Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

[UPDATED] I have seen the enemy…

…and he is us.

Last night, I spent a few hours wading through BP oil spill related diaries over at Daily Kos, and spent a good portion of this morning getting a second dose. I don’t visit there all that often anymore, and when I do I rarely venture into the diaries, and even less frequently into the comment sections. Having now spent some time there, I can now safely say that I’m pretty much done with that place.  


Truth be told, I’d have to go to FreeRepublic to see the same amount of utterly uninformed, hyperbolic bullshit. The place is overrun with imbeciles. Save the lesser objects of scorn, there is literally no difference between these knuckleheads and the very worst of the Teabagging Birther set. The obvious, and excruciatingly irrational hatred of all things Obama leads me to conclude that they are kindred spirits, drooling sycophants trapped in an endless For/Next loop.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve always known that wingnuts turn both ways, but up until now I’ve always taken comfort in the thought that, for the most part, we that skewed left were better, more rational, more reasoned. Smarter. Today, that illusion is shattered.

I can’t say that I’ve ever seen more half-cocked, bloviating, fact-dodging colostomy bags gathered all in one place in my life.  It’s disappointing.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s disgusting. I’m not naive. Frankly, I’ve come to expect, even count on, certain gradients of this kind of crap from sites like OpenLeft, MyDD, FireDogLake, etc., but freakin’ Daily Kos?  The once-stately flagship of the liberal blogosphere has run aground. It’s a Ship of Fools.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

–Albert Einstein

I am a liberal and progressive, and these are not my people.  Can someone, anyone at all, please tell me that these skull hampers DO NOT represent common thinking on the left. Please, in the name of all that is sacred, talk me down from the goddamned ledge.


I was pretty irked when I initially posted this diary, and now that my blood is no longer boiling, I see the need to clarify my position somewhat. It’s not entirely fair for me to bitch about all the bitching without showing my cards. Also, I’ve removed some of the vulgarity.  I was pissed off, and it was gratuitious.  Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking:

I don’t believe, nor do I intend to suggest that criticism of President Obama is out of bounds.  Further, I don’t intend to dissuade or discourage activism of any sort — from marching the streets to bitch-fests on the intertoobz.  It’s just that I’d like to see those things guided by reason, without undue influence from hatred and hysteria.  I accept that there has always been, and will always be some element of the latter so long as humans are involved in the process.  I just chaffe when hubris wins the day, and stupid junk permeates into memes.  These are the times when my ‘punch pillow’ suffers most.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and maybe my training as an archaeologist predisposes me to taking a sort of ‘long view’ when it comes to the observation of politics.  When working at an archaeological site (or even looking for them), I very often find myself trying to divine a ‘feeling’.  I’m not talking about new age vibrations, but about getting a sense of place; developing an understanding of the landscape, the environment, and the relationship humans may have had with it.  Essentially, the big picture. It’s a holistic approach wherein I try to take into account more than what I’m seeing evidenced by mere artifacts or features.  I attempt to take myself back in time, put myself in the position of those who were there before me.  How was the immediate environment different 20 years ago?  100 years ago?  1,000?  Where is food, water, shelter, safety?  This same approach, I think, informs what I see when I try to look forward as well.  

I don’t tend to see political maneuvers, strategies, and bits of legislation (whether landmark or trivial) as mini-events to be considered in and of themselves, but rather as part of a ceaseless process.  I imagine governance to be a bit like a swimming fish.  Fish are in nearly constant motion, whether suspended in still waters, or fighting upstream.  The movements of the fish often have nearly as much to do with current as with volition.  It’s not the motion of this fin or that that need be considered when one observes a fish, but also its intentions in addition to the whole of its environment.

I think the successes and failures of President Obama have huge implications for not only our future, but also the rest of the world.  As such, his actions as a leader deserve a more thoughtful evaluation than they’re getting — especially in the blogosphere.  That said, I get it: I understand some of the disappointment.  I have a few of my own, as I imagine most of his reasonable supporters do.

The campaign was a marvel in branding and salesmanship, truly an operation without precedent in U.S. political history. How many books have been written on that already? Dozens?  Many supporters’ hopes were wildly inflated (as evidenced by the scads of people who came to believe that Obama was some combination of Ghandi and Dennis Kucinich). Ludicrous projection aside, I still reject the assertion that we got something other than what was advertised.  He’s no usurper, no Manchurian Candidate, no corporate shill, no pig in a poke.  I read both of his books before I voted for the guy, and he’s pretty much exactly who he took pains to say he was. I’m not at all surprised with what we’ve seen from him so far in his still very young presidency.  He’s not God or ‘The One’, and he’s neither dictator nor king.  He’s not a socialist, fascist, or a communist.  He’s not a Nazi.  He’s not FDR, MLK Jr., JFK, LBJ or anyone else.

There are literally millions of Americans who refuse to accept his leadership, from racists to teabaggers to conservatives with good intentions.  Our media establishment has done all it can to amplify these voices, particularly those that make the least sense.  Let’s face facts: where would the Birther, Truther, Tenther, and Tea Party movements be without the media and weedy power of the internet?  Pretty much dead on the vine, I suspect.  Republican politicians have made it painfully obvious that they seek only his failure at every turn — the welfare of the nation and its people be damned.  Plus, there are plenty of Democrats who, after eights years of submission to the Bush agenda, or by nature of their conservative constituency, or though self-interest or self-preservation, behave more like opposition than ally.  Not exactly the makings of an ironclad ‘majority’. These are the waters in which fish Obama must swim.

Obama promises transformation, and I think if we look at things holistically, there are lots of reasons stay engaged in the positive part of the process; to stick it out and disallow whatever disappointments we may have from ruling the day.  No matter how post-racial we pretend to be, Barack Obama is still the first black President of the United States, and there’s no dodging the significance of that.  More accurately, he’s a mixed-race man, and an important and powerful symbol of our future. As a role model, he’s nearly beyond compare: a brilliant nerd athletic enough to drive the hoop, throw a mean elbow, and drop three-pointers like a NCAA star. He’s fun-loving while a model husband and father, an eloquent speaker and a great listener.  There’s much for Americans, young or old, to admire in this guy.  All this if he were nothing more than a mailman.

As President, he’s salvaged our reputation in the world, and is fostering a new era in international cooperation. His attempts to reform healthcare, drug policies, immigration and the financial system are all steps in the right direction, no matter how you measure them.

I’m not at all suggesting we liberals, progressives, Democrats, or whatever, let the President off the hook.  It’s just that I think it’s far wiser to view Obama as an ally than it is to paint him as an enemy.


  1. fogiv

    The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.

    –Oscar Wilde

  2. DTOzone

    the netroots fascination with Bill Halter is a Shakespearean tragedy just waiting to happen…and that’s not the first time I used that phrase, I said it about Obama about two years ago.

    I’ll say what I said on MyDD. These people complain about the need for “real Democrats.” I’m not sure what a “Real Democrat” is but I’m reasonably sure it isn’t Bill Halter. The only thing he’s taking a more left view on is the public option, other than that, he’s indecisive on EFCA, silent on gay rights, and taking a right wing view on climate change. If this is a real Democrat, then we need to apologize to Evan Bayh.

    This is another example of idealistic movement liberals looking for that utopian candidate through the guise of the issue de jure…in this case the public option (in the case of the Presidential race, Iraq), and will only end up electing someone whom they were declare a sell out once that first vote on something controversial is taken.

  3. Rashaverak

    I had a bit of a back and forth yesterday with a guy who was dumping all over Barack Obama for being a corporatist who is criminally negligent for failing to stop the gusher in the Macondo Prospect.  The foregoing is not an exact quote, but I do think that it conveys the essence of his position.  He was urging the President to detonate a nuclear bomb either on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico or down on the seabed to staunch the flow.

    While I have not agreed with everything that Barack Obama has done, I do think that his heart is in the right place on most issues, and he certainly cannot turn night into day with a snap of his fingers.  The power of the vested interests is extremely strong, and given our system of separation of powers, there is an awful lot that he cannot do without the cooperation of Congress or of entrenched bureaucracies, e.g., the Minerals and Mining Service, or both.  Sure, he can replace department heads and Agency chiefs, but there are a lot of people who have burrowed into the ranks who are not exactly in tune with his philosophy and goals, and they can put quite a brake on things.

  4. I read a great comment on DKOS today by someone who gets the arrant narcissism of it all.

    I welcome the hatred of the false progressives (8+ / 0-)

    Who think that being “leftist” involves endless bitter criticism of anyone who is actually accomplishing something.

    Who are gullible consumers of every Republican spin point.

    Who think “solidarity” means “do what I say”

    Who have absolutely no idea how government works or how power is distributed in America.

    Who essentially buy into the George W. Bush MBA theory that talking tough and acting confrontational is the recipe for success.

    Who have no idea how complex management of big organizations is.

    Who want a fucking magic pony and are willing to scream bloody hell until someone, anyone, gives them one.

    by citizen k on Mon May 24, 2010 at 05:42:37 AM PDT

    The atmosphere there, and on MYDD, is so toxic, banal and adolescent, I sometimes wonder whether there is actually a role for blogistan, except as a constant force for whining, histrionics and (your favourite) unicorn porn.

    Nobody seems to understand that politics is about conflict mitigation, strifes, trade offs, balances, interests… every nasty thing short of violence. That’s what a clever politician does: resolve conflicts with minimal violence and maximum long term national support.

    Basically, keyboard revolutionaries suck.  

  5. creamer

     The internet has released the mob. There was a time one could go to dkos and read informed articles that actually contributed to thought and discussion. I would geuss the same thing that drives conventional media (news?) outlets drives dkos. The more anger and hatred, the more hits, the more advertising revenue. The mobb becomes relevant when it means dollars.

  6. HappyinVT

    The first is that people will take an article, interview and/or headline and run with it particularly if it bolsters an already held believe.  There’s also little regard for the basis for the story.  “A source close to…” is quite popular.  But that source likely has an agenda of his/her own that should be considered just as the author of an article.

    One of the latest bits of outrage was over James Carville’s description of Obama’s response to the oil catastrophe as “naive” and “lackadaisical.”  It’s James Carville who is certainly prone to hyperbole on a regular day.  Make the subject Louisiana and he’ll go nuts.  He has legitimate concerns and I’m sure he’s extremely frustrated over what’s happening to his state.  So people seize the headline and run with it and suggest all kinds of ways Obama could fix the problem (most of which, if memory serves, really didn’t have anything to do with the spill itself).  Of course, this led to the second problem I have with various sites not named after a antlered animal…

    2) You cannot have a discussion without someone quite quickly resorting to name-calling.  It happens on both sides.  Most liberals or progressives or Democrats or Independents or whatever who frequent Daily Kos and such are after the same goals.  We differ, however, on the speed at which things can be accomplished and what is politically possible right now.  How many times during the healthcare debate did a particular poster throw up a video of Obama in 2007 backing single payer?  It was almost spam.  I believe Obama meant it at the time; unfortunately, in 2009/2010 single payer wasn’t going to happen.  He could explain it to the American people until he talked himself hoarse but it.wasn’ with this Congress.

    Point that out, though, and you’re an apologist or Obot.  By the same token, pointing out that Obama appears to have given up way too easily on the public option leads to someone suggesting you’re an Obama hater.  Yuck!  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle with a possible lean toward one way or the other.

    We also hear that politics is dirty and if you can’t stand the mess get out of the game (I’m trying not to mix metaphors).  That’s a load of crap.  I’m not a politician; I’m a middle-aged (ugh!) women trying to learn about stuff and exercise my right to make informed decisions and to make sure those representing me do too.  I shouldn’t have to endure name-calling and hyperbole and the general nastiness and crap that is all too common.  I’ve learned, though, to simply ignore those  whom I’ve learned don’t deserve my attention.

    I’m all for accountability and pushing our politicians to live up to their promises.  There is a difference, however, between shouting to be heard and shouting so you’re ignored.

    (I didn’t proof the whole comment ’cause I’m tired and lazy so my apologies for any typos or grammatical errors.)

  7. I like reading The American Interest, a quarterly magazine on world issues from an American perspective.  This mag spun off from The National Interest and features prominent liberal and conservative voices in imho scholarly discussion of how American could handle a wide range of world events.

    This is the sort of dialog that you don’t find on television or the blogosphere, with perhaps the rare exception of present company.  I think it is possible to have this level of discourse on a broader stage, but there is some growing up to be done first by all us out here.

    I don’t expect Red State or DKOS to find the middle themselves, but I do hold out hope that the majority who live in the middle will eventually force more discussions like you find here and in The American Interest.  99% of us never watched Beck to begin with, and even more never read KOS.

  8. other than being terribly grating seems like both an addiction that cannot be broken for some and of course there’s this:

    thank goodness for the moose.


    When I was reading some of those comments (not yours) it reminded me of the birfers.  

    “Because I personally have not seen it, it doesn’t exist.”  “Because I personally do not know everything the President is doing to help stop the oil leak, he isn’t doing anything (or enough).”

    Gawd, I hate hysteria.

Comments are closed.