Daily Archives: August 17, 2015

Tossin’ manure with Dave

I guess I should congratulate VTGOP chair David Sunderland for possessing the all-encompassing optimism of the little boy who gets a pile of horseshit on Christmas morning and starts rooting around, saying “There’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!” Because here he is, in a story from VPR:

The head of the Vermont Republican Party says Donald Trump’s campaign to win the GOP presidential nomination is, on balance, a good thing for the political process here in Vermont and across the county [sic].

Well, it’s a good thing for the likes of me. The more turmoil and buffoonery in the Republican process, the better chance we have of electing a Democrat in 2016. But how can it be a good thing from Sunderland’s, presumably pro-Republican, point of view?

Sunderland… says Trump has brought out some valuable new ideas. Sunderland says the result has been a good discussion among most of the other GOP presidential candidates.

Hmm. Donald Trump. Valuable ideas.

Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.

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And now, a few words from the patron saint of vitriolic blogging

Before there was the Internet, before Facebook and WordPress and Twitter and WCAX.com’s comments section, there was Ambrose Bierce, the great American newspaperman, humorist, and Meisterslinger of political vitriol. Bierce is most famous for The Devil’s Dictionary, but his other writings are masterworks of overwrought prose. (If you are not easily offended, I suggest his joyfully over-the-top short story “Oil of Dog.”)

Bierce was, among many other things, no sufferer of fools. While writing my previous post about Gov. Shumlin’s hypocrisy toward public sector workers, I came across a Bierce essay called “The Game of Politics” that identifies, better than I ever could, the fundamental problem with the kind of politispeak practiced by Our Leader.

Every community is cursed with a number of “orators”–men regarded as “eloquent”–“silver tongued” men–fellows who to the common American knack at brandishing the tongue add an exceptional felicity of platitude, a captivating mastery of dog’s-eared sentiment, a copious and obedient vocabulary of eulogium, an iron insensibility to the ridiculous and an infinite affinity to fools. These afflicting Chrysostoms are always lying in wait for an “occasion.”

Ambrose Bierce was last seen alive more than a century ago, but to judge by that paragraph, I’d swear he had personally witnessed the political career of Peter Shumlin. By contrast, Bierce embraces the very kind of traditional American free-for-all politics that Shumlin casts as “hateful speech.”

Let us have the good old political currency of bloody noses and cracked crowns; let the yawp of the demagogue be heard in the land; let ears be pestered with the spargent cheers of the masses. Give us a whoop-up that shall rouse us like a rattling peal of thunder.

I don’t know exactly what “spargent” means, but I like the sentiment.

Shumlin identifies the real culprit: “Anonymous blog sites”

In response to the killing of social worker Lara Sobel and three other women, Governor Shumlin has issued a plea for change. But he’s not calling for tougher gun laws or even better enforcement of the ones we have*. He’s not calling to boost staffing to make the Department of Children and Families more effective. Heck, he’s not even calling for better security arrangements for state workers — although he has “ordered a full review of our security procedures,” so we’ll see where that goes.

*Reportedly, Jody Herring should not have been able to acquire the gun used in the murder spree.

The real problem is “hateful speech” delivered on “anonymous blog sites and unfiltered social media.”

I realize the Internets provide an easy target in times like these, especially for a politico capable of writing “anonymous blog sites” without a trace of irony. But even aside from that inelegant phrase, there’s a real “You kids get off my lawn” feel to the whole piece.

Yes, “anonymous blog sites” can be wretched hives of scum and villainy. But is this our real problem? Was Lara Sobel’s death triggered by “anonymous haters who use vicious language to incite public ill-will toward others,” as Shumlin seems to argue?

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