Sunday, August 09, 2009

Where Does It End?-- Confusing Dissent With Violence


-by NOAH

“I am disappointed that the event was disrupted by a small but vocal group… I remember the days when folks who disagreed would do so respectfully and were still able to work together on the important issues to find solutions.”
-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Blue Dog-AZ) after she left her own town hall meeting
Calm, reasoned, intelligent discourse has now become roadkill in our country and right wing mobs have now targeted free speech itself through tactics of screaming, intimidation and escalating the threat of violence. During last year’s presidential campaign, there was a paradigm shift in our national reason when, Republicans, realizing that their candidates, a cranky old coot and a dingbat former beauty queen, were probably going to lose to, not just a Democrat but, horror of horrors, a black man. It was unfathomable to repugs who had had things go their way for so long and gotten away with so much, including the theft of two elections, that they would be living in a universe where they not only wouldn’t have control over both Houses of Congress but the White House itself. On top of that, too, in their small minds, to see a black man in the White House who wasn’t just watering the plants, was more than they could bear. During the campaign, we started to hear people screaming out “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” Many in the media tried to paint such people as a tiny minority or fringe of the Republican Party as if to apologize for them or at least turn the spotlight elsewhere in shame. However, it was obvious to any one with a clear head that, since no Republicans were objecting to this thuggish behavior, they were in agreement and fine with letting such unacceptable sentiments speak for them. The only question now is: Where does it all end?

This is not the first time during my lifetime and in my memory that things have gone off the rails in America, but it is the most massively intense. Part of the reason is technological; the speed of communication enabled by the internet and cell phones, plus the 24 hour “news” coverage on cable TV. Just as information can be spread instantly, so can propaganda and mis-information. In other times, news was something that appeared on TV for an hour each evening, and, except for an additional hour or two of news feature programming during the rest of the week, that was it. There were no hours of prime time given over to shifty patent medicine salesmen, religious hucksters, or an endless circus of street hustler car wrecks and Marvel Comic Book style crazies like Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck who in another day would be doing their crying and beating their heads in a padded room far out of contact with the public. Instead of giving them a shot of the happy stuff, we give them a microphone and the biggest loudspeaker in the world. Believe it or not, there was a time when Ann Coulter would have just been regarded as a crank with severe hostility and mental problems manifested by some sort of “I just can’t shut up. I just have to yell out the damndest things” version of tourrette’s syndrome. In today’s world, these people make gazillions; paid by media conglomerates and corporate sponsors to set the tone for our society.
The right wing in this country has always had trouble “working within the system.” If it can’t win the hearts and minds of the majority, it has always sought extra-legal means to arrive at the simple, easy to understand “order” that they strive for. Unable to persuade through logic and the exchange of ideas in civil discourse, the right wing mindset is given to the violent tantrums of an unsophisticated child. When they lack the ability to grasp reality, they long to become like that kid in The Twilight Zone that can just will people to disappear if he doesn’t like what they are thinking. Being adults, offers a broader selection of potential mayhem.
I am old enough to remember that when JFK, a president who the right considered a dangerous communist sympathizer, was murdered in the streets of Dallas, the newspapers had been running advertising designed to look like wanted posters that showed a picture of JFK with the words “Wanted For Treason.” I remember George Wallace screaming “Segregation now. Segregation forever” in the doorway of a university. I remember a twisted little caféteria owner in Georgia named Lester Maddox who refused to serve African-Americans at his restaurant. He ended up as Governor. I remember Strom Thurmond. I remember so much hate fomented by politicians that it made some citizens feel it was permissible to blow up little girls in a church in Birmingham on a Sunday morning, or murder some “community organizers” of their day and bury their bodies in an earthen dam, or shoot Medger Evers as he returned home one night. Then, there was Martin Luther King. And then RFK. At every turn, we heard that people who wanted a better America were "socialists" or "communists." It was the same in the early 1930s when FDR was pushing Social Security. A cabal of bankers even tried to overthrow his administration and put a general in charge of the government. Fortunately, the general thought better of it and blew the whistle. One of the bankers was named Prescott Bush. It was the same in the mid-1960s when LBJ pushed through “socialist” legislation like Medicare and laws guaranteeing Civil Rights and voting rights for all, even the… you know, those others. Hell, with the righties, even FLOURIDE was a communist plot.
More recently, it was Newt Gingrich pompously talking about bringing down big government and how we ought to just blow it all up. Next thing we knew, there was Timothy McVeigh. Even after that, Newt tried to impeach his way to the top by conniving to rid Washington of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
It seems that the righties in this country just can’t accept the concept of democracy. Last year, there was an election. They lost. Their policies, which we will be trying to recover from for a very long time, were repudiated. But, the righties have never accepted democracy. There is always a huge component of class warfare and racism at the base of their “thinking.” Lincoln (a Republican back when Republicans were progressives and very different than today’s Repugs) took away their slaves. Lincoln delivered change some just didn’t want to believe in. We know what happened to him. The Kennedys and MLK sought equality through legislation and consensus. The way the right deals with things is the way of the gun or some other form of violence. If there has been a political assassination to be had in our history, it has been done to carry out some twisted righty agenda. Ironically, even the shooting of George Wallace just meant that Richard Nixon would get more votes once he was removed from the scene. I’ll leave the conspiracies for another day, but any cop will tell you that if you want to solve a crime, the first people you look at are those who benefited from that crime. The people who are disrupting these town hall meetings are often outsiders to the area. Some are just buying into Hate Radio propaganda. Some are paid for and bussed in by lobbying groups like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and Rick Scott’s Conservatives For Patient’s Rights. Who is Rick Scott? He is the former head of a hospital chain. The reason he is a former head is that he was forced out during a fraud investigation. They pleaded guilty to over-billing state and federal health plans. And racked up $1.7 billion in fines! Oh and he was also involved in some swift boat group that did something in the 2004 election, has Rove and Bush connections, etc., etc. Swell guy. Now ask yourself who is paying those who are organizing the town hall disruptions? Who is whipping up the frenzy? Who is it that doesn’t care who gets hurt or killed as long as the status quo of the corporate bottom line is maintained? Follow the money.
By now, you can see what I fear. It is a fear based on past history. It has been a worry of mine since the election campaign. The losers grow more rabid by the day, egged on by a tsunami of outright lies. They don’t want “government run health care” even if they don’t know what it is. They are low information voters who absorb lies like the best sponge in the world. In Texas last week, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) asked his audience if they “oppose any form of socialized or government run health care.” Like good little robots, virtually everyone in the room said they did. Next, Rep. Green asked the audience how many of them were on Medicare. Nearly half of the audience raised their hands. I wonder if they saw a contradiction in their stance. I also wonder if it would have mattered if they did. These are just angry medieval mobs yelling “witches” and “burn them!” Lies and slogans are being spoonfed  to low information voters who seek authority, answers, and even solutions to problems they don’t really have. They seek in all the wrong places, such as can be found on Hate Radio, CNN, and FOX. They hover around the words of the certifiable, absorbing them as if they were plausible kernels of truth. They tune in Rush and Lou, and Bill-0, and Sean, and Glenn and Malkin and so many others like campers gathered around a campfire to hear ghost stories about non-existent threats from some other dimension or universe, which just may be the one their cold blooded reptilian minds happen to occupy. They hear the voices. They receive the messages. They confuse violence with dissent. They grab on to lies to explain their reality. Conflating violence with dissent is what, with few exceptions, separates how the right engages in political protest and how the left engages in political protest.
So, here we are. We are in a period where people who strangely call themselves teabaggers protest that President Obama is going to raise their taxes when he has already lowered them. For Republicans, every day is opposite day. It’s a case of “Don’t confuse me with FACTS! I just hate that guy. I want him to fail. I want him GONE.” The idea that if Obama does fail; our whole economy and country fails doesn’t matter to such people. That is not their priority. They are in a state of hysteria. Obama’s an “arab.” He “associates with terrorists.” He “doesn’t have a birth certificate.” He’s illegitimate. He was born in Kenya (and you know what that means). We’re in a period where irrational sheep bleat on about how Obama wants to euthanize granny, or “grampa” as famed white supremacist Pat Buchanan bellows, or create “Government Death Panels,” like Caribou Barbie claims. We are in a period of a mass hysteria where old ladies turn down the voice of Rush just long enough to call their Congresscreep and lecture about how they don’t want that “that evil government health care that Obama is going to shove down their throats.” how they “don’t want a government program,” and he “better not touch their Medicare,” which, of course, as Rep. Green was getting at, just happens to be a government run health care system. Dare we call it SOCIALISM?
It’s simultaneously fascinating and horrible to watch people who stand to benefit from change resist it with every molecule of their being. They proudly call themselves “I am the mob” and storm town hall meetings where things that could help their families are on the agenda for discussion, except that they don’t want to hear about it. They don’t want anyone to hear about it. They are being played and it doesn’t even dawn on them. They alternately call President Obama a socialist, a Nazi, and a communist with no apparent understanding of the very real differences between those three political systems. They mindlessly do the bidding of the corporate masters and the moneyed class and deride those who would better their lives as elitists. They remind me of the same folks that thought Reagan was talking about them when he was talking about lowering taxes. They praise Dubya for giving them a few hundred to buy a new TV while he gave the top 2% hundreds of thousands and even millions. Then they wonder why their roads and bridges are unsafe at any speed and why their kids have bad schools. They don’t even wonder about why the FDA isn’t equipped to stop e. coli in their spinach anymore and why more miners are dying in cave-ins while the people who are playing them are laughing all the way to their secret off shore bank accounts.

 In Tampa, a Glenn Beck fan club stormed a town hall, smashing on the windows just like a similar mob did in Florida in 2000 when people were trying to count votes. They were fearful of their guy losing. How’d that turn out for their families? How long before someone who is taking their marching orders from the likes of Beck loses their job and, therefore, their family’s insurance? How long before it happens to one of these families and they are faced with a life and death situation. Then, they will see what powerless is. They will have voted against themselves yet again. Is it self-hatred? Fear of change? Fear of the unknown? Are their present circumstances that good? Hey, Glenn Beck, turn it around a bit. What happens if you and the people you propagandize for succeed and defeat health care reform and some guy out there in radioland who listened to you and believed your insanity suddenly wakes up one morning to find out that his 10 year old daughter has cancer and he doesn’t have access to health care for her because you won. What if you then end up with a target on your back with a grieving dad tracking you?
On Thursday, the SEIU (Service Employers International Union) announced that it would attend various town halls in support of health care reform. On Friday, Rush Limbaugh gave out their office address in St. Louis. The death threat calls and tweets to the SEIU were immediate. “If ACORN/SEIU (notice the coupling with ACORN, a largely African-American organization. There they go AGAIN and AGAIN.) attends these meetings for disruptive purposes (!), and you have license to carry…carry” read one tweet. Other protesters called and pledged to take up arms. Another tweet from the same psycho recommends “…hurt them. Badly.” The SEIU was not the only union ally of President Obama to receive such threats. So did the AFL-CIO. This comes from the crowd that likes to refer to unions as thugs. I wonder; do they have mirrors in their bathrooms?
You can watch Rush Limbaugh, hyped up in a frothing frenzy on God knows what, practically jumping out of his skin as he calls those in favor of reform "Nazis." He gives out addresses to his minions of the front lines from the cowardly confines of his studio fortress, all neatly provided by the puppet masters of Clear Channel. What happens, Rush, or Glenn, or any of you, when someone gets killed in a fire bombing of an office, shot at a town hall meeting, or even, shall we say, brings down a federal building with a Ryder truck? Words do matter, especially to the unstable. I know, like Bill-O, you’ll deny any blood on your paws and those who employ you in their efforts to keep the gravy train status quo going for their multi-national corporation buddies will do the same. So, who here is Tokyo Rose, and who is the patriot trying to improve the general well-being of the country? If Rush Limbaugh isn’t Lord Haw Haw, I don’t know who is.
Rush Limbaugh has also made it plain where he stands on race and what he feels about the current President. He truly is the leader of the 2009 Repug Party. He is the cheerleader for the angry white voters that are the core bastion of the party. The party’s tactics of exploiting racial anxiety or fear of “the other” or fear of the unknown isn’t new. Some fear change and that is exactly what President Obama campaigned on. Whites voted against Barack Obama by a ratio of 55% to 45%, only to see that it didn’t matter. Their world has changed. Others can and do vote now, too. To Limbaugh, Obama is even more of a threat than Donovan McNabb is. McNabb can only win football games.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), the House Minority Whip, is on record as saying that the country needs more Rush Limbaughs. Limbaugh’s characterization of Obama as Hitler doesn’t even seem to give Cantor pause. It’s interesting to note that it was old Adolph himself, along with his propaganda/media chief Josef Goebbels who promulgated the “Big Lie Theory” saying that if you repeat a lie often enough, particularly a big one, people will accept it as gospel. That includes the so-called mainstream media of today who simply regurgitate Republican talking points, no matter how patently and obviously erroneous. So, who is acting more… Hitler-ish? As if Rep. Cantor, or even the well-documented Sen. Jim DeMint wasn’t enough, how about dull-witted Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)? The other day, he managed to combine “Obamacare” town hall meetings and lynching while his followers laughed, cheered and clapped. There they go again with the code-speak. The word ‘lynching’ is so telling in reference to the racial and cultural anxiety that is at play here. The Repugs may think that by cynically appointing Michael Steele as figurehead of their party provides some sort of cover. It doesn’t. Ah, the good old days, eh Todd? The good old days when you could just lynch your opponents, or as with people like you, just state your plausible denial and have some naïve follower do it.

If there are still any rational, reasonable, moral Republicans left; now might be a good time to speak up and stand up for common sense before blood, on either side, is shed. Our society will either adapt and change or it will stagnate and die under it’s own weight. Vital countries grow and evolve. You do believe in evolution, don’t you?

Update: A Crack In The Right's Facade?

Actually, this morning a few-- very few-- con-servatives finally did distance themselves from the insanity of one of the right kooks who has been stirring up trouble: Palin. Georgia reactionary Rep. Jack Kingston, called Palin's death panel meme "a scare tactic," and David Brooks, in reference to the clearly mentally disturbed Palin, said "the crazies are attacking the plan because it will cut off granny. That is simply not true, that simply is not going to happen." TPM was scratching it's head over Palin's bizarre stand and that of the few nutcases on the far right who are backing her. If you want a cheap, quick laugh hit that link.

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At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Katherine Jenerette said...

Hi Howie or Ken,

Is that really you? Or Y'all? I’m not sure who to address this to but I had to let you know how I felt about being called the ‘Confederate Sara Palin.”

I’m just not sure.

I suppose I could wear it on a sash the next time I’m in some beauty pageant but I’d have to gain a fair amount of pounds to fit all those words on a single sash and that would clash with my Lynyrd Skynyrd T-Shirt for sure.

Honestly Howie, I was driving back to Fort Bragg when I heard that you mentioned little ole’ me and I thought maybe the Confederate title before my name had something to do with Ft. Bragg being named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg and my Army unit is stationed there…

But, then I simply had a burst of brilliance – I’m from South-by-God-Carolina! Now I get it!

So do I thank you kindly? Or do I feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck?

Decisions are so hard to come by, so I’ll go with my first inclinations: Thank you sir!

I do mean it and I wish you lived here so I could try and persuade Y'all to push that button with ‘Katherine’ on it and feel good at the vote you just cast.

Anyway, I do mean it Howie and Ken; thanks. A Carolina Girl my age will take your kind of kind attention graciously.

Go to run or jump or do-se-do.

That’s all for now,


Katherine Jenerette

Republican Candidate, U.S. Congress, First District, South Carolina

P.S. I read your post ‘I'm Certain I'll Never See Afghanistan Again’ and agree that it’s always the ordinary people who get really hurt in not so ordinary wars. If I deploy there I’ll send you a ‘wish-you-were-here’ ‘Namasté’ post card. I’m sure ‘Three Cups of Tea’ will be waiting.

At 1:33 AM, Blogger Chris J. said...

You should really check your facts before you post revisionist history like this. I wrote a rebuttal to this on my blog.
What bothers me is that it shows a deep seeded hatred that isn't entirely based on the truth. It is the same attitude that fuels the more radical conservatives.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger 333 said...

Howie... Ken...

I know you are forgetting someone you may not even realize exists. The problem is that here in the south and with syndication across the country, NEAL BOORTZ is corrupting the minds of the followers of such people as Sean Hannity, one of his former colleagues at WSB-Radio, AM 750 here in Atlanta, Georgia.

He hides behind the " I'm a Libertarian " cloak of shame, meanwhile he spews hate and venom about every topic that has to do with Democratic ideals while endorsing Republican strategies. His only division is with Abortionists and those who want to annihilate gays.

When you talk about the influences, talk about Neal Boortz, he is a HUGE enemy of the healthcare debate and is getting no recognition.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, DWT, you left out all those conservatives disrupting military funerals.

At 7:17 PM, Anonymous NOAH said...

Hey Anon & C3,
Thanks for participating. I agree that, sadly, there is a wealth of material that I could have used but the post was getting long enough and the point was made. I'll try to make sure Boortz gets some attention in the future. I think we have covered the Westboro Baptist Crazies before and I'm sure they'll be raising their filthy paws again in the future. I also had a nice bit about the killings of African-American students at Jackson State, gay bashings and murders, Kent State (where the townies were complaining that only 4 were killed and even the governor got in on the act)... It goes on and on. I could fill a book, but that's not the format here.

At 1:41 AM, Blogger Chris J. said...

You asked for "rational, reasonable, moral Republicans" to speak up, and I did. I'd like to know what you think of my reply. I felt that I did my best to be fair, so let me hear back. Did I name my blog too appropriately?


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