"Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"


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"Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby gh » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:01 pm

how the internet has changed the world: this blog written by an Englishman was sent to me by a Swede living in Canada!

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/10 ... ignorance/
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Marlow » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:20 pm

gh wrote:http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/10/28/the-triumph-of-ignorance/


Thinly veiled endorsement of Obama, Harvard Law Review President (i.e., intellectual).

Brits (Euros in general) love to tell us how insular and ignorant we are, but it has been my extensive experience overseas that they know as little about us as we them. I love Brits, which is why I toured their fair isle last summer, but I sure knew a whole helluva lot more about them than they knew about us!
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby jazzcyclist » Sun Nov 02, 2008 1:46 pm

Marlow wrote:Brits (Euros in general) love to tell us how insular and ignorant we are, but it has been my extensive experience overseas that they know as little about us as we them. I love Brits, which is why I toured their fair isle last summer, but I sure knew a whole helluva lot more about them than they knew about us!

You and most of the posters on this board may know more about Europeans than the average European knows about us, but I'll bet the average American is even more ignorant about Europe, than the average European is about America. However, I do feel that we get a bum rap about the low percentage of Americans who hold passports and are multilingual. If all of our states became sovereign countries with their own language, we'd all hold passports and be multilingual as well. Furthermore, since the European Union has made passports unnecessary for travel in Western Europe, I'm guessing the percentage of European passport ownership will drop in the future.

By the way, this was posted on another thread, but Bill Maher says basically the same thing in this video.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby rasb » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:00 pm

Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/10/28/the-triumph-of-ignorance/


Thinly veiled endorsement of Obama, Harvard Law Review President (i.e., intellectual).

Brits (Euros in general) love to tell us how insular and ignorant we are, but it has been my extensive experience overseas that they know as little about us as we them. I love Brits, which is why I toured their fair isle last summer, but I sure knew a whole helluva lot more about them than they knew about us!


Marlow, that is a surprisingly defensive comment from you. That is one writer's opinion only, but if you can't see the elements of truth therein, I think you're missing something. Rather than see it as a "thinly veiled endorsement of Obama", perhaps consider it is an open endorsement of intelligent decision making in the political process.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Marlow » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:06 pm

rasb wrote:consider it is an open endorsement of intelligent decision making in the political process.


Indeed, good point (Maher's also). It's hard for me not to get defensive, when virtually every conversation I engaged in with intelligent Brits ended up being an excoriation of US politics! Glass houses and all that.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Daisy » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:09 pm

Marlow wrote:
rasb wrote:consider it is an open endorsement of intelligent decision making in the political process.


Indeed, good point (Maher's also). It's hard for me not to get defensive, when virtually every conversation I engaged in with intelligent Brits ended up being an excoriation of US politics! Glass houses and all that.


Last time we had this conversation you were lambasting the royal family. I assume you know they are irrelevant with respect to politics in the UK? :wink:
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Flumpy » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:12 pm

jazzcyclist wrote: Furthermore, since the European Union has made passports unnecessary for travel in Western Europe, I'm guessing the percentage of European passport ownership will drop in the future.


No it hasn't??? :?

I agree that the whole Americans are stupid and don't have passports thing is hugely overplayed although unfortunately there is a certain truth to it.

For example George Monbiot is absolutely correct in his point about the demonisation of intellect. There is no way that people as ill informed as Sarah Palin or George Bush could get anywhere near to elected office in the UK. Intelligence is seen as an asset here whereas the opposite seems to be the case in America. The one exception is of course Boris Johnson whose blithering idiot schtick disguises that fact that he's actually really rather clever but seems to enjoy the attention acting like a dimwit brings. I don't think Sarah Palin's lack of smarts is and act.

As for being insular a few years ago i drove across America from L.A. to New York going through all of the southern states - New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee etc - I could not believe the amount of people who when we explained what we were doing looked at us in complete bewilderment and asked "Why?". They were astonished to meet people from Britain who were interested in seeing America. We met one ma n in his 50's lived about 20 miles outside of Dallas but had never been. In fact he's never been out of the state???

It's not that Americans are stupid but a good deal of them can be deeply incurious about the world aroud them and therefore suspicious of anyone who does have an interest in the outside world. It is somehow portrayed as being 'elitist' and even 'Un American'. Unfortunately this kind of thinking goes all the way up to the very top :(

..............................................................................................................................................

Edited to include the words "is hugely overplayed" in the first sentence thus correcting my original sentence which said something completely different :oops:
Last edited by Flumpy on Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Marlow » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:18 pm

Daisy wrote:Last time we had this conversation you were lambasting the royal family. I assume you know they are irrelevant with respect to politics in the UK? :wink:

Correction - I did NOT lambaste the royal family - I said I could, but of course I'm far too classy to do that! :roll: Their irrelevance to politics is irrelevant. They are an extremely nonsensical influence on Brit culture (in the same way we fawn over Hollywood stars, who at least got to be stars for some discernable reason, other than their genetics - no, I take that back; the Paris Hiltons of the world are only famous because of their daddies (and mummies) too. :twisted: )

How troll of me! 8-)

Flumpy wrote:It's not that Americans are stupid but a good deal of them can be deeply incurious about the world aroud them and therefore suspicious of anyone who does have an interest in the outside world. It is somehow portrayed as being 'elitist' and even 'Un American'. Unfortunately this kind of thinking goes all the way up to the very top :(


Another familiar Brit opinion. Our country is an extremely large, diverse and complex land. We don't have time to ponder the way of life of youse guys! :wink:
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Daisy » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:20 pm

Marlow wrote:How troll of me! 8-)

As they say, like shooting fish in a barrel. :wink:
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Postby BruceFlorman » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:39 pm

I admit, it’s a bit difficult to hear such criticism from a foreigner, even when I largely agree with it. :D It’s an effect that always comes to mind whenever I hear any American publicly criticizing some aspect of another nation’s society. Right or wrong, it’s unlikely to go over very well in that society.

Nevertheless, rejecting pretense isn’t the same thing as embracing ignorance, but it’s disturbing to see how many people fail to recognize the distinction. And while I’m entirely sure that there are lots of people in other countries who are similarly challenged, not all societies have the “populist” history that we have.
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Postby jazzcyclist » Sun Nov 02, 2008 2:53 pm

I don't think that Palin or Bush could ever become Head of State if we had a parliamentary system like the UK does. Not only does our system reward demagoguery, but it places a higher premium on a politician's stage presence and charisma than their knowledge and intellect. We're just lucky the Obama has both of these qualities in abundance.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby JRM » Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:50 pm

Daisy wrote:
Marlow wrote:How troll of me! 8-)

As they say, like shooting fish in a barrel. :wink:


And as they say in Alaska: like shooting wolves from a helicopter.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby cullman » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:04 pm

Marlow wrote:
gh wrote:http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/10/28/the-triumph-of-ignorance/


Thinly veiled endorsement of Obama, Harvard Law Review President (i.e., intellectual).

Brits (Euros in general) love to tell us how insular and ignorant we are, but it has been my extensive experience overseas that they know as little about us as we them. I love Brits, which is why I toured their fair isle last summer, but I sure knew a whole helluva lot more about them than they knew about us!

Hey...don't forget us Canadians...it's in our DNA to have our hackles raised by Americans and most subjects American...especially politics and reality TV. Wassup with youse guys anyway... you've turned a political race into the Hatfield v McCoy fued!!

Anyhow, back to my igloo.

cman
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby gh » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:21 pm

Flumpy wrote:....
As for being insular a few years ago i drove across America from L.A. to New York going through all of the southern states - New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee etc - I could not believe the amount of people who when we explained what we were doing looked at us in complete bewilderment and asked "Why?". They were astonished to meet people from Britain who were interested in seeing America. We met one ma n in his 50's lived about 20 miles outside of Dallas but had never been. In fact he's never been out of the state???....


Beware of the broad brush; as i noted in a thread a couple of months back, while touring St. Paul's Cathedral in November of '06 we talked to a delightful docent who was a guy in his late '70s. He asked us what else we had seen, and when we said we had just come from London Bridge his response was, "You know, I've never been there; will have to some day."
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Postby Marlow » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:36 pm

And, as I noted elsewhere, my wife and I saw more of Britain in 2 weeks, from Dover to John O'Groats (top of Scotland) to Wales than the vast majority of natives we spoke to.
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Postby SQUACKEE » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:37 pm

I say we shoot nuks from a helicopter at England! Who's with me?We kicked their ass 240 years ago but it appears they need another ass wiping. Oh we are so smart, we are English. Well lets see how smart you are with a hydrogen bomb up your arse.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Vince » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:07 pm

Flumpy wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote: Furthermore, since the European Union has made passports unnecessary for travel in Western Europe, I'm guessing the percentage of European passport ownership will drop in the future.


No it hasn't??? :?

I agree that the whole Americans are stupid and don't have passports thing is hugely overplayed although unfortunately there is a certain truth to it.

For example George Monbiot is absolutely correct in his point about the demonisation of intellect. There is no way that people as ill informed as Sarah Palin or George Bush could get anywhere near to elected office in the UK. Intelligence is seen as an asset here whereas the opposite seems to be the case in America. The one exception is of course Boris Johnson whose blithering idiot schtick disguises that fact that he's actually really rather clever but seems to enjoy the attention acting like a dimwit brings. I don't think Sarah Palin's lack of smarts is and act.

As for being insular a few years ago i drove across America from L.A. to New York going through all of the southern states - New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee etc - I could not believe the amount of people who when we explained what we were doing looked at us in complete bewilderment and asked "Why?". They were astonished to meet people from Britain who were interested in seeing America. We met one ma n in his 50's lived about 20 miles outside of Dallas but had never been. In fact he's never been out of the state???

It's not that Americans are stupid but a good deal of them can be deeply incurious about the world aroud them and therefore suspicious of anyone who does have an interest in the outside world. It is somehow portrayed as being 'elitist' and even 'Un American'. Unfortunately this kind of thinking goes all the way up to the very top :(

..............................................................................................................................................

Edited to include the words "is hugely overplayed" in the first sentence thus correcting my original sentence which said something completely different :oops:



Ah yes , the very intelligent Tony Blair...or as we say , the lap dog of George Bush.
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Postby mojo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:34 pm

I thought we Canucks had anti American rhetoric down to a fine art until i spent time in Britain and reading British forums! I imagine the French have them beat (though no Brit would admit to that :wink: ).

I can be very anti American myself (it is in the water up here) but I find myself getting quite defensive when I hear Brits go on about how stupid Americans are etc. They may very well mean Canadians too but they are too polite when I am around. :P

I had a friend who had to pull put her Canadian passport to get the Brits at a party to stop jumping all over her for being American. She found it very disturbing and sad and it made her think about some of her own attitudes towards Americans.

I will be honest and say my anti American feelings really grew under the Bush administration's watch.
Elect Obama and all is forgiven. :D

Flump and mump, I have very fond memories of your "road trip across a America stories!" :lol: :lol:
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Postby Vince » Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:51 pm

mojo wrote:I thought we Canucks had anti American rhetoric down to a fine art until i spent time in Britain and reading British forums! I imagine the French have them beat (though no Brit would admit to that :wink: ).

I can be very anti American myself (it is in the water up here) but I find myself getting quite defensive when I hear Brits go on about how stupid Americans are etc. They may very well mean Canadians too but they are too polite when I am around. :P

I had a friend who had to pull put her Canadian passport to get the Brits at a party to stop jumping all over her for being American. She found it very disturbing and sad and it made her think about some of her own attitudes towards Americans.

I will be honest and say my anti American feelings really grew under the Bush administration's watch.
Elect Obama and all is forgiven. :D

Flump and mump, I have very fond memories of your "road trip across a America stories!" :lol: :lol:


I have traversed Canada from BC to the Maritimes, mostly by train, and I never heard anything negative in person from a Canadian about the States. That duty seems to fall to the local newspapers, which I read along the way. There seemed to be obligatory stories about something the U.S. was forcing on Canada, or stealing from Canadians, or polluting etc. etc.

Most in person criticism by Canadians seemed directed at the French Canadians, who coincidently live in some of my favorite places in Canada.
Last edited by Vince on Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Flumpy » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:06 pm

gh wrote:
Beware of the broad brush; as i noted in a thread a couple of months back, while touring St. Paul's Cathedral in November of '06 we talked to a delightful docent who was a guy in his late '70s. He asked us what else we had seen, and when we said we had just come from London Bridge his response was, "You know, I've never been there; will have to some day."


I was very careful not to write with a 'broad brush'. My opening sentence was........

"I agree that the whole Americans are stupid and don't have passports thing is hugely overplayed"

I don't for one moment think that most Americans are like this but there is definitely a streak of insularity and defensiveness about their own place in the world in the American psyche that puzzles us outsiders.

That's not to say the same can't be said for some British people. I see many similarities in the way that way Northerners can sometimes react to Southerners in the UK.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Flumpy » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:12 pm

Vince wrote:Ah yes , the very intelligent Tony Blair...or as we say , the lap dog of George Bush.


That's exactly the sort of defensiveness I'm talking about.

I'm no fan of the man at all in fact I think he's a complete tit who has managed to squander the huge chance he was given to change British society for the better, forever, by involving us in that idiotic war, but to infer that he's not extremely intelligent is ridiculous.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Vince » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:19 pm

Flumpy wrote:
Vince wrote:Ah yes , the very intelligent Tony Blair...or as we say , the lap dog of George Bush.


That's exactly the sort of defensiveness I'm talking about.

I'm no fan of the man at all in fact I think he's a complete tit who has managed to squander the huge chance he was given to change British society for the better, forever, by involving us in that idiotic war, but to infer that he's not extremely intelligent is ridiculous.


Who's being defensive here??
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Postby gm » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:22 pm

After spending much of my young life in Britain, I laugh now when I hear residents of that lovely isle demean Americans.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby mojo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:26 pm

Flumpy wrote:
Vince wrote:Ah yes , the very intelligent Tony Blair...or as we say , the lap dog of George Bush.


That's exactly the sort of defensiveness I'm talking about.

I'm no fan of the man at all in fact I think he's a complete tit who has managed to squander the huge chance he was given to change British society for the better, forever, by involving us in that idiotic war, but to infer that he's not extremely intelligent is ridiculous.


I don't think Vince was being defensive-just pointing out that a British leader cozied up to Bush-so brits have had their share of twits in leadership.

Canada has more than its share.

I am glad you didn't hear any anti American talk Vince. Trust me- it does exist- maybe you had an accent that kept people quiet?

Canadians are also very polite (for the most part and away from an icy surface).
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Vince » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:37 pm

mojo wrote:
Flumpy wrote:
Vince wrote:Ah yes , the very intelligent Tony Blair...or as we say , the lap dog of George Bush.


That's exactly the sort of defensiveness I'm talking about.

I'm no fan of the man at all in fact I think he's a complete tit who has managed to squander the huge chance he was given to change British society for the better, forever, by involving us in that idiotic war, but to infer that he's not extremely intelligent is ridiculous.


I don't think Vince was being defensive-just pointing out that a British leader cozied up to Bush-so brits have had their share of twits in leadership.

Canada has more than its share.

I am glad you didn't hear any anti American talk Vince. Trust me- it does exist- maybe you had an accent that kept people quiet?

Canadians are also very polite (for the most part and away from an icy surface).


Ah yes, Canada's second best export is modern Hockey, behind of course Shania Twain.

You are right about our accents. Some thought my wife's Californian accent was "adorable".
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby mojo » Sun Nov 02, 2008 6:44 pm

Vince wrote:[
You are right about our accents. Some thought my wife's Californian accent was "adorable".


I moved up here from CA when I was 10. I was teased by kids for months about my "adorable' accent. :x

Then I started whipping their butts on the track and that put an end to that. 8-)
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Vince » Sun Nov 02, 2008 7:16 pm

mojo wrote:
Vince wrote:[
You are right about our accents. Some thought my wife's Californian accent was "adorable".


I moved up here from CA when I was 10. I was teased by kids for months about my "adorable' accent. :x

Then I started whipping their butts on the track and that put an end to that. 8-)


Hey now, then criticizing us is like criticizing yourself! You Canadians are very polite!!!!....just not very good tippers :?
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Postby kuha » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:15 pm

Not sure if this thread is the proper place for this...

Have just returned from a couple lenghty flights, and, en-route, read Bryan Caplan's book "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" (Princeton, 2007). It is, by no means, the final word on the subject or without some contentious points. However, it is quite interesting--and a reminder, in part, that it's a miracle our nutty system produces ANY truly good leaders or policies. The author is an economist (by no means a "liberal" one, from what I can gather), and largely views US voter behavior through the lens of economic reasoning and logic. It's hard to finish this and still have great respect for what we euphemistically call "low-information" voters, or, on the other hand, to have any patience at all with a populist-oriented dissing of "elites."
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Postby lonewolf » Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:55 pm

Speaking of accents.
I spent a tour in Calgary with my family when my German born, Oklahoma reared, eldest daughter was in Junior High. She immediately developed the most honeyed, southern accent you can imagine. KIds gathered round to hear her talk. I am not aware of any negative reaction to her speech. In fact, it was probably an asset to peer integration at that age
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Postby paulthefan » Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:02 pm

why is it that european politicians are judged as so superior to american ones?.. how does knowing french wines lead to better governance, do the europeans have less corruption, lower taxes, better services?.. do the europeans have our demographics?... I suspect that one would be better governed by a random pick of americans from the white pages, than by the leading european cleptocracy.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby EPelle » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:51 am

jazzcyclist wrote:... Furthermore, since the European Union has made passports unnecessary for travel in Western Europe, I'm guessing the percentage of European passport ownership will drop in the future. ...

Passports still required at every single airport in EU. There:s an EU/EES/Schengen queue, and there:s the other one. Passport still required for on-the-spot ID if requested by polis. Furthermore, get ready to show a passport when travelling over Öresundsbron from Denmark to Sverige at the Swedish border in Malmö, depending on what day/time it is.
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Re: "Why Morons Succeed In U.S. Politics"

Postby Powell » Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:27 am

EPelle wrote:Passports still required at every single airport in EU. There:s an EU/EES/Schengen queue, and there:s the other one. Passport still required for on-the-spot ID if requested by polis. Furthermore, get ready to show a passport when travelling over Öresundsbron from Denmark to Sverige at the Swedish border in Malmö, depending on what day/time it is.


Not true. You need an ID, but it doesn't have to be a passport.
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Postby EPelle » Tue Nov 04, 2008 2:02 am

Naturally. Certain countries have ID:s, others don:t. Not meant to be a catch-all, untrue statement. Passport was used in the context of discussing passports; one is not arrested if they carry with them a valid state-approved ID.
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