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Monday, November 24, 2008

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I really listen when Chomsky talks..as a person with not much to fall back on, and, after reading some of the comments bloggers posted about Chris Hedges article on povery--I'm scared.

It always seems very cowardly to me, to attaack the poor...I worked many years, got hit by a drunk , rich guy, lost my COBRA, had to go on medicaid (you cant own anything!), and, here I am! This was not the "plan"! I did not get a MS to sit here--but, if I make even a penny--they take my Medicaid for a month..

Obama never mentions anyone that lives in my income group. Yet, people seem to think he is some kind of Robin Hood.

I have family out of state--but they arent rich. My sister has breast cancer and teaches piano--she teaches Ted Kennedy's stepdaughter! But, she still has to pay $12,500 for insurance,. We had to spend my dad's trust to pay $80,000 for her chemo. My older sis is a prof...but, I am so tired of being humiliated about it--I guess, I would rather die than ask for help again.

We cant sell my parents' house--no one can get a loan. It is in the country, but, it dosen t have a wine cellar, a hot tub, etc. It has a pond and pear trees, but I guess that is not wanted..it is "big" (not by today's McMansion standards), and, i cant afford to live there...

Sorry--I just got chewed out for "not getting a job" at truth dig--pompous assholes...

But, poverty doesnt market very well, does it?

For a supposed admirer of social movements, Chomsky doesn't display much understanding of the way that social movements use "emotional appeals" to move people to act "irrationally." Marching across the Edmund Pettus bridge into the waiting arms of the Alabama State Police wasn't exactly rational, was it?

Anyone who's ever tried to get ten people to a political meeting should have at least some grudging admiration for what Obama has done. But not Chomsky. He speaks dismissively of Obama's 53% of the popular vote (should have been a "landslide", but it wasn't) when the two candidates whose views most closely resemble Chomsky's got a collective 1% of the vote. And Obama got that 53% by mobilizing a generation of young people that many had written off as being apathetic and too plugged into their Ipods to do much of anything. Maybe we can learn something from how he did that?

This is a huge country with an atomized, distracted population. Any social movement worth the name had better learn to use some of the techniques of mass marketing if it wants to be effective. Chomsky's dismissive attitude just leaves us on the sidelines, disdaining the tools we need to build a genuine popular movement (which the Obama campaign definitely wasn't).

Shorter Caruso/Chomsky versus SteveB:

* That which "sells" politically will not solve our country's problems.
* That which will solve our country's problems will not "sell" politically.

Pardon me for being too lazy to look up the original quote -- I don't, however, believe that Al Gore invented that one when he used it to describe Global Warming a few years back.

SteveB: I wonder if you read the entire transcript, because I'd say your characterization is far off the mark (for just one thing, Chomsky mentioned Obama's organizing achievements throughout the talk). Much of what you may have seen as dismissiveness was him speaking from the viewpoint of the press and the powerful, who feel that Obama's "army" should now stand on the sidelines and salute their general rather than actively participating.

Obama's 52.8% was a surprisingly poor showing, given that 1) he had nearly a half billion dollars at his disposal, 2) he was given constant access to the public through massive amounts of mainstream media advertising (free and paid), and 3) he was running after 8 years of unmitigated disaster of Republican rule. And above all, Obama started the race with basically 50% of the vote already in his pocket. So for all his tremendous advantages, he only managed to swing another 2.8%—approximately what Ralph Nader earned against every possible handicap in 2000.

Personally I don't think "mobilizing a generation of young people that many had written off as being apathetic and too plugged into their Ipods to do much of anything" had much to do with Obama's victory, and beyond the obvious "use the Internet" I also don't think there are many worthwhile lessons to be taken from it by a genuine social movement. If you feel that emulating the techniques of mass marketing is the path to success, I wish you luck.

"the goal of advertising is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices"

If I can't get that on a T-shirt, maybe I'll get the tattoo.

John:
You're right, I didn't read the transcript, I listened to it on Democracy Now!, but when I did go back and read the transcript to find where "Chomsky mentioned Obama's organizing achievements throughout the talk," I only found this:

I mean, Obama did organize a large number of people and many enthusiastic people in what’s called in the press, Obama’s Army.

Was there something else you saw that I missed?

And speaking of missing things, here's what I think was missing from Chomsky's analysis:

It's now a truism among leftists in this country to point to our lack of diversity as a major impediment to our success. And I don't just mean a lack of racial diversity, I also mean a lack of age diversity (I don't know what the scene is like in San Francisco, but it's often the case here in Madison that I find I'm the youngest person in the room at "left" events, and I'm 47.) We talk about this lack of diversity all the time, and wonder how we can address it, and mostly we fail to address it. Then along comes the Obama campaign, and they draw in the sort of young, racially diverse population that the peace movement or the Green Party would kill to have. It seems to me that this accomplishment requires something more than "Obama did organize a large number of people and many enthusiastic people."

On the issue of "mass marketing", you're right that Obama had about a half-billion dollars to spend, and yes, much of this came from Wall Street, but lots of it also came in small donations. As someone who does fundraising for a statewide peace organization and who knows how hard it is to get someone to write even a $25 check, I can't scoff at that. What slick, mass-marketing techniques did Obama use to bring in those small donations? Maybe you and Professor Chomsky are too principled to ask that question, but I'm not.

In short, the organized left in this country is too old, too white, and too poor. We've got serious problems, and we should be looking anywhere we can for answers to those problems. From the position we're in, to look at the Obama campaign and say, "Yes, he did organize lots of people, I suppose, but he didn't even win a landslide!" seems petty, and what's worse, it prevents us from learning what we need to learn.


I'm not sure what there is to learn. I mean that literally. There's probably something to be learned, but I'm not sure what.

But anyway, IMO, if Obama had exactly the same charisma and had the same team with the same organizing ability and had run as a more telegenic version of Dennis Kucinich, he'd have been either ignored or crucified by the serious people, everyone would say he had no chance to win, and he wouldn't have gotten the nomination. He'd have done better than Ralph in 2000--maybe he'd have done as well as Jesse Jackson in 1988, terrifying the mainstream Democrats. In a way I find the thought depressing--if we ever do have a charismatic lefty with Obama's political gifts, who's to say how much of the support he/she gets will be because of the positions the candidate espouses and how much is just from all the cool bullshit.

I think when Obama trashes the Palestinians, sides with Israeli war crimes, backed away from his FISA promise, and chose a creep like Joe Biden as his running mate, while simultaneously convincing millions of people that he was far more progressive than he actually is, he was showing a mastery of mainstream politics. I'm not sure how much of that would transfer over to a Kucinich/Obama hybrid. There's nothing wrong about have a well-organized smart campaign that stays cool under pressure and raises lots of money, not every dime from Wall Street, so yeah, maybe there are some things to learn from that.

Though Obama's success in raising money from small donors was apparently greatly exaggerated--

NYT

Then along comes the Obama campaign, and they draw in the sort of young, racially diverse population that the peace movement or the Green Party would kill to have.

There is a hunger for change. Is it rational to believe that Obama is the one to satisfy that hunger?

There is a hunger for change. Is it rational to believe that Obama is the one to satisfy that hunger?

Not at all. I didn't vote for Obama, and I largely agree with Chomsky's description of him as being solidly within the capitalist-imperialist main stream, but I nevertheless think there's something tremendously hopeful and instructive in his campaign. And, like Don Johnson, I'm not sure what exactly I can learn from it, but I'm willing to try.

Locally, there's an effort by people who worked on the campaign to keep in touch, and try to build something more permanent. Chomsky may deride this as "Obama's Army", waiting passively for orders, but I think it's more complicated than that (how could it not be?). Imagine Obama announcing, as did Clinton, that his first new initiative is a massive new "free trade" agreement, and you'll see how much of an "army" these people are. I think they're willing to be mobilized, but in support of their agenda. What happens with this? I can't wait to find out.

He referred to Obama's "grassroots army" throughout, not just in that one quote. He mainly talked about about it in relationship to how the powerful here believe it should behave, and in comparison to more meaningful popular movements in Haiti and Bolivia. If you're looking for a lengthy panegyric you're not going to find it—that's not Chomsky's style. But if you're seeing derision in what he said, I think you're just misunderstanding him.

Donald basically made the points I'd have made otherwise, but I'd add: if Obama had been the exact same politician with the exact same agenda and the exact same organization, but NOT a Democrat and without the money, he'd have gone nowhere. I think the notion that Obama's campaign succeeded due to its ability to organize the iPod generation is just more marketing spin (like the "small donors" meme, which Donald's link punctured). It succeeded because 1) Obama is a Democrat at a time when a Democrat would have had to eat a live baby to fail, 2) he's a handsome, articulate, non-threatening black man, and 3) he was able to pull off a nebulous, all-things-to-all-people message of uplift that preyed on people's hunger for real hope and real change.

So my feeling that there's not much to be gained from studying Obama's slick mass-marketing techniques isn't about being "too principled to ask that question"; I just don't believe the techniques would transfer from a heavily-funded mainstream political campaign to an insurgent left movement. And that was Chomsky's real point: that the only way a popular movement can succeed in creating genuine change is if it's ongoing, and has an existence that's independent of electing any one candidate.

Do you honestly think that these young, progressives will stick with the Democratic Party, after largely choosing him , due to his stance "against the war"(I KNOW he never realy said it--but alot of young people thought he did!), his internet saavy, and, because it was "cool" to be "for Obama". Obama girl, Ludacris, most movie stars and singers, GOBS of money (more from Wall St than anyone in history!), t-shirts, hats, plates, articles about Michelle's "booty"..Wealthy parents were saying that they were "turned on to Obama by their kids" (even a female senator from Missouri!! whose daughter said she woud be a "slug" not to back Obama!). Some said , it was the first thing they had "worked on together with their kids". That is good, but, I think many did it, so their kids would think they were cool.

My poor urban neighborhood, went largely for Obama (who, McCain??), but many didnt vote. In wealthy neighborhoosd, where their kids go to lilly white segregated and religious schools, they turned out for Obama 10-1. It was strange--they seemed to never tire of telling everyone they had voted for "a black MAN" (emphasis on MAN).

Being "for Obama" the last couple of years, provides an instant "social group". It give you something to do with other fun people. That does not make it a "social movement", unless you mean that as a "social life".

I would hope that they would start a third party (or join one), but, if many have known only Clinton and Bush, Obama probably seems great!

Obama is as conservative as any Dem we've had since JFK. It is better than McCain or Bush--but that is not even close to what I was hoping for after 8 yrs of Bush!

The "broad , progressive coaolition " that rags like "The Nation" mag have claimed Obaam is "bringing out"
excludes so many, I do not now how much more narrow it could be. It excludes the uneducated, the poor, (of all races--when confronted by poor Af Ams, Obama woudl give a "bootstraps" talk), The elderly (it is so fashionable to "blame" "baby boomers" for everything now--we coudl just re-instae the draft, roll back the VRA, increase the voting age to 21 again,and "remain in an unwinnable stupid war"--oh, that's right, we are already doing that last one.

I am not a boomer, but, much of what they did paved the way for minorities of all kinds. And, now, you would think that social security and health care is SUCH a BURDEN that, they just cant be bothered...well, I'll remember that, next time I vote for a school levy.

Third parties are not to blame for the state of malaise in the uS--the duopoly is. Hopefully, once they get past the glitterata, they will see this. If not, this country has a dark future indeed.

1) I know that from the heights of Mt. Chomsky, it just looks like two capitalist-imperialist parties swapping power every four to eight years, but how those parties win power has enormous consequences. For the past forty years, we've been living under the thumb of the Republican "Southern strategy", and that formula not only pulled the Repbublican party far to the right, it pulled all of our politics far to the right. Now, Obama has put together a 350-electoral-vote victory that has shown white southerners, and white men in general, to be the cranky minority they truly are. That's going to mean something, if Democratic politicians worrying about how to make up their deficit with white men (by jailing black people and bombing brown people) are replaced by Republican politicians worrying about how to make up their deficit with young people, or women, or Hispanics (assuming they've completely written off the black vote).

2) I live in a college town, and for the past seven years, I've seen the peace movement struggle to gain any traction with young people. At the peak, we've had maybe a hundred active students in a student population of 40,000, and at the low points (and there have been many low points), just a handful. I've seen baby-boomer peace activists shrug their shoulders and say, "Well, maybe if there was a draft..." Then Obama comes to town, and the level of student involvement is huge - quantitatively and qualitatively different from anything I saw with Gore or Kerry. I don't think that's just "marketing spin."

3) Yes, "only" 212,000 people qualified as "small donors" for Obama, giving $200 or less to his campaign. Now let's look at our side: United for Peace and Justice, the "Nation's largest peace coalition", struggles on an annual budget of about $600,000, and of their 1400 member groups, only a small fraction are actually paying any dues. One percent of Obama's "small donor" base could nearly double UFPJ's budget. And I'm sure much more than one percent of his small donor base agrees with UFPJ's platform - they just don't give to UFPJ (or the Greens, or....) As with the issue of young people, I see Obama's victory in the context of our failure. That's why I'm offended when I see his campaign dismissed as mere "marketing". It just seems small, and I think we're better than that.

4) Being "for Obama" the last couple of years, provides an instant "social group". It give you something to do with other fun people.
Well, that seems like an example to follow, doesn't it?

Steve: I know that from the heights of Mt. Chomsky, it just looks like two capitalist-imperialist parties swapping power every four to eight years, but how those parties win power has enormous consequences.

C'mon, I know it's fun to just rant every once in a while, but now you've gone completely off the rails:

[T]he political spectrum is pretty narrow in the United States, and elections are mostly bought, as the population knows. But despite the limited differences both domestically and internationally, there are differences. And in this system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes.
That's Chomsky "endorsing" Kerry in 2004, just as he recommended voting for Obama in 2008—for the exact same reasons you're using to attack him. So you're not arguing with Chomsky; you're just shadow-boxing with something of your own creation.

Not intentionally, I assume (though I'd also assume you've read some Chomsky, in which case you should realize that your characterizations are 180 degrees off). But I'd gently suggest that you might want to take a step back and consider if making an argument in which you tout Barack Obama's populism while dismissing Noam Chomsky as "a supposed admirer of social movements" doesn't mean you're misinterpreted something.

KDelphi: Do you honestly think that these young, progressives will stick with the Democratic Party...

I do, actually. I hope they won't, of course, but I expect that most of them will, for all the usual reasons. It's easy to forget from 2008 just how many young people (like me) were fired up by Bill Clinton's win in 1992, which came after not just eight but twelve years of seriously regressive Republican rule. Enough of them were disillusioned by Clinton's endless betrayals to lead to the Green Party's 2.8% showing in 2000—but the vast majority of them stuck by the party that had let them down.

John --I see what you are saying. I hope the same thing.

If people think that Obaam is a "peace" candidate, they will be sadly mistaken.Yes, "level of student involvement" may be huge--but what are most of them "for"? Obama. We need a movement, not a man. And, I did say that I thought that that might happen.

NO. I do not think that, in general, it is good to follow the crowd.

John:
It's possible to admire Chomsky while also admiring some of the things Obama has done, all while thinking that Chomsky is missing something.

Chomsky does see two competing capitalist-imperialist parties, and also sees some differences between the two which justify voting for one of them (and yes, I did know about his endorsement of Kerry and of Obama). But he doesn't seem to be interested in HOW the winning party becomes the winning party (other than to note that money plays a determinative role).

The Republicans built a 40-year-long winning electoral-college coalition with the old confederacy at its core (just think of the policy consequences that came from that.) And, for most of those 40 years, the Democrats went chasing after almost the same demographic, with little success. Obama, partly out of necessity, built a winning coalition that is heavily dependent on high turnout among young people and people of color. Don't you think there might be policy consequences that follow from that? I'm not saying the consequences are immediate - after all, the consequences of the Republican "Southern strategy" weren't fully felt until Reagan.

And, for all the talk about the historic nature of the election of an African-American president, I'm wondering if there's an equally historic achievement in a solid Democratic victory without a single southerner on the ticket. Has that happened before? Do you think that's a positive development? If it is, does Obama deserve any credit for it?

It's possible to admire Chomsky while also admiring some of the things Obama has done, all while thinking that Chomsky is missing something.

Of course (and in fact I don't agree with the underlying premise of the quote of his I included up there). But that's not what you've been doing; you've been thrashing a straw man, and doing it with some very caustic sarcasm. Which I think is not only unwarranted in this case, but always counterproductive if you want to have an open discussion.

The questions you asked all centered around potential positive aspects to Obama winning the election, and I'd certainly agree that there are some (and I've never said otherwise).

OK, I plead guilty to the "caustic sarcasm" charge. But you have to admit Chomsky's pretty damn detached and clinical when talking about U.S. politics. "This is the system, this is how it works, nothing unusual here, really. You could look it up if you were interested."

Hey, man, this is Chomsky; saying he's detached and clinical is like saying that sex is fun.

(Actually that's unfair—he has a lot of passion but doesn't express it passionately. Like this bit:

A startling 94% complain that the government doesn’t pay any attention to the public will, and on like that.
"Startling"? Whoa, big fella, who got your Irish up?!?)

SteveB: "But you have to admit Chomsky's pretty damn detached and clinical when talking about U.S. politics.

If he weren't detached and clinical, he'd be Jeremiah Wright or someone like that, and that would discredit him, for getting all excited and emotional.

But I think I've found a more serious flaw in your argument:

But he doesn't seem to be interested in HOW the winning party becomes the winning party (other than to note that money plays a determinative role). ... Obama, partly out of necessity, built a winning coalition that is heavily dependent on high turnout among young people and people of color. Don't you think there might be policy consequences that follow from that? I'm not saying the consequences are immediate -

I'm not sure that first sentence is true either, since Chomsky does talk about the marketing strategies and the mobilization of lots of campaign workers, as I recall. But the real thing is, it's too early to say whether Obama's reliance on young people and people of color will have policy consequences. So far his staff choices don't seem to indicate any. But we'll have to see, and in the meantime it is important to criticize the things one doesn't like about what Obama is doing.

So far it looks to me as though Chomsky's right: the general feeling in the Democratic Party leadership is that, having won Obama the presidency and Congress for the party, those young people and people of color should shut up and go home. Or stay home -- whatever. Whether Obama will find a way to get around that leadership will have to be seen, but so far (which is all we've got) it looks to me as though he's quite comfortable with the gang of swine he's gathering around him.

Oh, and one other thing. In pursuing that 40-year coalition, the Republicans drew, as I understand it, on already-existing groups like the evangelical superchurches with leaders that the party had to court. In building his coalition, Obama seems to have built his own organization, with himself as its charismatic leader. Since it's not independent, it doesn't have much leverage if he does things his coalition doesn't like, except for the individuals to vote with their feet and abandon him. I expect that is what will happen. I think that Obama and the party elites are counting on that lack of independence to keep the 'army' loyal, since what they (the elites, for certain) want is docile followers, not an autonomous body that can talk back. That organization is one of the major factors (aside from his expressed positions) that made me suspicious of and critical of Obama to begin with.

Yes, Obama built a remarkable organization that got him elected. But that itself is not democracy, just as Chomsky says. I think I can see why SteveB emotionally is so honked off at Chomsky's analysis, but I don't see any real criticism of it here.

SteveB: I live in a college town, and for the past seven years, I've seen the peace movement struggle to gain any traction with young people. ... Then Obama comes to town, and the level of student involvement is huge - quantitatively and qualitatively different from anything I saw with Gore or Kerry. I don't think that's just "marketing spin."

Wow, I would L-O-V-E looooove to see what would happen for student involvement if the anti-war movement got anywhere near the amount of marketing, and mainstream media attention, as Obama and his marketing machine have. Just for a few weeks, even. Gives me chills and smiles just thinking about it.

Ah well, back to reality.

I was at this talk (at Arlington St Church), and the strongest take-away I got from from it was the distinction he drew between the Aristide and Morales campaigns and that of Obama. In the former cases, it was organized people coming together to set an agenda and then find a candidate to advocate for it - in Obama's case, it was exactly inverted.

Don't you think there might be policy consequences that follow from that?

Not especially, no. And this was another interesting thing noted by Prof. Chomsky:

Obama developed this wonderful grassroots army but he doesn’t have any debts. Which [is] supposed to be a good thing. So he’s free to do what he likes. Because he has no debts, the normal democratic constituency, labor, women, minorities and so on, they didn’t bring him into office. So he owes them nothing...
I think a lot of people kind of get from Chomsky what they bring to it: if you think he's a bit of a windbag, you can get that. And if you want to see him as the greatest genius ever to walk upright... you can get that, too.

Paul: Thanks for the firsthand account. I noticed that the beginning of the talk seemed truncated (e.g. Chomsky refers to a prediction that we didn't actually hear mentioned)...what did we miss?

I think a lot of people kind of get from Chomsky what they bring to it...

That's exactly right. And a part of that is that people frequently misread Chomsky because he spends a lot of time presenting the viewpoints of (and speaking in the voices of) others. So when he says that Obama "doesn't have any debts" he's not saying that he thinks so, but that people who accept the Lippman conception of democracy think so. And he spends much or most of the talk presenting the scenario they want to have play out now.

His own view is expressed in lines like this: "If it on the other hand goes the way activists did in the sixties, a lot can change. That’s one of the choices that has to be made." And he uses the examples of Haiti and Bolivia as exemplars. So this is Chomsky saying that the people who worked to get Obama elected have a choice of whether to melt away after having performed their designated function, or to establish themselves as a truly independent movement, but—crucially—the choice is up to them (and it's crystal clear which way Chomsky would like to see it go).

And I think this is why Steve is so (mistakenly) pissed—because he misread Chomsky's derision of those who coined and wholeheartedly believe in the term "Obama's army" as derision of the "army" itself. And the passion Steve felt was lacking was also there in spades, in bitingly critical statements like this: "What they don't seem to realize is what they're describing, the ideal of what they’re describing, is dictatorship, not democracy."

Personally I wouldn't say Chomsky's the greatest genius ever to walk upright, but he is the most astute observer of politics that I know, with a singular ability to cut through layers of obfuscation and get to the core truths (and to present those insights with piercing clarity). And I didn't come to that thanks to any preconceptions, since when I first read Chomsky's political stuff I had no idea what to expect. Rather, he's earned it with nearly every word I've read and heard from him. And he continues to do so with talks like this one.

I don't see Chomsky as the greatest genius ever to walk upright, though I do think he's pretty smart. I can even point to his own position on that. ^_^ He's often argued that recognizing the crimes of one's own government isn't rocket science. It just takes what he calls "Cartesian common sense" (a phrase I'm not too wild about) and a certain amount of moral courage. It took more moral courage, and some physical courage, to denounce the US invasion of Vietnam in the early 60s, than it did to denounce the US invasion of Iraq, because in 2002 there was a huge worldwide movement opposing the US invasion of Iraq; and if the opposition within the US was less vocal or visible, it was easier (thanks to the Internet and other alternative media) to be aware of the worldwide movement and feel connected to and supported by it.

Chomsky will even agree that he's a bit of a windbag. The two positions aren't mutually exclusive, and it's possible to agree with neither of them. The truth doesn't lie in between, but way over there somewhere.

what did we miss?

The person who announced him noted that he predicted that McCain would win, and I tend to agree that "[i]f the financial crisis hadn’t taken place at the moment that it did..." that McCain stood a pretty good chance of being elected. Look at the polls around that time. I think we came closer than many people would like to believe to having a vice-President-Elect Palin this Thanksgiving.

For the record, I don't see Chomsky as a windbag or (particularly) a genius, just a rather extraordinarily clear thinker, and someone who seems to be fairly unencumbered by some of the major political myths of our time. That often makes him a really good reality-check... it's as if he's a particularly well-informed foreign observer.

I don't really think that Chomsky's a windbag either, but he'll be the first to agree that he's not concise -- that is the point of the video clip I linked.

The reason why he's so unencumbered by political myths is that he's disencumbered himself of them, and there are personal explanations for his having done so (like his childhood association with anarchists and socialists). While I'm leery of his notion of Cartesian common sense, I do agree with him that getting rid of those political myths doesn't require superhigh or specialized intelligence.

Chomsky's also the first to insist that he doesn't do what he does alone, that he wouldn't have achieved what he does without the help of others who hold similar views. (He'll also point out that even in his real work of linguistics, he isn't a Promethean ego striving alone toward the Truth, but has always depended on a community of workers in the same field. Which doesn't mean that he doesn't have a hefty ego, but I have no objection to that either.) I began reading him rather late, by my standards, after I'd already discovered that I got better-quality (though not infallible) information and analysis from the Left; and I go on reading him because he agrees with me, as much as because I agree with him. But I also read a lot of other people, from whom I learn as much.

I do see Chomsky as a genius, because 1) I have little doubt that he is, by any objective standard, and 2) in college I saw how his development of the hierarchy of grammars formed a huge part of the basis for computer science (as a genuine science). So he's essentially a father of two fields: computer science and modern linguistics. And he's a brilliant political analyst.

So probably not the greatest genius ever to walk upright, but certainly in the top tier. And I feel very fortunate to be living a lifetime that overlaps with his.

whoever up there mentioned obama's whoop-de-do margin of victory needs to wake up. john mccain and the republicans beat themselves this year and the economy sealed the deal. do you honestly think that obama would have won if bush hadn't been such an idiot, if mccain had been a decent candidate and if we didn't seem to be teetering on the brink of a depression?
and the dull cynicism of people who insist that the left needs to market itself better is, well, dull. suggesting that folks need to be roped or conned into activism is condescending and stupid. that's why the left is in disarray in this country. it's full of arrogant jerks who haven't got the ability to differentiate between their asses and elbows.

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