Friday, September 16, 2011

In the Land of Crazy

I fear this is a bit of a rambling post... just can't seem to muster much more today.

Election season has begun... funny how the "season" now extends well beyond one calendar year. I'm beginning to wonder how on earth I will maintain any semblance of sanity with about 14 more months of this to go.


I'm seriously considering putting myself on some sort of a news moratorium... it would be really nice to just be able to tune out the lunacy.


But I'm not really sure that adopting the posture of the average American would help things much.


Still, every time I look at the political situation in this country, I'm left wondering if everyone has gone stark raving mad.


I just never thought I'd see the day where a crowd would cheer the idea of executions and scream that we should just let people who don't have health insurance die.


I mean I'm really starting to wonder if this country isn't totally coming apart at the seams...


I suppose on some level it's not that hard to understand. I mean the country has basically degenerated into a state of populist rage.

Which the powerful interests are busy focusing for their own benefit. Never mind the fact that they're the ones who caused the problem in the first place.


I suppose it's nothing new, but it just amazes me to watch people align all of their anger and frustration against their own self interest.


I guess people just figure that if there's someone out there screaming with as much hatred and vitriol as they feel, then they must be on their side, never mind what they are actually doing.


Sure... let's just give all of the money and power to the rich and powerful... that'll fix things!


Sigh... I suppose on some level it's just gonna have to play itself out. But I really can't escape the feeling that impending doom us upon us. I mean if we get a conservative in the White House, and they appoint a few more crazies to the supreme court... kiss any remaining civil liberties goodbye... it's all over but the shouting.


And we liberals somehow think that if we could just explain it to people and make them understand... But we're like the goddess Cassandra... endowed with the gift of prophecy, but cursed with the inability to get anyone to believe her warnings.


I once heard an interview with Alfred Hitchcock where he said that the key to building suspense was to give the audience information that the characters don't have.


I sure feel like one of the people in the diner from that scene in "The Birds" screaming and yelling in a hopeless attempt to get the guy to put out the match before it's too late.


But there just doesn't seem to be any way to counter willful ignorance.


CatMan keeps telling me that I shouldn't worry. I'm in a wonderful position... I've got money in the bank, a house, the ability to support myself without a job... really, I've got it made.


Perhaps I should just sit back and enjoy having a front row seat... 


I guess this just isn't the show that I was hoping to see...


I'm sure I'm taking things to heart too much... I always do. 

27 comments :

  1. Well said! I seriously wanted to leave the country when Reagan got to the White House, but was too entangled. I'm thinking Canada's looking pretty good these days....
    The biggest concern, REALLY, is the efforts by so many red states to disenfranchise wide swaths of voters with the voter ID laws. It'll make Florida look like a cake walk. So, even if there's a sane majority out there, enough will be kept from voting to allow the fringe idiots to take over. Ron Paul used to be the resident Kook. Crazy, but harmless.

    Wake up, make sure you CAN vote!

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  2. I think Jay hit the nail on the head: the bullshit began with Reagan. It's simply snowballed from there. Now Bachmann can wish Elvis a Happy Birthday on the anniversary of his death, celebrate being born in the same Iowa town as John Wayne......Gacy, proclaim that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation in a young girl because a mother told her so after the debate & Tea Partiers still see her as a credible candidate for President. HUH???? The Republicans can scream about cutting spending & the massive deficit now that there is a Democrat in the White House. But during King George II's reign, neither was of any concern to them - and he's the guy that overspent & created the deficit with massive tax cuts to the uber-wealthy & 2 wars. Again, HUH? I just may get an AK-47 to protect me & my critters from the crazies out there.

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  3. This is exactly how I feel every time I think about politics, so mostly I try to avoid thinking about politics. A news moratorium is not such a bad idea. We don't by a newspaper and don't watch TV, but still hear about the big stories from our friends.

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  4. Jay - I was only 13 when Reagan was elected, and I fear at the time I was grateful because I didn't think I could take 4 more years of people telling me how much I looked like Amy Carter! If only I knew... I totally agree about the voter disenfranchisement. It makes me so mad I could spit... this from the folks who are always crying "voter fraud."

    Connie - Oh god... it would be funny if it weren't so horrible. I actually saw a fabulous documentary made by the BBC (I think) called "The Power of Nightmares." It's a fascinating yet horrifying study of the parallels between radical Islam and the conservative right. They basically say that both movements function by creating a false picture of good vs. evil in order to control the masses. Anyhow, it's a three part series with each part being an hour long, but well worth the watch. Here's a YouTube link if you're interested.

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5lByw7kvS0&feature=related

    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai6LhnW4Oa8&feature=related

    Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HvzR8w1z2g&feature=watch_response

    Rachel - Sigh - You know, I always think of the UK, and Europe in general, as a bastion of sanity and reason compared to politics here. Guess nobody is safe from the crazies these days.

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  5. Ah, the internal logic of paranoid schizophrenia! Makes perfect sense once you sink into their world and accept their basic premise.

    Sadly, many perfectly sane folks manipulate these people for THEIR own agendas: think Bush, Rove, Cheney. Shoulda heard me yelling at the screen when they talked about WMDs, I knew they were lying --it was sooo obvious. Ludicrous.

    Mark my words, if a Repug becomes the next president, we will find economic recovery riding on the coat tails of a "new" war, Guaranteed economy booster! WWII, Korea, Vietnam ..... Sickening.
    Of course, it also saddens me to keep hearing jobs are dependent on consumerism. It's a premise I just don't buy (ha, ha), but it's the keystone of everyone's "plan". That, and now, it seems, what Bernie Sanders has referred to as an Ayn Rand world view.
    Canada!!

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  6. Jay, you don't believe that jobs & our economy aren't based upon consumerism? Maybe not as much as media is crediting it with, but it's certainly a part. But, it's all based on the fallacy that the economy will continue to grow FOREVER. Ultimately, nothing is forever. After all, these are the same folks that said that home prices will ALWAYS rise. Oops - they were wrong.

    I think that one of the few good things that this recession has driven home to a growing percentage of Americans - we don't need so much stuff. We don't have to keep buying, just to buy. Has that message reached enough people? I don't think so, but the numbers have grown. Born out of necessity, people have found that "doing without" some things isn't all that bad.

    But, IMHO, quality education is the key. Problem solving, decision making skills are paramount. Why do you think Republicans want to dismantle education & defund it? Keep the unwashed masses DUMB and they will believe the bullshit they're shoveling. Rush & O'Reilly will appear to be geniuses - along with Glenn Beck. Jon Stewart will be too intellectual for the masses. Humor, sarcasm, telling truth from fiction - beyond their grasp. Recognizing an idiot like Bachmann? Impossible. If Bachmann doesn't know the difference between Elvis' birthday & the day he died, will she know the difference between Israel & India - I mean, they both begin with an I.

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  7. Jay - I remember being totally incredulous that anybody actually believed the WMD stuff... let's see... "WE WANT REGIME CHANGE!" - hmmm... folks aren't going for it... ok..."HE'S GOT WMD'S!!!" Seriously?!? How transparent could you get?

    And I have to say I think it's beyond sad that we've created a society that is dependent on people buying a ton of crap that the don't need and can't afford in order to keep the economy rolling. It's utterly ridiculous, and it really doesn't have to be that way.

    Connie - I agree that the economy is based at least in part on consumerism... that and ridiculous financial wizardry, but I don't think it has to be that way. I totally agree that the whole infinite growth paradigm is a dead end. It simply CANNOT work no matter how much anybody wants it to. Of course we'll pave the entire country and fill it with plastic crap from China long before the powers that be come to terms with that truth.

    I agree about education, but I'm not convinced that our current educational system teaches people critical thinking. I actually think it's crafted specifically for the purpose of creating drones who will not question authority and be eager to buy more shit they don't need.

    I read a fascinating book called "The Leipzig Connection" which suggested that our ineffectual educational system is not an accident. It documented how the Rockefeller family, through numerous "generous contributions" basically took over all of the teacher training colleges (this was early 20th century I believe) and required that all of the teachers implement a new system of teaching, which, BTW was shown in study after study to produce students who were very compliant but didn't actually learn anything. I'm not sure if I buy the whole conspiracy theory aspect of it, but it certainly was interesting.

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  8. Connie! Agree. I do recognize that our economy, at least since the Fifties, has been based on consumerism. I just think there's a better way, because, yes, we don't NEED 90% of what we own. I'm not a communist, more a Trekkie. A world where we strive for the well being of all, where service -including teaching- is the ideal. Sounds a bit far fetched, but had we turned in that direction instead of owning homes, appliances, books, etc., imagine what life would be like.... I think advocating service is paramount. Where in ANY politician's rhetoric is that mentioned? No one! It's all about jobs=$=buying=more jobs.
    Totally agree about education. Both my "kids" have finished school and will be heading for Grad School -and life long debt, but they want to serve: one as an educator, the other as a therapist... But somehow we also just need some common sense, and -as you say- critical thinking: knowing what you DON't know, and what you NEED to Know, and HOW to find the answers, i.e., an internet search is going to troll as many farces as truths.... can YOU tell the difference?
    A good education is not the only way to learn critical thinking/problem solving/decision making, but it's the EASIEST way, and it can easily be taught from PreSchool on up! Instead, we still have debates on whether the Ten Commandments should be in the classroom! And "intelligent design" OMG!!! The Texas School Board is diligently trying to create ignorant followers. More will follow unless parents and others who care, say ENOUGH!

    Maybe Bachman is dumb enough to scare even Republicans??? Hmm.

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  9. Hey, ECL, I must of posted same moment as you, so sorry for any dupes in thought, etc :-))))

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  10. That 'let them die' thing was one of the saddest things that has happened in America - that made news around the world.

    I too feel that I have front row seats to a show I did not want to see. I am not there anymore.. but my dad and sister (and some other family + friends) are! I do not want to see them get caught in this mess.

    It is so sad to see america going down the drain.. so many people worked so hard to make it a free place - and now it is one of the most un-free places on earth.


    also - i think i was one of those "ompliant but didn't actually learn anything" students.. I passed with flying colors and in honors... but feel like when I have a chat here with an educated Norwegian that should go back to school .. i kinda sorta remember things they are talking about, but not enough to have a real coversation about it.

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  11. Fascinating conversation from all. @Fonda - when exactly was America "free?" I know we've all been fed the rhetoric: democracy, blah, blah, blah, land of the free, blah, blah, blah. Only white men - primarily land owners - could vote in the early days of this country. After the civil war, black men got the vote. That didn't last long, since some black men were elected to Congress. Jim Crow followed - testing to vote for black people only. Women, after being beaten, arrested, force fed due to hunger strikes finally got the vote in 1920. African Americans finally got the vote for real because of the civil rights movement. But now the Republican governors across the country have passed laws to make it harder for people to register and/or vote. Most of what we've had pounded into our heads are lies. The wealthy & their corporations have run our country for most of its history. It seems to me that the only time that "the people" were included in this country's largesse was during FDR's Presidency. Americans need to wake up and realize that government agencies & unions are the only things that most of the time represent the people. We need to vote against the corporatists, those who serve our Corporate Overlords. And, I'm not communist, socialist but mostly an environmentalist, feminist & pissed-off-ist.

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  12. And thanks all - critical thinking was the phrase I was searching for earlier. I'd misplaced it and couldn't find it anywhere. Damn clutter.

    And for the most part, schools don't teach critical thinking, except in math & science, from which girls have mostly been excluded.

    We've all been sold a bill of goods and we need to just stop buying it.

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  13. Fonda - I'm right with you... I was a straight A student, class valedictorian... then I went to Norway as an exchange student the year after I graduated from high school, and felt like a total idiot! Seriously, I learned more about American history that year in Norway than I ever learned in high school! I think that here I was taught American mythology, which is a far cry from actual historical fact.

    Connie - I'm a "pissed-off-ist" ... I love it. I fear you are correct... the "land of the free" is a great marketing line but bears little resemblance to the actual power structure of this country.

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  14. US = corporatocracy/plutocracy

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  15. Amen to Jay's last post. A nation by the corporation, of the corporation and for the corporation.

    I just finished reading "Consumed" by Benjamin Barber. Gonna do a review of it at some point on the ol' blog, but one thing he noted that I did not know (Jay mentions it above) is that we did not always have an economy based on consumer capitalism. Say what? There are other kinds of capitalism? Very interesting book.

    I think it all boils down to how willing we are to flex our citizen muscles and, most importantly, change campaign finance. Right now, the Murdoch machine has the masses pretty well convinced that it's worker against worker, poor person against soon-to-be-rich person ('cuz isn't that what we all are? Just a hop skip and a jump away from wealth? GAH!!) while they money just watches the carnage.

    An article just came out in YES! magazine noting that the economy has grown since 2008, but that growth hasn't created jobs (what? The market isn't some hallowed creature that acts without human input or malice?). I also read that the top 1% hold a full 1/3 of all the money on Wall Street. So, why are we all supposed to panic when it's the rich that own most of that wealth?

    A very tiny elite are bleeding us dry and we're screaming about "illegal" immigrants and "greedy" unions and...oh lord. It's enough to make Jesus weep.

    I'm definitely not paying attention to all the news sources, but I am allowing my anger to motivate me. One thing. I'm gonna do one thing each week that flexes my citizen muscles. Will it change anything? Probably not, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna watch a scant few feed off the rest of us while lying down.

    Oh my. I will calm down now.

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  16. Demandra - You Go Girl!! I get pretty sick of hearing how it's "class warfare" whenever anybody wants to put the breaks on the free ride that the wealthy have in this country. We've got class warfare all right, and the wealthy have been waging it quite successfully for many years now.

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  17. Amen! When even Warren Buffett is sounding that call, you know something is up. Gah! Gah!

    I just think it's important that we don't end up feeling powerless. Janeen said something on my blog that was pretty perfect--she fed a friend who was dealing with cancer. That's a great place to put our energy--helping friends and neighbors out. As in, battling this climate of hate with loving compassion. I need more of that in my life. I will shut up now. :P

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  18. service, helping others out, having an open, accepting heart ... such a strange concept :-)))

    Have you ever noticed the difference in what Prez Reagan, Bush Sr & Jr did post White House and, say, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? Interesting. Oh, also, their backgrounds??

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  19. As a poor kid from the sticks, I whole heartedly support that observation, Jay!

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  20. Hi,
    I found you from Demandra's blog...

    This post (and the one that follows) really struck a nerve with me. It sums up my malaise these days. I get stark raving mad about growing income inequality, financial insecurity, and the political impotence of progressives (they've been co-opted).

    Some observations:
    I feel that Progressives have been totally co-opted on the "You pay too much in taxes" message. On its face, this statement is true... it is true for the middle/working classes. But then it gets spun into an argument for handing out goodies to those who control the goodie pot, or it is surreptitiously done -- almost like a magic trick that looks shiny on the surface, but really screws working folks.

    I am an accountant for a small company by day and (among other things) administer the company's payroll and benefits. It really bites my ass, for instance, to see a cap on the Social Security wage base at $106,800. Most employees don't know such a cap exists because they've never seen this kind of income in their lives. I have more to say on all of the above, but will refrain since this is not my blog.

    One other more socio-cultural observation. We have been such an aspirational society for several decades and I think people have not wanted to identify themselves as working/middle class. For instance, if you went to college and got a desk job (like mine) and worked with your mind and not your hands you were "upper" class. The middle classes were people in the trades, in unions, farmers, cops... that sort of thing.

    The reality is unless we own the means of production and control the pot of goodies, more of us are working class. I am a worker -- even though I have "manager" in my title. And, quite honestly, lack many of the protections those in unions have (which they have fought hard for, but sadly have been eroded.) I think we would all be well served to say, "I am a worker" and stand up for an expansion of a broad working/middle class. We need to get honest about and redefine what it means to be middle class.

    I throw up my hands too, because on the one hand, I feel tremendously grateful. My husband and I have jobs that pay enough for us to live below our means. We are on track to pay off our mortgage in 15 years (on a house that has at least maintained its value). We have decent health insurance and retirement accounts. We have no debt other than our mortgage. Yet, I feel this growing sense of insecurity that all of the above could vanish at any time and then where would we be??

    As Demandra said, I made a meal for a woman last week who had cancer. It felt great to reach out to someone and do something that needed to be done and to feel I had immediate impact. Rather than turning inward (becoming insular) I'm grappling with ways I can carve out a smaller "circle of influence" and operate within that. For me, it means I'm more likely these days to invest locally and shop locally -- to try to strengthen those around me. Self serving? You bet, that's part of it too. I want my local economy to stay strong so that we can weather the storm. But I'm beginning to see that we're all very much in this together and I'm trying to keep an open heart (even though I'm cynical as hell about national politics).

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  21. Progressive vs Regressive Taxes: Guess Social Security falls into the Regressive camp, along with Sales, generic [when you include investment] income, etc., taxes!

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  22. PrairiePixie - Thanks SOOO much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment. I fear I've been a tad bit whelmed lately so my apologies for not responding sooner. I sort of doubt you'll see this at this point, but I just wanted to say that you made some really excellent points. I think it's absolutely wonderful that you're finding ways to have an impact in your own little circle. Ultimately, I think that's where things are going, and I don't really think it's all bad.

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  23. And Jay - You TOTALLY lost me on progressive vs. regressive taxes. Sorry for being dense, but I haven't a clue what the point was... :~)

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  24. In a rambling way was commenting on the cap on SS taxes.... regressive taxes (percentage-wise) take more of lower income folks' money, whereas progressive taxes keep taking a reasonable percentage no matter income/value (property taxes), or tax percentages INCREASE as income/value rises*. So, sales taxes [regressive] are fixed and ultimately hurt lower income folks more -which is why in most places groceries aren't taxed and luxury items are. One of the worst: gasoline tax.
    With SS, it seems you get more bang for your buck at the higher end, after the tax has been capped. I may well be wrong, as I know there's a cap on SS benefits, so if that is at same point as the tax cap, then really it's a net neutral.
    Governments seem to love fees, rather than taxes, too, which -really- are regressive since they will "cost" lower income folks a larger portion of their income to pay....

    *Many argue income taxes are progressive, and they are, but only up to a certain point.

    Probably clear as mud, as usual :-))

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  25. Jay - Hmmm... that's very interesting. I've heard the argument made that a national sales tax would be bad because it would mean poor folk, who have no choice but to spend pretty much all of their money, would be disproportionally taxed.

    But what do you mean about the gasoline tax? I've always thought they should hike the gas tax to discourage driving. Thoughts?

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  26. Well, think about it: lower income= cheaper/older car, aka gas-guzzler, vs the *expensive* hybrids. Lower income neighborhoods frequently have limited -walking distance- access to cheap, healthy groceries, jobs, etc. so "need" a car. It'd be fine and dandy, if there are realistic alternatives available

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  27. Finally! Power to the People! Down with corporatocracy:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/04/us-wallstreet-protests-idUSTRE79373S20111004?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews

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