fragments of an attempted writing.
"Moving back to Minnesota, she and Marcus settled in Stillwater, a town of 18,000 near St. Paul, where they raised their five children and took in 23 foster kids. Stillwater is a Midwestern version of a Currier & Ives set piece, complete with cozy homes, antique stores — and no black people. In short, the perfect launching pad for a political career built on Bachmann's retro-Stepford image. Stillwater's congressional district is the whitest district in Minnesota (95 percent) and one of the wealthiest in America (with a median income $16,000 above the national average)."

- from this delightfully entertaining rant against Michele Bachmann.  

I'll be in Stillwater this summer visiting old friends.  Must be sure to remember this one.  


  1. El Otro Pelón23 June, 2011 07:07

    Wow, that was a pretty scary look into what may be the coming American fascism. But to be fair, she seems to also read Mises, or at least claims to. Maybe there is a CliffsNotes version I don't know about.

    What is most scary about this stuff is the victim angle of it. True, this was also used in Nazi Germany, but the Left in the country has been paralyzed by the reverse racism accusations, by accusations of snobbery, elitism, and so on. My brother has echoed the fact that the "New Left" may be the FBI's magnum opus in terms of neutralizing any organic revolutionary thought in this country. Associate any form of progressivism with Ivory Tower elites, and you get Michele Bachmann. It may be stupidity, but to a certain sector of the working class, it's our stupidity. Really, I think that's how fascism always seems to get its start.

    Or we might have a military coup in the next ten years or so. It's possible.

  2. "Associate any form of progressivism with Ivory Tower elites, and you get Michele Bachmann. It may be stupidity, but to a certain sector of the working class, it's our stupidity."

    Very well put. Of the white working class guys I have met here in Memphis, I would guess that maybe 40% vote in presidential elections. Of those who vote, I bet 80% will be "naturally" inclined to vote for the guy who does three things: 1) has just a little bit of hick in his manner of speaking, as Dubya did, 2) is hardcore pro-gun, and 3) talks tough when it comes to military and war. You talk to these guys and point by point by point most of them support things like universal single payer health care and increased taxes on corporations and the rich and the right of workers to organize, but they feel ostracized and left behind, and are convinced the fault lies with liberal elite in New York and California, and somehow voting for a guy who presents himself as a war loving gun toting not so smart good ol' boy with a little twang in his voice redeems the worth of working class whites in Memphis. It's easy to convince these guys that this is not the best approach, but that takes actually having in the flesh relationships with them in which you can actually talk through these issues over the course of months and years.

    I long suspected fascism would soon be here, but I knew this would be the case when I heard clips of former MN gov Tim Pawlenty speaking with a feigned suthrun accent at a Republican gathering in Iowa a few months ago:

  3. "It's easy to convince these guys that this is not the best approach, but that takes actually having in the flesh relationships with them in which you can actually talk through these issues over the course of months and years."

    In other words, Ochy, you know better than those stupid, gun-toting patriotic proles, and you just know they'll make great Marxists if you could just get the chance to share a cold PBR and a manifesto with them.

    I'm not seeing the fascism here -- Bachman's district is white and wealthy? So are plenty of democratic districts.

    BTW, Bachman opposes overseas intervention, which would make her a queer sort of fascist. But then again she's a conservative populist and she represents a white district, so I guess you're right and I'm wrong.

  4. Baudy,

    To assert with confidence that Bachmann opposes anything with regard to foreign policy is astoundingly naive. And what the fuck, she voted for the Patriot Act - look, if you are going to troll here, at least present yourself intelligently.

    In other words, Baudy, when you talk about the policy positions that a given feigned suthrun talking neo-con takes which will negatively effect the lives of these men, and this happens over the course of occasional political discussions that happen on a shop floor over the course of years, they tend to not be so inclined to vote pro-gun. These people actually don't want to live under "right-to-work" laws, and it wasn't me that created that situation. They do want universal health care, even if they hate Obamacare (because Obama is black), and I did not give them that want. They really don't want police arresting them for smoking weed, they really want unemployment extensions when they get laid off, they really want OSHA to make sure our company gives them real masks when in the spray room and not just the cheap particulate matter masks. Their desire for these things had nothing whatsoever to do with my Marxist evangelism. Your junior highish posture of attempted counter-condescensions is what? Do need to believe your dick is bigger than mine. Fine. And by the way, I usually carry a gun to work.

    I lived in Bachmann's district off and on over the course of a few years. The bookshop I worked at is in Stillwater. I've met her on a couple of occasions. What is interesting about her district is that it has had rapid growth in the last 15 years - the old timers from Stillwater tended towards (former MN gov) Arnie Carlson fiscally conservative (but still mostly supporting the old MN social safety net) socially liberal Republicanism, it's the new folks in the new homes that have brought in the shift toward Bachmann's feverswampism. Had it not been for that influx of Dobsonistas, a conservative Democrat might well have been able to beat Bachmann in that district (MN has a long tradition of moderate and conservative Dems, especially in districts not located in the Twin Cities proper). But yes, to get to your point, conservative populism is to be dismissed at face value. If you want to compare Bachmann populism to Obama populism then sure, they are both contemptible. But to compare Bachmann populism to a real American populism, such as the Farmer-Labor movement in MN in the early 20th century, would, or at least should, reveal the differences in an actual populism based on farmers rising against banks and workers rising against industrialists, with policy demands borne out of real human problems and real encounters between the populace and the civic ordo, contrasted with one based on Left Behind novels, Creationist science, and Koch money.

  5. One thing I note that seems to always be a rule in these conversations - when a Leftist of any sort, no matter what their background (working class, liberal bourgeois, blue blood, etc.) talks about talking to the working classes about their interests, the conservative rhetoric paints this as a patronizing talking down the the proles who really know or rightly intuit what they want and need and have more common sense (hence their gun toting, and Republican voting if they are white proles) than any dreary Left wing "utopian." But when workers rise up - in whatever setting, whether it be Wisconsin and Indiana with mostly white mainstream union members, or an instance like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers which is a largely Hispanic and very much "bottom up" union with origins far from the labor aristocracy - then these same conservatives start bad mouthing these same workers in the most patronizing language like there is no tomorrow. So long as these workers embrace no politics, or especially if they embrace conservative populism, they have some sort of earthy inherent wisdom that ought to damn immediately the patronizing know-it-allism of any Leftist who would assert anything to them or about them, even if that Leftist is a working class person. But damn, if those workers ever get ballsy and start making demands themselves, then the real posture comes out and all of a sudden we learn that those workers are lazy, whining, state teet sucking homo sovieticus wanna-bees who need to be put in their place.

  6. Wait, it's not ok for there to be no black people in a town in Minnesota? Black people in America are, what, 13% of the population? Are they supposed to be distributed equally across the nation? Should I be mad that I didn't get one? Who do I talk to about this?

  7. Mercy,

    Cute. If Bachmann were content to represent her district, nobody would be talking much about it. But when she gets ambitious enough to want to represent everyone, and she presents herself as a "populist" candidate in doing so, it is well worth pointing out there her district is among the whitest and richest in America.

  8. Owen, of course, you're right that Bachmann, Palin et al are Republicans in folksy garb rather than 'genuine' populists -- but that still doesn't mean the hysterical charges of fascism stick. Fascism is/was historically contingent and did not nor will ever arise spontaneously from the mumblings of anti-intellectual flyover proles. Resistance to transcendence, national palingenesis, the fusion of anti-Marxist socialism and tribal nationalism, in short ALL the symptoms and motivations of fascism can only be linked to the Tea Party in the most disingenuous and facile way. Pretending otherwise is partisan paranoia, plain and simple. You can rest easy knowing that there's no Kristalnacht around the corner to deprive you and your fellow Marxist bloggers of their freedom.

    By the way, 'neocon' has a specific, fixed meaning. That meaning is not 'conservative whom I happen to dislike', despite what the gonzo-wannabe geniuses at Rolling fucking Stone seem to think.

    P.S.: Personally, I consider myself a populist, albeit of the traditionalist-radical Christopher Lasch variety.

  9. El Otro Pelón24 June, 2011 05:03

    Fascism: perhaps not.

    Right-wing Latin American 1970's-style dictatorship: More likely.

  10. ....except that it isn't. It's pretty white, though I suspect there are rural districts in the plains states that are whiter. Richest? It isn't even vaguely in the running. My own 56.8% black district is richer. There are richer districts in Minnesota. The poorest districts in the state are very rural and very white, poorer than the one "black" district in the twin cities. St. Cloud is bigger (4x) and just a pretty it appears; Woodbury is a lot richer. They're all quite white.

    Of course either Hawaiian district is about as atypical as one could possibly get, especially the very rich and very Asian 1st district.

    Not that I plan to vote for Bachmann, mind you....

  11. Baudy,

    The use of the terms "fascist" and "fascism" by the Left today are about as precise as your use of the terms "Marxist" and "Marxism."

    That Bachmann supports neo-con policies much more often than not is indisputable.

    Christopher Lasch. Great. Slightly more intelligent than the current Red-Tory phase - "We like to sound politically sophisticated, but as soon as push comes to shove we revert to our former neo-con or libertarian or paleo-con positions, whatever they may have been." Christopher Lasch loving is slightly less an aesthetic political window dressing than your disdained commie in a che t-shirt. Slightly.

  12. Wingate,

    Oh, please. The Woodbury district is next door to Bachmann's. The article said "one of the richest" and that phrase is perfectly applicable. When living in Stillwater I never once saw a black person (well, OK, a few foreign black people came to visit my bookstore), and the white Dobsonistas were buying up property in droves back then so I suspect it might even be more white today than it was then, like from 99.2% to 99.7% or something. In any event, it's amazingly white for a district that is within a metro area.

  13. And the line "a Midwestern version of a Currier & Ives set piece, complete with cozy homes, antique stores — and no black people" nailed it pretty damn well I thought.

  14. Her district was 68th in MHI in 2009, which isn't quite rich enough to put it in the top 15%. And while Stillwater is whiter than a lot of towns in the state, suburban or otherwise, almost all of them are pretty white: 95% white is typical and almost all of them are well over 90% white. That's typical for towns north and west of St. Louis unless they're sitting in/next to a reservation. Of course Taibbi has lots of room for sneering, having gone to Concord Academy and Bard and then indulging in the power class taste for foreign travel. I assume he also sneered at her religion (Wisconsin Synod-- you can't get much more regressive than that) but they've blocked RS here so I can't get past the first page of his denuciad. I see he sneers at Anoka, right around the corner from Stillwater, as "tiny", which I suppose it is if you live in NYC. Anoka is marginally less white, and apparently Bachmann lived on the wrong side of town judging from the racial breakdown of the public high school she attended. Concord Academy by contrast had proportionately more non-white students but something tells me that they're more the W.E.B. than the Booker type. "Tiny" Concord MA is over 90% white, and I would guess that the Boston suburbs spoken of in the Wikipedia article were pretty white too.

    Let me lay it on the line: Taibbi is a snob, the gonzo, New Yorker version of the kind of person that gets called an effete east coast liberal-- Glenn Greenwald without the manners, for for that matter his own father as the class hooligan. You've lived in Stillwater, and I haven't, but what it sounds like to me is pretty much every sizable town in Montana, and dozens upon dozens of other places across the upper west.

  15. Wingate,

    You're in ECUSA. You can't possibly be serious when calling another human being a snob.

    Have you ever even been to Stillwater?

  16. I'm not only Episcopalian, I got that way at one of those exclusive boarding prep schools. there's nothing to apologize for in that. OK, maybe he isn't a snob; maybe he's only a pull the butterfly wings off kind of journalist. Making fun of the Republican presidential field is like shooting fish in a barrel, but it says something about a man that pulls the trigger anyway.

  17. I'm way cuter than you, potatohead, that's for sure. Black people are still only 13% of the population. Either you spread them around so everyone can share - and I know you're into central planning, but do you really want to set up the US Negro Allocation Board? - or the fact that there are no black people in some parts of the US is just normal. Not everywhere is going to have all kinds of people.

    Now saying there were no Mexicans, that would make some kind of sense.

  18. mercy,

    Perhaps you didn't read my last comment. Yes, it is normal. It is not "normal" or perhaps we should say, reasonable, that whitebread stepfordish locations should act as epicenter for a contemporary American populism.

    While Bachmann's politics is totally different - her background haunts her in certain respects like Hubert Humphrey's or Walter Mondale's. I know they were truly from Minnesota and Bachmann is not, but still - Bachmann has never even served in statewide office in MN, and thus never even represented the pockets of Hmong, Hispanics, and Blacks in the Twin Cities. Her experience with a constituency is only that of ""a Midwestern version of a Currier & Ives set piece, complete with cozy homes, antique stores — and no black people" and it needs to be pointed out that her "populism" is a populism which holds that sort of environment as an imagined ideal.

  19. El Otro Pelón25 June, 2011 05:32

    Personally, as a Mexican-American and the token minority in many settings, I would love to move to Bachmann's district, if it weren't too cold for the goats I plan to keep on the front lawn next to the gutted 1979 Ford Pinto I plan to keep on blocks in my driveway. And I hope they like ranchera music and company, because I plan to bump my shit at all hours of the night while partying with my gente coming to visit from Mexico: all 26 of them sleeping in one room. But don't blame me, blame the WAB, or Wetback Allocation Board.

  20. You try that shit in Stillwater and the bulked up type A police force with nothing else to do will send you packing to the East St. Paul barrio (where MNans keep their Hispanics, other than the ones with packing jobs outside of the Cities) faster than you can say deportación.

    A neighbor kid once had her boyfriend pass out in her backyard when I lived there. He'd been drunk and then popped some pills. Anyway, I threw some water on him, that didn't work, so we called 911. In 15 seconds there were like 20 cop cars, 2 SWAT vans, 5 ambulances, and a helicopter on the scene. If they will do all that for a drunken white 15 year old, imagine the manpower they will devote when your neighbor complains about your loud music. I mean, suburban Dobsonista Minnesotans sometimes like accordion music and all, but it has to be a northern European polka.

  21. "That Bachmann supports neo-con policies much more often than not is indisputable."

    It is disputable. Compared to, say, Pawlenty, Bachmann's support for anything like a muscular, democratist foreign policy -- perhaps the most identifiable characteristic of neocon thought -- is downright negligible. She showed little enthusiasm for the Iraq surge, she opposes the Libyan war, and she is personally close to Ron Paul, the anti-war Republican par excellence. Of course there is an element of partisan reaction in her opposition to Libya, but she could have always taken the position that Obama is being a milquetoast on Libya by not inviting a full-on military intervention, complete with Bradleys and troop division -- a position that real neocons favor, who have dismissed conservative Libyan war opponents like Bachmann as 'more liberal than Obama', as if willingness to wage protracted war on a non-hostile nation in an area peripheral to American interests were the new standard of conservatism.

    I mean, personally, I don't give a shit whether Bachmann or anyone else wins the election, but it is sheer partisan laziness to tar Bachmann with the same 'neocon' brush as McCain, Pawlenty, etc.

  22. "Perhaps you didn't read my last comment. Yes, it is normal. It is not "normal" or perhaps we should say, reasonable, that whitebread stepfordish locations should act as epicenter for a contemporary American populism."

    Perhaps, but then again it has always been the case that reformers and political leaders who champion the cause of 'the people' tend to not be drawn from among 'the people' -- and you're kidding yourself if you think Marxism, or whatever flavor of socialism suits your taste, is an exception. I'm not really hung up on this, either. Movements that never draw sympathy across class lines become doomed jacqueries, more often than not.

  23. "Christopher Lasch loving is slightly less an aesthetic political window dressing than your disdained commie in a che t-shirt. Slightly. "

    This statement makes no sense -- I don't know of any aesthetic associated with Lasch, nor is Lasch primarily a political writer. I know you take a particular delight in exposing this or that commitment as only so much play-acting and aesthetic theater, and you are sometimes correct, but I can't tell if this is because you are a shallow, nihilistic aesthete or because you want to divert attention away from your own preferences, which are as likely to be 'aesthetic political window dressing' as anything else you might care to critique.

  24. Baudy,

    I said "Christopher Lasch loving is" not "Christopher Lasch is." Why would I ever bash a fellow Marxist? [I have to admit that every time a conservative brings up a Christopher Lasch or a Alistair McIntyre or a James Burnham or a Eugene Genovese I think to myself, really, an intellectually minded conservative has little choice, where else are they to go for socio-political thought that meaningfully engages modernity other than to those formed by Marxism?]

    It's not Lasch - it's his conservative fans, who were something of a precursor to Red Tory & Crunchy type postures. I would bet that to a man, when policy decisions had to be made, those conservative fans of Lasch did what Red Tories do now - revert to the policy positions of their real camp - soft neo-con to soft neo-con, libertarian to libertarian, etc. Thus loving Lasch in the context of discussions about politics is really a political aesthetic choice, and not a real politic, much like Red Toryism or the Crunchies.

    When has MB voted against the war machine? I haven't spent much time looking into it, but the few things I have glanced at go like this:
    She voted against Dr. Paul on those votes.

  25. Owen:

    I don't know much about Lasch's conservative fans, but I am guessing they are akin to the conservative admirers of Allan Bloom -- they are titillated by these writers' critical analyses of modernity but refuse to pursue their thought past those realms where conservatism stakes a political interest, and therefore refuse to seriously understand these writers AS writers, rather than qua conservatives or conservative allies. (One wonders what they would make of Bloom's remark on the 'fatal old alliance' between conservatives and radicals, for instance.)

    As for MB, it is common knowledge that attitudes and statements matter more in politics than voting records, and so it is enough that she is perceived as being anti-war, or simply not bellicose enough, by the real neocons of the GOP -- despite what her record may or may not show. As Moldbug mentions over and over again, those on the left project an ideological unity on the right that is simply not there, and claiming Bachmann as one neocon in a veritable army of neocons is an example of such projection.

  26. Common knowledge? Please. After Obama the peace candidate how can one possibly say this? It is common knowledge that you spin and angle yourself in whatever way necessary to win. MB could (were she in a position to make a serious run) run on a slightly more libertarian than McCain angle but in order to win would be taking money from Erik Prince and his friends. She would then continue the war machine in a manner no different from other players. When and where has she given any real indication that she would do anything to alter neo-con foreign policy? She is a fruitcake, she has lots of impressions, she says lots of things that amount to little more than cheerleaderish babble. In front of a given crowd she may have waxed on in a libertarianish manner, but her voting record is such and her allegiances are such that it is rather implausible she would deviate from a neo-con foreign policy.

  27. I don't think we disagree that politicians will 'spin and angle [themselves] in whatever way necessary to win', I just think the spinning and angling is not entirely arbitrary. Bachmann is clearly angling herself to be the popular alternative to Ron Paul, at least for the moment, and judging from the low public support for the Libyan intervention it may yet prove to be a good choice. This isn't to say that she isn't opportunistic, and she may change her position once the primaries proper come around, but it is facile and rather dim to imagine Bachmann and all of her GOP confreres all as interchangeable puppets of Blackwater, Goldman-Sachs, or whatever corporate bogeyman is popular this week.

  28. BTW, McCain has recently lamented the 'isolationism' of the GOP contenders for 2012:

    "This is isolationism," McCain said. "There's always been an isolationist strain in the Republican Party, the Pat Buchanan wing of our party. But now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak."

    Read it here:

    It's got it all: McCain drawing tired and hysterical parallels to WWII ('when bad things happened in the world' -- hurr durr), claiming Gaddafi was going to go door-to-door killing every last person in Benghazi like a genocidal salesman, the usual blather about America needing to lead and take up the cause of freedom...and the cherry on top of the turd sundae is the comment section full of generic 'fuck Republicans/BusHitler/etc' partisan bullshit.

  29. " is facile and rather dim to imagine Bachmann and all of her GOP confreres all as interchangeable puppets of Blackwater, Goldman-Sachs, or whatever corporate bogeyman is popular this week."

    Oh please. When looking at any GOP person who is at all talked about with regard to the presidency they are all dumb as doorknobs except Paul and maybe Mitch Daniels. Paul got through medical school in 1870, but he doesn't strike me as a particularly bright doctor. Daniels can probably read at the college level, which distinguishes him. To speak of the rest as if there are meaningful policy position differences is facile. All we can know of those thin little minds is how they have voted and who they have aligned themselves with. Outside of Paul, to think that any of the others are capable of fighting against Blackwater and Goldman Sachs is pure intellectual masturbation, or idiocy, or both.

  30. If Bachmann were to seriously present herself as running against the war machine (not that I believe her capable of this, mind you) and/or against Wall Street, I think she would probably in a slightly more polite manner than Ron Paul was dealt with at the GOP national convention in 2008. That a number of freshmen GOP reps won running as Tea Partyers, and perhaps half of those are actual libertarians, doesn't mean a real shift has occurred within the GOP. I suspect Paul will be allowed into the 2012 GOP convention, but there are other means to deal with any threat to the power structures at hand.

  31. Stupid, sure. But stupid is beside the point.
    And whether you believe the differences between the candidates are meaningful is likewise beside the point; we are talking about brand recognition, and it is the job of political analysts to tease apart these brands from a matrix of statements, slogans, and gestures. Bachmann is defining her brand, and that brand is different from that offered by her competitors. It's shallow, sure, but what else in politics isn't?

    In case you haven't caught on yet, I'm not a supporter of Bachmann, or any GOP candidate, nor am I even a conservative. I just happen to enjoy picking on liberals.

    BTW, what does it say of a person that the worst current menace to civil society they can think of is a corporation with a bad reputation? It says they are an easily-imprinted dullard, the kind of person who reads Rolling Stone for the insightful political commentary, the kind of person with no sense of historical perspective, no political curiosity. I don't think you're that kind of person, Owen, so it confuses me why you mention Blackwater and Goldman-Sachs so often. Are they merely metonyms for capitalism?

  32. The attempt to bypass the actual influence of Goldman-Sachs upon fiscal policy is indicative of an analysis that is no more than aesthetic game playing.

    As for Blackwater - I love the target for all it represents - a leading Dobsonista family that is engaged in the epitome of corporate mercenary pursuits.

    The corporation I talk most about is Monsanto - also a metonym for capitalism. After reading Marie-Monique Robin's book, a book criticized by the radical Left for not hitting hard enough polemically, I am inclined to think it is impossible to overstate the negative impact of Monsanto.

    You have a smug presentation - above the fray of partisan propaganda, etc. I think it's just as much bullshit as you think my Marxism. It amounts to nothing more than posturing. Occasionally partisan positions, even popular ones, are correct. It is meet and just to hate Goldman Sachs, Blackwater, and Monsanto, and to pray for the day that their executives have their throats slit.

  33. I would have thought you'd appreciate my smugness -- you're linking to Matt fucking Taibbi, after all. I guess it's just not the right kind of smugness.

  34. Baud,

    I didn't say I didn't like it, just that it was bullshit. Obviously, I have a taste for bullshit.


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