Culture War, Part Six: The Rise and Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part 2
This is the second of three parts detailing the history of the Republican Party’s incredibly disciplined, relentlessly persistent, and amazingly cohesive nearly fifty-year campaign to gain advantage and wealth for their benefactors, the corporations and the “Filthy Rich,” through totally concocted untruths. It continues the exposition of this incredible phenomenon of decades-long and increasing intentional misrepresentations used by one party representing a tiny segment of the electorate to weave a fabric of falsity over the eyes of the American public.
Similar to a kind of hypnotic trance, it is a widely accepted but unreal and mostly opposite mental state acting like a filter to reality, blocking out the truth and substituting a fantasy quilt woven of verbal constructions. These constructions–the “obvious truths”–are designed to please the ear, rationalize the urges, and comfort the ego, so that they will become acceptable substitutes for reason and honest perception in a population which has also been intentionally burdened, stressed, and busied through policies intended to keep them submissive and fearful.
This coordination of policy and mantra is a strategic effort, emanating essentially from a sliver of the population, as a terrified reaction initially to a rapid series of popular developments and mass movements with global reach, with the apparent power and possibility of overthrowing a multigenerational structure of power, wealth, privilege, and dominance.
The acceptability of this substitute narrative was shaken only in recent years as it collided dramatically with the system that it had spawned, exposing its roots in the minds of a class and its utter lack of foundation in reality. The story of this lengthy and comprehensive intentional deception, its dramatic collision, and the gradual awakening of the population to the real forces behind the events of their lives and times, revealed in the shock of the disruption, continues.
In Part One, I talked about the fifty-year Republican campaign to convince the media and the American people of certain truisms that had nothing to do with the truth, in fact were almost one-hundred percent of the time the opposite of the truth. It’s pretty amazing what they were able to do. It’s quite a story what a campaign it was, involving such things as getting people poorer and poorer, requiring them to work longer hours and so on so that they would have less time to think about things. It included other elements such as the way in which people’s minds were either stressed or made busy, and also the way they wore down the American people’s resolve to fight back against injustice
Repetition makes it possible to control. The Republican untruth, no matter how contradicted by observable reality, was endlessly repeated in the exact same way, by each and every Republican. Always and everywhere when reason would be called on instead the hypnotic truism would be brought out. Pounded home in this manner, the “obvious truth” would eventually take root, sadly, without fail, for lack of anything else countering it able to be remembered.
Democratic efforts on deaf ears. The Democrats, meanwhile, were of course on the opposite side of this seamless coordination of Republican effort. Since their motives were not to enslave, their instinct was to respond, for their part, with reason and explanations that step by step delineated the causes of things. However all those words could not be remembered or take root in the minds of the befuddled masses, surrounded by such a barrage of an organized, disciplined ongoing assault of “talking points” against them.
Policy was added to words to bring into unconscious complicity the new mental territories invaded. This mesmerism was combined with carefully crafted and timed Republican policies which succeeded beyond all expectation in eroding leisure (i.e., pondering) time, financial power, physical strength, sleep and pleasure time.
The result. Together they created increasing worry and stress time, overwhelmed and busy moments, and mindless paperwork time. It brought in confusional realities and mental “supports.” This precarious mental state left people defenseless against the major thrust of verbal repetition, comprised of simplistic, simple-minded, irrational, then increasingly irrational, but perfectly concocted verbal phrasings that elicited the precise proportions of fear, apprehension, uncertainty, feelings of paternal comfort and of being approved of, unimpeachable direction, comprehensive reinforcement and support, pleasing reward, and congratulation so as to manage, direct, and control the populace.
That’s all I’m going to say now, but, if you didn’t hear the first part, that will give you a little jumpstart on this. Part Two picks up from the end of Part One, and it begins after the links and player for the audio reading of it directly below.
The Rise and Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part Two
an Audio Reading by SillyMickel Adzema
Here is an audio of the author’s impassioned reading of this part. Though it is of the first, unedited and unpolished version, and it does not contain all the detail of its current form below, it does capture the flavor of it all. I offer it here for your listening pleasure. For the reading of this part, “The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths,’ Part Two,” click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here.
Erosion of Reason
A Herman’s Hermit of Economics
But at the same time, like McCain said, “I don’t know too much about economics.” So he kind of spilled the beans there. Some of the truth actually came out.
So how did that happen? This idea of a special interest, and it being equal for both? It’s basically a smear campaign against Democrats who were trying to do things for Americans. And Americans were being told something different. By who? Well on the TV, on the news media.
So who talks on the news media. Well, it’s the supposed journalists, the pundits, and so on. And they’ve been saying that for decades now, I’ve heard them… “special interest” … that the Democrats have their special interests. So therefore how does anybody know the truth? And you’ve heard it, I’m sure. They say, ”Well, the Democrats and Republicans are the same; there isn’t any difference between those parties.”
Now, how did that happen? How did it happen that Democrats who were trying to do things for the average American, for Americans in general, how did it become that they were the same as the Republicans, basically who were doing things for a handful of people in one corporation or a handful of people in the other corporation…or on behalf of some industry…all at the expense of the American people? And I’ll get to that last part later.
There’s something really wrong when you have a media that doesn’t have the ability to reason for pointing out the irrationality of these concocted untruths, which are broadcast endlessly, repetitively, over and over again, by one after another of Republicans, whenever they get on TV, whenever they get on the radio, and then it’s repeated by their lackeys in the media, like Rush Limbaugh or whatever. I wonder how many of you out there are actually thinking: “Yea, that’s what that is…yeah, unions, environment…those are special interests.”
I pointed out that Democrats have taken money, much smaller amounts than Republicans, from this or that corporation. But every time there’s a scandal, every time some of this practice leaks out, that is not what we hear. There was a huge example of this in recent times with the Abramoff scandal. Abramoff was a lobbyist funneling huge amounts of cash into Congress for favors. It was largely Republicans that were involved. Only one of the top eight recipients was a Democrat; the rest were Republicans.
But was that detail important to the media? No, no, they couldn’t have it sound that way, like we have one particularly despicable political party. It might upset people. So Abramoff gave to both parties we were told–technically true, but deceptive, certainly not informative. And as I discuss later, without clarity on events and in particular who’s at fault, when the waters are muddied and any talk of specific people responsible is covered in social niceties and generalities with relevant details only in the fine print, well people are hamstrung in their ability to do anything to right any wrongs.
You’d Have to Be Abraham-Lincoln Noble
Back to the scandal, so we have one Democrat out of the eight politicians who made off with the most loot. One Democrat and seven Republicans in the top bunch. Do you see that picture? I doubt the percentage of ordinary folks cheating on taxes is that small. So can’t we make a comparison as to who a better party is, what group is more trustworthy based upon 12 % of the most corrupt being Democrats and almost 90% being Republicans? Does that not sound like the one party made out like bandits and this other guy, a Democrat, was in the room at the time?
“Free computers time!” I mean, Jesus, if I see a truck fall over in the street and it’s got all these goodies, and they come rolling out…I don’t know, maybe it’s typewriters…. I told you I was old. Let me change that, maybe it’s computers or something. Everyone around me is taking some, taking free computers, and I’m thinking, “Hey, it’s free computers time!”
I mean, c’mon. How noble do you have to be to resist almost nine out of ten people around you? You gotta be pretty damn noble. I’m talking Abraham Lincoln noble, right?
The dummies in front of us. So anyway, can we have a little rational thought, or comparison? Or do we just, as media, cavalierly toss out cliched thoughtless truisms as if the masses don’t matter….as if they are not real and thoughtful deciders in our collective drama but merely pawns to be placated or riff-raff to be kept down.If we find something wrong with one party why must we paint both parties with the same brush? Isn’t that what is done? Is it any wonder then there is apathy, any wonder there is confusion and self-sabotage among so many? Doesn’t the media have any way of discerning any differences… and that’s what I was setting up at the beginning, wasn’t I?
There’s been an erosion of rationality, and it’s not just of regular Americans. It’s also of those Americans who are in front of us on TV, soothing us with comfortable truisms, which I think many of them half believe.
And by the way who arranges for the televising of these pundits and the news shows and programming like that? Geez, isn’t it like really, really big corporations and rich people who own them…General Electric, Rupert Murdoch, and folks like that?
This new app for creating the news. The result is a situation where it is doubtful there is much reason involved in what is told. Hardly any common sense or thought into it, it is as if the scripts are cobbled together by computers from random cliches that are currently about and, of course, the always handy “obvious truths.” In the example of bribes paid to politicians, and the Abramoff one is typical, isn’t the media’s take on it slanted? No doubt they would want to derail public anger toward the masters of the troughs they feed at.
Democrat “bosses”–workers, education, environment, elderly, public health, consumer protection, liberty, justice, civil rights, world peace, integrity of government, truth in the media… So lacking in the most minimal analysis, the insinuation that goes out is that the Democrats, well, they get a little bit of money from a corporation and much more from the American people but that little bit is going to corrupt them equally as much as the tenfold amounts that the Republicans take in. This also in disregard of the fact that the far bigger “bosses,” if we can call it that, of Democrats is the ordinary folks, often, as in the issue-oriented organizations as mentioned in Part One–those “special” Americans seeking to be heard through unions and groups whose concerns are education, the environment, the elderly, public health, liberty, justice, and civil rights, consumer protection, world peace, integrity of government, media accountability, the welfare of the helpless and the poor, and so on.
Media mollifying us that Republicans would actually bite the hand that feeds them. On the flip side, whereas the media insinuates that Democrats are enslaved by the relatively meager amounts of corporate money directed to them, for the Republicans, who are receiving the tenfold amounts and are virtually exclusively funded by corporations…their entire paycheck paid by the rich folks…the media implies that these folks, miraculously defying human nature, are actually going to go out there and day after day point out the corruption in America that is ever the product of this bloated elite, their sole benefactors.
“To..catapult the propaganda” – G.W. Bush. C’mon, c’mon, a little bit of rationality, folks! But however inconsistent with common sense these insinuations and outright assertions from the media, when you have something that’s repeated over and over again, mantram-like…man! Especially if you’re in a confused state, or a stressed state…it’s gonna be the only thing you can think of when you’re coming up with opinions.
These untruths are so firmly woven into the fabric of the Matrix–you’ll see there are others you’ll recognize–that when hearing them you’ll
probably say, “Oh, yeah, that’s true.”
That’s what they’ve accomplished. And these nonsensicals are so perfectly knitted into the blanket of that matrix that they’re both mesmerizing and invisible, therefore unchallenged, even by the pundits. They are even, by rational argument, unchallenge-able.
Talking Points = “Obvious Truths”
Now, what do I mean by that…”unchallenge-able”? Republicans at a point in my lifetime included in their coordinated daily attacks on clarity a kind of chanting in coordinated fashion. By that I mean they were repeating the same, as they call them now, talking points.
“You got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the (un)truth to sink in” – G.W. Bush. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but remember, if you did tune in for any of Bush’s debates, when he was running for president either time. He’d be asked a question.
And he’d never give an answer to the question. It would be used like a jumping off point to say what he really wanted to say. It had the intended effect of distracting the viewers from any clear thought on the issue or subject. It also freed up that time to be used, once viewers were led off track, for the seeding of those now assailable minds. Specifically, Bush was able to use the time allotted for answering questions instead to pound home the talking points Rich-publicans were trying to turn into some new (untrue) “obvious truths” (of course also to reinforce the old ones).
Palin: I’m not going to let the media set me up to answering your questions, I’m going to brainwash you instead! Oh by the way we had a really good example of that with the Republican vice-presidential candidate last time. I don’t know how many of you have seen it, but Sarah Palin, in the vice-presidential debate, she was so… incredible…in a way…in her brazenness. She’s up there alongside Biden who’s answering questions. And at her turn, she’s saying (paraphrasing) “I’m not going to let you media folk set me up here, so I’m going to talk to the people directly.”
And that’s how it went the whole hour, hour and a half, whatever it was. Whatever the question was, she’d totally ignore it and recite a monologue instead. Well, basically she’s repeating again and again her favorite, most lucrative mantra, her most delicious untruths.
Attacks on our reason…i.e., Republicans to public – “You’re a dumb shit, I’m not going to answer your questions!” But what if you really wanted to know something? She wouldn’t answer you. So it was also like a one-way conversation. Here we have politicians, who are always telling us what the truth is, but who will not answer our questions so that we can add our own thinking to the matter. We are prevented from coming to our own conclusions, so also making our own decisions. Well that’s really an attack on our reason, isn’t it? I mean we can’t ask questions, but you can just tell us what the truth is? And that’s basically what was going on.
So it is sort of like a coordinated chanting. It doesn’t matter what the issue or topic is, from the gop side you just keep hearing the same phrases about it–phrases intended to replace reason. It doesn’t either matter which Republican is talking or what TV show they are on, they are repeating the same phrases. Like Sarah Palin, they are using any question, as in a television interview, as a launch point into a rehearsed nicely knit together, truth-sounding, package of untruths. You see this one Republican saying something here, say, then there’s another Republican over there, and if you compare you notice she or he is repeating basically the same thing almost in the exact same words.
Postmodern mesmerism. And there’s a certain power in something that’s said over and over again in the exact same words. We know this. We’ve seen that power conspicuously in recent times. We can hear Hitler, in Nazi Germany, repeating the same thing over and over again…and using this rhetorical device in targeting Jews, getting people all riled up and such. On recordings from this era we hear their…”Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!” There’s a certain kind of comfort in not having to think, all you have to do is chant. And you can rely on these chants because everybody’s saying them, so they have the power, of like, wow, they must be true, because, well, everybody’s saying them, everybody around you. Well that’s a sad state of affairs.
This is your brain. Now, this is your brain on deception… So what does this do, this omnipresent repetition of phrases in response to questions? This chanting of untruths instead of having rational discourse, when people are hearing this year after year and even decade after decade, what does it do? Well, it adds to the smokescreen of confusion and misinformation that was effectively castrating and making Americans easily manipulated to whatever end the Republicans wanted. I mean after all you’re not getting reasoned answers, you’re just getting slogans, and that leaves you confused, especially if it’s combined with a lot of misinformation which challenges the facts on everything, when everything is turned backward and they’re lying about everything. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten how flagrant that intentional deception was over Bush’s eight years. And isn’t that gonna make you confused? I remember a time when the facts were not so much in dispute so there wasn’t such a huge divide between the Democrats and the Republicans about what the issues were. What was debated could then be what you do about those commonly acknowledged problems.
Denial of a problem…yea, that’s gonna solve it. So this confusion over the issues has birthed an increasing polarization of opinions over the years about what the issues are. You see, we’re being told by some Republicans that there’s no global warming going on. Nooo. Wow. They are saying that issue, and for that matter virtually every environmental issue, does not exist! Certainly we’d all like to believe that, so even at their own peril adherents will be found for this obvious denial.
A convenient “truth.” And who do they have to back up that refusal to look at the problem? Well keep in mind, first, it is virtually one hundred percent of the reputable scientists studying global warming that are in agreement on the dire reality of it, regardless of the “inconvenience” of that view. Meanwhile, to oppose that position, from the Right they get, say, someone who’s got a degree from a Bible Institute and he says, “Aaaah, there’s no global warming.” And his opinion is equal to that of all those scientists, in the world?
Would you really think it’s debatable if…? So this misinformation I’m talking about is put out there. And you don’t have the media telling you, “Well these are 100 scientists saying this, all writing statements, and studying these issues. And on the other side of this issue, we have this person who’s studying theology and he got his information from the Bible. And the Bible says there’s no global warming.” Now, if they were to put it to you that way, would you really think there was a debate? Would you really think that it’s like “Ah, maybe there is global warming, maybe there isn’t?” Naw, I don’t think you would. But that’s not the way it’s presented.
Equal Time For Idiots
At a certain point in my life I saw how the media changed its way of presenting topics. They would say they are just providing “equal time” (or that they are “fair and balanced”?), but this was not about candidates at all.
Recipe for “accurate” reporting – Start by mixing equal amounts of truth and lies…. (It’ll be fun seeing if the public can figure it out!) They claim that their position on reporting is rooted in the equal time restrictions we have for elections. This appears to be a convenient rationalization for a more insidious intent. What they began doing is, ok, let’s say that the Democrats basically thought the sky looked blue. But there were some Republicans that were in the camp of the yellow sky movement, the pink sky movement, whatever. And what reason do those Republicans give for saying that? Well maybe it’s because the Bible says it or something (an aside: that might be the reason they’d give, but typically their real reason would be that an industry that is supporting them is spewing something into the atmosphere making the sky more and more yellow or pink).
Giving stupidity a chance…the only thing about which we’re compassionate these days. Now, what do the journalists do here? Well, they figure there’s two opinions on this thing. Honest to God, that’s what happened. And this method of reporting was actually debated when it started to happen. There were more seasoned journalists who were pointing out, “Hey, this is not giving equal time! We don’t give equal time to an idiotic argument just because it challenges, just because it is the opposite of the truth.”
Erosion of Action
Doubting the Obvious, You’re Paralyzed
But if you do follow this Recipe for the Advancement of Idiot Persons (RAIP), and you have the journalists thinking that’s what they’re supposed to do, or maybe they are being told to do that, or maybe they’re being paid to do that, or maybe they’re getting benefits to do that, or maybe they’re being liked if they do that… by you know who, by people up above them… and people above them happen to want to be liked by people above them and people above them want to be liked by people above them… and people at the top are, y’know, the filthy rich. So… confusion. So what happens? When you’ve got this kind of smoke screen and this misinformation, it’s debilitating. I mean I felt it. And what does it do? It makes you doubt the truth about obvious things. And if you doubt the truth about obvious things, then are you gonna take any action? No! You’re powerless, you’re gonna stand still and you’re gonna go, “What am I supposed to do?” It’s kind of like a castration.
Surrounded by Untruth, You’re Easily Swayed
Powerless against the tides. Also, you’re easily manipulated. You’re standing there. Now if you’re just standing there not knowing what to do, and somebody starts pushing you in a particular direction, you’ve got no reason not to go in that direction. Basically that’s putting it in physical terms, but if you don’t have any ideas about what the truth is, you can be told anything. Well, that’s been pretty dangerous in the past.
We’ve had many, many people killed…whether it’s in Nazi Germany or Cambodia or whatever. They were easily manipulated, and they were not fighting back. And they were confused about the truth. That’s what Hitler did.
Why wouldn’t you want a Brooklyn Bridge? So that you’re easily manipulated to whatever end the Republicans want. And, we’ll get more into what they want, if you haven’t already figured it out. You’re also easily persuaded into firmly believing any untruth the Republicans would contrive. When at any turn they will see an advantage or benefit worth pursuing that requires a change of public opinion, then Americans would be more easily convinced.
Those Magical Republicans Turning Darkness into Light
I’ve even got an example of this from Nixon…I said it’s been going on for fifty years. Nixon was horrid even compared to the Republicans at the time. It’s only when he’s compared to Bush and the even more larcenous Republicans currently that he is seen to have any positive qualities. The example, however, pertains to the establishment of HMOs–Health Maintenance Organizations–as a solution to the health care problem. He is the one who brought the profit motive into health care, jumping onto the HMO bandwagon after learning through Ehrlichman from Kaiser Permanente’s CEO, Edgar Kaiser, that “All the incentives are toward less medical care, because…the less care [we] give them, the more money [we] make…and the incentives run the right way.” Explained this way Nixon was sold on the idea; we hear him saying on the recording tape, “Not bad” and “Well, that appeals to me.”
Nice trick, Dick! So, is that the way Nixon presented it to the American public–“I’ve got this great way that will insure you will suffer more when you’re sick so that my filthy rich friends can wallow deeper in dough”? Hardly. A few days later Nixon rolled out his health care “solution.” In his speech he stressed how this managed care would expand medical care and coverage and be a tremendous boon to the overall health and longevity of Americans.
Giving a helping hand…to your assailants. And Nixon’s minions in his Republican party and the media took it from there: They turned his deception into talking points and ultimately into “obvious truths.” The American public believed this truism that managed care would lower overall costs. They missed the part that they would not benefit from lowered costs, that lowered costs meant profits that would go into unseen hands, who would then go even further in denying medical care and increasing overall suffering and tragedy so that they could gather even more booty.
From today’s perspective of accelerating medical costs and such widespread denial of coverage and benefits as to require massive corrective legislation, we can see just how well Nixon’s plan to lower the cost of health care and expand coverage worked out for us. So we see how one Republican molded the American mind to make it complicit in its own abuse, to cause average folks to participate in the very assaults on them.
I will return to this example of Nixon and what actually happened with him later on, because there’s more to be said about it.
Repetition makes it possible to control. I just want to finish the thoughts about how this process works, this confusion, making people more manipulated, keeping them stressed and so on so that they will be more receptive. And as I was pointing out, when the Republicans need a change of public opinion or want people to believe a particular thing, the Big Lie is employed; in its repetition it makes it possible to control.
Any one remember the wmd’s in Iraq? Ok. So the persistence in selling an invasion into Iraq was so effective…that persistence of repeating the same thing by all the Republicans was an unqualified success due to its masterful coordination. Republicans are known for this cohesion of action.
Having the sole aim of making money keeps a party focused. By contrast, the joke that goes around is the statement by an opponent, “I don’t belong to any organized party, I belong to the Democratic Party.” There is this feeling among those up against Republicans because of the radical individualism, the radical differences of opinion that Democrats have.
Whereas Republicans can keep it simple and be that much more persuasive. There can be no disagreement or confusion about an aim so singular, so clear–to benefit themselves and the people that are paying to get them elected. That keeps them pretty consistent and gives them a lot of solidarity.
Getting a kick out of those rascally Republicans. Good examples of this acting in lock-step abound in the last few years. How many times have we seen Republicans in perfect array going up against Obama, Pelosi, Reid, the Democrats? Those rascally conservatives were so pleased with themselves. They couldn’t be more proud when not a single one of their hundreds in the House voted for either the Democratic stimulus or budget in Obama’s first year.
“Wtf! Are you in grade school?” They were so proud of that: they “stared down” Obama (What the f… are they in grade school?). We had Arlen Specter, only lately become a Democrat, who voted in the Senate for the stimulus plan along with the lone two Republican senators–two women, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins from Maine. Now that I think about it…they’re being so cohesive and so disciplined…you just got to wonder if some of them tried to take ol’ Arlen Specter out to the woodshed and that’s why he ran to the Democrats.
The Fall of “Obvious Truths”
How do they get Republicans to be so disciplined? Well, one of the things is, they’ve all got the same aim. Whereas if you’re a Democrat, you’re going to have all kinds of concerns; the party allows you to have them. Some Dems might be more interested in health care, and some might be thinking education is the answer…. But with Republicans it’s all the same–corporations, you must help the corporations out… I’ll help you help your big corporation and you’ll help me help my big corporation, and we’ll all continue to get reelected and get plenty of money.
Republicans in plain sight hidden. So that’s a good way of viewing their differences. But most folks would hardly know that, because Republicans are very effective in avoiding any talk about anything that might give them away. I mean none of the Republicans want to be showed up for what they are really in office for.
But it’s no longer crazy talk. Of course, this abject distinction between the major parties has become most pronounced over the course of the last fifty years. What I’m saying now doesn’t sound as crazy as when I learned it, when I saw it happening and first spoke of it. I saw this increasing corruption of Republicans to the point of it becoming overt and blatant in the last ten, twenty years…the fall of “obvious truths.”
Naked Republicans. So this viewpoint that Republicans are an owned and paid for subsidiary of corporate behemoths is a more frequently expressed perspective…especially since Bush’s ignoble slide and abject economic and diplomatic failure. Around the end of Bush’s “regime” Republicans had declined twenty percent in numbers, and there was talk of them becoming extinct. They had been showed to be who they are. Finally people were starting to realize that, yeah, yeah, you can be lied to…there was a decline of “obvious truths” corresponding to the light that was dawning and the naked Republicans that could be seen scurrying for the doors.
The Puppet Strings (the Media)
But the Republicans had their help, believe me they had their help. Ok, so who helped them? Well, like I was saying… The first thing is you have politicians with the Big Lie, and they’re repeating it endlessly. And that persistence is so extremely effective and comprehensive.
Lying Down on the Thinking Job…or…Thinking Is Down on the Lying Job
The next thing is the paid pundits. You would think a pundit’s job would require more than the exposure to facts and the time allotted for that, but also some time for thoughtful consideration and analysis of those facts. Isn’t part of their job to think? Don’t they have that duty, and get that privilege, unlike a lot of people, who might be working two jobs and taking care of the kids and such and so don’t have time to ponder anything? But these are pundits who are supposed to give opinions. And you would think that their salaries includes time both to be on TV and also to study issues and to think about them. But why is it then that they are so complicit, even cooperative?
Everybody has one…except those paid to. Backing up, being handsomely paid to do so, you’d think TV commentators and pundits would bring some thoughtful consideration and analysis to the issues. You would think they would have some understanding and therefore conclusions and therefore opinion on these issues, for isn’t that what they as pundits are required to have? They’re called pundits, they are opinion-makers, they are opinion havers.
Everybody needs a little understanding… Perhaps we can understand their complacency and complicity by considering their situation. They are immersed in this barrage of irrationalities that is coming out constantly from the Republicans over all kinds of airways, radio, TV, what have you. And don’t forget a pundit’s job requires they take it in; they can’t just tune out; they have to be on top of these things. They have to be on top of what people are saying, including and perhaps especially the Republicans.
How long could you maintain your sanity if…? So perhaps they’re more brainwashed than others. Perhaps they are since they hear the lies more than the rest of us. I don’t know. That’s a kind way of saying that they didn’t do their job, too, though…the one about seeking out the the truth behind the barrage of lies, if they still remember it.
I need also point out that they’re working for huge corporations, virtually all of them these days. Only on the internet is there the possibility of unbiased thought. And we know who owns the corporations…it ain’t me or you or the average jane. So I don’t think it accidental they’re unlikely to speak for us.
The Ladder of Status
So whose view is being rained upon us by these storm-clouds of “obvious truths”?
The great suck UPward. Well, there’s a tendency, like I said, going right down the line: The wishes of the upper echelons are sycophantically served by those just below them. For those a step down are repelled by the idea of losing their lives of moneyed comfort and becoming, god forbid, like the “unwashed” below. They also, like everyone, have a craving to be “liked” and approved of by someone above.
Take my word for it, this jonesing is something in each of us, even those of very high status. It is an urge we all carry forward from our earliest experiences of life. So even those sitting smugly above us are cravingly desirous of the approval of those above them. And so it goes right down the ladder of status. Those of each level sucking up pathetically to those above them while patronizing those just below.
Dandified little pups. And at one of those levels are the pundits and journalists. You have to remember that they, also, from a certain perspective, can be seen as the pathetic little boys and girls they are, still wanting daddy’s approval. They don’t have a clue that they are coming across as smiling tail-wagging pets eager to please in the foppish performance of their cultivated tricks.
So I’m not sure, but maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s why the pundits shy from the cool light of truth. Maybe it’s part of it. Maybe they can’t see it because they are become one with it, not seeing the forest for the trees. Maybe it’s that they’re dancing to a long ago tune accepting approving smiles as payment for their jig. Or maybe it’s some of both… and perhaps something more? Who knows? What matters is they were not doing their job, as we see now.
The Corporate Feast
So I saw over time this slow, steady stream of pundits and journalists adopting Republican mantrams as obvious facts. And that was very sad. Like I was saying before about the special interests…Democrats are accused of having special interests of their own. It is often heard that unions are a special interest, that education is a special interest.
“Persons R Us. Corporations R Not.” And even though Democrats would say, but, you know, doesn’t everybody get the benefit from education? I never heard the pundits or the moderator say, “Well, that’s true, and, Mr. Republican, what do you have to say to that? What do you mean, “special interest”? You’re promoting the coal companies. Are the coal companies benefiting everybody? By your trying to get them profits, trying to create tax breaks for them, is that going to benefit the people…in any way?”
When you’re feeling pissed on, they’d like you thinking it’s really money coming down. I’ll get to that later, but obviously, you can try to make a case that somehow money to corporations will benefit ordinary people, but it’s easier and more honest to show how it is actually at their expense. So the payoffs to the corporate hogs are hardly indirect contributions to the common weal. Shall we review recent events and remember the gluttonous corporate profits, with their CEOs sitting down to enjoy hundred million dollar banquets? Bonuses, paychecks, jets and yachts to feast on. Even the stockholders only receive crumbs from that table.
CEO with fifty cookies to Tea Party bloke with one: “That union guy wants some of your cookie.” And with all their girth, getting hundred-million-dollar “at-a-boys,” you see them giving money away? With all these people having problems, and having foreclosures and everything, do you see them giving money away? I mean…no.
So anyway, the pundits and journalists are seen adopting the Republican mantrams as obvious facts and as unnecessary to ponder or question as if…well, probably they couldn’t help it after a while of continual, coordinated, and irritating repetition, I don’t know…so not “as if,” it is clear they rolled over.
Disposable Truth, Reality Transplants
GeorgeOrwell-land – Fun New Capitalist Theme Park!
Smoke and lies around tax and spend. It was as if these pundits hearing so many gop lies–tax and spend Democrats and such–had undergone a reality transplant. Somehow they disposed of their knowing that it was the Republicans who tripled, nearly quadrupled the National Debt under Reagan-Bush.
The truth that it was Bush the W who doubled the Debt mysteriously ended up in the trash.
We’re in such bad economic shape now because of these Republican spendthrifts. Yet there would be the pundits repeating, even after Reagan-Bush and the recession they caused, “it’s the tax-and-spend Democrats.” America’s “thinkers” would forget that Clinton had balanced the budget for the first time in decades during his terms. They would not remember that those supposed “tax and spend” Democrats left to the Republicans who stole back the presidency in 2000 a surplus, which they promptly handed over to the rich.
I recall how during the Nineties, tax and fiscal policy was so carefully managed by Clinton’s administration. It was touch-and-go maneuvering out of the fiscal ditch, few people thought they could do it. How could anyone, let alone Democrats, balance a budge let alone reverse the huge National Debt at that time? But with Robert Reich at the wheel they did.
So what happened? Just as soon as the Republicans enter the White House, they issue a tax cut for the rich. The surplus was no more. Wow! And, still, pundits didn’t saying anything. People didn’t say anything.
Disposable truths. Are you reeling in the years? How do you explain this barrage of historical malfeasance? How do you explain this lack of reaction to obvious wrongness, unfairness? It’s supposed to be a country of, by, and for the people. And most folks still think it is, even despite all the evidence of their eyes.
Maybe Americans cannot learn from, even remember, recent history because their perceptions and memories are not validated around them. If on the media their feelings are not confirmed, folks are going to doubt themselves; they’re going to be confused.
Why commentators would be so easily forgetful and then complicit is the question. We were wondering if perhaps it is the continual bombardment of untruth they are under. In such a setting, required to stay immersed in Republican culture so much more than the rest of us, maybe they would find it nearly impossible to be as questioning and confrontational as would be required if they were to truly do their job in helping to clarify events.
Besides, they know these Republican mouthpieces socially; they play golf, have drinks with them, and more in their off hours. Of course these media types want to be seen as civil people, too. So they don’t want to say, on their TV program, “Aw, c’mon. That’s bullshit, man!” They’re not going to say that. They might think it’s bullshit, but they’re not going to tell us!
And it’s going to keep the American people confused. If the obvious lies of the right-wing politicians and propagandists are not pointed out by the reporters who are questioning them, well then you only have the Democrats to counter these untruths. And if these pundits are also saying that the Democrats and the Republicans are equally the same and that all politicos are corrupt and such, well, after a while, when you hear that enough, you’re not going to have really any basis for discerning the truth. You’re not going to be seeing what’s actually been going on over the years. In the last century, Democrats were responsible for the most influential and most popular public policy developments: they brought in social security, medicare; they supported the unions and minimum wage measures that boosted the lifestyles of the American worker. So consider the right wing and media achievement in getting Americans to forget all that? Wow.
Narrative for the new history…Why that’s one dumb Republican! We even had one Republican, Steve Austria, who not long ago found himself in the spotlight. He was an elected Congressional representative…god only knows how that happened. He was talking on economic policy. He was changing history to fit his argument, which they do, you know. But this guy really believed it! He was saying how it was Roosevelt who caused the Great Depression! He actually maintained it was Roosevelt who was in power when the Great Depression hit. He said the Depression was caused by tax and spend.
No, it was Hoover. Monetary policy favoring the rich caused and kept the Great Depression going; tax and spend, e.g., social security, is what got us out of, not into, the ditch. All this is part of history that is practically–except for you, Steve–common knowledge. There were what were called Hoover, not Roosevelt, camps full of the poor unemployed. Wow.
Dogma for the new religion. “Obvious truths” from on high. How did people become so dumb all of a sudden? Anyway, I think a lot of it has to do with these things being repeated over and over again until people think they’re true. And it’s unnecessary to ponder or question them. It seems as if the pundits felt this way after a while, to the point that when the Republican or conservative would say her or his talking point, it was almost as if that frequently heard statement was gospel. Seeing the media’s response, you would think that drivel had been carried down from Mount Sinai, engraved on a stone tablet. It didn’t have to be reasoned about, it was given down from “on high.” Over and over and over again.
Smoke and lies around unions. Truth taken out at the knees – unions are the new rich fat cats. So the lie, the mantram, the notion at one time in my life, was nonexistent. At another time, quite the opposite, it was all pervasive. At one time folks believed that unions represented working people like themselves, more than anything else. At the later time and now, the exact opposite of the truth–that union workers are the wealthy and their leaders are now the fat cats, to hear people tell it. But well, of course it was the original view that was true: it is the American worker who is represented by unions, for they carry their voices. The Republican line, the lie, that unions are entities equally as small and distinct from our society of people as is corporations, and are therefore “special,” and that what is good for unions is bad for people, for ordinary citizens, somehow given Frankensteinian life, jolted large and menacing by incessant repetition into zombified minds, blotting out the truth like a monster would the sun, and terrorizing, so they run away and fight, the very folks that now muddied truth would lift up.
Reason and Action Eroded, The Game Is All That Remains
(Note to ordinary folks: Ordinary folks are out to get you.)
Well since they believe a loving God would condemn them to endless suffering, don’t see why we can’t convince them their own biggest enemy is to be found in a mirror. But the Republicans were at one point cornered by justifiable attacks about being backed by special interests, so they concocted this idea that the Democrats were too.
Everybody’s doing it. They couldn’t deny it was true about them, so they just made it like, well, it was everybody. That way they avoided being revealed as bad people. For what they did wouldn’t make them bad. It would just make them politicians.
An added benefit for them in “democratizing” the guilt this way is that folks thinking all politicians are the same, that they’re all taking money, means they would be unlikely to vote. They would say, “Ah, they’re all crooks.” Is not that what we’re hearing? Isn’t what we’re hearing that there is no such thing as an honest politician? And keeping the masses, who are helped by Democrats, away from the polls can only help Republicans engaged in swindling them.
The really special interests. What they want is at our expense. But once the term special interest meant something very specific, and it was hardly confusing. We need to go back to the time before the whole subject became so muddled and full of misinformation that even the pundits didn’t know what they were talking about anymore. Back when the term was coined, the special interests were thought of as the interests of the very small numbers of wealthy people and their financial arms, big businesses, who sought favors from government that were at odds with the welfare of the masses of less moneyed Americans.
For example there might be a group from, say, the coal industry, whose interests would be higher profits for being allowed to spew extra amounts of toxic fumes into the atmosphere. That would be the kinds of things they would want: something that benefited them at the expense of the majority of folks. Consider: If what was sought would benefit most other people as well, it would not need to be lobbied for solely by this small group, this business concern. Such a change would be advanced on behalf of the greater number of people and would succeed that way.
So a really special interest would push for something that would bring them greater profits in spite of the fact that it would hurt the majority of Americans. In this example of air pollution, it would be felt negatively by all Americans, eventually the whole planet, including people of other countries, and even the plant and animal life, in which species in existence thousands of times longer than us would be gone forever. This is why an interest might be “special.” It would be special in that its benefits would be singular, not shared. To the contrary, the common good would be reduced for the temporary financial benefit of a relatively small group of individuals, in this case, coal barons. Keep in mind also it would only be the rich capitalist owners in these industries who would see the benefits. That is the real meaning of special.
Religion of Capitalism – The Game Is the One Truth Faith
And then the great threat. In a clear-headed sense, a boon to a special interest would involve some sort of legislative help to the profits of, basically, these special rich capitalist owners; and it would be given, very often, at great cost to all those others I have been mentioning who were not in the Congressional bargaining room. So how could such a thing be justified? Well, here is how it works, beginning with another great lie, delivered as a threat.
The threat would amount to this: That unless these favors are granted, say, as in the example, if you didn’t let us put that stuff in the air, we’re gonna have to have layoffs. The threat of workers losing their jobs is always, always, the gauntlet thrown down to jimmy profits into the hands of a few.
And saving worker’s jobs is always, always thrown out to the public as the justification for granting these singular boons. So the American worker is indirectly threatened with the loss of a job and a paycheck.
The part that will rarely be spoke is the cost of this legislative largess to the general population. In our example, what will not be mentioned is that some people’s lives will actually be ended–there is always some of this, though this is the biggest unspoken–for the granting of this wish. What is recklessly ignored is that when this regulation easing, as in our example, goes into effect, it will actually kill some people; it will diminish people’s lives; it will increase diseases, cancer and emphysema for example, and overall it will result in more suffering for thousands or millions of times more people than the few that will benefit. Do you begin to see how really special a real special interest is?
But as for these costs to us ordinary, non-special, people, they will not be mentioned by either side of the bargaining. This will hardly even be a chip in the negotiations. What will be put on the table is worker’s jobs. That threat is that unless these favors are granted, well, we’re gonna have to have layoffs. And then they would say, “Well, American workers will suffer.”
And that’s the magical meaningless mantram–“American workers will suffer”–which is another one of those lies again added to create fog, to create confusion, in this case a smog of misinformation, stifling the reasoned understanding of what is actually at stake.
And then outright extortion. In fact we had a conspicuous example of this, the way…let’s call it what it is…extortion was employed by the banks a few years ago. The filthy rich, in the guise of investors, pulled off one of the biggest extortions in American history and got away scot free. Even the Democrats could not see through it (still don’t). Well, in any other instance of such a tactic, in any other instance by anybody in America doing what was done, it would have been criminally prosecuted. But not so in the case of these special rich people, represented by these bank executives.
How spectacular this oversight in singling out the guilty is rarely brought out. But truly massive is this miscarriage of justice. Consider that there are vastly more ordinary Americans than there are in the tiny group of filthy rich. So there will of course be far more instances in the general population of any crime you would think of. In this case we are looking at extortion, and virtually every instance of such a crime committed among the general population would attract the intense attention and the full wrath of justice there. Naturally, the harm to the victim or even victims would be constrained to the tiny number of people affected, and the limited amounts of money involved, in any particular case.
On the other hand we have a much tinier group of people, the filthy rich and the heads of the banks that represent them. And the percentage of that group involved in such an extortion is far greater than the incidence of that crime in the greater population, i.e., they represent a high crime zone for such malfeasance and a much bigger danger when their crimes go unpunished and can continue unfettered. Such small groups with higher rates of crime, when there is smaller mounds of money to protect them, are labeled as “criminal gangs,” “hoodlums,” “organized crime,” “gang-bangers” and the like. But not so when the perpetrators dress in such fine suits and stink with money.
Further the scale on which these crimes are perpetrated are that of the entire population of the United States, and expands itself to include harm to those in other nations and even among the unborn…future generations. So the the magnitude of the crime is infinitely larger than could ever be pulled off by an average American. Still the smaller scale, less harmful instances of this crime are ruthlessly sought out and punished. Whereas the immeasurably larger crime of the super wealthy is let go; and this in spite of the fact mentioned that the future threat is larger and considerably more likely if the current wrong is not addressed.
With these things known, how mind-boggling is it to notice this blatant extortion not pointed out, not labeled as such, hardly addressed?
Their kind of “sharing the pain” – My problems will be your problems, they say. Well here we have, in this case, the banks, the preeminent fronts for the organized filthy rich, demanding extortion money, which if not received…here we go again…eventually would result in their inability to do business and would affect people. This threat is one of their ploys.
Just like the coal barons in the example above who would ask for concessions saying if they did not get them they would be forced to lay off American workers, the banks would have their way of trying to convince that they should be helped or it will affect great numbers of people. In their case, they would say it would affect their ability to do business and to serve the American people. One way or another the idea is to obscure the reality that help to the banks will help primarily this small group, in this case, of bankers, and to make it that their problem is seen as our problem, the public’s problem. This increases the pressure on politicians to grant the favor. For it is spun that it is not the wealthy investors whose welfare is at stake but the public at large.
So there is the extortion, you see. Unlike coal barons threatening to fire workers, essentially bankers threatened to stop providing loans. They would hold them back if not paid. The degree to which this was untrue is shown by the fact that after they did get the bailout, they used it to feather their nests and to expand their bank’s market share. Chase Bank, for example, sat on the bailout cash they received, with the intention of using it to buy out other banks that would fail, which is exactly what they did with the money. Banks also gave out those high bonuses like I’ve discussed.
Meanwhile the public was not served. Money remained tight. There arose a big hue and cry over the fact that the money was covering bankers’ losses (i.e., going into their pockets) but the public was not getting the loans they needed. So in retrospect that money would have been much more wisely spent going somehow directly into the people’s hands who needed it, not by funneling it through the hands of gluttonous banking institutions.
And what about their threat of it affecting society at large if they were not placated? Well, society did pay dearly, did suffer, even though the banks were paid their extortion money, handsomely too. And since so much of that loot went to the folks who didn’t need it, overall the economy ended up worse off. Short term the problem was swept under the rug, but in borrowing from the future to help rich people today it guaranteed the problem would get a permanent installation in America’s economy. Seriously, this problem can not be calculated or even imagined away, so Americans will suffer its results forever as far as we know.
So this is the extortion and the lie that sits in the middle of the threat that it is the American workers who will suffer if the wealthy don’t receive their payola.
For it is never the workers or, in this case, those needing loans who would suffer if the extortion is not given in to, it is the fat cats, coal barons, filthy rich who would suffer, and for that matter, not even all that much compared to the suffering inflicted on the public by their greedy practices, whether or not the extortion money or concession is provided.
Anyway, the game is to claim that the pain of those with wealth is really the American people’s pain, so as to make it seem a large number of people would be helped. That’s one of their lies that gets by; this is how they seek to “share the pain”…”spread their burden.” It is a banking problem, in this instance, something that has had disastrous effects on the economy and on people’s lives, but it would be better handled by society if the problem of the people involved would be addressed, not the problems…money lost, investments gone under…of the filthy rich.
The upshot is that over and over we here these big lies of how “the American people”…one of those huge buzz words… “the American people are going to be hurt.” Or, it became, “the working people of this country,” or in the example of the coal barons, above, that a huge group of coal miners would see massive layoffs. In light of what has been said, I hope it is clear what b.s. that is.
How they try to convince that their problems are ours. We see the threat; we see the extortion; we see the crime and its magnitude, and we see the lie that gives life to it all. Let us look more closely at the manner of the making of this spectacular ruse.
First…some of this has been said, but watch how it unfolds…you’re starting out with a group that is a minute segment of the population as a whole. But they maintain they are identical with or equivalent to society as a whole, making it that it is not the magnitude of their money but of their numbers which raises their voice above all, which is not true of course. I was talking earlier about how they would do that in making up the tax codes. Recall, they would say, “Well, society as a whole will suffer if you don’t…”
So they would always package any benefit to them as being not for them, really, at all but for a great number of people. And if they could pull that off, if they could make that magical equivalency then it was like they had a home run. They would say the working people of this country would be affected, that a huge group of coal miners would see massive layoffs, for example.
Then here is how they make that number bigger: These people, in this example the coal barons, not to be underestimated, would assert that because of their layoffs naturally there would be more of these layoffs by other coal companies. And then, they’d say, these layoffs would affect all the shopkeepers, retail merchants and so on who service the impacted regions; which in turn…gotta keep making it bigger and bigger, more and more and more people…which in turn would affect all the industries making the products that won’t be sold because of the layoffs; and of course a pull back in demand for products means fewer workers needed to make what is needed, thus an increase of unemployment in all other sectors would ensue; which unemployed workers on a grander scale would have them unable to buy from their local merchants; which equals the losses to the manufacturers in an ever more expanding array of products and industries; requiring they let people go; thus even more, ever accelerating rates of layoffs and widening unemployment; well , those laid off would not be buying the products in their local shops; which leads to…well armageddon the way they would have it. So it just gets bigger and bigger; it goes around and around and around.
To Win at All Costs
But they will say anything to win. Just a hint though, this is one of those seemingly rational analyses that although seeming to make sense is not grounded in the real world; it is speculative and made up. It’s roots are solely in the dark hearts and motivations of those attempting to push through their argument, to give it added weight, to basically win at any cost. That’s a lot of what the difference is. It is that some people will wager with any amount of harm to others; they will say anything, will make up anything. They don’t have to have any facts, they don’t have to know if that’s the way it works. As McCain said, “I don’t know much about economics.” This is the guy who’s popular among the corporate crowd of the country, the same group making that simplistic argument above.
What’s truth got to do with it? So basically their game involves winning at any cost to others, being willing to assert anything, with no thought that truth should even come into a bargaining situation. I mean, really, the attitude is that, what the hell does truth have to do with it? It’s like, we can make a good argument; we can convince people; we can persuade people; we can fool enough people into thinking it’s true…and that’s all that matters. [Footnote 1]
So you see they’re getting kind of cocky; they don’t even think they have to have truth…any actual facts or evidence backing up their arguments. Then you have your whole attitude of, “What the hell, why is anybody bothering to bring any truth to this?”
So they don’t bother even to come with any evidence to be laid out on the table; it becomes the most elegant spectacle in sophistry imaginable.
Unlike Monopoly These Results Are Real
What it becomes then for these special interests and their Republican representatives is something with about as much gravity as a board game. They’re seeing these matters, which are of dire importance to most of society, about the way we do when playing a game of Monopoly, in which we compete without consequences and try to win without remorse. Though the differences should be noted. There’s nothing at stake in a game of Monopoly among friends; it is just simple play with light-hearted risks. There are no real families having to move out if one player buys up all the land and houses of another; there’s nobody even paying rent of $40 if they land on Boardwalk, nobody suffering when you’re told to pay a doctor bill…or to go to jail.
Going directly to jail, not passing Go – The only part that’s really like Monopoly. This point, however, keep in mind as increased perspective on the real world actions of these wealthy folk. In Monopoly you try to win. And you would consider deception. You might hide how much money or property you have…if you’re asked, for example, you might not tell the truth. And this dissembling would be considered a good ploy and harmless. Even the other players might admire such a deception .
But is this the way it is in the bargaining of the special interests through their lackey paid-for Republican representatives? No. The consequences of their cavalier play are being felt somewhere. But they cover up their unconcern through the pretense of acting on interests not of their own, but of that of that reliable home base of the society at large.
We’re not supposed to be Monopoly…or the Wild West. So, there’s Monopoly, then there’s the real world, where things like deception or whatever for the purpose of winning have real world effects on people. But we’re supposedly living in an era or time that is not like the old Wild West. We purportedly have a democracy with the aim of benefiting the majority of people, or at least as many people as possible. And we claim our intention is to do this without unduly punishing any particular group or having any persons inflicted with unnecessary grief. It’s supposed to be fair; government is supposed to serve people.
This Game’s Not For You
Getting to home base, in their baseball game. So that’s why I was saying, in the early days when there was bargaining in Congress by the special interests they maintained a pretense of caring about people. After all, we maintain that government is supposed to be representing the American people. So moneyed interests would garner these special breaks, in the tax codes or wherever, because basically they would get to the point where they would convince enough deciders, even if it wasn’t true, that such a change, in the tax code or policy, or whatever, would benefit society at large. As I said, that is kind of like reaching home base for them. You got it then; you’re home free if you can make that link. For that is the touted purpose of our elected deciders, it is to benefit the society at large.
Now, nobody can benefit all the people all the time, so that’s as close as you can get…society at large…it’s as near to a home base as you can get. Anyway, that was the thought involved on both sides of this whole game for a long time. And I stress–if you haven’t gotten the point already…I’ve been leading up to it–that this was the thinking on both sides of this game. It’s like a game for the Republicans, just like Monopoly for us.
And, how was it played? Well the thoughts were, if you were able to get to home base–which is equal to proving a benefit for average Americans, society at large or as a whole, or the electorate–then you score.
But that thinking has changed over time. This difference in particular shows the effectiveness of the brainwashing resulting from the repetition of Republican lies over time…the enshrinement of “obvious truths.”
I noticed that over time…and this is a development folks younger than me don’t know about…that the terms formerly used in the game were no longer used. No longer were phrases like “society-at-large,” the common good, government of and by the people, the welfare of the majority, government “caring” for people, anyone’s suffering being eased, and such even brought in. Words like suffering, compassion, ease, good, benefit, the people, were not uttered anymore. In fact they were felt to be counterproductive. They were considered deal breakers if let into the conversation on matters that were deemed, well…”real.”
What’s Compassion Got to Do With It?
You don’t know what I’m getting at. But this is the indicator of the gradual change in our country that would be missed by those younger than myself. I only see this glaring discrepancy because of having lived many years in an America whose values were different, and who thought differently, more compassionately than today. I know of an America where even that last big word that I used, compassionately, wasn’t the dirty word that it is today…or the certain game loser, deal breaker if uttered.
No. See, what’s happened today is that it’s not even society at large that is supposed to benefit. Compassion is not a goal, or even a value, when negotiating. The scornful repetition of those words, “bleeding heart liberal,” has had its intended effect. No, no, it’s not the function of government to care about anybody anymore.
It may be hard for you to realize what a huge change this is from, like, Roosevelt days. The Great Depression went on for a long time, crushing hopes and aspirations, shortening lives, increasing suffering. People lived beneath this yoke for a time that must often have felt interminable. They came out of this darkness only slowly, and with great effort.
So, yes, in those days, the easing of suffering was a value, compassion was a noble thing, not indicative of weakness like today. This is the way it was then and for most of the decades afterward, not much changing. Even Eisenhower, a Republican… he wasn’t, y’know, at war with the common good in the Fifties; he didn’t think government was not supposed to be compassionate, that it wasn’t their job or anything, that they couldn’t give anybody a helping hand or anything like that. But starting with Reagan and slowly since then it has become that.
People suffering, people dying…and this guy thinks it’s a card game! Perhaps you’ve heard it too. At the time of it, you would see it discussed all over. There was Rick Santelli on CNBC. This was at the time when it first got out that Obama might just–with millions of foreclosures, people living in tent-cities and everything–might just present as part of his overall policy to deal with the problem something to help…ok, there’s one of those words (help), a certain game-loser; so you know what’s coming next…something that might “help” people who are heading into foreclosure, people losing their homes. The idea was to renegotiate deals with the bank, to recalculate the terms of their mortgage to make it workable to both sides again.
Don’t forget the banks had before that been given huge amounts of money by the American people. So in this plan, instead of proceeding with a foreclosure the banks were asked to be willing to accept slightly less money on the loan than the original terms called for.
It was thought, what would that hurt? After all the banks aren’t going to lose. At the expense of the American people they’ve made out like bandits…in fact, they’ve been bandits…they used extortion to get that money out. With this policy they would get some money out of the loan instead of none in the case of the foreclosure; they would even still make a profit. The only thing they wouldn’t be able to do is to add that note to the pile of losses they would be claiming as part of the government bailout. An aside, that last part–making less money than if they could claim it a loss–is the key to understanding the uproar about Obama’s plan to help strapped home owners.
So we saw Rick Santelli, a highly visible financial commentator for CNBC, someone I saw everyday for years. He stood in front of the camera on the floor of the stock exchange; CNBC broadcast it to the world. He was against Obama’s plan to “help” mortgage-holders…they should probably have used a different word than help. As he put it “In America, a card laid is a card played.” He said, “This does away with contract law!”
Yes, we’ve made this mistake before. Well, yea, yea, they used to say those things back in Hoover’s day too, alright? And then when everybody was hurting, and there was thirty to forty percent unemployment and nobody was making any money including the rich fat cats and they were losing their shirts in investments and no longer making money in the stock market, then…then…all of a sudden, ok, then it was ok to help out people who were starving.
But why do we insist on making it again? Well, why did it have to get to that? And why has it gotten to that again, even to where it’s back to where it was…again…at the beginning of the Great Depression: No compassion allowed.
What is that? It’s like “Oh, these people are all deadbeats here.” Oh, yea, all those millions of people? Doesn’t have anything to do with all that money that went to the rich people? Nothing to do with the fact that over the course of all these years we’ve seen the tax rates for the very wealthy go from seventy percent in the Fifties to where it is down below thirty-five percent now? To offset those huge cuts in revenue, did we get any more prosperous in that time? Did those increasing cuts in taxes for the wealthy increasingly stimulate the economy? I repeat, did we get any more prosperous in that time? Did the tax cuts work the way the fat cats said they would?
Well, I was there. No, they didn’t…and we didn’t…didn’t get more prosperous. We’re a lot worse off. Y’know, when I was growing up my father was poor. But only he had to work! He might bring home fifty dollars a week, with six kids. But my mother didn’t have to work. Believe me, fifty dollars in that day, it wasn’t like it was worth a thousand dollars or something; there wasn’t that much difference.
So there used to be this idea of benefiting society-at-large. There was this thing put out–even though it was a sham on the part of Republicans–that if you could somehow convince the Democrats that what you wanted was going to benefit the “society at large” they might come over to your side. Republicans still found it useful to promote the idea that they were representing the people.
What “extra” kitchen? But no, no, no. If you say now that something is going to benefit somebody…. Like Santelli said, “Well, a card laid…contract law’s all important…blah, blah, blah…. Does any of you people out there…” He was talking to the stock exchange people; he said, “Does any of you want to pay your hard-earned money so that the guy next door can have that extra kitchen that he put in?”
Now, where the hell did that come from? I hardly think that many of the people losing their homes were out there spending all their money on “extra” kitchens. So what’s the implication? The implication is that we’ve got a bunch of losers, spendthrifts, who are throwing their money away and they don’t deserve a break.
More likely it was your “extra” kitchen, Rick. And, thank you very much but we’ve already paid, and dearly, for it. Duh! Doesn’t that sound like the banks? “Extra kitchen”…Doesn’t that sound like the stock broker people, doesn’t that sound like the people who are talking about the other people this way? Wow.
Anyway, it was played over and over again. There were even people, even some pundits and governmental folks in public who were saying, “Yes, he was expressing what lot of people are thinking.” What the hell is that? That nobody can catch a break unless you’re rich? See, that’s what happens when something is repeated over and over and over again… Self-benefiting mean-spiritedness like this can be spoken of as being, somehow, reasonable.
A broken person is preferable to a broken rule in this game. And what is it that was repeated over and over and over again? Well, let me just put it this way…because I was there. You know the real issue here…when you say that it’ll benefit “society at large” or you say it’s going to help or benefit real people, or you indicate in some way that it’s gonna ease the suffering of a lot of people… The real thing insinuated has to do with that thoroughly maligned idea–“bleeding heart liberal”–and things like that.
Worse than that, these days, is that when that human touch somehow gets in, it’s no more considered a game! “It’s supposed to be a game,” that’s what they’re thinking, now. And it’s like, “Aw come on you’re trying to benefit people instead of playing a game.” That’s where that contract law comes in, it’s like, “No, that’s breaking the rules.” Well we’re supposed to be running a government for the people not for the rules, aren’t we?
You value people above rules? You’re no doubt a “hippie.” So you don’t even hear goodness coming in anymore. Or if you do hear the word compassionate it’s at most the naive utterance of someone that’s wet behind the years…some newbie or hippie…some “soft-headed” person who might have used it in a question in a town meeting, or the like.
And that’s another thing. A hippie? What the hell’s a hippie? Well this hippie can tell you. That is a definition I’ve watched change over the years. The definition in these strange days and among these current cold-hearted people is way different than originally.
In looking at this change in the meaning of hippie we bring into view another aspect of the overall argument I am making. I can tell you now that at the end you will see it all comes together neatly.
It all makes sense because of some basic human feelings, which are even present in large groups. Unfortunately those widely shared feelings are completely at odds with another set of commonly held basic human feelings that can be present and shared in another large group. That might sound complicated.
Compassion = “hippie.” Mean-spirited = the “real” reality of the game. What I’m trying to say is, who might that hippie be? Basically, these days, if you are one of those that uses words like compassionate…you‘re a hippie!
And on the other side of this, the side that is presented to all, promulgated to everyone, and the only one considered “real,” we’ve got these mean-spirited feelings. They are at war with the idea that we have government that’s there to at all benefit, be on the side of, or even be for its citizens.
Like earlier I brought up the example of the Food and Drug Administration as something that benefits everyone, actual people, though it puts constraints on businesses. Government seen this way exists to protect American people in situations where they would otherwise be powerless. And that is based on this old-fashioned notion that it is a good thing to save people from dying or from suffering in situations where a single individual is helpless against a cultural or societal wrong. Government could be seen this way because one preeminent value was that life was precious and good, that people dying was not good, that it was important to prevent that to the extent one could…more important than money or profits or the comfort and pleasure of people with riches. Those turn-of-the-century “hippies” valued life over arbitrary rules, people over profits, the common good over the capitalist game.
But I guess nowadays they’d say, “No, no, no…those people paid for that food!” And, you know, let the buyer beware. A dollar laid is a dollar played, after all.
That’ll do it for “Part Two” of “The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths.'” This is Part Three coming up.
1. For a humorous aside on this attitude of the truth not mattering when it comes to the game, check out this “Auto Salesman Tells All on Sillymickel” below.
Auto Salesman has the clips from “Anatomy” titled “Auto Salesman Does Perry Como does The Doors” (http://bit.ly/ComoDoors) and “The Snorter, Mr. Boehner, and the Auto Salesman” (http://bit.ly/snorter). There is a spinoff, as well, at http://bit.ly/ComoDoors2, titled “AutoSalesman Does Como Doing Doors, Update – Aftermath, post-Gig.”
This one, just below, is not clipped from the long monologue and is another spinoff from “Anatomy of Class Consciousness.” In this one, Auto Salesman tears into SillyMickel, talking kind of like his alter-ego:
“Auto Salesman Speaks His Mind on SillyMickel” – Comedy Monologue, audio clip
by SillyMickel Adzema
Here is the audio clip of my comedic monologue. Click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here. The script for this piece is included below the player, fyi.
About SillyMickel, Auto Salesman says:
“What’s his big fucking beef? What’s he got against George W. Bush? What’s his beef anyway…better than that bozo we got up there. I don’t know what’s his beef. He says something like, ‘Oh, he says, oh, he says like, oh, I…why, he says…he says,
‘Why George W. Bush, he, uh, he’s behind the Trade Center bombing and it was a government job, all for the purpose of doing this and that, and it killed thousands of people,’
“and, not only that he said the scientists are saying that we only got 20 to 50 years to save the planet, and that we’re all gonna die.
“And I say, “You call them reasons?” ….
“You call them reasons?” I mean…..
“I didn’t see where that affected MY pocket book one bit! Now where does he come from? Just because people, just because the whole world’s gonna die…
“I’ll be dead by then, probably…so what the hell do I care? I don’t think anybody should be caring if it’s not going to effect them!
“Now, as far as the children and the grandchildren … are gonna die in a fiery inferno and whatever in the next 20, 30 years and all the planet’s gonna be wiped out, now, I think: THEY should be worried! It’s THEIR problem, right? Ain’t my problem…why should I care?
“So, I said to that erudite little fuck, ‘You stay in your fuckin’ jar…well, stop botherin’ me with this stuff about how we’re all gonna die and everything like that because NOBODY cares…If it’s not them, you know, they don’t even care about their children so…what does it matter!?….”
The Rise and Fall of “Obvious Truths,” Part Two
an Audio Reading by SillyMickel Adzema
Here is an audio of the author’s impassioned reading of this part. Though it is of the first, unedited and unpolished version, and it does not contain all the detail of its current form below, it does capture the flavor of it all. I offer it here for your listening pleasure. For the reading of this part, “The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths,’ Part Two,” click on the link to the audio site above or click the audio player here.