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  • They Really Exist

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on April 6th, 2005 (All posts by )

    Via Little Green Footballs: the appalling part is the comments. Please read the expressions of support for a cop-killer at Indymedia. This is beyond lunacy. Think of a Unabomber political party.

     

    51 Responses to “They Really Exist”

    1. Lex Says:

      I have been worried that the intensity of the anger on the left, and its low intellectual content, would lead to a return to the kind of political violence we saw in the late 60s and early 70s. I fear that the Weathermen of today will be more competent and destructive. Hope I’m wrong on both counts.

    2. David Foster Says:

      The level of anger on the left today is indeed frightening. I suspect it has little to do with the stated issues.

      What are the causes of this rage? I have my own ideas, which I will try to write up, but would like to hear what others are thinking.

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      David Foster,

      “What are the causes of this rage?”

      I think there are two causes of the anger:

      First, is the long standing belief common among Leftist over the last two centuries that the causes of the worlds problems are well understood and the solutions to those problems can be easily implemented if only enough people had the will to do so. For each generation of Leftist, near-utopia was just around the corner if only non-Leftist stopped being so stupid and selfish. Their anger has always been the anger of someone who believes they have a drug which will save a child’s life but who is prevented from administering it due to the opposition of others.

      Secondly, in the contemporary era, Leftism is in decline. Leftism hit its high-watermark in the early 70’s and it has been becoming increasingly irrelevant to the political process. Look at the end of the Cold War. What role did Leftist play in the second most major event of the 20th century? Diddly-squat. Ditto for the War on Terrorism. Even in domestic affairs, their primary effect has been to struggle to maintain the status quo they created in the previous 70 years.

      For many Leftist, their political identity becomes their primary identity. It replaces religion, community and even family for many. It gives them a exaggerated sense of self-worth that their more practical accomplishments wouldn’t support. The overeducated, 30-somethings working the counter at Starbuck’s can nevertheless imagine themselves intellectually and morally superior to the suits they serve coffee to because they share political beliefs with a intellectual and moral elite. (If you agree with Norm Chomski you must be as smart as Norm Chomski). When this inflated self-image is threatened by political events they react with an intense anger that has little to do with the events themselves.

      The anger is only going to get worse. In the end, Leftism is about elitism and hierarchy but the modern world is growing increasingly egalitarian. Soon intellectuals and their associated wannabes will have no special role to play in either society or politics. It is this evolution that the Leftist are truly railing against.

    4. Lex Says:

      Shannon, I agree with this entirely.

    5. David Foster Says:

      I think a big part of the anger is due to the rise of what I call the “intellectual lumpenproletariat.” These are people who believed the academic hype, spent years getting advanced degrees, and are now working behind the register at Barnes & Noble. Their education not only failed to give them job skills, it also often failed to provide the perspective that would come with a true liberal education. They are disappointed, bitter, and angry, and they’re looking for somebody to blame.

      There is another group, and that consists of the people who *have* been successful in career terms, but who think their success entitles them to much more influence than they actually have under American democracy. For these people–including many entertainers and tenured professors–the cry is ever “Respect my author-i-tay.”

      But there have always been people like the second category. It’s the rise of the first class that really scares me.

    6. Lex Says:

      David, Michael Barone’s recent piece on the crowd of trust-fund kids shows yet a third element. People who never have to work, and who can devote themselves essentially full time to what they consider to be worthy causes.

      All of these people are made possible by the existence of an extremely productive economy underlying it all, which can sustain them. Schumpeter, in Capitalism, Freedom and Democracy, predicted that a “class” of this general type would arise and be a severe threat to economic and political freedom.

    7. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Its like a bad rerun of the 1960s.

      “The Brown Acid Is Bad!”

    8. Mitch Says:

      The purple Kool-Aid is worse.

    9. Anonymous Says:

      “Lumpenproletariats” – nice term!

      If they didn’t cause so much trouble the LumpenProles sitting in their ivory towers and thinking of themselves as part of the oppressed proletariat would be LOL amusing just by its absurd irony.

      They are enraged because they believe themselves, as others have pointed out, intellectually and morally superior yet they cannot get hold of what Jefferson referred to as the “smooth handle”; the well worn lever by which something (in this case the world’s political system) is controlled. If they can’t get control of the machine then the machine must be destroyed.

      It is very similar to the bouts of rage one often sees with adolescents that invariably ends with a hissey-fit and the shriek of, “You don’t understand!”

    10. GUYK Says:

      Or maybe, as my old rednecked grandpa used to say,’damn educated fools’

    11. Steve Says:

      The most troubling thing about the “Intellectual Lumenproletariat” (kudos to D.F.) is that it has given up trying to convince anyone of its views.

      April’s (sorry, no name dude!) allusion to Jefferson’s ‘smooth handle’ leads right to this observation. It is a rudimentary lesson in any marketing course that you want to avoid disgusting your target market. This gang is so ignorant of this fact that their “market share” in the bazaar of ideas can only continue to atrophy.

      If you own a business, don’t belong to a union, vote Republican, or are white, jewish, or anglocentric, they HATE you. Geez, that’s at least 2/3 of the electorate!

      Here, I echo Lex and Shannon. As these groups wither away to their extreme “skeletal” remnants, I fear they will resort to terrorism as a force magnifier.

      Keep your guns locked and loaded, and both eyes open, folks.
      -Steve

    12. chel Says:

      Do you think the Left is any more angry today than the Right was during the Clinton years? I have a hunch they are, but still the Right was really, really, really angry then. I mean whoever is not in power will always be mad.

      But anyway, as someone who spends a lot of time with folks that I’m sure y’all would consider left I have to say none of them are the disgruntled Starbucks/Barnes and Noble characture that you are refering too. Few of them fit into the ivory tower model either. No doubt that they exist. But the thing is that if you believe that’s all the “left” is, I think you are missing what’s going on.

      In fact, I feel that the anger has come through in more people than ever. And most of them aren’t really that left. I have many friends who have always been sort of out of touch with politics (you know never do anything more than vote for whatever Democrat that running for prez) who have become steaming mad since Bush took office. Now these aren’t people who live in trees or want to bring socialism to the world. In fact I have quite a few friends with square jobs, who have made a lot of $ in a capitalist way who just feel blazing mad at Bush and the direction our country is going in.

    13. Ken Says:

      “It is very similar to the bouts of rage one often sees with adolescents that invariably ends with a hissey-fit and the shriek of, “You don’t understand!”

      Not surprising, since the two species are so much alike. Insulated from reality and from the larger culture, unwilling or unable to do something really useful, they act out in all sorts of depressingly familiar ways.

      Most teenagers grow out of it when we turn them loose, of course – they’ve been impatiently waiting for years for the chance to join the larger culture and do something really useful. A few, however, perversely come to enjoy that sheltered, if limited, existence and spend their lives seeking to turn the entire culture into a larger version of it. Maybe giving our children less time to acclimate to overgrown childhood and get them grown up faster would help here…

    14. chel Says:

      Ken,

      Are you talking to me? Were you saying that I’m just being a bratty teenager having a hissy-fit? I was actually, seriously trying to describe something that it seemed like folks here weren’t seeing.

      Also, your 1st quote in your post, where is it from?

    15. Ken Says:

      “Are you talking to me? Were you saying that I’m just being a bratty teenager having a hissy-fit?”

      Um, no. I didn’t notice anyone here having a hissy fit.

      “Also, your 1st quote in your post, where is it from?”

      Earlier in this thread. No name attached, though.

    16. Mitch Says:

      @ David:
      How about “lumpenintelligentsia”?

    17. Mitch Says:

      Or “lumpintelligentsia”?

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      chel,

      You make good points but I think it is safe to say that the more extreme a Leftist politics are the more likely they are to be overeducated and underemployed. I keep being surprised by the number of people I know who have degrees in humanities, who are very articulate and urbane but who are profoundly underemployed and rather angry and resentful about it.

      I think that both the anger that people on the Left evince towards Bush and the anger that people on the Right directed towards Clinton sprang from the same psychopathology. Both groups of people seek personal validation from having someone whom they view as like themselves in the White House. They seek personal status and fulfillment by having somebody they view as from their “tribe” holding the most powerful political office in the world.

      I think the problem is worse on the Left right now because for many Leftist, politics has subsumed more of their lives. If you are a secular Leftist, you don’t belong to a religious community. If you live in a heavily blue urban core you probably don’t have a physical community either. Politics even follows professions in some cases. People indoctrinated into a post-modernist mindset will be likely to think of everything in their lives has having political significance.

      The 30 year long decline in Leftist power also gives the Left an hysterical edge just like the Right had in the late 50’s or 60’s. People who hold minority opinions and who are locked out of the political process as a result are the ones who are most angry. This will not change anytime soon.

      The technology driven economic, social and political changes have yanked the rug out from under the Left. The conditions that made elitist managed, centralized solutions plausible means of solving problems have long since ended. The Left will have to start all over again before they will recover significant political power.

      Until then, all those people who peg their self-esteem to the political victory of Leftist politicians will be very, very angry.

    19. Tyouth Says:

      My impression was that Clinton was more despised by right leaners vs the viseral hatred that GWB seems to recieve from lefties.

    20. David Foster Says:

      Chel…sure, there are people on the left who are motivated by things other than blind range. Some of them have at least attempted to think seriously about the issues. But I believe they are a minority. Someone who was seriously concerned about issues would attempt to convert other people to his point of view, and would conduct himself in a manner making such conversion more likely. He surely wouldn’t walk on stilts, make giant puppets of GWB, or carry signs accusing Israel of being a Nazi state.

      People who do such things seem to me to be motivated more by their internal psychological state than by any reality outside of themselves.

    21. chel Says:

      I dunno… I think the puppets are pretty creative and entertaining. But, yes I totally agree with you David, that comparing Israel or anything else for that matter to the Nazi’s really isn’t cool.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m with everyone here that there are unproductive and annoying people on the left. But I just think the anger level is really high. Even among folks that usually haven’t cared about stuff.

      I liked Shannon’s referencing of the 1990s and the anger that was felt toward Clinton. In the 1990s the tables were really turned. I don’t think people who were left of center understood how angry people were at Bill Clinton or how common that anger was in folks that were right of center. Same is true today.

      I had to chuckle when I read the sentence from Shannon’s comment refering to the Left: “The conditions that made elitist managed, centralized solutions plausible means of solving problems have long since ended.” “Elitist managed, centralized” are some of the reasons cited by those who are angry at the Bush administration as to why they’re so angry. You know people who don’t like Bush see the Bush family as a weathy, shady, old-money dynasty that circumvents democracy, uses fear and bully tactics to just do whatever it pleases (PATRIOT Act, invade Iraq, etc.)

    22. Knucklehead Says:

      Tyouth,

      I agree. For the most part the “Right” was disgusted by Clinton and loathed and despised him. The “Left” does exhibit a spitting, seething, visceral hatred for Bush that colors everything for them. I count myself among the Clinton-Loathers and, while what I did may not be the slightest bit indicative of the “norm” for Clinton-Loathers, I would frequently find myself reminding my fellow Clinton-Loathers that there is a whole lot in this world that has nothing to do with the POTUS. They would never try to make a case based purely on hatred. The Bush Derangment Syndrom crowd can’t witness unpleasant weather without thinking it is Bush’s fault.

      Chel,

      There are, indeed, some “squares” who also exhibit BDS and “don’t like the direction he’s taking the country”. I’ll sometimes ask, “What direction is that?” and get a short list of grievances something like:

      – theocrats running amuck or taking over the country
      – rampant illegal immigration
      – outsourcing of jobs offshore
      – China will become a superpower
      – shoulda-woulda-coulda fought the war differently or against somebody else (Iran, SA, China, NK are typical candidates)
      – they served in the military 20 or 30 years ago and just cannot get beyond the Powell Doctrine; they don’t recognize how wars are fought anymore and since it looks different they don’t like it

      None of those things began with the Bush administration. They’ve been problems (or changes) that people have foamed at the mouth over for a whole lot longer than the past five years. I suppose each POTUS in turn gets blamed for not magically solving whatever problems exist, or our own favorite problems.

      To sum up the difference I see (which doesn’t mean the observation is accurate, just sayin’) is that Clinton got very little blame and way too much credit and Bush gets way too much blame and very little credit.

    23. David Foster Says:

      Chel..”people who don’t like Bush see the Bush family as a weathy, shady, old-money dynasty”…yes, they usually do. But it doesn’t seem to bother them when Democrats are aligned with old money…even shady old money. And “circumvents democracy”??..many of today’s “progressives” have made clear their contempt for what they call the “sheeple.”

      Thus, I think their real issues are often other than their stated ones.

    24. Knucklehead Says:

      Chel,

      Sorry to be a thread hog here but I can’t get off the BDS phenomenon.

      This is an extreme example, I fully admit, but not entirely atypical. The single most virulent case of BDS I had some regular contact with blamed everything on Bush. Everything. No kidding (and this was back in late 2001 or early 2002), he held George W. Bush personally responsible for a local grocery store and a local lumber mill going out of business, the wildfires that were then raging in CA, and the WTC attack. I was somewhat prepared for the WTC conspiracy dimentia but the other stuff I assumed he was joking about and actually laughed out loud. He was dead serious. And this is a guy who just about worships Reagan and is well educated. There’s something very sick about BDS. In this guy’s case I suspect that he’s a rabid atheist since he would get foamed up to the max about the “Christian Fascists” taking over the country. The guy really needs to put down the Buchananite flyers and get some medical help.

    25. GUYK Says:

      There are a great number of people who voted for Bush, not once but twice, as the lessor of two evils that are not happy with the Bush administration. I fell out with him over the steel tariff which was an obvious political move to garner union votes-which of course did not. Others are unhappy about the conduct of the war in Iraq. The lastest attempt to make an end run around the court system was the last straw for others and for me it is seeming unwillingness to do much about the sieve at our southern borders.

      But, does that mean I will support a quasi socialist democrat candidate. Not in this world! I am doing my best to let the republican party know that I am not happy with them worth a damn but that doesn’t mean I would vote for Hillary.

      The democrats do have the best shot at regaining control of the government than they have had in several years. If they could find a charasmatic person that appears to have some centrist ideas that are reasonably logical they might be able to take the White House. Clinton did! However, the radical left only appeals to the radical left and they are a minority. Although I do not like the way the religious right has hi-jacked the republican party I would still rather see the republicans in power than the socialist left-or as they say now, the progressive left.

    26. Ginny Says:

      A couple of points: authority without responsibility is characteristic of many of the professions the left dominates (of course, this is also true of us – we observe and opine; off the blog we may be doers but not on it). Since 9/11 people take speech more seriously.Many complained they were considered unpatriotic if they criticized Bush; from my observations of the right on blogs, etc. this seems to me to say more about them – it’s not that people said they were unpatriotic nearly as much as people asked them what they meant, noted that consequences of their way of thinking were not all that good.

      The left thinks the constraints of nature (there are only 24 hours in the day; we’re born one sex and with some set of deficiencies; we’re going to sin and we’re going to die – you know, the basics) are the constraints of society and so they are mad at it. If you think everything is society’s fault, well it is easy to be angry. If you think that that is just the tragic nature of life, well, you are grateful things don’t always go bad. (It’s a country song – and these are not country song people – that goes: “I love this crazy, tragic, / Sometimes almost magic, / Awful beautiful life.” My husband and daughter think it is corny, but, well, listening to that play in the background of your life is a lot better than, say, the immensely cynical Chicago if you ask me. And if it is a cliché, it is a cliché that hints at both the tragedy and power of the human spirit.)

      Second point: Equality, as the left defines it, does not lead to happiness. I found myself immensely freed when I began to see the world as a place where all could bloom – that just because a rose blossomed in my neighbors patch didn’t mean a lot of tulips could not live quite beautiful lives in mine. And a couple of blog essays helped me – here and here and here. Envy is a nasty human trait and one that should be discouraged. (As I, of course, know about myself.) The left’s assumption that if someone somewhere has more than they, injustice rules in the world is a pretty lousy road to happiness. Of course, the values (even of the quite weakened Marxism they believe in) are material ones and they are quite cynical about what they see as the sentimental (love of spouse, children, country, God) but which many of us see as life affirming.

      Since they believe the world owes them a living, they have trouble feeling gratitude (for family, for their really quite rich lives, for the joys of their discipline). A few years ago at an honors conclave at UT, the teacher being honored launched into a speech about how for twenty or more years he hadn’t been appreciated (faculty, college, university). His bitterness as he accepted the plaque and the applause was palpable. It was a lovely model for the liberal arts honors students who followed; not surprisingly, their remarks, too, were tinged with a bitter superiority, some feeling obliged to criticize the book store’s gift or to comment on their ability to immediately sell it back. (Sorry its so long.)

    27. Anonymous Says:

      GUYK,

      The steel tariff issue seems, to me, a small potatoes matter. They were temporary, as far as I know they are gone, and I never hear a word from the folks who got foamed up about it, now that China is a net importer of steel, about how our steel industry is (or should be) going gangbusters.

      As for the southern border, the illegal immigration issue is something that average American needs to get smacked upside the head about. Are we, as a nation, really prepared to do what is necessary to close that border? I don’t claim that Bush is doing what needs to be done, or anything close to it, but I haven’t heard one proposal from any other politician of any significance about how to go about closing our southern border.

      And, presuming we could and would close it and that that would be a good idea, what has anyone (other than Bush) proposed as a method for dealing with the 6 or 8 or 12 or 15 or 20 million illegal immigrants already here? I am aware of no end of people who claim they would support the deportation of illegal aliens. I guarantee, I’d be my home on it, that 75% of those “supporters of deportation” would evaporate with the first World News Tonight broadcast of US federal agents rounding up poor little illegal immigrant families. There is no way that this nation will go through with any of the actions necessary to deal with the illegal immigration problem. We’ll have rampant violence in the streets – the Mother of All Hands Across America and half the hands will be attached to people who wanted “something done about illegal immigration”.

      Bush floated a proposal and got politically eviscerated for it. The American citizenry isn’t even prepared to discuss the problem let alone solve it.

      I apologize for the tone of my post but I really want to reach out and slap almost every American I hear express their opinion about illegal immigration. There isn’t a sane voice in the house on this topic. Job himself would be turned into a pillar of salt if he were sent to find two American citizens who had sane thoughts about illegal immigration.

    28. Steve Says:

      Chel trolled with a fake lure, and got some earnest strikes.
      Her point attracts because, of course, the stereotyped “Lumpenhead” doesn’t fit some of the leftists exceptions she knows.

      The anger on display at Indymedia is different from the kind I saw coalesce around Clinton. I was angry at Clinton’s anesthetized presidency, and appalled at his opiumated responses to the USS Cole bombing, the Khobar towers, and later the Embassy bombings in Africa. But I never likened him to Hitler – just an inept bumbler.

      So many of the cherished lambs that the left has nurtured for decades are now no longer protected from slaughter. Everything is on the chopping block in the new fiscal environment. Social Security is just one of them. The Federal Employees Unions are another. And if that’s not enough, the hispanic vote is swinging to the right.

      There’s no wonder why they’re howling so loudly.

      In this time of great loss for their agendas, just when the Left really needs an eloquent, reasoned and unified rhetoric to sway their fellow countrymen, their brains have left the studio, and other “body parts” have stepped in to yawp for them.

      -Steve

    29. Knucklehead Says:

      Ginny!

      I’m not a stalker, I swear. You are awesome! I love it when you post. Don’t tell my wife how much I admire you.

      Envy is one of the BIG problems. People eat themselves away with envy. I can’t count the number of people I know who live comfortable lives with no physical need unmet and can’t escape getting enraged over the fact that other people have more. It consumes them like some flesh eating bacteria.

      Another thing that Americans in particular suffer from is the Cult of Expertise. I won’t go on with this but we are a bunch of idiots when it comes to our worship of expertise. We’ll spend untold dollars on books and visits to experts in topics such as, for example, “child care”, rather than asking a freakin’ Grandma who know more about children than any post-doctoral psychology expert ever will.

      Another one I’d like to mention is the Cult of the Root Cause. There is rarely a root cause for any problem involving human beings or any other naturally occuring anything. But go-freaking-jillions of people seem absolutely convinced that if just one little change was made, if only the root cause was adressed, Utopia would drop down on us like a satin snowfall.

    30. David Foster Says:

      Ginny…you mention people who have trouble feeling gratitude. I think this characteristic is very common among people today, and, disturbingly, is much more common among people with higher educational levels. More thoughts on this topic here:
      Link

    31. Ginny Says:

      David, I hate to say that I love your post – it is so terribly sad, isn’t it–but as far as perceptive, I did love it. What it is perceptive of – well, that’s the sadness.

      Knucklehead, your wife wouldn’t need to worry if she saw me. And I like your points.

      I think the root cause thing comes from the left’s belief that they have answers to problems that are pretty much unsolveable, given the nature of man. They think in terms of systems. My husband & I met in a linguistics class taught by one of Chomsky’s boys. His ability to try to find the “root cause” of all language was exciting – I still think it is exciting and, sure, he oversimplified and later linguists have their doubts, but he was a lot more correct than Skinner (with whom he battled). But he turned to politics and wanted to see the same root cause. America’s everywhere – well it must be the root cause of all problems. (We might remark on the similarities between leftism and paranoid schizophrenia.)

      But if you can’t tell the difference between the ambiguities and complexities of human nature and the things that can be fixed, then you end up not only not solving the problems you can’t solve, but not solving the ones you can.

    32. GUYK Says:

      posted by ( whoever ): Yes, the steel tafiff was found illegal and against our trade agreements. Bush had to recind it. But, during the two years that it was in effect by some reports it cost the average consumer some eighty dollars a year. For what, to try to gain some union votes?

      You are correct. Bush is the only politician to even address the illegal immigration issue with any kind of logical action and he has only half stepped. The sieve at the southern border is a problem whether the majority enjoying cheap tomatoes realize it or not. Not only is it a national security concern, the flood of illegals is overloading the social safty net systems of the country.

      There are some solutions without deporting every illegal alien. I have no problem with giving green cards to those ( and their immediate families ) who can prove that they are gainfully employed and not depending on social welfare for subsistance. However, the real solution is to make hiring an illegal so expensive that emplyers will not do so. How about a $100,000 dollar fine per illegal for first offense and some quality slam time for second offenses.

      I m a realist, at least I think that I am. I understand the need for inexpensive labor, especially in agri-business. In the past there were some guest worker programs that apparently worked well. These three points might solve the problem if used in concert. Amnesty for those here that already have jobs. Severe consequences for employers who hire illegals in the future. An established guest worker program for agri-business that cannot find help they can afford and remain competitive. And of course, a beefed up border patrol that welcomes citizens inititives such as the citizens patrol group in Arizona.

    33. chel Says:

      Hi Knucklehead,

      I liked reading your comments. Okay, I felt like a bit of an idiot not knowing what BDS was but that’s what google is good for right? Now I’ve gotcha. I realize there’s not too much I can say that would make Chicagoboyz agree with or even like folks that are left of GW Bush. But, I wanted to just describe a little bit where the anger comes from. I mean it seems insane until you see the background a bit more.

      David,

      You mentioned, “But it doesn’t seem to bother them when Democrats are aligned with old money…even shady old money.” Actually a lot of my angry friends feel very angry at the Democratic party for not offering something better.

      Ken,

      Thanks for the clafication.

    34. David Foster Says:

      chel…how do these “angry friends” feel about Edward Kennedy and his family money?

    35. chel Says:

      Not sure David… I’m not a general super-fan of the Kennedy’s myself and I’ve talked to other “angry friends” that feel the same way. Not that that’s true of everyone… I’m dealing with a small sample size on this particular issue. Me personally — Kennedys in general = shady, shady, shady. As for Edward Kennedy in particular I have mixed feelings. Chappaquiddick is VERY troubling to me. But I respect a lot of the positions he’s supported.

    36. Steven Den Beste Says:

      While the right wing was angry during the Clinton 90’s, it wasn’t unhinged.

      The big difference between the right during the 90’s and the left now is that the left is undergoing a titanic case of cognitive dissonance. It’s not just that they’re in the outs politically, or that they despise the current occupant of the Oval Office. It’s that the real world has been giving them an unbroken string of demonstrations that their most treasured ideals are totally bogus.

      Incoherent rage is a common response to cognitive dissonance.

    37. Jonathan Says:

      The Clintons don’t get much of a rise out of me now, but I hated them when Bill Clinton was president. I don’t think I was unreasonable to do so. Let’s see:

      -They were flagrantly corrupt (cattle futures, disappearing/reappearing Rose Law Firm billing records, political-donor scandals, etc.) and they got away with it.

      -They lied constantly (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman. . .”, perjury, etc.).

      -They abused power (the Billy Dale prosecution, the NRA’s tax audit, the Elian kidnapping, Waco, the missing FBI records, threatening Kathleen Willey, etc., etc., etc.).

      -They showed contempt for the military and treated foreign affairs as an uninteresting distraction from the important business of fund-raising and politicking. It was always my impression that Bill Clinton didn’t care about the rest of the world beyond its relevance to domestic US politics. I’m not even sure that he cared much about the welfare of the United States.

      -They ignored some of our foreign enemies and appeased others. Theirs wasn’t the only recent administration to do that, but it was certainly one of the least competent and most full of hubris (“peace” processes). We’re paying for that now.

      -They treated political opponents (small businesspeople, gun owners) as class enemies.

      -They showed contempt for civil liberties.

      -They showed contempt for the law. They changed the standard of defensible official behavior from that which is right to that which will not be prosecuted. Bill Clinton lied under oath — an outrage. They trained a generation of Democrats that the correct response to partisan charges of official misconduct is not to find the truth and, if necessary, clean house, but rather to circle the wagons and fight it out, no matter what the truth is.

      -They politicized everything they touched.

      -They tried to nationalize the health-care system.

      -They appointed some of the most incompetent cabinet officers ever to run important agencies — Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Madeleine Albright.

      -On a personal level, they were jerks.

      I think Bush has a lot of flaws, and he has done a lot of bad or incompetent things (McCain-Feingold, the education bill, steel tariffs, wasting months in the UN before the invasion of Iraq, not firing the CIA and FBI leadership after 9/11, Norman Mineta, etc.), but he’s generally much, much better than the Clintons were.

      IMO, if non-leftists experienced anything like cognitive dissonance during the Clinton years it was because they saw so many massively screwed-up things being allowed to happen, so much corruption and dishonesty for which no one in an official position was ever held to account, that it appeared that up and down, left and right and right and wrong were reversed. It appeared sometimes that there was no justice, only cynicism and deals for the power-holders and some of their lucky supporters.

      Was the then-sense of discord by non-leftists parallel to what leftists now feel? I don’t know, but I think it was probably different for the reason that Steven Den Beste discusses. Non-leftists have fundamentally sound ideas about how the world works and should work, and they saw those ideas being disregarded by the Left at no apparent cost, and indeed to the benefit of the power elite. Today’s leftists hold fundamentally unsound ideas whose political support system is failing. They are raging at reality.

    38. Ginny Says:

      I love that line – it needs to be on a bumper sticker or a mug: “Incoherent rage is a common response to cognitive dissonance.”

    39. Mitch Says:

      For many of the reasons Jonathan cited, I was contemptuous of Nixon as well as Clinton. In addition, they were men without ideas, men with no reason for being president. If they wanted to become president only for their own satisfaction, then the actual job of the office was secondary to the effort to achieve and retain power (Nixon’s late embrace of Keynesianism, wage & price controls, welfare expansion; Clinton’s famous triangulation). Their disgrace was organic, arising from their characters, but too squalid for tragedy. Hatred is too strong an emotion for either of them.

      The howling moonbats (they’ve gone beyond barking) at Indymedia, in a way, are the opposite case. Clinton and Nixon represented unfocused power, power without intention. Their misuse of power was only meant to retain that power. The Indymedia fanatics are evil per se. They want to slaughter those who they have conceived as enemies. The murder of a single police officer is nothing to them; they see gulags and purges as good in themselves. Their lack of power drives them to even more extreme expressions of how they would exercise that power.

      Power without belief leads to abuse of power; belief without power leads to abuse of belief.

    40. Shannon Love Says:

      I do think that memory of they hysterical anger on the extreme right towards Clinton has faded. They were over the top. I once had a conversation in a coffee shop with a man who swore there was concrete evidence that Clinton was an actual Soviet agent during the 70’s and 80’s and remember all the speculation that the Clintons had murdered Vince Foster?

      Rightwing anger was less visible because the radical Right had less access to the media and venues of artistic expression than the Left. There was no Rightwing equivalent to Michael Moore for example. Talk radio was their only outlet.

      The extremes of both ends of the political spectrum are populated by moonbats. I remain convinced that people adopt extreme political views out of individual psychological need instead of any practical reason. These people need no excuse to rant. Note that the most extreme critics of the Clintons were crypto-fascist, conspiracy freak, private militia types. Most of those people also hate Bush and see the War on Terror as being nothing but a fraud meant to disguise a power grab. These people need to perceive themselves to be in opposition to the political power du jour. Their “beliefs’ are really just elaborate rationalizations to accomplish this.

      Still, having said all that, the anger from Left is different than the anger on the Right in the 90’s. The major difference is that the 90’s was a time of ascendancy for the Right. The Republicans captured the house for the first time in 40 years and every major successful policy change, such as welfare reform, was a rightwing initiative. The Left has been steadily losing political power for the past 35 years and that loss has accelerated in the past 5.

      Whereas Clinton just managed to survive the attacks of the Right during his presidency, Bush actually increases his political base in face of opposition from the Left. Clinton fought to a draw but Bush is arguably actively winning. Clinton survived by embracing rightwing policies. Bush imposes new policies on a Leftist status quo.

      The ongoing political success of the Right frightens and enrages a much broader segment of the Left than Clinton’s holding action in the 90’s did on the Right.

    41. Chris Says:

      “..Rightwing anger was less visible because the radical Right had less access to the media and venues of artistic expression than the Left. There was no Rightwing equivalent to Michael Moore for example. Talk radio was their only outlet. …”

      They also weren’t pouring into the street corners every weekend in a constant state of “protest” in order to draw attention to themselves..”Hey, look at me and now ‘disenfranchsed’ I am!”

      This indymedia thing is nothing…I predict a major terror attack inside the us will be aided by extremely leftist, possibley eco-terror types of groups(especially if there is a conservative president)…who in their own delusional views will justify the helping to kill innocent americans so long as they could strike a blow against their political enemies in the US…

    42. Xofis Says:

      Are you seriously citing LGF and then claiming the left is loony?

      Breathtaking.

    43. David Foster Says:

      xofis, I’m not sure what your point is. Are you asserting that the claimed Indymedia comments were not made? Because if they *were* made, why does it matter who originally brought them to blogosphere public attention?

    44. LotharBot Says:

      A very common tactic among certain groups is to dig through LGF comment threads looking for the most over-the-top comments, and then cite them as “typical”. This, of course, makes LGF look like a loony hate site (given 500 unmoderated comments per thread, there will almost definitely be a few that are ridiculous.) Based on this mischaracterization of LGF, which is essentially a news aggregator (collecting stories relating to certain topics such as Israel/Palestine, anti-semitism, and general looniness), certain intellectually dishonest people and certain others who are decieved dismiss everything on LGF.

      But, as you hinted: regardless of your personal opinion of Charles Johnson or the regular posters at LGF (some of whom really *are* loony), you can’t deny that what they linked to on Indymedia really *was* there at Indymedia, and it really *was* excessively loony. I suppose the only relevant question is, did LGF do the same thing to Indymedia as others do to LGF, namely, citing a few isolated comments as “typical” of the site or the community when they really aren’t?

      The comments linked above were deplorable. So are some of the comments that occasionally occur on LGF. In my experience, the worst comments on LGF are usually condemned by the community at large (with the notable exception of certain Rachel Corrie comments, which deserve much condemnation.) Why doesn’t the same happen on Indymedia? Xofis, if you’re from Indymedia, consider this a personal challenge to you — condemn comments like those linked above whenever you see them. And if you’re not from Indymedia, well, you should be willing to condemn both it AND LGF when they step over the line. Don’t be like the hypocrites on either side who allow certain comments to slide while condemning those of the other side; step up and condemn the comments that deserve condemnation on both sides.

    45. Ginny Says:

      Do murderers post on LGF to brag of their exploits and assume their readers will join with them in some bloody exploits? I don’t read it regularly (and the comments can be vindictive) but I’d be surprised if that were true. Johnson’s virtue (as in memogate but also bad acts in countries we don’t always hear about) is shining the light in dark regions (both geographically and of the soul).

      What I don’t understand is why this is brought up in a post in April of 2005 when it happened in the late fall of 2002? What has happened since then to this guy? The anger that the election was stolen was still hot in 2002; emotions are more baffled and less raw since the last one – and Iraq’s; now people are left with impotent and elitist arguments about the elections which even they see as pretty transparent

      Actually, I think Mickle was catalyst and not very central to the discussion here.

    46. lindenen Says:

      “Do murderers post on LGF to brag of their exploits and assume their readers will join with them in some bloody exploits? I don’t read it regularly (and the comments can be vindictive) but I’d be surprised if that were true.”

      A better question is would murderers feel comfortable posting on LGF in hopes of being lauded for their crimes? Apparently, at IndyMedia, yeah.

    47. John Montgomery Says:

      I have always been considered a conservative and have voted for Republicans almost exclusively. But lately I am beginning to question if we truly still have a two party system and if it hasn’t become more of a N.Y. Yankees against the California Angels Sports Game. You know a sort of Left coast = West coast, Right Coast = East Coast thing. A East is Least and West is Best debate with no real substance or true diversity. All I seem to hear is a lot of name calling accross the fence.

      You know one of the reason these Lefties might be so mad, is that they see the truth that Government no mater what side of the isle your on has become more corrupt and those in power are but a change in name with some of the same things happening on each watch.

      Both parties have developed a total disregard for the Constitution. And quite frankly in recent months I’ve changed my mind about the President I helped vote into office. Bush is now wearing his incompetence on his sleeve and though I am still a Republican above all. I am one of those growing minority in the party that if polled, I’d have to lower myself to vote with the growing majority of people who’ve pegged Bush at his 35% approval rating.

      I wrongly thought coming into this blog site, I’d see some remanents of intelligence voiced to convince me otherwise. Now I just am about to leave more disenchanted with my party than ever. None of you have any solutions to the President’s slide in the polls. And he himself has voiced disconcern about being one of the lowest polled Presidents in history.

      At least the beast Clinton (even at his worst level), never sunk close to what Bush is now. Plus when your talking polls, your talking Votes! Unless this entire party wakes up to this fact, we stand to lose all the gains made thus far this century. I agree with some of these retired Generals who want Rummy out. Fewer troops Rummy’s way will only serve to prolong this thing. We don’t want another Johnson run Viet Nam War, that could never be won with handicapped soldiers unable to take control the situation in Iraq.

    48. Ginny Says:

      Well, I’m not saying we have solutions but I don’t understand what is with all these people commenting on posts over a year old. It is not surprising we aren’t commenting upon Bush’s slippage in the polls in April 2006 in posts & a discussion thread from April 2005. I’d hoped our posts occasionally got at more long-range truths, of course, and Che really wasn’t a good guy & some blogs have retained the perspective Mitch complained about a year ago. Still, this seems an odd place to raise such a complaint.

      And troop size does seem a truly debateable point – one that I suspect we are going to need some distance to assess properly. The polls are not a good test on such policies – though I will admit that they may prove to be right. However, the assumption that things are going to hell in a handbasket in Iraq does not seem to take into very wide considersation the complexity & difficulty of defining a new & democratic nation, an honest judiciary, etc. It seems to me these are moving along at a remarkable rate – just not the rate of weekly talk shows.

    49. Jonathan Says:

      Thank God television and the Internet didn’t exist during the Second World War. Churchill might have lost a vote of confidence in 1940, Roosevelt might have been impeached in 1942, etc. Or maybe the question is why so many of us sophisticated moderns lose our nerve so readily.

    50. Tyouth Says:

      John,

      While your comments re. the “republicratic party” (quotes mine) resonates with me, if Bush + Co. are incompetent it’s likely that Kerry (a real empty head) + Co. would have been far worse.

      I’d suggest that polls should be ignored by you and me. We, the general public, hopefully have an incomplete view of events (although I do think you can read between the lines of current events and draw conclusions) compared to our leaders. Our view is further retarded by a somtimes biased, sometimes presumptuous, sometimes incompetent, and always sensationalistic media.

      The period before an election is about the most clarifying time we can expect – when characters of canidates and issues are hopefully laid painfully bare. We take the poll that counts and elect what looks good and takes our chances. That’s the American deal. Between elections we, the public, have to (or should) take politicking down a couple of notches.

      If I may be a bit forward; chill baby.

    51. LotharBot Says:

      “It is not surprising we aren’t commenting upon Bush’s slippage in the polls in April 2006 in posts & a discussion thread from April 2005.”

      Quoted for truth.

      Check the dates, people.