Tuesday, November 03, 2015

I don't get it

I'm still working down in southern Oregon, living out of a hotel - this time the less-swanky Ramada up the street from the nice Hampton Inn where I spent the first two weeks and where as I type this on the other side of the gimcrack-cheap paper thin hotel walls someone's infant is screaming as though it is being vigorously lashed with a length of coaxial cable - and pretty much just waking up, going to work, coming back to the hotel, eating, reading (or watching some television) and going to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's about as much fun and exciting as you'd think.

Plus we're back on standard time, so darkness falls in fucking mid-afternoon and there's no daylight left after work hours to even go exploring the southern Oregon scenery. And that's about as much fun as you'd think, too.

The one thing that's hard to avoid here in Oregon's Dixie is the politics. This isn't the blue part of Oregon. This isn't even the relatively purpleishly-liberal outpost of Eugene and the University of Oregon. This is hard Red Oregon, home of the Dope-smoking Rednecks. This is Trump territory, or, at best, in fealty to the Paul clan. God, guns, and taxation - even WITH representation - as the ultimate Evil.

It's in places like this that I really despair for my country.

Because you look around here, and then look at the Red talking heads on the electronical teevee and you wonder...what the fuck would make me want what these people are telling me to want, if I was one of the people here in Medford?

I mean, the bog-standard GOP talking points are exactly what "conservatives" wanted a century ago. Low taxes on their wealth. The freedom to do, well, whatever they damn well pleased. Dump their chemicals in the rivers and their shit into the air and fuck the upstairs maid when they got to feeling frisky. Keep the nigras on the plantation and the women on their backs. Work the hunkies and the polacks and the other white trash for chump change, kill them if it made a buck of extra profit, and throw them on the trash heap when they weren't good for ten minutes work anymore. Back then it was called the Gilded Age and for everyone but the Carnegies and the Mellons it was like an electric fan; if you looked at it one way it sucked, but if you looked at it the other way, it blew.

I mean, in the Reagan and early Bush years the GOP grifters used to at least try and pretend this stuff was something else. Freedom or prosperity or, well, whatever would convince the public marks to vote for them. But now they aren't even trying. Have you heard Trump? Christ, that idiot couldn't have won a junior high school class election with his nonsense forty years ago. Tax cuts for the Kochs and Medicare for white people and wars for the towelheads and a balanced budget? It's enough to make a cat laugh and yet these freaking southern Oregon C.H.U.D.s are out there lapping it up and baying for more. It''d be ridiculous if it wasn't so tragic.

I think that some of these people - Trump, for sure, and I suspect guys like Bush and Rubio and that loathsome harpy Fiorina - are just flat-out grifters. They know that the snake oil they're peddling is nothing but wood alcohol and turpentine, and that it's poison for the rubes. They're grifting because they'll profit from the grift, and they need the rubes to buy it, and don't care that their toxins will poison the rubes by stealing their jobs, blighting their lives, and crushing them under debt and imprisonment and unemployment and hopelessness.

But some of these people can't be grifters. Some of them must truly believe this stuff. Carson, maybe. Cruz? The Pauls?

But...it's such a grossly fucking obvious grift. It's not like we haven't seen the America it will reduce us to; an America where people die in dangerous jobs and their orphans starve, an America where the rich do what they can and the poor suffer what they must, an America of filthy toxic slums huddling below shining mansions, an America where if you aren't born to the purple your life is nasty, brutish, and short.

It was that America that the reformers, the muckrakers, the socialists, the labor unions, the New Dealers beat back into its gated communities and boardrooms and forced to give up its oligarchy, creating the Middle Class America of the Fifties and Sixties, the America I grew up in. That America isn't what these Republican policies will produce.

That America is the America these Republican policies, from the "right-to-work" to the end of Social Security to the fight against minimum wages and workplace safety and health regulations and progressive taxes, will destroy and replace with the old, dark, dirty, oligarchic America, the America of the Gilded Age.

How can these people, the ones not in on the grift, how can they not see that? How can they want that, that Gilded Age America, back?

I honestly have no idea, and the rank, feral stupidity of that wanting just makes me violently ill.


Ael said...

I agree that it is a puzzle.

My best guess is that it is identity politics.
Basically: "don't give my tax money to those undeserving bastards"
Where "undeserving bastards" are almost always identified by racial or cultural characteristics. Beggar thy neighbor politics.

Political sloganeering then becomes a way to determine what group a person is in (and reinforce identity within a group).

FDChief said...

I'd get that, Ael if the rest of the grift promised wealth for the rednecks. But it so obviously doesn't. It's serfdom for everybody...why is that more acceptable so long as the homos and the blacks are MORE wretched..? Are these white-trash Republicans really dumb enough or blind enough that they think that pushing wealth up to the wealthy is in their interests? That capital mobility that offshores the living-wage jobs and gutting regulations that prevent the ones that remain from killing or crippling them are in their interests?

How can some pipefitter or truck driver look at Trump and see the bloated, sneering plutocrat and think "That's my people!"???

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, and I'm not saying I'm right, they (tea party and so called conservatives) understand that they are approving hardship conditions but they truly believe the pain will be inflicted on others, not themselves. Their children or grandchildren will continue in public schools and still have Medicaid and possibly even food stamps; it will be someone else who suffers deprivation. Further... those other people deserve deprivation.

I don't know what to say about people who think Medicare should be a voucher program. Even if they are not nearing Medicare age themselves we can safely assume that most people have parents or grandparents. On the other hand, I know an 80 year old woman who insists she doesn't have Medicare - she has Humana. Sigh.


FDChief said...

Yeah...this morning I came across a perfect sample of this (I can't link to it because I'm on my phone) in a letter to the Oregonian. The paper had run several editorials pointing out that Carson's tax "plan" was ridiculous and farcical and his rhetoric hyperbolic and dangerous. The letter writer blew that off as the "liberal media" (the O is stodigily corporate Republican as is possible in Portland) and recommended electing the wise, humble, God-fearing man Dr. Ben Carson.

It's like these goofy fuckers are living in Bizarroworld.

FDChief said...

Now that I'm back at mt hotel desk...here's a perfect example of what I mean. Here's that godly man Ben Carson showing his complete ignorance of fiscal policy and how it works: http://fortune.com/2015/10/08/ben-carson-economy/

But we should elect him because Jesus!

I'm starting to feel like I'm living in an immense fool farm.

Ael said...

The important thing to remember is that this shit *works*.

Electioneering is fine tuned every couple of years by some of the best minds in the country. Every bit of the message is analyzed and re-analyzed. Outcomes (especially defeats) are examined with great attention to details.

What you are seeing is the outcome of generations of political thought and technological development.

I admit that I don't understand it, but I don't really understand lots of things.

FDChief said...

The thing I don't understand is that if this is all so cunningly designed why does it look - to me, anyway - so crude, crass, and obvious. It's like one of those Roadrunner cartoons with the ginormous anvil suspended over the little hill of grain with a "Free Birdseed" sign stuck in it.

How frigging stupid do you have to be to believe that sign?

I mean, there's no subtlety to this, no trick. The grift is right out in the open for everybody to see. And yet these suckers go for it like bugs after a bug-zapper.


Lisa said...

Yes to this:

They're grifting because they'll profit from the grift, and they need the rubes to buy it, and don't care that their toxins will poison the rubes by stealing their jobs, blighting their lives, and crushing them under debt and imprisonment and unemployment and hopelessness.

Have you seen the recent study re. the shortened lifetimes of middle-aged white men? This is shockingly sad, IMHO. Every other group consistently gains in life expectancy over the years. That is the norm; better living through science, but it is no longer the norm for this demographic. (Upper class white males are exempted.)

I suspect these men do recognize the toxic bilge being shoveled to them daily via Limbaugh et al. It is DEPRESSING, and they see the light of their heyday fading. Heck, many never had a heyday. So as every other special interest group gets its moment in the sun, the much-maligned PWM (privileged white male - not) is reacting predictably.

Perhaps Eliot wrote his requiem in "Prufrock",

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker / And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker / And in short, I was afraid."

FDChief said...

One of the most common responses to fear, though, Lisa, is to band together with other people so that together you can defeat that which you fear. That's how half the damn wars in history have started.

The other, of course, is to find someone ELSE who is weaker and more fearful than you and pass your fear on by beating them down. That's how things like pogroms and lynchings get started.

One of the most damnable things about the sort of quietly pervasive racism we marinate in in this country is that we tend to think of ourselves by race first. So instead of making common cause poor white people, poor black people, and poor hispanic people fight each other like rats in a tin can rather than drag down the goddamn plutocrats that make them ALL miserable.

Ael said...

Good point Lisa, The major cause of the increased mortality is because of drug / alcohol poisoning and its inevitable impacts on the liver. Maybe the grift appeals because the target audience is constantly drunk and / or stoned.

Lisa said...


Yes: our "quietly pervasive racism" allows for all manner of perversions. "Anyone can be President", don''t you know. So now that a bi-racial man has been installed in that high seat of power, everything is better. Except it's not.

Anyway, having the achievement of a political office which produces nothing of value is an odd bromide to feed kids in grade school, especially in a country which wished to abolish the imperial presidency. And here's where it gets very nasty:

No one teaches the average p.s. kid anything about finances, so they get expulsed from 12 years of enforced prison knowing nothing real-world about their money, their bodies, their minds -- any of it. Their is no "benevolent' industrialist providing a factory in which he may work or a union to protect him. He has been superannuated by a world more motivated than he, and willing to work for less.

And now to AEL:

I would challenge the cause and effect: This cohort is drunk and stoned as a result of their desperation. It is state-sanctioned self-medication; at its most cynical, state-sanctioned suicide.

Look, they are merely doing what any good American untermensch is taught to do, to buy the products which will soothe them. They are consuming the thigs which are killing them: the poor food, the dulling medicines and antidepressants, the computers which keep them in thrall to the garbage video feeds which they sit transfixed before, slack-jawed, morning until night.

It's a hell of an existence if you live in God's country (that would be Kentucky, WVA, etc.) They want to be "players", and they do the things that look like bling to them: watch the Kardashians and the zombies, ingest the party drugs. But it's neither a viable nor a productive life. This is a much bleaker version of Alfie's midlife crisis.

Lisa said...


"There is no "benevolent' industrialist ..."

Grammar matters.

Lisa said...

Oh, right: errata #2 -

"So KNOW that a bi-racial ..." I'm sure there's more.

{I'm just a poor typist.)

FDChief said...

I can't remember where I read the comment to the effect that the American oligarchs should thank their luck that the American poor would rather cling to the fantasy of becoming rich than confront the reality of being poor. To which I would add clinging to the adjective "white" (or black) before "poor".

Divide and conquer is a domestic as well as foreign policy. If you can keep a buffoon like Trump in the news long enough to keep poor whites and poor hispanics tearing each other rather than asking what benefits the Trump class might reap from pitting both groups in a race to the bottom you can win the "class war" without anyone outside of the random Sanders voter noticing you're even playing.

And the thing is, Lisa, is who is gonna teach these poor mooks economics? I sure don't want my local GOP school board teaching the glories of the "unregulated market" any more than they would want me in there ranting about John D. Rockefeller and the robber barons. There's no way in our New Gilded Age that ends well...

FDChief said...

What frustrates me is hearing the repetition of the inevitability of capital flight and offshoring as if it were a natural phenomenon, like snowfall, instead of the result of a nested association of policy and fiscal choices designed to benefit the rent-seeking class over the working class.

We've deliberately chosen to privilege capital over labor, chose cheap imported goods over living-wage work for non-college-educated (and even those w degrees, now...). That's not inevitable and that's not healthy for a representative form of government...but we continue to pretend that the result won't drive these disenfranchised bastards to grifters like Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and Cruz...

Lisa said...

"Divide and conquer" -- it is just that old. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Someone (Tom Clancy?) said Southerners live poor, but vote rich. They should be getting some education at least in how to regulate their personal finances, but they don't. Such topic are as remote in their education as fairies and leprechauns. It just happens, like the "Jack and Diane" scenario in the back of a Buick. (Do they still make Buicks?)

Agreed: "We've deliberately chosen to privilege capital over labor, chose cheap imported goods over living-wage work ... That's not inevitable and that's not healthy for a representative form of government ..." And while I agree with you -- these are CHOICES -- they do seem the inevitable ones in our democracy.

Alas, it IS democracy, and democracy cannot mandate kindness or fiscal equality, even when such things might be in the better interests of such a state.

Profit is the goal, and the invisible hand of the marketplace runs things. People prioritize cheap things. I've also seen the collusion of the educational system, the denigration of the vocational tracks in favor of all going to college. This has not worked well for so very many.

What is our product? Technology, which is pumping out things like games and zombie films to keep us unhealthy and in thrall to the little screens.

On that note, I'm off ;)


FDChief said...

"Profit is the goal, and the invisible hand of the marketplace runs things..."

This is exactly the sort of "free market" mythology that we've been conditioned to accept Lisa. It's bullshit, and if we thought about it for a moment we'd know it is.

The "invisible hand" is pushed and pulled in all sorts of ways by the policy choices we make; in our legal system, in our regulatory system, in the way we choose - or do not - to allow the players in the market to play the game.

For example; we know that it's NOT in our best interests to let any market be dominated by a single company or two. Why? Because we've seen what happens in when any organization gets monopoly power. We COULD, if We the People chose, regulate the markets so that no one or two organizations can own more than, say, 20% of any particular geographical or entrepreneurial market. We don''t...in fact, what's more, we encourage monopolization by letting the "market" fall prey to mergers and acquisitions that concentrate market power in a small group of hands.

We set our tax and tariff rules so as to encourage capital flight to low-wage polities and the destruction of our own manufacturing sectors.

We encourage risk among predatory financial organizations by tearing down the wall between private and public capital, and then are shocked when the predators kill the very economy we count on.

This isn't some sort of "market" problem; it's a We the People problem. In our fantasy of becoming rich we are ceding power to those who have every interest in keeping the bulk of us poor...or, at least, poor enough that we have little or no time to worry about their predations because we're scrabbling to make a living.

FDChief said...

And here it is...from the Guardian article you linked to, Lisa:

"n a country where social mobility is assumed – even if it has in fact stalled – and class consciousness is week the poor may vote in the interests of an imagined, but not necessarily imaginary future, rather than solidarity based on shared economic hardships. A Gallup poll in 2005 showed that while only 2% of Americans described themselves as "rich", 31% thought it very likely or somewhat likely they would "ever be rich"."

We the People are fucking idiots.