They Love Them Way More Than You!

17 06 2010

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

That first “they” is Republican politicians. That subsequent “them” is owners of capital and corporations. The “you” is, well, actually you, that is people who have to work for a living, which most Americans are.

Is the real object of Republican politicians’ love and loyalty news to anyone? It shouldn’t be. But that “shouldn’t be” does assume knowledge of history and of what interests Republicans have historically defended. Aparently either historical knowledge is not abroad in the land, or the perpetual siren song of Rush, et al., is so powerful it can distract millions of people from what they know from the history channel.

Anyway, every once in a while some particularly inept Repub. pierces the Limbaugh/Hannety/Fox News truth-obscuring screen by getting sincerely furious when the Dems seem to be being mean to one of those he loves and serves — as described here, for example:

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/barton-what-i-really-meant-to-say/?hp

In what we love we reveal our true selves.

uuuuuuHeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Here’s the clip:

http://pandagon.net/index.php/site/comments/for_wingnuts_the_oil_industry_is_a_god/

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THE WAGES OF WEAKNESS I

19 11 2009

PRELUDE

I’m 61. I’m White. I live in a city in the Southern US that sprawls for many miles. Its structure has been shaped by and for the car. Recently I choose to give up driving because I’ve always had a phobia for it, which has gotten worse every year, to the point that the last few times I drove I had severe anxiety attacks, and came home totally exhausted from the experience. I also have a history of depression, which put me on Social Security Disability for three years a while ago. I now have a job that comes with a very good health plan, one that is known to practitioners throughout this city because so many people here have it.

Now that I’m not driving, I’m very assiduous in finding ways to work around that detriment. I do most of my shopping on the Internet. For my frequent trips to health professionals, I’ve found a fine organization that gives ride to the afflicted.

STORY #1

Several months ago I set out to develop a relationship with a small pharmacy located about 3 miles from the downtown of this city, where I live. The listing of that pharmacy in the Yellow Pages said “We deliver.”, and that’s why I chose to use it. I had several conversations on the phone with a pharmacist there. I filled out two sets of forms he mailed me. My downtown address appeared prominently on both. I received no questions or comments from the pharmacist on any of the information I supplied. I then went happily on with my life, figuring I had the prescriptions problem well provided for.

Several weeks after that, I came home with three new prescriptions from my doctor, which he had also faxed to that drugstore. I called them the next day to place an order. The pharmacist informed me, out of the blue, “We do not deliver to downtown.” Nothing I said would change his mind, even though either he or his partner had received my earlier telephone calls and the forms I’d filled out, both of which had contained my downtown address — which, again, is located less than 3 miles from their place of business.

I wondered angrily for a while why this sudden reversal had occurred. I decided that I will never know. But I wonder: Could it have anything to do with the fact that the downtown of this city is known to be a place where many Black people live?

STORY #2

Over the last few weeks I made a couple of calls to a local audiologist, asking to make an appointment to get my broken hearing aid fixed and get an updated hearing test. I explained that I would have to get a ride there, since I did not drive. I mentioned that fact in both calls.

I showed up today and the audiologist fixed my broken hearing aid by cleaning it out. The whole interaction took no more than 10 minutes. The audiologist’s  manner was abrupt and dismissive. She then informed me that she did not have a time to give me a hearing test, and I would have to come back another day.

I was very disappointed because I knew I couldn’t come back, due to the difficulty of arranging a ride and the fact that the hearing test was just a precautionary thing. It wasn’t essential.

Then I sat in their waiting room awaiting my ride home for half an hour. I didn’t see any new customers come in. I started to wonder why I had been denied the hearing test, and complained to the audiologist’s receptionist. She said that she had put me down for a hearing test, and had no idea why the audiologist wouldn’t give me one.

I left, bemused.

Why this dismissal? As in Story #1, a health provider had denied his or her services to someone who needed them and was in a position to pay full price for them. Could the reason for that have anything to do, in this case, with the fact that during my talk with the audiologist I mentioned that I had received my 2 pairs of hearing aids free from the State Vocational Rehabilitation Office over the past 9 years? (That happened while I was coming off Disability status and returning to work.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

This is the redstate American South. I grew up here. It has a history of the most vicious, heartless racism, amounting to American apartheid. I remember things being said in my home about Blacks that, even as a child, I found vicious and cruel. In my middle-size town in the 1960s, Blacks lived in an enclave of their own, and no interaction occurred between them and Whites that I could see, except those strictly necessary for business (which did NOT include their being allowed to hold any good, white-collar jobs).

Though much has changed here since then on the surface, such a fundamental cultural wellspring as that old racial hatred does not go away in a single generation. Does it still flow here as strongly as ever, but now all unspoken, and does it explain the mystery of Story #1, and, indirectly, of Story #2?

This is Ultra Right Wing home base. The radio-host pygmies on local AM station WJBO strive daily to stand as squarely in Rush Limbaugh’s huge shadow as they possibly can. Folks who call into the shows of those mini-Rushes love to hear the hosts’ vituperation, and from time to time make it clear that they, too, take it as given that all recipients of social programs are cheats, thieves, and/or layabouts.

This drumbeat of propaganda is endless and unrelenting. The generalized fury of the local AM talk radio listeners is so thick it’s almost palpable. It has an emotional intensity way beyond what I think can be motivated by mere disdain for the awfulness of liberalism alone. But the power of xenophobia, now…THAT is strong enough to do the job!

I’ve come to believe that the triumph of extreme right wing sentiment in the South arises from continuing hatred of Black people, an unusual number of whom live in poverty here in the South, and so are the the main recipients of those hotly-condemned social programs. Hate the program and consider it worthless = scorn its beneficiaries.

By being stridently Right, folks down here have found a way to be racist covertly.

Did I, a White man, then, get unceremoniously shown the door today due to merely being associated in someone’s mind for a moment with the hated minority group? Did the audiologist simply show me her dislike for a presumptive cheat/thief/layabout?

Or am I just being paranoid?

Even if I am, as we’ve all heard many times before:

“Just because I’m paranoid, that doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me!”





REPUBLICANS GO POSTAL

9 11 2009

This gentleman really understands the history of the last 30 years:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/opinion/09krugman.html?_r=1

All I have to add is that anyone could see at any given time during the Great GOP Period that it was not a populist party.

Things like

in Reagan’s time, using “supply side economics” to pass tax cuts for the rich,

refusing again and again to reign in the ever-greater abuses of the credit card industry,

[trying to] spoil Social Security,

in Bush-the-Lesser’s time, again passing even more tax cuts that mainly benefit rich people,

and, most recently, refusing repeatedly to vote for extensions to unemployment compensation in a time of economic desperation…

these are not populist actions by any measure I’ve ever heard of.

The Republican Party has always shown, by word and deed, that it is the party of the rich. Historically it has not been ashamed of that fact nor, until the last 30 years, has it tried to conceal it. Only in those same last 30 years has the GOP sought to make itself a majority party by grafting onto its vast amalgam of money something called “social conservatives”, which are in large part poor and working people who don’t like to see things change because they subliminally know that they may not be able to figure out how to keep on surviving in a world that changes too much.

After all the GOP’s highly visible betrayals of this latter group, the Democratic Party was perfectly situated to present itself as the Party of The Little Man, as it had in fact been from the 1930s to the Clinton year. Instead, the Big Donkey forever undermined that claim by giving vast amounts of dough to big banks as a way, supposedly, of staving off another Great Depression.

So I am scared as to where that leaves us now.





BEWILDERED WORKERS

1 10 2009

When I was a little boy growing up in a poor family WAY back in the early 1960, I was really into learning things. My stern mom always gave me a smile when she signed my report card.

Later I became a teenager and began to wonder just why we were so poor and others in town so clearly weren’t. What did they know or have that we didn’t, that condemned us to be perpetually one mortgage payment away from the streets? I became then and remain to this day furious at that disparity, well expressed for me in 1966 by the Doors in these two lines:

Some are born to sweet delight,

And some are born to the endless night.

Still later I went to college and some of this mystery was dispelled…but that’s not what this post is about.

No, this post is about how I’ve always been able to see over the past two decades why Rush Limbaugh et al. appeal so strongly  to poor people — poor white people in the South particularly –, even though the fundamental program of the Right has always tended to work to the advantage of the rich, not the poor.

This lady (commenting on an article in the New York Times that I’ll cite later) expresses my understanding of this strangely self-contradictory phenomenon perfectly:

“I don’t know whether to call it nostalgia or anachronism, but this idea that there is some “working class” or “blue collar class” in this country does not fit the times. Outside of the wealthy we have a remnant of what used to be the true middle class. At this point, these are mostly sales people who can manage $100k plus along with a few remaining professionals, technical workers and some managers. If you don’t fall into one of those two categories, you’re just poor.

The poor are the people with the $10 hour jobs, if they have jobs. No benefits — no paid vacation, no paid days off, no paid sick time, no health insurance. If you show up and work, you get paid. If you don’t show up, you hope you don’t lose the job. If you’re part of a family and live in a home together, probably most people living in the house have one or more such jobs. You’re never sure you can get enough money to pay the rent, electric, gas, water, sewer, garbage collection, medical bills, credit cards, etc., etc. You feel under siege most days.

The poor generally do not have the thinking ability afforded by a good education. In a country with a failed basic education system, they may be high school graduates, but they cannot read well enough to clearly understand meanings in things like newspapers and magazines. They are large consumers of “free” media — broadcast television and radio. Without critical thinking ability they are the rabble being roused by hucksters with nothing but their own self interest at heart. Limbaugh, Beck, O’Reilly, and Rupert Murdoch care only about possessing power and the money that comes with it.

Consuming that media, the poor are angry because they see themselves as being left out. Every show, fictional or otherwise shows people they believe are like them as being far better off than they are. The TV characters have better cars, nice houses, and they have no real worries outside of the scripted drama that is resolved so easily in the denouement. In the morning, the poor have to get up early, hope their 12-year-old car will start and make it to work if they can afford to put gas in it. This is a harsh and bitter reality that is almost a cognitive dissonance in contrast to the way they believe life is for most other people.

When they drive too fast on the way to work, police give them a ticket for speeding and the fine amount rivals their weekly take-home pay. Meanwhile they see politicians accused of crimes, and years later nothing has been done about it. They see police officers shoot apparently innocent people, and they get away with it. They hear about corporate executives being released from their responsibilities (fired) and given $25 million to take home with them. And when the poor don’t have the money to pay their speeding ticket a warrant is issued for their arrest. That leads to the loss of the car and the job and perhaps everything else they thought they had worked for.

These poor people are angry. They have a right to be angry. They were told in school they were being prepared for the “American dream.” Life was going to be the pursuit of more happiness today than yesterday. But they didn’t understand that their education was woefully inadequate to comprehend the current world. They weren’t told that corporations care about profit and nothing else, least of all them and their lives. They can’t accept that what they see and hear in the media they consume is a fantasy meant to take advantage of them in a hundred different ways. I could compare them to lost children wandering aimlessly around huge shopping malls angrily screaming at people in the food court who somehow have enough to eat.

We adults who have figured out how to get some food are at a loss to understand these people at their rallies saying the president is a monster. And calling them the working class or blue collar makes no more sense than labeling them “conservatives” or “patriots” or loose cannon for that matter.

They are simply poor. They are without hope. And they cannot understand what’s going on when they look at the Mercedes next to them at the stoplight and a black woman is in the driver seat. So they turn up the radio and Glenn Beck tells them Obama is causing it all. It has nothing to do with either work or class.”

— Tracy

If I had stayed in East Texas and  stayed uneducated, and there had been a Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck on the radio then, I would have believed everything he said!

___________________________________________________________

The comment quoted above was to this article:

http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/16/working-class-zero/





KNOWLEDGE v. NO-NOTHINGISM

12 08 2009

LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

People on the Right have been known to scare us into doing dumb things (Think Iraq war!). A sad current  example of that practice is discussed in the article referenced below. The article explodes the myth that some on the Right have recently created about this one doctor and the larger issues he has taken positions on. The article also explains succinctly why scaring folks works so well so often.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090812/us_time/08599191583500

And, no, the “Frightening” that the Right has used in the health care debate and elsewhere is NOT paralleled on the Left by warnings about global warming. The difference is that our warnings of global warming are based on the work of LOTS of reputable scientists, while, at least in the case of the doctor discussed above, the Frightening practiced by the Right has generally been accomplished by distorting the facts.

For an authoritative look at the science behind global warming, visit the site of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

http://www.ipcc.ch/

I always give scientists at least the benefit of the doubt, and I usually believe them when their pronouncements make sense in light of the moderate-to-good scientific knowledge I have.

I grew up in a world where extreme moralists were incessantly claiming to speak authoritatively about every aspect of life–from what happens to people after death to whether dancing should be prohibited.

I was troubled by all this hectoring, because I was serious about being a responsible guy, and I wanted to know who to believe. Then I learned about the scientific method and I realized that scientist don’t just make up their pronouncements or take them from ancient books. Instead, scientists actually TEST their hypotheses with real-world experiments, and change their ideas when experimental results require.

And then there is the fact that the child of science, technology, routinely produces new, wonderful things that we can each test for ourselves, and in the process  see the device’s underlying scientific theory  actually working, often spectacularly,  in the real world.

Since its inception around four hundred years ago, experimental science has increasingly routed the practitioners of the traditional “our ancestors believed it so it must be true” school of analysis.

What a relief for any thinking person!





I TOLD YOU SO

17 01 2009

Here’s a nice Bush retrospective.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/jan/17/georgebush-legacy-usa

I knew 28 years ago when Reagan was elected that the poor would suffer. Despite being an American, I actually have class consciousness — as do the American Rich, who relentlessly work for policies that specially benefit them. But in the US the middle class broadly lacks this awareness, so they probably mostly missed the prospect I saw (or if they saw it, they didn’t care, since they weren’t poor).

Later, as unions were broken as a result of a supine National Labor Relations Board, and, still later, capitalism became unfettered and global, it was obvious to me that the traditional reasonably-comfortable American working class would be the next to suffer. They themselves didn’t see it, by and large. Perhaps, incredibly, they thought that the owners of American capital would be nice to them and keep their jobs here and continue to pay them union-won salaries just cuz, you know, we’re all Americans! Hard to believe anyone could ever believe that, but ignorance is bliss.

Then we had the Bush tax cuts for the Rich, coupled with two wars, which created enormous expenditures. resulting in an enormous deficit. And, next, the supineness of regulators spread to those who regulated American financial services, as of course could be expected, since after 24 years of right wing rule it was axiomatic to our rulers that The Market Could Do No Wrong. Accordingly the financial regulators just left the financiers alone and let them run. It was another disaster.

So now the Right, perfectly represented by the feckless George W. Bush, has screwed things up so badly that even the vast middle-middle, and some of the upper-middle, class will suffer. AND WE CAN’T HAVE THAT.

Lots of comfy suburban folks are probably saying just that right now, or soon will be. As they defect from Republicanism and Free Market worship, I  now predict the next stage, something I never expected to live long enough to see.

The long American love affair with the Right is over.