Thursday, November 13, 2014


     I can't imagine hating someone so much that I'd advertise it on the bumper of my car.
     Sadly, I didn't have to imagine it. All I had to do was walk by. There's a lot of that in contemporary American life: grotesqueries that grab you by the sleeve as you go about your business, or try to, and snarl out a low, wet, mean "Hi!"
     Thanks pal, thanks for sharing your cramped little world with me. Proud, are you? 
      The car was sitting in the parking lot of a moderately upscale restaurant in Northbrook where my wife and I went for lunch. So its owner isn't suffering so much he couldn't pop twenty bucks for lunch. I noticed the bumper sticker walking back to our car. Here, I'll blow it up for you. 
     If the acronym's meaning doesn't immediately leap out at you, don't feel bad. It eluded Edie too; I take that as a sign of purity of spirit. When you are immersed in this stuff, as I am, a certain sixth sense emerges.
      As a clue, notice the "O" contains the sunrise symbol used in Barack Obama's campaigns.
      Another hint. On the left bumper of the car, almost unnecessarily, is a yellow sticker, a version of the Revolutionary War "Don't Tread on Me" flag that Tea Partiers have embraced, representing their delusion that they are fighting for freedom, and not fighting against the freedoms of their fellow Americans and against their own country's success as a whole. Trying to hold back changes which are going to steamroll them, the way way the ignorant and the fearful and the prejudiced are always steamrolled by history, sooner or later.
      I've obscured the license plate, not because I worry someone would use it to track the car owner down and harass him—you just know it's a man—but, well, as as kindness. I don't anticipate the driver of the Durango will ever see this, but you never know, and I wouldn't want him to be made afraid. Or rather, more afraid. These people live on fear, clearly, and if real threats don't present themselves, they make them up. They need to justify their anger, to create villains, the way a slasher movie needs to establish the evil of its maniac before he can be subjected to the cruelties the audience is eager to enjoy.
     Fear and malice are the driving factors in their lives, and I don't want to add to it, because I'm a nice guy, and don't want to be like them. "When battling monsters," as my pal Nietschze said, "make sure that you do not in the process become a monster."
     Oh, GTFO stands for, "Get the Fuck Out." 
     Because Jan. 20, 2017, can't come around quick enough for these people. They have to cheer it along, to yearn for it, to celebrate and anticipate it. Because they have suffered ... um, oh let's come out and say it ... seeing a black man in the White House. That has to be reason because there's no possible explanation otherwise. Really, what has Barack Obama done to these folks that they would hate him so? What is the horror they're reacting to? Certainly not gun control. Or immigration reform. Just the contrary. Obama stepped up deportations, dramatically, trying to please those who would never be pleased (I assume; it certainly wasn't the right thing to do). The Affordable Care Act? It's affecting five percent of the country. Is that why there is a GTFO page online counting down the seconds? An entire line of GTFO products, bumper stickers and t-shirts and such? On a page offering t-shirts, I noticed this particular revealing design: "HOPE HE FAILS." 
    That's like the joke about the man drilling a hole under his seat in the row boat. I guess they don't realize that the president failing means the country failing, and them too. Which shows the difference between Obama scorn and Bush scorn, which Obama haters immediately bring up when attention is directed to their overarching hatred, as if Bush haters were suddenly their moral compass, as if the two were comparable, and they're not. This t-shirt illustrates why. People hated Bush because he was failing; people hate Obama so want him to fail. That might be a subtle difference to some, but to me seems clear and significant.
     For six years, the Republican right has hurt the country, and themselves with their insane rear guard action against anything Barack Obama has done. Our nation is frozen, largely. We can't do what we need to do, what the rest of the world has done long ago. In the next two years we'll no doubt see more of that, emboldened by their electoral win earlier this month. 
     Me, when it comes to Obama, I vacillate. Part of the time I want to fault him for not pushing harder, for not standing up more for his ideals more, whether by closing Guantanamo Bay, coming out earlier for gay marriage, trying harder for immigration reform, crafting a more comprehensive national health care laws.
    That view is based on his promises and his potential.
     But he is nothing if not a politician, and given the roadblocks he's run into, you can't fault him for not sprinting faster into the brick wall.
     When you hold his accomplishments up to the doorjamb-gnawing vehemence of his enemies, it's amazing he's done anything at all, from the Affordable Health Care Act, to this week's agreement with the Chinese to establish curbs on greenhouse emissions. Lack of participation of the Chinese always made international agreements trying to stem global warming somewhat pointless, as the Republicans liked to crow. Bringing them on board is hugely important in mitigating the disaster we can no longer avoid.
     Of course the Republicans, who don't recognize global warming as a real, man-made phenomenon, will find a reason to hoot him down on this too—they can't claim it doesn't go far enough, since they don't recognize the problem is within our control to begin with. Maybe they'll claim he's a traitor, for working out a secret deal with the Chinese. As with "amnesty," the actual situation doesn't really matter, they just need to find the right negative term they latch onto. Maybe they'll call it "accommodation." 
     And no, I did not key the car with the GTFO bumper sticker. Though the thought did cross my mind. When battling monsters....


  1. Great column, Should be in the paper.

    1. Agreed! And placed on the FRONT PAGE every day...we are so fortunate to have him.

  2. Are you kidding. He has taken horrible gun control steps through executive action, and is working with the evil Bloomberg to taken even harsher actions in the states such as in Washington. He is also taking bad actions to impose environmentalism. I also hate all the deportations he has done and the racist wars on the people of the Middle East and his support of the zionist apartheid oppression and murder/genocide of the Palestinian people. I dislike this right wing tyrant because of his policies, not his race. Republicans may be doing it because of race but there are lots of us left wingers who have other reasons.

    1. Name one "horrible gun control step" he has taken through executive action. The rest of your remark is beneath comment.

    2. is the link to the White House website announcement of no less than 23 executive actions he took on gun control. He later took two additional executive actions on background checks as reported in the New York Times. Evidently you agree with him. I say they ALL must be repealed as must all federal and state gun laws. Nothing is more important than ending gun control and environmentalism.

  3. If I bang my head against the wall a few times, close my right eye and squint with my left, I can kind of understand where the GTFO people are coming from. Sort of wish I'd never heard of them.


  4. Note the Texas Christian University sticker. Wherever you find a hater, you are likely to also find someone who is proud to call himself a "Christian"! I left Texas, but can't seem to get away from that peculiar type of Texan. Not that Texas is unique in that regard!

    1. I was struck by the juxtaposition of the TCU sticker, (that's a Horned Frog, BTW) and the other one, as well. (Though I would not agree with the over-generalization of 8:59 Anonymous' second sentence.)

      From the TCU website: "TCU is the largest of 14 colleges and universities associated by covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a denomination committed to demonstrating true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice." I can't quite recall which Gospel "GTFO" was mentioned in, either in so many words, or in spirit. (Well, except perhaps in referring to the devil. Hmmm....) And FWIW, "Don't Tread on Me," whatever else the merits of the phrase, seems to highlight a philosophy more in keeping with Ayn Rand than with "true community." Why, this seems to be a confounding bumper, indeed. ; )

    2. I agree with you Jakash re the over-generalization of the 2nd sentence of Anonymous' post, but it seems to be a common perception these days. Just another example of (unintended?) bigotry, I guess.

  5. If you keep your eyes open you will see plenty of Impeach Bush bumper stickers and the like--generally with a peace sign in the vicinity, often with an anti-Israel sticker as well.

    1. I must be blind . I've never seen one "Impeach Bush" sticker.

    2. i had one that said "NO MORE BU**SH**!"

  6. One must deplore bigotry, even where the great state of Texas is concerned, but might still admire it being wittily dispensed. As when General Phillip Sheridan said "If I owned Texas and Hell, I'd rent out Texas and live in Hell."

    On the main topic, I've seen a few anti-Bush stickers, but would agree that much of the Obama stuff expresses something darker than mere political opposition.

  7. Our President Nixon was a paranoid psychopath. Our President Obama is a lying scoundrel.

    On inauguration day 2009 President Obama had a 70% approval rating. Now it is around 40%.
    Now his own party members are loath to be seen with him.

    So how do the liberals/progressive foot soldiers – those who wept and swooned in Grant Park on election night in 2008 -- explain this?

    One tactic of the simple minded is to only grab onto confirming evidence of one’s beliefs and to ignore the rest.

    Thus let’s search far and wide for some crude behavior towards our President Obama and then – using the whole “guilt by association” tactic -- try to associate all those that believe contrary to us – “haters.”

    I hate Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. Not President Obama. Note Richard Nixon. Even the GTFO comment is probably not an indication of hate – but rather of extreme displeasure. This was not a threat of or a wish for harm.

    So what is the number of true haters of our President – those who put President Obama into the same box as most of us put Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Maybe about 100 people in the entire country?

    I travel in several circles including a circle of rural white folk. I have not heard the N-word used in about 30 years and I have heard no expressions of hate towards our President Obama. Of course there is much anger towards President Obama but it is in the same league as that shown against those who lie an connive against us. “If you like your insurance you can keep it.” One of the chief architects of Obamacare admits that it was designed to fool the “stupid” American Public –“stupid” his word not mine.

    1. "I have heard no expressions of hate toward our President Obama." Why Jerry, that's the most self-indicting thing you've ever said, which is sayin' something.

  8. Mr. Steinberg & Folks:

    I have no idea what you are talking about. Perhaps your meaning is crystal clear to those that share your "vibe." But then we get into the whole echo chamber thing of liberal/progressive blogs merely pandering to the like-minded. For me it merely looks like snide character assassination. Much like labeling anyone advocating for social justice a "commie" or "pinko." I would think you are better than that.

    If you have a disagreement with what I am saying -- then use logic and evidence to support your position.

    Finally -- you asked us not to direct 'snide' comments against you.

  9. JerryB,

    You are blind, deliberately so. I expect better of a man of your intellect. Take the "blinders" off.

  10. Wendy:

    I believe you and Mr. Steinberg are the folks exhibiting the bad behavior here.

    Here is what interests me. Chicago’s mayor was the chief of staff of our President Obama. Yet he was labeled a racist by Karen Lewis – head of the Chicago teacher’s union.

    You and Mr. Steinberg merely seem to be playing the race card with your vague allegations that I ‘self-indicted’ myself or that I am somehow “blind” to hatred based on race.

    First of all you simply dilute the term “hatred” if you believe the country is filled with haters. If many are ‘haters’ then we have to use the absurd circumlocution of ‘super-duper’ when referring to our feelings about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and OBL.

    Second, it is a subtle ploy to be labeling people “haters” – because this is merely a roundabout way of labeling them irrational or crazy.

    You know me well from Zorn’s blog. You know that I am an advocate for gay rights and SS marriage. You know that I am a staunch defender of Israel. Thus is it not a bit odd that I would be blind to displays of racial hatred when I am not to gay or Jewish issues?

    I have several members of my and my wife’s family who are African and African/American.

    I am not defending myself here. Rather I am posting to explore the intellectual bankruptcy of the liberals/progressives such as Steinberg, Karen Lewis and yourself having to play the race card as your last defense . It’s always the vague accusation without specifics that is the hallmark of a scoundrel seeking to discredit his or her opponents.

    I am posting here because it is on such liberal/progressive blogs that the liberals/progressives show their true colors at any point in time. Folks like you are playing a losing hand. Time to rethink what liberals/progressives should be standing for and how best to deal with those members of the general public who did not weep and swoon on election night 2008.

  11. Jakash:

    Thanks for the reply. As always – you post reasonably. I agree with almost everything you say.

    Many had grounds to be very displeased with GWB. Many have grounds to be very displeased with our President Obama. If liberals/progressives sported GTFO stickers wrt GWB – I would not label them “haters.” If they wished him physical harm – then I would call them haters. Physical harm is where I draw the line.

    My anecdotal evidence does have the benefit of being longitudinal. In my youth I did indeed hear hateful remarks directed against M.L. King. I have not heard similar stuff directed against our President Obama. It appears that your first hand experience has been the same. I conclude this because you had to go to the internet – where morons are given free reign – to uncover the truly ‘hateful’ stuff.

    If Wendy or Mr. Steinberg have truly witnessed ‘hateful’ stuff – then they should tell us about it.
    GTFO stickers wrt to a president with very low approval ratings – whether it be GWB or BHO is not ‘hateful’ unless we want to mightily dilute the term.

    More extreme animus was shown to Mitt Romney in 2012 and to Bruce Rauner in 2014 by mainstream people and mainstream advertising than was ever shown to President Obama by similarly situated people. Yet I would merely label that as ‘politics as usual’ and not “hate.”

    Wendy, Mr. Steinberg and many other liberals/progressives are merely over playing their hand to their political detriment. A majority of voting Americans are now mightily displeased with BHO. If they now fear being labeled as” haters” because they express their displeasure then they will simply come to fear the likes of these liberals/progressives.

    Many mainstream pundits on PBS channels conceded that the Democrats overplayed their hand wrt the ‘war on women’ nonsense hurled against the Republicans.

    Putting on my partisan hat – I hope the liberals/progressives continue to overplay their very weak hands on several fronts.

    1. Jerry,

      I'm glad that you were not offended by my comment. Without getting into a discussion of politics and/or race that goes well beyond the scope of this post, it seems that the crux of the matter for you revolves around what is "hatred" and what is "politics as usual." Seems to me that a fair amount of the politicking on both sides reaches the level of hatred, but I could be wrong. The first definition of "hate" I found is "to dislike intensely or passionately." I assume that the owner of the bumper sticker that is the focus of this post is passionate in his appreciation for the TCU Horned Frogs. I bet if you asked him/her, they'd readily state that they "hate" the Oklahoma Sooners, to name a possible example. Similarly, they are passionate about freedom -- hence the "don't tread on me" sticker. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd be willing to say that they "hate" terrorists and Commies. Yet, when they choose to denounce Obama by advertising their feelings with the third message on their bumper, you seem to think that they're not that passionate about HIM. FWIW, I believe that placing such a sticker among the select 3 they have chosen to display on the bumper indicates that they intensely and passionately dislike Obama. Clearly, you disagree.

      Neil began by saying "I can't imagine hating someone so much that I'd advertise it on the bumper of my car." Neither can I. To me, the difference between having a ROMNEY! sticker on one's car and one that says GTFO, is telling.

  12. Jakash:

    You indeed focus on the crux of the matter when you state:

    “””“ seems that the crux of the matter for you revolves around what is "hatred" and what is "politics as usual." Seems to me that a fair amount of the politicking on both sides reaches the level of hatred, but I could be wrong. The first definition of "hate" I found is "to dislike intensely or passionately."””

    Language is inherently imprecise. We have to use language in a way that sheds “light” not “heat”
    on the issues.

    I will concede that your definition of “hatred” would ensnare many mainstream folk – both Republican and Democrat. But that lumps these mainstream folk with those morons on the web that you alluded to in your earlier post. That is why I use less extreme terms when describing our President and his many intensely passionate supporters.

    I believe we have talked this out. I will let you have the last word if you so desire. I will certainly read your final post but I will try my best not to respond.

    Thanks again for your several thoughtful comments


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