Political Nihilism

by lizard

The Obama administration has me contemplating political nihilism.

According to one definition of nihilism, that means I’m wondering if conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.

Supreme Court appointments. That’s one reason, I’ve been told, that reelecting president Obama is important.

But a recent SCOTUS ruling in favor of strip searching anyone arrested for anything, even minor offenses, and without just cause, was SUPPORTED by the administration, so based on that I’d say it’s doubtful any appointments from Obama 2.0 will inch the rightward drift back to the left.

It should also be pointed out that this ruling will send a clear message to the nastier elements of the police state that activists already getting their asses kicked can be subjected to borderline sexual assault for illegal camping, or whatever bullshit infraction “law enforcement” will invoke to jail those who dare address, with direct action, the obscene inequity late stage crony capitalism is producing.

Another staple of Democrat justification for keeping their team in power is the supposed commitment to the role of government in providing regulatory oversight to ensure standards are enforced for public safety. It’s the other side, they say, who want to gut regulations.

Ralph Nader says otherwise.

I know I know, Ralph fucking Nader, slayer of Al Gore and perpetual curmudgeon hoisted up by Dem loyalists as the ultimate cautionary tale of straying from the pack.

But is he wrong?

When I think about not getting regulation right, and by right I mean CORRECT, I think nuclear energy.

And then I think about Japan.

And because that’s kind of terrifying to think too much about, I try to distract myself, like watching Mad Men for example.

And then I see commercials like this, during the break, and just shake my head.

O yes, Don Draper would be proud.

Personally, I’ve pulled almost all my investment in our political system out, and placed it elsewhere. But that’s my choice, and I don’t want that choice to infringe on those who still invest their time and energy to the political process, no matter how heated our disagreements may get.

Jon Tester may lose, the senate may fall, and it’s within the realm of possibility that Mitt Romney, the worst candidate ever, could unseat president Obama.

If all that happens, the worst that will happen is the drift will pick up speed. At the rate we’re already going, with all of us complicit in ways we probably don’t want to change, it’s probably already too late to turn back.

Do what you can from where you stand. There is no promise of tomorrow.

  1. Turner

    I’m not challenging your statement that the administration supported the strip search decision. I’d just like to know exactly what this support consisted of. I simply don’t know.

    • lizard19

      here’s a link:

      The justices upheld a ruling by a US appeals court based in Philadelphia that it was reasonable to search everyone entering a jail, even without suspicion of any criminal activity.

      The decision was a victory for the jails and for the Obama administration, which argued for an across-the-board rule allowing strip-searches of all those entering the general jail population, even those arrested on minor offenses.

      so this wasn’t just some nod, it was a formal argument by the administration in favor of this awful decision.

  2. mahmet7

    Do what you can from where you stand. Well said!

    What else can overcome the fear and indimidation that ultimately extinguishes the will to form ANY convictions and destroys the ability to act based upon one’s experiences or a personal sense of right and wrong.

    Somewhere between birth, taxes and death, we — each of us with the capacity — need to fight for small spaces and places where one can still experience freedom, beauty, dignity and love. The great roundup has begun. The strays are being hunted for fear others will resist the post-modern packing plant. Resist. Dissent. Stand for something good.

  3. dbudge55

    “Political Nihilism”: but you repeat yourself. I’ll concede that might not be a redundancy for activists but for politicians I think that term of art might go a long way in voter education.

    Perhaps under a rock one might find that the question is not “more” regulation but “how” to regulate. The “more” camp is typically long on more and short on how. It’s a much more fun discussion on how.

    It’s spring, tho – and I’ve a difficult time indulging your continued vituperation. I’m hopeful we’ll find in these pages a contemporary Light Hearted William twiddling a green mustache.

    • lizard19

      if the “how” includes self-policing, then we should be worried:

      Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) is releasing evidence it has gathered from federal poultry inspectors/whistleblowers about the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposal to fully implement a high-speed poultry production model known as the HAACP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) – designed by the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) that allows greater corporate “self-policing” of the poultry industry.

    • dbudge55

      I think Nader offers a false choice. For example, if the Fed and the Treasury had not offered a doctrine of too-big-to-fail since the late 1970s financial institutions would, in part, not engage in risky behavior that results in private gains/public losses. That’s not to say that certain other aspects of the finance sector don’t deserve strict regulation (although I’m not in the mood to debate what those are right now) but certain “self-policing” has all the incentive necessary to protect the public from wide-spread abuse.

      Now, to the extent that Nader makes a valid point about chicken producers, I don’t know the risks that he’s so quick to flail his arms about. Would better consumer tort processes make government inspectors less necessary. Are current government inspections effective? Excuse the pun but I hear too much Chicken Little and too little evidence.

      • lizard19

        Dave, we don’t have a government that’s capable of effective regulation, and one of the big underlying reasons is the revolving door that Obama campaigned on stopping.

        I don’t think it’s really possible to stop it at this point. that’s where the nihilism comes in. the private/public spheres are inundated by a reckless corporatism that subordinates everything to profit.

        the right hates government. the left hates corporations. I think both sides are half right. put it all together, and we’re getting close to using the F word, and I don’t mean fornication.

      • dbudge55

        Seems like the perfect argument for less government to me. But, you know, I kind of have an attitude.

        • Swede Johannson

          Less government? Tyler and I agree.

          QOTD: “Unfortunately, the realization that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolute central planning leads to epic catastrophes without fail, seems a long way away: most seem content with their lot in life, with lies that their welfare money is safe, even as the future is plundered with greater fury and aggression every passing year, until one day the ability to transfer wealth … from the future to the present is gone, manifesting in either a failed bond auction or hyperinflation. The timing or shape of the transition itself is irrelevant, what is certain is that America is now on collision course with certain collapse unless something changes. And one of the things that has to change for hope in the great American dream to be restored, is the role, composition and motivations of government, all of which have mutated to far beyond what anyone envisioned back in 1776. Because America is now saddled with a Government Out Of Control.” –Tyler Durden

  4. “Do what you can from where you stand” is an excellent motto. And the points you make regarding SCOTUS and lesser evils must, unfortunately, be made again and again. Until I began to question all conventional wisdom and talking points from left and right, I would repeat ideas without really doing my homework. The Supreme Court has always been a tool of the elite especially the Chamber of Commerce. The NY Times had a piece years ago called “Supreme Court, Inc” that pointed out how even the so-called “liberal” judges like Ginsberg were corporate friendly. The political parties use the threat of scary social legislation like gay marriage, gun control, and abortion to keep the dumb/tired voters focused on those issues so that the Court can quietly rule on laws that benefit companies over the people.

    I heard a Japanese American young man say on the radio that he was going to Japan to check on his relatives near Fukashima. His understanding is that things are so bad they may have to abandon Tokyo. He’s going there to see for himself. “Do what you can.”

    The powers that be are doubling down on pillaging the earth and the 99%. I cannot be a “good German” or embrace the peasant mentality of believing that the feudal lords we have now are the best we can do. It’s lonely, but it feels right to . Occupy gave me as sense that there was an alternative to feudalism. I await the Spring.

  5. lizard19

    thanks @ mahmet7 and feralcatoffreedom.

  6. Turner

    I looked at a lengthy discussion of Greenwald’s essay at lawyersgunsmoneyblog. Most comments were in agreement with Greenwald.

    There was one comment, however, by Bryan Parsia (April 4) that was apologetic of the Obama’s DOJ in a way that didn’t offend me. Of course, those offended by ANY defense of the Obama administration will attack it vigorously. Here ’tis

    Bijan Parsia says:
    April 4, 2012 at 11:30 am
    Joe wrote that it treating the DoJ as if it were a direct conduit for Obama’s will failed to take into account lots of important institutional factors and might well have been a “bottom up” rather than “top down” move.

    I don’t think this means that Obama doesn’t bear formal responsibility, or that Joe thinks that the brief itself wasn’t dreadful. The point was narrower and against the reading that this brief reveals Obama’s inner mind about civil liberties.

    A more positive way to put it is that you need a lot — a hell of a lot — of commitment from the president to shift this institutional bias and, probably, a wider change in the political climate. Look at the attempt to downsize and restructure the military even a little bit. Now imagine trying to unwind the war on drugs.

    Now, the fact of the brief isn’t valueless as data about the adminstration as a whole, but it’s one piece of evidence. Given that US presidents have a lot of incentives to be bad on civil liberties and few incentives to be good, plus the general momentum of the government is toward the bad on civil liberties, you have to do a fair bit of work to tease out the differential (positive or negative) of Obama.

    In this case, for example, we have Obama’s court picks (good) vs. the DoJ brief (bad). There’s no evidence that the Obama administration is unhappy with their SCOTUS picks or feel betrayed by them (e.g., on this case). Thus, things are rather complicated.

    (It’s not complicated whether the brief was bad. It’s clearly

  7. Swede Johannson

    Maybe people don’t care ’bout the strip search ruling.

    Just before the highly publicized hearing on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, ratings for the U.S. Supreme Court had fallen to the lowest level ever measured by Rasmussen Reports. Now, following the hearings, approval of the court is way up.

    Forty-one percent (41%) of Likely U.S. Voters now rate the Supreme Court’s performance as good or excellent, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. That’s up 13 points from 28% in mid-March and is the court’s highest ratings in two-and-a-half years….

    Probably been violated too many times waiting in line at the airport.

  8. mahmet7

    Swede, Old Boy,

    Your capacity to form any convictions may have been compromised. Marching in place is not exactly the same as standing for something — anything. Sorry to see you this way. Is there anything we can do to help you?

  9. Mark Anderlik

    Our political system is broken. While i believe we still need to engage it fully, we also need a place to stand outside of the system to develop our power. Nonviolent direct action is such a place. We have a long history of effective campaigns (labor, women, civil rights, people with disabilities, anti-war, anti-nuclear, gay and lesbian rights, Native Americans, etc.). Its time we develop nonviolent direct action to address our current situation. On Saturday April 14 there will be trainings to re-introduce nonviolent direct action to people such as yourself. This is the 99% Spring Training and a Missoula training will be held from 10 am to 4:30 pm at the Gallagher Business Building on the UM campus. In Butte it will be at the same time but at the Carpenter’s Union Hall across the street from the Butte-Silver Bow Courthouse uptown. And in Bozeman a training will be held on Sat. April 21 in the Bozeman Labor Temple on Mendenhall. Followup actions will occur on Tax Day, Tuesday April 17. You can reserve a spot by visiting the99spring.com.

      • JC

        Did you get a rise out of that article Swede?

        And since when did the crimes of individuals start rubbing off on some association that a media flak finds convenient?

        Do you think the same negative BS about the Republican party because many of its members have been convicted of possessing child pornography? Of its members fondling interns of the same sex? Of cheating on their wives while espousing family values? Of soliciting gay sex while attacking lgbt people in Congress?

        I’m glad that you think that the crimes of individuals with mental illness or addiction, or homelessness rub off on Occupy. Because it is the one public venue that isn’t afraid to show the dark underbelly of what corporatism in America has done to the downtrodden.

        And people like Breitbart (god have mercy on his soul–and have mercy on the souls of those catholic priests that molest young boys) and you do Occupy and the people of this country a great service by continuing to cast a light on the growing problem of what is becoming a caste of castaways in this country of growing neofeudalism.

        • Swede Johannson

          JC, don’t you find it a little disingenuous when the Tea Partiers are portrayed as “Tea Baggers” when the real perverts seem to flock to Zuccotti Park like protests?

          • JC

            “Tea-bagger” is a self-inflicted euphemism. And I wasn’t talking about tea baggers. I was talking about republican and catholic pervs.

            Do you think less of the republican party or the catholic church because of their flocks of pervs and hypocrits?

            • Swede Johannson

              Not so fast. Salon back in 09 investigates TB’s origins.

              **Truth be told, though, for the most part conservatives haven’t actually been using the words in such a way as to lend themselves to double entendre. With one or two exceptions, almost all of it has actually been coming from the left, which seems to have adopted the joke en masse during an earlier round of these protests back in February. After many hours of investigative journalism — the kind that makes you wish you’d just gone to law school instead — I think I’ve traced the meme’s birth back to February 27th, when blogs like Instaputz and Wonkette started using it independently of one another. They were inspired by a photo that the Washington Independent’s David Weigel shot of one protester carrying a sign that was, if you knew that second meaning, pretty funny: “Tea bag the liberal Dems before they tea bag you !!”**

              Still no evidence of the act taking place during TP’s rallies, along with violated alter boys.

              No, rapes and robberies and other acts of perversion seem to follow you guys.

  10. Aaron D.

    That’s what’s great about being a f*g. You just pull out your butt plug and the cops can see all the way to San Francisco.

    • lizard19

      I added an asterisk not to censor you, but because Kurt Vonnegut thought that symbol looked like an asshole. you look like one to, Aaron. if you persist, I’ll show you the virtual door.

  11. Sam Hampton

    How about some nihilistic comedy???

  1. 1 “The Stuff of which Dictatorships are Made” « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] lure you all in here with some trite history lessons. Lizard introduced us to the notion of political nihilism yesterday, which offers a nice segue into some material I’ve been thinking of writing about. […]

  2. 2 Chickens Coming Home to Roost, Scene 42b: SCOTUS Rules 5-4 to gut 4th Amendment with Obama’s Approval « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Just a quickie here today to tie together Jhwygirl’s recent uncovering of another of Missoula’s nanny state laws and the shrinking 4th Amendment with Lizard’s ongoing analysis of foreign policy American Imperialism and the democratic party, and Political Nihilism. […]

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