There has been such so many bizarre attempts at spinning Senator Barack Obama’s recent comments I gave up on trying to find the best of the bizarre to post here. Instead lets go with the funniest existential observation. Funny existentialism is difficult to find outside of a Woody Allen movie, but it does happen. From the libertarian Reason blog, Barack’s New Deal
People don’t end up focusing on issues like the right to bear arms, gay marriage, faith-based and family-based issues, and the like, because of bitterness against Washington or a sense that they can’t effect change there. People focus on these issues because modern American political culture is, effectively, about subcultures, variety, pursuing parochial aims, and shaping one’s identity and personal agendas independently of the state.
Personal identity defined as I am my gun, my gun is me. Gay marriage as an issue defines me, I am gay marriage? You can have my body when you rip it from my cold dead gun. My views on cultural wedge issues has a life of its own that has metastasized into me, we are one. I do not have opinions, I eat sleep and breathe school prayer, abortion and other hot button issues? Politics, as practiced by Conservatives and at least a few libertarians the last few decades have been very much driven by personal agendas inextricably tied to a political agenda directed at all three branches of government – ideologues voted for other ideologues for the explicit purpose of carrying out an agenda intimately tied to the belief that doing so would make the lives of said ideologues better. Those people that did so have voted at the detriment of their own economic well being, their health, education and the “common good” . Obama, perhaps in way that was not up to his usual eloquence simply noted that many of those that went along with this agenda, this pernicious politics as personal vendetta, and not a few innocent bystanders are now a little bitter about where focusing too much on wedge issues to in fact “shaping one’s identity” hand in hand with draconian governance has gotten us – see What’s The Matter With Kansas.
In the book, Frank examines what he calls “The Great Backlash”, which he describes as a reactionary movement against the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s. According to his analysis, the political discourse of recent decades has dramatically shifted from the class animus of traditional leftism to one in which “explosive” cultural issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, are used to redirect anger towards “liberal elites”.
Against this backdrop, Frank describes the rise of conservatism and the so-called “far right” in the social and political landscape of Kansas. He finds extraordinary irony in working-class Kansans’ overwhelming support for Republican politicians, despite the fact that, in his view, the laissez-faire economic policies of the Republican party are wreaking havoc on their communities and livelihoods for the benefit of the “extremely wealthy”. Meanwhile, he says, the party fails to deliver on the “moral” issues (such as abortion and gay rights) which brought the support of cultural conservatives in the first place — deepening a cycle of frustration aimed at cultural liberalism.
Frank’s observations were simply modern takes on what James Madison wrote and warned about in the Federalist Papers 200 years ago, The Utility of the Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection
By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.
[ ]… The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.
And related, Bitter and Angry in Rural Pennsylvania
I hear the usual rants there, that it’s all the fault of gays and minorities and immigrants (although those aren’t the terms used, but rather the usual, virulent slurs). A black man walked in the last time I was there, and a guy near me at the bar muttered in a not-so-quiet way, “What’s he think he’s doing in here?” When I brought up the presidential race and Obama with another man at the bar, his response was, “there ain’t no way America is ever going to vote for a black guy.” Later on my bar-owner friend told me about his experience talking about Obama with another woman at the bar, and her angry response was that “it’s because of half-breed n*****s like him that America is in such bad shape today.”
Prejudice, racism and fear do run rampant in areas like this. People are poor. They are in bad health, overweight from a deep-fried diet, and toothless from the lack of dental care. They are unemployed. They are uneducated. They do cling to their hunting rifles and to their religious beliefs. For many, it is about all that they have.
The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.
Since the Bushies legal justifications for everything theyve done to date has consisted of bizarre legal wrangling that is probably giving Stalin’s ghost an obnoxious grin there is little reason to think this situation will be an exception. As Jane Harman said it “trust-me” government as opposed to Constitutionally guided.
CNN Thinks Obama’s Words Are More Important Than Bush’s Torturing, the Conservative News Network needs to back slowly away from its addiction to the Beltway mentality.
“She was lovely, intelligent and charming, 17 years my junior but poised and confident,” McCain wrote in his 2002 book – So lovely that he dumped the starter wife.
U.S. Regrets Alleged Crimes by Servicemen in Japan. Since some people consider rape and murder as acts of terror, I hope that Japan doesn’t use these incidents to make a pre-emptive invasion of the U.S.