November 07, 2004

Everything's Up to Date in KKKansas City

David Aaronovitch discusses the seemingly widespread notion that the 2004 election is best understood as a Philip Pullman/gnostic parable, a spiritual war where the bad guys won. (He has a slightly different notion.) Also, Harry provides some perspective on the same issue: apparently, even our European betters aren't immune to the Christian virus. In Guardian-land, there's even a permanent, unelected enclave of bishops in the upper house, The Lords Spiritual. (Now that really does sound Pullman-esque.) Well, at least we'll all go together when we go.

San Francisco is a weird place these days. Everyone is stumbling around zombie-like, in a depressed haze. The usual exuberance has been dampened: even the mimes have been affected, as well as the guys on stilts with the huge top hats, the roller-blading I'm-a-Pepper-You're-a-Pepper folks, the scantily-clad hipster chicks and their scruffy, pudgy, knit cap 'n' goatee boyfriends with the enormous shorts. The spark has gone out of the life of The City.

I spent a chunk of last night drinking in a bar. (Yes, you're still allowed to do that in KKKristian Amerikkka, or at least, you still are in liberal free 'n' easy San Francisco.) The Christian Right Stole the Election with the Help of the Morons and Now We're Doomed was definitely the preferred analysis of those in attendance. Everyone I talked to seemed genuinely terrified, as though Christian Stormtroopers were already on their way to invade their $1800-a-month studio apartments, strap them to a portable altar, cut their hearts out and feed them to their mangey dogs.

Another thing I noticed is that, when discussing our Red State fellow-citizens, we Bay Areans tend to adopt this weird accent, part Jed Clampett, part Amos 'n' Andy, part Gomer Pyle, part Hee Haw, and part retard. We imagine the Red State People going around saying things like "I hates me sum libruls," and "I jes gots ta keel me sum Ay-rabs," and "hey, paw, looky here, Jebus done tole me the homos is evil." Maybe it really is like that, for all I know. If so, I can see why people find it so disturbing that there appear to be more of them than there are of us. No wonder our guy didn't win. Why can't we all be smart and good, and speak properly?

UPDATE: I gather, to my surprise, that a handful of readers have failed to detect the sarcasm in this post. This saddens me, as I thought I was being so clever and dry. Much as I hate to do it, let me be plain: in fact, I do not agree with the "they're all morons" theory expounded by my fellow drunk Bay Areans the other night. It reflects more on them than it does on those they mock, the thing reflected being denial, chauvinism, and a richly ironic lack of self-understanding. This is quite a common thing in the Bay Area, even among those who do not happen to be drunk or stoned. People are so impressed with themselves and confident of their own superiority that they are incapable of imagining a situation where anyone who disagrees with their views is not stupid, wicked, or a participant in a far-reaching conspiracy. I've lived here all my life, and I am "one of them" any way you slice it, but I have always found this phenomenon partly distasteful, yet mostly just hilarious.

Posted by Dr. Frank at November 7, 2004 04:14 PM | TrackBack

Iím both saddened and a little indignant that the vox populi on your end of the country as well as mine insists on blaming half the nationís current state of political dissatisfaction on Christians. We are not ALL hateful, ignorant bigots.

Or maybe we are and my social circle is too small to realize it. Anyone else here with certain deeply-held beliefs who voted as a pragmatist rather than an idealist?

Posted by: Kid Somnambulist at November 7, 2004 04:41 PM

i agree sir. down with the kkkristians.

Posted by: alex at November 7, 2004 05:39 PM

Well,while not happy about the outcome either,
i'm with Mr. Kid.

In simpler words I admit...

A little harsh Frank,talk about high standards...
things never seem to hold true when the shoes on the other foot.

But feel free to make youre generalizations,I probably just don't understand.

Posted by: just me at November 7, 2004 05:40 PM

frank, you've been to this area of the country (the red states, oooh!), you must have seen that people arent like that.

Posted by: chelsea at November 7, 2004 06:36 PM

Yeah, Chelsea, I was trying to be all ironic and everything.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at November 7, 2004 06:42 PM

The Guardian went from being a haven for seemingly angry yet upwardly mobile young Americans to just... a paper that gives people the ability to do sloppy reporting when it comes to my country. The first link to David Aaronovitch's piece is just that. I am horrified that people take it as gospel simply because of the chic factor of being in The Observer or the Guardian. I know from college statistics classes that nearly anything can be fudged to the point of convincing with even half assed stat work, but I have trouble believing he wasn't just making this nonsense up. I'll start with " A majority supported either gay marriage (which we do not have here in Britain, or in most countries in Europe) or of gay civil unions." where the hell did he get this? sure, plenty of Americans (as I myself do) support equal rights regarding homosexuality and find it deplorable that we are so slow to recognize civil unions on a state basis -- but that is neither here nor there. ALL 11 STATES with the initiative to define marriage as only between a man and a woman opted for it. all 11. So did he do any research on this issue at all or did he just wish up this statistic? Did he even pay attention to American politics? Also, where did "Equally unexpectedly, those most scared by terrorism actually voted for Kerry." come from? Maybe that is possible, I can rationalize this to someone and convince them if I so saw fit, but I really don't see this as the case. I won't even delve into his numbers on abortion. I just find it disconcerting that most of what I read lately in these publications is so... incorrect. Sure, I'm angry about this election, being a red state Kerry voter who voted as hard as he could, it takes a toll. That doesn't change the fact that I feel people are getting such a distorted sense of even the most minor issues. I feel as if I'm living in a crazy political fog. Is The Economist all I have left? ha. left.

Posted by: Derek Miller at November 7, 2004 07:09 PM

Here's a pretty crazy idea. If you actully believe Bush won because 60 million people are idiots and morons then please leave the country take my spot in Canada and I'll take your spot in America. At least I wouldn't have to freeze to death all winter. Not even P. Diddy and the guy from Punk'd can convince these 60 million morons to englightenify. Why do you think its possible? Seriously, if the real reason is that everyone is an idiot you are not going to curb it, you cant fix this, not even by fucking the president with a clever new rock song. So try and present a decent alternative, hell try just doing this: rid the trace elements of LSD from your political bloodline.

Posted by: SammyCruiser at November 7, 2004 10:20 PM

A hostile Canadian (or Canadienne!) has to be one of the most precious and beautiful things on this planet. Please don't ever lose that.

Posted by: Derek Miller at November 7, 2004 11:20 PM

Irony? Ironic or not,its a little hurtful.That is to say,it just seemed like an unhealthy dose of hostile vitriol. Still kinda does actually,
maybe I'm just too sensitive.

I like to think that's a good thing though.

At any rate,I prefer to think of this as an awful
nightmare to forget about,go on with our lives like we always do no matter what the outcome,and
remember really four years isn't such a long time.

Posted by: jsut me at November 8, 2004 05:32 AM

Frank, when we spoke earlier this year, (Slims record kick off) you were leaning toward Bush pretty heavily. I remember you being very unimpressed with Kerry and basically satisfied with Bush's role as president. We didn't discuss anything in great detail, just a few thoughts and opinions regarding the campaign. I do remember you saying that both candidates had a lot of convincing to do, but as of then you were in favour of Bush. Anyway, it really meant a lot to see a San Francisco punk rocker openly endorse George Bush while surrounded by many outspoken left-wingers. I say outspoken because a couple of guys were vehemently spewing anti-bush propaganda and dispensing verbal lashings to anyone whos opinion deviated from their own. These guys were the catalyst to our political conversation in the first place. Anyway, I was really impressed by your refusal to play the role of the leftwing rocker, blanket democrat supporter. But that is beside the point. My question is, what did Kerry do between then and last Tuesday that changed your mind? I realize that it could also be something that Bush did or didn't do, but I assume that you are fond of Kerry because you referred to him as "our guy." I know that votes are generally earned through a plethora of thoughts, issues and ideals. I'm not expecting a full political analysis of your decision. I was just wondering if there were any significant things Kerry did to gain your pencil mark. Well, it could have been a computer button, touch screen or whatever the medium being used in SF. Since I's from red state hillbilly okluhhomey, i had to vote fur preseedent witha peeencil.

Posted by: luke black at November 8, 2004 06:55 AM

Here's a crazy idea. Instead of bellyaching about Bush having "won" this "election", let's take a deep breath and look at some of the, er, discrepancies that are beginning to come to light.

Like Holmes Co., Florida, where 6410 registered Democrats and 1810 registered Republicans gave Bush 77% of the vote. I doubt that kind of switch would have happened even if Bin Laden had arrived in Holmes Co. and personally raped each and every woman and child -- and the fact is, the exit polls reflected a vote along the lines of the party registration.

Here's a crazy idea. Maybe the exit polls weren't wrong. If they were, then I'll happily bellyache with the Blue Staters and Pabst Blue Ribbon. But not until we count some votes.

Posted by: Wes at November 8, 2004 08:09 AM

Toby Kkkieth did sell a lot of albums.

Posted by: josh at November 8, 2004 01:30 PM

I think part of the dynamic in SF is due to the "escapee/immigrant" dynamic of the Bay Area. I grew up in Berkeley, but by the time I was 25 virtually everyone I knew well had moved to the Bay Area from somewhere else, and had done so hoping to live in a place where they could belong, find themselves, etc. When people say California is a "state of mind," I think this is what they mean. I think this is good in lots of ways -- it makes the Bay Area energetic and cosmopolitan, for one thing -- but it also feeds into the Neverneverland arrogance of the place, too. And it also increases the number of Bay Area residents who have (and want) no relationship with the rest of California, which is a huge problem for the state and is itself a very self-limiting and closed-minded attitude on many people's parts.

I personally had friends and coworkers who moved to the Bay Area from rural Texas, rural Mississippi, rural Oregon, all over, and (without speaking too much for them) they left in large part because they were tired of the attitudes of the people they grew up with. Coming to the Bay Area meant getting away from a mindset they were incredibly uncomfortable with and that they wanted to leave behind. Now, I imagine many of those folks feeling that someone with that mindset is in charge of the country and is coming after them. And that's without getting into individuals' political judgments about the direction the country is going in as a whole.

Posted by: Nick at November 8, 2004 03:34 PM

Nick, I think you're right. I guess as with any "converts" there's a tendency to go overboard rather than to take things in stride. That's another Bay Area irony: everyone's so uptight about being laid back. They're gonna be laid back if it kills them.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at November 8, 2004 04:23 PM

yeah i always thought that was so strange
...i never thought i'd hear the term nazi liberals...then i moved to berkeley(now in sf).

till it kills them is right.

Posted by: just me at November 8, 2004 06:30 PM

i write invisible words. what is your talent?

Posted by: lukeblack at November 8, 2004 08:44 PM

if it makes you feel any better,i had
a little thing in the back of my head,
it said "he can't possibly be serious".

i think it just came out too sincerely
when people are still a little emotional about
the election and all.

Posted by: just me at November 8, 2004 08:56 PM

I know there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around, but I just don't think there's anything overly weird about the stat you quoted.
Holmes County voted overwhelmingly for Bush in 2000 (5000+ to 2000+), and even voted for Bob Dole by nearly 60-40. It was even worse in 1992, when Holmes Co. went for Bush I by 63-37. If there's anything weird going in down there, it's been going on for a looong time. It's a very GOP-friendly county, apparently.
I'm getting these vote counts from the Florida Sec. of State's website, which is probably just proof that I'm a naive, gullible fool. Sorry.

Posted by: marc w. at November 8, 2004 11:41 PM

I'm not ignoring your question Luke: I just don't find it an easy one to answer. The reference to Kerry as "our guy" was ironic, but also accurate, as a "tribal" sort of thing. If you live in the Bay Area, he was your guy, regardless of what he did or said, whether you liked him or not, or indeed whether you ended up voting for him or not. These guys are more like mascots than contestants for Head Policy Maker. It almost doesn't matter who they put in the animal suit. You root for the home team, even if they're a bunch of bums.

Seriously, though, I was always skeptical about Bush, but I did support the war and I found much of the leftish critique of it vapid, hypocritical and an insult to one's intelligence. I never believed he was Hitler, or Evil, or A Moron, or any of the cartoon analyses so popular amongst the people on the TV and the folks down at the Starbucks. In fact, I find that mode of "discussion" so alienating that it actually increases my willingness to give their opponents more of the benefit of the doubt than I otherwise might, just out of spite. I suppose he finally lost me, though, with Abu Ghraib, when he and his whole administration effectively went AWOL for an entire week while the moral and public relations disaster unfolded. That wasn't the worst example of incompetence in the war, certainly, but it was typical of a string of delayed reactions, avoidance of accountability, and examples of seeming policy incoherence. Were we trying to win or not? We needed some sharper, more decisive guys in there.

Kerry, on the other hand was as unimpressive as it was possible to be. (All my friends thought he was The Smart One, but that's mostly because he more or less resembled what they saw when they looked in the mirror. It was an onanistic sort of analysis.) The one thing in his favor was that he represented a chance of bringing us slightly closer to fiscal sanity, and that was only because he couldn't possibly have been worse than Bush in that regard. His foreign policy views as expressed in the campaign (and I have no idea whether or not they reflected his true beliefs and intentions) were more or less devoid of content. "Get other nations involved," OK, but he didn't seem all that interested in the question "and then what?" It was all "attitude." (Not that the Bush campaign was a model of clearly expressed substantive argument either: even if you supported Bush and agreed with the overall strategic approach to the challenge of Islamic fascism, it had to be at least a little disheartening to realize that the man himself was virtually incapable of articulating it.)

In the end, I found I couldn't support either of them, which is one reason I couldn't bring myself to write anything about it at the time. (The main reason was that I was working on my book, which, believe it or not, took precedent over fretting over the election. If anyone were paying me for fretting over the election, I might have felt differently, or at least been a better fretter.) I voted for who I voted for a variety of personal and psychological reasons that I'd rather not get into right now. I probably would have had a different attitude if I had lived in a swing state. But in California, there was the liberating freedom of inevitability: Kerry was going to win regardless, so why get all worked up about it? I was literally physically ill afterwards, though that might have been something I ate rather than something I voted for. In the end, when "our guy" didn't win, I was just about equally relieved and disappointed. At least maybe the loss will motivate the Democrats to figure out a way to nominate a better guy and run a less vacuous campaign next time. Well, it could happen. Here's hoping.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at November 9, 2004 03:02 PM

Dr. F, my feelings thoughout the war and prez campaign just about mirrored yours except that I never was in favor of the war, or at least not at all enthusiastic about it. The only thing that made me support it in any way was the obnoxious arguments and protests of the left, who were against the war because it was... a war. Personally, I thought that if you're going to wage war against Islamic terrorism, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran made more sense as targets & Iraq never had anything to do with radical Islamic terror but that's a whole other subject.

Probably like you, I'm no lefty but I'm certainly libertarian and I'd have been called a liberal 40 years ago. The fact that people like me are so disgusted with the left that we're willing to give someone like W the benefit of the doubt shows exactly why the Republicans started the campaign with a head start.

There's another reason, too. Democrats dominated from FDR to Reagan partly because they were the party of the regular joe sixpack and Republicans were the party of the elite. Exact oppisite situation now and the democrats don't seem to understand this at all.

Posted by: div at November 9, 2004 05:20 PM

well,i'm one that wishes for throwing packs of crayolas instead of bombs...but i do understand that's completely illogical and unrealistic.

nonetheless...i don't think having a better attitude is such a horrible thing...though given there would need to be more to it to that i suppose. still...all is well again? and take a rose colored crayon?

go on writing your book Dr. Frank...the sooner its done,the sooner we'll all have it in our hot little hands. :)))

Posted by: JUST ME at November 9, 2004 08:54 PM

Well Div, I AM one of those lefties who opposed and opposes the war, but a few rants aside I try not to be too big a pain in the ass about it ;) I really just want to respond to the "elites" issue because it's very interesting. From an economic perspective there's no real question that Bush and the GOP help and represent economic elites and the Dems (despite many ill-advised retreats on this issue) still are better for "regular joe six-pack". The amazing thing is how the GOP has gotten the loyalty of people whose economic interests they don't represent. One example of this is the estate tax issue: cutting the estate tax while expanding the Federal budget in a war economy hurts, oh, I dunno, 98% of the country -- the folks who never stood to inherit million dollar estates but will have to pay for the reduced gov't services (through local tax increases) or higher deficits in the future. But many folks sacrificed their own well-being so that Paris and Nicki Hilton wouldn't have to pay taxes on their hotel billions. Weird.

Posted by: Nick at November 9, 2004 09:23 PM

Nick, I was talking more about perception than people voting in their own econimic interests, although in time this perception can (and has) become reality.

From FDR thru Carter the Democratic party was the party of the working man, the little guy and every ethnicity besides WASPs while republicans were best represented by the guy on the Monopoly! box. Nowadays, Republicans represent the guys and gals driving pickups to wal mart, going to the neighbors' for ba bar-b-q and going to little league games on the weekends while the democratic party is the party of latte drinking, foreign film appreciating urbanites who wear scarves, eat herb encrusted this and that and give their kids last names for first names (like Jackson or Taylor or Harris) when they, finally, have kids at the age of 40.

This has got nothing to do with things like the estate tax. Talking about how stupid people are because obviously they can't figure out what's in their best interest (while WE, of course, know exactly what's best for them) is the kind of thing that is killing the democratic party. They're not stupid and talking down to them- or worse, dismissing them- only confirms the elites vs. regular guys perception.

Posted by: div at November 9, 2004 10:55 PM

thanks a lot for the response frank. it was very insightful. i can't wait to read your book! i can see king dork nestled snugly in between kerouac and hunter s., or maybe next to my first edition hardback of superfudge!

Posted by: luke black at November 9, 2004 10:57 PM

p.s. the only candidate that i truly respected and felt passionate about was libertarian michael badnarik. he was on 48 state ballots and oklahoma was not one of them. typical. thats just about par. i feel that the libertarian party is what modern day republicans claim to be. republicans are slowly abandoning their opposition of big government and restriction of individual freedoms. the libertarian party has picked up the ball and started carrying it in what i feel is the right direction. i know that if oklahoma had carried badnirik on the ballot, most would consider a vote for him wasted. i am either taking away one from bush or giving one to kerry. i absolutely detest Kerry, am not crazy about bush and love Badnirik. so even though a vote for the 3rd party underdog is essentially pointless, i would have done it anyway. i think that people should vote in for something they truly beleive in rather than against what they hate. if everyone just assumed that a 3rd party was a wasted vote and settled for red or blue, nothing would ever change. if enough people actually stand up for what they beleive in, things will change. in case you didn't hear, badnirik was arrested while insisting to be included in the presidential debates. here is the link

Posted by: luke black at November 9, 2004 11:16 PM

Div said: "There's another reason, too. Democrats dominated from FDR to Reagan partly because they were the party of the regular joe sixpack and Republicans were the party of the elite. Exact opposite situation now and the democrats don't seem to understand this at all."

I will be using "Us" to represent myself and the working class.

So did the Dems desert us or did we just forget who's side they were on? I certainly don't think that the Democrats have become the party that represents the elite, but the Republicans have done an excellent job of creating that perception.

Joe Sixpack is still here and the Democrats are still fighting for his rights in and out of the workplace (and failing at the moment), but the Republicans have made the elections about something else. I don't know what it is, but it's not equality or fairness.

There's some obscure version of right-and-wrong/with-us-or-against-us that I'm having a hard time grasping. I think a lot of other people are confused by it as well, but they'd rather err on the side of "with us".

Posted by: Tim at November 9, 2004 11:35 PM


I'm not sure if your reference to "Talking about how stupid people are because obviously they can't figure out what's in their best interest" is a characterization of my comment. Read it again. Where do I call anyone stupid? That's your language, there, or someone else's. I didn't say anything like that and I'm not saying that now. I'm just saying that the GOP has gotten the loyalty of many working class people without actually supporting policies that help working class people economically. The estate tax was the best example I could think of off the top of my head.

I agree with your summary of the way the two parties are portrayed in the media. I personally think the Dems have to banish the DLC and become explicitly leftist in order to get stronger and move American politics forward. But that's pretty far OT here.

Posted by: Nick at November 10, 2004 08:24 PM


Well, many of the "working class" (is there such a thing in America in 2004?) people from whom the GOP has "gotten loyalty" would disagree with you about the GOP not supporting policies that help them economically. There are perfectly valid reasons why, too. You have to accept that these people have a difference of (informed) opinion. They're not rubes.

Or we could keep talking like these red state people are simple, dimwitted folk hoodwinked by their evil overlords while we on the other hand see things clearly and are much too clever, sophistacted and informed to ever believe Republican tax cuts etc ever could possibly ever benefit them more than an increased estate tax.

Going further left will further marginalize the democratic party. My opinion isn't worth nothing but personally I think dems should forget about left/right and do an end run on libertarian issues. Neither party is particularly good on personal freedoms and that's one thing most Americans, blue or red, could get behind. And also they need to convince people they have some sort of enthusiasm for killing Islamic terrorists.

Posted by: div at November 10, 2004 09:41 PM

"Everyone I talked to seemed genuinely terrified, as though Christian Stormtroopers were already on their way to invade their $1800-a-month studio apartments, strap them to a portable altar, cut their hearts out and feed them to their mangey dogs."

I dunno, maybe they should be a-skairt. I mean, I'm a non-believin', latte-sippin', French wine-lovin', book-larnin', football-hatin' Bush-voter, and admit that even one such as I has occassionally entertained the heart-cuttin' scenario with some pleasure. It's worse than they know!

Btw, re "I'm a Pepper". Ha! Wasn't that before your time, Doc? (I laughed, but felt my age.)

Posted by: Moira at November 12, 2004 01:35 PM

Believe me, Moira, there is a small but permanent sector of the San Francisco population who are Peppers, and who will probably keep the Pepper dream alive for some time to come, maybe forever, or at least as long as they keep selling those rainbow suspenders and big, floppy, velvet hats.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at November 12, 2004 02:24 PM
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