behavior will garner him a second term, to my everlasting dismay and to the detriment of my home state.

    1. Bet you he's a conservaDem in time for the next campaign.

    2. Bet you're right.

    3. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredMarch 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Ron Luciano reference. Awesome!

  22. "This corpulent little slug has been oozing around the dark corners of the GOP since Watergate, whispering in ears and listening at keyholes..."

    I had the sudden mental picture of Grima Wormtongue...

    1. And I keep thinking that Chris Christie is very much like Peter Pettigrew...

  23. Excellent post, as always. I even agree with it. But... But... This is not so very different from how the Dems and the Obama administration in reacted to losing the House in 2010. I think it's a politician disease: to believe that all problems can be solved by persuasion.

    You argue persuasively that conservatives are dominated by bigots, that this is why they lost the Presidency in 2012, and they that are trying to talk their way out of this. (Only you say it much nicer than I do.) A fair cop. But so far as I can see the centrist coalition which has come to rule the USA, including the Wall Street Republicans and conservative Democrats, which include Obama, are dominated by the financial services industries and the military-industrial complex. Now, the public believes, not very surprisingly, that at least they're not a pack of sexist, racist, homophobes, and not out to get us into Yet Another War. (But watch for what comes out of Obama's meetings in Israel.)

    But, well, who really wants a president who thinks that reducing the Federal deficit is more important than jobs? Who lets the mortgage fraudsters off while their victims lose their homes? Who designs a health care system that funnels money to the hated health insurance companies?

    I don't want to say "both sides do it." That's not true, and not fair. But the Democrats have also embraced some poisonous policies they are trying to message away.

    1. "I don't want to say 'both sides do it.'"

      But I did. Clearly needed another reread in the preview window. I guess what I might have said was, "There are differences between the parties. But the dominance of messaging over reality is bipartisan."

    2. The false equivalence you attempt to create and justify is not credible, and no you did not justify your imagined blather with that nonsensical word salad that followed.

      The subject is CPAC and the Democrats have no comparison to CPAC. The Democrats and the Obama administration did not do anything at all comparable to what comes out of CPAC, not in 2010, not ever, ....that's nonsense, that's nothing more than utter and unfounded foolishness.

    3. I think the subject is the substitution of style for substance, message for reality. The radical right has many flamboyant figures who it is fun to lampoon. They decisively lost the last election, so they're easy targets. Their loss, however, did little to weaken the big banks and the military-industrial complex. It's the slow turning of screws rather than the sweeping blow of a sword, but it is still agony, every bit of it.

      In 2010, when the economic chickens came home to roost, sweeping the Republicans to power in the House, the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership decided that it had sent the wrong message. Not that people were angry about being out of work and being thrown out of their homes. Sent the wrong message.

      It's the same damn failure.

    4. No, it's not the same, and neither you, nor some halfwit pundit can dictate a change in reality simply because you wish to find a way to falsely bolster your own misconceptions and presuppositions.

      In 2010 it was Bush's economic chicken that was, (and is still) 'coming home', the difference between the 2010 election and the 2012 election is that it took a majority that extra two years to figure out that what the pundits told them was total bunk.

      In 2010, the pundits and the so-called 'common knowledge' generated by the pundits was that the economy was not recovering because of Obama's policies. It took two more years of steady Republican obstructionism to finally put the lie to the misconceived popular notion that the economy would recover if only we instituted Republican policies.

      Today, the majority know that is total bunk. Today the majority knows without question that no amount of Republican economic sleight of hand is going to help anyone but the richest few among us. Today the majority knows Republican policies ran us into the ditch and no one sane believes a return to Republican economic policies will help anyone but the wealthiest among us.

      The pundits haven't been willing nor able to convey actual political realities for quite some time, in today's 'news market' entertainment trumps reality and the pundits have been competing amongst themselves to see which one of them can spin the biggest fantasy for your entertainment dollar.

      You are not, nor are they, actually conveying political realities, you and they are trying to create simplistic false narratives and imaginary scenery in order to make themselves look, 'prescient', 'learned' and 'wise'. Neither you nor they are succeeding, except in your own minds.

      CPAC is not now and never will be a suitable vehicle upon which to attempt to build comparisons between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats simply have no homologous functioning organization which even slightly resembles CPAC.

      CPAC is not an opportunity for a disquisition on false equivalencies, not for you, and not for the pundits who try and fail just as fully as you did.

      There are distinct ideological differences between the two major parties and attempting to promote 'messaging' as problematic is avoiding the reality, underneath any 'messaging' is fundamental ideology that does not bend to 'messaging'.

      Republicans pundits can tell you there is a need for a new 'message' but that won't change anything but the false narrative being created to mislead and deceive. You can be deceived if you wish to be deceived, just don't try to sell that B.S. as a substitute for reality expecting not be to challenged for the attempted mythmaking.

    5. Pain is the common denominator of failed governance; not an equivalence but a measure.

      I have specifically rejected the idea that the parties are same, except in their desire to paper over hard truths, which I suspect is a political universal.

      In my original remarks I said, "Who really wants a president who thinks that reducing the Federal deficit is more important than jobs? Who lets the mortgage fraudsters off while their victims lose their homes? Who designs a health care system that funnels money to the hated health insurance companies?"

      Can you refute any those observations about this Administration? If not, for heaven's sake, what's your point?

    6. Refute your 'observations'? I've already said your 'observations' are nothing more than fictional props for your fragile ego, misconceptions and erroneous presuppositions, they don't represent reality.

      Republicans blocked all attempts to boost job growth, it's nothing more than fiction to assert that Obama thinks the way you say he does. Nothing about his actual actions support your imaginary false narrative.

      The Federal Reserve and the OCC settled with the mortgage lenders, the president doesn't administer the Fed Reserve or the OCC. Who let's mortgage companies off? The Federal Reserve and the OCC crafted that settlement. The president doesn't make those decisions.

      Who designed a health care system that funnels money to insurance companies? Republicans did. Is there a better way? Sure, but the Republicans won't allow it. The Affordable Care Act is much better than what we had previous to passage of ACA. Republicans wouldn't have set it into motion. In the end, Congress made the decision.

      My point is that you invent fictional myth and fantasy solely in an pitiful effort to showcase your ego, it's apparently a sidelight to your pretensions to being a corvid. What you promote has no basis in fact, it's simply repetition of worthless punditry written by people as uninformed or deceitful as you appear to be. Take a civics class, learn how your government works, read some non-fiction for a change.

    7. Folks, please, I'd appreciate it if you could have this conversation without making it personal, OK?

  24. By "mouth" you mean "whine-hole", right?

  25. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredMarch 21, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Our family has a collective memory of ordering a meal in the Enlisted Club at the Naval Base in Yokosuka Japan (circa 1995, or so). We have some picky eaters in our family, so some of the orders have "special" requests. I remember trying different ways, tongues, gestures, etc. and seeing the same unknowing nod that says "no problem" even though I KNOW, in my gut, that they had no idea what I was saying and we weren't going to get what we wanted.

    It really doesn't take much reaching to bridge the gaps. I think that most people really want to get along (most non-Conservative, that is) and it's amazing how little sincere outreach is necessary to really work together. I learned a little Tagalog when my first ship spent a lot of time in Subic Bay in the Phillipines. I learned a little Italian when we were in Naples, Italy (NAVCAMS MED) for three years. We all learned a little Japanese when I was in Japan at Afloat Training Group. I can't tell you how much it always meant to members of the host nation that someone actually tried to communicate. I had a wonderful experience (even with a Jewish last name) in Abu Dhabi where they were holding the Southwest Asian Chess Championship during a port visit. The point of all this is that your analogy is SPOT ON!!

    It's been mentioned already, but the specific CPAC examples exclude commentary on Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, and certainly others. It's really fertile ground, since there are so many stars that are deserving of mention. Hard to pick the cream of that crop.

    Excellent post, as always, Jim.

    1. Same thing happens to me at the McDonald's drive-thru. Sweartagod. Then again...I've done that job (back when I was in high school, which was before the internet even!), and you don't get paid enough to care if that burger is coming out of the window with the contamination of putrescent pickles or evil onions.

      My son is in the Navy (in A school at the moment), and he's hoping to get to go to Japan. He's extremely excited about learning Japanese. Meanwhile, the only words I learned from my Italian grandmother can't be used in mixed company. I envy him his language-friendly brain!

  26. Jim, one small but vital correction. The next important election will be in 2014, not 2016. In fact, the next important election is *always* the very next election, be it a forgotten local primary or a big-media presidential race. As "Nit Wit"* said, the Republicans are passing their brand of neo-con theocratic garbage in counties and states across the country. Even states which are close to 50/50 Rep/Dem have super-majority GOP control at the state level, where they force through dangerous legislation (passing "abstinence-only" miseducation, essentially outlawing legal abortion, mandating medically unnecessary ultrasounds, fighting against critical thinking skills, etc., etc.). Gaining control of state legislatures let them gerrymander House districts, which has had the on-going effect of helping maintain GOP control of the House of Representatives even though they have fewer votes nationwide. Federal gridlock began at the local level. (At the risk of sounding like I need a tinfoil hat, just like the toasters and skin-jobs, the GOP/TP has a plan. They're not shy about saying so.)

  27. Every essay you write, I read it, nodding my head "yes" and wanting to forward it to all my progressive friends. Thank you!

  28. I am so glad that Jim Wright listens and reads about this garbage so I don't have to. I don't have the capacity for the rethuglicants, the Grand Obstructionist Party. I can't pay attention to them without the aid of some strong tranquillizer or alcohol or both. Thank you, Jim Wright. Now, what the hell are we going to do about our own state legislators who just want to give the most profitable corporations in the history of the world more money with nothing in return? Arghhh. Tranquillizers or Alcohol - please.

  29. Are you a fan of Ross Thomas (aka Oliver Bleech)? Great sharp edge snark. The title of one of his earliest works was "The Fools In Town Are On Our Side!" About a mayoral election fixer. Wouldn't be surprised if Rove used the book as a primer.

    When are your tomes going to be published? I miss Ross Thomas madly, and need another secular progressive like yourself with actual inside knowlege to spread the word while making us laugh our asses off.

    If you haven't read any of his stuff at least try out "Out On The Rim"

  30. I did not know that Navy guys learned to write so well... Seriously top notch writing, enjoyed it a lot.

    Laurent (from Canada !)

  31. Ah, the joys of the language barrier. In Germany, attempting to get Nystatin for my girlfriend, I realized (a) I didn't remember the name of the medicine (which is why I damned well know it now) and (b) I didn't know the phrase for "yeast infection." Having just come from shopping, I tried using the bread I had just bought as an aid to my impromptu game of charades. While I did look thoroughly insane, in my defense, there are times I look about that crazy here in America.

  32. In the depths of anxiety trying to communicate in Colombia I'd find myself throwing in half-remembered, completely mispronounced French phrases. Maybe I'm Rebublican and don't know it.

    1. No, I think it's just trying to make something you don't understand fit into the parameters of something you do. I find myself trying to hear Spanish in any language other than English. Wait, is that Republican?


  33. Ya, just speak louder. Case in point, @GOPespanol.

    Check "http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022536113."

    You can't make this shit up.

  34. Thanks Jim, great post. Reminded me that drinking (and eating) with foreign folks slows things down and enables communication even if you don't speak Swahili or Basque. Coffee or tea and the ceremony of sharing normalizes both sides approach toward willingness to talk things over (even if u can').

    Alcohol turns out to be an outstanding means of enabling communication. Drink what they are drinking and lots of it, and amazingly you begin to hold forth in articulate and learned discussions in some sort of common language. (Helps if u are buying.) Smart phone translators are cool and all, but booze is more fun (more painful too).

    However, drinking with Republicans generally results in their buttholes getting tighter and tighter (and their wallets). After a couple or ten long necks, your new found bar buddy may descend into one long rant of FNC spew on ferners, brown Muslims, FLOTUS's butt, guns from cold fingers, the French and how all the women at the Embassy Suites are Lefty lezbo's cause they don't wanna boom-boom with him. Or dude barfs into the potted plant.

    Sharing a drink with many of the world's people results in warm companionable experience. Even if u can't understand them. Drinking with a hard core GOPer usually confirms that they are just assholes. Tommy D

  35. Marvelous as usual, Jim, and as usual I agree with you completely. Your critique of the GOP is a thing of beauty, but it was the story of your travels that nailed my heart to the wall. I'll tell you why it resonates with me. My Dad was in the Army, WWII, South Pacific and was on a troop ship in the Sea of Japan, waiting for he knew not what. Then the bombs were dropped and the shock waves rocked the ship "like a cradle". He worked as MP in concert with the Japanese police,
    "holding down the lid of a boiling kettle". A Japanese police captain took Dad under his wing and taught him some of the language, the culture and even took him home for a real Japanese supper, despite what had to be the disapproval of his community. On top of that he gave Dad a rice bowl, a family heirloom, when Dad made the mistake of admiring it.
    That rice bowl took the spot of honor on our mantle piece where it still rests. Another thing Dad brought home with him was the custom of gifting things when someone admired them. All his kids picked up that habit.
    Dad stayed mad at the nations that fought against us, but he never hated their people. It's that distinction that made a big impression on me. I've often thought that it takes one man at a time to win peace and alliance between nations; the unknown, singular contacts that leave good impressions, compiling to change attitudes, winning people, when the war is done.
    Now, perhaps, it's the net that will unite people in ways that can't be calculated, yet. I'm reminded of a TV ad that sent shivers through me; that Cisco commercial where a class of American school kids have a video visit with kids from the orient. It's conceivable that the future will have nations that can't continence wars against each other, because their people grew up together, understand each other and are friends, via the net. Silly? Maybe, but there's always hope.

    1. Not silly at all, Nancy. I believe we've seen some of what you're hoping for in regards to cross cultural responses to television and radio. Anytime additional communication and dialogue are injected into cultural exchanges, the opportunity for greater understanding is heightened. The web, and open media in general help foster positive behavioral exchanges.

      We also can look toward generational change to help alleviate much of the polarity and bigotry which survives in a portion of the older generation. CPAC being notable proof of that polarity and bigotry. Yes, there is always hope.

  36. Like Humpty Dumpty said "Words mean exactly what I say they mean. Nothing more, nothing less" - Lewis Carroll
    Hopefully, they'll fall off the wall soon (perhaps they have and simply don't know it).

  37. I know what the common understanding of Ugly American is but in the book of that name, the Ugly American is a good guy. The authors called him that as a contrast to the professional diplomats and politicians who were trying to help a backward country but didn't, in fact, know what they were doing. The Ugly American was a small business owner and technician who went to the country, lived with the people, didn't put on airs and observed. He wasn't handsome, polished, and expensive, he was ugly, thus the name. I own an old paperback copy of that book and I've re-read it several times and it has always bothered me that the title is so misused. So, when I can, I put in a good word for the correct meaning. Oh, and the country that they were trying to help was Vietnam and we know how that turned out.

    That said, I'm a Canadian and as baffling as our Conservatives are, yours are beyond understanding. But I love your description of Karl Rove. Thanks for the article.


  38. Late observation - - " So says RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus (and seriously here, Conservatives think “Barack Obama” is a funny foreign sounding name? But I digress)."
    It isn't a foreign name but rather a clever construction. Remove the vowels and you are left with:RNC PR BS.
    (I stole that from someone, but don't remember who)

    1. First person I ever heard that from was John Fugelsang, who said it during the last RNC...

  39. I've heard from a number of Conservatives that they don't dislike Barack Obama, the man; they dislike what he represents. He is a walking avatar for The Other, he is the very embodiment of xenophobic paranoiac fears made manifest and in control of De Gubbimint. I think it really is difficult to overstate the clannishness of the modern GOP (parenthetically, I believe this to be rooted deeply in the Dominionist Southern/Mountain West, and its Scots-Irish "Borderer" heritage) and their fears.

    Conservatives are by nature cowards. I can't think of another word to describe someone whose life is driven by their fears. Cowards and, in a big enough group, bullies. And if you stand up to them, they just punch harder. But effecting political change is like fighting a gorilla: you don't stop when YOU get tired -- you stop when the GORILLA gets tired. So getting the nation past this latest group is gonna mean that we who wish to change things are going to get a little bloody. Well, so what? What's a dust-up between friends?

  40. Whoops, Sig didn't take. That above is from me, Captain Blight.

  41. Quoth the CWO:
    "So says RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus (and seriously here, Conservatives think “Barack Obama” is a funny foreign sounding name? But I digress)"

    You think it's an accident that if you remove the vowels from "Reince Priebus" you're left with "RNC PR BS?"

  42. Interesting.
    A lawyer in Colombia once asked me to translate his explanation about delays in adoption proceedings for an American couple. I guess he thought it would be no problem because I'm a lawyer and I speak Spanish well. But when I didn't get what he said, his response was to close in (literally), speak louder and faster, and repeat the word I wasn't understanding. In retrospect, the problem was both linguistic and cultural. He was trying to tell me the judges had gone on strike. But he was using a different word for strike than the one I was used to, and I never heard of judges going on strike! (This was in the late 80s. They were upset about the number of Judges who were murdered there in those days, and wanted more security. That was an explanation I would have understood.)
    If he had slowed down and explained a bit, it would have been fine. However, repeating the same words, but louder, did nothing but make me feel like an uncomprehending idiot.
    John McConnaughy

  43. What's that saying...? The definition of insanity is to repeat the same action but expect a different result?

    So, sure, say exactly the same thing, louder and slower, and THAT will change EVERYTHING. Except the result.




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