Pages

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Matt Taibbi Nails It


It's not often that a Rolling Stone article on politics actually encapsulates the current dilemma facing America. But this article really does that; I mean it just nails it.
"That's all the early conservative movement was. It was just a heartfelt request that we go back to the good old days of America as these people remembered or imagined it. Of course, the problem was, we couldn't go back, not just because more than half the population (particularly the nonwhite, non-straight, non-male segment of the population) desperately didn't want to go back, but also because that America never existed and was therefore impossible to recreate.
And when we didn’t go back to the good old days, this crowd got frustrated, and suddenly the message stopped being heartfelt and it got an edge to it."
It got more than an "edge" to it. The current incarnation of the conservative movement is as reactionary and hostile as anything we've seen in nearly 300 years of American politics.

 See, what conservatives nowadays feel about the rest of the country -- and by that I mean most of the country -- is this:
"Here at home, all liberals, gays, Hispanic immigrants, atheists, Hollywood actors and/or musicians with political opinions, members of the media, members of congress, TSA officials, animal-lovers, union workers, state employees with pensions, Occupiers and other assorted unorthodox types had already long ago been rolled into the enemies list."
But Taibbi goes further. He notes that the implosion of the conservative movement in this current presidential primary is not just about the hatred & fear of anyone not resembling Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver by these reactionaries. It's about how the Republican party has transformed itself into a modern-day Inquisition, a Salemesque witch-hunt. They've done run out of people in our country to blame for their problems (which are somewhat self-inflicted since they voted for them) and now they're turning on themselves.
"This is where the Republican Party is now. They’ve run out of foreign enemies to point fingers at. They’ve already maxed out the rhetoric against us orgiastic, anarchy-loving pansexual liberal terrorists. The only possible remaining explanation for their troubles is that their own leaders have failed them. There is a stranger in the house!"
Frankly speaking, I'm loving it. Besides all the great Daily Show episodes it inspires, this devolving paranoia is incredibly deserved, and healthy for a party that has become so out-of-touch with real Americans. And by real Americans, I don't mean the people massing on the capitol lawn worrying about Obama taking their guns, or the millionaires not-paying their fair share of taxes. I don't mean the people standing outside Planned Parenthood, shaming young women (and young men!) for they're not ready to have a child. I don't mean the people on Fox News calling themselves journalists and politicians.

I'm talking about the people who clean the toilets, wash the dishes, pump the gas, picked our food, get up at 5:30 in the morning, suffer racism, sexism, classism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and an ever-decreasing slice of the "American Dream" but still manage to live a happy life. I'm talking about the subaltern. I'm talking about the homeless. I'm talking about the disabled. I'm talking about the ghetto-dwellers, bus-riders, food-stamp eaters, and lost souls who've never even ridden in a limo. (I haven't either.)

Those are the Americans I care about, and those are the Americans our politicians need to respect, because those are the only Real Americans I know.

And thankfully, those are the Americans who will inherit this country once the last dregs of these seething, fearful throwbacks fade into the historical background, becoming a footnote on some future high-school poly-sci textbook.



Cheers

7 footnotes:

RR said...

Tabbi is a hypocrite. The Republican Party is supposedly the only political entity that engages in negativity and sappy reverie? How many times do leftists (including you) hurl the racism/Nazism charge at anyone with whom they disagree on matters of race? Sure, Republican rhetoric can be hyperbolic, but left wing rhetoric is hardly measured. Tabbi's article is a prime example of exactly the type of overwrought, simplistic and bigoted commentary that he supposedly decries. You wrote:

And thankfully, those are the Americans who will inherit this country once the last dregs of these seething, fearful throwbacks fade into the historical background, becoming a footnote on some future high-school poly-sci textbook.

"We will bury you"

-Nikita Khrushchev

Famous last words. Of course, the commies didn't bury us. Their system imploded under its own weight. You can’t possibly be serious Zek. Those dregs you refer to are the ones paying the bulk of the taxes. Those throwbacks are the ones keeping the country together at the moment. You have better hope that the wretched really don't inherit the Earth or you SWPL types will really be in trouble.

Obviously, conservatives have their faults, but you and Tabbi are both deluded. You don’t get the idea of a loyal opposition, regardless of how artful (or artlessly, depending) that opposition presents itself. You people don’t brook dissent and you are allergic to facts. This tendency, which is prevalent on both the left and the right, is what will ultimately doom the country.

Zek J Evets said...

RR,

Nobody said the Republican party is the only party that engages in negativity. So that's a straw-man.

The argument is that the Republican party has allowed their negativity to turn radical, and become more like racist, nativist, apocalyptic rhetoric. Which it has, unfortunately, and has been doing so for years. That's why this current political climate has bee so fraught with problems -- because one side thinks the other is worse than terrorists!

As for the "dregs", I'm referring to the Republican leadership, ideologues, and demagogues -- not the rank & file. Certainly I question the intelligence of the Republican rank and file, but I don't make the mistake of attempting to refute their inclusion into America (though they frequently refuse to extend the same respect to others outside their political comfort-zone).

But what does paying taxes have to do with anything? That's a red herring, a dog whistle which distracts from the issue.

Especially since we all pay taxes, even people on welfare pay taxes. But that point is conveniently left out of reactionary conservative rhetoric.

But paying taxes doesn't change the lack of compassion, or sanity in the current Republican incarnation.

You say we don't brook dissent, and are allergic to facts, but when Republicans are confronted with facts and dissent, they label us communists, un-American, and attempt to portray our valid concerns about personal liberty and due process as some kind of personal attack.

Take Ms. Fluke. She spoke up on public policy, and for that temerity she was called a slut, a whore, and roughly condemned by a major conservative spokesperson with loyal listeners throughout the country! Take Rick Santorum -- he switches religious freedom to mean institutions do not have to provide adequate healthcare that conflicts with their religious beliefs, failing to realize how that position forces others of a different faith to conform to that religion which is in direct violation of the separation of Church and State and freedom of religion!

RR, you frequently speak this way about these issues, and while you remain consistent, you also remain ignorant to the realities of most Americans.

Which is why people like me, and like the rest of the our country are listening to Matt Taibbi more and listening to Newt Gingrich less.

RR said...

Zek,

Clearly, Tabbi diatribe is directed at Republicans. Nowhere in his screed does he offer the qualifier "Of course most politicians, regardless of political orientation, are venal egoists who will support whatever policy will increase their power". No! Tabbi makes no such qualifying remarks. By your line of reasoning, because Unamused doesn't cite white crime statistics, he doesn't mean that whites don't commit crime. Obviously Unamused remarks are directed at blacks without qualification. You are being disingenuous now.

Republicans, or rather conservatives, have not turned radical. Conservatives have always been conservative. It is the country that has become more radical. In fact, the sharp leftward turn of the country since 1960 makes anyone who espouses traditional conservative principals seem like some Neanderthal. This is how far we have come.

You wrote:

Certainly I question the intelligence of the Republican rank and file

I see. You are a bigot. It is OK for you to question the intelligence of average Republicans (most of whom are white Christians) but it is the epitome of racist sentiment for someone like Unamused to question the intelligence of blacks. You and Tabbi are liberal hypocrites. You actively attack conservative whites for looking out for their best interests as if other groups don't do the same.

Especially since we all pay taxes, even people on welfare pay taxes.

Not on a yearly basis they don't. People on welfare are entitled to income tax credits which result in tax refunds for them at the end of the year. You obviously aren't very familiar with the US tax system.

attempt to portray our valid concerns about personal liberty and due process as some kind of personal attack.

But liberals do the same, and worse! If a conservative beliefs he is entitled to more of his income he is characterized has heartless and greedy. If he questions the wisdom of Affirmative Action, he is a racist manic who wants to re-institute segregation. You have imbibed too deeply of the Left wing cool-aid, which is why Abagond's berserk accusations bother you so. You have been hoisted by your own petard but are too proud to admit that maybe...just maybe...you can now see how it feels to be wrongly accused of sentiment you never expressed. Your cognitive dissonance is instructive.

he [Santorum] switches religious freedom to mean institutions do not have to provide adequate healthcare

You have mis-characterized Santorum's position. The key phrase here is "adequate healthcare". Santorum believes that subsidizing recreational sex is outside the bounds of providing "adequate healthcare" in addition to being antithetical to Catholic religious beliefs. I agree with him. A woman, or man, doesn't need to have her/his sex life subsidized. What next? Will people require insurance companies subsidize their on-line pornography subscriptions? What about sex change operations? Should they be subsidized too?

You say that I am ignorant of the realities of most Americans. I don't mind being called ignorant, but I would like you to substantiate the charge. Exactly HOW am I being ignorant? This is what bugs me about the Left. You accuse the Right of wild exaggerations with respect to liberal positions and then turn around and DO THE VERY SAME THING!

Which is why people like me, and like the rest of the our country are listening to Matt Taibbi more and listening to Newt Gingrich less.

You shouldn't take either of them seriously. Both men are hypocrites. The problem is that too many Americans, regardless of political orientation don't bother to read/listen carefully. You swallow Tabbi's line because he allows you feel superior to working class white Christians. You overlook the obvious contradictions and omissions in his piece. Careful analysis is required of all that one reads. This lack of analysis is prevalent on both the Left and the Right.

Zek J Evets said...

RR,


Clearly, Tabbi diatribe is directed at Republicans


And? How does this invalidate his argument? I fail to see the relevance, and how it is disingenuous to point out that the vast majority of radical vitriol has come from the GOP of late. That's like saying talking about male victims of rape somehow means female victims of rape don't exist. The argument is patently absurd.

Conservatives have always been conservative. It is the country that has become more radical.

These two sentences do not make sense together. If conservatives have ALWAYS been conservative, then how can "the country" (which includes conservatives) become more radical? And is it radical if "the country" has become so? Wouldn't it actually be just normal? Either way though, conservatives have become more radical, from the Tea Party, Sheriff Arpaio, Jan Brewer, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and others. To deny this is a incredibly ignorant perspective on current American politics, as even conservatives admit that the rhetoric gets radical -- a la Rush Limbaugh.

It is OK for you to question the intelligence of average Republicans (most of whom are white Christians) but it is the epitome of racist sentiment for someone like Unamused to question the intelligence of blacks.

RR, are you really equating political disagreement to racism? C'mon, you're smarter than that, right? My thinking Republicans (not Blacks, or Whites, or homosexuals, or women) are less intelligent based on my own opinion is completely different from the argument that Black people are less intelligent via debunked pseudoscience. That you fail to discern this fairly obvious nuance is kinda frightening.

Not on a yearly basis they don't. People on welfare are entitled to income tax credits which result in tax refunds for them at the end of the year. You obviously aren't very familiar with the US tax system.

I'm sorry, but don't payroll taxes go year round? Haha, apparently you are the one that isn't very familiar with the American tax system. However, they do get tax credits, but they don't get very large refunds because if they receive too much in assets they lose their welfare. So again, they don't actually get large sums of money. But people LOVE to pretend that welfare recipients are somehow "living it" up. In reality, they are not. Trust me, I know this stuff as I work with welfare applicants on a daily basis at my legal writing job.

Zek J Evets said...

RR (con't),

But liberals do the same, and worse!

Okay, so you've essentially agreed with my point, but then you make this strange straw-man: if a conservative beliefs he is entitled to more of his income he is characterized has heartless and greedy. If he questions the wisdom of Affirmative Action, he is a racist manic who wants to re-institute segregation.

And can you please point out to me where I or Matt Taibbi made that argument? In fact, nobody even mentioned Affirmative Action, except you. Project much?

You can weasel out of the valid problem with reactionary conservatism by making the lame-duck argument that "Liberals do it too!" Your cognitive dissonance is... revealing =P

Santorum believes that subsidizing recreational sex is outside the bounds of providing "adequate healthcare" in addition to being antithetical to Catholic religious beliefs. I agree with him.

I'm confused about how medication to stop ovarian cysts is subsidizing recreational sex. But you do bring up a good point: if Catholic institutions do not want to subsidize recreational sex, maybe they should stop paying their employees money which they use to buy condoms or birth control! And maybe they should stop subsidizing Viagra on their healthcare plans, because isn't that subsidizing recreational sex?

Yeah, see... Santorum's argument is without merit.

The problem is that too many Americans, regardless of political orientation don't bother to read/listen carefully.

Quite the opposite. The problem now is that too many Americans are paying very close attention to the current political climate, and finding both the Right and the Left wanting. However, the Right has engage in far more severe, and systemic wrongs. That's why not even Republicans like their candidates.

RR, you try SO HARD to prove that your opinions are valid, but the facts, and most people disagree with you. Maybe you should re-evaluate your ideology?

RR said...

Zek,
I did not agree with your point. Your point seems to be that conservatives have gone off the deep end. I do not believe this. I believe that conservatives are justifiably angered by the direction the country is headed. Taibbi makes light of our concerns while focusing his ire on the most histrionic Republican politicians. He also neglects the well organized liberal hysteria (of which he is a prime example) which also has rent the country. Clearly Taibbi has his biases and he has a right to express them in print, but don’t pretend his argument is anything but a polemic.

And can you please point out to me where I or Matt Taibbi made that argument?

You and Taibbi are under the impression that Republicans have gone crazy. If conservative states plainly what he believes, his mental state is questioned by the left. Taibbi’s article is a prime example of this and the fact that you referenced it in such glowing terms is another example of it. I don’t have a problem with liberals being hypocrites. I have a problem with liberals deluding themselves into thinking they are not hypocrites.

I am not justifying incendiary Republican rhetoric by citing similar rhetoric on the left. My point here is that Taibbi isn’t being honest, which is Ok. I expect anyone reading his article to be politically sophisticated enough to know that he is not being honest.

I'm confused about how medication to stop ovarian cysts is subsidizing recreational sex.

Obviously, the biggest use of the pill is to prevent pregnancy. This is its main use. If a heterosexual woman engages in sex without the intention of becoming pregnant, she is engaging in recreational sex, according to the church. Most women don’t take the pill to regulate their menstrual cycles or to prevent ovarian cysts.

Catholic institutions do not want to subsidize recreational sex, maybe they should stop paying their employees money which they use to buy condoms or birth control!

You are missing the point as usual. The church doesn’t have a problem with capitalism. The church does have a problem with the state forcing it to abide by laws that undermine Catholic doctrine. Why is this concept so difficult for you to grasp?

And maybe they should stop subsidizing Viagra on their healthcare plans, because isn't that subsidizing recreational sex?

The Catholic Church does subsidize Viagra, but only in its capacity to help those men suffering from erectile difficulty get their wives pregnant. Note that the Catholic Church does not support vasectomies through its insurance plans. Prescription level Codeine is subsidized by the church. That doesn’t mean the church supports people getting high with it.

However, the Right has engage in far more severe, and systemic wrongs.

This is debatable. State your case please!

That's why not even Republicans like their candidates.

This is what I mean about careful reading. You haven’t done your homework here. Republicans don’t like their candidates not because they believe their candidates are worse than Democrats. They believe their candidates don’t represent their interests. But note there hasn’t been a move to get Republicans to vote for Democrats (most whites voted for McCain in 2008). If Republicans were really as fed up with their candidates as you seem to think they are, they would vote Democratic and this argument would be moot. You must read more carefully and more widely.

RR, you try SO HARD to prove that your opinions are valid, but the facts, and most people disagree with you.

Not most white Christians. Again, most whites (especially white Christians) voted for McCain in 2008.

Zek J Evets said...

RR,

I believe that conservatives are justifiably angered by the direction the country is headed.

I believe they are angry, but not justifiably so. To be justified it would have to be reasonable, which most of the country agrees that it is not.

You and Taibbi are under the impression that Republicans have gone crazy.

Yes, but that isn't the same as the straw-man argument you accused us of, and have so conveniently withdrawn.

That said, anyone watching the politics from the Republican end would agree with that assessment, and many Republicans agree with that.

Obviously, the biggest use of the pill is to prevent pregnancy

However, with current Catholic healthcare plans, even if a woman needs the pill to prevent ovarian cysts, she still wouldn't receive them simply because it would prevent pregnancy.

The church does have a problem with the state forcing it to abide by laws that undermine Catholic doctrine. Why is this concept so difficult for you to grasp?

Hahaha, so let me see if I understand your argument correctly. The Church should be allowed to ignore the government's laws which contradict its faith? What if their faith included slavery? Because that's in the Bible. What if a religious faith included physical abuse? Because that's also in the Bible. I noticed nobody in the Church, or on the Right feels that Muslims have the right to practice aspects of their faith which contradict established law. (However, they also don't believe Muslims can even be Americans, so...)

Besides the obvious hypocrisy, your point fails to take into account the separation of Church and State. You may practice your faith, but you may not force another to accept your faith's tenets, nor may the government allow any faith to interfere with equal protection under the law.

The Catholic Church does subsidize Viagra, but only in its capacity to help those men suffering from erectile difficulty get their wives pregnant.

Except unmarried men get access to Viagra as well... So how does that work? Don't answer, because it doesn't. Frankly though, the Church has a whole lot of problems besides contraception, from child abuse to racism, and they all come home to roost in situations such as this.

This is debatable. State your case please!

Let's see... engaging in illegal arms trades, over-turning legitimate and democratic governments, criminalizing homosexuality, denying homosexual their civil rights, encouraging violence against immigrants and Liberals, taxing the poor and middle-class excessively but not the rich, destroying environmental protections, enabling unrestrained greed, waging an illegal war based on lying to the American people, failing in their duty to protect American citizens who were victims of a natural disaster, violating civil liberties through the Patriot Act, denying women the right to bodily integrity, failing to provide services for male victims of rape or domestic violence, as well as supporting nativist legislation for racial profiling, and refusing to allow Muslims the right to practice their religion.

I could literally go on.

But I digress. Like with our other conversation(s), I can only debate reality for so long before I get bored and tired. I would say you are being deliberately obtuse, but if you aren't then apparently you are not educated enough to have the kind of conversation we are having. I base this on a continuous failure to discern nuance, and utilize common sense.

So I'll say thanks for your time, but unless you can make better conversation than this, I'm not likely to respond to your comments anymore.