"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jun 2, 2011


Liberals are easy to manipulate. They are, as a rule, more likely to "unite" over which enemies to detest than they are over policies and practices. Not that liberals do much uniting or unionizing. They're merit class townies, after all. Like their conservative opponents, they've got a vested interest in the right words. They believe in speeches and books that confirm a worldview which interprets the world as a management seminar. Truthfully, they have no control. Control tends to accumulate for people who have a different ideology, instead. People who believe that the extraction and possession of material, goods and labor is their right, and due. Liberalism is a sustained attempt to pretend to control in the face of its possession by others, and it differs from conservatism only in so much as its pretenses have slightly less Jesus, slightly more gay and a willingness to pretend that politics is ennobling. I think if you ask a conservative if politics are ennobling, in whatever idiom best suits the circumstance, you'll find that he or she is less likely to validate the conviction. Liberals, who are easier to manipulate because their view of society is generally more trusting, cease to be liberals at precisely the moment they stop taking the spectacle seriously.

Which is, thankfully, almost never.

Sarah Palin, who is no idiot, knows this. She understands which canons to violate while portraying herself, softly and with a deft touch her critics often fail to appreciate, as the lady protector of sacred canon. While she was governor of Alaska, she managed a resource extraction state as if it was an entertainment consortium. She did it well. It was also a job she refreshingly abandoned when it no longer served her needs. A bold move, widely criticized by people who no longer comprehend the body politic, but convince themselves and television networks that they do because they still know how to read the palm lines of the Beltway set. Perhaps she was bored with the role. If so, that's impressive. It takes a woman supremely confident in her own image, and how she manages that image, to dispense with position as a means to wealth and influence. This is a woman who reads the text of the American society better than her counterparts. She walked away from a position of power and influence, because it limited her prospects and her influence. 

I have no doubt that Palin is a vain, proud and profoundly self-centered woman. She's also a lot smarter than her legion of tsk-tsking critics seem to understand. And it's not that "the media" sensationalizes her. It's simpler than that, in fact. Her comprehension of the limits and uses of the medium of exchange exceeds that of the liberals who hate her, the conservatives who adore her and the network execs who sell Viagra off her back. She's in control of her own movement.

They follow her. Because Palin is post-modern. She's taken a gander at the fourth wall, winked her eye at the audience, and leapt off the stage. Which has only increased the size and scope of that stage.

I'm not jesting, here. Try watching Hardball or Lawrence O'Donnell on the teevee. Watch them without belief, reverence or seriousness. Do not take them at their stated face values. Laugh at them.

What do you see?

Embarrassing self-conscious performance art, as imagined by prolonged adolescents. Basic cable community television, with big box budgets and ad revenues. As soon as you laugh at them, you can see all their make up.

Sarah Palin is laughing. She's down in the seats, and she's laughing so hard the band has stopped playing.

And like a pyrotechnic gyrovague, she broke out from the cloister of politics the minute she realized her god was a god of wide open spaces.

The Palin Phenomenon explained?

I don't know. I'm almost vain enough to think so. But not completely. And not yet.


fwoan said...

Do you really think it is she that is smart and not her handlers? She seems like a class-A moron to me, more so than the average politician. I'd tend to believe that some very skillful folks have surrounded her and made her into what she is.

Jack Crow said...


Palin didn't have handlers in Alaska. The McCain camp couldn't handle her, rein her in or change the narrative about her because she was the one taking it away from them.

She works with a notoriously small aide pool, and is not noted as being particularly trusting of people outside of her family circle.

Is she under-informed about the "serious subjects" which make up the entry course for mediated institutional politics?


That doesn't make her stupid.

I don't know if she's intelligent. I'm arguing that she's not stupid.

I had a customer, once, who couldn't speak the King's English. Hadn't made it past the tenth grade. Probably couldn't tell you where Abkhazia is on a map.

And ran a narcotics gang with better organizational intelligence than any MBA whose market plan I've ever had the misfortune to be forced to undermine and work against.

fwoan said...

Ah, I think I understand your meaning now.

Anonymous said...

Palin seems to have understood that politics in America isn't about politics anymore.

I'm sure others have understood this as well, but it seems that nobody else (besides marginal "joke" candidates) has had the courage (for lack of a better word) to really act on this understanding.

As Jack says, that is where her intelligence lies.

I would argue that Obama's campaign wasn't actually about politics either. "Hope" and "Change" are such nebulous concepts. They are empty vessels into which the voter can pour their own thoughts and feelings. And he's going to get re-elected, but not based on any policies that he has or has not implemented.

Susan of Texas said...

Palin instinctively understands that politics is a con, and the only difference between a politician and a grifter is that a politician has to work for others while the grifter just works for herself.

A lot of conservatives understand this, which is why they stopped pretending to be be responsible, sober citizens and took the easy way out, taking bribes with one hand and stoking up the crazy base with another.

Liberals refuse to admit it is a con and are frightened and indignant when they see conservaties (and especially Palin) work the con. When other liberals tell them they are just marks, they get very upset as well.

The con won't stop until the money is all gone.

David K Wayne said...

She's an interesting contrast with 'Ass-clown Zizek'. Supposedly smart people treat him like he has all the answers, but supposed morons treat Palin like the brand she is. Both of 'em are post-modern jesters really. They're both just marketing exercises to give a face to political impotence.

Devin Lenda said...


Lloyd DeMause, Alice Miller and other shrinks of their ilk would say that babies are tuned in to the needs of their demanding parents and change their behavior so as to become more likeable and therefore less killable--a survival instinct. In the process, they suppress their own desires and pass the problem on to the next generation. Intelligent babies do a better job with the task of changing themselves to fulfill their parents' desires. What they're actually tuned into is their parents' unconscious needs, the needs that went unmet in their parents' own childhood. People like Clinton, Obama, and Palin grow up attuned to the unconscious needs of their parents (very intelligent in this way) and use the same skill to adapt themselves to the desires of the population.

When you say Palin is intelligent, it makes sense if you mean she's great at reading desire and changing herself to become likeable but doesn't make much sense to me if you mean she's analytically intelligent. The high level of understanding you correctly attribute to her is not something she seems capable of verbalizing or even necessarily bringing into her own consciousness--i.e., she doesn't understand the American people in the way that term is generally used.

Anonymous said...

Intellect is far more than a fancy parchment and a politically correct patois.

The trouble is, to the great majority of "liberals" and "progressives" (read: Democrats) the only indicia of intelligence are a Fancy Parchment and a well-tuned Corporate Public Affairs Spokesman demeanor/delivery.

Which explains Obama and Palin perfectly.

I think most Americans do not understand Alaska. They assume it is like California or Illinois... where slick and urbane will carry the day every time.

Most Americans simply are wrong about most everything, it seems. Which explains the scope and depth of our present clusterfuck and the sheer GenPop ignorance of its scope and depth.

Unless one has met Sarah Palin in a regular setting of the type where her self is on display for people she likes and not for Image Conveyors, one can't really know who she is, what she believes, or what she would do as POTUS.

I'm not defending Sarah Palin as much as I'm explaining why so many people get her wrong.

Anonymous said...

Susan of Texas gets half the story correct.

She mistakenly believes "liberals" and "progressives" (the Pols) don't work the con knowingly and don't openly accept and use bribes.

She's well wrong.

Anonymous said...

Jack, I want to thank you for starting a thread which proves the point I made in my recent post about Palin... which I also posted at Crispyland under "Fuck Nowens."

People think Sarah Palin is "proof" that "conservatives" or "the right" are "stupid."

Funny thing, that. It only shows the accusers' respective stupidities.

Happy Jack said...

I'd use the word clever. She understands the spectacle, and how to benefit from it. She's just playing to the rules of the game for Team Red. She has learned to bypass the hated MSM, and they still follow her like a puppy.

The problem for libs is that they can't easily play on her terms. Team Blue is invested in the UMC professional narrative. To goose their voters they have to pretend to be urbane, intelligent, read the NYT, etc. Was Kerry a Mensa member?

An old blue-collar machine politician would have punched Palin in the mouth with one hand while handing candy to a poor waif with the other. Until the libs can come up with someone credible like that, they'll remain flummoxed by a Palin. It's hard to sling slurs and appear sophisticated at the same time.

Richard said...

Palin will take an evolutionary path similar to the one traveled by Ronald Reagan. Back in the 1960s, he was considered outrageous, so extreme that no one could ever take him seriously, unlike the radicals, feminists and black nationalists that were purportedly on the cutting edge of social change. He consciously engaged in shock politics, being only slightly more moderate in his speech than hateful television talk show hosts like Joe Pyne.

But moderates and liberals failed to notice that something strange happened. His critics failed to politically exterminate him, and he intelligently softened his approach just enough to look more reasonable. We all know the rest of the story, he became California governor in 1966, received a fair number of delegate votes as protest Presidential candidate at the 1968 Republican convention, and then, throughout the 1970s, established himself as the only alternative to the political establishment that collapsed in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Watergate and stagflation.

Can Palin do the same? Well, it depends on what the next 10-15 years are like. Right now, she's like Reagan, circa 1965, 1966, and its not hard to imagine the next decade or so being as equally difficult as the 1970s in its own particular way. And, then, there's that cross current of an emerging Latino voting bloc. She should not be underestimated.

Anonymous said...

Richard, if ever there were a person about whom we could say "stupid" was true, Ronald Wilson Reagan was that man. "Amiable dunce" was coined in his direction, accurately so. Plenty of folks who met and knew him throughout his life attested: he got on with his handsomeness and his demeanor, not his noggin power, which was negligible at best.

What Reagan-the-Politician did in the 60s and 70s wasn't about Reagan-the-clever-man. It was about his facility for acting.

This much people often can see if the Political Actor is of a different party or tribe. It's easy for Democrats and "leftists" to see Reagan as simply an actor who liked to color his hair out of vanity and pride.

It's harder for them to see Obama as that. They think Obama is brilliant, competent, and masterful... but undone by Bad Apple Democrats (DINOs) and Evil, Manipulative, Intimidating Elephants.

They don't see that Obama is just a better actor -- as much as any half-smart person schooled at Elite Institutions is.

I'd be reluctant to trace Reagan's path to his own shrewdness. It's more honest to attribute it to his actor status and his desire to be loved by millions. In many ways Reagan was the premier model for present day political figures: just be a really, really good actor, hold no real personal values, and be malleable for the public's whimsy.

Clinton followed Reagan's path. As has Obama.

Jack Crow said...


I don't have any learning in psychology, or knowledge specifically of the persons you mention, to comment adequately on the subject.

I don't think Palin needs to articulate her own understanding analytically, if her instincts continue to serve her well.

Still, I'm wary of depriving her (especially from our remove) of forethought. She's obviously capable of outmaneuvering her opponents.


I tend to agree that the conservatives are more willing to appear to be comfortable with the publicity of the successful con, but Clinton and Obama are no less adept for the fact that they play it straight.

Anonymous is on target, above. Chuck Spinney once characterized Obama's campaign as a mastery of "Motherhood and Mismatch." He staked a vague "Motherhood" position and then led the Republicans into the trap of attacking it.

Palin was paying attention. And while her "Motherhood" role does not have as broad an appeal as Obama's, it doesn't have to because she's not carrying as large a public load. She's not publicly beholden to the fiction of noble institutions. She can serve their interests without having to pretend they are social goods in danger of abolition.


I agree with you, as well - which may at first seem contradictory. The narrative of our dominant institutions is that they are bulwarks against barbarism, as represented by dangerous unwashed yokels. It works, though, because it's partially true. The unwashed yokels are the visible manifestation of an urge towards fascism, because their lives are in fact quite unstable, tenuous and wracked by social deconstruction. Family values matter in flyover country because that's where the family is failing to do its cohesive job in the face of capital flight, consolidation and the single industry extractive predation common to the region.

Problem is, those institutions are often wholly owned by the corporate factors who have a vested interest in pretending that they're not in fact the banking houses of brand fascism. It serves their interests, at least at the present moment, to pretend that they're in contention with the holdovers for nationalism and flag fascism.

Happy Jack,

Fighting labor is the answer to Palin. And to Obama. But (damn, I use that word a lot, eh?) labor which fails to expand its field of activity is doomed. The fight has to be brought into housing, food provision and medicine. There's a risk of overtotalizing, but I think it's better than four decades of staged retreat which now serves as our history.


The comparison to Reagan deserves its own stand alone. Here's a tip of the glass to the hope that you'll expand it your way.

Thanks all,


Susan of Texas said...

Jack, I always assume that the leaders are in a different catagory than the followers. I'm accustomed to thinking in terms of liberal and conservative but the true division is between people who want to be lied to and people who refuse to lie to themselves.

Jonathan Versen said...

"They believe in speeches and books that confirm a worldview which interprets the world as a management seminar." Ha!

Somebody can be bright yet impatient with intellectual matters, and this seems to be the case with Palin. OK, that's my six versus your half-dozen Jack, as I think you already said this.

This post and the comments reminds me of an essay at Joe Bageant's website from the summer of 2008, which he said was a submission from an anonymous political consultant, "Life in the Post Political Age"

Jack Crow said...

Sarah Palin seems to be inclined towards cooperative confirmation of my point, today.

She took at dig a Romney from Bunker Hill, in Massachusetts.

And while Romney was preparing to announce his version of a dolchstosslegende campaign, Palin, proving yet again that she understands this environments post-political realities (thanks, Jonathan):

"I think that's exciting for him, that's great for him," Palin told reporters at her Boston hotel before touring historical sites along the city's Freedom Trail. "It's coincidental that we are in the same territory at the same time, but more power to Mitt as he mounts his campaign and best of luck to him."


Exciting for him.

Heh. Those aren't the words of an idiot.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Regarding Palin, I think this quote from your previous post is apropos:

But, in all seriousness, can someone please explain to me why it is that so many liberals and lefties try to find meaning in a product which is made, marketed and produced in order to distract?

Palin, like Bush Jr, is basically Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Can Palin do the same? Well, it depends on what the next 10-15 years are like. Right now, she's like Reagan, circa 1965, 1966, and its not hard to imagine the next decade or so being as equally difficult as the 1970s in its own particular way

I don't think Palin will be able to pull it off- she depends too much on her "pinup for angry middle-aged white guys" schtick for a waiting game to succeed in our sexist society and its extremely sexist conservative subset.

chomskyzinn said...

That O'Donnell clip is unwatchable. Which, of course, means I cannot look away. Immigration is a "value-added"...barf.

chomskyzinn said...

Palin gets it. I am not entirely sure what "it" is....well, I am, but I figure you all know what "it" is, and I'm too tired to type it. But Palin gets it, in all of its dimensions.

Sarah knows the whole thing's a fraud, and she actually exposes the fraud, and this is what drives libs crazy. They still believe. Palin throws the fraud in their face.

Anonymous said...

The unwashed yokels are the visible manifestation of an urge towards fascism,

In the minds of Donkeyphiles, Pwoggies, Lib-Wools... yes.

As someone who, despite his education and half his work during adulthood, identifies and understands the poor rural folk far better than any Pwoggie, Lib-Wool or Generic Donkey ever would, I can say that most poor rural people are NOT interested in a fascistic, police-state society.

What they ARE interested in is a Pat Buchanan-styled conscious ignorance of all "global problems" that allegedly need "our attention." They'd put domestic problems FIRST.

The reason people don't get "teabaggers" or Sarah Palin is because they think --arrogantly, which is typical of Pwoggies and Lib-Wools-- everyone in America aspires to be just like Barack Obama. They think _everyone_ values multiple Ivy degrees and a fine corporate career trajectory, a crisp chardonnay accompanying lemon chicken and risotto, and a very expensive Euro crossover AWD vehicle.

They think, quite mistakenly, that the programming and content of outlets like NPR/PBS define life for everyone. This is why Glenn Greenwald, in his pro-state pseudo-critic stance, is so well-loved by the Pwog and the Lib. Greenwald's perspective is NPR-PBS on Steroids.

It's also why Jon Stewart -- Zionist pig, poor comic, decent purveyor of resigned sarcastic honesty -- is well loved. He hates on Rethuglicans and admires Meritocratic Prestige.

Put simply, the whole gang who hate on Sarah Palin (Pwoggies, Lib-Wools, Donkeybots) do not even come close to understanding anyone or anything that is outside The Perfect Yuppie perspective.

I find them as frighteningly tribalist and ignorant as they find "teabaggers" and "christers," to be honest.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

What they ARE interested in is a Pat Buchanan-styled conscious ignorance of all "global problems" that allegedly need "our attention." They'd put domestic problems FIRST

But then the "global problem" comes roaring into their lives, like it did in Joplin, MO.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything I'm talking about in this thread.

Your hatred of the GOP and "unwashed" proles is registered clearly, BBBB. You don't need to amplify it.

JM said...

So? he has a point: Pat Buchanan really isn't a good model for political aspirations, the man has apologized for Hitler, for fuck's sake. He hasn't really given a shit about immigrants or civil rights either:


Read that, seriously, read all of it.

"As someone who, despite his education and half his work during adulthood, identifies and understands the poor rural folk far better than any Pwoggie, Lib-Wool or Generic Donkey ever would, I can say that most poor rural people are NOT interested in a fascistic, police-state society."

That's hilarious.

Brian M said...

God, Karl...how do you know what "they" want...who is this "they" of whom you speak...and why are "they" automatically morally superior to the evvvvviiiiiillll coastal elites? Who is this "they"? Is there really a unified class, all united in their oppression and all wanting the same thing? Do you really think that? Wow.

This kind of language makes me think that the "libs" and "pwoggies" (ah...let's dehumanize our tribal opponents with demeaning names) are right...the Palinites are a seething mass of fascists? And you sneer at the "yuppies" while engaing in particularly nasty generalizations and David Brooks-worthy pablum?

If I believed there is such a thing as a unified "they"...that is.

Which I don't. So your oh so virtuous summoning of the good tribe versus the bad is basically pointless.