Sheeple Awake!

Could this be one of those moments when the middle class and poor people in this country awaken to the reality of their economic distress? It will be if people really listen to what Barack Obama had to say on this subject rather than digest only the snippets of quotes that the opposition are ranting about.

From Hillary Clinton to John McCain to a variety of newscasters and pundits, the attack on Obama has focused on his elitism and lack of sympathy for the average American. The focus is entirely on these two sentences Obama said during a fund-raiser in San Francisco:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

The disadvantaged in this country hardly see themselves clinging to their guns or their religion as some form of therapy for their financial woes, and the press was quick to label this statement as a phenomenal blunder on Obama’s part, sure to turn off honest, hard-working Pennsylvanians, or at least the white ones.

Lou Dobbs canvassed his viewers on this very point, offering them a yes or no alternative on the following question: Do you believe that Senator Barack Obama’s comments reveal his elitist attitude toward every hardworking American? The only surprise to this sort of loaded question was that 50% of the respondents said No.

Maybe that is significant. Maybe the general public isn’t listening anymore to the demagoguery that for 25 years has played the middle class against the poor, the religious against the secular, black against white, straight against gay, and everybody against the immigrants ”“ all while the wealthy keep reaping an increasing amount of society’s production. Or maybe people actually read Obama’s extended response on this ”œcontroversy”:

When I go around and I talk to people there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness. And what’s worse is when people are expressing their anger then politicians try to say what are you angry about? This just happened – I want to make a point here today.

I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how’re you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What’s going on there? We hear that’s its hard for some working class people to get behind you’re campaign. I said, “Well look, they’re frustrated and for good reason. Because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas. They’ve seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions. They have lost their healthcare.

And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we’re going to make your community better. We’re going to make it right and nothing ever happens. And of course they’re bitter. Of course they’re frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur. The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington. So I made this statement– so, here’s what rich. Senator Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’ John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain–it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch? No, I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed-up.

They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

This is dangerous stuff. It challenges in some fundamental way the manner in which government and corporations have been running things for a quarter of a century. It is a pithy summary of arguments made in Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. It approaches, but does not go as far as, the populist arguments of Sen. John Edwards or Dennis Kucinich, and it certainly is missing the point about the damaging consequences of empire described by Mike Gravel.

It is, in fact, a bit of a move forward for Obama (or leftward, if you will), and it is part of his campaign strategy to hit back hard when his opponents charge him with something. Some of the media are still reporting this story with the theme ”œObama is on the defensive”, but others are giving play to his rebuttal, and some like CNN have dropped the story altogether (at least for now).

Will people read his more detailed comments and pay less attention to the cat fight that the media usually make as the focus for their campaign coverage? It remains to be seen, but if they do, it could be the start of a sea-change in the publics’ attitude toward their economic condition. Given the rapid collapse of public confidence in the economy and in their own financial prospects, and given the likelihood of much further economic distress on the way, this little story might be part of a major rethinking by the voters on who is really to blame for the increasingly difficult economic conditions facing the average American.

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Numerian is a devoted author and poster on The Agonist, specializing in business, finance, the global economy, and politics. In real life he goes by the non-nom de plume of Garrett Glass and hides out in Oak Park, IL, where he spends time writing novels on early Christianity (and an occasional tract on God and religion). You can follow his writing career on his website,

73 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This economic crisis is just beginning to unfold and it’s going to be with us &#8212 the middle class and especially the poor &#8212 for several years. You think people are pissed of now. Just wait a bit.

    For example, comments in investment blogs have ordinarily reflected a conservative bias until recently &#8212 I’ve got mine…. That has changed over the past couple of months and a lot of people are getting very disturbed at the obvious manipulation and hypocrisy.

    The stage is being set for some good old populist demagoguery in the vein of William Jennings Bryan. I think that Obama has touched a nerve here and this will likely work in his favor if he is aggressive about it.

  • Speaking off the cuff, Obama made a poor choice in selecting his words, but the idea is a sound one and he should push it hard. The dark side, abetted by a complicit media, has used hot button issues that have nothing germane to do with the real issues that people face and challenge the country in order to distract attention from the real and pressing issues. Until this trend is reversed, US elections will continue to be a mockery. This, I believe, is what Obama was driving at, and if it was, he needs to make himself clear about it and hit it hard. The same with the Wright issue. Wright was talking liberation theology with the voice of a prophet. Maybe some of his words were ill-chosen from the political perspective, but the issues he was confronting are real and pressing also. Obama needs to change the rhetoric but keep pushing those issues.

  • That’s more than I have time to do at the moment, although it would make for an interesting diary. Two blogs I follow show this trend if you want to check the comments. Both bloggers are very skeptical of late also.

    Link 1

    Link 2

  • …people, by and large, don’t give a shit about economic issues. Their pay stub, monthly bills, and bank statements: that’s the economy to them. These left-wing “populists” better get hip to that. Macroeconomics are meaningless to their mindsets. The “issues” that affect them are indeed fags, guns, and store clerks that don’t speak f$^*ing english.

    When the mill closes, they manage. When they lose their medical insurance, they manage. When a tree hits their house, they manage. Better than anyone in the middle-class could ever dream, usually through the help of friends and family. That’s why government programs don’t impress them. But most importantly, they are not victims, and if you try to call them that, watch out for flying fists.

    Above everything else, they hold their values sacred, and are keenly aware of what the elite think of them. If you think what Obama said in any way helps him with the working class, you have never met anyone who washes his hands at the end of a workday.

  • the vast majority of them are never going to register as Democrats and vote Democratic anyway, so it’s a not an issue with respect to Democratic politics. This is a significant portion of the GOP base (about 28% of the country) that is still with Bush, whose mantra (actually Pavlovian trigger) is “Guns, God, and gays.”

  • For example, demagogic vs. non-demagogic? How does one talk about class issues without it being populist?

    Edit: to say a little more. Would talking about how Wall Street is gutting Main Street be populist? Populist? Yes. Demagogic? Well…?

  • They’ve been susceptible to people who exploit fags, guns, and immigrants as their enemy. The fact that they have managed so far when they have lost their job, insurance, house, and so forth means that there is a non-governmental infrastructure available to support them – friends and family. When even their friends and family suffer the same calamities, what will be their response? When the immigrants start to head back across the border (it’s already happening) and the gays and hippie liberals are the only ones manning the food lines and homeless shelters, who else can they blame? Those are the questions.

  • So Steve you are saying the blue collar folks are just fine with having their $30/hour factory job shipped to China and replacing it with a greeter position at Walmart? Wow, if they are that stupid and unmotivated I doubt they even register to vote.

  • It might be that a significant number of working class are proud, independent, uninformed, perhaps even stupid or pigheaded. There certainly are people who vote for candidates of a particular party all their lives, no matter what. It might be that Obama has no hope of influencing the vote of these people. But even though I hold an exceptionally low regard for the American voter – after all. seventy some percent of us thought the war on Iraq was a good idea – I think it is wrong to say that it’s useless to talk about real economic issues and the effects they have on real people.

    In fact, what’s insane is to agree in public that candidates will not talk about economic issues and their negative effects on some part of the voting population for fear of alienating them. The only purpose served by not talking about failures of economic policy is the purpose of extending the reach and effect of such policies. This is what all the screeching is about. It is the Wicked Witch of the West after being touched by water.

    I have one relative who voted Republican for fifty years straight. Dubya pushed her over the edge. It’s proof that even if things are almost as fixed as Steve 2.0 suggests, there is some room for movement. It may take some time; but when we talk about issues, reason can sometimes triumph over prejudice.

  • The working class is no different than the middle class. Or at least a good part of the middle class is part of the working class. I always felt i was when i was working for 45 years and I washed my hands at the end of every workday. And the working class man “manage” when the mill shuts down and the health insurance ends but Steve 2.0, they are not happy. They refuse to move to a different part of the country for a low paying job, so when unemployment bennies run out, Mrs. Working Class works for minimum wage at KFC or McDees.

    Their values are sacred b/c that is all they have left. That and their pride. But they would be a lot happier if a large auto plant was hiring in their county.

    I hope and pray Sen Obama wins in November.

  • Only listen to the spin on Fox News.

    They never look up.

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

  • Not all populists are demagogues, and not all demagogues are populists either. Populism is a political position that appeals to the concerns of the masses. It is opposed to elitism, which appeals to the concerns of the elites. Obama is a populist rather than an elites, and the elites are trying to make him out to be an elitist and themselves as populists. That does not stand the test of logic, so they have to use rhetoric (aka sophistry). Campaigns generally demagogue “issues,” or leave it to surrogates.

    Demagoguery is a presentational style that combines charisma with rhetoric. While it has a pejorative connotation, it is not necessarily bad. It depends on how it is used. Logic and rhetoric are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to mount a logical argument rhetorically to gain an emotional advantage without resorting to sophistry or mendacity.

    For example, Dennis Kucinich was strong on logic and facts to support his populist position against the war, but he was short on charisma and rhetoric. I would have been happy to see him demagogue the issues he cares about if he could. Ron Paul had a similar problem as a populist on the other side of the aisle, both against the war and the tanking economy.

    Obama has the smarts, charisma, rhetorical skills to demagogue an argument based on reason and facts. If he can connect that will the majority of people’s views on US imperial adventures and the tanking economy, he can take independents and some GOP moderates from McCain that he would otherwise lose to him.

    Right now, Bill, Hillary and McCain are gang up on Obama to brand him as an elitist demagogue, who is all talk and no walk, as well as out of touch with the common people. He needs to hit back at that hard, not with logic and facts alone, but also with strong persuasion clearly backed by reason and fact.

    No one is yet really hitting at Wall Street vs. Main Street, yet. Hillary and McCain are never going to do it, other than very superficially if forced, since they are beholden to the Street. However, Obama is free to do this, if he isn’t afraid of going out on a limb, since the majority of his funds come from small contributors.

    This is a populist issue that really requires demagoguing because it’s so wonky. You can’t explain logically to most people how they are getting taken because the web of facts is too complicated for them to comprehend. But people are savvy enough to know that they are being taken when the upper echelon is doing very well and corporate profits are historically high, but wages have been stagnant while the price of necessities is exploding. This is a populist issue. A savvy politician capable of strong persuasion just has to get people fired up to do something about it at the voting booth. Now that’s some demagoguery I wouldn’t mind seeing.

  • They all care about Jobs, Money & Health care. That’s why the established interests are so adamant about NOT having a debate on free trade (loss of jobs) & single payer health care.

    Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? I suspect fags, guns, etc come after the first two levels, (1) food & shelter, (2)safety (here’s the hate)…

    We have a class of politicians and pundits (Michell Malkin) who appeal to hate. To call this out all we have to say is they are appealing to hate and its unchristian. And keep writing & saying it, over, and over, and over again.

    “Oh they you go again, appealing to people’s hate, why do you do this?”

    We need to focus on the first level, which does contain environment, health, jobs, economy, etc.

  • the middle class is split between those who sympathize with and work with the working class and those who sympathize with and aspire to be the upper class. It’s the latter group you have to watch out for–they’re the people who believe “we’ll all be rich someday” and vote accordingly.

  • How does one talk about class issues without it being populist?

    The simple answer to this is that there are no class issues in the US because the US is a classless society, in which there is limitless class mobility. This is unlike almost every other society.

    Even our present president, the scion of an old “New England Brahmin” family transplanted to oil-rich Texas. can portray himself as a regular guy that Joe and Jane Sixpack would love to have a beer with. Similarly, entertainers and sports figures who come from the lowest echelons can mingle with old money here if they make enough themselves. In the US money talks, not birth. It doesn’t happen like this elsewhere, and a number of people from abroad have remarked about it as a surprising and refreshing feature of US society &#8212 if they are not afraid of it, that is.

    The “class issue” is a GOP canard they throw at anyone attacking their partisan policies that favor one segment or echelon of society over another. It goes with their calling everything that is not laissez-faire capitalism as being socialism. This is a rhetorical device that subtly connects Marxist words like “class warfare” and “socialism” with the opposition. Don’t fall for their way of framing the issues.

    The Left needs to frame the debate in terms of populist issues of mass appeal that relate to real problem and challenges that the vast majority of Americans face due to the philosophy and politics of Hamiltonian centralist republicans committed to neoliberal economics and, consequently, neo-imperialism. They masquerade their projects as “free” markets, “free” trade, and “free” capital flows and under the guise of spreading democracy and freedom, American values, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Western civilization to the rest of the world sorely in need of these advantages.

    This is not an issue of “class” but rather of a small minority manipulating public opinion through propaganda in order to get the vast majority to act against their own best interests.

    Populist demagoguery is about shouting loud enough, clear enough, persuasively enough, and long enough to wake enough people up to what’s really going down, without confusing them with too many unnecessary details, so that they’ll vote to change it.

  • Before I disagree with you I should say that I agree with you. The “outcry” that Obama is “elitist” about the “bitterness” of Pennsylvania’s working class is pure political horse shit, at least in the context of the quote. It (the “outcry”) demands the standard, avoid at all costs, caricature politics that says little, with the intent of doing even less while claiming to be one with the “people.”

    It’s the now standard “gotcha” politics where the gotcha is nonexistent and only exists in the echoing of the corrupt media that controls the public dialog.

    But I’ll be frank. With all three of these remaining political candidates, I find that I have to pinch my nose very tightly when considering any of them. The stench permeates the least from Obama. But the smell is definitely there.

    You compare Obama’s words to Edwards’ but they are nothing like Edwards’ sentiments. In fact Obama’s words are typical Obama. He’s telling people of their pains. Of what troubles and bothers them. Geez! He’s even disgustingly suggesting a basis for racism – “they cling to .. antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment.” My bringing up this aspect of excusing racism is secondary to the point I’m trying to make (badly) but it’s an aspect of Obama that I find particularly annoying. Whenever he talks about racism it seems to be as it relates to either the second and beyond generation immigrant class or the northern working class (read Pennsylvania in this case). He specifically avoids mentioning the Baptist church and the racism of the south. Like Ronald Reagan, someone Obama openly admires, he’s not going to condemn, even indirectly, their racism. Gutless.

    But that’s beside the point I was trying to make. This comment of Obama is his standard. He knows your pain. You almost get the sense that he “feels your pain” though if you look closely at his words, that’s not to be found. Also, not to be found are concrete measures that he’ll bring about to alleviate your (the working class’) pain. It’s the non-guarantee of the snake oil salesman selling the bottle of special potion that knows your pains.

    If Obama becomes president there’ll be enormous expectations of action on behalf of working people and average Americans. If he doesn’t follow through on those expectations and fight, truly fight, for average Americans, the damage he’ll do to the Democratic party will be tremendous. All the young that faithfully follow him will be disillusioned, thinking that it’s all a con and there’s no point in fighting for what’s right. In that sort of environment, the Republicans will quickly regain power and we might as well move to China for decent jobs.

  • or at least refocused the cafuffle.

    I have a few good friends who resemble the folk he described.
    To a certain extent Steve 2.0 is correct. Most of these folk traditionally don’t have much interest in politics. Most of them vote Republican to retain their guns. Some of them blame Immigrants at least a little bit for their problems. The truth is, most of them are waking up to the deception that has far too long allowed them to stay complacent and uninterested in politics. The gilded cage may not have had the shine it used to, but it still was a comfortable place that they understood.

    These days, those same traditionally Republican voting folk that started to become aware of the shabby state of their communities are getting interested in politics. They no longer just grab a beer to unwind and watch a bit of the tube before bed. These guys do a little web surfing before they hit the pub. A lot of them liked Ron Paul because he spoke to a lot of their truth. He may not have had the answers, but he sure illustrated the problem.

    Now, Obama used a very poor word to accurately describe the situation of the population. He said cling. Nobody wants to admit that they are weak and need a crutch. But the point is valid. People who have little trust in government want guns to protect themselves against rampant crime and the government itself. They tend to find refuge in Faith because the world around them is often ugly and sometimes terrifying, mostly though it is to spend time being hopeful and working on being a better person and connecting to the people they love.

    While I don’t buy the “elitism” filter that was pointed at Obama, he sure did come back at the accusation with a thoughtful and perceptive clarification. At least he will talk about the elephant in the room.
    I doubt that many will find his description insulting. He is talking to his base trying to share some of his insight and I think he did show that he is aware and willing to engage a discussion about why so many Americans of every stripe are dissatisfied with their government.

    If he can consistently respond to the attacks and demagoguery of the press and the other campaigns in this manner, then this man has exactly what America needs.

    I voted for Bill Clinton because I felt like he understood where people were coming from. I thought that he was smart, perceptive and compassionate. He disappointed me but he was still better than either Bush or Reagan when it comes to my own values. Obama has what Bill had to an even deeper degree. He will probably disappointed me too but that is the nature of a representative government. Opposing factions vie for
    power and influence to work the change their ideology and supporters desire. If Obama can deliver real bipartisanship on important issues and interject his reason and perception into the process, well Democracy just might rear it’s ugly head again in the once great US of A.

    I really like the Obama. I think he is the guy to guide America into the soft landing in the sunset of the Empire. If he can’t then we are screwed because nobody else in the game right now has what it takes. Period.

  • But perhaps the sheeple are ready again for a “smart” president. I don’t think the elitist charge is going to work as well this time. Obama isn’t the typical Ivy Leaguer that Kerry was, after all.

    He’s smart enough to go bowling and not windsurfing…..

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

  • You are very right. If Obama continues politics as usual and just ends up talking good game, the results will be devastating.

    If bipartisanship turns out to be merely compromise, if he governs as a Democrat, if he gets swallowed by the Military industrial Pharmaceutical complex, we are all so very screwed.

    Really though, just changing the culture from the current Fascist regime and returning it to relative sanity would be a start. The rest of the changes that are required get the USA back on track will require our continued involvement in the process. Running better candidates for the legislative branch and holding them accountable is of utmost importance. Holding our media to a higher standard is also required. The fact that Fox news even exists is an oxymoron. We need to demand that the influences of their corporate entanglements are mitigated by an empowered ethics body. Somebody needs to keep these conglomerates honest. That would be us.

    If Obama fails to live up to our expectations because he turns out to be an empty suit it will be devastating. If he turns out to be ineffective because we all get complacent once a Democrat holds the crown, then we don’t deserve Democracy. It is the times that make the leader and it is the people that do all the work. It is time

  • …middle class sheeple you’re correct. But since we’re discussing the working class, I assume you mean them. then you’re wrong.

    Yes, working class people are more likely to watch Fox News than anyone else, it’s packaged for their consumption after all. That is not, however, wher most of them get their news. It is isn’t from CNN or MSNBC either. Nor newspapers or network news, either. Some watch the local news, but most don’t. Some use the internet, and are on LISTSERVs, but few actually get their news there. Though many of them listen to conservative talk radio (anyone who has worked construction knows that at least half the work truck radios in America are tuned to Rush during lunch hour, they don’t generally get their news from there at all.

    Most working class people learn about whats going on in the world from their friends and family. Their is indeed a working class grapevine. There are working class people on this board, any of them will tell you that as well. People from that background have intense connections to their sisters, brothers, parents, children, significant others, and even cousins that middle class people will not understand. Most have freinds they’ve known since the teeter-totter years. They trust these acquaintences. When they hear about current events from these folks, it has far more credibility than what they would hear from Brian or Katie.

  • Sounds like these CNN commentators aren’t getting fooled by this, although it seemed to me that Wolf was trying to push them the other way with the tone of his questioning.

  • Obama hit for saying some voters ‘bitter’

    updated 10:46 a.m. CT, Sat., April. 12, 2008

    TERRE HAUTE, Indiana – After a full-throated response to criticism that he is condescending, Democrat Barack Obama on Saturday conceded that that comments he made about bitter working class voters who “cling to guns or religion” were ill chosen.

    “I didn’t say it as well as I should have,” he said.

    As Obama tried to quell the furor, presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton hit him with one of her lengthiest and most pointed criticisms to date.

    “Senator Obama’s remarks were elitist and out of touch,” she said, campaigning about an hour away in Indianapolis. “They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans.”

    At issue are comments Obama made privately at a fundraising gathering in San Francisco last Sunday. He explained his troubles winning over working class voters, saying they have become frustrated with economic conditions:

    “It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

    The comments, posted on the Huffington Post political Web site Friday, set off a storm of criticism from Clinton, Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain and a number of other GOP officials.

    The flap threatened to highlight an Obama Achilles heel — the image that the Harvard-trained lawyer is arrogant and carries himself with an air of superiority.

    Obama reacts
    The campaign has been quick to react, hoping to defuse any damage caused with working class voters that Obama needs to win over in upcoming primaries in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

    “Lately there has been a little typical sort of political flare up because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois who are bitter,” Obama said Saturday morning at Ball State University. “They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they’re going through.”

    “So I said, well you know, when you’re bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country or they get frustrated about you know how things are changing.”

    After acknowledging that his previous remarks could have been better phrased, he added:

    “The truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation those are important. That’s what sustains us. But what is absolutely true is that people don’t feel like they are being listened to.

    “And so they pray and they count on each other and they count on their families. You know this in your own lives, and what we need is a government that is actually paying attention. Government that is fighting for working people day in and day out making sure that we are trying to allow them to live out the American dream.”

    Clinton strikes
    But Clinton struck hard, calling Obama’s comments “demeaning.” The increased attack showed that Clinton is eager to hold on to her working class support and is looking to open new questions about Obama’s judgment that would make voters and Democratic officials reconsider their support for the Illinois senator.

    “I was raised with Midwestern values and an unshakable faith in America and its policies,” she said. “Now, Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a matter of constitutional right. Americans who believe in God believe it’s a matter of personal faith.

    “I grew up in a church-going family, a family that believed in the importance of living out and expressing our faith. The people of faith I know don’t ‘cling’ to religion because they’re bitter. People embrace faith not because they are materially poor, but because they are spiritually rich.

    “Our faith is the faith of our parents and our grandparents. It is a fundamental expression of who we are and what we believe.”

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  • The simple answer to this is that there are no class issues in the US because the US is a classless society, in which there is limitless class mobility. This is unlike almost every other society.

    No. No no no no. The US is not a classless society. Not by a long shot. Granted, you are correct that we don’t have much of the old aristocratic birth-determines-class that some other parts of the world do, but class is a very, very strong element in everyday life. The reason we can get away without thinking about class is that we have greatly self-segregated along class lines and that we lie to ourselves that we have a classless society.

    A “classless” society is not simply one in which there is the possibility of upward mobility from the bottom to the top. It is one in which there is no need for upward mobility, where everyone is treated as relative equals. In America today, there are plenty of poor people and a growing number of rich. That’s a class difference. It’s expressed through geographic segregation, manner of dress, leisure activities, and wealth. It is the difference between those who own and those who work/rent.

    In my personal experience, coming from an upper-middle class background and growing up in an all-white suburb, most people with my background simply do not think of class because we’ve been so isolated. Issues of class are simply not talked about in much of mainstream America. Learning to think in terms of power relations, race, and class was a huge change for me, but it explains so much of how American society works.

    I just don’t understand how you have come to the conclusion that America is “classless.” We have traditionally had more mobility than other countries, but that advantage has faded–and besides, high mobility still does not mean “classlessness.” It just means we have more churn between the classes.

  • “Class” is not really right word for the differences in American society since it has a prior use that confuses the issue and prejudices it toward Marxism. For that reason it is better avoided in order to reframe the debate more favorably for the Left, as well as to be more accurate about current sociological facts in the US.

    As a matter of fact, Americans making between 30,000 and 300,000K define themselves as “middle class.” Most working people regard themselves as middle class rather than working class. Moreover, the so-called upper class is nowhere near as defined as it was a couple of generations ago when it had a precise definition, i.e., being in the “Blue Book”, or social register.

    In more traditonal regions, class defines which schools one attends, what clothes one wears, one’s dialect and speech patterns, etc. It also defines what kind of clothes one can wear, what kind of vehicle it is socially acceptable to drive, what church one attends, whether one goes to college and what college one attends, what establishments one can frequent and so forth. It is really quite comprehensive and constitutes a life-long tag. This is true even in Britain, where social stratification is much tighter than the US.

    Sociologically, “class” is not so much an economic terms as one describing rigid social stratification that goes far beyond economic factors. This is a stratification that most Americans never encounter, and they consider class in terms of “working class” (blue collar), middle class (white collar), and upper class (very wealthy).

    In terms of social stratification, economic class is described is on the basis of ownership. Renters are lower class (peasants), homeowners are middle class (bourgeoisie), and those who are wealthy enough not to have to work, yet afford anything they want are upper class (rentiers). This is not really how Americans think about class.

    A big reason that the US is a relatively classless society is universal public education. Traditionally, only the wealthy have sent their children to expensive private schools that essentially exclude everyone else. It used to be that this old boy’s network provided the political, financial and industrial elite, but this is waning &#8212 although our president was Skull & Bones (symbol of the Great Pirates, as Bucky Fuller called them) at Yale.

    My point is that talking about class in the US is misleading and confusing, and the Left is well advised to avoid it. Look who is using it. The Right, accusing the Left of conducting “class warfare” when they criticize the accumulation of wealth at the top.

  • well thought out position but to add something more to think about. Naomi Klein wrote Disowned by the Ownership Society for The Nation (February 18).

    Remember the “ownership society,” fixture of major George W. Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? “We’re creating…an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property,” Bush said in October 2004. Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush’s greatest legacy, remembered “long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah.” Yet in Bush’s final State of the Union address, the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. And little wonder: rather than its proud father, Bush has turned out to be the ownership society’s undertaker.

    Well before the ownership society had a neat label, its creation was central to the success of the right-wing economic revolution around the world. The idea was simple: if working-class people owned a small piece of the market–a home mortgage, a stock portfolio, a private pension–they would cease to identify as workers and start to see themselves as owners, with the same interests as their bosses. That meant they could vote for politicians promising to improve stock performance rather than job conditions. Class consciousness would be a relic.

    It was always tempting to dismiss the ownership society as an empty slogan–“hokum” as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich put it. But the ownership society was quite real. It was the answer to a roadblock long faced by politicians favoring policies to benefit the wealthy. The problem boiled down to this: people tend to vote their economic interests. Even in the wealthy United States, most people earn less than the average income. That means it is in the interest of the majority to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top down.

    I think Klein is on to something.

    Your discussion of the different ways of speaking about “class” in America makes me think that new ways of talking about social and economic reality need to be developed.

  • Sociologically, “ownership” means real ownership, not that you pay rent on a mortgage to the owner of the mortgage who still holds title until the mortgage is paid. BushCo’s meaning of “ownership” is just a mask for another form of rent while performing a semantic slight of hand to make it seem otherwise.

    This is just a financial maneuver that the elite uses on the rubes to sucker them out of their money in the form of rent while leading them to believe that they are “owners.” Most of the creative financing mortgages were just rent in disguise and could never have been paid off, even if the rubes could afford to keep paying on them.

    The other way is through inflation of the currency, which is a hidden tax. Inflation works against creditors, so there has to be more in it for them some other way. Inflation decreases the real value of debt, like a mortgage, but overall it increases the nominal amount of money on which interest is charged, as well as leading to asset appreciation which favors the elite as principal asset holders. The rest are slightly better off so they don’t complain too much.

    Another not so subtle distinction regarding “class” is that the ruling elite pit the perceived self-interest of the “middle-class” against the “lower class”(poor), promising to protect the middle class taxpayers from redistribution of wealth to the poor, which has been largely and not so subtly racist.

  • When it comes down to it MacBush is 4 more years of King G and the vote for the other side is just hope they might do the right thing. Please let me know how that works out for you. Yes, I’ll be holding my nose when I vote.
    Everything is on schedule, please move along.

  • I know people who have worked for both men.

    Obama engages people one-on-one on an intellectual basis first, and on an emotional basis second. He likes to surround himself with people with ideas who are willing to challenge his way of thinking. He tends to value expertise and people who are considered expert in their field. When he is out campaigning, he connects with people on a friendly basis, but his real appeal is both intellectual and emotional through his speeches. Notwithstanding the recent criticisms of him as an elitist and as someone who talks down to voters, he is in fact consistently talking “up”, using rational, intellectual, and emotional arguments that are well-structured and occasionally different or found previously only on blogs.

    Bill Clinton connects to people emotionally and intensely. He is focused exclusively on whomever he is talking to, listens intently, and responds with positive body language such as hugs and hand pats. A friend of mine who saw him four years apart said he had no problem remembering her son’s name and what they talked about four years ago. The effect of these skills are extraordinarily persuasive on those he meets, to the point that people feel special to have been taken into the confidence of someone so powerful and charismatic. His aides will tell you, however, that once he disengages from conservation with you, he completely loses interest in what was said or what you wanted. He had trouble in the White House proving any loyalty to his staff no matter how many years they had worked or sacrificed for him, but he demanded complete loyalty in return. His personal characteristics have been described as those of the perfect politician, though not helpful at all in managing his staff, his administration, or the Democratic Party.

    I don’t know anybody who really knows Hillary Clinton well enough to describe her, but the focus here is on Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I am arguing here that Obama is not as superb a politician as Bill, because he connects to people in a more remote manner, and that the difference is “he knows your pain” (as you described it), but Bill Clinton “feels your pain.” These are very different things, and it just might be that Obama’s approach is better long term because he seems honestly interested in real, permanent policy change to help people. Clinton showed very little interest in such policy change.

  • …whose approach is better at governing is irrelevant at this point. Politics is always about convincing voters that you’re on their side. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are absolutely brilliant at it. Obama has his problems.

  • But the other candidates have made sure they’ve lost it.

    That’s about how it shakes down for me. I usually end up voting against the candidate I believe is the biggest walking disaster. Let me tell you, it’s been a while since I voted for a president because I really believed in him.

    It looks like ’08 is going to shake out about the same for me. So far Obama looks the least stoopid in the parade of Presidential Idiots.

    Then there’s the question of even if he truly wants change, how much will he really be able to accomplish, given the number of politicians even in his own party that are beholden to the current corrupted system?

    And the person who said Obama is no John Edwards is absolutely right on – and we all saw how quickly they cut Edwards out of the picture.

    I’m not really hoping for change – I’m just hoping for some braking action before the train slams into the rocks at full throttle.

    The point at which we could have adopted sane policy is long past. Now it’s disaster management, and America’s first response – as it too often is – is denial of the problems. If Iraq, Katrina , and the subprime crisis are models of how we handle our problems – well, then the outlook is pretty bleak, I’d say.

    I’m intolerant all right – not intolerant of immigrants or other races, however – I’m intolerant of the crap that’s coming out of all the candidates’ mouths and the even bigger load of crap coming from the MSM.

    Mr Obama – I’m pissed off because there is no such thing as a “Straight Talk Express” coming from you, Sen. Mc100YearsWar, or Billary. I’m sick of ALL y’all – that’s the problem you need to be working on.

  • Obama will become the Band-Aid spokeman. Only 8 more years of Republican rule will force change in America. People aren’t poor and tasered enough yet.

    ADD: I dont think the word cling has weak connotations. Burdox and thistles cling, and they are a real bitch to get out of your clothers. Saran wrap clings, duct tape clings. When you cling to a life preserver, are you afraid of drowning, fighting for your life, or both?

  • I remain an Edwards Democrat and even if he is not in the running, I have much more faith in his approach, his rhetoric and his policy objectives than the three candidates contending. I too am inclined to Obama as the least-bad, but I simply do not believe he is as good as his oratory. I don’t see the conviction there, intellectual or emotional. It is obviously hard at this distance (a voter in the hinterlands with no actual contact with any candidate) to read a person’s conviction. I suppose that is what a campaign is for–to somehow convince us about the human qualities that each candidate intends to apply toward his stated objectives. Obama does not convince me and when I hear him say “I know exactly” what is in going on in Indiana and Pennsylvania, and that he above all others is “in touch”, I have to wonder how connected to he really is.

  • Something strikes me about comments above-thread:

    Americans don’t care about economics beyond their own wages and gas-prices: I half-way agree. Americans hire politicians so they don’t have to be bothered. Americans do not want to be bothered, period. I think many, many Americans who earn a living wage (only) and report having pretty-much what they need are hard to engage intellectually in politics or in economics or Constitutional law. If you manage “to get by”, it takes up most of your time tending to kids, homelife, the occasional sports event and work. Complaint is more a way to shoot the breeze in common with your neighbors than it is a way to adjust your future prospects, increase your security, or let alone change the direction of your country. (I think of those long pointless tedious “King of the Hill” discussions in the cartoon show.) It isn’t exactly contentment, and it isn’t exactly bliss—but Americans do seem pacified when they are personally pre-occupied and have enough to eat. That is “pursuit of happiness”. Woe to the politician who can be painted as the threat to any of that.

    With all that said, I think most Americans are fooled into thinking they are all middle-class and that constitutes some sort of virtue in itself. It is well-known that people who struggle with poverty often believe themselves “middle-class” irrespective of an economist’s income-driven definition. Middle-class is an aspiration and a constantly moving target. What has changed in my lifetime is the slow erosion of “middle-class” as an aspiration and its replacement of it with “wealth-class” (a kind of code word much like ownership class, but easier to understand. ‘Wealth’ means profitable ownership. ‘Ownership’ alone can include failure as well as succcess.)

    I can honestly say when I was growing up, very few of my peers ever gave a thought to being wealthy. They gave attention to observing the “salt of the earth” values they associated with the “middle-class” whether that ‘middle’ meant living like The Cleavers or the Waltons or Atticus Finch and Scout. At some point in my young adult-hood, “middle class” became associated more with being a loser than being a winner.

    I think a lot of today’s young-adult generation look upon those characters and regard them as “quaint” and unworthy of any sort of emulation. It isn’t exactly a low regard for them, but rather a dismissal for being either socially irrelevant, backward or deceptive . Middle-class today means being distinctly above where those folks were. Expectations have risen. A lot. And yet, what did all those imaginary folks spend their time doing? It wasn’t finding the next meal or paying for gasolene. It was worrying about Stumpy Wheeler and Eddie Haskill’s influence on Beaver and Wally during final exams. It was John-boy fantasizing about writing a book. It was Atticus wondering why the hell he ever took the case and having to kill a rabid dog when everybody else was in hiding. In short, it wasn’t about politics and the economy. These people had enough to worry about, and probably hired some politician to take care of the economy for them.

  • BPK80, who wrote that post, isn’t wrong about the fact that people in rural Pennsylvania are going to be offended when a candidate tells them they cling to religion or guns for comfort, or that they are lunch-pail working folks. Quite a few probably will be offended.

    My point is entirely different. The political conversation candidates have had with these voters has been entirely along Republican Party lines. It’s all about moral values and the rural way of life, including guns and religion. Remember John Kerry with his hunting escapade to show he was like them? It didn’t work.

    What Obama is doing is going for the throat of the Republican argument. He’s discussing the unmentionable – that people have been manipulated by politicians for years with these emotional campaigns, while all the time Washington votes to subsidize companies that export jobs, change the bankruptcy laws to benefit the banks, dismantle the safety net provided by government, and do nothing while health care benefits are eliminated.

    Hillary – because she has no choice – is eagerly lining up on the Republican side, attacking Obama for his elitism and praising Pennsylvania rural voters for the stalwart, moral, patriotic, resilient, and positive people that they are. She’s allowing the Republicans to continue to frame this debate, and when it comes time for these people to vote in November they will be pulling for McCain, not her.

    Anytime you attack entrenched political attitudes, people’s feelings are going to be hurt. The question is whether they will once again go with the emotional upset and allow it to govern their lives (an emotional appeal that sets Americans against Americans), or will they open their minds to an entirely different argument about what has been happening to their economic status.

  • what I don’t understand is why he didn’t say those words in Pennsylvania directy to the voters. Also why say something derogatory right before their primary? I understand the point he was trying to make, but his great speaking skills and timing really failed him here. I don’t fault Mccain or Hillary here, Obama would have done the same thing to them for making such a blunder and rightfully so.

    Does Kerry’s hunting escapade compare with Obama trying to bowl? lol 😉

  • Americans’ standard of living has gone nowhere since the 1970s, unless you are in the upper 5% of earners. Now we are entering a period when the standard of living of all Americans, due to the massive debt overhang, is about to be ratcheted down sharply, including quite a few wealthy people. On the poor end of the scale, parts of this country are going to take on third world characteristics, and we are already seeing plenty of rural counties where hunting rabbits, deer, raccoons and such like is necessary for putting food on the table. Some of this is the result of globalization, where Chinese standards of living meet up with American standards of living somewhere in the middle. But a lot of it results from Washington policy choices, including passing massive tax benefits to the wealthy, wasting hundreds of billions on the Iraq invasion, and so on.

    So it is convenient that Americans can still take comfort in their situation because there is always somebody below them on the ladder. When the whole ladder lurches down, our job is to hang on to our relative position, and not complain that society as a whole has just become much poorer. This way we can all be fooled that we are still middle class.

  • as the financial system seems about to do, it isn’t a matter of clinging, but picking ourselves back up, shaking off the dust, figuring what the hell happened and starting over again. Right now we are just at the stage where the ladder shook a little. Think 1914, 1929, 1939. When we reach the point where the dust starts to settle, it is going to be a different world. The people who survive it are going to be very awake.

    While it’s a problem that isn’t going to be resolved through reasonable argument, the whole top down religious/political paradigm needs to be reconsidered. The paternal monotheistic assumption of a Platonic ideal from which we are all imperfect models, seeking to return is upside down. The absolute is basis, not apex, so the source of our being is the essence from which we rise and to which we fall. awareness is bottom up phenomena, while intellect is top down, post hoc order. Not something the Judio-Chritian-Islamic masses are going to buy into anytime soon, but they seem determined to fight it out for the sake of their super ego. When those left alive find they were not raptured and neither were the preachers who promised them heaven, they will be more open to new ideas.

  • It’s not that we are classless, it is that the US uses race as a proxy for class. Racism allows us to pretend that there are no classes, that all white people are rich.

    “The Playboy reader invites a female acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” – Hugh Hefner

  • His work does not apply to working class people? Really?

    Damn, I must have missed it in the UK – where it’s povided by the state, and in Africa where it’s the focus of the very poor.

    The US poor are different? How so?

  • Do a search on the “Bubba vote.” Much to the Democrats consternation Bubba consistently votes against his economic interests in favor of “small government, low taxes, traditional values, and strong military,” as well as “Guns, God and gays.”

    It’s the base of the GOP that has allowed the ruling elite to stay in power and continue to perpetrate economic neoliberalism and neo-imperialism. It’s a pretty reliable 25-30% of the voters, judging by the polls. It also influences center-right independents. You would probably have a hard time comprehending it if you are unfamiliar with AM talk radio and right wing christianism, but Fox News gives some idea.

  • ….Maslow was a pop-psychologist. I’ve always believed that his theory was horseshit. The problem is we apply it specifically to the poor and working classes. You think the poor don’t make efforts to attain all the other things even when their survival is in doubt? Don’t know too many poor people do you? People who follow the heirarchy theory imply that the less money you have the closer you are to a lizard. Wrong, very wrong.

    The point I was making is that working-class people are slightly abopve that day-to-day survival level that poor people are at. That’s because they get up and go to their jobs every day, and don’t complain when they’re there. They know that only a pink slip seperates them from the panhandlers and the welfare moochers.

    Working class people don’t desire upward mobility the way the middle class does. They regard the middle class as amoral, effete circle-jerks. They know they won’t be there when the shit hits the fan. When the next war breaks out, they –the working men– and their kids will be the ones joining up while middle class kids will seek deferments.

    They don’t send their kids to college, nor do they afford them any kind of paths out of the life they know. They do not want them to turn their back on their rearing and they cwertainly don’t want their sons to become effeminate, left-wing scum.

  • hung out with a good buddy yesterday. his ‘ol gal, bless her, is a bit simple. smart enough to know it tho, and wants help. sweet gal. she told me she’d been listening to some OKC, OK AM radio talk shows after midnight here. she said, ‘that asteroid that nearly hit us has another right behind it, only it ain’t an asteroid. it’s The Grays, coming to abduct more of us! Now you think about it, Zuma, if they was nice and all, they wouldn’t be sneaky, they’d come right out and introduce themselves to our government but they haven’t done that. Actually there’s two different kinds of aliens, the nice ones and the bad ones…” and so on, i didn’t ask why the nice ones don’t ‘introduce themselves’… she went on to say the next show following [i forget his name] is about politics. and like how evil and bad jimmy carter is and so on…

    fear and ignorance, hormonal thought, the limbic system, fight or flight simplicity. simplicity…

    fear and hate. primal conflict. -but the fear the elderly may have is like something else again, certainly not from a surfeit of hormones or ignorance, just fear and vulnerability, or as gordon *might* suggest (to use his word in any case); powerlessness… i bring the elderly up thinking how people supposedly flip to conservatism as they age, ala charleton heston or jerry rubin. sure doesn’t explain senator byrd, god bless him, but i digress…

    there’s an old word long out of vogue, that’s come back to my mind of late; the Establishment.

    this country was lucky to have done as well as it did in terms of welfare and civil rights and rehabilitation. that all smacks of belly rubbers and tree huggers and other forms of Socialist sissies to the disenfranchised and trained…

    i told her let’s not talk politics. and i’d keep an eye out for the grays.

  • Thanks for the analysis Numerian, and spot on. I agree that Obama has been moving to the left (which is the right direction) ever since Edwards dropped out of the race. The “issue” of elitism is not an issue at all. What worries the powers that be are his underlying economic arguments. My post on Obama’s speech on race largely followed your same argument; Obama’s moving left (at least rhetorically) and the true elitists are getting worried.

  • He wasn’t expecting his comments to become public – though that is a bit naive – and when he had to respond he went back to Pennsylvania to address the issue directly and clarify what he meant. The fact that he didn’t back down on his basic point is important, because in the face of Republican attacks a lot of Democrats have backed down and apologized, looking weak in the process. What I like about Obama is that he notches up the argument, makes it stronger, attacks his opponents for their hypocrisy (a word that needs to be revived since it describes Republicans better than any other word), and he keeps at it, forcing the press and his opponents to respond finally on the issue as he sees it.

    He did it with the Wright controversy and the discussion on race and came out okay, if not ahead, even though this topic is enormously emotional and many voters will find any rationale for not voting for him just because he is black. This discussion, however, is more important, because it doesn’t carry the emotional baggage of racism, and it has the potential to backfire on both Hillary and McCain who are about as elitist as you get in this country. More important, it has the potential to dismantle a fundamental weapon in the Republican arsenal – the use of fear and divisiveness to trick voters into ignoring what is happening behind the curtain to their job security, health benefits, and general welfare. If you take this away from Republicans and strip them of the illusion that they are strong on defense, they have nothing left.

  • The last thing they will want to do is introduce themselves to this government.

    It use to be that the Grays were the government – a sometimes alien but otherwise benevolent force that looked out for you in times of ultimate stress. It’s sad that the Establishment has lost such respect that people have to transfer their sense of security and faith in society to aliens from another planet.

  • I am struck, Stuart, by the arguments made there that Obama “goes for the jugular” – he doesn’t shy away from discussing topics that have been taboo in America for decades. He worries the elites because they are beginning to lose their grip on the emotive power of fear to divide people on these very issues. He’s beginning to challenge some basic economic and financial assumptions about how this country is managed. I find him moving closer to some of the John Edwards arguments about two Americas – though Obama has a ways to go before he could be labeled as a populist.

    He presents an even greater worry for the establishment because he has shown he can thrive withhold the corporate and lobbying money that the Clinton’s tapped into for their campaigns. His internet based model, which owes its conception to Howard Dean, has been phenomenally successful and has given him tremendous freedom politically. The interesting question about this model, though, is whether it only works by tapping into people’s anger and anxiety. Certainly Obama can be inspirational, but the bitterness may be what really drives campaign donations. What happens when he becomes president? Will the contributions come in at the same pace after he starts the inevitable process of disappointing people?

    The true test for Obama if he wins the presidency is whether he takes on the admirals and the generals and the corporations that run Pentagon Inc. It shouldn’t take him too long to figure out that the short and long term political and economic health of this country depends on reining in the empire. Clinton took them on and won a fantastic economic recovery with the peace dividend. It must be tempting to try to repeat that.

  • yes very naive. The elitism charge will continue to stick if Obama continues to have to explain his words and actions. The cure for this is for him to think before he speaks. It doesn’t matter if the his core message is good and true if keeps screwing up. At some point voters will just stop listening and it won’t be because he is black but because he sounds like all the other politicians.

  • I expect better from you 🙂 He was speaking at a private fund raiser – He wasn’t expecting his comments to become public

    You’re not advocating for two different messages are you? A “behind closed door” message and a message for the sheeple? That’s like approving of dishonesty.

  • The whole setting of a “private fund raiser” in San Francisco stinks in the first place for someone who has raised so much money on the internet in $10 and $20 increments (and who brags about it). And to not expect someone in such a setting to record this on some device is reckless.

    I do think his message at the meeting was a sincere reflection of what he has found in his campaigning. I think the insincerity comes about in how he expressed this to donors in California, versus the much more careful wording he eventually used in public in Pennsylvania.

    He should have one message and one locution in whatever the setting. Otherwise, as you say, it smells of dishonesty.

    I hope he learns from it because the message itself is vitally important. Bill Clinton used this message successfully in his campaigns, pointing out exactly how and where the Republicans were dividing people to extract votes, while taking actions that harmed the very people who voted for them. That is the only way Democrats are going to combat the Republicans and the wind machine they have at their back in the form of talk radio, Drudge, etc. I remember watching in frustration as John Kerry just slunk back in muteness in the face of such Republican attacks. It never works and it looks like Obama has learned that – he just hasn’t learned yet how to express it consistently.

  • …a peripheral Democrat at best, and I find her a less noble human being than John McCain. After this weekend, it’s hard to tell them apart on the stump. So who should I vote for in November? I prefer the Democratic Party, but my preference for their aims is not unconditional.

    When you Hillaryheads denigrate Barack Obama, then the Democratic Party itself and expect my vote in the fall you insult my intelligence. She will not get that satisfaction.

    My gosh, can’t you see what kind of person you’ve shackled yourself to?

  • shackled myself to anyone but the democrat party. I intend on voting all blue, so feel free to vote for McCain if necessary in the fall. However please don’t bitch to me about what President Mccain does or doesn’t do. The deal is both candidates have been denigrated by the press, each others supporters, republicans and by each other. Neither candidate can say they have run a clean campaign. You insult my intelligence by thinking only you see things correctly and your refusal to believe that not everyone thinks he is the best candidate for valid reasons. You also insult all the people who took the time to vote for Hillary in primaries and caucauses. Millions of people voted for Hillary and dismssing them does nothing for your candidate.

  • …only me that sees it. Most people that aren’t Democrats and enamored of the Clinton name see it too. More than half the Democrasts see it too. It’s the people Bill’s pollsters called “stickers” and Democratic women over 40 desperate to get one of their own into the White House that don’t.

    The only thing special about Bill is that he was the only Democrat who figured out how to win in post-Reagan America; the only thing special about Hillary is she is married to Bill. It’s time to move past these twerps. We don’t need them, and frankly can’t afford them anymore.

    The only thing Hillary promises is that she will reverse eight years of Bush, which means in 2017, we’ll be back to where we were in 2001, anmd this country will have wasted sixteen years. I’m so fucking sick of the Reagan paradigm, and Hillary is one of its greatest acolytes. No thanks, I’ll take my chances.

  • while i began this reply completely on topic, one of my own pages held a linkchain relevent to drupal stuff: For those who are dev enough

    that aside aside,
    the alien and the foreign and the different and others
    is a central theme of mine, a BFD, so it’s hard to keep my mouth shut.
    even more than usual.

    we treat all politicos within certain civil parameters, attributing attributes good and bad patently and extremely contrary to evidence as if that is the nature of making sense, when those on the fringe were awarded tin foil hats simply because they were extreme. ‘Them’ and not ‘Us’. they who once exhorted us to buy gold may now be saying buy food and we still ignore them for their extremism. we ignore all extremism as if patently it was common sense to do so, out of hand and without discernment, even extreme verified news. that things are extremely bad is not acknowledged in polite company no matter the impolite offense to intelligence. to be impolite is to be impolitic…

    ah, the foreign, Them, the Others, so unamerican. leads to socialism and other unmanly ills… or worse.

    when it comes to these things, vonnegut hits the spot on.

    we give the establishment far far too much respect while we are completely okay with launching citizen surveillance sats against ourselves. there is no they, there’s only us, shooting ourselves in the heart.



    i’m all for wish fulfillment. i’ve never realized anything real in life any other way. that’s all i have in common with the system over us. tenacity. but there are indeed wishes i wouldn’t do if i could.

  • Obama Gets Honest About Small Town America’s Decay, Elitists Lash out
    By Jane Smiley, Huffington Post. Posted April 14, 2008

    When Barack Obama tells the truth about conditions as we know them Hillary takes the low road.

    From Senator Clinton’s remarks, I infer that to actually see what has gone on in the US in the last 20 years is unAmerican. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, what you pay in taxes, what else you might have contributed to the culture, how you vote, who you support. If you don’t support fundamentalist religion, job outsourcing, and free access to guns, then you are not even American.

    I cannot believe how angry this makes me. I cannot believe that after the last seven and a half years, I can even get this angry. Yes, I know she is pandering to her audience. Yes, I know she will do anything to get elected. Yes, I know that she and Bill Clinton are corrupt to the core, and that I should have never expected anything better of her.

  • ok, btw I am not a desperate woman over forty who just wants to see one of ‘my own’ in the WH. Ok, well I am over forty but just feel Hillary is better prepared for the coming years. To each their own, but sad that you can’t find a way to express your support for Obama without lowering yourself to sexist insults.

  • …the sexism? If I say that women over forty are her core, which is a fact, is that somehow sexist? If so, that is so misused we need a new term. Is it racist to suggest that blacks like Obama?

    Someone who bungled health care reform with her arrogance, secrecy and wonkish tendencies is not prepared to run the country, nor is someone whose campaign debt exceeds $10 million dollars. I don’t trust someone who has co-sponsored over 300 Republican bills to govern as a Democrat. Her votes on the bankruptcy bill, AUMF and Kyl-Lieberman piss me off completely.

  • … on religion is that we got to see Obama explicate, in Philadelphia, his complex and nuanced twenty-year relation with his pastor, at the end of which Obama — surprise! Though I’m not saying he was wrong — wrote himself a free pass on the relationship.

    Well and good. But when Obama talks about how working people relate to their pastors, they don’t get to be complex and nuanced; no no, they “cling to” religion.

    His attitude just reeks of condescension.

    And for those of you who think the elites are worried about Obama’s populism… Good luck with that.

  • *that* was merely citing an article.
    cheap. no indications which ways i’d want it inferred.
    now lambert below here, on the other hand, used his *own* words.
    and i found them extremely persuasive.
    the condescending part particularly.
    but really it makes no never mind to me.
    obama doesn’t ring true for me, unlike a carter or kucinich.
    and that’s criteria #1 for me.
    criteria #2 is no madmen, no matter how honest, earnest and genuine.
    criteria #1 tends to take care of #2 most of the time though, yes?
    of course hillary doesn’t ring true for me either. neither does mccain.
    it’s a framed election, like a framed question, like an old style soviet or cuban election.
    i’d love to write in my candidate of choice, kucinich.
    hell, i’d write in amy goodman or others of a small handful of independent journalists i’m still naive and foolish and ignorant enough to trust cause dammit i gotta trust somebody.
    i don’t want a president to run the dang country, just preside over it and let us run it. i want an investigative journalist for a president, i do. is murrow still alive?
    okay, okay, i got a confession to make:
    to vote, i’d have to trade in my 20 year arizona license for an oklahoma license. the cops keep threatening to haul me in if i don’t, but i’m not only [see above], i’m also stubbornly stupidly or stupidly stubborn or some weird sort of admixture of both inbetween. or noncommital. [*koff*]
    so, who’m i to talk at all anyway, huh? huh?
    so there.

    but yeah, lambert. good comment.
    original words.
    genuine, earnest, and real.


    Will the Constitution Be Altered to Eliminate Key Liberties?
    By Robert Parry, Consortium News. Posted April 14, 2008

  • …no one said that working-class people suddenly found Jesus when things get rough, though many do. On the other hand what do you expect people to cling to in rough seas? Their pink flannel bed linen? People get religious in bad times, and take out their anger on those they suspect will try to seperate them from it.

    Why shouldn’t they vote on God, guns, and gays? What else have our politicians offered them?

    Now this isn’t about that, now is it? Two months ago, you guys were going on about how you couldn’t vote for Obama because he didn’t answer the “are you a Muslim” question adequately, and boy were you outraged! Then the Pastor Wright story broke, and it was “how dare he think he can be president when he subscribes to nutcase black-nationalist Christianity,” and boy were you outraged! Now you can’t vote for him because he’s a secular humanist atheist elitist who has total contempt for all faith, and boy are you outraged!

    Poppycock. This is the boilerplate of the “Rise Hill Rise!” crowd. Talk about clinging! You all thing every malleable Obama quote is an iron lifeline for your Quixotic cause. Your Hillaryhead outrage is so full of bologna, you can open your own deli.

  • sexist to say :

    It aint…
    …only me that sees it. Most people that aren’t Democrats and enamored of the Clinton name see it too. More than half the Democrasts see it too. It’s the people Bill’s pollsters called “stickers” and Democratic women over 40 desperate to get one of their own into the White House that don’t.

    I’ll just have to agree to disagree because I don’t see any common ground here. adios

  • Poppycock. This is the boilerplate of the “Rise Hill Rise!” crowd. Talk about clinging! You all thing every malleable Obama quote is an iron lifeline for your Quixotic cause. Your Hillaryhead outrage is so full of bologna, you can open your own deli.

    It sounds you would prefer that the Agonist was another Obamastan such as TPM and DailyKOS where Clinton fans are either banned or ridiculed. The Obamacrats that reside there do not tolerate dissent from their message. They’ve taken the word ‘progressive’ to a whole new level. In the eyes of many, they’ve disgraced themselves and are anything but progressive. Why would they want to piss off millions of potential Obama voters? So much for the message of unity that they loudly proclaim to be their candidate’s motto.

    Echo chambers where opposing opinions are frowned upon and resented, do not reflect democratic ideals imo. All they do is make a mockery of the word ‘progressive blog’.

  • …you mean the few thousand dingbats that congregate on MyDilDo, Taylor Marsh, and Hillaryis44? The fact that so called progressives still support the jerk is indicative of dementia. She’s not even “Republican Lite” anymore, she’s gone whole hog since Saturday. I’m not all that surprised: her and Bill were never democrats with a small d. And in the last two months they’ve mocked everything non-machine “Big D” Democrats stand for. And Obama’s the one tearing the party apart? We like to call that projection.

    But go ahead: cling to your beloved “Hills” like a four year old to her teddy bear; maybe she’ll keep you safe at night. I suppose there’s always comfort in the familiar. Just don’t expect the rest of us -Democrats and independants– to buy into your atavistic fantasies.

  • Shut down your computer. Push back your chair. Stand up and walk outside. Enjoy the fresh air and note the signs of spring. If you cross paths with a dog, don’t kick it. Shoot some hoops or pull some weeds, whatever activity helps you release some of that steam into the open air. Repeat as necessary.

    Turn back to the Constitution – and
    READ it.

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