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December 16, 2003

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well the prose isn't as lifeless as his novels, so if nothing else, Iraq's put some stones in Orson. Other than that...feh.

I love Orson Scott Card's writing. Ender's Game was fabulous, and my wife raves about the Alvin Maker series.

I can't find much to argue about in this piece - of course, I'm not a Democrat. (Not a Republican either, for that matter.) I notice it was originally published in the Rhinoceros Times, which is a great weekly paper and free to boot. "All the Rumors Fit to Print"

John Hammer, the editor, a few years ago decided two weeks before the election to run for mayor of Greensboro as a write-in candidate. No fundraising. No platform to speak of. No campaign staff. Got about 25% of the vote, IIRC. His comments on the current crop of Democratic candidates are worth a look.

"The way we elect our presidents doesn’t make a lick of sense. I can’t even imagine trying to explain to an outsider why a bunch of people in gymnasiums in Iowa and the people of New Hampshire willing to get out and vote in the winter pick our presidential candidates."

"Edwards knows very little about government and politics. He cared so little for politics that he didn’t even vote in many elections before his own name was on the ballot."

"But Edwards has a chance to be our next president. I don’t happen to think that it is a very good chance, but he shouldn’t have any chance at all because he isn’t qualified. But as lacking in qualifications as Edwards may be, he is still far more qualified than Howard Dean. What in the world is Dean doing as the frontrunner? Dean was an accidental governor of a state so small that the lieutenant governor is a part-time employee."

"This man was governor of a state with a population far smaller than the nation’s major cities. It is a lily-white, relatively wealthy state with no cities of any size, and it doesn’t have any of the problems that most of the country has. Guilford County has two cities larger than any city in Vermont."

That would be Greensboro, NC and High Point, NC, to spare you the trip to the atlas.

As a Republican, I think everyone should read Pandagon's take on this, because there really isn't anything to add.

As the most influential blogger in America, I will rip off Pandagon's idea.

As a Republican, I am ashamed that my party is controlled by incompetent plutocrats who are putting New Yorkers in greater danger every day they are in power.

As a scientist and literary critic, I will admit to liking four of Card's books okay.

As the leader of the DNC, I don't know how we can expect to be taken seriously with such luminaries as Card and Michael Crichton on your side. Perhaps John Grisham can be persuaded to write about the dangerous extremism of Bush's judicial nominees, only he might actually be a real lawyer & who cares what an egghead like that would say.

As a Pulitzer Prize winner, I must say that the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Page surpasses itself in dishonesty every week, and they really start to ought reading their own news pages.

As the Queen of England, I really ought to go to bed; it's almost 6 am!

Er, what lesson in particular are we supposed to learn from this? Other than that the Brain Eater hasn't confined itself to Card's fiction, I mean.

Oops, Pandagon's post on this has been knocked down a bit. Here's the URL:
http://www.pandagon.net/mtarchives/000189.html

Isn't it sweet how the "Real Democrats" movement seems intent on killing all the real democrats? Well sweet or weird or tragic or stupid or just merely trendy...

It's not a lesson, Josh. It's a warning to the Democratic party - coming from a person from within the Democratic party.

Judging from responses that I've seen from this, the warning will be mocked, ignored, or dismissed out of hand. (Shrug) The Democrats haven't been my party for years, so it's no skin off my nose one way or the other.

Amusingly, Katherine, I actually was going to post a link to that site - but I remembered Gary's recent complaint and decided not to.

Moe: I'm not dismissing Card's article because I disagree with his point, I'm dismissing it because it could serve as a handy guide to logical and rhetorical fallacies. Maybe Card has a point; if he does, this article does a piss-poor job of making it.

And I'd be more convinced that this was a legitimate warning from inside the party if Card weren't so far outside the Democratic mainstream on other issues.

"And I'd be more convinced that this was a legitimate warning from inside the party if Card weren't so far outside the Democratic mainstream on other issues."

Such as? Serious question, with a stinger in the tail.

Moe:
1. Here are some selections from a past column of Card's.

On Watergate:
"When Democrats played nasty pranks on Richard Nixon -- making a campaign train pull out of the station while he was still speaking, for instance, or putting out fake documents that were supposedly from the Republican Party -- well, those were funny. But when Republicans played morally identical tricks, they were suddenly "dirty" and the perpetrators went to jail."

On Florida 2000:
"In other words, it is a matter of public record that the only people trying to steal an election in Florida were the Democrats -- and yet people who consider themselves honest and intelligent still fail to make the moral distinction between what the Democrats were openly doing and what Republicans were only charged with having done."

Those are from this article--
http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2003-06-16-1.html. If that's a Democrat, the word has no meaning. And I'm pretty sure the articles on the sidebar about "The Blood on Bill Clinton's Hands" and "Reasons I'd Write in My Dog's Name Before Voting for Gore" are also by Card, and those are from back in 2000.

Maybe he was a Democrat once. He says some ok things about Jimmy Carter. But right now he's as much a Democrat as I am the queen of England.

2. Gary's said his comments don't apply to bloggers who are at all prominent, politicians, newspaper columnists etc.--but citing FreeRepublic or Democratic Underground proves nothing. So go after Kos and Pandagon all you want.

Moe: You wanna play gotcha, play it with someone else. If you think I'm wrong, come out and say so.

"Moe: You wanna play gotcha, play it with someone else. If you think I'm wrong, come out and say so."

Josh, this is an open blog and everybody's welcome, but if you can't handle the notion that somebody would actually ask you to clarify your opinion while simultaneously noting that there's a pitfall for you to avoid... then you may not enjoy the mindset here. Or at least my particular threads.

"Maybe he was a Democrat once. He says some ok things about Jimmy Carter. But right now he's as much a Democrat as I am the queen of England."

And this doesn't... bother you, at all?*

Moe

*Actually, I could see how not in the specific case: Andrew Lazarus over at Balloon Juice has unearthed an old Salon interview that demonstrates that Card is at the least not what you or I would call progressive (no sneer quotes) when it comes to gay issues (well, if you read and believe the interviewer, he's a rampaging homophobe, but the poor woman had just discovered the feet of clay of her idol, so she wasn't exactly detached or anything).** But the Democrats have been bleeding moderates and centrists for half a decade now - and it's gotten worse in the last few years. When were you folks planning to stop?

**See, Josh, this is what happens when you mistrust your opponents: I was going to give that freebie to you.

Should note that Lazarus is a commenter and the Salon interview can be found here.

Quite possibly, Moe. I don't have a problem with being asked to clarify my opinion; if I never stated things that needed clarifying, I'd never say anything worthwhile. But I'm sick and tired of "discussions" which are actually just opportunities for point-scoring. If I wanted that, I'd be off reading the talk.politics groups.

If I've misread you, let me know.

he also things we're subverting democracy to pack the courts with baby killers, FYI.

Here's why I think we're losing: because we haven't fought back; we've allowed ourselves to be bullied. The press will say "on the one hand, on the other hand," no matter what, no matter how dishonest or honest, or extreme and moderate you are. And the Republican party is much better at being extreme and dishonest (though both parties do their share).

Sorry, that is my honest opinion; and you asked.

To put it another way, you can never win if you let your opponents define the debate, and so we have done. There have been plenty of other mistakes, but that's the biggest.

"But I'm sick and tired of "discussions" which are actually just opportunities for point-scoring."

OK, fair enough; I'll try to keep that in mind when I'm responding to your comments. OTOH, this isn't a All Libruls R Stoopd kind of place*, so I'm not here to metaphorically rip off your head and drink your spinal fluid, either. Pax?

Moe

*As a look at our extremely confused blogroll would attest. I've seen at least one bemused comment to that effect on another site. :)

"Sorry, that is my honest opinion; and you asked."

So I did. You'll understand that I don't agree with your general assessment of the Republican party, of course - although I'll admit that we have no real excuse when it comes to gay rights. There's a couple other things, too. But I shall disagree courteously.

Pax, Moe. Besides, Doug Muir says you're an old friend, so you can't be all bad.

Back to the subject of your post, though... Card's been off the reservation for years. Entering " 'Orson Scott Card' politics" into Google Groups will net you threads going back almost 15 years demonstrating that he's not what you'd call a moderate or a centrist. It's not just homosexuality either (although I find it kind of amusing that the Salon interview was "unearthed", since that was the first thing that came to mind when I made my comment). Consider his quote about The Satanic Verses: "Satanic Verses is a despicable book that could not have been written by a person who wished to behave decently and responsibly."

SOT: I REALLY don't want a two-party system in my country. It appears to drive people loopier than usual when it comes to politics.

the Democrats have been bleeding moderates and centrists for half a decade now

This may well be true. OTOH, the question is Card; and I don't think I'd call Card either moderate or centrist. Putting aside his particular issues with gays, he's a cultural conservative who thinks that America is divinely mandated to be the light of the world. That doesn't mean he can't be a Democrat, of course. It does mean that he's not a moderate or a centrist IMO.

Card also says, in so many words, that "if Mr. Bush does not win, we will certainly lose the war." That doesn't sound moderate or centrist to me. (It doesn't sound much like a Democrat either, but that's something else.)


Doug M.

For an interesting contrast, there's another SF writer who's a self-identified Democrat, and who has strong opinions on the present course of the party.

It's Steve Stirling, author of the "Draka" books and the "Island in the Sea of Time" series. And he's been posting vigorously on this subject on Usenet (rec.arts.sf.written) over the last few weeks.

Steve is... I guess you'd call him a conservative libertarian Democrat. Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-death-penalty, gun, and war; atheist materialist, unilateralist, deficit hawk. (It's actually a more common profile than you might think... story for another time.)

A few of his recent comments might be illuminating. Here's Steve on Dean:

-- you're confusing the _primaries_ with the _general election_.

Dean is quite popular with a large segment of what are usually called "Democratic party activists". The problem is that whoever is popular with this group is highly likely to be _un_popular with the electorate at large.

Dean's the man for about 20-25% of the general electorate.

We Democrats are repeating the mistakes of the 80's; we're forgetting that the point of nominating someone is to _win_.

McGovern... Mondale... Dukakis...

On the party's long-term prospects:

We're also developing a reputation as the secularist party. In the most religious large nation on earth! And one which is getting steadily _more_ religious, I might add.

I'm an atheist myself, but this is an abomination of bad political tactics. First we let the other side wrap themselves in the flag; then they get to hold up a shining cross while they do it.

Talk about suicidal tendencies.

Steve is actively working for Clark, BTW.

You may or may not agree with the points he raises. But this is what internal criticism from a Democrat looks like. This is a guy who is working for a candidate, contributing to that candidate, and who will very probably vote Democrat come November.

Card hasn't, and won't; he didn't vote for Clinton or Gore, and it's pretty clear that he's not going to vote for whoever in November.

So, I'm not really sure why you're taking him seriously as a Democrat. The points he raises may or may not be valid, but insofar as he's making them as a Democrat, I'm not too impressed.

Katherine's point is well taken; if Orson Scott Card is a Democrat, I'm heir apparent to the throne of Romania.

Doug M.

"And I'd be more convinced that this was a legitimate warning from inside the party if Card weren't so far outside the Democratic mainstream on other issues."

Such as? Serious question, with a stinger in the tail.

Such as voting for the Democratic presidential candidate in any of the last three Presidential elections.


Doug M.


A few moments of noodling produced these quotes from Card's website:

"If America had a free press, of course, Clinton would have been politically destroyed after the bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan, months before he started killing people wholesale in Serbia. But we don't have a free press -- the American press is utterly controlled by, and mostly consists of, the ruling elite that gave us Bill Clinton in the first place."

"Gore thinks he's smart, when in fact he is so functionally dim that it hurts. He has given himself over to manipulation by the American intellectual elite, a group that has institutionalized political correctness, without question and without evidence.

"After eight years of meticulous, nit-picking lies from one "president," now we get one who just sprays 'em out like spit? No thanks.

"Gore apparently believes that laws are only binding when there's someone to punish you if you're caught. So his oath of office is meaningless to him.

"There's no "him" inside him. Whatever it did to him, growing up as his father's son, he is trying endlessly to invent a self that will be good enough. But he doesn't believe in any of them. That's why he's so wooden and stiff. He uses his body like a puppet as he flails around, trying one script after another. I hope someday he finds out who he really is -- and being out of office for a while may be his only chance."

"He has learned too much from Clinton. He knows how to "triangulate" his opponents, and he knows the press will go along with the scam. No one who stuck with Clinton after he betrayed his oath of office deserves the trust of anyone in America ever again."

"Any one of these reasons would be enough to tempt me to vote for a Republican, especially when the Republican is a decent guy who is in the process of transforming his party into something that an ornery American can live with."

I gotta say, doesn't sound like much of a Democrat to me.


Doug M.

"This may well be true. OTOH, the question is Card; and I don't think I'd call Card either moderate or centrist."

I considered that point conceded, but I'll do so again. :)

Moe

PS: Informative bit on Stirling/Card, too.

Great thread, Moe. Definitely stirred folks up. I might add, that is what the Rhino Times has been doing for years. It IS a finger-in-the-eye paper. And it largely focuses on the local, which might just be where Card redeems his Democratic credentials. (I don't know this, but it is a logical step based on the North Carolina tendency in recent years to go Republican at the national level and Democrat at the state and below. - Of course, the Republicans have been making some inroads there, too, but it is more of a struggle.)

Maybe that is the question for Democrats. Why are they losing/have they lost traditional power bases at the national level? What is the disconnect between national and state/local party appeal?

Steve is... I guess you'd call him a conservative libertarian Democrat. Pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-death-penalty, gun, and war; atheist materialist, unilateralist, deficit hawk.

He's libertarian with respect to his own rights. With respect to others'...

Personally, I rather liked Clinton; he was an exquisitely effective political tactician. The man has, however, no self-discipline at all in personal matters.

As to Card, his problem is that he's a nationalistic cultural conservative who's an economic liberal-in-the-20th-century-sense.

That leaves him with no political home in the US. Mormon history is also quite relevant. In their origins, the Mormons were among other things a 'perfectionist' group of the type common in the 1830's, and as such were rather communitarian and anticapitalist. They certainly acted that way in Utah for their first century!

Amusingly, I share Mr. Stirling's judgment of Clinton's capabilities and flaws, although I suspect that he likes the guy more than I do.

OTOH, I'm finding that commenting on his comment on Card is being hampered by the fact that: a, I suspect that he's the person on the thread most likely to have actually have interacted with the man on even a semi-regular basis; and b, I'm having an acute attack of geeky fanboy glee right now. Yeah, I know, it's never a pretty sight when that happens. Sorry. :)

I'm an atheist myself, but this is an abomination of bad political tactics. First we let the other side wrap themselves in the flag; then they get to hold up a shining cross while they do it.

I don’t think that it is so much that Republicans wrap themselves up in G-d and the flag but rather that Democrats tend to project an attitude of apathy if not outright hostility towards both.

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