Archive for category Politics

Scoreboard, Baby.

When I was growing up, I played football.  Our team had some great seasons, often making it to the playoffs.  Inevitably, there would be times when our team would open up a big lead in a game, much to our opponents’ frustration.  It seems like there was always at least one guy on the other team who, once it became clear that we would win, would resort to taunting and fighting with our team.

Our coaches always encouraged us to take the high road; “Ignore them,” he’d say.  He didn’t want our team to be involved in the kind of unsportsmanlike conduct that could diminish our victory.  “If you have to do something,” he told us, “just point over there.”  As he did this, he pointed to the stadium’s scoreboard.  “Point over there and say, ‘Scoreboard, baby.'”

The “scoreboard” line was great for a number of reasons.  Not only did it provide our team a way to respond without sinking to our opponents’ level, it really pissed them off because there’s no arguing with it.  The scoreboard doesn’t lie.  Needless to say, the simple retort was a team favorite.

Last night, Hillary Clinton won both the Ohio and Texas primaries.  This modest success can be attributed, at least in part, to the reprehensible way that she’s run her campaign in the past week or so.  Negative attacks, fear mongering, and the art of “working the refs” seem to be the key plays in her playbook lately.  The delegate counts are still being tallied, but it looks as if Hillary will emerge with a slim lead on the night.

Here’s the thing.  Obama started the night with a 159 pledged delegate lead.  The best Hillary can hope for is to shave about one to three delegates off of that.  In fact, Hillary would need to win all of the remaining contests by substantial (read: unrealistic) margins to close Obama’s lead.

This one’s over, but she just hasn’t figured it out yet.

Scoreboard, baby.

(Cross-posted at dailykos.com)

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Wah! Pay Attention to Me!

Boy, Dubya must really hate all the excitement that Barack Obama has generated.  Barack is adored and generates a level of excitement that Dubya could only dream of.  Being the petulant, narcissist that he is, this really pisses Dubya off.  He desperately needs to be the most important guy in the room, and boy does he hate it when somebody is stealing the limelight.

Consider the following two exchanges, both of which happened while Dubya was traveling in Africa:

First, from CNN:

Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press asked Bush a question about his AIDS relief plan and then turned to Kikwete to note the excitement in Africa about Obama’s candidacy and asked the African leader to comment on “what you think it says about America that we might elect a black President with roots in Africa?”

Even though that part of the question was not directed at him, Bush weighed in first with mock exasperation that everyone seemed to be forgetting he was treated like a rock star on the trip. “It seemed like there was a lot of excitement for me, wait a minute,” the President said to laughter. “Maybe you missed it.”

Next, during a round table interview:

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, we’ll do a round robin here. Yes, Ann, you’re the senior person.

Q One of the things that we heard from people, I guess they do consider the United States a democracy, a role model — what if an American — African American were elected President? Did they talk to you —

THE PRESIDENT: That never came up.

Q It never came up?

MRS. BUSH: It never came up to us, at all. They said they were very fascinated with the election — one group that I talked to.

THE PRESIDENT: I’d just like to remind you what Kikwete said. He said, “I hope the next President is as good as this one.” Now, I’m not blowing my own horn — (laughter) — and I’m sure it was a screaming headline. (Laughter.)

Notice how Laura tried to dodge the question, but Dubya didn’t bother spending much time with that and just went straight to the “me me me” tantrum.

In the same interview, Dubya also went on to insist that no one in Africa is really talking about Obama and that the only reason someone there might mention his name is if they were directly asked a question about him:

THE PRESIDENT: No, but it never came up. It seemed like a good story line at the time — somebody must be putting something out there in the pool, and everybody starts chatting about it.

Q People would mention it to us.

THE PRESIDENT: If you asked them, yes. “What do you think about Obama?” Yes, they mentioned it to you all right; yes. (Laughter.)

Q I asked them — I went out on the street and two of the four people I asked about — you know, I’d say, Obama —

THE PRESIDENT: What?

Q McCain. They like — they volunteered, two of them —

THE PRESIDENT: Really?

MRS. BUSH: What country?

Q Dar es Salaam.

I really like the part where Laura jumps in at the end to try to catch the reporter in a “gotcha” moment.  “Oh yeah?  Well what imaginary African country has people that care about Barack?”  (BTW, according to Wikipedia, Dar es Salaam “is the largest city in Tanzania. With a population estimated around 2,500,000, it is also the country’s richest city and a regionally important economic centre.”)

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Limited Options

One of the most interesting points anyone has made in this campaign was made by someone who asked this question in tonight’s Democratic debate:

“I’m 38 and I’ve never had an election where one of the choices hasn’t been either a Bush or a Clinton.  How is it change if those two families keep appearing on the ballot.” 

There hasn’t been an election without a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot since 1984.  Eighty fucking four.  Of the eight presidential elections that have occurred in my lifetime so far, the last five have had one of these two privileged families involved.  In fact, a Bush or a Clinton has won in each of these elections.  (Of course, in ’92 that was a given since it was Bush v. Clinton; one of them had to win.)

Don’t get me wrong: I voted for Bill Clinton, and I’m proud of it.  He was a terrific president.  But it’s a little hard to accept the notion that we’re a truly democratic nation when it seems that two rival, elite families have been running the country for over two decades.

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A Word About Schadenfreude

I don’t have time to post much atm, but I wanted to highlight this rather insightful message I came across today related to the Republican party and the downward spiral in which they appear to be sinking.

Over at Daily Kos, front page contributor DarkSyde said something that, to me, seemed like real wisdom.

Right about now is when the obligatory dig at the Neo-GOP is inserted, perhaps placed in an all too familiar list of failures, maybe with a concluding and slightly gleeful observation that at least they’re systematically destroying themselves. But that conclusion is little consolation. A once decent mainstream political party has been hijacked by a small band of fringe kooks, incompetent crooks, and predatory clerics. This cabal of mendacity has ripped off the poor, the sick, the middle class, and even the unborn to give to the super rich. They have left a trail of broken lives, broken dreams, abandoned neighborhoods, maimed bodies, and corpses from Baghdad to the Gulf Coast. In the process they have driven that party over a cliff with the entire nation in tow. We will all be stuck cleaning up the wreckage left in their wake long after this ugly chapter in American history has drawn to an official close. That’s nothing to celebrate.

In other words, stop high-fiving and get to work, folks.

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Protecting Our Troops From Liberals

Just a quickie this morning . . .

Apparently, the Marine Corps does not allow marines to access certain websites.  I know, you’re thinking we’re talking about porn.  But it turns out that there is some selective filtering of sites going on that is a bit disconcerting. 

For example, why is it okay to access www.billoreilly.com, but not www.airamericaradio.com?  Surely it’s just an honest mistake that allows marines to visit www.rushlimbaugh.com, but not www.wonkette.com?  Heaven forbid that they look at www.alfrankenshow.com, but www.liddyshow.us is fine.

After seeing this, it’s not hard to understand why almost 90% of U.S. troops in Iraq think the war is retaliation for Saddam’s (non-existent) role in the 9/11 attacks.

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Cartoon Violence

Just a quick thing here: I don’t want to make light of the ongoing, violent protests over the cartoons depicting Mohammed, but I just saw this headline on CNN:

Bush urges end to cartoon violence

With a headline like that, I can’t help but think that Dubya called a press conference to call attention to such senseless acts of violence as anvils falling on Wile E. Coyote’s head and Jerry hitting Tom with a giant mallet.

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Anti-Intellectualism, Narcissism, and the Presidency

This week, our esteemed President decided to thumb his nose at educated Americans everywhere when he participated in the following exchange:

Dubya: I appreciate the Secretary of Energy joining me today. He’s a good man, he knows a lot about the subject, you’ll be pleased to hear. I was teasing him — he taught at MIT, and — do you have a PhD?Secretary Bodman: Yes.

Dubya: Yes, a PhD. (Laughter.) Now I want you to pay careful attention to this — he’s the PhD, and I’m the C student, but notice who is the advisor and who is the President.

Dubya then proceeded to knock Bodman’s glasses on the floor and give him a massive wedgie.  Metaphorically speaking, that is.

The first thing that I found offensive about this comment is that it’s part of a broader pattern of anti-intellectualism in America.  Intellectuals are viewed as a small, conceited group of elitists.  They are seen as arrogant, pretentious, and out-of-touch with the problems of “real folks.”  One who dares consider the nuances or subtleties of a given issue is seen as a navel-gazing “flip flopper.”  Look no further than our recent election for clear evidence of this trend.

The next thing that jumped out at me about Dubya’s remark is that it sounded familiar.  A little investigation reveals that Dubya’s been recycling this same quip over and over.  Let’s go back to earlier this year, in March:

Dubya: I’ve asked Jeff Brown to join me. He is a professor. He can tell you where — where do you profess? (Laughter.)

Dr. Brown: I have a PhD in economics, and I teach at a business school.

Dubya: Yes. It’s an interesting lesson here, by the way. He’s an advisor. Now, he is the PhD, and I am a C-student — or was a C-student. Now, what’s that tell you? (Laughter and applause.) All you C-students at Auburn, don’t give up. (Laughter and applause.)

. . .  and before that in February . . .

Dubya: Andrew Biggs is with us. He is the Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy of the Social Security Administration, Washington, D.C. In other words, he is an expert on the subject….

George W. Bush: By the way, this guy — PhD. See, I was a C student. He’s a PhD, so he’s probably got a little more credibility. I do think it’s interesting and should be heartening for all C students out there, notice who’s the President and who’s the advisor.

So, in addition to being offensive, he’s repetitive.  I find it disingenuous how he tries to cover for this insult by pretending he’s just trying to encourage C students to persevere.  He’s not fooling me; in reality, he’s saying, “You eggheads aren’t better than me — I’m the president, and don’t you forget it.”

After considering Dubya’s ridiculous behavior, another idea occurred to me.  I think there is something else going on here, something deeper than simple anti-intellectualism.  I think Dubya’s behavior — in this matter and others — strongly suggests a pattern of narcissitic tendencies.

Consider: Dubya feels threatened by those who have achieved higher academic standing than he has.  When forced to rely on their input to lend credibility to his discussions (like the situations above), he feels compelled to act in an aggressive manner as a response to this perceived threat to his ego.  This is something narcissists often do.

Another interesting point to ponder: Narcissists rely on what is called a “Narcissistic Supply”.  “The Narcissist actively seeks to furnish himself with an endless supply of admiration, adulation, affirmation and attention.”1 Now consider the following practices:

  • Requiring citizens to sign a loyalty oath before being admitted to events where the President is speaking
  • Barring protesters from areas where the President might actually see them

These and other actions seem to clearly support a concerted effort to maintain Dubya’s narcissistic supply.

Dubya exhibits other traits that imply a narcissistic personality, too.  Consider the following:

Narcissism is fundamentally an advanced version of the splitting defence mechanism. The Narcissist cannot regard humans, situations, entities (political parties, countries, races, his workplace) as a compound of good and bad elements. He is an “all or nothing” primitive “machine” (a common self metaphor among narcissists). He either idealises his object – or devalues it. The object is either all good or all bad. The bad attributes are always projected, displaced, or otherwise externalised. The good ones are internalised in order to support the inflated (“grandiose”) self-concepts of the narcissist and his grandiose fantasies – and to avoid the pain of deflation and disillusionment.2

Gee, that sounds familiar.  Remember this?

“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”  — Dubya, September 20, 2001 

Furthermore, this theory explains Dubya’s apparent detachment from the real world.

The Narcissist’s earnestness and his (apparent) sincerity make people wonder whether he is simply detached from reality, unable to appraise it properly – or willingly and knowingly distorts reality and reinterprets it, subjecting it to his self-imposed censorship. It would seem that the Narcissist is dimly aware of the implausibility of his own constructions. He has not lost touch with reality; he is just less scrupulous in reshaping it, remolding its curvatures and ignoring the uncomfortable angles.3 

It has been observed that narcissists also tend to seek out special and preferential treatment.  Um, can you say Texas Air National Guard?

There are also well documented links between the narcissistic pattern of self-indulgent behavior and substance abuse and addiction.  As we know, Dubya has dealt with these issues in his past.

The list goes on and on.  Check this out:  How to Recognize a Narcissist.  See if it reminds you of any Presidents you know.

While it’s enlightening to see Dubya’s behavior so succinctly explained, it’s a bit disturbing at the same time.  When you consider how this President’s personality has influenced the perception of the US around the world, it’s doubly upsetting.

References:

1. A Primer on Narcissism, by Sam Vaknin, Ph.D., http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php/type/doc/id/419

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

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