Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 28, 2008

Billmon: Really Proud

Maybe the old lie that anyone can grow up to be president is still just that -- an old lie. But now we know that any child (man child at least) can grow up and become the presidential candidate of one of the country's two main political parties -- because the Democrats just proved it. (And eight years from now, I hope the party extends that same promise to every child, not just to those of us who are gender-challenged.) 

But, one giant step at a time. Some months back Michelle Obama reportedly said that for the first time in her life, she was really proud of her country. I don't know if she actually said that, or if she did what she meant by it -- personally, I think anyone who is really proud of a country (any country) should be in a psych ward, not the White House.

I guess I can understand the emotion, though. Because for the first time I can remember -- or at least since the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Richard Nixon -- I'm really, really proud to be a Democrat.       
Billmon: Really Proud

Note to new readers at Moon of Alabama. You may wonder why we have threads on Billmon posts here. The MoA About page explains the relation.

Posted by b on August 28, 2008 at 9:11 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

You have to understand, for certain boomer politicos, the triumph of the victim is the apogee of politics. It doesn't get any better than this.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 29 2008 23:24 utc | 101


look, billmon obviouslly imagines himself a mix of mark twain & mencken but i find his 'rages' tedious we shouldn't constitue a fan club for him or for obama for that matter

opinions are important & when they create ruptures of style & content they can teach us something;;as bob dylan does with the cliche, for example. we look anew but in this universe that is soimetimes all we get - opinions

i know, for example over the situation in georgia - i would have been lost without b's pertinence & researched posts - you dont have to like the information, the facts, the reality, whatever - but when a great deal of work & imagination has gone into them - you are obliged to take note

in these times - little melodramas have no importance

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 29 2008 23:34 utc | 102

Thrasyboulos: i agree, but those boomers had their chance, and here we are. so in this their respective twilight it's understandable Obama is the shining beacon of redemption for the damage their collective self-absorption has wrought, but this country is broken so badly it's going to take decades of hard work to reverse it.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 23:48 utc | 103

Ah, ye admonitions and warnings! why stay ye not when ye come? But rather are ye predictions than warnings, ye shadows! Yet not so much predictions from without, as verifications of the foregoing things within. For with little external to constrain us, the innermost necessities of our being, these still drive us on.

--Herman Melville, Moby Dick, p.163

Things fall apart. Things move on. And the "innermost necessities of our being" make us put our shoulders to the wheel and drive us on and on.

I fundamentally agree with Bernhard: Billmon makes the only viable choice, not just for indulging in a little life-giving hope, but for understanding what the alternative to Obama represents.

Some commenters here, who seem certain that Obama is a fixed political asset, whose decisions are a foregone conclusion, should look a little deeper into the intrinsic character of the person, and consider that he is not some kind of political robot.

What annie and waldo are telling us is that the democrats you saw at the Convention represent this country's best and perhaps only hope, the nation's only way out of Hell. They are America's Humanists; face it. Their tears signify something. There has to be more to their faith than gullibility.

Obama is not Saint Francis. And just to inject an alternate interpretation, I will suggest that he may be something like Odysseus, "a man of wiles"..."a man of twists and turns" a consumate, talented politician.

Just because there are a few tricks and finesses up his sleeve, people should not think him capable of wrecking the world, in contrast to that model of psychopathology, John McCain.

McCain never tried to yoke together an ox and an ass, and plow circles in his field, in order to feign insanity, that he might not be conscripted to an insane war. McCain tells us that there will be war and more wars, and that "we will never surrender".

McCain is promiscuous when it comes to war.

No one would ever compare McCain to Odysseus! Nor is McCain, with his clenched jaw, anything like Obama. In fact, from where I sit, Old John looks a lot like Ahab, the Captain of the Pequod.

Hark ye yet again--the little lower layer. All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event--in the living act, the undoubted deed--there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike--strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy , man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me? Truth hath no confines. Take off thine eye! more intolerable than fiends' glarings is a doltish stare!...

(ibid, p. 162)

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 29 2008 23:51 utc | 104


I've been reluctant to voice my opinion of Obama, not because I suspect him, but because I suspect the dem idealists have been set up by the media, yet again. I hope I am wrong, wrong as I've ever been, but what I've seen so far makes me fear the worst. Time will tell.

Re the boomers. A healthy dose of skepticism, not of their best instincts but of their willingness to be manipulated would not be remiss. Validation is a prized goal, but one that leads to suckerdom and cooptation (there's a good old boomer word for you.)

Posted by: | Aug 30 2008 0:08 utc | 105

Me above.

Posted by: Thrasyboulos | Aug 30 2008 0:09 utc | 106


perhaps i just read this differetly from here - but i do not see that there is any, any demonisation of obama nor in fact of the 'hope' he might represent

it seems to me that there are those who like the tim buckley song, 'want to make it right again' - & those who have been washed in too many illusions to believe another

the melville is appropriate because we are all in a very dark place - this moment in our shared history - you & the majority of posters here who write from within the belly of the beast & those of us elsewhere who feel it, vitally

the fact that this 'hope' has been constructed & it has been marketed - is surely something that needs interrogation & as a number of people have made clear - it is not an ahistorical moment - it is one enjoined with many other historical moments - not the least of them mlk but certainly not the only one - for the most part here i sense people are just demanding as leonard peltier has done in his open letter - that this symbol must have substance

the other sense here & it is one that i personally feel that the damage done has been so enormous & ongoing - that the waves of the whale threaten to envelop all of us. in france -even the political language here is determined in washington

in brief, i think there are darker days ahead before there is much light & frankly i'm more concerned for the light elsewhere - that that light is not extinguished - than i am by the self obsessive concern of an idea of america which must dissapear

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 30 2008 0:18 utc | 107

was that really billmon at 92 ? or an imposter ?

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 30 2008 0:26 utc | 108

Sorry ourgiap, I simply can't rise to the discussion. Words [and numbers] are not my friends.


I'm no less a fan of billmon and b than I am of you. I'm just here to take it all in and learn.

[Thank you Copeland]

I've expressed my appreciation of what b has created here before and often. This is my home.

Posted by: beq | Aug 30 2008 0:35 utc | 109


me too

to find myself here learning in the midst of life gives me energy & hope in the dark times(this night i am marking the work of entrants into a conservatoire & i had set question to do with exile/virtuosity/technique/interior/exterior/collaboration, to be in the world & to engage it & fear their dread of the future & of time itself) precisely because of the vitality

i'm afraid i don't see cynicism here but i do read people who have followed brecht in his questioning of even the the things, as john berger says, we hold dear

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 30 2008 0:47 utc | 110

FWIW, I don't really mind if MoA no longer links to Billmon posts. MoA has changed and moved on from the original Whiskey Bar days, as has Billmon.

I haven't weighed in on this particular thread, though I've been following it, because I have nothing additional or original to add to the voices of skepticism and doubt, though I tend to share them. Notwithstanding my doubts, fears and, I think, well-founded skepticism, I also share Annie, Alabama, Beq and others' sense of a genuinely significant breakthrough in the U.S. with Obama's nomination.

More important than "is he or isn't he" and all of the differing views MoA readers may have on this particular issue, Bernhard's labors to report and expose the story behind the story on so many events and global developments is one of my daily lifelines, as well as the highly varied views and comments of all of you folks who regularly comment here.

So, forget Billmon, here's another expression of gratitude and confidence in Bernhard, and let's keep on striving for the greater good and sharing what we can on this excellent blog.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Aug 30 2008 0:51 utc | 111

thanks for the response, Thrasyboulos.

full disclosure: i'm a white, privileged, 29 year old product of midwest suburbia with an axe to grind. i'm tired of the lies and the hypocrisies and the soulless materialism i was conditioned to uncritically accept. i'm tired of the pills and the mechanized surrogates that fill the empty spaces corporate parents leave behind in their endless pursuit of more stuff to surround their vacuous existences. this painful process of waking up to the larger realities the world is facing has given me lots of guilt, which turns into anger when i see how many amerikans are still unwilling to acknowledge the scope of the existential crisis we, as humans, are facing.

70 million post WWII beneficiaries of amerikan empire are getting ready to retire. for sixty years it's been all about them. meanwhile, their kids are killing themselves and their peers like never before because this consumer-driven materialism is a soulless blackhole promising (lying) that happiness is synonymous with purchasing power. fuck that. this country is getting what it deserves. sixty years of war and bloodshed and covert regime changes predicated by the unnecessary genocidal mass murdering that capped off WWII and kick started the cold war is reaping its predictable effects.

I'll wrap up this little diatribe with a word popular with my generation: whatever.

on with the charade...

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 30 2008 1:00 utc | 112

I can't forget Billmon, Maxcrat, because I owe him too much and always will. I'm delighted to see him posting again, giving out his own clear energy. Maybe he's misinformed sometimes, but rarely so, and never to the detriment of his (or our) efforts to think things through.

Let's keep the link; I get lost in the swamps, the marshes and the backwaters of Daily Kos. (That post is clearly a fraud, by the way--Billmon doesn't write like that. He never has. Evidence forthcoming if requested.)

And Copeland, that's a beautiful post!

Posted by: alabama | Aug 30 2008 1:16 utc | 113

Ok, no arguments with you re Billmon, comrade alabama. I guess my main point there was that the posts by Bernhard (and occasionally others -especially b real) and all of the comments have a high value all of their own.

And yes, Copeland, that was wonderful.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Aug 30 2008 1:50 utc | 114

Maxcrat, alabama, beq, thanks for the kind words.

r'giap, I appreciate your post @ 107. There's a lot to think about there. You're right; the present idea of America needs to be dismantled, and replaced with a better concept of who we are. Our country needs to stop obsessing about "leading the world".

Posted by: Copeland | Aug 30 2008 3:07 utc | 115

& i too have ti tell you the melville post was beautiful. it is posts like that that make me want to go back to read this or that, search out this or that fact - that whilst admitting being lost in these dark times - there are reasons - as simple as rereading a book that construct hope in a concrete way. it is cerebral & it is not. i'm sure a rereading of moby dick would connect with the communities i work with.

the post was sublime & strangely the best posts are not solipsistic - i'm sure we have a physical sense of one another & that is not nothing - in the endless work of communicating in communites. i have not said it well - but the hope is not a word on a screen but it appearance on that screen contextualises the endless circles of self & the powerful & driving impulse to comprehend another

whether it is someone here - or in iraq, or vietnam, or bolivia

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 30 2008 3:19 utc | 116

Billmon: Gettin' some of that "RE-form"

This is actually a good post by our seemingly temperamental billmon...
it made me laugh anyway... If in fact the post here under his name was in fact him, I sure wish he'd lighten up. And as others have pointed out I value all the opinions here even if I don't agree with them all. I am not so ego driven as to think my words are ground breaking. I am of the true spuriously attributed voltaire variety, "I do not agree with a word you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it." Something our billmon seems to would rather attack.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 30 2008 4:15 utc | 117

92 is a jest. I think

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 30 2008 10:46 utc | 118

I suspect it's not jest, although I'm sad to say it. Unless, as I suspect, someone is playing hidey-hole games, billmon is known for his id war within. perhaps, hehas somehow forgotten the enormous and indescribable magnitude of the utter and complete betrayal of this country that has been the legacy of the modern republican and democrat party. Perhaps a survival mechanism to dis-remember the crimes against humanity. Millions of peoples w/blood on their hands. perhaps he thought, the democrats aren't perfect, but they are 10,000 times less objectionable, is where I thought he was going until he came in and ejaculated his incandescent rage on people who hold him in high regard.

It happens, they say ignorance is an evil, however, I disagree, it's not an evil when it can be acknowledged and accepted. Often it takes time. Many whom try to lay their trip on others are acting out of fear, nay, terror. Mostly out of fear of losing what they have. Me, myself, I'm recession proof, the less you have, the less you have to

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 30 2008 11:44 utc | 119

billmon is known for his id war within. perhaps, hehas somehow forgotten the enormous and indescribable magnitude of the utter and complete betrayal of this country

i find your remarks crude uncle.

the title of his diary says it all. he felt really proud. it doesn't mean he isn't cognizant of all the failures of this country. i can perfectly understand his response, i do not think it was in jest jony.

the general mocking tone addressed towards those of us w/the lump in the throat reaction to his nomination, as if the significance of where we have moved as a culture wrt race (this is not to imply everything is hunky dory) could easily be perceived as hurtful.

people respond differently when you attack their emotions as opposed to their ideas. it was an honest emotional diary and his sentiments were decimated. What a let down to see him soften.

what he addressed

My discontents are probably shared by many of you, maybe most of you: The overpowering influence of corporate money, the puerile cluelessness of the Democratic consultant class, the repeated betrayals of those who most need the party to stand and fight for them (Biden, cough, bankruptcy "reform") And my biggest policy heartache: The party's reflexive support for a completely deranged "bipartisan" foreign policy agenda -- the very parade of folly that landed us in Iraq and is now stumbling on in the general direction of Tehran (or the Russian frontier, or both).

when you begrudge people their honest emotion

there are loyalties that go deeper than policies, deeper than ideas, deeper, even, than folly and cowardice. When I turn on the TV and see the crowd at a Democratic National Convention -- black and white and every shade in between, Anglo and Hispanic, gay and straight, old and young, Jew and gentile, I know somewhere deep down in my gut that those are my people, the Americans that I want to be my fellow Americans.


the enormity of what I'd just seen. It may not mean as much to you youngsters (get off my lawn!) but for someone of my age, who grew up in the dying days of segregation, who still remembers the colored and white drinking fountains and the monochrome lunch counters, who saw Washington DC burn the night Martin Luther King was killed -- who, in some sense, has essentially spent his whole life living in the shadow of American racism, it was completely mindblowing.

for me, it is completely easy to relate to his experience. but it isn't enough to simply say, well it isn't my experience, or i don't think it will do any good. it turned into a format to bash billmon, obama, the party for all their failings (even tho billmon addressed them in the post), and those w/shared sentiments.

i will be forever grateful to billmon for all the many things he has taught me, shared w/us and his glorious writing style. i find it very easy to absorb what he writes even tho i may not agree w/him about everything.

thank you billmon if you are reading this. thank you for the rawness you shared w/me about how it made you feel deep down in your gut.

i felt it in my gut too. well,mostly in my throat.

i am prepared to be criticized and made light of and mocked for those emotions. but unlike billmon i will not spit out my own reactions to the criticizm.

but if i did, would you think it was in jest, or weak, or a problem w/my id?

Posted by: annie | Aug 30 2008 16:55 utc | 120

Uncle, i don't find your remarks crude at all.

Annie, please don't feel like your emotional response is being mocked by people like me whose emotional response is completely different than yours.

you will receive much more support for your feelings than i will for mine.

i was out last night trying to blow off some steam and the only people who listened and agreed with me were the homeless kids i was talking with.

that should tell you something.

everyone else is too invested in the bullshit. they can't smell the stink. fine.

don't fault me for my inability to experience the lump in the throat and i won't fault you for feeling something i wish i could share.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 30 2008 18:12 utc | 121

on edit: i'm not saying you, annie, are invested in the bullshit. the "everyone else" refers to the other people i tried to talk to last night who told me, in their various ways, to fuck off.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 30 2008 19:13 utc | 122

Annie, please don't feel like your emotional response is being mocked by people like me whose emotional response is completely different than yours.

that wasn't my point, i was simply trying to point out why i thought billmon's response wasn't in jest. i didn't write the diary so i didn't take the dismissal of my reaction to it personally. that said, i am not going to 'feel' like it wasn't being mocked, when it was. (what else could you call words like 'gushing') however i don't take it personally.

also my #122 post wasn't addressing you personally lizard, or anything you said specifically.

Posted by: annie | Aug 30 2008 19:40 utc | 123

@annie, et al...

Well, I wasn't trying to be crude... nor was it intended to offend you or anyone else annie, however, I wont censor myself either, and see it just that way.

Billmon, --though completely entitled to his feelings and opinion--, has no right what so ever to ask b to remove his links and quit using his history with his readers as a means to gather more readers? What kind of shit is that. He is not a rockstar and I wont put him on a pedestal. And he does have a history of reacting to his readers comments and expressions.

As for billmon watching DC burn, 25 cities in America burned that week, and I didn't watch it, I was in it, I have my own story that I have shared several times about my personal experience with MLK's execution and growing up with racism, it was one of the most traumatizing events of my life, and I am still effected by it.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 30 2008 21:43 utc | 124

a nod to the cogs

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 31 2008 2:51 utc | 125

« previous page

The comments to this entry are closed.