Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2008

CONNECTING THE DOTS.... Time's Karen Tumulty sees the pattern.

There is now a pattern emerging from the McCain campaign and its surrogates. Instead of trying to persuade Americans who aren't in their camp (the sign of a campaign that thinks it can win), they are trying to de-legitimize them (the sign of a campaign that thinks it can't).

That's what you hear in Sarah Palin's disquisition in Greensboro, N.C., on "these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation." (So what does that say about the rest of the country?) That is what you hear in Nancy Pfotenauer's suggestion that there's a difference between Northern Virginia and "real Virginia." It is what you hear in Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann's crazypants rant about--well, I really don't know what. And it is what you hear in a robocall strategy that is as ridiculous as it is cowardly.

While The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder notices the same pattern, and applies the developments to a physics model.

Now -- the Mainstream Media, typically clueless, has interpreted these remarks conventionally -- classically, you might say, as if we live in an Eisteinian universe with three dimensions of space and a quasi-dimension of time: either these women were summoning their inner Nixonian cultural warriors, or they were untethered from reality.

But three utterances of this nature for me lead to an entirely more edifying possibility: that Palin, Bachmann and Pfotenhauer were making a radical new claim about the fundamental forces and constants that compose the background of our universe.

For decades, theoretical physicists have sought to unify the theory of gravity with standard particle model of physics. So far, no dice. The dominant but by no means proven theory is popularly referred to as Superstring theory, or M theory, or some variant. No need to go into the details here. Crucially, though, some of the leading variants of string theory presuppose a universe of ten spacial dimensions plus time.

We cannot rule out the possibility that Palin, Bachmann and Pftoenhauer -- let's call them PBP for short -- are somehow about to perceive these extra dimensions, and that there is something fundamental about their physical constitutions that makes such perceptions unavailable to most everyone else.

Steve Benen 10:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Little difference between this way of thinking and Donald Rumsfeld's famous dismissal of "old Europe", because those countries refused to shake their pom-poms and shout "Boola Boola, Go USA". If you don't agree with us, you're not a real person/country/whatever.

PLEASE vote these arrogant louts (and loutesses) out of office!!!!

Posted by: Mark on October 18, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

We cannot rule out the possibility that Palin, Bachmann and Pftoenhauer -- let's call them PBP for short -- are somehow about to perceive these extra dimensions, and that there is something fundamental about their physical constitutions that makes such perceptions unavailable to most everyone else.

Or, applying Occam's Razor, we could just conclude that they are a) lying assholes or b) completely batshit insane or c) some combination of a) and b).

Posted by: Jennifer on October 18, 2008 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'd think more of Tumulty if she could show that this is standard operating procedure the the Republican party since Nixon.

Posted by: ed on October 18, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

on a Saturday night I'm too lazy to go back and find it, but several days ago in a comment I proffered a closely related theory: that the Rovians on McCain's campaign, having no loyalty to Mac in the first place, know the campaign is lost. So they have already moved on to 2010 and 2012, trying to poison the well and make the country as ungovernable for Obama as possible. Mac is now just their clueless useful tool as they try to so rend the fabric of America that all of Obama's talents will be unable to bring it back together.

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 18, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ambers has an update--Palin's holding a rally in Roswell, NM!!

Posted by: David in Nashville on October 18, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

...er...show that she understood that...

Posted by: ed on October 18, 2008 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I haven't heard anything quite like that Ambinder rant since that weekend in college with the two physics students and the ounce of weed . . .

Posted by: rea on October 18, 2008 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

Man, I haven't heard anything quite like that Ambinder rant since that weekend in college with the two physics students and the ounce of weed . . .

Posted by: rea on October 18, 2008 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I still can't believe this insanity. It's good to hear this connecting of dots, because I am losing it. More please.



I can't believe Palin really thought she could get away with saying such a stupid thing. I really think she herself simply imagined she was just using flattery. That's all. She has no clue of the larger ramifications of what she was saying. She had no sense of the layers of what she was conveying. She had no sense that she insulted the entire country, no clue how patronizing and presumptuous and arrogant beyond belief her comments were.

But of course, ignorance is no excuse. Indeed it makes her comments that much more frightening.

And Bachmann? Well, that's a perfect preview of the kind of thing Palin would mandate if she gained the office of V.P.

Bachmann should be removed from office for seriously suggesting such an insanely frightening inquisition of sorts.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 18, 2008 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ambinder short version: They're getting MILFs to start a culture war.

Posted by: Rapid Eddie on October 18, 2008 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Remember George Allen's famous "macaca moment," when he -- the out of state carpetbagger -- sneered at a Virginia-born man of Indian descent "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia?" Well, it seems as though the waning days of the McCain campaign will be all-macaca all the time. And apparently, they are doing it on purpose. It may be that they're trying to "poison the well" for Obama's administration, which wouldn't surprise me, since they did the same to Clinton for eight years. But this time they're going to try to do it in the face of a landslide.

Posted by: T-Rex on October 18, 2008 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

They are all completely unhinged, and the ones who are chronically unhinged - PBP, et al - are just crazy out of their minds bonkers. This is what happens when an entire institution - the Republican Christian right - faces losing its birth-right, power. They aren't going to go quietly, and the Palins, Coulters, Roves, Bachmanns, Dobsons, and their media surrogates are going to put Obama through an ordeal that will make their treatment of Clinton look like the kid gloves treatment. And they are drooling at the possibilities of another bloodless assassination.

That is how the dots connect.

Posted by: on October 18, 2008 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe they all licked the same sheet of acid.

You know, if this attempt to shit the bed were coming from anyone but people like Palin and Bachman, I'd agree that there was some strategy behind it. But what we're witnessing is the political equivalent of the mad scientist wailing and flailing while the the lab burns around his ears. Take the crap dripping out of Palin's mooseburger hole. It goes beyond "Heh, heh, let's make everyone mad at the Dems," and straight to: "Sarge, I wanna kill!"

If there are any cooler heads at Camp McPOW they've given up on getting her to shut up and they're just waiting to collect their checks. If there aren't any people bright enough to know she needs to cool it, that shows you how many people decided they didn't want to be around when some Palinstinian is going to hurt someone. They know no amount of "Naturally we deplore acts of violence blah, blah, also, though," will clear the GOP in the public's opinion.

And we see how well Bachman's attempt to sew discord is working for her.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on October 18, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Just as McCain's campaign is a retread of Nixon's Southern Strategy, this is a retread of Nixon's "Silent Majority." Real Americans support McCain/Palin. Should McCain/Palin lose the election, it will be because their Real American voters were suppressed by the mainstream media, ACORN, George Soros and the Illuminati all acting in concert. Obama's will be a stolen victory and Real Americans will know it.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on October 18, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Oh - spooky action at a distance. Quarks, Charms and strange particles. Yep - that's the girl gang, all right. Chaos theory applied to a political campaign. Now if only we could send them all to a black hole where all of their negative energy will be consumed.

Posted by: Annie on October 18, 2008 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno. If you've read the extremists bloggers recently, as I've been forcing myself to do, you may just say it's a clarion call to the Christian jihadists.

It's a total disconnect, making up their own headlines and realities. I don't get it. But I guess if you're force-fed biblical inerrancy, you'll buy just about anything.

I will say this: I'm done trying to change stale minds.

Posted by: M.Mudd on October 18, 2008 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Both McCain and Palin are like grand imposters of sorts, like one of those cops you read about that turns out to have a crime record a mile long.

The more we find out, the more shocking it is.

The epitome of Emperor and Empress with No Clothes.


Honor, Straight Talk, Country First...uh NOT!

as in: "Never mind, we were just kidding".

It's that insane.

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 18, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

This stuff's insane, but has anyone looked at the polls lately? They're tightening up some. Should we be worried? I know this is goofy, but Palin's on SNL tonight. What will that do to McCain's ratings?

My feeling is that these robocalls and slime may work enough so that, if McCain can get within a couple of points of Obama, there will be some voting machine malfuntions...

Posted by: pol on October 18, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Most importantly, this shite plays to their base but, apparently, not to independents. They are circling their wagons.

Posted by: M.B. on October 18, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

There will be a special place in hell for PBP. Not just the place reserved for typical ass-hole Republicans.

These "people" have had complete power for the last eight years, fucked things up royally for the rest of us, and want to hang on to it. I don't know...

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on October 18, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

It makes perfects sense: only tiny minds such as the PBP's can wrap themselves into these tiny compactified extra dimensions. Perhaps they've found the Higgs bosan.

Posted by: matt on October 19, 2008 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

To toot my own horn, and it's not saying much since it was so damn obvious from the get go, I too predicted something similiar. Get Palin to start a culture war and then the scary black terrorists or Barack Obama will be attacking white women everywhere when Palin is "attacked" (i.e. shown to be a fucking batshit lunatic).

Posted by: grinning cat on October 19, 2008 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Andy on October 19, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

We're seeing Tucker Eskew's ugly, nativist vision of America served up by pretty faces.

Something that's been lost in the ridiculous discussion over who is a true patriot is the old-fashioned notion that the person who raises charges is responsible for proving them. Republicans throw dirt on Obama and then say it's his responsibility to come clean. Call it passive-aggressive nativism. Press the "pit bulls with lipstick" and all the others on the details and they don't have any. Where is the personal accountability Republican ideology values so highly?

It takes five ounces of rationality to respond to an ounce of fear. I hope in the final two weeks that the main stream media and blogs treat GOP press and media attacks with the same scrutiny as with any news story. Keep the focus on the issues.

If there is no substance to the GOP attacks on Obama then journalists should discredit them, not passively repeat them on the air and call it journalism.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 19, 2008 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Ambinder:

I just have no f-ing clue any longer what those Republicans are trying to do. It sure has nothing to do with winning elections. I think I'll just type random s-t on my keyboard until this election is at last, mercifully over

How much longer is it? Two weeks? Damn. Let's see ... string theory. That'll work for a post or two.

Posted by: Basilisc on October 19, 2008 at 3:52 AM | PERMALINK

Might as well try humor; nothing else seems to be working.

Posted by: Hokuto on October 19, 2008 at 4:02 AM | PERMALINK

Marc Abinder physiqued: " Pfotenhauer said that she lives in a place called Oakton, Va. Oakton is located in Fairfax County. Pfotenhauer implied that *the country* was part of "real America" because it was open to the possibility of electing John McCain."

I hope that "the country" is deserving of a big "sic," otherwise reality somewhere, somewhen, is being even further bent.

Posted by: Hokuto on October 19, 2008 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

For the next eight fucking years, expect to hear the folks on talk radio whining about how the election was stolen by ACORN, same way they whined for eight years that Ross Perot stole it in '92.

You can also expect a hell of a lot of violence and brownshirtism at the local level, of the sort that David Neiwert chronicles.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on October 19, 2008 at 4:20 AM | PERMALINK

String theory has a basis in theoretical physics with a descriptive mathematical foundation.

PBP's musings about new perceptions in the political cosmo are pulled straight out of their collective a***s. There is truth in M theory, none in PBP's.

Ambinder should learn the difference.

Posted by: Darsan54 on October 19, 2008 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

Just amazing what a proposed 3% income tax increase on those making over $250,000 will bring out of the woods. Make no mistake, this is the source of much of the vitriol we will hear just as we did when Clinton was elected. The rich and the powerful are the experts at playing this game. They ARE the real power and they do not like to see this exercise in real democracy.

Posted by: lou on October 19, 2008 at 7:21 AM | PERMALINK

I came across this fascinating comment written in 1954 by Dwight Eisenhower--a Republican president in a period of Democratic ideas--via a post on Open Left.

"But to attain any success it is quite clear that the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything--even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon "moderation" in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

1954. Texas oil millionaires!

Palin and Bachmann are both extreme fundamentalist Christians, people whose grip on reality is so slight that they deny evolution and believe in that a 2000+ year old collection of sacred texts is the absolute word of God. I don't know if that is also true of Pfotenhauer--she may just be a generic hardshell Republican. But their shared delusion of the "real America" is sustained and funded by Texas oil millionaires whose motive is to simply hoard all their gold. The extra-spacial 10th dimension that Ambinder writes about, "unavailable to most everyone else," is media time paid for by these reactionaries. They talk in their echo chamber, and, deaf to any disconfirming evidence, remain convinced that they are the Only True Americans because they tell themselves that they are.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 19, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Ambinder is a twat.

Posted by: Ambinder is a twat on October 19, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I know this thread is dead, taken over by more interesting developments this morning. Wow, $150 million in a month! Wow, Colin Powell's endorsement!

But I found a bit of background on Nancy Ptotenhauer, and I wanted to build on my previous point about Texas oil millionaires. Pfotenhauer is a longtime employee of Koch industries, an oil refining conglomerate based in Wichita, Kansas (not Texas, so, okay, it isn't just Texas millionaires) the largest private company in the US. Koch Family Foundations is "a major source of funding" for right wing political causes. The founder of Koch Industries, father of the current generation, Fred Koch, also helped found the John Birch society.

...bingo. The 10th dimension. The unholy alliance between wacko religious fundamentalists and wacko oil billionaires.

Posted by: PTate in MN on October 19, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK



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