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And This Is What We Call Progress April 11, 2010

Posted by monty in news, politics.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I’ll be the first to admit that it hasn’t been easy being an Obama supporter.  While I’m ultimately glad that some kind of health care reform passed, I’m one of the few that disapproves of its current incarnation not because I’m frightened of death panels and government takeovers and squads of roving IRS agents and whatever other bogeymen the comically conspiracy-minded GOP can fabricate, but because the bill didn’t go far enough. Also, as I’ve written elsewhere on 3SODA, Obama’s current education policy is catastrophically simplistic and wrong-headed.

And that’s before you factor in the relentless GOP crybaby machine. Amazingly, all the right-wing vituperation during the 2008 presidential campaign has only gotten worse in the last year.  Newt Gingrich ( Obama’s is the “most radical” administration ever), Rush Limbaugh (Obama is “inflicting untold damage” on the U.S.), and good ol’ Sarah Palin (Obama’s recent agreement with Russia to reduce the number of nukes in each country is like a kid who says “punch me in the face”) have been launching their attacks on a nearly daily basis, and this doesn’t even begin to take into account the not-at-all-racist (nudge nudge, wink wink) Tea Party Movement, as well as the rank and file Republicans who swear that Obama has raised taxes and ruined the economy.

Long story short, it’s sometimes difficult to defend him when there are certainly aspects of his presidency with which I’m dissatisfied myself.

But it shouldn’t be difficult.  In the first year of Obama’s presidency:

  • The Dow is up from 7,000 to 11,000
  • The job situation has gone from 700,000 losses a month to 160,000 jobs created
  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has added 1.8 million jobs
  • The GDP (a measure of economic growth) has moved from -6% to +6%
  • Housing prices are up 20%

A pox on that radical Socialist for doing such horrific things to our country!

More unbelievable still is the fact that Republicans are actually angry about the fact that roughly 47% of American households in 2009 paid no taxes – not due to some sneaky dodge, but because they either didn’t make enough money, or because they benefited from tax credits that were part of the stimulus package.

You see the contradiction, right?

The GOP, so recently busy trying to position itself as the grass-roots party of the common man (remember Joe the Plumber?), is furious because A) people who are too poor to afford taxes aren’t being made to turn over their last $2 to the government, and B) the government is actually helping the middle class save money.  So the official GOP position on taxes is this: we hate taxes … except for when a Democrat’s in office, and then you’d better pay up or else you’re a no-good welfare case.

(And, come to think of it, isn’t that an interesting position for the GOP to take?  If they’re so concerned with appealing to the working class, why take this position on taxes, and why frame universal health care as an entitlement program?  What we’ve learned from the Republicans in the first year of Obama’s presidency is that people who need financial help are parasitic lowlifes mooching off the system.  You’re either self-sufficient, or you’re a liability.  There’s no middle ground.  And more puzzling still, why do the low- and middle-classes persist in allowing themselves to be tricked into believing that the Republicans actually care about them?)

Something else the last year (and especially the last few months) should have taught us is that, contrary to what the Republican powers that be would have us believe, there is no liberal media.  It’s inconvenient for the GOP, I know, but there’s simply no cabal of broadcasters whose sole interest is getting us to eat granola, wear clothes made from hemp, and read The Communist Manifesto. In many ways, it’s been entertaining to watch the Republicans cry about the “liberal media” because one of their most reliable talking points is that the Democrats are always pretending to be the victim.  Yet when it comes to the media, the Republicans make like a two-year-old who just got his binky swiped.  We’re supposed to believe that the “mainstream media” (translation: anything that’s not Fox News) has its jackbooted foot on the neck of the Republican Party, effectively silencing anything critical of the Obama administration.  But the important thing to remember is that the contemporary Republican party depends on its followers feeling like they’re being persecuted.  Just look at the way they approach some of their favorite issues:

  • The mainstream media wants to silence conservative voices.
  • Healthcare reform will make it harder for you to see your doctor and send IRS agents to your door.
  • The Tea Party Movement consistently uses “Take our country back!” as a rallying cry.
  • Obama wants to steal your money and “redistribute” it to people who don’t deserve it.

To the GOP, any ideas that are even remotely progressive exist only to persecute you and take what’s rightfully yours.  And that’s the stance they’ve taken with the media: it’s state-run, and serves a Democratic agenda.  But no one but the most blinkered, tunnel-visioned Republican really believes that, do they?  I mean, why, in this liberal media Utopia, am I subjected to the thoughts of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and the Tea Party?  Why aren’t the statistics I cited above common knowledge?  Why haven’t the myriad Republican hypocrisies detailed in this letter been playing in an uninterrupted loop on NBC, CBS, and ABC?  Why haven’t Newt Gingrich’s infidelities gotten as much play as John Edwards’?  Because the media is so liberal.  Right.  I keep forgetting.

One of the problems, of course, is that we’ve turned into a society that believes that just because there happens to be two sides to an issue, both sides are equally worth hearing.  This is why we’re so lucky to find out what Sarah Palin thinks about Obama’s qualifications to sign a non-proliferation agreement with Russia.

Make no mistake: when one of the sides debating an issue consists of Palin, Gingrich, and Limbaugh (not to mention court jester extraordinaire Glenn Beck and perpetual victim Andrew Breitbart), that viewpoint isn’t worth hearing, because that viewpoint doesn’t exist in the same reality as the rest of us.  It’s like someone arguing against gravity.  Sure, it’s polite to give the opposing perspective a chance to talk, but why bother? There’s a world of difference between making a principled objection against something, and just being a dick.  Too often, it seems like the GOP just wants to do the latter (see especially, Gingrich’s recent claim that, in a Republican-controlled Congress, the first order of business will be to defund and repeal all of Obama’s policies – again, despite all the evidence that they’ve worked.)

It’s all very confusing.  We have a president who has done some remarkably positive things for the country, and yet the opposition is unequivocally controlling the dialogue – to the point where some of his supporters are even reluctant to defend him.  Somehow, despite Obama’s successes, the GOP has managed to frame his presidency as the machinations of a radical leftist hell-bent on destroying the country.  But the truth, if one ignores all the Socialist fairy tales the Republicans are spinning about health care reform and the stimulus and arms reduction and green jobs, is that there’s mounting evidence that Obama has actually been quite good for the country.  How odd that we don’t hear about that from the leftist media that’s supposedly suckling at Obama’s Marxist teat.

And that means that Obama’s supporters have their work cut out for them. In order to garner votes in November, the GOP is going to continue to pretend to be a supporter of the working class (despite all evidence to the contrary), and, at the same time, paint Obama and the Democratic incumbents as Socialist Marxist fascist homosexuals who want nothing more than to see a Soviet flag flying over the White House.  It’s important for us to understand that an Obama presidency that doesn’t go quite as far as we’d like is still miles better than turning over Washington to Gingrich and Palin and Michele Bachmann and professional saddlebag John Boehner.  The more seats the Republicans take in November, the uglier it’s going to get for all of us.  And that means whatever reservations we have about Obama’s individual policies have to be squelched, and the not insignificant accomplishments of his administration have to be amplified, and amplified in a way that illustrates how they actually help the middle-class. The long-running (and entirely true) joke about the Democrats is that they always know how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Not this time.  There’s just too much at stake.

*****

Current listening:

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995)

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Apologies to Insect Life January 1, 2010

Posted by monty in news, politics.
Tags: , , ,
3 comments

Somehow I’ll have to overlook the fact that 2009 took John Hughes and Patrick Swayze (by all accounts, two of the kindest, most good-hearted men in show business) from us, but left Rush Limbaugh alive and kicking.  What I can’t overlook, though, is the statement he made about his recent hospitalization: “I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the American health care system.  It is working just fine.”

This arrogance perfectly encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the position held by the opponents of health care reform.  They think that because their health care is just hunky-dory, that means it’s working for everyone else.  Let’s keep in mind that Limbaugh makes, depending on whom you ask, somewhere between $28 and $34 million a year, just from his broadcasting contract with Clear Channel.  So of course the health care system works just fine.  He could probably buy the hospital that treated him.

The important question to ask him, though, is this:

Rush, if you made $30,000 a year and didn’t have employer health insurance or weren’t wealthy enough to pay out of pocket, how well would you think the health care system is working?  If you were suddenly faced with a hospital bill that totaled more than you make in a year, would you think we have the best system in the world?

This is why a strong public option (or, dare I say it, a single-payer system) is vital: to protect those who can’t protect themselves.  But the GOP doesn’t see it this way.  Their health care bills are covered, and their salaries are healthy enough to bear the brunt of anything not covered.  The rest of the great unwashed, as far as the Republicans are concerned, can go fuck themselves.

And I don’t know if this is a piece of the puzzle or not, but I can’t help but wonder to what degree Limbaugh’s chest pains can be attributed to the fact that he’s a morbidly obese, cigar-smoking, ex-drug addict who peddles manufactured rage.  Shouldn’t these dangerous lifestyle choices somehow disqualify him from insurance coverage?

I know, I know.  In a perfect world.

*****

Current listening:

The Clash – Combat Rock (1982)

No Smoke, No Mirrors October 22, 2009

Posted by monty in politics, rhetoric.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

adolph-obamaHave you ever wanted to know the precise rhetorical term for the device Conservatives use when they compare Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler?

Well, look no further:

Reductio ad Hitlerum

So the next time your favorite right-winger says something like, “Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, ruled by dictate,”* you can just smile kindly, pat him on the shoulder, and inform him that while he’s simply using a logical fallacy first coined in 1953, you appreciate his interest in current events.  And who says rhetorical devices can’t be fun?

* actual Rush Limbaugh quote

*****

Current listening:

Swell strict

The Swell Season – Strict Joy